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Thread: The forgotten component - What’s up with computer audio?




  1. #41
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
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    6

    Default Re: The forgotten component - What’s up with computer audio?

    System which the computer is also hooked up to:
    4 Definitive Technology BP2006TL surround floor standing speakers
    2 Definitive Tech CLR2300 centers
    1 Marantz SR7200

    I would be cool to see what setup everyone else here has too? I plan on getting a matching seperate sub someday.

  2. #42

    Default Re: The forgotten component - What’s up with computer audio?

    I use an nforce2 with Soundstorm for all of my audio needs. I am a bit of an audiophile, so I purchase my soundcards with as much care as a processor or motherboard.
    Real-time Dolby Digital was a huge selling point for me, but also the excellent support and drivers from nVidia.
    When using it on Windows, there were no problems, but now in Linux (FC2), there are plenty.
    nVidia's linux nforce drivers are great -- if your system uses OSS, but since it has been deprecated since the 2.5-2.6 kernels, they should move to ALSA soon. But all the features of the card are supported under Linux now, just in OSS.
    My friend has a nforce3, and it does not have soundstorm either. This saddens me, as I could see that they were moving away from their awesome sound chip starting at nforce3.

    So, in the end, not surprising, but awfully disappointing. Still the best consumer-level card in my opinion.

  3. #43

    Default Re: The forgotten component - What’s up with computer audio?

    One thing I would like to see, browsing through some of these posts is a different, less lossy encoder for digital output. Like DTS, which sounds amazing everywhere I have heard it. As for Vorbis being compressed digital audio to Dolby AC-3 compressed digital audio, it is for positional sound. Also, the signal is much cleaner, would you not agree, if it is just ones and zeroes instead of the full analog range, subject to crosstalk and other distortions? That is why digital sound in the home and in theaters is such a big deal. Crystal clarity at a reasonable price should always be important.

  4. #44
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
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    13

    Default Re: The forgotten component - What’s up with computer audio?

    well..DTS has won my dvd collection..i now discriminate on a dvd before i buy it..to see if there IS a version avaliable somewhere with DTS...and i will get that copy....BEFORE i run downtown and settle for crap DD :P as for vorbis....ogg/flac....thats the only format i use now on my comp for music...yes the files are a lot more huge...but the quality is unmatched by any format i have heard to date...far as i know anyway.and foobar has support for them out of the box...so it makes me happy :) dolby doesnt consider dts a threat yet...cause dolby is the standard...:P but i imagine as more ppl find that dts is FAR more pleasant to listen to..and accurate..that things will change...i know that at my local movie theatre that ppl have been requesting to the management to get dts....as i have myself been doing since they opened...as well as THX cert :D and a digital projector..but the market around here simply isnt large enough for them...*< 1,000,000 ppl* so i am at a loss...we DO have an IMAX theatre here but apparently its crap too..and we couldnt even do Fantasia 2000 cuase its one of the 'small' IMAX's is what i was told...what crap :P quality.....something that companies truely dont care about..they are only interested it would seem with getting a crap product out to feed to the unknowing masses...and then they dont care if they support it...*re: Creative* at least my experience with them....extremely poor.

    I use Martin Logan speakers, Aerius i class.
    :)
    and i found the link on www.bluesnews.com yesterday, tahts why im here..but ive been here before..ive just never been compelled to post yet :) till this one.

  5. #45
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
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    6

    Default Re: The forgotten component - What’s up with computer audio?

    I always look for DTS as well. Often enough the logo can be found at the end of movie trailers and I think little less seen on the DVD side of things then it should be.
    For some reason I rememeber seeing a Martin Logan speaker ad in a magazine or else seen them somewhere. Probably safe to assume that they are sweet to listen to.
    All you make me want to find a soundstorm board =)

  6. #46
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
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    13

    Default Re: The forgotten component - What’s up with computer audio?

    well...i could do a shameless plug for martin logan dot com..but i wont :D they are electrostatic speakers..the sound that comes out of them is unlike anything you will EVER get from a cone driver....they have to be heard to be truely appreciated. ill personally never go back to a cone speaker if i have my choice....ever.
    and considering that the market is 99.9% cone driven..id say thats a pretty bold statement :)

  7. #47
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    Sep 2004
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    6

    Default Re: The forgotten component - What’s up with computer audio?

    Had a feeling they were that good
    Winamp plays ogg files as well. Forgot to add that before.

  8. #48
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
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    13

    Default Re: The forgotten component - What’s up with computer audio?

    well...try listning to the ogg file on winblamp..then listen to it AGAIN using foobar 2000...and see if theres a difference for you :D

  9. #49
    Join Date
    Nov 2001
    Location
    Taipei, Taiwan
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    4,308

    Default Re: The forgotten component - What’s up with computer audio?

    In response to quite a lot of feedback on our original article entitled “The forgotten component - What’s up with computer audio?” since its birth, it's been brought to our attention that not everything we mentioned was entirely profound in reference to the SoundStorm's Dolby encoding. We have a few adjustments we need to make to deliver entirely accurate content to you, our readers.

    http://www.tweaktown.com/document.ph...rticle&dId=699
    Cameron "Mr.Tweak" Wilmot
    Managing Director
    Tweak Town Pty Ltd

  10. #50
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
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    4

    Default Re: The forgotten component - What’s up with computer audio?

