Does the PS3 have inherently horrible center-channel audio or is there a setting I'm missing? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 46 Old 10-16-2012, 12:21 PM - Thread Starter
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I’ve heard, or rather read, from many sources that the Playstation3 has excellent sound- so this weekend I went out and bought one (Slim 250gb) to showcase my in-progress home theater. My first console since the Super Nintendo. I’m finding, however, that it is generally not impressive at all due to horribly poor positional audio in regards to the center channel

The PS3 is connected via HDMI to my new onkyo receiver with energy RC micro speakers (center, rears and front-high) a bic f12 subwoofer and a pair of technics (soon to be replaced) towers as the fronts. My TV is a Samsung 60es8000.

I have the PS3 set to Linear PCM (but have also tested bitstream) and have set the receiver to Direct, Multichannel, Prologic IIz, and just about every other setting.

Basically I’m finding that the center channel simply does not work correctly across the board in games…
In “Final Fantasy 13” the center channel is dead silent except for dialog and Pre-Rendered sequences (and it sounds fantastic during those sequences). It makes the game really strange as so much of the action is dead-center and there is no sound coming from there at all. The rears and front-highs all work beautifully however.

In "Uncharted" I believe the issue is basically the same as FF13, but if I go into the options in-game and manually set the center-speaker to large it works just fine (though I don’t have a “large” center speaker and I fear damage…)

In "Little Big planet 2" there is no in-game action sounds from the center at all, only the menu beeps and clicks are heard in the center.
In the digital-download of Dust there is no sound coming from the center at all, ever.

In the Playstation main menu there is no sound in the center, all of the menu sounds come strictly from the front left and right.

Essentially I’m wondering how so many people can say the PS3 has such great sound when it doesn’t seem to operate properly with center channel speakers (the likes of which I am now realizing is the most important as not having it makes everything sound so very flat).

I feel like there’s a hidden “center speaker size small-or-large” setting that I’m just not seeing as setting Center to Large within "Uncharted" (the only of the games with that option) seems to completely resolve it. Is there such a setting on the PS3 itsself ?

Is it just me that’s having these problems? I’ve tried every combination of settings I can think of but have found no way to make it work properly. Does anyone out there have those games and experience these issues?


TLDR: Does the PS3 have inherently horrible center-channel audio or is there a setting I'm missing?
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post #2 of 46 Old 10-16-2012, 03:23 PM
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Maybe you are missing somenthing, I don´t know about FF13 or Litlle big planet 2 but I have Uncharted I and II and no problems with sound, I have Battlefield 3 and the sound is IMPRESSIVE, best sound quality in a game I´ve ever heard, may be the problem is that you set as default the Prologic IIz, just let your receiver reproduce the default sound format of the game and lets listen if there is a difference. wink.gif
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post #3 of 46 Old 10-16-2012, 03:52 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by tlalotoani View Post

Maybe you are missing somenthing, I don´t know about FF13 or Litlle big planet 2 but I have Uncharted I and II and no problems with sound, I have Battlefield 3 and the sound is IMPRESSIVE, best sound quality in a game I´ve ever heard, may be the problem is that you set as default the Prologic IIz, just let your receiver reproduce the default sound format of the game and lets listen if there is a difference. wink.gif

You get full audio from your center in uncharted (first one) with the in-game setting set at "small" ?

Also, i have set my reciever to "direct" or "Multichannel Direct" as well as just "multichannel" and the result is the same.


any thoughts ?
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post #4 of 46 Old 10-17-2012, 07:46 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cityinruin View Post

Essentially I’m wondering how so many people can say the PS3 has such great sound when it doesn’t seem to operate properly with center channel speakers (the likes of which I am now realizing is the most important as not having it makes everything sound so very flat).
Two things:

1) Double-check your individual speaker levels in your AVR setup.

2) You say you haven't had a console since SNES. It could be that your only reference for surround audio is movies and TV. Those use the center channel heavily. But game audio (regardless of the console) is more positional and doesn't rely as much on center channel audio in the mix. It's not the PS3. It's game audio in general. My guess is that nothing is wrong. You're just not used to how game audio is mixed.

Check game audio against movie audio by popping in a bluray. You'll hear that it's not the PS3. It's just how game audio works.

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post #5 of 46 Old 10-17-2012, 08:11 AM
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There are lots of games that just don't use the center channel for much, or at all (mw3). It's not specific to the ps3, it's specific to the games themselves. There are technical reasons for this, the game audio is typically mixed in three dimensions internally, it's easier to pull that off quadraphonically, without necessarily integrating a center. Often it's not even used for dialog, cause there's no guarantee that the speaker is even on screen.

