Glossary talk:Surround sound

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About "Windows Sonic for Headphones" and point "Does not work with games that auto-detect the speaker setup of the system." - doesn't the "turn on virtual 7.1 surround setup" in audio properties (where the Windows Sonic for Headphones and Dolby Atmos for Headphones sits) resolves this problem?

No. From my and other’s experiences, games still output in stereo mode if the speaker setup is set to 2-speaker (which it still is, even if "turn on virtual 7.1 surround setup" is checked). Checking the box only means that if fed a 7.1 (or 5.1, probably) signal, then Windows will downmix it to 2.0 using the headphones algorithm. Many games nowadays will determine how many speakers to mix for based upon the speaker configuration reported by Windows. Windows still reports 2 Speakers, so the game mixes for 2 Speakers and virtual surround is bypassed. This is why other solutions like Razor Surround are wrappers that pretend to be a 7.1 audio device, and output to an actual audio device.

Also, if virtual 7.1 is disabled but Spatial Sound is still enabled, then not much will happen unless the game has object support, such as Final Fantasy XV.

Testing for surround sound support[edit]

Virtual audio device[edit]

The easiest way to test for surround sound support in a game is using a virtual audio device that adds discrete 7.1 channels such as Razer Surround in conjunction with either Orban Loudness Meter or Special K.

Some things to note:

  • The built-in bass redirection of Windows that automatically transfers low-frequency effects of speakers configured as limited range (or "satellite" speaker; not full-range speakers) to the subwoofer/LFE channel seems to occur after applications such as Orban Loudness Meter and Special K measures the channel audio.[1]
  • Any enhancement or manipulation applied to the audio by Razer Surround should similarly also be performed after the measurement.[1]

Discrete audio device[edit]

Preparations:

  • Connect your PC to your receiver via HDMI. This is the most reliable way to connect them. Digital Coax and Optical lack the bandwidth for uncompressed discrete surround sound, and most modern receivers don’t support more than 2 channels via analog.
  • Disable any post processing on the receiver’s end. This is usually done by enabling a “Pure Direct” or “Straight” mode.
  • Make sure that subwoofer(s) are set to not have any bass crossover. Assuming you have already enabled the “Pure Direct/Straight” mode, first make sure there isn’t a crossover setting built into your subwoofer. If there is, turn it off, or if you can’t, turn it down to the lowest setting. If your speakers are wired through the subwoofer, connect them directly to the receiver instead. In Windows sound settings, make sure all the speakers are designated as “large” speakers.
  • Disable any post processing done by the operating system or other software. This means disabling Windows Sonic/Dolby Atmos, disabling programs like Razer Surround, and making sure your audio driver isn’t adjusting acoustics and whatnot.
    • Ensure that the speakers are configured as full-range speakers in Windows, as otherwise the operating system will perform its own bass redirection/crossover.
  • Disable reencoding to a compressed audio solution. If your sound card supports Dolby Digital Live or DTS connect, disable these. Additionally, disable Dolby Atmos for Home Theatre and equivalents.
    • Dolby Atmos for Home Theatre always outputs a Dolby Atmos singal, regardless of what the game actually uses. As such, discretion and research should be used when determining if a game supports Dolby Atmos for Home Theatre. The same is likely to happen for upcoming DTS:X and similar technologies, when they are added to Windows 10.
  • If a game has built in bass management/low-end redirection/subwoofer crossover options, this should be noted. This counts as proper ".1" support.

Testing:

  • Either play a section of the game while listening on the output of each individual type of speaker to determine the supported setup, or use a tool such as Orban Loudness Meter or Special K to detect the per-channel output of the game.

.sofa HRTF tables[edit]

There aren't any game audio engines that require .sofa format instead of .mhr, but VLC does, so I'll plop this here in case anything else ends up needing them.

http://sofacoustics.org/data/database/listen/

  1. 1.0 1.1 Verified by User:Aemony on 2019-10-28
    While I haven't delved deeply into this with extensive testing, my cursory belief after having used Special K across multiple games and with satellite speaker configuration is that it doesn't occur, as otherwise I'd seen the LFE channel get used a lot more often than not.