[Official] Creative Sound Blaster Z, Zx & ZxR Series Club - Page 58 - Overclock.net - An Overclocking Community

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

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post #571 of 5952 (permalink) Old 08-15-2013, 08:16 PM
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Originally Posted by djinferno806 View Post

Go to http://www.lynnemusic.com/surround.html and download the 5.1 surround test file(Windows media audio version NOT AC3).

Make sure your media player can play multi channel audio.

Now play the file. If you have SBX ON and windows PROPERLY set up to enable 5.1 through headphones out, you should hear every channel discretely. No channel should sound the same. Front Left will sound COMPLETELY different than Rear Left and so forth. Center will sound centered.

If SBX is OFF you should hear front left and rear left sounding the exact same. As well center will just play through both speakers it will not sound like a center.

Go ahead and try that and let me know what you get.

Actually I tried different sources, to see if I could get any sources to replicate what you were happening

I found that for SBX surround, It mostly does not touch 3D sound for lows and mid's

However, in testing Terminator 2: Skynet edition in 5.1 sound, I was getting the same results for most of the sound being played, that is until lots of varied pitch highs were played

Two parts where the high pitch variables is heard with SBX surround on and 5.1 sounds is where Sarah Conner bursts into flame during the nuke dream, most of the sound stays fairly straight to norm, BUT the coal wood burning crackle sound can clearly be heard in all channels

Another part where this is noticeable between SBX surround on and off is the scene where she attacks Dyson in his home, when he's hiding behind the cabinets and she's shooting into the room, all the plink plink plink of rounds hitting the cabinets are going off in the rear speakers. With SBX surround off this is only heard in the rear channels, with SBX Surround on this is heard in the front channels as well

So I went through more of my collection to find high pitch sounds, and the second most noticeable was in The Goonies II as they are all underground banging on the pipes, with SBX Surround off, almost every creek and groan is played in the rear channels, while the drip drip of water plays in the front channels. With SBX surround on, these high pitch sounds easily blend between front and back channels, the rear sounds can be heard partly in the front, the front sounds can be heard partly in the rear.

So this is my final final final conclusion on it. SBX Surround DOES touch 3D sound, but it tends to leave most lows and mids alone, but aggressively attacks highs and moves them between channels very easily.

The complete downside I found though is with SBX surround on, the whole sound stage feels like I'm watching these movies in a cardboard box. Its not nearly as bad as SBX surround on is for MP3's (That's more like a seashell to me) but to me I find it greatly ruins the soundstage in whatever you are listening to, it reminds me of listening kinda to an X-Fi with heavily accented trebles and muted mids.


EDIT PLEASE READ AUG 18th 2013: After a complete system reinstall to do some intel burn tests after installation of new hardware, when I turned off SBX Pro Studio surround, it was playing sounds 100% in stereo, and it was performing the same as djinferno806 and XSHollywood were describing.

I got no idea why, I did a full driver reinstall and reinstall earlier (Including driver fusion sweep and CCleaner scan) and even then when I turned off SBX Pro Studio surround it still stayed on. Oddly enough, the surround set to 10% sounds exactly like my soundcard did before the format with it turned off.

100% apologize for any grief this has caused.

Update 3/13/2014:

To anyone reading this post still, I forgot to point out that since I did the system reinstall (And again, as I'm using a whole new PC now since I upgraded last wednesday) with SBX surround and crystalizer turned on full 100%, and Sound in windows control panel set to 5.1 24-bit/96Khz I get none of the muffled sound I was getting before with Surround turned on full blast

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post #572 of 5952 (permalink) Old 08-15-2013, 08:40 PM
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Hmm... I just played Battlefield 3 and I am nearly certain that I am getting cleaner sounding audio from one or some combination of the following changes (the only I've made):


-24 bit 48khz to 24bit 96khz in both ZXR and DB Pro playback devices control panel

- Unselecting "Let Applications Take Exclusive Control of this Device" in the ZXR control panel


Well it got a little confusing because I typically had DTS with Battlefield and this time I had DDL instead (through optical). However, I still think there is something about the sound that is different and cleaner, but it is admittedly hard to say for sure.

