How-to: Correct settings to ensure positional surround sound over headphones

Discussion in 'PC Audio' started by Mau1wurf1977, Jan 25, 2010.

  1. mtma

    mtma Member

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    Dolby ProLogic is not virtual surround - it's actually meant to be used in conjunction with a receiver that decodes a surround signal from a stereo signal.

    What you want is Dolby Headphone, whilst using headphones.
     
  2. Frontl1ne

    Frontl1ne Member

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    Ah right, I'll try that now. Thanks :) The dolby sound settings will change from Prologic to Dolby Headphone depending on whether I set it as 5.1 surround in Windows.

    Edit: Well, it seems that only my front audio port will allow me to use Dolby Headphone. If I plug my headphones into the rear i/o port then the option that was Dolby Headphone changes to Sound Space Expander. I've tried the Sound Space Expander and it sounds horrible compared to Dolby Headphone. However, my front audio port receives a truck load of static (inteference?) so I can't use them....... anyone have such a problem? Using onboard soundcard from my 790FXTA-UD5 motherboard.

    Edit 2: Figured out the problem, realtek was detecting it as "Front Speaker Out" whenever I plugged in the headphones through the rear i/o. Just retasked it as "Headphones" and everything works good now.

    Edit 3: Just played a bit of killing floor, positioning is frighteningly good! Loving it so far :) Unfortunately my comp is in the living room so having true 5.1 speakers is just a no go :(
     
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2010
  3. Foliage

    Foliage Member

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    Great thread Mau1wurf1977

    Would you possibly be able to record the video and sound of one of the better surround sound games and put it on youtube, perhaps have half of it with plain stereo and the rest with the positional 3d surround stereo?

    Would be amazing to hear a comparison as I do not have a proper sound card and I am curious if it is a worthwhile investment.

    Cheers. :thumbup:
     
  4. OP
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    Mau1wurf1977

    Mau1wurf1977 (Banned or Deleted)

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    Not anymore I am afraid, but maybe someone else is interested?
     
  5. Frontl1ne

    Frontl1ne Member

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    Had a bit of spare time so I thought I'd record some demos of COD4 and Dirt 2 with and without virtual surround. I'm not sure if I have it set up 100% but here you go:

    COD 4 - No Surround



    COD4 - Virtual Surround



    DIRT 2 - No Surround



    DIRT 2 - Virtual Surround



    Hope it all works as intended :)

    Edit: This was all done using my onboard sound card (system in sig) with "Dolby Headphone" enabled. Also they may not be the best games for surround, but they were the only ones I had on me.
     
  6. Foliage

    Foliage Member

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    Certainly sounds better, but I can't really notice the surround effects that well. Guess I will have to try it in person.
     
  7. OP
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    Mau1wurf1977

    Mau1wurf1977 (Banned or Deleted)

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    Hmmm I wonder if the way you recorded it the "Head Related Impulse Response" information would have been recorded.

    It is possible that CMSS-3D applies its processing afterwards.

    You might have to do a analogue recording of the actual headphone jack in order to capture all the data...

    Obviously you need to use headsets when listening to these clips. It doesn't work with speakers...

    There are some demos on Creatives site: http://www.creative.com/soundblaster/technology/cmss-3d/welcome.aspx
     
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2010
  8. RhysG

    RhysG Member

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    So is there any way of getting this working on the Realtek ALC889/A chipset?
     
  9. Scissors

    Scissors Member

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    Thx Mau1wurf1977 fantastic thread.
    You have just saved me buying another set of surround headphones while I try to get the same surround feeling that I had from Counter strike & BF2 using stereo headphones. I have struggled with the sound of BCBF2 because I used to be able to pin point the opposition in CSS from sound. I could even tell when they were on the floor above. In BCBF2 it just isnt the same. Direction is very loose and I even brought G35s trying to get the same effect I used to get with stereo headphones on CSS and in desperation was about to get a pair of Sharkoon X-Tatic Digital.

