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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I may have missed something here, or a discussion on this matter (searching didn't help), but if I can get Dolby Digital Live in my games, why should I care if EAX 4.0 doesn't work? The cards that currently support DDL only have EAX 2.0.


Let's take Battlefield 2 for example. Should I care if I can't use EAX 4.0 if I can get Dolby Digital Live? Is DDL even an option in this game? I was under the impression that most if not all games can be used in DDL. If I have 5.1 sound coming in my HT room, am I missing something without EAX 4.0?


I ask because the new Creative card looks like another letdown. I'll be sticking to the X-Mystique or the Turtle Beach Montego unless there is a need for Creative stuff.


Thanks!
 

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Seems like you answered you own question. My Soundstorm setup does all the multichannel games I have. (Not that I have that much since I'm just a partime gamer) I wouldn't dare plug my Audigy into my HTPC. I don't have BF2 but if multichannel works w/ your setup, then I'd say you're not missing much....
 

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I haven't heard EAX 2.0 in a while, but there should be a big audible difference between EAX 2.0 passed into 16-bit DD Live and EAX 4.0. Creative is releasing an external device in September that passes any EAX signal into 24-bit DTS, a method that should have no tangible impact on audio quality. As to whether you should buy one of Creative's newest cards and this device, it depends on how often you play the newest PC games and how much you care about gaming audio.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
But isn't EAX a "gimmic" anyway for "multichannel" audio in games?


Speaking of "gimmics" I know DDL is one of them too. ;)


If both put out multichannel, does it really matter? Only thing it would matter is quality. I guess you could look at this like DVDs use Dolby Digital vs DTS. Both output the same channels, both are digital, but one seems to be better than the other...but both are excellent! ;)


Hope I'm taking this with the right attitude. I'm not trying to be difficult, but rather trying to make sure that I'm not missing anything
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Rein
But isn't EAX a "gimmic" anyway for "multichannel" audio in games?


Speaking of "gimmics" I know DDL is one of them too. ;)


If both put out multichannel, does it really matter? Only thing it would matter is quality. I guess you could look at this like DVDs use Dolby Digital vs DTS. Both output the same channels, both are digital, but one seems to be better than the other...but both are excellent! ;)


Hope I'm taking this with the right attitude. I'm not trying to be difficult, but rather trying to make sure that I'm not missing anything
If you feel that way, then I guess it is a gimmick. :) We are all entitled to our opinions.
 

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DDL is a method of packaging multichannel PCM audio for transport over S/PDIF.


EAX on the other hand is an "algorithm" (for lack of a better term) for creating 3D spacial sound effects in games. They are not mutually exclusive, nor are they even alternatives to one another.


What you would have to choose is if the potential benefits of EAX 4 over EAX 2 outweight the decreased convenience (needing analog cables) or lower quality (2ch digital) of non DDL.


DDL isn't a "gimmic" any more than MP3 is one, it's just a way of packaging multichannel audio. Now I'm really not qualified to give a meaningful opinion of EAX, but from what I know (haven't followed PC game audio since A3D days) EAX is a gimic compared to A3D which did vector traced 3D audio, where EAX used rather generic reverb effects.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by stanger89
What you would have to choose is if the potential benefits of EAX 4 over EAX 2 outweight the decreased convenience (needing analog cables) or lower quality (2ch digital) of non DDL.
As I mentioned, Creative will provide a method of passing EAX into DTS in the form of an external device. Therefore, a digital cable can be used for passing 5.1 EAX 4.0 and 5.0 audio. I hear that the device may even support 6.1 DTS-ES, but I haven't seen any real evidence proving this.
 

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No offense, but whoopdy flippin' do, that box is worthless, you still need a glob of analog cables from soundcard to extra box, then lossy conversion inside extra box (don't forget the extra power brick), then the cable to the processor.


All it does is make the whole thing more complex. The only people it would help are those with more than one multichannel analog source, and they'd be better served with a switch than that box.


Realtime encoding is only useful if it's done inside the PC with no extra wires. That's the whole point of DDL, to avoid running a bunch of wires from PC to pre-pro, the box doesn't save that, instead it adds another box to your rack.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by stanger89
No offense, but whoopdy flippin' do, that box is worthless, you still need a glob of analog cables from soundcard to extra box, then lossy conversion inside extra box (don't forget the extra power brick), then the cable to the processor.


All it does is make the whole thing more complex. The only people it would help are those with more than one multichannel analog source, and they'd be better served with a switch than that box.


