Restoring surround sound to Deus Ex and other games - should I get Sound Blaster MB3?

Getting old Windows games working.

Re: Restoring surround sound to Deus Ex and other games - should I get Sound Blaster MB3?

Postby mirh » 2014-10-15 @ 17:03

Well, first of all you'll need hardware DS3D if you really want at least basic surround.
Given that you have no specific hardware check my post
Besides, I would buy a Xonar DG (3$ cheaper) all the time rather than that crappy software (or an U3 if you have space constraints)

Mau1wurf1977 wrote:Surround sound has taken a huge step backwards. Even A3D sounds does a better job compared what games offer these days on the PC.

Even A3D? A3D is the most accurate positional API ever created afaik. And that wrapper is just.. how could I say? A palliative. Reflections won't work properly.
Further information about restoration here

@Davros @NamelessPlayer
I guess you are both right. DS3D is still there, and "every DirectSound3D application act like DS3D isn't there when you're not using a wrapper under Vista onward" because every old application just specifically looked for the hardware path, that's no more. I wrote something here. Please criticize it, feedback is welcome.

@philscomputerlab
They actually seem to have taken down the entire developer website already an year ago.... without a replacement... (old website is still here though)
I think they surrendered definitively to any new audio technology and they just coast, continuing to sell the same products forever
I can't say this is not what they deserve...

@BuckoA51
HDMI or analog outputs have really nothing to do with positional accuracy of sounds..
Anyway HDMI will probably be better with the right equipment... though if you have a cheap amplifier (or headphones, like me) it's not going to improve audio quality
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Re: Restoring surround sound to Deus Ex and other games - should I get Sound Blaster MB3?

Postby BuckoA51 » 2014-10-30 @ 18:43

HDMI or analog outputs have really nothing to do with positional accuracy of sounds..


That's correct of course, but my point was full, positional 3D surround sound is entirely possible in modern versions of Windows, it just needs to be implemented in software rather than by using a depreciated hardware API.

Of course, that's no help for the dozens of legacy titles that are now reduced to stereo only because of these depreciations.

For the record, I can't get surround working in Deus Ex either, ALchemy seems to do something but it's still not 100% :( I wish someone would write an OpenAL driver for the game.
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Re: Restoring surround sound to Deus Ex and other games - should I get Sound Blaster MB3?

Postby mirh » 2014-11-01 @ 15:35

BuckoA51 wrote:
HDMI or analog outputs have really nothing to do with positional accuracy of sounds..


That's correct of course, but my point was full, positional 3D surround sound is entirely possible in modern versions of Windows, it just needs to be implemented in software rather than by using a depreciated hardware API.

Of course, that's no help for the dozens of legacy titles that are now reduced to stereo only because of these depreciations.

For the record, I can't get surround working in Deus Ex either, ALchemy seems to do something but it's still not 100% :( I wish someone would write an OpenAL driver for the game.

Well, I believe deus ex would sound best with A3D, rather than with any other OpenAL/EAX/Directsound driver

Though (back to earth, with more simple workarounds..) are you using the universal version of ALchemy? Sometimes it does not produce perfect results (check the post I previously linked)
Or you may even want to try Realtek's 3Dsoundback
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Re: Restoring surround sound to Deus Ex and other games - should I get Sound Blaster MB3?

Postby BuckoA51 » 2014-11-02 @ 01:11

No, using the official version of ALchemy with a Auzentech X-Fi HTHD card.
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Re: Restoring surround sound to Deus Ex and other games - should I get Sound Blaster MB3?

Postby PhilsComputerLab » 2014-11-02 @ 02:37

Is there software that can capture 6 channel audio?

I believe FRAPS can do this, but is there an audio only solution maybe?

And with CMSS-3D and A3D, will a Stereo capture preserve the surround over headphone?

EDIT: Tried the game on my Media TV Server and using Alchemy it works great. I changed the Hardware 3D support option to On and added the game to Alchemy and that was it :)

I could hear foot steps and that robot from behind and things like that.

Setup is a PCIe Recon 3D with Logitech 5.1 system hooked up through analogue connections.
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Re: Restoring surround sound to Deus Ex and other games - should I get Sound Blaster MB3?

Postby mirh » 2014-11-03 @ 23:26

BuckoA51 wrote:No, using the official version of ALchemy with a Auzentech X-Fi HTHD card.

Latest version? 1.45.01 ?

philscomputerlab wrote:Is there software that can capture 6 channel audio?

I believe FRAPS can do this, but is there an audio only solution maybe?

And with CMSS-3D and A3D, will a Stereo capture preserve the surround over headphone?

EDIT: Tried the game on my Media TV Server and using Alchemy it works great. I changed the Hardware 3D support option to On and added the game to Alchemy and that was it :)

I could hear foot steps and that robot from behind and things like that.

Setup is a PCIe Recon 3D with Logitech 5.1 system hooked up through analogue connections.

Here (even though I had more Vista/7 in mind than XP)
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Re: Restoring surround sound to Deus Ex and other games - should I get Sound Blaster MB3?

Postby PhilsComputerLab » 2014-11-04 @ 07:39

Thanks. Which method do you use / works well?

