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PC Gaming and Surround Sound

Lucky CynicLucky Cynic Registered User regular
Pardon me, but am I the only one who feels ripped off after they got their great soundcard and nice 7.1 speakers? The only game, out of many different genres that actually supports and makes a very noticeable difference in directional sound is just Oblivion. Hardly any of my other games support the technology or the other handful that do use it, they do not do so very well.

Some games that I play are Oblivion, A couple of MMOs (Doesn't really count), World in Conflict, Bioshock, and a few other RTSes. I don't know if this is just me talking, but I have cranked up all the sliders and checked off any boxes in all these games for audio quality and surround sound and it just doesn't stack up to what I have paid for.

This is my Sound Card and it seems no matter what drivers I use, I cannot really get anything to use it proficiently. 99% of all sound that my computer has ever put out was thru the Left, Center, or Right Speaker.

So what is going on? Am I just not getting the right games to make use of this hardware or do games not really make use of it often?

Lucky Cynic on

Posts

  • j0hnz3rj0hnz3r Registered User
    edited October 2007
    It's just like your video card. Think about it. Most games are created for the min spec. Most of the time, the min spec is on board sound.

    Also, you can't really show 5.1/7.1 as a back of the box picture where as video you can, therefore most PC developers don't invest nearly the resources into sound as they do other things. You get more bang for the buck in terms of wooing customers/publishers with video rather than sound.

    That's not to say some sound cards sound better than others, but on board has vastly improved over the years and is usually all most people need.

    j0hnz3r on
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  • powersurgepowersurge Registered User
    edited October 2007
    Vista or XP? I only have 2.1 sound but I think Vista has some issues with sound card drivers and surround sound.

    powersurge on
  • jwm2jwm2 Registered User
    edited October 2007
    7.1, damn thats a lot of speakers, expecially since you claim most of them aren't used in most games.

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  • Storm ShadowStorm Shadow Registered User regular
    edited October 2007
    Make sure the in-game audio setting for your EAX technology matches what your Soundcard has on-board. (EAX 2, EAX 4, etc.) There is also usually a setting for how high of audio quality you'd like to have the game translate to your sound card.


    On Bioshock, however, I'm not surprised that you aren't hearing much from the rear speakers since that game really seems like a console-centric title. It was probably developed for the best compatibility using Dolby Digital/Pro Logic II rather than Direct 3D/EAX. You might have far better results using a digital output cable to a separate audio receiver/home theater speakers.

    I played Bioshock with a Dolby Digital / Dolby Headphone processor when it came out on the PC and it really seemed like it had a lot of rear channel stuff going on, so there is definitely room for improvement in your setup -- keep trying!


    Also, Creative Labs' Vista drivers are completely horseshit right now. Some Director in Milpitas, CA is either getting fired right now or thumbing their nose at the entire Vista dev team.

    Storm Shadow on
  • FanciestWalnutFanciestWalnut Registered User regular
    edited October 2007
    Well at least with oblivion you should be getting a good amount of surround sound, I played it on the 360 but I remember the sound to be excellent. Try Call of Duty 2, Gears of War when it comes out should be pretty good bioshock for sure, other than that I really can't think of a lot, crysis should be pretty good about it too! Also the comment about it being just like a video card doesn't make any sense. There are 10000 different video cards out on the market right now and the quality of graphics is highly adjustable in every game. I would safe to say it is in fact nothing like your video card as sound is almost an after thought in most games (especially multi player).

    FanciestWalnut on
  • StormwatcherStormwatcher Blegh BlughRegistered User regular
    edited October 2007
    Are you crazy? There's lots of surround goodness on PC. Even Bioshock has a "number of speakers" slider.

