Glossary talk:Sound card

About this board

Mirh (talkcontribs)

Yes, I know this sounds pretty rude.
Though I'm really pissed off by all theirs contradictions that wasted tons of my time, and I wanted to let off steam

Let's start from the beginning. They seemed pretty sympathetic towards users initially.
In 1999 they announced support for I3DL2 open standard. Furthermore they announced their new EAX version.
If previous bulletins weren't enough to stress this, the support of these specifications for every PCI sound card was further underlined in these FAQ


Then what... ?

Well, they became the de facto monopolists of the gamer audio market.
Every good intentions vanished.. and the new EAX version just saw the light of day 2 years after. And it was as proprietary and exclusive as possible.
Not to mention that Interactive Audio Special Interest Group got canned

And later things just went worse. The new Audigy series was practically a rebrand of Live! series, but firewire port and improved DACs.
I mean, improved DACs are a quite nice addition.. though the DSP (despite being called 10K2) was still the good old 10K1
To add insult to injury even their marketing department was "messing up"

EDIT: hacked SbLive! drivers found!
EDIT2: new mess! Age of empires 3 is claimed to not even use DS3D... but here it supports EAX and it would even need ALchemy..
EDIT3: Creative's audio processors datasheets are available here
EDIT4: surprise, different revisions of the original live! existed
EDIT5: suprise²: newer is not always better
EDIT6: they are using sens_oal.dll for some cards. What of a irony.
EDIT7: ALchemy is freaking hardcoded and it might even misbehave on newer Core3D (Recon and Z) cards

Reply to "Creative's BS"
Mirh (talkcontribs)

Frankly, I was going to be brief and just mention a modded driver for every manufacturer but then, Creative part was becoming really long, so I decided to split it.
Then I figured out even that split was becoming too big, so this post while just tell one of my usual stories of the past

So.. we could say that 80% of the driver hacking scene is (was?) done by a single person: mr. Daniel Kawakami (aka daniel_k)
Everything started in 2007 when Creative released ALchemy for their X-fi series... leaving Audigy and Live! users high and dry. And here is where the father of all the tweaks's career started.
He soon tried to improve even cards' own drivers, patching odd bugs and fixing Vista compatibility issues. But what then?
Creative released ALchemy for older soundcards too.. but to a condition: you had to pay for the "legacy" support. Therefore his work entered into competition with Creative all of a sudden.
So.. they kindly threatened him and he simply decided to leave. Ok, actually the wayback machine hasn't the whole story, and he never really left 100%
A nice summary of his works is given in his vent e-mail to wired (and some older file names can be checked here)

After some time though he came back (wikipedia claims there was an agreement but I couldn't find other reference)
Ok, let's just list his massive firms:

EDIT: bugs in newer OpenAL/drivers implementation seem to exist
EDIT2: lol, they went as far as to bully iD too

Reply to "Creative v. guy"
Mirh (talkcontribs)

Interactive 3D Audio Level 2 as the name suggest is the successor of the 3D Audio Rendering and Evaluation Guidelines 1.0.
Both of them are a kind of cross-vendor "advices" for a proper 3D sound experience, with a special attention on reverberations and occlusions (example).

Although first version had been mostly independently developed, the second one was mainly based on the just opened EAX 2 specification.
The final proposal nevertheless was backed by every major sound cards producer of the time (as can be seen in the Acknowledgments paragraph of pdf).
In turn it eventually ended on all their sound APIs: A3D 2.0, DS3D (since DirectX8), Sensaura.. all but one.

EAX in fact was that with a closer relationship to I3DL2 yes..
but even after Creative's wide claims about own openness and for its effor to "convert EAX calls to IA-SIG calls when the platform does not support the full EAX functionality" ...
...after 3 years was still missing the support for the no-longer-new standard (it is also true it quickly fall by the wayside)

The only game supporting this should be Slave Zero, ironically DirectX 7.

EDIT: this is still kind of relevant even today

RaTcHeT302 (talkcontribs)

I swear you look like a spam bot sometimes.

Mirh (talkcontribs)

I feel like indiana jones sometimes when I venture inside the jungle.
And I feel like jesus when everybody look at my posts and can't understand a damn because I'm the only one caring of the sound of old old games :P

ps: stay tuned I have even worse things coming

Reply to "I3DL2, what a funny name"
Ghokury (talkcontribs)

Advice with renaming DLL is pointless for modern Creative cards. Some post X-Fi cards support both hardware and software OpenAL (like Z, ZxR), but AE-5, G-6, etc. don't. It'll result in error "Native Device not default" in logs instead. Also, it's necessary to switch installed DLLs in most cases (can be checked in OpenAL tools).