    Thx again and now I have to dust off my Creative Card and see if its X-Fi. I know u swear by the AD700s but I would prefer to have a mic attached to my headphones. Any suggestions?
     
  10. Frontl1ne

    Frontl1ne Member

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    Oh yeah, the surround sound in the clips I recorded above have nothing on the Forte's CMSS3D virtual surround.
     
  11. OP
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    Mau1wurf1977

    Mau1wurf1977 (Banned or Deleted)

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    I think Dice did an amazing job with their sound engine but the surround experience just isn't the same anymore. E.g. the sound engine chooses which sounds are important and blocks out others and this can change totally depending on what goes on in the game.

    Regarding headphones with a mic, Beyerdynamic DT234Pro gets mentioned a lot. The other option is to use a clip on mic.
     
  12. lithos

    lithos Member

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    First post, hi.

    Keep in mind that if you're running Windows Vista or 7, even for new games you may need to run them through ALchemy with Creative cards for better 3DPA. A lot of modern games are made to run on XP, which is fair enough since it's still the most popular gaming OS.

    I thought Fallout: New Vegas would be completely compatible out-of-the-box with Win 7 sound, but alas, no.

    Once I ran it through ALchemy, I got much, much better 3DPA. It seems to me that CMSSS-3D works better with EAX, especially with the MacroFX stuff.

    I did get basic 3DPA, but before enabling EAX, it was flat, and a lot of the close-in stuff was not well positioned. I'm guessing the delay processing of EAX helps out with close-in position.

    Once I added FNV into ALchemy, the soundstage really widened up. I could hear bullets fired on my left snap into the ground on the right, and spent bullet casings hit the ground on my right, and hear the shift if I turned fast.

    I'll post vids, if I can, if anyone wants.
     
  13. amisty

    amisty Member

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    i got no idea but what do u mean "Once I ran it through ALchemy" whats involved. i have setup same as first post didn't really make much difference, but i do have shit headphones though
     
  14. lithos

    lithos Member

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    Just open ALchemy, and add the install directory to ALchemy like you would with any other game.

    I use the following settings:

    Buffers: 4
    Duration: 10
    Maximum voice count: 128
     
  15. squall_leonhart

    squall_leonhart Member

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    40ms buffering is usually to low, you need around 60 min for some games.

    the Creative Alchemy Game list has settings for some games,

    the suggested 4x15 for source games can be hit or miss, it can introduce some audio lag, so i suggest 6x10 for 60ms instead of 4x15.
     
  16. Scissors

    Scissors Member

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    Just got me a pair of AD700s and a Forte card, looking forward to the experience.
    Thx to all who have posted here, that last bit about ALchemy has filled in the last gaps I had about games and surround sound.

    Cheers

    *edit OOOOHHHHHHHHHHHH just played a few hrs of BFBC2 and you cant get the smile off my face :D
     
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2010
  17. OP
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    Mau1wurf1977

    Mau1wurf1977 (Banned or Deleted)

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    Well I guess it's time for some recordings / videos!

    I used a "loopback" cable to record the output from my X-Fi which seems to work pretty good. Still somehow I get the impression that some of the surround feelings gets lost. I can't put my finger on it, just a feeling that while actually playing the game the surround effect is richer.

    We have two games. Bioshock 2 and Splinter Cell Chaos Theory. Chaos Theory uses Alchemy, Bioshock works out of the box.

    Bioshock has a "EAX" option in the menu. It seems it simply applies Reverb and / or Chorus. In a sense this reduces the surround feeling, as this feature mimics sound waves bouncing of walls...

    Ok just a quick recap on the driver settins under Windows 7 (I use W7 Pro 64 bit).

    - Windows speaker setup should be set to 5.1
    - Creative speker setup should be set to headphone
    - X-Fi in Game Mode
    - CMSS-3D should be ticked
    - EAX should be disabled (though I'm not 100% sure that it does anything in Game mode)
    - Crystallizer setting is personal taste. I have settled on disabling this feature

    Note that whenever you change the X-Fi mode (e.g. to entertainment) the speaker settings can change again. So it's worth checking that them before you run your games.

