5.1 with PC Games

Discussion in 'Computers' started by Ken Burkstrum, Sep 9, 2006.

  1. Ken Burkstrum

    Ken Burkstrum Stunt Coordinator

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    I know 5.1 with PC games isn't Dolby Digital or DTS, but I don't know what it is. I use a reciever hooked up to my sound card with digital coax. My soundcard has Dolby Digital Live. So I have some questions.

    1. What is 5.1 surround sound with PC games?
    2. Why aren't console games like that?
    3. Does Dolby Digital Live downgrade the audio quality by converting it to a Dolby Digital signal that my reciever can recognize?
    4. If a signal is just being converted from whatever it is to DD or DTS using DD Live and DTS connect, is either one actually better? Which raises my question on if Pro Logic II sounds better then Neo 6 (excluding Neo 6's 6.1 ability).
    5. Without Dolby Digital Live can you play computer games in true surround sound using a reciever?
    6. Could of swore once upon of time I got my reciever to just say PCM, is that what a raw 5.1 surround sound would sound like?

    Gets confusing figuring out whats doing what where and how and if it's actually working.

    Dolby Digital Live turns everything into a Dolby Digital signal but I can tell with my ears if it's stereo matrixed out or if it's a true 5.1 signal, so atleast I can sort that out no problem.
     
  2. Mike Fassler

    Mike Fassler Supporting Actor

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    heh, I dunno about that. I have quite a few games that are Dolby Digital. Hooking up to the receiver with a coax or optical cable just sends a pure digital signal no matter what if I am thinking correctly. If you have a copy of Farcry or unreal tournament 2003 or 2004 load that up, they have DD. Keep in mind you should really have a sound card that does real time DD encoding,not pass-through if you truly want 5.1 from all of your games.
     
  3. JediFonger

    JediFonger Producer

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    ^that sound card will enable you to play games in 5.1.

    PC games aren't encoded in DD or DTS that you can stream over SPDIF. the reason is DVD movies are mixed and pre-recorded that way. sound cards are given proprietary code from different game studios that either take advantage of EAX, D3D standards or don't. either way, it's hard to transcode sound live the way DDL and DTS-C can.

    the choice is yours, if you don't mind 5.1 or 7.1 analog wires from PC to AVR then any card is fine. but if you DO mind and you HAVE to have 1 wire running from HTPC to wire, then auzentech is your choice.
     
  4. Ken Burkstrum

    Ken Burkstrum Stunt Coordinator

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    I'm confused. You say games arent dolby digital or dts because they aren't premixed and Mike says lots of PC games are dolby digital. I'm just trying to figure out exactly what it is that is being sent from the game out into the speakers. You say I can't hear true 5.1 using SPDIF into my reciever? Are you sure about that cause it seems if that were true the symptons would sound more like Pro Logic II but it's got that discrete dynamic sound. Everything comes out of the channels like it seems it's supposed to.

    And what about Xbox games, those use Dolby Digital don't they? What does that mean exactly if everything is being created on the spot. Is it being mixed and then encoded into Dolby Digital and sent to the reciever all super quick?
     
  5. Joe D

    Joe D Supporting Actor

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    Some games are 5.1 while others aren't.

    If you want all your games to be played in 5.1, buy the Auzentech card because it encodes the sound to 5.1 on the fly.
     
  6. JediFonger

    JediFonger Producer

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    ken the method in which PC games implement 5.1 is different than Dolby Digital 5.1 is from a DVD movie or a TV show. many of the 5.1 content is actually premixed in a studio to create the desire effect and encoded to the final 5.1 soundtrack, then sent to AVR to decode and playback.

    with PC games you don't have that luxury because it is live. so like many TV shows are that broadcast LIVE but in 5.1, they utilize 5.1 encode on the fly. they just send to your AVR that the live broadcast is in 5.1, so the AVR is decoding DD5.1 (it's just doing its job) but on the broadcaster's end they're doing it live encode 5.1 on the fly.

    with PC games, it was traditionally mono, then stereo then when multichannel came along, many game developers went with Creative's EAX solution to enable 5.1 playback via your sound card's 5.1 analog outs. or it taps into Sensura 3D or whatever proprietary recode of your choice. many opengl games would do that... but since Microsoft's Direct X came along, game developers can now tap into a standardized interface so they don't have to worry about sound and let MS handle all the stuff.

    see Dolby in any of the above methods/implementations? nope. that's the problem. Dolby kinda just ignored the market in the first place... until a few years it created Dolby Digital Live (which is "live" encode to 5.1). that's what the cmedia chipset does.

    first your pc games must be programmed to output 5.1. when you start playing those PC games, the audio portion is decoded via software by either D3D or EAX or any other method and INTO 5.1 and is about to be passed to the analog 5.1 output when the multichannel data output is redirected from analog to SPDIF to your DD5.1 or... DTS recently has a DTS-Connect which helps redirect those 5.1 signals to your AVR as 5.1.

    thus, instead of running x.1 analog y-splitter cables from your sound card to your AVR, you can just use the optical/coaxial digital connection to get 5.1 gaming to your AVR.

    that's why Auzentech cards disable analog 5.1 when using SPDIF. it's redirecting the final last step by not doing D/A, but just passing the Digital audio to DD5.1 or DTS-C.
     
  7. Ken Burkstrum

    Ken Burkstrum Stunt Coordinator

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    So all the sounds are stored on the disk/pc and when it comes time that they are needed it's picked and 360 degree surround and volume intensity and fading all that jazz hundreths if not thousandths of a second, and then sent out to the sound card which then processes and sends it to all channels properly. In terms of SPDIF, the soundcard uses Dolby Digital Live to convert it to Dolby Digital so that the reciever can process it? Most recievers wouldn't know how to read just a 5.1 signal that's not dolby digital or dts correct? So if your reciever can't switch it to dolby digital like dolby digital live does, then consoles must encode it into dolby digital and THEN send it out, correct?

    Thanks.
     
  8. Ken Burkstrum

    Ken Burkstrum Stunt Coordinator

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    By the way. Dolby Digital Live vs DTS Connect, is there any reason at all to think that one is better than the other?
     
  9. JediFonger

    JediFonger Producer

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    DDL vs. DTSC doesn't matter. the choice is yours.


    i'm not sure what you're trying to ask 2 posts prior. your CPU is doing most of the processing for audio positioning. the soundcard is essentially converting digital audio files to analog signals... but in DDL&DTSC's case, it is intercepting that and rerouting it to DDL&DTSC.

    on the AVR's end, it doesn't care. as long as it sees Dolby Digital or a DTS signals it just decodes it as such. your AVR does NOT do encode live. it's just decoding codecs.
     
  10. Ken Burkstrum

    Ken Burkstrum Stunt Coordinator

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    What does a reciever do with a 5.1 signal that isnt dolby digital or dts?
     
  11. JediFonger

    JediFonger Producer

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  12. Ken Burkstrum

    Ken Burkstrum Stunt Coordinator

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    I try to research the stuff on google, I can never get much information. Makes me feel like hardly anybody knows.

    I've been trying to look up how Xbox 360 does it and if it uses EAX and I can't find anything about that.

    So my reciever wouldn't be able to play a 5.1 PCM?
     
  13. JediFonger

    JediFonger Producer

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    ken,

    start here:
    http://www.spannerworks.net/reference/10_1a.asp

    after you've read the article on the bottom there is a list of resources, read those as well. then read dolby.com, dtstech.com and you should have a good idea all of the differences between what's what.

    furthermore there's a lot of magazines like Sound&Vision, widescreen magazine and so on that can help you brush on these things.
     

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