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Unreal 1 and A3D cards.

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First post, by DracoNihil

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Has anyone got any experience with this?

Since my Vortex 2 card stopped working on me I never had the opportunity to try out Unreal 1 with the Aureal A3D hardware sound enabled. I'm wondering what version of the game I should play since overtime the audio subsystem that Unreal uses has gotten either buggier or stabler depending on the specific release.

The only time I ever played with HardwareSound was with a SB Live! card and it sucked tremendously...

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Reply 1 of 27, by duralisis

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I've only ever had the chance to use A3D emulation with a Turtle Beach Santa Cruz in Unreal 1 with patches up to v224, 225. It's always sounded good, but Unreal's environment effects are mostly reverb and sound effects. I don't remember it being as good as say Thief, for example. If you're running Win2K or XP, I'd try the OldUnreal final patches (227). They have a replacement Galaxy driver AFAIK. Never experience any real differences in audio over the years of patches though.

v219 was the latch patch to have the old sounds before Epic replaced them with UT variants.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LPocZ-FX8SU

Reply 2 of 27, by d1stortion

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I tried Vortex 2 with Unreal v226 just recently. The sound positioning was ok but other extra effects weren't that noticeable. Use3dHardware on False was more reliable for me because I kept getting weird popping noises at times with A3D on. Quite annoying when playing with headphones. I never noticed such effects with the A3D demos that come with the driver, so it could be related to the game version indeed.

There is certainly a lot of hearsay on the net concerning those different versions. For example, here it says that v225 is the best version for Glide, of course no mention of why that should be the case...

Stay away from any specific "EAX patches" for the UT series btw. Both ones for UT99 and UT04 were rather pathetic efforts on promoting the respective cards.

Also, duralisis: Oldunreal is useless in respect to A3D because it can't run on 9x and that's what you need to run Vortex cards with.

Reply 3 of 27, by DracoNihil

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I take it I'm going to probably might have to go with 220 even though I read somewhere that it started breaking several things audio-wise. Hell I might just test it with retail unpatched Unreal. (version 200)

Oh yeah that's the one of the many reasons I avoid the 227 patch, the creator does not want to forsake the stupid "visual studio 201x runtime" whatever... Seriously it's the reason why I'm compiling my programs with MinGW32 and GCC.

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Reply 4 of 27, by leonardo

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I have the original Unreal here running on two different configs that both have A3D (one has Turtle Beach Montego A3DXstream and the other Diamond Monster Sound MX300). Both work great with 3D audio and Unreal version 226F.

The only time I ever played with HardwareSound was with a SB Live! card and it sucked tremendously.

I can also confirm this. SoundBlaster Live! sucked at delivering on its promises. In Unreal the audio got distorted and clippy (and this was in fact the case with most EAX enabled games I tried). Only later did I learn about Aureal and A3D and I must say it has been a much more pleasing experience all around.

[Install Win95 like you were born in 1985!] on systems like this or this.

Reply 5 of 27, by DracoNihil

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Yeah, even the Audigy sucked bad and guess what it shipped with OEM? Deus Ex GOTY! Makes *PERFECT* sense....

It's stupid given how.. Creative shadily destroyed A3D and bought them out when they came up short due to court costs and we've yet to see them atleast incorporate what the Vortex2 chip did. And now Creative went full backwards and now there's no hardware OpenAL at all, OpenAL itself abandoned (save for OpenAL Soft obviously) and the newer cards are simply just DAC obsession... If I wanted to obsess over DAC clarity I'd get a M-AUDIO card.

On another note, I suppose I'm SOL getting a A3D to work in windows 7 right?

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Reply 6 of 27, by leonardo

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I suppose I'm SOL getting a A3D to work in windows 7 right?

Probably. I understand there are no new drivers for Vortex hardware since basically the Win9x era. My personal experience ends with XP though. Haven't used anything later from MS.

As far as Creative goes, they are dead to me now. All they ever had was the SoundBlaster name and compatibility which is pretty much irrelevant today. EAX could have been good, but it never got off the ground with the horrible drivers. There's no reason to use a Creative card for gaming these days nor is there a reason if you love music. Creative cards as long as I remember have been so-so when it comes to sound quality. At least my Revolution 5.1 stomped on the Audigy2 (which was the last Creative card I will ever buy). 😎
Also, killing Aureal and then not developing or even keeping A3D alive was a truly dick move.

Last edited by leonardo on 2021-08-16, 15:11. Edited 2 times in total.

[Install Win95 like you were born in 1985!] on systems like this or this.

Reply 7 of 27, by sliderider

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leonardo wrote:
Probably. I understand there are no new drivers for Vortex hardware since basically the Win9x era. My personal experience ends w […]
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I suppose I'm SOL getting a A3D to work in windows 7 right?

Probably. I understand there are no new drivers for Vortex hardware since basically the Win9x era. My personal experience ends with XP though. Haven't used anything later from MS.

As far as Creative goes, they are dead to me now. All they ever had was the SoundBlaster name and compatibility which is pretty much irrelevant today. EAX could have been good, but it never got off the ground with the horrible drivers. There's no reason to use a Creative card for gaming these days nor is there a reason if you love music. Creative cards as long as I remember have been shit when it comes to sound quality. At least my Revolution 5.1 wiped it's ass with the Audigy2 (which was the last Creative card I will ever buy). 😎
Also, killing Aureal and then not developing or even keeping A3D alive was truly a dick move.

I've been investigating this myself lately and the consensus seems to be that there were no drivers released supporting A3D after Windows 98/ME though in a few places I seem to recall reading something about a beta Win2K driver that nobody has any experience with ever using but it seems to be impossible to find now, if it exists at all. I am thinking that it was just a bunch of BS to get people's hopes up.