Realtime encoding is only useful if it's done inside the PC with no extra wires. That's the whole point of DDL, to avoid running a bunch of wires from PC to pre-pro, the box doesn't save that, instead it adds another box to your rack.
I was simply correcting your outlook, I don't have high regards for Creative's method either. I guess there's nothing more touching than audio. No offense of course. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I hate Creative.


Now that we have that out of the way... :p


I put "gimmick" in quotes as I couldn't find the right word. I guess I could have just said technology and called it a day.


Thanks for the explanations. I will wind up with a DD Live product. If it puts out a signal in games like my Xbox does, and it doesn't use EAX!, then I'll be happy.


I'll have it up and running next month. Can't wait!
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Rein
I hate Creative.


Now that we have that out of the way... :p


I put "gimmick" in quotes as I couldn't find the right word. I guess I could have just said technology and called it a day.


Thanks for the explanations. I will wind up with a DD Live product. If it puts out a signal in games like my Xbox does, and it doesn't use EAX!, then I'll be happy.


I'll have it up and running next month. Can't wait!
To hate them may be going a little too far, but their pretentiousness doesn't help them one bit. I'm sure you will be plenty happy with DD Live, but if you are in the least bit curious, it wouldn't hurt to see how Creative's proprietary analog-to-digital DTS conversion works out. It sounds promising considering it's theoretical ability to maintain more of the original integrity of 24-bit EAX audio than DD Live. Sure it's lossy compression, but better quality than DD Live. Of course for DVD-Audio DD Live and DTS Interactive is a no-no, but we are talking about the only way to achieve upper-end EAX via a digital connection other than Creative's own use of the DIN connector which only crappy Creative speakers support. The only thing that worries me is the possibility of latency and of course, price.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Rein
Thanks for the explanations. I will wind up with a DD Live product. If it puts out a signal in games like my Xbox does, and it doesn't use EAX!, then I'll be happy.
I forgot to mention that with a DD Live card that supports only EAX 2.0, you are still hearing the very limited effects of EAX 2.0 even though it is streamed through DD Live. The difference between EAX 2.0 and 4.0 is vast. For one, I believe that EAX 2.0 only has 32 voices in-game whereas 3.0 and 4.0 have 64, and 5.0 has 128 voices. Before the 4.0 patch came out for Doom 3 I believe the game only supported 2.0. The audio of the 4.0 implementation made a dramatic improvement in the game's ambience. Many more effects were present, the positioning of the effects was much more accurate, and clarity was greatly improved. In summation, EAX 3-5 has much more detail than 2.0. I'm only trying to let you know that there is a major benefit to the newer technology, gimmick or not. Why else would Creative be so obdurate in handing out licensing for this technology. Just something to think about.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by stanger89
Now I'm really not qualified to give a meaningful opinion of EAX, but from what I know (haven't followed PC game audio since A3D days) EAX is a gimic compared to A3D which did vector traced 3D audio, where EAX used rather generic reverb effects.
A LOT of people don't understand this, but EAX 4.0 HD discretley reflects sounds much like A3D, so the whole A3D argument is canard at this point.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by MSmith83
I was simply correcting your outlook, I don't have high regards for Creative's method either. I guess there's nothing more touching than audio. No offense of course. :)
It has nothing to do with touching audio, my objections to the box are on a purely technical/engineering level. The external box "solution" is completely moronic in that it solves a problem that doesn't exist.

Quote:
It sounds promising considering it's theoretical ability to maintain more of the original integrity of 24-bit EAX audio than DD Live. Sure it's lossy compression, but better quality than DD Live.
Again, that's not the point, the whole point of DDLive, what makes it so appealing is that it simplifies the connection between the PC and the pre-pro. The Creative box actually makes the connection more complicated. With integrated DDLive, you replace 3 analog cables with one digital one. With "the box" you replace 3 analog cables with 3 analog cables, a box, a power cord, and a digital cable.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by stanger89
It has nothing to do with touching audio, my objections to the box are on a purely technical/engineering level. The external box "solution" is completely moronic in that it solves a problem that doesn't exist.




Again, that's not the point, the whole point of DDLive, what makes it so appealing is that it simplifies the connection between the PC and the pre-pro. The Creative box actually makes the connection more complicated. With integrated DDLive, you replace 3 analog cables with one digital one. With "the box" you replace 3 analog cables with 3 analog cables, a box, a power cord, and a digital cable.
I agree with the engineering aspect of the argument, but the original poster is concerned with quality not mere aesthetics. The box does fix major problems with the Audigy's bass management with connections to the analog ins of an AV receiver, not to mention eliminates potential ground loop problems. So yes, it does solve a major problem.
 

