Creative's latest sound card is actually pretty good.

Discussion in 'PC Hardware, Software and Displays' started by Guden Oden, Feb 22, 2006.

  1. Guden Oden

    Guden Oden Senior Member
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    MT32 had the unfortunate side-effect of having an incredibly noisy reverb circuit built into it tho - made for a fatter sound, but at a very noticeable cost. :(
     
  2. DemoCoder

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    Creative and Innovation are not two words that go together.

    I'm hoping that one day soon, someone figures out how to redo audio wavetracing on the GPU ala PPU offloading to the GPU, and Creative's cards are turned into little more than commodity D-to-A converters. Either that, or somone slaps a cheap CELL processor on a card + D2A output, and we call it a night.

    Creative has been terrible for the audio market IMHO. We've got huge advancements in visual rendering, physics, and animation on the table, but audio realism is still stuck in the past.
     
  3. Guden Oden

    Guden Oden Senior Member
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    Let's not blame everything on creative though - MS has hardly done anything to help either. They've not created a wavetracing extension to directsound, nor any sample compression formats either. Titles like Doom3 do ogg decompression in realtime for sfx playback to limit memory useage, which is a waste of CPU resources...

    Let's face it, sound simply isn't as cool as video, and besides, with the ubiquitousness of el cheapo multichannel AC97 audio on mobos today, the drive to improve audio simply isn't there.
     
  4. swaaye

    swaaye Entirely Suboptimal
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    DirectSound is still the same as it was back at DX7, I believe. I don't think anything has been done to it. Certainly nothing significant. At least Creative has worked with the OpenAL people, though that could just be them trying to take over the API too. NV used to be in on that too until they utterly gave up on the HW audio market.

    Honestly, my A2ZS really can make some very sweet 3D audio. I was playing Unreal II a couple of days ago in headphone mode and it was definitely doing some decent placement of sounds and the binaural stuff was working cuz I could tell front-back very well. (Unreal II supports EAX 3.) Too bad the game itself sucks lol. Very pretty though. Impressive what an advance Unreal Engine 2 was. The card has some kick ass analog quality too, and I did get it for $50 after a rebate with the Gamer pack (got 5 games with it too lol).

    I honestly don't really blame the companies. It all comes down to making a product that people will buy and I'm not convinced that enough people care about gaming audio (even hardcore gamers). This stuff isn't really much simpler than 3D graphics. Tricking our little teensy brains that audio is 3 dimensional is something that physicists and whoever have been working on for decades. If they can't sell it in large volume, they can't fund millions of $ of research. How many of you have a large number of people you know not using integrated AC97? I'm the only person I know who's not! And I play less than my friends! I gave my brother a old Live! for free, cuz his Dell came with crap audio and I thought he'd like a small upgrade. He doesn't even know the difference lol (though that 10yr old card isn't exactly loaded with 3D features). I'm just not convinced the market is there.

    There's also something to be said on how Creative supported the Live! (1998) with new drivers for several OS releases, up until XP with the final release in 2003. Those XP drivers work flawlessly in my experience too. As long as you keep Live! off of older boards (VIA KT133A and older VIA's are worst), you'll be fine with one. Philips gave up on their original line like a year after release. I have two Tbird 128-powered Seismic Edge boards that have the crappiest NT5 drivers imagineable and support nothing more than 2-speaker thru the board's AC97 codec I'm sure. Yamaha gave up on their many cheap chips the same way. There are many such examples of APUs being abandoned. But with an ancient EMU10K1 Live! you can enjoy 32 hardware audio channels and its full feature set in XP right now, along with using the Audigy's control panels cuz they upgraded to those too.

    They've also updated the original Audigy boards to EAX4, when A2 came out. As far as I know they're still updating those cards' drivers. I've never had any serious problems with my A2ZS either. And that card's like 3 years old now I believe and has seen quite a few driver updates over its time.