Generally I never really notice one way or another, but I sit dead center, where it can be really hard to tell a phantom center from a real center. Sitting off a to the side, it might be a bigger deal.

Either way, nothing you can do about it.

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post #6 of 46 Old 10-17-2012, 08:42 AM - Thread Starter
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so basically its just some (or in my case of the games i own- most) of the games that are poorly mixxed?

How can they be advertised as 5.1 or 7.1 when they are really just 4.1?

Limited or no center channel audio seems like it would be something that home theater enthusiast would gripe heavily about, things just don't sound good when they are dead center on the screen and the sound comes exclusivelly from the sides. I've never heard a convincing "phantom" center before.

I'm tempted to force it to run in 2 channel and then have my reciever turn it in to pro logic because those center-less games are so irritating to me. anyone do this ?

Was really hoping there was an "oh yeah just click that setting on your ps3 to resolve it" answer.


I guess I'm really just disappointed in how unimpressive 4.1 audio is in big budget games like final fantasy. It's so strange that they do the pre-rendered videos in 7.1 and the actual game in only 4.1
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post #7 of 46 Old 10-17-2012, 09:25 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cityinruin View Post

so basically its just some (or in my case of the games i own- most) of the games that are poorly mixxed?

How can they be advertised as 5.1 or 7.1 when they are really just 4.1?

Limited or no center channel audio seems like it would be something that home theater enthusiast would gripe heavily about, things just don't sound good when they are dead center on the screen and the sound comes exclusivelly from the sides. I've never heard a convincing "phantom" center before.

I'm tempted to force it to run in 2 channel and then have my reciever turn it in to pro logic because those center-less games are so irritating to me. anyone do this ?

Was really hoping there was an "oh yeah just click that setting on your ps3 to resolve it" answer.


I guess I'm really just disappointed in how unimpressive 4.1 audio is in big budget games like final fantasy. It's so strange that they do the pre-rendered videos in 7.1 and the actual game in only 4.1

Well, saying it does it poorly isn't quite fair. Movies have it easy, all the dialog comes from the center, all the effects and music from the mains. There's rarely a pan that actually involves the center, everything is pre-mixed ahead of time. Think about what many games need to do - as you turn your POV, it needs to smoothly pan effects around you in 3D space. The sides and surrounds are identical to each other, so you can pan between them without a timbral shift. Theyre also at identical heights. The center can have a variable height, and depending on how well integrated your setup is, also a timbral shift. It can break the imaging if they're shifting effects through it.

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post #8 of 46 Old 10-17-2012, 11:53 AM - Thread Starter
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I don't think it's a matter of technical limitations at all as some games (Uncharted) work perfectly well in true 7.1 (if i set the in-game center channel setting to Large). I'm not sure why these games are working with only actual 4.1 sound... which makes me still think that maybe i have somthing setup wrong. It's just so strange, there is no doubt that the hardware can do it so why would game makers choose simply not to ?
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post #9 of 46 Old 10-17-2012, 12:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cityinruin View Post

I don't think it's a matter of technical limitations at all as some games (Uncharted) work perfectly well in true 7.1 (if i set the in-game center channel setting to Large). I'm not sure why these games are working with only actual 4.1 sound... which makes me still think that maybe i have somthing setup wrong. It's just so strange, there is no doubt that the hardware can do it so why would game makers choose simply not to ?
Again, you said yourself that you haven't had a console since SNES. Games do more positional audio than movies or TV, which dump a lot of the audio load into the center channel. It's nothing to do with "bad mixes"; it's simply the way game audio sounds.

But if you think it might be an actual setup issue, then do what I suggested above: pop a bluray in your PS3 and see if the audio is mixed right there. It's possible that you have your audio levels miscalibrated on your receiver, or it's even possible that you have a speaker wire loose somewhere. Good idea to check all this stuff just to be sure. But it's almost certainly not an issue with the actual PS3.

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post #10 of 46 Old 10-17-2012, 01:45 PM
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Make sure your speakers aren't set for "Large" in your AVR.

If you send bitstream, your AVR may be picking a 2.1 setup instead of a 5.1 setup etc.

Example: you have a mode like "PureDirect" on which will choose 2.1 if your speakers are large and a certain format is sensed.
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post #11 of 46 Old 10-17-2012, 02:21 PM
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It's not a set up problem. Many, MANY games simply don't have center channel information. I've noticed it with games like Call of Duty, Halo and most recently, Borderlands 2. Could it be developer laziness? Sure, but I don't really have an issue with it. A phantom center sounds just fine on my setup.