It just seems a bit louder and more nuanced than 48khz ...like you can hear more detail... it's pretty hard to tell though. This is testing with 96khz / 196khz audio clips as well as HDX movies and Battlefield 3.

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post #573 of 5952 (permalink) Old 08-15-2013, 08:44 PM
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So I wanted to write up this quick guide to gaming with the Sound Blaster Z/ZX/ZXR.

There seems to be the same questions always being asked, especially how to set up the card for gaming and surround through 2 speakers/headphones. Hopefully this will cut down on those questions while helping people out and getting them gaming faster out of the box wink.gif

First and foremost, this will explain how to get surround sound virtualized through a 2 speakers or headphones via SBX Surround option. This will assume you just installed the card and installed the drivers fresh.

STEP 1: WINDOWS SOUND CONTROL PANEL
Before anything can work properly, you need to make sure your sound blaster is set for 5.1 speakers in the windows sound panel. This can be found by right clicking on the speaker icon in the windows tray and selecting PLAYBACK DEVICES, right clicking on Sound blaster device and CONFIGURE SPEAKERS. When going through the speaker setup, do not select full range speaker option as this is what Creative recommends for proper SBX playback. It will revert back at reboot anyway so it’s pointless to change it. By finishing this step, the windows mixer will now send a 5.1 signal where available in a program/game to the sound blaster itself ready to be processed 

You can also double click on the sound blaster device in this panel and choose the Bit Rate and Sampling frequency. I personally keep mine at 16 bit/48 khz as that is what games are all mixed at and I primarily game. If you have a lot of music or movies that feature 24 bit/96 khz then you can go ahead and set that. You WILL NOT get an increase in audio quality by just setting this higher but not having anything that is encoded that high. In fact its been tested and proven that the windows mixer actually degrades audio when it has to resample source audio to match what you set here. So it will be in your benefit to leave it at what you use the most.

It is worth noting that some users have reported that setting 96khz/24 bit increases the ability of the crystalizer to restore lossy music and sound better. You can experiment and see what you think is best.
Lastly uncheck “Allow this device to take exclusive control of this device”. This seems to help with crackling, popping and in general sound issues you may experience.


STEP 2: SBX SURROUND(SOUND BLASTER CONTROL PANEL)
The SBX surround feature is Creative’s HRTF(HEAD RELATED TRANSFER FUNCTION) algorithm. Similar to DOLBY HEADPHONE or CMSS3D. It takes a 5.1/7.1 signal from a game or program and virtualizes it to work out of just 2 speakers. Basically allowing you to get virtual surround without an actual 5.1 speaker system. Make sure you turn this option on. What level to leave it at is all on you. Creative recommends 67% however I personally use 91% for a little more presence in the rear speakers. Its all how you like your sound so go ahead and experiment.


STEP 3: IN GAME/ IN PROGRAM
Now that the rest is done, all you have to do is make sure the games or programs you use are set in the menus to use surround sound/5.1 etc.

AND THAT’S IT!

All newer games will now send surround sound to the sound blaster and SBX will virtualize it through the speakers/headphones.


Now before I wrap this up, I do have to touch on what happens with some older games.
You will run into 2 different sound engines/APIs on older games. These are:

1) OPENAL
2) Direct Sound 3D


1) If your game uses OpenAL and you want surround virtualized, it should be straight forward. Some games use pre-baked 5.1 signal and will just send it to the sound blaster like newer games and SBX will take care of this.
The OpenAL game could also use its own 3D HRTF algorithm instead of 5.1 signal. This is basically like a binaural recording and is the most accurate virtual surround I have heard. If your sound blaster detects that the game uses this, it will turn off SBX automatically(since it doesn’t need it to virtualize surround). Sometimes you can see this as the control panel unticks the option and the reticks it when the game exits, sometimes it doesn’t but it always turns it off then on again.