    I just think Creative gets a lot of left wing open source linuxish people (lol heh heh) angry cuz Creative has some business spirit and wants to make money. What, cuz they can survive in a market that hardly buys their cards, they're evil? It's fairly obvious too that they would not be around today if they'd not have diversified so much with all their different lines of stuff.
     
    #44 swaaye, Feb 27, 2006
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 27, 2006
    Guden Oden likes this.
  5. AlBran

    AlBran Ferro-Fibrous
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    Just to add to your excellent comments, swaaye. I think another problem is that in order to get 3D sound, one would really need to get a surround sound setup, and quite frankly, I can see how that is a problem in setting up in most rooms that the computer would be in; the convenience just isn't there like in a proper home theater setup. Although I think newer homes shouldn't have as much of a problem. I just notice that all the computer rooms for my friends are really not good at all for setting up rear speakers. 2.1 speakers, sure, but surround is just bad for people moving around. Even our own living room isn't optimal for speaker setup, but it's a relatively larger area so setup isn't terrible.
     
  6. Snyder

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    IMO that's not that big a deal considering the hardware hasn't changed very much through all that years.
    That said, it's a real shame how the competitors (Philips and Terratec come to mind) treated their cards driver-wise.



    Well I guess it has something to do with the demise of Aureal and Sensaura...I don't mean to be judgmental, just stating how it possibly has been perceived.
     
  7. KimB

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    Not true with a decent HRTF, and less true with headphones and a decent HRTF.
     
  8. Bobbler

    Bobbler Shazbot!
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    Sadly, as much as I hate Creative for their lack of drive, I also can't really blame them entirely. Most people don't have speaker systems attached to their computers to even appreciate the junky soundcards we have now. If more people (and more companies) made affordable speaker setups like Klipsch (if you can take the risk of having the amp die) or Logitech (if you don't care much about the sloppy bass) and we might have more people appreciating the need for better soundcards, and even then you could still get away with a cheap $50 card...

    The sound market sort of suffers everywhere, really. I know a lot of people with nice TVs but shitty sound systems (many just use the speakers built into the tv =\ ).

    With that said I'm pretty happy with my X-Fi... quite noticeable upgrade from my aging SB Live.
     
  9. KimB

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    But 3D audio is completely orthogonal to sound quality, as the Diamond MX300 showed. That card had the best 3D audio I've ever heard, but some pretty poor sound quality. Not that I'm saying that's a good thing: people should expect at least decent sound quality out of any add-in sound card, but you can get the full effect of good 3D audio without good speakers.
     
  10. swaaye

    swaaye Entirely Suboptimal
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    It is definitely true that Vortex2 had phenomenal 2.1 speaker 3D audio. I don't really see why that hasn't come back either. It must have some sort of drawback that we're not catching. It was very demanding on the hardware, but that's moot today. It probably didn't work as well for everyone. We all hear differently cuz of different ear shapes. But, it certainly was an exciting tech and must have had a future...

    I just don't know. I don't think that traditional hardware APUs really have a future. It seems to me that audio is pretty much stuck being mobo-based to be a high volume product. The only hope for serious acceptance is a software driven tech. I'm not sure how well a general purpose CPU can cope with the load of a fancy audio technique, but we are definitely starting to have a bit of a surplus of CPU power, now that multi-core is becoming very widespread.

    Correct me if I'm wrong but I think DirectSound actually has software HRTFs within it that can be used. I'm almost certain that Painkiller had an option to use them. That game had options to switch between nearly every audio API I've heard of, and I spent lots of time tinkering with them.

    On the Klipsch speaker angle, I bought some Promedia 2.1's last year. They have the best sound I've ever heard from a set of speakers I've owned, especially for their size. Their frequency response is just shockingly good compared to speakers I've had in the past. I've heard about the amp-death, but mine seem ok. Probably helps that they aren't on very much though. I always unplug them when I'm not using them. They suck about 15W (measured with Killawatt) even when not doing anything, and they have no power switch at all (very odd).

