Predict: The Next Generation Console Tech - AUDIO

Discussion in 'Console Technology' started by Rodéric, Oct 19, 2011.

  1. Rodéric

    Rodéric a.k.a. Ingenu
    Moderator Veteran

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2002
    Messages:
    4,008
    Likes Received:
    859
    Location:
    Planet Earth.
    I'd rather have lossless compression and 48kHz@16bit rather than that...
    I also doubt most people connect their console to good sound systems anyway. :(
    (TV speakers clearly aren't good, many kits aren't good either, distorting sound way too much, sometimes to please the audience by stronger bass for example.)

    As far as we get HD5+ along with a 4+ cores OoOE CPU with enough bandwidth in next gen consoles I'll be fine.
    I'd prefer them to go SDD and DD only to guarantee fast data streaming, but it's more like a dream than anything for the upcoming generation, maybe the following...
    As I don't like gamepads (crap for FPS, RTS and Flight Sims which are the games I like), I'd rather have an alternative control system that allows those :p

    Ok that's wishful thinking rather than prediction...
     
  2. jonabbey

    Regular

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2006
    Messages:
    809
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    Austin, TX
    Anything above a 40kHz sampling rate (and a 20kHz waveform) is beyond human perception.

    If you're talking about using that bandwidth for surround sound, I imagine current consoles already exceed that total bandwidth.
     
  3. Shifty Geezer

    Shifty Geezer uber-Troll!
    Moderator Legend

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2004
    Messages:
    41,680
    Likes Received:
    12,710
    Location:
    Under my bridge
    Arwin was saying he had experience of certain frequencies beyond audible having a visceral affect, which I could believe. But the audio gear needed to pull that off is beyond consumer level I think. Current audio is good enough forever I reckon (save path tracing for accurate 3D audio). We hit the ceiling years back.
     
  4. bkilian

    Veteran

    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2006
    Messages:
    1,539
    Likes Received:
    3
    Even though a 20 KHz waveform can reproduce signals higher than we can normally percieve, higher sampling rates do have utility, because while our ears can't "hear" frequencies that high, they do affect our perception of the sound as a whole (probably due to harmonics and aliasing effects). Unfortunately, It's irrelevant anyway, since you get distortion from the non-linear behaviour of speakers and it would overpower any resonant effects of higher than 20KHz reproduction. (Although the "Golden Ears" would have you believe differently, these are also the folks that in a double blind test, chose the 64Kb WMA Encode over the full bitrate CD rip 3 out of 4 times and believe that distortion inducing vacuum tubes are the pinnacle of audio technology.)

    Moving up from 16 bit to 24 or 32 is _far_ more helpful, especially at quiet levels. Even if you only have your mixing stages at 24 or 32 and then downmix to 16 at the end, the effect is noticeable.
     
  5. Arwin

    Arwin Now Officially a Top 10 Poster
    Moderator Legend

    Joined:
    May 17, 2006
    Messages:
    17,724
    Likes Received:
    1,239
    Location:
    Maastricht, The Netherlands
    Actually not quite. It is within the audible range, but there is a resolution barrier that, when crossed, triggers a more direct emotional response. I would equate it to the 72-85hz display frequency range on CRT displays, where below 72hz people can see the flickering (especially in their peripheral vision) even if they're not directly aware of this, and it can lead to headaches and eyestrain.

    With breaking glass, all the waves of each individual crashing piece reaches our ears, and if the resolution of both the recording and the playback of this is too low, then I think we can hear this. I used to have a really good headset where you could not hear any difference when changing the volume, only you would get a headache and your ears would start to hurt. Almost nobody uses those kinds of headphones and very few people have speakers that behave like that.

    Several movies made use of the emotional effects of the opposite end of the scale once the .1 was added to the speaker setup in cinemas and homes to improve bass response (though more focus seems to have been on power ;) ).

    I've always believed that one of the reasons 5.1 or 7.1 sounds so much better to me, is not just the acoustics being so much more convincing, but also that each channel used beyond the 2 for stereo increases the sound resolution. Though of course the quality of the recording matters a lot too. Though there too, having multiple channels should help.
     
