Technical investigation into PS4 and XB1 audio solutions *spawn

Discussion in 'Console Technology' started by Brad Grenz, Jun 2, 2013.

  1. pMax

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    Well, gamers are not willing to trade graphics for audio, especially if they use just TV stereo output. TBH the issue is not audio, which is a cool marketing feat all else more or less equal, but the sup-par graphic argument (I'm not saying it really matters, just that I see it usually used alot in the console war).

    I did buy a 260x only for trueaudio chip, the day I will be able to play thief :/

    @bkilian: sad to hear that - if you couple it with xbox 75% cut in Europe, it makes me really wonder if MS wants really to invest in the console field any more in the long term...
     
  2. MrFox

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    I guess that doesn't fit with "mobile fist, cloud first" new and improved formula.

    Surely VR will bring back some emphasis on audio, at least that seems to be a clear focus for Sony, they understand how important it is for immersion. There's three processors in Morpheus, two of them may not be in the final product to cut cost, and the Audio DSP is the only one that will definitely be present for binaural processing.
     
  3. Davros

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    your right of course I was taking hdmi audio to be codec audio which is no longer the case nowdays since the introduction of truaudio

    /waits for brit to delete his own post in the interest of noise reduction ;)
     
  4. bkilian

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    Speech team is separate. We were the same team during Kinect launch, but we got split up right after that. I don't know if the speech team got hit by the layoffs. Part of it is MS is changing their process around testing. Now tests will be written by the developers, who will be expected to test their own stuff, and there will be very few dedicated testers, now called "Quality Assurance Engineers" I believe, who basically will just be analyzing perf counters and logs.
     
  5. Shifty Geezer

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    So what is the remit of the audio team? Developing the SDK in exposing functionality for devs from the fixed-audio pipeline? Might we see something like them just providing 'drivers' for audio middleware to keep the devs happy, and not branch out into anything XB1 specific?
     
  6. SlimJim

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    Sad to hear that; but you were part of the test team then? I thought you took part in the actual development..

    I just picked up that the Morpheus could have a processor similar to the ones found in high end surround-headphones; from a 7.1 input it will create a realistic surround soundscape for headphones (2 speakers).

    There will also be a PS4 update that will enable the PS Gold headphones to have a much better surround effect: currently the PS4 down mixes everything to stereo; this is passed to the PS headphones and then there is a simple virtual surround algorithm applied.
    With the update the sound will be mixed inside the PS4; when the option is enabled the normal HDMI output is stereo, apparently.

    I know this through people that work on Killzone :cool:

    edit: I thought that if the PS4 algorithm is good enough, they could leave the Morpheus processor out? It could save some money :p
    The only thing I see for the Morpheus proc unit is that it could enable surround at the same time for the people who are listening through the ht system instead of the helmet, but aside from that: it just seems like extra ballast
     
  7. Lalaland

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    Wow that's a shame from what you've discussed here it's clear there was a real drive and vision for gaming audio in that team :(. Like many others in here I remember the hey day of PC audio when Aureal and Creative were duking it out (so long fair A3D 2.0 <sniff>). I was hoping that MS were planning to really blow out environmental audio in a way that would spur others in the industry to do so as well.

    It seems that some folks are under the mistaken impression that a true 'virtual surround' implementation = 7.1 > 2.0 downmix but nothing could be further from the truth. A downmix just takes 8 inputs and applies a relatively crude HRTF (Head Related Transfer Function) algorithm to produce 2 outputs, it can be remarkably effective but nothing to a true 'virtual surround' implementation. In true HRTF every sound source in the scene is processed for a variety of factors which are lost in a downmix such as relative distance to player, occluding surfaces, reflective surfaces, materials and if the source is moving it's velocity and direction. These factors are all lost when dealing with a DTS bitstream where you just have 8 barking dogs that the algorithm merely spaces around you.

    I still remember what a revelation it was to play Half-Life with my lovely A3D 2.0 card and it's great echoy metal footteps, amazing echoing retorts from the gun and knowing where the enemies were instinctively just from the audio. Then I remember Half Life 2.0 and the god awful time I had with my Creative Soundblaster and the stuttering bug. Creative, a company never lacking for imaginative new ways to invest less in customer support. They wanted to charge for driver support on Windows XP for a current product (the Live range), I mean it was still being sold for flips sake! I've a Asus card now and it's worth it to me just for the EMI isolation compared to motherboard audio but I would never recommend an audio card anymore as part of a 'normal' build :(
     
  8. taisui

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    Oh the good old days...Creative Labs sued Aureal's pants off and bought the IPs after bankruptcy, karma.

    the virtual surround tech was pretty dope at its days.
     
