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Author Topic: Vista to kill 3D sound and EAX  (Read 2700 times)
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Daehawk
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« on: November 02, 2006, 02:55:34 PM »

http://openal.org/openal_vista.html

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With Microsoft's decision to remove the audio hardware layer in Windows Vista, legacy DirectSound 3D games will no longer use hardware 3D algorithms for audio spatialization. Instead they will have to rely upon the new Microsoft software mixer that is built into Windows Vista. This new software mixer will give the users basic audio support for their old Direct Sound games but since it has no hardware layer, all EAX® effects will be lost, and no individual per-voice processing can be performed using dedicated hardware processing.
EAX has become the de facto standard for real-time effects processing. It has been incorporated in hundreds of games and has become the method of choice for game developers wanting to add interactive environment effects to their titles. Some of the best selling games of all time use the EAX extensions to DirectSound 5.0 and beyond, including Warcraft3, Diablo2, World of Warcraft, Half Life, Ghost Recon, F.E.A.R. and many others. Under Windows Vista, these games will be losing the hardware support that came as standard under the previous Windows Operating Systems, and will no longer provide real-time interactive effects, making them sound empty and lifeless by comparison to the way they sound on Windows XP.

In some cases, where a game specifically looks for a hardware audio path, it may even fall back to plain stereo output. This will be a very different landscape for 3D audio than the one that both Creative Labs and Aureal Technologies® pioneered 8 years ago.

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« Reply #1 on: November 02, 2006, 03:42:26 PM »

I have to admit, since the early days of EAX (most specifically the first Baldurs Gate title) I've just used regular hardware sound.  The echo problems, the constant tuning and patching, and generally bad implementation in most titles (not the ones listed above however) have really turned me off to it.
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« Reply #2 on: November 02, 2006, 03:45:01 PM »

well crap.  However, towards the end of the article it appears it is not all doom and gloom:

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The Future Is OpenAL

The good news for owners of advanced audio cards like SoundBlaster X-Fi is that the developer community has been preparing for this for over 3 years. Hardware audio will not be disappearing with the launch of Windows Vista. Games that support OpenAL today will continue to provide full hardware-enhanced 3D audio under Windows Vista. This includes games such as Battlefield 2, Doom3, Unreal Tournament2k4, Dungeon and Dragons Online, Prey, Quake 4, and many others (a full list can be found at http://www.openal.org/titles.html). These games have complete hardware-based HRTF support for multiple speaker and headphone setups as well as full support for all the different versions of EAX. Also, these games will be able to take advantage of the hardware-accelerated path on supporting hardware for performance and quality increases.

OpenAL support will also be incorporated into the Unreal 3 engine from Epic Games®, the new Doom 3 engine from Id Software® and the new Torque Gaming Engine from Garage Games®. These engines represent literally hundreds of upcoming titles for PC and will provide the majority of upcoming major PC title releases. All of these titles will have OpenAL support at the core and will sound as good as they look in Windows Vista. Other top tier developers including D.I.C.E.®, Turbine®, Bioware® and others are working to ensure their home-grown audio engines fully support OpenAL hardware. For game developers that are serious about the PC platform, OpenAL is presently the only viable option for delivering the 3D audio experience that gamers have come to expect.

OpenAL has an extremely strong future. The OpenAL community has been able to expand its API with new features, and these were delivered in the recent release of OpenAL version 1.1. With the flexible extension mechanism in OpenAL, more and more extensions are being created to handle tasks such as effects processing, multi-channel buffer playback, and support for features like X-RAM™.

Also, OpenAL is working across more platforms than just Windows -- support exists for multiple varieties of Unix®, OS X (from Apple), and Xbox® / Xbox360™ (from Creative Labs).

Windows Vista will be ushering in a new age for PC gaming, with great new graphics, physics and CPU support. When combined with OpenAL and the widespread developer support it is receiving, gamers will also be hearing some of the best audio ever on Windows Vista.
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« Reply #3 on: November 02, 2006, 05:19:49 PM »

So Creative's shittastic and never updated EAX drivers will be removed from the world for good? Fine by me.
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« Reply #4 on: November 02, 2006, 05:27:37 PM »

Quote from: Destructor on November 02, 2006, 05:19:49 PM

So Creative's shittastic and never updated EAX drivers will be removed from the world for good? Fine by me.

Amen!  Since going back to onboard sound a few months ago, 99% of most issues I in any games resolved themselves. I will never buy a creative product again personally, and if EAX goes the way of the dinosaur, I won't shed a single tear.
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« Reply #5 on: November 02, 2006, 07:25:45 PM »

I miss Aurreal. :sniff:  icon_cry
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« Reply #6 on: November 02, 2006, 07:27:37 PM »

A3D was Aureal's death, they never made it an open format like Creative did and thus they missed many an opportunity.