  6. Shifty Geezer

    Shifty Geezer uber-Troll!
    Moderator Legend

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2004
    Messages:
    41,680
    Likes Received:
    12,710
    Location:
    Under my bridge
    I've not been too impressed with surround systems. They rarely correlate with the division of the screen and the seating so they sound like disconnected sounds just happening in the environment and not part of the movie/game. Unless you're sat dead centre in a properly set-up 5.1 system, you'll never be centralised in the audio, and that'll still never fit in with the screen anyway.

    The best audio IMO is physiologically correct binaural over headphones. The ultimate immersion would be a stereoscopic display like Sony's with stereo headphones and binaural accoustic processing. In a first-person game that'd place the player exactly in the centre of the action and give amazing spacial awareness. I don't know how well 5.1 headphones perform as I've never tried them, but technically they are a clumsy solution! That'd be an area for next-gen to improve in sound processing, except headphones aren't popular and would be spacially discrete from the display positioned some distance in front of the gamer. It's also kinda irrelevant to the choice of hardware and topic at hand, because audio processing is readily doable on the CPU. There's no need for a custom processor, especially for an extremely niche experience.
     
  7. function

    function None functional
    Legend Veteran

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2003
    Messages:
    5,146
    Likes Received:
    2,262
    Location:
    Wrong thread
    I just ripped some songs to both 64kbps and 128kbps WMA using Media Player, and the difference is pretty big. I definitely don't have Golden Ears, but even allowing Winamp to shuffle them can't hide it.

    My PC and CD player are both linked to the same amp and speakers. After years of neglect I accidentally* uncovered just how much better stuff sounds from the CD player than the PC - even from 320 kbps MP3s or 192kbps WMAs. I don't think it's the bitrates or compression, I think it's just that the sound ... stuff ... in PCs is pretty cheap. I'd always thought the speakers and to a lesser extent the amp were all that really mattered. Not true!

    *I listened to the first track off a new CD while my PC was booting up and thought it was awesome. Put it straight in the PC and ripped it (320 kbps mp3), played the first song again as soon as it was ripped and was ... disappointed. Put the CD back in the CD player when the rip had finished, synced the play on both the PC and CD players, and switched between the sources at random. Couldn't believe it at first. Big difference, same on my laptop, mp3 player, phone, and basically everything. Stuff like picks scratching and coughs in an auditorium are clearer against louder sounds, and you can pick up when individual instruments begins to fade in sooner in an orchestra, and other stuff like tones that really fill your ears and, err, "humm" (not an audiophile sorry, don't know the words).

    I should really test some of my mp3 purchases when burned as CDs, that would show how much difference was coming from the devices themselves rather than the raw sound data.

    [Edit]Just burned a 256kbps mp3 album to CD, and synced CD playback and PC playback. Switching between the two shows ... almost no difference. Oh. But CD rips still sound worse. Hmm.[/Edit]
     
    #7 function, Oct 20, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 20, 2011
  8. Shifty Geezer

    Shifty Geezer uber-Troll!
    Moderator Legend

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2004
    Messages:
    41,680
    Likes Received:
    12,710
    Location:
    Under my bridge
    Perform an uncompressed, raw rip of the CD to 44.1 kHz 16 bit wav and play that on your PC, versus a compressed rip. I just compared a .flac track with its .mp3 counterpart and any differences are negligable. Which is kinda besides the point - Joker is saying in tests plenty of folk can't tell the difference, whether we can or not, so the difference between CD quality and production quality doesn't make sense.
     
  9. function

    function None functional
    Legend Veteran

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2003
    Messages:
    5,146
    Likes Received:
    2,262
    Location:
    Wrong thread
    Right, I've tested a couple of mp3 albums burned to disk. There is a difference in how they sound, but it's fairly small and doesn't always show. That'll be the DAC or whatever then.

    I've also tested lossless WMA against 192 kbps WMA (listening to the same track twice back to back). I can't tell the difference. The difference between 64 kbps WMA and 192 kbps is pretty large though.

    Edit: So yeah, I think production quality sound output for consoles is an unnecessary extravagance.
     
    #9 function, Oct 20, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 20, 2011
  10. Rodéric

    Rodéric a.k.a. Ingenu
    Moderator Veteran

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2002
    Messages:
    4,008
    Likes Received:
    859
    Location:
    Planet Earth.
    There are people (me included) who can make the difference between 320kbps MP3 and FLAC, but not between FLAC and CD/WAV.