  9. Davros

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    So the ps4 has no native 7.1 output ?
     
  10. Lalaland

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    It can bitstream 7.1 DTS/Dolby Digital over optical and HDMI or 7.1 lossless over HDMI only. I think the mixing was in reference to a 2.0 downmix for standard tv speakers (not all or even most tvs do a good job of downmixing a 7.1 bitstream)
     
  11. Lalaland

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    Yup competitive 'lawfare' at its best, I remember buying my software configured PCI Aureal A3D 1.0 when Creative were still only offering E-ISA cards whose IRQs were configured by jumpers. To be honest I think the decision to fold EAX 1.0 (?) into DX5.0 was the real death knell for Aureal as all of the developments of EAX were never licensed to other vendors. Players were left with the unappetising prospect of overpriced Creative cards with terrible buggy drivers, cheap cards with emulated EAX support that were also buggy as all hell or just disabling accelerated audio which most promptly did. Combine ageing recycled products with awful marketing is it any wonder gamers decided that $100 was far better invested in a new GPU than in a Soundblaster?

    MS should have taken over development of EAX or co-funded it on the basis of it being an open standard, it's been bitterly amusing to me to see Creative flogging OpenAL when they (ab)used closed standards to destroy the soundcard market. By the time DX10 killed hardware acceleration it was more a final nail in the coffin than a surprise.
     
  12. bkilian

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    Heh, don't let a Test or QA person hear you insinuate that they don't "take part in the actual development" :)

    I was a developer in test on the audio team. Very little (but not none) of the code I wrote runs on the actual shipping product, but I helped define and debug the APIs and was one of the first people to write code using them, which resulted in another round of changes and refinements. Does that qualify as taking part in the actual development?
     
  13. SlimJim

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    That qualifies as engineering in my eyes! :cool: I'm sorry if it sounded derogatory; that was not my intention; I didn't know the definition of 'test' in that field, It sounds interesting, hope your new position is similar
     
  14. bkilian

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    I figured it wasn't intentional. Different companies do testing differently, at Microsoft, until very recently, most testers were just engineers who wrote code that tested product code. In some teams we also contributed code to the product itself, and in other teams, like HD DVD, the test team had an active role in defining the specification, writing the conformance tests that all industry players had to pass to get the logo, and helping the Hollywood studios write the code that went into the discs. It all depends on what team you were on.

    In my current position, I write parts of the framework the other testers use to write tests, I contribute code to the product itself to help with testability, and sometimes I even do some testing :)
     
  15. imaxx

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    uuuh... how can you do testing in a different way?

    About killing QA and moving it to development: it is a typical move of MBAs managers.

    Explicit testing is a cost - if you make them done by devs, it "disappears" (and quality lowers, but they dont care...).
    I've seen it done here where I work, for example - testers fired.

    But honestly, devs *hate* writing tests, and the final quality isnt even comparable (my test was... okeysh, but the real tester that took my place was way better...).

    Anyway, devs are great at unit testing, way better than QAs -in the end, they made the functions.
     
  16. ERP

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    There is a big difference between test at MS and test at most game developers, the latter just have people play the game and report bugs. At MS test engineers write test code, they used to have a SDET designation, that differentiated them from the SE's (Software Engineers) but I thought that went away a few years ago and they were all just SE's now, I know at least Bing did that.
     
  17. BRiT

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    Yes, there is an exponential difference between the Test Engineers at Microsoft and nearly any other company. At my current place, testers are simply users who follow scripts (and usually do a poor job of that too).

    It's a shame that MS has cut any sort of software engineer, regardless of what area they develop software in, the main features or in the testing. I hope they have no issues at all in finding new employment.

    It's a shame that most of the gamer market places so little value on audio. It was just getting interesting again.
     
  18. DSoup

    DSoup meh
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    I can't imagine there is any company that produces hardware or software products where the initial rounds of testing aren't undertaken by other engineers, if not the very same engineers who are designing the products.

    I've worked in in the private sector (aerospace and defence) and now in Government and testing has always been a tiered process. Day 0 testing, what is commonly called tier 0, is always undertaken by engineers - by that I mean professional engineers. User testing (folks with no particular technical qualifications) is usually tier 4 or 5 and a long way the production pipeline.

    But agreed on the inability of users to not follow scrips. <insert GIF of head smashing against wall> :yep2:
     
  19. taisui

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    An example would probably be when testing a game, the QA testers would play the game, and the SDETs would build a service to log the bug in-game and interactively.
     
  20. DSoup

    DSoup meh
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    A game is going to have to be in pretty good shape before it's stable enough to run for Q/A testing, i.e. it's already been through a ton of internal testing by engineers.
     
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