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I thought there was a open header on the top of the X-Fi. Perhaps it is a bus that will carry the digital EAX signal to the external box which then "packs in" into DTS? That would eliminate the tangle of cords.
 

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Why can't CL make a souncard that:

1. Switches SPDIF inputs

2. Hardware encode and decode DD/DTS

3. Have quality DAC's for good analog sound.

4. DVD audio w/ any app.

5. EAX to DD/DTS encoding for gamers.

6. Remote control for audio switching.


Anyone care to add????
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by miketech
Why can't CL make a souncard that:

1. Switches SPDIF inputs

2. Hardware encode and decode DD/DTS

3. Have quality DAC's for good analog sound.

4. DVD audio w/ any app.

5. EAX to DD/DTS encoding for gamers.

6. Remote control for audio switching.


Anyone care to add????
I wish, but Creative isn't being too creative. However, we consumers are stuck in a position where we have to make do as no other company stepped up to the plate with real successful innovation in gaming sound design. As for that dream card, their Elite Pro does have quality DAC's at least.
 

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I may be able to shed some light here on what EAX is and isn't.


EAX is not a surround format and does not position sounds in a 3D space. In PC games 3D positioning is handled by the DirectX or OpenAL APIs. EAX is not a stereo-to-surround upmix tool.


Where EAX is very useful is in rendering high quality room acoustics. Creative provides a dedicated DSP on their cards that acts in two crucial ways:


1.) The DSP chip acts as a co-processor for audio functions, accelerating the real-time mixing of 3D positional audio. Mixing dozens of sounds at once into a 5.1 or 7.1 mix is very processor intensive and the DSP on Creative cards can help here. This is similar to what graphics accelerators do.


2.) The DSP also serves as a high quality rendering device for reverb based on room acoustics. The current EAX SDK provded to game developers gives the sound designer complete control over how each room sounds in game.


More advanced versions of EAX provide greater realism with regard to room reflection properties. EAX 4 can keep track of multiple reverbs at a time. For example, when a monster is generating noise in a sewer pipe that's one room away, EAX allows the sewer pipe to have its own reflective properties different than the room you're currently in. If the monster roars, EAX will accomodate for:


1.) Any occlusions between you and the sewer pipe room (typically applying LPF as needed)

2.) The reflective properties of the room you're in

3.) Any special adjustments assigned to specific sounds when generated in certain room types.


EAX is not a "gimmick", it is a high powered audio SDK for game developers, who wouldn't be using it if it weren't.


The X-Fi doesn't encode DD in real-time like the X-Box does. I don't know why that isn't integrated in like the XBox, but that's a good question to ask Dolby and Creative.


REGARDING DTS OUT:

The Sound Blaster X-Fi outputs DTS ES and DD EX from its digial output without need for an additional box. It can also decode these formats through its own analog outs.


Now, the need for the external DTS box is that it DOES solve a problem. You're thinking of it in terms of movies (where it isn't needed). It solves the problem of getting all the cool 3D positional gaming audio, along with the EAX reverb generation applied, to your AV Receiver without taking up a bunch of analog inputs on your receiver, and for those without analog inputs on their receiver, it lets them use the card for all functions the PC performs. It doesn't hurt that they've also provided a 109db S/N ratio.


I hope this helps.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by kheiden
REGARDING DTS OUT:

The Sound Blaster X-Fi outputs DTS ES and DD EX from its digial output without need for an additional box. It can also decode these formats through its own analog outs.


Now, the need for the external DTS box is that it DOES solve a problem. You're thinking of it in terms of movies (where it isn't needed). It solves the problem of getting all the cool 3D positional gaming audio, along with the EAX reverb generation applied, to your AV Receiver without taking up a bunch of analog inputs on your receiver, and for those without analog inputs on their receiver, it lets them use the card for all functions the PC performs. It doesn't hurt that they've also provided a 109db S/N ratio.


I hope this helps.
I believe everyone knows that the external device is beneficial for gaming and aesthetics alone. The thing that people REALLY need to understand is that EAX has improved immensely from its 2.0 days. One question that I have is this: Do the X-Fi's allow for a quality connection to an AV receiver's analog ins? If so, the external box only then slightly clears up the issue of aesthetics and clearing up analog inputs. In the case of the Audigy, the external device actually becomes a near-necessity.
 
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