Either way, you will get 3D surround automatically in game. An example of this is the Penumbra Series.

2) If the game uses the older DIRECT SOUND API then you have to use creative’s alchemy software that comes bundled with the Z driver. This is due to Microsoft dropping directsound support in windows vista.

Alchemy will realtime transcode the directsound 3d steam to an openAl stream. This should allow you to get 3D surround from these older games just as back in the XP days. Directsound 3d uses its own HRTF as well and will not require any special setup in game.

Example of this is Prince of Persia Warrior Within.



Hopefully this guide helps you get going and gaming a lot quicker and more efficiently.


DJriful is going to link this to the OP so it should be easy to find.

Take care!

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post #574 of 5952 (permalink) Old 08-15-2013, 10:02 PM
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I was right all along about SBX Pro Studio surround option and how it works, please delete this post mods

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post #575 of 5952 (permalink) Old 08-15-2013, 10:22 PM
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What? None of what you said is true I am sorry. You are taking things you have seen /heard and applying your own theories and at the same time not taking into account that SBX was stated in videos/documentation to be creatives hrtf technique for surround. All this by creative reps.

I don't get what those screenshots of the xfi control panel are supposed to prove. This is the sound blaster z not x fi.

You can not get virtual surround(pre mixed 5.1) without sbx...plain and simple. I have tested this multiple times. This is what sbx was created for, nothing more nothing less. Same as Dolby headphones same as cmss3d.

Stereo envelopment is totally different. That is for playing 2 channel music over multiple speakers.

Please stop with these sudden theories. I would like that people who come here for info and help not get bombarded with wrong info.

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post #576 of 5952 (permalink) Old 08-15-2013, 10:27 PM
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EDIT: I'm out actually, last thing I want to do is get into a pissing match with somebody over "What sounds better"

I think it sounds better off for 3D, you think it sounds better on. Never going to agree.

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post #577 of 5952 (permalink) Old 08-15-2013, 10:37 PM
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Your 5.1 signal is being down mixed to 2 channels like anytime you send a 5.1 signal to stereo speakers. This is why you can hear the rear sounds.

You are not getting "surround" or 3d sound. Its 2 channel sound. When you play a game and select stereo in the game it still plays sounds that would be behind you, they don't get cut off. They just don't sound like they're behind you.

I am trying to educate based on fact. Nowhere am I arguing what sounds better. That's up to each person at the end of the day. I am trying to help people in case they want that proper surround option. The choice is theirs....

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post #578 of 5952 (permalink) Old 08-15-2013, 10:48 PM
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I was right all along about SBX Pro Studio surround option and how it works, please delete this post mods

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post #579 of 5952 (permalink) Old 08-15-2013, 11:36 PM - Thread Starter
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Having SBX Pro off the sounds direction is more focus on one side to another and the other side of the speaker is completely mute out - aka not balance or smooth.

Having SBX Pro on the sounds ease out into a virtual space surround sound and less fatigue hearing. It feels like those sounds are happening inside your head instead of your outer part of your ears.

I believe why ShamisOMally is saying that is more pin point directional sounds for First Person Shooter. That is true because it is more focus.

For music or movie, its' better with SBX on.

If you look at the preset "Fatality" the Surround is push down to 20% or lower to bring more focus direction sounds in FPS games.


Edit: I made a lot of typos... it's almost 3am sorry.


~ Nothing to see here ~


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post #580 of 5952 (permalink) Old 08-15-2013, 11:39 PM
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Originally Posted by djriful View Post

Having SBX Pro off the sounds direction is more focus on one side to another and the other side of the speaker is completely mute out - aka not balance or smooth.

Having SBX Pro on the sounds ease out into a virtual space surround sound and less fatigue hearing. It feels like those sounds are happening inside your head instead of your outer part of your ears.

I believe why ShamisOMally is having that is more pin point directional sounds for First Person Shooter. That is true because it is more focus.

For music or movie, its' better with SBX on.

Thanks for confirming what I've been saying.

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