    Stormwatcher on
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  • Lucky CynicLucky Cynic Registered User regular
    edited October 2007
    I probably should have mentioned it that I am using XP. Now that I play with it, Bioshock is putting out multiple speakers, but it's not really as good as Oblivion. I mean, walking through the imperial city, I hear other people's footsteps from around me, their voices are drowned out by the distance, etc. Things work out real well and it is very impressive audio. In other games, Bioshock included, well, it just doesn't have that depth. And I think it is less of a technical thing and more of a developer thing. It's almost disheartening to have this hardware but it to not really be used to it's fullest potential because the developers cheaped out on it.

    I just kind of wish Sound technology has improved along side with video technology. If it has, then I wish it was more in use. And even today, I went to my (crazy) cousin's house. He has a 24" monitor with an 8800GTX and yet uses 2.1 as opposed to the 7.1 set of speakers I got for about the same price he paid for his overpriced premium 2.1 speakers. >_>

    Lucky Cynic on
  • GertBeefGertBeef Registered User
    edited October 2007
    Remember to tel windows you are using a 7:1 surround sound setting in the control panel.

    GertBeef on
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  • Lucky CynicLucky Cynic Registered User regular
    edited October 2007
    Well, yes. That one is a given.

    Lucky Cynic on
  • urahonkyurahonky Dayton, OHRegistered User regular
    edited October 2007
    Like it's said before, PC gamers generally have 2.1 speakers. So most developers are going to cater to that, unfortunately. But really try out Call of Duty 2 and Half Life 2 those games tend to have the best Surround Sound.

    urahonky on
  • XanariosXanarios Registered User regular
    edited October 2007
    You're right, for the most part games don't really output in anything beyond simple stereo. There is a solution however: up-mix the sound. Your X-FI soundcard should have driver settings for something called "X-Fi CMSS-3D Surround" along with a number of speakers. Provided you have the proper hardware connections made (Creative cards like to output on three cables for 5.1, not sure about 7.1) anything that is output should be properly up-mixed into pseudo-3d.

    Unless the game defaults your settings to lower (older games tend to do this without asking you), which is something akin to a gaming audiophile's worst nightmare. At this point hardware up-mixing is a very quick and elegant fix. Most upper-tier PC speaker sets (Logitech's Z-5500 Digital, etc.) will decode any direct connection into something that at least uses all your channels.

    You could also just build an actual theater system, complete with amp / speakers / etc.

    Xanarios on
  • FanciestWalnutFanciestWalnut Registered User regular
    edited October 2007
    7.1 is a bit overkill.

    FanciestWalnut on
  • XanariosXanarios Registered User regular
    edited October 2007
    7.1 is a bit overkill.

    As much as a 32" monitor for desktop purposes.

    Xanarios on
  • Lucky CynicLucky Cynic Registered User regular
    edited October 2007
    7.1 is a bit overkill.

    Not really, considering what I paid. I got these guys together about a year back for $175. It's gone down a bit, but man, compared to Video cards or Monitors, it's actually very good and can be very impressive if used with the right games or movies. Also, there is no need to have the real best sound card as they are just crammed with features, nothing that really does much in performance or additional quality. This can be argued, but paying $90 for a sound card versus $250, well, you can choose for yourself. The speakers OTOH are a bit of a more budget set, but do the job and do it well. So far there has been minimal problems with them, except cable management, but that's always a bit of a hassle.

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16829102006
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16836116153

    Lucky Cynic on
  • maximumzeromaximumzero I...wait, what? New Orleans, LARegistered User regular
    edited October 2007
    On a side note, does anyone know of a good set of desktop 2.1 speakers that have an optical input for a non-astronomical price point? I'd like to get a nice set of speakers for my TV to use with my Wii, but I don't need surround as I don't have a place to put them.

    Edit: Also, anyone remember Aureal 3D Audio? Holy shit that stuff rocked. Made Jedi Knight so fucking immersive.

    maximumzero on
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  • victor_c26victor_c26 Registered User regular
    edited October 2007
    Does Klipsch still do computer audio?

