Sound card industry

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Sound card industry

Postby 640K!enough » 2018-4-17 @ 01:30

Gahhhrrrlic wrote:You know, I'm slightly annoyed that wile graphics cards have turned into 10 pound heat pipe behemoths that are more powerful than the rest of the computer they are attached to, sound cards fizzled out and died. Human beings have 2 important senses that come into play with video games: Vision and hearing. Vision is all taken care of. Sound has been sorely neglected. What Creative ought to be doing now is conducting full blown FEA, on-chip, hardware accelerated, using architecture and object data from the game. This is totally doable, and would make sound cards develop in a similar vein to graphics cards, with realistic real-time 3D sound. Basically this is a huge amount of untouched potential IMO.

Maybe you're unaware, but Creative has spent most of its existence doing its very best to avoid investing in innovation. Why spend money keeping up with competitors, when all it will take is a little anti-competitive behaviour to put them out of business? Aureal was starting the industry down the path you describe, but Creative saw fit to file one frivolous lawsuit after another until they couldn't even afford to defend themselves any longer. Then they bought what was left after the bankruptcy, and never used any of it. They have almost single-handedly destroyed the PC audio market with their mediocrity. If you think they have any real interest in innovation, you're fooling yourself.
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Re: Best Sensaura Implementation

Postby Gahhhrrrlic » 2018-4-17 @ 03:38

640K!enough wrote:
Gahhhrrrlic wrote:You know, I'm slightly annoyed that wile graphics cards have turned into 10 pound heat pipe behemoths that are more powerful than the rest of the computer they are attached to, sound cards fizzled out and died. Human beings have 2 important senses that come into play with video games: Vision and hearing. Vision is all taken care of. Sound has been sorely neglected. What Creative ought to be doing now is conducting full blown FEA, on-chip, hardware accelerated, using architecture and object data from the game. This is totally doable, and would make sound cards develop in a similar vein to graphics cards, with realistic real-time 3D sound. Basically this is a huge amount of untouched potential IMO.

Maybe you're unaware, but Creative has spent most of its existence doing its very best to avoid investing in innovation. Why spend money keeping up with competitors, when all it will take is a little anti-competitive behaviour to put them out of business? Aureal was starting the industry down the path you describe, but Creative saw fit to file one frivolous lawsuit after another until they couldn't even afford to defend themselves any longer. Then they bought what was left after the bankruptcy, and never used any of it. They have almost single-handedly destroyed the PC audio market with their mediocrity. If you think they have any real interest in innovation, you're fooling yourself.


You're preaching to the converted, as I agree with you. It's just if I were in their shoes I wouldn't be sitting on my ass releasing card refreshes encased in pretty plastic boxes and fewer discrete components on the board, I'd be thinking about the next new tech that will put the company back on the map again.
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Re: Best Sensaura Implementation

Postby swaaye » 2018-4-17 @ 03:49

I think it's pretty hard to make money on game sound cards when game developers don't want to bother to devote resources to audio tech that has limited marketshare. That's the story of Creative, Aureal and all those other sound companies back then. They were sponsoring many of the games that used their tech, or even directly developing the improvements.

I feel like Creative is a bit like NVidia. Very aggressive. Bought up a lot of competition that was faltering. They have tried diversifying in lots of different ways. They've had GPUs (3DLabs), SoCs, speakers, professional audio gear, software, etc. Nothing has worked out very well, but they have survived. They certainly could have used a better public relations / marketing team to improve the perception of the company.
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Re: Best Sensaura Implementation

Postby Gahhhrrrlic » 2018-4-17 @ 04:05

Perhaps that's why I don't care for NVidia either and only buy ATI/AMD stuff
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Re: Best Sensaura Implementation

Postby swaaye » 2018-4-17 @ 04:11

Gahhhrrrlic wrote:Perhaps that's why I don't care for NVidia either and only buy ATI/AMD stuff

I don't know. I've had a lot of products from both. I'm impressed with where NV is today. Not with AMD/ATI. Bad management, bad decisions, missed opportunities. They drop support for their products much sooner. Who knows if they'll ever catch up to NV again at this rate. Their new CEO seems very smart and capable, but the company was run into the ground for most of this decade.
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Re: Best Sensaura Implementation

Postby 640K!enough » 2018-4-17 @ 04:28

swaaye wrote:I think it's pretty hard to make money on game sound cards when game developers don't want to bother to devote resources to audio tech that has limited marketshare. That's the story of Creative, Aureal and all those other sound companies back then. They were sponsoring many of the games that used their tech, or even directly developing the improvements.