Ghokury (talkcontribs)

Posting links forcing me to solve the infinite amount of CAPTCHas and I can't post them directly... DLL problem
About new cards

Mod-edit: fixed links

Ghokury (talkcontribs)

About software alchemy from dsoal's author post:

Deton24 (talkcontribs)

Write on forums so admin can give you privileges to ommit captcha checks.

Mirh (talkcontribs)

I was already reporting that years ago. Check the latest edit in "Creative's BS".

It's not sens_oal to be bugged/wrong (or well, at least not inherently for this reason) but ALchemy that is biased to just care about "Audigy" and "X-fi" device strings. And I'm pretty sure to remember people on vogons had worked that around.

I'd be glad if you or anybody else with a good ear could report back about differences in this situation.

Reply to "ALchemy"
Mirh (talkcontribs)

The following are qualitative tests. This is different from looking to sound quality/accuracy.
They are just supposed to quickly point out whether EAX game setting can be enabled or not with X version.

ALchemy and 3Dsoundback can't be set to show the exact supported version, neither will work with OpenAL games

EDIT: indirectsound now logs queried EAX versions. Remember some games won't check for EAX 4/5 if EAX3 is not there (as indeed happen with this dll hack), but most times this should be enough EDIT2: DSOAL at least advertises EAX4, so its logging should be preferred
These were the previous methods

  1. EAX1: indirectsound has a setting to toggle EAX 1 and 2
  2. EAX2: same
  3. EAX3: Check below. AdvancedHD logo/designation starts here. 64 simultaneous voices are the highlight and potentially suggest at least this version
  4. EAX4: These are pretty difficult to distinguish. Xonar GX's OverwritePolicy seems the only easy way to determine
  5. EAX5: May be assumed if game supports more than 128 voices. Again, Xonar GX is the only easy switch

Having said that, please take note that if you have X version (but game supports up to or only X -1) no one can guarantee it will work (e.g. this happened to me with DSGX and EAX 4 with splinter cell: double agent)
On the other hand even if in-game setting can already be enabled with X version, nothing stop additional effects to be applied with X +1 without further notice.

And this is where quantitative analysis comes into play.
Quantitative means that audio output is accurately measured and compared.

Indirectsound has fake EAX support, thus it can't be used. And Asus GX's cannot be scientifically recorded.. so things get really tougher
  1. EAX1: VMware XP virtual machines uses an Ensoniq ES1371/ES1373 virtual audio device (aka Creative PCI128). Remember to install drivers.
  2. EAX2: Under Windows XP(bugged implementations aside) the majority of sound chips should reach this level, just make sure to check actual support with previous method
  3. EAX3: I think that original Audigy series is the only one that ever had EAX 3 without EAX 4..
  4. EAX4: Besides hacked drivers, story is similar, with Audigy 2 and 4 series though. ALchemy may be used, as long as exact EAX version has already been determined (except in OAL games..)
  5. EAX5: There's so few games using this that.. it's not such a big deal. Though if really questioned a X-Fi would be needed.
Reply to "Checking EAX feature level"
Mirh (talkcontribs)
Reply to "Things to do in spare time"
SirYodaJedi (talkcontribs)

Explain midi, link to VirtualMIDISynth, link to CoolSoft MIDIMapper, explain setup for use with games. (talkcontribs)

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Reply to "Todo: General Midi tutorial"
Mirh (talkcontribs)

Add-on boards
Asus Xonar (except ROG and USB)

Auzentech (oh, and if you were struggling just to find official drivers, they are still available here)

CMedia (others)

See my post about daniel_k
You may also be interested in PAX drivers and in kX Project (the only Live! and Audigy driver with proper x64 and >2GB RAM support).
Check this if having any problem

HT Omega Claro

Onkyo Wavio SE-300PCIE

Razer Barracuda AC-1

Integrated chips
Now, things starts to be a bit messy here (and no, I'm not just talking about lower quality DACs). We may distinguish between two kind of custom drivers:

  1. Simply "unlocked" ones, that makes otherwise high-end-only features (like DDLive or DTS) available on all the products
  2. X-Fi modded. Like the last one, but you get the entire SB X-Fi MB suite too. Contrarily to popular beliefs, these actually reduce sound quality, though just ALchemy alone would be worth the effort.