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post #12 of 46 Old 10-17-2012, 02:28 PM - Thread Starter
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with my computer hooked up to the system, Battlefield 3 (pc version) as well as Diablo 3 and even nintendo64 emulator Rogue Squadron all come out with properly mixxed positional audio. I really don't think its a matter of not being used to the way games in general are mixxed. Besides, 7.1 is 7.1. It means all 8 speakers should be working, not 4.1 of them.

It's definitely not a speaker wire issue, checked and triple checked, and tested with alternate sources.

Also the initial video for Final Fantasy works just fine, and sounds damn good... its just the in game that is terrible due to absolutely nothing but voices on the center.



I guess its just bad mixes.

does anyone else out there have Final Fantasy 13 and get no in game sound from the center?

or have uncharted(1) with the in game set to small center and get no sound ?

what about little big planet?


I think the only way i can stop wracking my brain over this is if i A. get confirmation that these games do indeed fully support 4.1 sound or B. find some way to make it work properly.
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post #13 of 46 Old 10-17-2012, 03:21 PM
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In "Little Big planet 2" there is no in-game action sounds from the center at all, only the menu beeps and clicks are heard in the center.

I can confirm. I just popped in LBP2 and didn't hear any sounds from the center channel in my 6.1 set up (PCM) other than menu beeps and effects.

For comparison, I loaded up Infamous2 (another PS3 exclusive) and got the normal sound imaging across all speakers. For example, a passerby's voice could be heard moving from the center to the fronts and then to the rears along with other game sounds and effects.

Based on that, I would concur with what everyone else is saying that some mixes are better than others.
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post #14 of 46 Old 10-17-2012, 05:05 PM
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I really don't think it's about "better." Pretty sure it's simply a choice. It's not like it would be hard. More "cinematic" games use the center channel more than other games.

Maybe that audio person from Naughty Dog will post here again and give us the rundown. That was awesome. biggrin.gif

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post #15 of 46 Old 10-17-2012, 05:55 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cityinruin View Post

I guess its just bad mixes.

There's no such thing as "mixes" when doing on the fly 3d positioned audio.

the more correct thing would be issues where not all the speakers are used for a setup, 4.1 games not using the center channel being the main culprit. COD has long had that issue, cause it's a ****** old mulehorse engine pushed to the breaking point.
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post #16 of 46 Old 10-17-2012, 08:02 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by TyrantII View Post

There's no such thing as "mixes" when doing on the fly 3d positioned audio.
the more correct thing would be issues where not all the speakers are used for a setup, 4.1 games not using the center channel being the main culprit. COD has long had that issue, cause it's a ****** old mulehorse engine pushed to the breaking point.


Zookster, i really appreciate that feedback. While it makes me ten times less happy with my ps3 purchass, it makes me far more at peace with my system as a whole.

TyrantII - I duno man... Ide consider any media that openly advertises itsself as 5.1 or 7.1 audio but only actually produces 4.1 as "poorly mixed". clearly the audio producers dropped it big time. There's simply no excuse for outputting 4.1 audio in a 7.1 claimed media. I find it flat out shocking that this stuff isnt in the stop spot of every enthusiast oriented forum in all media related sites. Even more shocking is how thin the google search and avs forum search is regarding the issue. For example, final fantasy 13 was a huge game with a monsterous budget and huge selling. yet apparently im the only one on all of the interwebs that notices that the audio claim of the package is a flat all farce.
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post #17 of 46 Old 10-18-2012, 07:16 AM
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the center speaker is mainly for dialog. having lots of sound and music coming out of the center speaker will defeat the purpose of having a surround sound setup. let the left and right ones do most of the work like they are suppose to.
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post #18 of 46 Old 10-18-2012, 07:35 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cityinruin View Post

Zookster, i really appreciate that feedback. While it makes me ten times less happy with my ps3 purchass, it makes me far more at peace with my system as a whole.
TyrantII - I duno man... Ide consider any media that openly advertises itsself as 5.1 or 7.1 audio but only actually produces 4.1 as "poorly mixed". clearly the audio producers dropped it big time. There's simply no excuse for outputting 4.1 audio in a 7.1 claimed media. I find it flat out shocking that this stuff isnt in the stop spot of every enthusiast oriented forum in all media related sites. Even more shocking is how thin the google search and avs forum search is regarding the issue. For example, final fantasy 13 was a huge game with a monsterous budget and huge selling. yet apparently im the only one on all of the interwebs that notices that the audio claim of the package is a flat all farce.
If it truly and genuinely sounds like "4.1" in multiple games, you may want to double check all of your PS3 audio output settings, your listening modes on your receiver, your speaker levels, and anything else you can think of. You also haven't said yet if you've checked this against any blurays or DVDs playing in the PS3. Do some troubleshooting.