I feel like Creative is a bit like NVidia. Very aggressive. Bought up a lot of competition that was faltering. They have tried diversifying in lots of different ways. They've had GPUs (3DLabs), SoCs, speakers, professional audio gear, software, etc. Nothing has worked out very well, but they have survived. They certainly could have used a better public relations / marketing team to improve the perception of the company.

I don't see it that way at all. The only thing Creative has ever done well is marketing; promise prospective customers the moon, then, by the time they figure out it's actually a turd, you already have their money.

Also, with an approach like Aureal was taking, surely the proper tools would have come along to make the process less arduous. If you can render the scene, much of the necessary information is there already. It gets difficult to innovate when all your money is going to lawyers defending you against one frivolous lawsuit after another, all filed by a competitor who would rather destroy you by illegitimate means than compete.

They have always tried to take the low-effort approach, relying on brand recognition, marketing and anti-competitive tactics to "win". If they were to go out of business tomorrow, it wouldn't be soon enough for me, and I wouldn't miss them. They have been, and remain, the leeches of the PC audio industry.
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Re: Sound card industry

Postby swaaye » 2018-4-17 @ 04:53

Yeah you're right that they have always advertised their products well. My point was just that they could've been a lot smarter about how they operated to prevent the negative image we all have today. If they had supported Aureal products for a year, not lied about 24-bit support, improved their own QA, not made a public mess out of Vista support, threatened Daniel_K, etc. Lots of stupid moves.

When Creative bought Ensoniq, they did support the AudioPCI briefly with a driver update or two and new features. Ensoniq was out of money as well. I suppose the big difference there was Creative actually used Ensoniq's technology for a time. They didn't care to use Aureal's for whatever reasons.
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Re: Sound card industry

Postby ZanQuance » 2018-4-17 @ 05:49

swaaye wrote:I suppose the big difference there was Creative actually used Ensoniq's technology for a time. They didn't care to use Aureal's for whatever reasons.

Dig through the court papers and talk to the ex-Aureal employees like I did and you will find out Creative never ended up with any of Aureals key assets. All Creative did acquire were two patents and a foosball table, and avoided a major countersuit Aureal had in the works. It was the cheapest way to snuff out a competitor. All Aureal tech was provided privately as precompiled binaries by C.R.E. C.R.E split from Aureal right after the lawsuits started in order to protect the advanced tech. So Creative cannot support what they never had.
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Re: Sound card industry

Postby swaaye » 2018-4-17 @ 07:30

That explains it!
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Re: Sound card industry

Postby vvbee » 2018-4-17 @ 07:55

I wouldn't agree that we're there for graphics since much immersion is still missing, cf. offline rendering. But yeh, I've been calling for realistic audio for ten years and apparently it hasn't happened yet. Positional audio is nice but I don't want just filtered wav clips, I want sound generated on the fly from material interaction.
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Re: Sound card industry

Postby swaaye » 2018-4-17 @ 08:03

VR seems to be a catalyst for better audio, but unfortunately VR isn't exactly exploding in popularity.
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Re: Sound card industry

Postby Plasma » 2018-4-17 @ 08:38

Meh. I think PC audio has been "good enough" for quite a while now. The problem of noisy integrated amps has been solved with digital outputs. Software can do the rest. Most people are using crappy speakers or headphones anyway.

You need more than two senses for full immersion. Somebody needs to invent smelleo.
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Re: Sound card industry

Postby DracoNihil » 2018-4-17 @ 08:48

Creative ruined the soundcard industry ever since they "won out" against AdLib.

As for today, I think the only chance of hardware accelerated audio is through specialized GPGPU methods. I don't think anyone's going to bother or want hardware audio cards anymore. Even though that would atleast free the GPU of tasks a GPU shouldn't really be doing anyways.