    Headphones are more popular than speakers I think. My friends often load up their MMO's and wear headphones. It's definitely the only way to go at a party or the noise level just gets ridiculous. I had to go out and buy some decent phones recently because those Klipsch speakers aren't exactly conducive to happy co-residents of an apartment (heh heh). X-Fi is supposed to be optimized for 3D audio with headphones. Or at least they took that part very, very seriously.
     
  11. KimB

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    Meh, but then you can't easily shout across the room to your teammates!
     
  12. Bobbler

    Bobbler Shazbot!
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    a bit OT:
    I have my promedia 4.1s from Klispch still (they are like 7 years old now, maybe older) and I haven't had them go out, but I've heard more than a few stories about their BASH amps dying... I imagine the failure rate is still in the minority (as things tend to get blown out of proportion) -- certainly worth the risk, if you ask me. You wouldn't expect it from their size and cost, but they can often rival dedicated sound systems costing 2-3 times as much (of course, they only have the 1/8 mini jack connectors =\ ).

    I'm also sad that the Aureal tech has seemingly gone to waste -- Creative should have put it to use, but it seems they filed it away. Never been more impressed with sound in a game than the first time I used it... it always felt like we took a major step backwards when Aureal died, and for no real reason -- Creative bought Aureal (right?) and could have taken their IP and put it to use instead of the then crumby EAX.
     
  13. KimB

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    I didn't think Creative purchased Aureal....could be wrong, though. Time to do some Googlin', I guess.

    Nevermind, guess I was wrong:
    http://www.gamasutra.com/newswire/news/index20000918.htm

    Yeah, I think Creative just did it to ensure that somebody else didn't buy them out to provide competition.
     
  14. Zaphod

    Zaphod Remember
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    The final nail in the coffin didn't come until Creative bought Sensaura. There were several competitive DSP-based '3D gaming sound cards' launched after Aureal got sued into bankrupcy (Diamond, Hercules, VideoLogic, M-Audio, Turtle Beach, Terratec and others using chips from ESS and Crystal/Cirrus Logic), but AFAIR none after Sensaura got bought. Sensaura had lot's of licensees, and I doubt Creative was all that keen on renewing them for the competition in the hardware market after fulfilling whatever obligations they had at the time of the buyout.
     
  15. Guden Oden

    Guden Oden Senior Member
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    I'm sure there was some interesting IP too. Or so I'm guessing just to counter the knee-jerk "creative is evil" post you made. ;)

    Hehe, and swaaye, great big post you made there. Gave you green for that one. :D
     
  16. KimB

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    Well, in my defense, Creative has done next to nothing to further 3D audio since the buyout. So I don't think it's entirely knee-jerk.
     
  17. Zaphod

    Zaphod Remember
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    I haven't had that much experience with an X-Fi, but my impression is that it does improve sound positioning with headphones (something that, IMO, didn't change much from the original Live! through the Audigys).

    Perhaps the >5.1 PC speaker system market was finally staturated enough for Creative to find it aconomically viable to make some genuine improvements to their souncard lineup again... :twisted:
     
  18. Guden Oden

    Guden Oden Senior Member
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    And neither has anybody else either. So why the entirely one-sided criticism here? VIA for example removed what little hardware acceleration they had when they intro'd their envy24 series for example, what kind of progress is that?!

    And even if creative had advanced 3D audio, I'm sure they'd just been bashed for creating proprietary APIs instead, like they were with eax... Damned if you do, damned if you don't. ;)
     
  19. Ty

    Ty Roberta E. Lee
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    I think some of the anti-Creative sentiment is simply because of the way Creative squished a very, very technologically advanced competitor, Aureal into the ground via lawsuits.

    They, as many other companies that are clearly the established leader, tend to use their financial muscle to silence competitors not in the marketplace but the courtroom. /shrug.

    Disclaimer - I had a Aureal card but now I use a Creative Audigy Platnium and think both are great. Loved my Gravis Ultrasound though, when that thing worked, it was awesome.
     
  20. epicstruggle

    epicstruggle Passenger on Serenity
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    Id rather play games with no sound then purchase a creative product.

    epic
     
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