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[Official] Creative Sound Blaster Z, Zx & ZxR Series Club - Page 475

post #4741 of 5591
Quote:
Originally Posted by BrightCandle View Post

Anyone tried out the Soundblaster G5 who also had a Z/ZXR? I have been seeing some reviews suggesting its got an enhanced SBX mode in it and represents another step in binaural audio and it includes 7.1 channels as well. Curious as to whether its improved the surround sound effect in headphones at all.

Look for some reviews online and see if Windows reports the device as 7.1 instead of 5.1.

I don't doubt it's a newer chip, but how "better," who knows. It's probably just mostly better drivers as the limiting factor in the Sound Core3D chips was that it only has 6 channel DACS integrated, so anything over 5.1 would need an external DAC. So Creative just kept it at 5.1.

To add, I read/ saw somewhere that the SBX Pro Headphone Surround can use a lot more 3D sources if the game/ software is using hardware audio - the game sends the actual 3D positioning data, etc. and the card does it thing with way more granularity - this fact alone id why I wish more games would implement OpenAL. But when I had my X-Fi cards (3 of them in total), the difference between 5.1 and 7.1 when using CMSS-3D Headphone was very minor.

The limit for the SBz line and the G5 even, is if the games just use the Windows Speakers settings... The game renders the audio to 5.1 or 7.1 sources. Then the card 3D'ifies those to your cans.

Also, I would be concerned about noise since you can only get more than stereo into the device for accurate headphone surround with USB and all the ground loop issues that might entail (a crap shoot until you get and try it). Unless you use the optical in for Dolby or DTS surround like for the consoles (although Creative claims the PS4 can use USB audio devices).

More likely this will happen if you just use it as a DAC and use an external headphone amp from the headphone port, since the device powered by the USB port.

If you're using the optical out into your own DAC and other equipment, I'd doubt there would be any ground loop issues because of the optical link.

Knowing Creative though, I'd always go with the newer card (as long as it has the features you want - if the G5 couldn't output it's effects over an optical link, I wouldn't even consider it for it's price) since they tend to not properly support older cards when MS updates something in Windows.
Edited by umeng2002 - 10/9/16 at 5:43pm
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post #4742 of 5591
Quote:
Originally Posted by umeng2002 View Post

Look for some reviews online and see if Windows reports the device as 7.1 instead of 5.1.

I don't doubt it's a newer chip, but how "better," who knows. It's probably just mostly better drivers as the limiting factor in the Sound Core3D chips was that it only has 6 channel DACS integrated, so anything over 5.1 would need an external DAC. So Creative just kept it at 5.1.

To add, I read/ saw somewhere that the SBX Pro Headphone Surround can use a lot more 3D sources if the game/ software is using hardware audio - the game sends the actual 3D positioning data, etc. and the card does it thing with way more granularity - this fact alone id why I wish more games would implement OpenAL. But when I had my X-Fi cards (3 of them in total), the difference between 5.1 and 7.1 when using CMSS-3D Headphone was very minor.

The limit for the SBz line and the G5 even, is if the games just use the Windows Speakers settings... The game renders the audio to 5.1 or 7.1 sources. Then the card 3D'ifies those to your cans.

Also, I would be concerned about noise since you can only get more than stereo into the device for accurate headphone surround with USB and all the ground loop issues that might entail (a crap shoot until you get and try it). Unless you use the optical in for Dolby or DTS surround like for the consoles (although Creative claims the PS4 can use USB audio devices).

More likely this will happen if you just use it as a DAC and use an external headphone amp from the headphone port, since the device powered by the USB port.

If you're using the optical out into your own DAC and other equipment, I'd doubt there would be any ground loop issues because of the optical link.

Knowing Creative though, I'd always go with the newer card (as long as it has the features you want - if the G5 couldn't output it's effects over an optical link, I wouldn't even consider it for it's price) since they tend to not properly support older cards when MS updates something in Windows.

From what I've heard about the G5 is it has dolby/DTS decoding support, so you can use it with consoles and get virtual headphone surround. I could be wrong about this though as creative doesn't supply much details.

Other than that possibility, it's purely a stereo device and identical to the E5 minus the internal battery, which is unsurprising considering the E5 had a flaw with the battery expanding. The virtual surround is probably almost identical to what you get on the Z series, just with the additional side channels.

As for OpenAL, it's been long since dead after creative took it and stopped making updates, some have re-implemented it with the same API (and thus mostly compatible with existing OAL titles) but there's nothing truly official with it anymore. FMOD has taken its place for the most part as a does-all-plus-some API engine, I don't personally use it however as I prefer to use the platform's own APIs and systems more directly.
   