Aren't there professional audio expansion cards still out there today? And not made by Creative, but actual reputable professional audio vendors.
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Re: Sound card industry

Postby Scali » 2018-4-17 @ 09:55

I think HDMI was the final nail in the coffin of sound cards... HDMI gives you 8-channel PCM audio... problem is, you want to send the signal together with the video signal, so GPUs pretty much have a monopoly on the interface now.
Besides, the GPU or even just the CPU can do audio processing well enough, so there's no need for any dedicated audio hardware.

Creative should focus on (semi-)professional audio equipment (like their E-Mu line) and accessories such as headphones and speaker kits, I guess.
Either that, or try to diversify in new markets again.
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Re: Sound card industry

Postby The Serpent Rider » 2018-4-17 @ 16:26

Creative ruined the soundcard industry ever since they "won out" against AdLib.

"Market forces dictate that you need to evolve or die."
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Re: Sound card industry

Postby 640K!enough » 2018-4-17 @ 17:21

The Serpent Rider wrote:"Market forces dictate that you need to evolve or die."

Based on that tidbit of wisdom, Creative should have gone out of business long ago. How is it that they're still around? Innovation, quality products and delivering what they promise have certainly never had anything to do with it.

Also, in response to the comments about audio being "good enough", I ask why. Just because there is a little CPU power to spare, doesn't mean we have to squander it on things that could be better handled by quality dedicated hardware; tasks like real music synthesis, rather than pre-recorded clips; high-quality multi-channel mixing, environmental modelling, etc. If we are to take the "good enough" approach, how soon do you want to throw away your powerful graphics card and go back to a simple frame buffer and software rendering? Surely it won't be too long before there is processor power to spare for that too.
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Re: Sound card industry

Postby Srandista » 2018-4-17 @ 17:34

Yeah, Kyro GPU's was also innovative, and where they are today (certainly not in PC's)? 3dfx ditto... Just because you hate Creative, it doesn't mean, that they wasn't meeting customers demands. Clearly they were, otherwise they woulnd't be here. Deal with it (or start new sound card company).
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Re: Sound card industry

Postby cyclone3d » 2018-4-17 @ 18:01

640K!enough wrote:
The Serpent Rider wrote:"Market forces dictate that you need to evolve or die."

Based on that tidbit of wisdom, Creative should have gone out of business long ago. How is it that they're still around? Innovation, quality products and delivering what they promise have certainly never had anything to do with it.

Also, in response to the comments about audio being "good enough", I ask why. Just because there is a little CPU power to spare, doesn't mean we have to squander it on things that could be better handled by quality dedicated hardware; tasks like real music synthesis, rather than pre-recorded clips; high-quality multi-channel mixing, environmental modelling, etc. If we are to take the "good enough" approach, how soon do you want to throw away your powerful graphics card and go back to a simple frame buffer and software rendering? Surely it won't be too long before there is processor power to spare for that too.


The reason why there is not real hardware accelerated audio or real synthesis anymore is because MS single-handedly killed it off with Windows Vista. At least Creative released Alchemy in order to restore EAX and other hardware accelerated audio to the older games that supported it so we can still run those games with the audio capability they were intended to have.
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Re: Sound card industry

Postby The Serpent Rider » 2018-4-17 @ 18:38

Creative should have gone out of business long ago

Not at all, because they were shaping the market in their image.
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Re: Sound card industry

Postby Scali » 2018-4-17 @ 19:00

640K!enough wrote:If we are to take the "good enough" approach, how soon do you want to throw away your powerful graphics card and go back to a simple frame buffer and software rendering? Surely it won't be too long before there is processor power to spare for that too.


Actually... no.
See, with audio, even if you want to mix a gazillion channels in 24-bit 192 kHz resolution, a simple CPU can do that at < 1% CPU load. So, there really is no use case for the average usage pattern for sound chips.

With graphics, it's an entirely different story. Even if you take the most high-end CPU out there, and spend 100% of its power on graphics, you're not likely to get anywhere near the performance and quality of even 10-15 year old GPUs. Likewise, if you want to play 4k video, all but the most high-end CPUs would simply choke on the decoding task if they had no assistance from the GPU whatsoever.

That's why even those low-end integrated GPUs are still everywhere... even for people who don't want to game or anything, these GPUs are required for a decent everyday experience. It certainly WILL take a long time before there is CPU power enough... if ever (I've been hearing this for 10-15 years... look up SwiftShader for example, and the gap has only become larger).
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