    Here the screenshot that summarizes all the settings:

    [​IMG]

    Videos:

    Obviously you need headphones for these!

    Bioshock 2 Video:



    Chaos Theory Video:

    Listen to the water stream and also the fun fire. This example is a lot more obvious compared to Bioshock 2.

     
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2010
  18. lithos

    lithos Member

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    Nice vids, Mau1. But Bioshock, 1 and 2, use FMOD for sound. I think it outputs through OpenAL (what the Unreal Engine uses,) and can take some advantage of an X-Fi card.

    But I'm not certain if the reverb part of it is done in OpenAL (which would be hardware accelerated,) or in FMOD (software.) Chaos Theory is EAX compatible (older game.)

    At either rate, both sound engines are capable of accurately passing on the exact position of sound within the game, which means CMSS-3D works properly (rather than just mapping it out to one of five or seven speaker positions.)

    I'm not sure about EAX, either, like you. It WOULD have an effect on older games that were actually coded to use EAX. Of course it would do something in game mode - it was designed for games. Whether or not particular games would make use of it, however, is up the devs. Creative lists it as "outdated" in favour of OpenAL.

    EAX, as you said, is simply reverb/chorus/flange/delay/etc, a set of audio filters. That's all it ever did - environmental filters (nice, but a one-size-fits-all sort of approach.)

    There's one point I'd like to make in regards to the EAX. Ticking the "use EAX" doesn't apply "reverb to everything," - it enables EAX to be used if the game is coded to use it, like, say, GTA: San Andreas. (I don't think there's been a game coded to use EAX for a while.)

    That loss of sound immersion might be psychosomatic, because when you're watching the replay, you're not actively involved in what's happening :).

    I'll get my own loopback and post some vids, if you like.

    BFBC2 is rather unique - it's got its own, proprietary, built-from-the-ground-up-by-DICE sound engine. All your Forte is doing is offering a very clean and clear analogue output (which is nothing to sneeze at.) See: http://blogs.battlefield.ea.com/bat...2/an-audiophile-s-guide-to-bf-bc2-full.aspx##

    It's a very good sound engine, though. But it's very CPU intensive, and still not perfect. But it's brilliant DICE put so much effort into it.
     
  19. OP
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    Mau1wurf1977

    Mau1wurf1977 (Banned or Deleted)

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    Thanks for the detailed response :thumbup:

    EAX tickbox: Yes indeed, thanks for pointing this out. In "Game Mode" it seems to be there to force EAX off if you don't like it. It doesn't "add" reverb / chorus to any game that doesn' use EAX.

    However in "Entertainment Mode" it does indeed "brute force" to any output. There are various presets (Jazz Club or Theatre)...

    Yes BC2 is a special case with it's own sound engine. Another very good game is Battlefield 2142. It also uses OpenAL and has support for 128 voices.

    But yea it's getting a little bit old...

    Deadspace is also awesome. Late night with the headphones and CMSS 3D = a good way to sxxx into your pants :tongue:

    I must also add that CMSS-3D works really well with movies. Anything that used Dolby Digital sounds amazing. I listened to Transformers recently and it's quite something. Definitely very very difficult and expensive to replicate the experience through speakers...

    Also: The more videos the better I would say!
     
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2010
  20. lithos

    lithos Member

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    Interestingly, Creative seem to have finally fixed this for the Titanium HD (their first card that was designed "from the ground up" for Vista/Win 7.) You don't need to "trick" Windows into allowing surround sound, and you can't (since the only analogue outputs on the card are stereo.)

    CMSS-3D still works properly, but it seems Creative have gotten the HD drivers to completely ignore the Windows Speaker Setup. Hopefully it'll trickle down into the vanilla X-Fi drivers one day.
     

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