Reply 8 of 27, by swaaye

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The only drivers for NT 5.x that I know of that have any hardware acceleration come with XP and were apparently completed by MS (perhaps from the Aureal alpha-level code for 2k). They are only DirectSound / DirectSound3D accelerated though. These drivers were not entirely stable and so MS released an update (shows up on Windows Update) that removes acceleration.

Frankly the Win9x drivers aren't terribly stable either. Or finished for that matter, considering they kept adding unfinished features and making new bugs right up to the end. A3DAPI.dll likes to kill the Win9x kernel and cause BSODs with some games.

Reply 9 of 27, by leonardo

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swaaye wrote:

...

Frankly the Win9x drivers aren't terribly stable either. Or finished for that matter, considering they kept adding unfinished features and making new bugs right up to the end. A3DAPI.dll likes to kill the Win9x kernel and cause BSODs with some games.

I haven't had any stability issues on either of my comps or any games that support A3D (both machines run Windows 95 OSR2). Of course Windows 95 is very delicate when it comes to the quality of hardware and drivers being used. I had to be _very_ meticulous to get everything running this smoothly.

[Install Win95 like you were born in 1985!] on systems like this or this.

Reply 10 of 27, by Davros

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leonardo wrote:

There's no reason to use a Creative card for gaming these days

I disagree if you still play eax enabled games
ps: apart from bloat I never had any issues with creative drivers

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Reply 11 of 27, by swaaye

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Yeah there are a few games where EAX is nice. Aureal's EAX support in driver 2048/2050 is terrible in the games I've tried. There are some other chips with decent EAX support though.

leonardo wrote:

I haven't had any stability issues on either of my comps or any games that support A3D (both machines run Windows 95 OSR2). Of course Windows 95 is very delicate when it comes to the quality of hardware and drivers being used. I had to be _very_ meticulous to get everything running this smoothly.

Try playing Sin for a bit. Quit the game and load it again a few times too. See if you get any a3dapi.dll + kernel32.dll meltdowns.

Reply 12 of 27, by Davros

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dont forget to patch sin patch 1.11
the retail version had a bug where it wouldnt just load the level data but the data for every level in the game.

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Reply 13 of 27, by swaaye

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I played all of Sin awhile back. Was version 1.11. I used a Vortex 2. I was able to play with A3D but if I ever quit and loaded the game again it would usually kill kernel32 when a3d initialized. I tried all sorts of things to solve it, including entirely different systems. I had a similar initialization problem with Elite Force.

Reply 14 of 27, by Zoomer

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Yeah, well the thing is I've always been using creative solutions during 98-xp era and honestly speaking never had major issues with them (yeah, the drivers were problematic here and there and always bloated but overall a so-so experience). My first card was a SB Live! (gold digital something something) and maaan I loved it (yeah!). Back then I had a 4.1 speaker system (something from Creative too iirc) and the whole neighborhood was visiting my apartment and checking out games with 3d audio and eax effects, heh. After that it was an Audigy 2 ZS and 5.1 + games like PoP Sands of Time, some iteration of Rainbow Six, ut2 and splinter cell... Oh and Jedi Academy. I liked it all sooo much.

The interesting part is that back then I and my friends didn't even heard of a3d (we'd been seeing a3d option in game settings sometimes but nobody really knew what it is).

So naturally after reading on vogons for some time in the last year about Aureal and how mean Creative were to it and also how much superior the a3d was I decided that I must build a system with a3d 2.0 support. I bought the Aureal Vortex 2 and connected it to 4.0 speaker configuration (5.1 isn't possible). The system itself isn't bad: sony DA2400es multi-in -> 4x JBL Northbridge 80 ES floorstanders

Result: Aureal demos are impressive, especially wave tracing ones. Games are not. Unreal tries to imitate something interesting sometimes but 3d sound positioning mostly sucks (difficult to understand where the sound is coming from). Same with Soldier of Fortune. Thief is kinda ok when sounds in stereo (sound-from-behind-your-back emulation), but nothing spectacular when in quadraphonic (again positioning sucks). Also reverb sounds bit weird. Star Trek EF is a TOTAL MESS 🤣. It is totally borked in the sound hardware acceleration department, believe me 😁 (and that is bad because that game was the reason I built such a system).

Yeah and the drivers themselves are pretty unstable too. They do tend to crash windows. Sound also pops frome time to time (and no computer magic could mend that unfortunately). Also the .48 version has inverted frontal channels when using hardware acceleration and that's the only w98 version that does support reverb so yeeeah...

All in all a3d is interesting but it isn't something one could be blown away with. Especially compared to EAX. The wavetracing concept is noteworthy but I haven't seen any good implementation of it in games so far.

Reply 15 of 27, by swaaye

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Half Life might be the best A3D game. It uses A3D 2.0 features. Half Life mods also tend to sound great.

Otherwise it is a mixed bag. So is every other 3D audio standard though.

Reply 17 of 27, by Zoomer

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Nahkri wrote:

Afaik A3D sounded better when using headphones,not speakers.

Yeah, correct. Well not better but this was the main point selling point of Aureal solutions if I understand correctly. HTRF algoritms or something like that IIRC. When you use stereo sound system (be it headphones or a pair of speakers) you then hear some sounds as if they're coming from your back. Well kinda. Of course this feature diminishes when we're talking about more than 2 speakers setup.

Edit: Nahkri, saw your forum signature and decided to ninja your idea. Vogons is an extremely apropriate place for such a thing haha 😀

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OS: Windows 98

Reply 19 of 27, by swaaye

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Yup 2041 is probably the best driver.

Vortex cards do mind blowing work with stereo speakers. Headphone mode is ok too but I prefer Audigy/X-Fi CMSS-3D Headphone mode.