Analog Devices (Conexant) SoundMAX

Gigabyte G1 motherboards
These use a real CA20K2 DSP, refer to Creative above

Some of these drivers are claimed to address bugs in EAX accuracy

VIA Technologies

Everything else not previously covered (like SigmaTel-->IDT-->Tempo Semiconductor) might find something here

USB headset
Microsoft LifeChat LX-3000

Reply to "Custom drivers"
Mirh (talkcontribs)

Adapted from my request to CarvedInside, developer of the UNi Xonar Drivers

All started by reading on wikipedia that C-media based chips used to support Sensaura audio extension and 3D algorithms thanks to an agreement.
As usual, the more bossing and evil company ever existed in the PC audio world could not fail to spoil this. And so Creative Technology bought Sensaura back in 2003.
Anyway C-media license keep going on, but it couldn’t last forever. And in September 2008 it ended.

As soon as they could (judging by how stringent they had been in the announcement) all Sensaura technologies were removed from drivers. (cool pdf inbound: all the 3D audio rendering engine was Sensaura based..)
Now as rule, I wouldn’t be really worried, given that the greatest audio API (i.e. A3D) of the century is already dead and gone for more than a decade… but a review really stressed how Sensaura tech made a great difference in the overall gaming experience and surround accuracy of Xear3D.

So.. I was wondering.. Mr. CarvedInside.. wouldn’t be possible to add it back to the drivers? I already spent 3 hours probing the net for older drivers.
And I’m not talking about my Xonar DX drivers, but -hopefully- the c-media ones you use to work with. Let me post some links.*/* (This includes Club3D c-media based sound cards.. but I couldn’t find accurate sources about their use use of CMI8788 chip)

Then, I think I ended. I would just like to link some goodies I found.
They seems to be the only precise articles describing the licensed technologies I could found. (C-media should have supported every Sensaura specs afaik).
Unfortunately they are either in Russian or in Polish. English editors seems to have been very skinny on the argument

“Sensaura CRL3D HRTF 3D positional sound enhancement with multi-drive” engine was used until the aforementioned end of contract. Funnily it was introduced in 1999.

Last but not least I finally discovered why when I install sound card drivers (including yours) I have this apparently meaningless pcm file (.\Customapp\GX30\3D_Helicopter.wav)
It seems it was one of the various asset cmedia took from Sensaura and it was originally inside a tech demo named Play3D (download). No explanation for its stay up to our days though.

Thanks for your time!

P.S. In the meantime I found out a damn good english round-up.
And I'd like to point out another thing: Before (2007) | After (2014)
Something is definitively missing.

EDIT: and guess who's half-assing monopolizing what again

Reply to "Sensaura technology"
Mirh (talkcontribs)

First DirectSound3D Game EXtensions debuted 3 months after Xonar D2 release (their first soundcard) and its only purpose was to restore DS3D in Vista, along with common EAX 2.0 support.

GX 2.0 was silently added on the end of February 2008 drivers 8.17.30 and 8.17.31. This introduced the much discussed EAX 5 emulation mode, which was widely featured a week later with the launch of the Xonar DX(which I own :3)
(EAX 3 and 4 can also be supported btw).
As side note.. Asus claims this "also incorporates Dolby Home Theater Technologies", even though these were already previously available (and the diagrams are the same)

Various emulation-translation accuracy tests showed little to none differences when compared to X-fi cards (even though there are still lots of people which believe differently)

Then by the end of 2008 with RC drivers 8.17.47 GX version was bumped to 2.5. Besides the questionable improvements in reverberation quality a much lower CPU footprint was objectively observed.
With subsequent driver releases asus mainly took care of bug fixing and hopefully all of them have been fixed by now.
Personally I hadn't none of the issues early adopters experienced 7 years ago.. (but maybe it's all merit of UNi xonar drivers instead..)

Finally, in the middle of 2012 Asus decided it was time to move on from the evergreen CMI8788 to the blazingly new CM8888DHT. And it did with its new Xonar Phoebus.. This introduced the new GX 3.0 which I couldn't find anything about. Hence I guess it could just be a marketing gimmick It actually has improved stablity and a new server-client
(and then there's this weird thing where WoW shows benefit from DS3D restoration without winXP compatibility)
Driver installer is signed by A-Volute, so I believe some of their technology is used

EDIT: albeit there's a Cm_Oal dll dated 13/12/2007 coming with Asus (and Auzentech/HT) drivers, it's suspiciously "smaller" than the other OpenAL native implementations.
It's reported to not work, but my quite unfunded theory is that it just does only when GX is enabled (and Xear3D?)

Reply to "Asus GX revisions"