Seems to me that since many of these sound features are pretty common nowadays, the need for custom APIs for sound is greatly dimished.
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« Reply #7 on: November 02, 2006, 07:28:40 PM »

Quote from: Knightshade Dragon on November 02, 2006, 03:42:26 PM

I have to admit, since the early days of EAX (most specifically the first Baldurs Gate title) I've just used regular hardware sound.  The echo problems, the constant tuning and patching, and generally bad implementation in most titles (not the ones listed above however) have really turned me off to it.

Thank you thank you thank you. Someone else who understands my pain. I freaking hate EAX now..it crashes more games and causes more problems for me then anything else with games.
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« Reply #8 on: November 02, 2006, 07:37:18 PM »

Quote from: Purge on November 02, 2006, 07:25:45 PM

I miss Aurreal. :sniff:  icon_cry

After being treated like crap by the PR firm with Turtle Beach, the landscape for cards looks a little bleak.
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« Reply #9 on: November 02, 2006, 07:37:51 PM »

Quote from: Calvin on November 02, 2006, 07:28:40 PM

Quote from: Knightshade Dragon on November 02, 2006, 03:42:26 PM

I have to admit, since the early days of EAX (most specifically the first Baldurs Gate title) I've just used regular hardware sound.  The echo problems, the constant tuning and patching, and generally bad implementation in most titles (not the ones listed above however) have really turned me off to it.

Thank you thank you thank you. Someone else who understands my pain. I freaking hate EAX now..it crashes more games and causes more problems for me then anything else with games.

No doubt!  One of the first things that I turn off if I get random crashes or stuttering is sound.
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« Reply #10 on: November 02, 2006, 07:39:00 PM »

Quote from: Turtle on November 02, 2006, 07:27:37 PM

A3D was Aureal's death, they never made it an open format like Creative did and thus they missed many an opportunity.

Seems to me that since many of these sound features are pretty common nowadays, the need for custom APIs for sound is greatly dimished.

Actually, financial ruin came from internal stealing and lawsuits from Creative designed to crush the competition. If anyone should be up for anti-competitive behaviour, it's Creative (who, ironically, is NOT).

The HRTF's that Aureal put out were actually believable.
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« Reply #11 on: November 02, 2006, 11:34:15 PM »

I've been having a really nice experience with my m-audio revolution 7.1

Not horridly expensive, well behaved drivers, etc. It's sometimes a little confusing what you need to do in a game, to make it play nice with the card (they tell you in the cards manual to always use software acceleration, for some reason, which is a little confusing when you get to a games control options), but once you get it smoothed over, it sounds real nice.

I use my sound for a combination of game playing, music, and anime... a profile I'm sure is common. Match this little bugger up with a set of nice speakers, (I use some Klipcsh promedia 2.1's), and you end up with a very pleasant sounding solution, for less than 200$ (which is a lot more than some people want to pay, I admit)

I tend to avoid onboard hardware sound.. bad experiences in the ancient past have steered me clear of it for quite some time. That said, I've been hearing some good things about certain solutions, like Analog Devices.

All that said, this is an interesting bit of news. I was completely unaware they were doing something like this. *boggle*

* TheAtomicKid goes off to read.

For the record, I miss aureal too. Nothing compared... though I've heard the x-fi headphone routines are quite good... but I still loathe EAX.

Atomic
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« Reply #12 on: November 02, 2006, 11:37:09 PM »

I think people seriously underrate AC97 and other onboard sound.  Most developers I have worked for, all developed on machines using AC97 sound as a rule.  Certainly Stardock did, most all of their boxes were Dells with onboard AC97.  Like I said, purging creative from my life ended many a headache about compatibility and crashing.
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« Reply #13 on: November 03, 2006, 05:21:55 AM »

I agree, Good Riddance EAX, hello OpenAL... now maybe if more games used OpenGL we'd see more games available for Linux/Mac.
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« Reply #14 on: November 03, 2006, 09:13:14 AM »

Quote from: Kobra on November 02, 2006, 11:37:09 PM

I think people seriously underrate AC97 and other onboard sound.  Most developers I have worked for, all developed on machines using AC97 sound as a rule.  Certainly Stardock did, most all of their boxes were Dells with onboard AC97.  Like I said, purging creative from my life ended many a headache about compatibility and crashing.

How do you know what kind of onboard sound you use?
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« Reply #15 on: November 03, 2006, 12:12:25 PM »

Quote from: Calvin on November 03, 2006, 09:13:14 AM

Quote from: Kobra on November 02, 2006, 11:37:09 PM

I think people seriously underrate AC97 and other onboard sound.  Most developers I have worked for, all developed on machines using AC97 sound as a rule.  Certainly Stardock did, most all of their boxes were Dells with onboard AC97.  Like I said, purging creative from my life ended many a headache about compatibility and crashing.

How do you know what kind of onboard sound you use?

What mainboard do you have?
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« Reply #16 on: November 03, 2006, 05:56:40 PM »

That's funny.  I have impeccable brilliant sound  - far better than when I used the onboard audio.  In my mind (on my Klipsch ProMEdia 5.1 surround) onboard sound is absolute crap compared to the X-Fi.  And the games that utilize EAX3 vs. normal D3D or miles sound system... well it's not even comparable.