    The difference is noticable, enough for me to reencode all my CD (which were in 320kbps constant rate) to FLAC...

    I would think this is quite important for the (in-game) soundtrack.
     
  11. hoho

    Veteran

    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2007
    Messages:
    1,218
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Estonia
  12. Blazkowicz

    Legend Veteran

    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2004
    Messages:
    5,607
    Likes Received:
    256
    I used a friend's PS3, original firmware, we would watch movies on it streamed from the computers and it was fine, but the PS3 didn't have a menu item for setting master volume. it had a weak -4 to +4 in the video player and that's it.

    the volume was way to high, I had the 2x12W amp's knob at about 10%.

    so maybe they should fix that :), I have a feeling the speakers didn't receive much watts or something. adjustements were painful. didn't the PS3 use to be high end?
     
  13. Tahir2

    Veteran

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2002
    Messages:
    2,978
    Likes Received:
    86
    Location:
    Earth
    Is that something you would like to see in a next generation console by Sony? Full audio adjustment control?

    Must say I did find it a bit weird too but use my amp for volume and other audio controls.
    Anyway I think all this talk of audio has been a bit OT but interesting nonetheless... mods a new thread maybe?
     
  14. Rodéric

    Rodéric a.k.a. Ingenu
    Moderator Veteran

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2002
    Messages:
    4,008
    Likes Received:
    859
    Location:
    Planet Earth.
  15. Shifty Geezer

    Shifty Geezer uber-Troll!
    Moderator Legend

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2004
    Messages:
    41,680
    Likes Received:
    12,710
    Location:
    Under my bridge
    On what playback equipment and what sort of audio sample?
     
  16. Rodéric

    Rodéric a.k.a. Ingenu
    Moderator Veteran

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2002
    Messages:
    4,008
    Likes Received:
    859
    Location:
    Planet Earth.
    Original Soundtracks, Pop (Michael Jackson), on SoundBlaster XFi Xtreme Audio PCIe/ASUS Xonar DX PCIe with Aego M sound system.

    (http://www.acoustic-energy.co.uk/Default.aspx?pagename=Aego-M-loudspeaker)

    The high frequencies get destroyed, it's quite easy to spot in a number of tracks, some instruments are either distorted or missing.
    Triangles are a good example of instruments suffering from compression, AFAIR.

    I wouldn't go through the trouble of ripping all my CD in FLAC if I didn't find it worth it... ;)
     
  17. Arwin

    Arwin Now Officially a Top 10 Poster
    Moderator Legend

    Joined:
    May 17, 2006
    Messages:
    17,724
    Likes Received:
    1,239
    Location:
    Maastricht, The Netherlands
    As mentioned, most PCs can be pretty horrible for this kind of test. The iPhone and PSP output way better quality sound over the headphones than any analog output of my PC. Good mp3 files can definitely be good enough for most music, but most music also isn't designed to make the most of high frequency sounds (always have to think of the rap lyric "Burn the Bass, Turn up the Treble!" in The Power, which actually does use a high frequency sound, but it's not in the range I'm talking about now).

    Incidentally, how much processing power is enough for audio also depends on your ambitions. Some games do a little bit more than just pop up sounds behind you. Uncharted 2 is a good example, not just of high quality audio, but also of taking into account occluding objects, which can give pretty spectacular results. These I would suggest fall into the category where people just think it sounds great without necessarily noticing why.

    Also, yes, I always make sure I'm sitting in the right location. But even when I don't sit in the right location, if the sound design is really good, the location of the sound versus the screen is still correct. But starting with a humble Pro Logic set back in 1993, just the simulation of being in the room that the movie is in alone was such a huge win. I remember that movies like Speed, if you were in an elevator, going into the elevator shaft, in the bus, in a home, sounds reverb accordingly (your rear speakers can be setup to take into account how far they are behind you for the optimal effect - that system had small, medium or large distance settings, but that already mattered a surprising amount).

    That's not to say that it matters always. There are a lot of games and movies that use crappy source material, and even share them (Doom has the same sliding door sound as many a space movie). And not everyone cares. My wife has taken a while to get used to a good setup. She found the surround highly unsettling at times because she sometimes can't distinguish if something is a movie background sound or if there is actually a baby crying, phone ringing, or whatever. ;) I've also had fun with our cat hearing kittens and calling back to them, trying to find where they were around the tv.