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post #4743 of 5591
Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul17041993 View Post

As for OpenAL, it's been long since dead after creative took it and stopped making updates, some have re-implemented it with the same API (and thus mostly compatible with existing OAL titles) but there's nothing truly official with it anymore. FMOD has taken its place for the most part as a does-all-plus-some API engine, I don't personally use it however as I prefer to use the platform's own APIs and systems more directly.

For me, since I ONLY use headphones, I'd like more hardware sound solutions so you're virtualizing more than 5.1 or 7.1 sources.

The last GREAT OpenAL game I played was Dirt 2 using BlueRipple's OpenAL implementation.
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post #4744 of 5591
Quote:
Originally Posted by umeng2002 View Post

For me, since I ONLY use headphones, I'd like more hardware sound solutions so you're virtualizing more than 5.1 or 7.1 sources.

The last GREAT OpenAL game I played was Dirt 2 using BlueRipple's OpenAL implementation.

Did you mean software? Because currently 7.1 is the hard limit for hardware unless you either use a form of sound studio device (with custom software) or multiple devices (custom software again). Or at least that's the case until HDMI2.0 becomes the mainstream standard (about 1-2 years from now).

Though the terms hardware and software are very vague in this age, virtually all hardware is programmable and requires a certain level of software. Similarly, software is complex enough that the most common hardware instructions etc are included and can be cross-compiled between devices to a certain degree. It's also becoming the norm for audio to be processed on a dedicated GPU (combination DSPs and the CUs) if the system doesn't already have a HSA processor.
   
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post #4745 of 5591
Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul17041993 View Post

From what I've heard about the G5 is it has dolby/DTS decoding support, so you can use it with consoles and get virtual headphone surround.

Definitely doesn't have DTS/Dolby support for input, it can't interface with consoles as a result.

From what I can tell from head-fi is that people think its worse than SBX pro for surround sound.
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post #4746 of 5591
Quote:
Originally Posted by BrightCandle View Post

Definitely doesn't have DTS/Dolby support for input, it can't interface with consoles as a result.

From what I can tell from head-fi is that people think its worse than SBX pro for surround sound.

Yea, i had the G5 because of its 7.1, with the same thinking like you have, but... no.
It's everything but an upgrade to the surround of the SB-Z.
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post #4747 of 5591
Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul17041993 View Post

Did you mean software? Because currently 7.1 is the hard limit for hardware unless you either use a form of sound studio device (with custom software) or multiple devices (custom software again). Or at least that's the case until HDMI2.0 becomes the mainstream standard (about 1-2 years from now).

Though the terms hardware and software are very vague in this age, virtually all hardware is programmable and requires a certain level of software. Similarly, software is complex enough that the most common hardware instructions etc are included and can be cross-compiled between devices to a certain degree. It's also becoming the norm for audio to be processed on a dedicated GPU (combination DSPs and the CUs) if the system doesn't already have a HSA processor.

What I mean is that if a game uses "hardware" audio, it will pass the sound data and 3-D data to the card to process with HRTF with much more granularity - this is how you can to above and below effects in Headphone.

In software audio, the program usually renders the sound to 5.1 or 7.1 speakers (the Windows setting). Then the card uses HRTF on only 5 or 7 unique, co-planar positions.

Games CAN do HRTF, but very few games do. OpenAL games can all be hacked to do this. But there is no technical reason why EVERY FMOD or WWISE game can include some HRTF mode to get the super granular HRTF effects.

An easy approach would be for devs to tack on Dolby or DTS Headphone, but those aren't suited for gaming since they still only take a 5.1 or 7.1 speaker setup and virtualize from that. SBX Pro Studio, CMSS-3D Headphone, various OpenAL configs (software), can basically HRTF from a sphere around your head instead of a few discrete speaker sources.
Edited by umeng2002 - 10/10/16 at 11:51pm
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post #4748 of 5591
Quote:
Originally Posted by umeng2002 View Post

What I mean is that if a game uses "hardware" audio, it will pass the sound data and 3-D data to the card to process with HRTF with much more granularity - this is how you can to above and below effects in Headphone.

In software audio, the program usually renders the sound to 5.1 or 7.1 speakers (the Windows setting). Then the card uses HRTF on only 5 or 7 unique, co-planar positions.

Games CAN do HRTF, but very few games do. OpenAL games can all be hacked to do this. But there is no technical reason why EVERY FMOD or WWISE game can include some HRTF mode to get the super granular HRTF effects.