Barring all of that, I will say yet again that you may just be unused to game audio. It doesn't (generally) work the same as movie/TV audio. It's not that it doesn't use the center channel; it's that it doesn't dump a lot of the heavy lifting on the center channel (like in movies/TV). Call it "broken" if you like, but that's generally the way all game audio works, regardless of platform (PC, 360, PS3). It's a function of the software, not the hardware.

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post #19 of 46 Old 10-18-2012, 07:55 AM - Thread Starter
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Blurays work fine, my stand alone bluray works fine, my fios box works fine, sacds work fine, my PC works fine (games included) the only thing that sends absolutelly no in-game action sounds to the center channel are *some* ps3 games. Uncharted works just fine if the in-game settings are set at "large center".

I don't believe for one moment that center channels are intended to be completely unused. It's not about being "not used" to the way games are, I may have not bothered with consoles in a long time but I play computer games and its connected to my home theater. Literally every computer game i have works with actual 5.1 or 7.1 - games tested- Skyrim, BF3, Diablo3, Guild Wars 2, Prince of Persa Sands of time). With the confirmation from Zookster I'm now fairly confident that the issue is poorly designed (audio wise) playstation games and not my perspective or technical issues.

How can one suggest that 4.1 "is the way games are now" when they are all advertised as 5.1 or better? It IS intended to work the same as movies. positional sound is positionional sound, and in front of you is a position.

Anyhow, i suppose we can call this issue resolved. It's just a few poorly done games and im sure Ill come across some that have properly channeled sound at some point.
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post #20 of 46 Old 10-18-2012, 09:43 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TyrantII View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by cityinruin View Post

I guess its just bad mixes.

There's no such thing as "mixes" when doing on the fly 3d positioned audio.

the more correct thing would be issues where not all the speakers are used for a setup, 4.1 games not using the center channel being the main culprit. COD has long had that issue, cause it's a ****** old mulehorse engine pushed to the breaking point.

I know in black ops your gunfire came out of the center, but almost nothing else. In mw3 it reverted back to 4.1.

Ultimately it's a design choice, the audio designers aren't idiots. Center channel just isn't as important in games.

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post #21 of 46 Old 10-18-2012, 11:14 AM
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Dolby has a new 64-channel surround format.

Maybe we should open a "why isnt speaker 32 used in Little Big Planet 5?" thread now.
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post #22 of 46 Old 10-18-2012, 11:22 AM - Thread Starter
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Dolby has a new 64-channel surround format.
Maybe we should open a "why isnt speaker 32 used in Little Big Planet 5?" thread now.

only if little big planet 5 is advertised as having that feature.

... and if that feature is released years before that game is. and if 32 speakers are standard for any basic home theater. and if the 32nd speaker is the single most imporant speaker in the setup.
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post #23 of 46 Old 10-18-2012, 12:07 PM
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Though I'm not the obsessive audiophile I once was, I've put hundreds and hundreds of hours into both LittleBigPlanet 1 & 2, and not once did I ever feel the audio was somehow inferior or lacking in any way. In fact it was only in sitting with my ear next to the center speaker when I did my test yesterday that I even noticed that the in-game music and sound effects only came from the fronts. LBP is a sidescrolling platformer so it's not the type of game that would benefit as much from center channel audio. It'll be interesting to see, however, if LittleBigPlanet Karting, as a 3D racer, does make better use of the center.
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post #24 of 46 Old 10-18-2012, 12:39 PM
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Wait until he finds out most games don't use the LFE channel either. tongue.gif

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post #25 of 46 Old 10-18-2012, 07:55 PM - Thread Starter
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Wait until he finds out most games don't use the LFE channel either. tongue.gif

preying that's a joke. how can anyone ever even marginally accept the huge 7.1 advertisment that is slapped on all playstation3 games now ? how are these companies not being the target of stones if not boulders for such false advertisement?