    Anyway, let me pick the source material and I guarantee you even most untrained ears will hear the difference for high frequency sounds (though keep out the djs, dance junkies, large concert goers and certain brands of audiophiles, as they all probably have way too damaged hearing anyway). ;)

    EDIT: yes, a triangle is definitely one of the best single source high frequency sounds you can test with.
     
  18. mrcorbo

    mrcorbo Foo Fighter
    Veteran

    Joined:
    Dec 8, 2004
    Messages:
    3,692
    Likes Received:
    2,138
    This is probably practically true, for most, as they are unwilling or unable to set their system up properly. If you are fortunate enough to have a room that lends itself to a proper home theater layout or are otherwise dedicated enough to prioritze the placement of the HT equipment over everything else when furnishing the room you can get much better results than what is typical. Not many people are willing to base the interior design of their family/living room around proper speaker placement, though.
    Why do you consider 5.1 headphones to be technically clumsy? The best of these work astoundingly well and the tech behind them is based on decades of study of how we perceive sound. The cues we use to determine directionality of sound are well understood and streams of sound can be processed to replicate them fairly easily by relatively humble DSPs. This is especially true in the case of headphones where you know exactly where the drivers are in relation to the listener's ears and don't have to worry about the properties of the room they are in and the interactions between the output of each driver in that space.

    WRT better quality sound output capability in next-gen consoles. Why not? Every PC graphics card you buy these days from top to bottom includes the ability to output audio in 7.1 channels @ 24 bits/192kHz sample rate. And PCs are much less likely than consoles to be hooked up to systems capable of taking advantage of that level of fidelity. From a cost perspective, it's probably a throw-in at this point. And don't you need to support this for Blu-ray anyway? Windows has been processing sound internally @ 32 bits of precision since Vista. Consoles should be able to match this, surely.
     
    #18 mrcorbo, Oct 21, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 21, 2011
  19. mrcorbo

    mrcorbo Foo Fighter
    Veteran

    Joined:
    Dec 8, 2004
    Messages:
    3,692
    Likes Received:
    2,138
    Most instruments, if you have real-life familiarity with them, have subtle elements to their sound that are independent of the actual notes they are playing and people don't even realize that they are missing in the bulk of popular music recordings. The rattle of the strings against the fretboard on an upright bass, the sound of fingers sliding along the strings of a stringed instrument, the flutist's breath across the lip plate of their instrument. These details can be and too often are lost at any point in the process of recording, mixing, mastering and finally playback.

    I strongly recommend giving a listen to a recording like "The Ultimate Demonstration Disc" by Chesky Records some time. This is the kind of source material that can really highlight the advantages of a high-end sound system.
     
    #19 mrcorbo, Oct 21, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 21, 2011
  20. Shifty Geezer

    Shifty Geezer uber-Troll!
    Moderator Legend

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2004
    Messages:
    41,680
    Likes Received:
    12,710
    Location:
    Under my bridge
    Because we have only two ears! ;) 5.1 allows placement of the source sound, but you have to average sounds that come between the speaker positions, and you can't place sounds behind the speaker positions. To do this requires cheats. Well, if you're going to model sound placement, why not do it just for 2 speakers for the two audio sensors that the brain uses? 5.1 Audio is like trying to generate 3D images with 10 images and a lenticular lens instead of using two images, one over each eye. The ability for binaural audio to model spaces and especially upclose sounds (what could be more immersive than a jungle shooter with mozzies buzzing aggravatingly around your head?!) is pretty prefect, in the same way a stereoscopic headset is leaps and bounds a more immersive 3D experience than looking a screen some distance away.

    The only way it could happen in a console is if a headset came as standard. Perhaps it could be integrated into a chat headset, so you get surround audio as well, but I doubt any dev would try that. When we have stereoscopic visors as standard, then we can have binaural audio modelled and really place the player in the middle of the action. The amount of processing power available by then will make audio modelling a cinch! :p
     
Loading...

Share This Page

  • About Us

    Beyond3D has been around for over a decade and prides itself on being the best place on the web for in-depth, technically-driven discussion and analysis of 3D graphics hardware. If you love pixels and transistors, you've come to the right place!

    Beyond3D is proudly published by GPU Tools Ltd.
Loading...