    You are concentrating on the gaming audio and i will answer on such.

    Your audio goes through different processes from the original media to reach your ear. Each step give you some understanding on WHY most people dont really care about the sound card and why soundstorm hasd been discontinued (lack of demand).

    1) Let's suppose that the sound we are listening started its life as an analog waveform (like a human voice or a music instrument).

    2) This waveform needs to be digitized. Most game use "CD quality" digitalization process: 44kHz, 16bits (same format on a CD).

    3) compression: You do not store it RAW, you compress this media, to gain space. This goes from DD to mp3. Most gaming sounds will be compressed in 128-196kbps, mp3 or ogg. Once again, you lose quality here.

    4) now, the sound is in digital format on your computer (soundtrack of your game + effect for example). To play it, you get to decompress it (CPU usage), mix it (CPU for low end, APU for higher end sound cards) and treat this signal. This is when an APU like soundstorm can make a different, offloading some of the computation (like spacialization) from the CPU to the APU. This is also the stage that an APU can interpolate a stereo source into a spacialized 5.1 stream. This uses software routines like EAX, DirectSound or miles audio. Higher end audio cards have hardware to help those stages.

    At this point, your sound is a digitized audio waveform, from 1 to 8 channels. Now, you need to actually output physically this waveform.

    5a) Analog output: Your data is sent to a Codec (coder/decoder) that will include a DAC (digital to Analog converter). Depending on the quality of the soundcard, this goes from 16 bits to 24 bits and from 44kHz to 96 or even 192kHz. Remember however that your SOURCE, when digitized, was done only at 44kHz for most media, hence the fancy marketing number will mostly go unused.
    This step is usually where the boys are separated from the men, as onboard sound solutions have crap codecs (even most soundstorm boards). Your output here will mostly depend on that single component: your codec. MSI had an advantage for that on their first nforce board as their 5.1 solution, using a daugther board had good Analog Devices codecs.
    The analog signal is then sent to your speakers.

    5b) Digital out: (for soundstorm or other DD encoders). The signal is encoded in DD5.1, a lossy compression, usually even degrading the signal BEFORE the compression (Soundstorm, for example, encodes sounds only in the 20Hz to 18kHz band. Everything else is cut off). The digital signal is then sent to an audio decoder. The DD stream goes to a DD decoder and the decoded stream goes to the receiver's DAC (usually of better quality that those found on a motherboard/sound card).
    The analog signal is then sent to your speakers.

    So, dont get me wrong. I love soundstorm. I bought the nforce1 for it and stayed on the Athlon XP instead of shifting to the AMD64 because of it. However, it is not "magic" and using the qualifier DD5.1 does not make your sound automatically better.

    DD encoding:
    Plus:

    - simpler setup (only one cable from computer to receiver)
    - uses your receiver's DAC (usually of higher quality)
    - same setup for movies and games
    - no crosstalk/interference on the digital cable

    minus:
    - needs an external receiver
    - cuts the signal, degrading quality
    - compresses the signal (lossily), degrading quality
    - eventual delay because of encoding (virtually absent in soundstorm)

    The positionning that you tout so loudly is completly SEPARATE from the DD encoding (APU) and works exactly the same (on a soundstorm solution) for an analog setup or a digital setup.

    So, why is the audio forgotten?
    - source: most people are happy 128kbit mp3 and cant tell the difference with a real CD. For those, there is no difference in sound between a high end system and a low end.
    - systems: because most people do not have systems that show such a big difference between your sound solutions (video as bottleneck, or memory, or...)
    - overstated: for the same reason that close to 50% of PC sold have *INTEGRATED* video. People just dont care or do not need such a powerful system. The hard core enthousiast crowd for the video cards are a very vocal but quite small community. Sound enthousiasts are even smaller and less vocals.
    - marketing: the current audio treatment are very basics (EAX). The pionners were Aureal, with A3D2, where the sounds were linked to the real 3D geometry (occlusion, audio texture, boucing...). The problem was the same than with the first video 3D accelerators: bandwidth bottleneck on the PCI bus (reason of AGP). They died before they could raise the problem and the main challenger (creative) dropped the issue instead of pushing for it. Imagine nvidia dropping 3D geometry because of the PCI restriction (no AGP, no 3D...). This could come up again with PCI Express (but i doub it as nobody is raising the issue).

    So, basically, there is a lack of innovation and a lack of interest. Soundstorm died because the public did not ask for it when it was there (although it was partly butchered by the M maker's implementation with cheap codecs) and as there does not seem to be a demand, there is no innovation.

    Until the public sees a difference in sound (and i'm not speaking of a 5% framerate drop at 100fps) and can see beyond the "more channels are better" ploy, the market will probably stagnate. Even if a new player comes with a great technology, it is not sure that there would be demand, as they would need to create the demand with a standard for programming the effects (either closed, like glide for 3DFX or open, as EAX3+ is failing because it is closed and noone but creative can use it -> restrained market -> reduced interest for game makers).

    In the end, do not forget: the manufacturers are in here for the money. If the public is not ready to invest in the new technologies (research cost), they will not do it.

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