An easy approach would be for devs to tack on Dolby or DTS Headphone, but those aren't suited for gaming since they still only take a 5.1 or 7.1 speaker setup and virtualize from that. SBX Pro Studio, CMSS-3D Headphone, various OpenAL configs (software), can basically HRTF from a sphere around your head instead of a few discrete speaker sources.

Pretty much any application that utilises an external DLL for the implementation of an API can have said DLL swapped with a custom one, including opengl and directX (valve did this to port their games to linux, replacing the DX renderer with an OGL wrapper). This is the preferred way to use most APIs as it allows the application to be updated to support new platforms and updates without having to re-compile the whole thing.

Pretty much any audio engine API (ie; not the raw platform APIs) that I know of uses playback of audio sources with a 3D position simply because this is the easiest way to do it. Depending on the game (and API) it may also plug in a collision mesh of the map and/or filters such as HRTF. However this is virtually always going to be in software (including GPU shaders) simply because there's nothing standard and available to end users that can handle these complexities, X-Fi can only do buffer mixing and basic echo and the soundcore chips can only do fixed processing from a 5.1 source (when they work that is...). Trueaudio is an exception as it's more or less implemented as a codec, its DSP cores can do some basic mixing etc but more complex functions may be offloaded to the GPU's CUs, as is the case with their trueaudio 2 implementation for VR.

Dolby and DTS are basically the same as creative's virtual headphone as they all take 5.1 or 7.1 sources and apply horizontal HRTF.

TLDR; consumer soundcards (and most DSPs in general) that actually expose a hardware API can only accelerate fixed size and count buffer mixing and optionally provide horizontal HRTF. If you want true 3D audio in headphones you have to expose the raw 2 channels (192KHz 24bit recommended) and let the audio engine do its thing.
   
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post #4749 of 5591
I could have sworn the X-Fi, Sound Core3d, and now SB-Axx1 when using EAX via what ever API or OpenAL EFX, can use the HRTF on the true 3D positional data. I remember there being some MacroFX option to get the height virtualization on the X-Fi cards.

I was just fooling around with Amnesia The Dark Decent, ran openal-info32 in the game's binary folder, and it reports it uses the Creative OpenAL, and sure enough, the SBX Pro is doing the HRTF, and too me it sounds like more than 5.1 HRTF.

In fact, Creative's OpenAL implementation explicitly says it has extensions for EAX 1 thru 5 and EMULATED EAX 3 and 4. So if it's truely hardware EAX, shouldn't it be able to do HRTF on more than 5.1 speakers.

I know the SBz line is limited to 5.1 when the game is processing the data for HRTF, but that was my point of wanting more hardware audio rendering to get better granularity in the HRTFs.

Although, again, I still don't know why ALL games don't have HRTF output implemented.

It seems that sound, on a technical level, is always left by the wayside in video games. Even today, you have many games without LFE channel, 4.0 setup, etc.
Edited by umeng2002 - 10/11/16 at 10:43pm
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post #4750 of 5591
Quote:
Originally Posted by umeng2002 View Post

I could have sworn the X-Fi, Sound Core3d, and now SB-Axx1 when using EAX via what ever API or OpenAL EFX, can use the HRTF on the true 3D positional data. I remember there being some MacroFX option to get the height virtualization on the X-Fi cards.

I was just fooling around with Amnesia The Dark Decent, ran openal-info32 in the game's binary folder, and it reports it uses the Creative OpenAL, and sure enough, the SBX Pro is doing the HRTF, and too me it sounds like more than 5.1 HRTF.

In fact, Creative's OpenAL implementation explicitly says it has extensions for EAX 1 thru 5 and EMULATED EAX 3 and 4. So if it's truely hardware EAX, shouldn't it be able to do HRTF on more than 5.1 speakers.

I know the SBz line is limited to 5.1 when the game is processing the data for HRTF, but that was my point of wanting more hardware audio rendering to get better granularity in the HRTFs.

There may or may not be specific 3D HRTF instructions available on some cards, but I doubt the hardware is actually able to fully process the data, so if it is in fact there it's possibly an extra software pass.
Quote:
Originally Posted by umeng2002 View Post

Although, again, I still don't know why ALL games don't have HRTF output implemented.

It seems that sound, on a technical level, is always left by the wayside in video games. Even today, you have many games without LFE channel, 4.0 setup, etc.

Unfortunately, this is the case for pretty much everything, the majority of audio implementations just involve lazy function calls to an established API that may or may not be able to provide its own HRTF and other effects. One of the biggest issues with this as well however is true HRTF needs environment data and some form of head tracking, so if you were to "update" the game/application with an implementation that provides HRTF, it may or may not work very effectively...
   
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