I've also never had an echo problem, and I played through the entire BG2 series on an Audigy 1.  In fact, for the bajillion games I have... I don't have any issues at all ATI + CL.  I must have a magical computer or something.
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« Reply #17 on: November 03, 2006, 06:35:58 PM »

Quote from: Purge on November 03, 2006, 12:12:25 PM

Quote from: Calvin on November 03, 2006, 09:13:14 AM

Quote from: Kobra on November 02, 2006, 11:37:09 PM

I think people seriously underrate AC97 and other onboard sound.  Most developers I have worked for, all developed on machines using AC97 sound as a rule.  Certainly Stardock did, most all of their boxes were Dells with onboard AC97.  Like I said, purging creative from my life ended many a headache about compatibility and crashing.

How do you know what kind of onboard sound you use?

What mainboard do you have?

Hey purge, I think-think mind you, because I am not sure (if there is a windows utility to figure it out let me know), its an MSI-K8T Neo. I think. I may have changed it frown All i know is that I have sound problems ad crashes that apepar to be sound related frequently.
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« Reply #18 on: November 03, 2006, 07:41:06 PM »

I hate Creative.  No idea why I keep buying their stuff.
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« Reply #19 on: November 04, 2006, 02:34:33 AM »

Quote from: olaf on November 03, 2006, 07:41:06 PM

I hate Creative.  No idea why I keep buying their stuff.

With so many problems, I am really curious how they seem to get some good reviews frown
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« Reply #20 on: November 05, 2006, 10:32:54 AM »

Because they're the only big sound card manufacturer out there, there's not too much to compare it to.  Also a lot of sound is subjective to the casual listener, unlike graphics for processing power which is easily measured.  About all you can tell of the creative cards are nifty new features they pioneer or if the card has bugs.  Creative is careful to fix any bugs for games that are commonly used to benchmark.

I was actually looking forward to getting a turtle beach card, but I hear their quality has gone down as of late.
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« Reply #21 on: November 05, 2006, 12:25:55 PM »

Quote from: Turtle on November 05, 2006, 10:32:54 AM

Because they're the only big sound card manufacturer out there, there's not too much to compare it to.  Also a lot of sound is subjective to the casual listener, unlike graphics for processing power which is easily measured.  About all you can tell of the creative cards are nifty new features they pioneer or if the card has bugs.  Creative is careful to fix any bugs for games that are commonly used to benchmark.

I was actually looking forward to getting a turtle beach card, but I hear their quality has gone down as of late.

Yeah, I was curious as to what has occurred to Turtle Beach...sucks to hear that they have fallen into the gutter frown
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« Reply #22 on: November 05, 2006, 04:49:14 PM »

Ive had issues in the past with things like the speakers changing or EAX echos coming on for no reason. In fact just 2 days ago I had to turn off that annoying echo yet again. But I love Creative and thier cards. Have since I bought and installed my first one back in 94...a SB 16 and I played Wing Commander with it. Through the years I always stuck with Creative and glad I did. They're still around for a reason.
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« Reply #23 on: November 05, 2006, 05:15:25 PM »

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I was actually looking forward to getting a turtle beach card, but I hear their quality has gone down as of late.
Yea, they were pretty rough to deal with on the review side.  In the end, they didn't even want the product reviewed and asked that it be buried as they were pulling it from the shelf. 
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« Reply #24 on: November 05, 2006, 06:10:08 PM »

Oh forgot..A3D..that was an amazing sound app there. I found it clear and very well implemented.
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« Reply #25 on: November 10, 2006, 08:38:35 PM »

Quote from: Turtle on November 02, 2006, 07:27:37 PM

A3D was Aureal's death, they never made it an open format like Creative did and thus they missed many an opportunity.

Seems to me that since many of these sound features are pretty common nowadays, the need for custom APIs for sound is greatly dimished.

I worked at Aureal when it was going through the lawsuit. It was bad decisions, such as moving to a huge new office, going for pricey lawyers they couldn't pay for once the lawsuit was won, and bad decisions such as giving the employee list to Nvidia when Nvidia "expressed" interest in buying Aureal towards the end.  Nvidia just cherry picked employees from Aureal with the list and didn't buy up the company. I remember the few days after the Nvidia meeting where everyone's phones were ringing and lots of people chatting about how they were going to go to Nvidia for interviews, myself included.

The hardware and audio solution was awesome, the management was poor and the lawsuit was mishandled.
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« Reply #26 on: November 12, 2006, 05:07:56 PM »

Guess I'm a lucky user in that my Audigy has worked fine for several years now. That last game that I had any problems with was HL2 when it first came out, and that was a well known problem with the game itself. Even if my next card isn't a Creative one I'll personally still use a good discrete card. Outside of the old Nforce2 mobo's onboard sound everything else sucks IMO. AC97 is the equivalent of onboard Intel for graphics IMO. I tried to go with the onboard after I upgraded from the Nforce2 and music sounded like ass with it so I went and got the Audigy. I havn't regretted it once.
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