    I remember their 2.1 solutions being extremely good.

    klipch.jpg

    Still available: Klipsch ProMedia 2.1 THX

    victor_c26 on
    It's been so long since I've posted here, I've removed my signature since most of what I had here were broken links. Shows over, you can carry on to the next post.
  • DroolDrool Registered User regular
    edited October 2007
    I've found every game I've played since I bought my 5.1 set years ago takes advantage of the directional sound. I couldn't imagine playing CS without it.

    Drool on
  • FreddyDFreddyD Registered User regular
    edited October 2007
    I don't know about 7.1, but most of the PC games I play have phenomenal 5.1 surround sound. I mostly play shooters, however. Stranglehold, Half Life 2, Serious Sam, F.E.A.R, Battlefield 2, Chronicles of Riddick, the Call of Duty 4 demo, all have excellent positional sound. Most RTS games are stereo, but World in Conflict is interesting because it tends to send radio chatter and VOIP to the rear speakers.

    The consoles have also really stepped it up this gen because Gears of War and Burnout Revenge put the sound in most films to shame. Getting a Dolby Digital receiver may have been the best game investment I've ever made.

    FreddyD on
  • ScudoScudo Registered User regular
    edited October 2007
    I've got the 4.1 version of those Klipsch Promedias

    they still sound amazing, but I think they are out of production, the 2.1s as well

    also, I have to admit, I think a quality set of 2.1s is usually a better route than a cheaper/budget 7.1 set

    so many games still seem so focused around the standard stereo left and right channels that simply having more speakers doesn't make up for mediocre ones

    one of these days I'm going to retire my 4.1s for a receiver and some bookshelf speakers

    Scudo on
  • victor_c26victor_c26 Registered User regular
    edited October 2007
    The 2.1 still seem to be available: Klipsch ProMedia 2.1 THX

    victor_c26 on
    It's been so long since I've posted here, I've removed my signature since most of what I had here were broken links. Shows over, you can carry on to the next post.
  • ScudoScudo Registered User regular
    edited October 2007
    yeah, I was wrong, their site still lists the 2.1s as well

    I was thinking of my 4.1s and I guess the 5.1s then

    Scudo on
  • DeusfauxDeusfaux Registered User regular
    edited October 2007
    I'm confused, I have an X-Fi and a 5.1 setup and I'd be harder pressed to think of a game I own or play that DOESNT support and utilize the surround sound (that's anything post 200... 2 or whatever)

    make sure you are in GAME MODE when running a game, and back to entertainment for regular desktop/music listening business.


    to me, the benefit is as simply verified as tossing a crate up in the air towards the ocean in HL2:LC, doing a 180, and hearing it splash down behind me

    Deusfaux on
  • StormwatcherStormwatcher Blegh BlughRegistered User regular
    edited October 2007
    Deusfaux wrote: »
    I'm confused, I have an X-Fi and a 5.1 setup and I'd be harder pressed to think of a game I own or play that DOESNT support and utilize the surround sound (that's anything post 200... 2 or whatever)

    make sure you are in GAME MODE when running a game, and back to entertainment for regular desktop/music listening business.


    to me, the benefit is as simply verified as tossing a crate up in the air towards the ocean in HL2:LC, doing a 180, and hearing it splash down behind me

    This man speaks the truth.

    Stormwatcher on
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  • squirlysquirly Registered User
    edited October 2007
    I recently bought a Logitech X540 set (For less than half price with another extra little discount so it cost me like $75AU) so I'm venturing into the wonderful world of surround sound, I'm loving it so far but most of it has been just on my 360 using the 'Matrix Mode' thing so not even 'true' surround sound yet.

    Though.. does anyone know of a way so I could use these speakers as 'true' surround sound with my 360? At the moment the white/right audio cables go into a provided connector and connects to only 1 of the speaker cables (I think it's for the front speakers and the centre/rear are left unconnected).