I suppose the answer is that most people consider sub par to be "good enough" and dont think any thing of it...... video games today are no more audibly advanced then the late 90's.... it looks like they get "lossless" and "hd dts" or "hddolby" slapped on them and all of a sudden people find 4 channel audio acceptible. "oh i think it sounds good as is" is not good enough. Just because some people cant hear the difference between 4.0 and 7.1 doesnt mean these developers should be permitted to exploite that fact and supple undeniable subpar multichannel and pretend it's state of the art.

Posting 7.1 specs on 4.0 delivery is not only unacceptable but ethically wrong and should not be accepted let alone endorsed.


I really find it shocking that an enthusiast based community like avsforum is not blowing whistles all about this kind of crap.
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post #26 of 46 Old 10-19-2012, 05:33 AM
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Wait until he finds out most games don't use the LFE channel either. tongue.gif

preying that's a joke. how can anyone ever even marginally accept the huge 7.1 advertisment that is slapped on all playstation3 games now ? how are these companies not being the target of stones if not boulders for such false advertisement?

I suppose the answer is that most people consider sub par to be "good enough" and dont think any thing of it...... video games today are no more audibly advanced then the late 90's.... it looks like they get "lossless" and "hd dts" or "hddolby" slapped on them and all of a sudden people find 4 channel audio acceptible. "oh i think it sounds good as is" is not good enough. Just because some people cant hear the difference between 4.0 and 7.1 doesnt mean these developers should be permitted to exploite that fact and supple undeniable subpar multichannel and pretend it's state of the art.

Posting 7.1 specs on 4.0 delivery is not only unacceptable but ethically wrong and should not be accepted let alone endorsed.


I really find it shocking that an enthusiast based community like avsforum is not blowing whistles all about this kind of crap.

Many don't use the LFE channel because its superfluous - your receiver has bass management. The games are mixed on the fly, there's no real use to pre-baked LFE.

Now I'm worried that once you find out all those "1080p" games are 720p, your head will explode. tongue.gif





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post #27 of 46 Old 10-19-2012, 05:51 AM
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Originally Posted by cityinruin View Post

I really find it shocking that an enthusiast based community like avsforum is not blowing whistles all about this kind of crap.

In my experience, most gamers are much more concerned about graphics, glitches, "jaggies" and whatnot. Audio is almost forgotten.

Gaming on my 7.1 system, including PS3, I've rarely noticed problems with the audio, and I'm pretty picky. There's some odd glitches here and there - the audio for the cinematics in some of the Sly Cooper and Ratchet and Clank HD re-mastered games is in the rear channels! eek.gif That drives me crazy, but no one else has noticed or reported it.

But otherwise, if the audio is dynamic, balanced and mixed well, I don't notice if they deliver 4, 5, or 7 channels or not. I'm more annoyed with bad compression or poor samples.
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post #28 of 46 Old 10-19-2012, 08:24 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by bd2003 View Post

all those "1080p" games are 720p, your head will explode. tongue.gif


I just threw up in my mouth a little bit.....

temples throbbing....

getting a nose bleed....

hearing buzzing...

uuhhggg....



Kidding. When playing games we sit 10 feet away from a 60inch screen, we can barly see the difference between 720 and 1080 at that distance. We only ever move the sofa closer when watching blurays.
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post #29 of 46 Old 10-19-2012, 09:35 AM
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Originally Posted by bd2003 View Post

Ultimately it's a design choice, the audio designers aren't idiots. Center channel just isn't as important in games.
As others say, too, audio in general just isn't as important for most developers. Some take it very seriously (see Uncharted and Dead Space), but the rest just do a "good enough" approach. Development is all about balancing resources (i.e. time and money).
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Originally Posted by bd2003 View Post

Now I'm worried that once you find out all those "1080p" games are 720p, your head will explode. tongue.gif
Well, even worse is that many "HD" games aren't even 720p.

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post #30 of 46 Old 10-19-2012, 10:21 AM
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Originally Posted by DaverJ View Post

In my experience, most gamers are much more concerned about graphics, glitches, "jaggies" and whatnot. Audio is almost forgotten.

Yep. Gamers have to choose their battles when there is so much that can go wrong in games that are increasingly rushed to market with little to no QA it seems. This includes unresponsive controls, glitches in gameplay mechanics, bad camera angles and control, repetitive gameplay, framerate drops, freezes, and crashes, screen tearing, audio drops, glitchy and unbalanced multiplayer modes, a story that's too short, unoriginal, or predictable; crappy dialogue and writing, to name a few areas gamers tend to focus on more than whether sound is coming from the center speaker when the box says 5.1/7.1 audio.
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