    These are them:

    2342.1.0.jpg

    Sorry for the hijack. D:

    squirly on
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  • Nakatomi2010Nakatomi2010 Registered User
    edited October 2007
    Trickiest part of surround sound is speaker positioning... Next part is fine tuning the system... MOST games are catered towards Creative's EAX capable sound cards, Valve especially cateres towards this as I recall because of the environmental audio...

    What you want to do is get the speakers exactly where you need them, then go into the surround sound console and tune the front/back speakers, basically what I do is I'll drag I'll balance to the rear speakers until I can hear from the back equally as loud from the front...

    Also bare in mind the rear speakers are generally just sound effect, all speech, and critical thing will come fron the center channel. Surround sound as immersion to games, but all you're really going to get most depends on the game, in Counter-Strike, for instance, you'll a more accurate reading on their footsteps because you'll audibly hear the location in your room, or you'll hear gun fire in a specific location, things like that. In flight/space sims you'll hear engine effects in the rear, and people whooshing by you.... In driving games you'll be able to tell how far the cops are behind you, or competitors...

    The sound card is the most frequently scoffed item in the cmoputer, but many game designers realize this is how people immerse themselves into games and try to cater to that crowd as well....

    I used a 7.1 surround sound system on a 5.1 card, I feel significantly more immersed...


    Let's take HL2 for instance, wandering around in the Antlion caves listening to the grubs chirping as you look out into a cavern, you can look deep into the cavern and listen carefully to the chirping and hear the chirps behind you, to the side of you, just all around you, and gives you a much more immersed feeling of behing IN a cave, while not having to leave the comfort of your own room.

    Anyways.... Just make sure the games AND Windows are set to use the number of speakers you have, and then make sure the speakers are setup in the right places, and the front and rear audio are balanced like your left and right audio...


    But ultimatly remember that most of the audio that'll come from the rear speakers is just background noise.... Just like movies....

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  • VoodooVVoodooV Registered User regular
    edited October 2007
    I used to have a nice Klipsch 5.1 Promedia set. But it died about 6 months ago and I decided that having a huge system like that just for PC gaming was too much of a hassle, especially in a world where more and more games are going to consoles instead of PC.

    So I stuck with Klipsch, but got these instead and I couldn't be happier. They're still awesome speakers, but not excessive like I thought the 5.1s were:

    http://www.amazon.com/Klipsch-ProMedia-Ultra-Speaker-System/dp/B0006TIEZS/ref=sr_1_2/002-4202073-5724011?ie=UTF8&s=electronics&qid=1193504305&sr=1-2

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  • XanariosXanarios Registered User regular
    edited October 2007
    Deusfaux wrote: »
    I'm confused, I have an X-Fi and a 5.1 setup and I'd be harder pressed to think of a game I own or play that DOESNT support and utilize the surround sound (that's anything post 200... 2 or whatever)

    make sure you are in GAME MODE when running a game, and back to entertainment for regular desktop/music listening business.


    to me, the benefit is as simply verified as tossing a crate up in the air towards the ocean in HL2:LC, doing a 180, and hearing it splash down behind me

    This man speaks the truth.

    Really though, this has more to do with "Game Mode" than the games necessarily supporting the proper channels. Big titles will do surround nowadays by default (some in ProLogic as well.. <3), but cheaper companies still tend to skimp on audio immersion.

    Xanarios on
  • FreddyDFreddyD Registered User regular
    edited October 2007
    squirly wrote: »
    Though.. does anyone know of a way so I could use these speakers as 'true' surround sound with my 360? At the moment the white/right audio cables go into a provided connector and connects to only 1 of the speaker cables (I think it's for the front speakers and the centre/rear are left unconnected).
    You need something that can decode Dolby Digital sound and has 6 channel output. Probably a high-end receiver. Or, you could go by a pawn shop and buy a low end receiver (with optical in) and some new speakers just for your box.

    It's worth it. You haven't really heard an XBox 360 game until you've heard it in Dolby Digital.

    FreddyD on
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