Can you encode / compress 5.1 audio files? What would you use?

And what to use for playback? VLC or MPC-HC?
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Re: Restoring surround sound to Deus Ex and other games - should I get Sound Blaster MB3?

Postby mirh » 2014-11-04 @ 15:16

philscomputerlab wrote:Thanks. Which method do you use / works well?

Can you encode / compress 5.1 audio files? What would you use?

And what to use for playback? VLC or MPC-HC?

Well, I focused mainly on pure PCM audio in there (since I'd like to test, someday, if ALchemy and windows XP really sounds equal).
Though I think I would still use MSI afterburner to record it (I mean.. it records video too, but you can easily demux the sound source )

Then, if you'd like to compress it, these are the codecs. Opus is certainly the more advanced and performing (and can be played straightforward by either VLC, mpc-hc, firefox and chrome)
I don't know for the latter two, but certainly the 2 media players can play multichannel audio (every film has at least a 5.1 soundtrack, after all)

there's a nice 8-channel .wav here, if you'd like to test
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Re: Restoring surround sound to Deus Ex and other games - should I get Sound Blaster MB3?

Postby PhilsComputerLab » 2014-11-04 @ 15:32

mirh wrote:since I'd like to test, someday, if ALchemy and windows XP really sounds equal).


That would interested me a lot!

And thanks for all the answers, very helpful.
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Re: Restoring surround sound to Deus Ex and other games - should I get Sound Blaster MB3?

Postby jonpol » 2014-12-12 @ 09:16

thecrankyhermit wrote:Replaying Deus Ex in Windows 7 led me down this train of thought. I am using an onboard Realtek ALC888 chipset, and have 5.1 speakers connected via three analog stereo jacks. Presently, I can not get surround sound to work in Deus Ex.

I tried this thing called "IndirectSound," which sort of works, but it seems buggy and incomplete; positional audio from objects in the environment work pretty well, but gunshots from my own hand come from behind me, and the docs say that EAX effects like reverb aren't implemented at all.


Hi,

I know you asked this question months ago, but I just happened to stumble across it now. I'm the author of IndirectSound, so I thought I'd throw in my two cents.

The 3D sound in Deus Ex is programmed a bit oddly, but I believe that IndirectSound is actually behaving correctly (in the cases that I've tested). For example, depending on whether you're looking up in the sky or down at the ground while walking your footsteps will sound like they're coming from either in front of or behind you. This is more noticeable and thus objectionable using IndirectSound, but if you know what to listen for you can hear the same thing happening in Windows XP with a real Sound Blaster. (The reason it's more noticeable is that IndirectSound uses Microsoft's XAudio2 implementation to decide which speakers to play a given 3D sound in and their algorithm differs from Creative's implementation. Microsoft's is much more discrete, whereas Creative blends sounds between different speakers, particularly ones that are close to the listener/origin. Sounds that are close behind the listener will still play in the front speakers on a Sound Blaster, but not with XAudio2.)

It seems possible that firing a gun has the same problem that the footsteps do: That the gun actually is located behind the listener (meaning that the "bug" is in the game and that they programmed it that way). I've only played the very opening of Deus Ex to test with IndirectSound, though, and so I haven't actually gotten far enough to fire a gun hehe. If you happen to read this post :happy: , I would be happy to try and determine whether it's a real bug or not and fix it if you could give me repro steps. Based on your description of your situation I think that IndirectSound is a pretty good potential solution, and I would encourage you to not give up on it yet if you enjoy playing older games in a multi-speaker environment in Windows 7.
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Re: Restoring surround sound to Deus Ex and other games - should I get Sound Blaster MB3?

Postby leileilol » 2014-12-13 @ 17:23

I've noticed strange spatial problems on a SBLive in WinME (DONT LAUGH) back then too. Half of Deus Ex sounded drenched, the more clearer parts of the game were the tunnels
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Re: Restoring surround sound to Deus Ex and other games - should I get Sound Blaster MB3?

Postby DracoNihil » 2014-12-13 @ 17:34

There's actually alot of truth to what jonpol says. Because of how Unreal engine's PlaySound works and how the player's Viewport is. Almost every sound the player makes is going to come from below and behind them because the camera is placed slightly higher and towards the front of their controlling PlayerPawn.

Galaxy also has really wonky surround sound support, and with the above pitfall just mentioned it's not a easy thing to fix. How UT200x does surround sound properly baffles me...
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Re: Restoring surround sound to Deus Ex and other games - should I get Sound Blaster MB3?

Postby jonpol » 2014-12-13 @ 22:36

DracoNihil wrote:There's actually alot of truth to what jonpol says. Because of how Unreal engine's PlaySound works and how the player's Viewport is. Almost every sound the player makes is going to come from below and behind them because the camera is placed slightly higher and towards the front of their controlling PlayerPawn.


I was curious so I did some tests with Deus Ex. I just used the pistol at the very beginning of a new game (on the dock with the Statue of Liberty in the distance). It turns out that, similar to the footsteps, the location of the pistol sound changes depending on which direction you face. In order to try and get some consistency I ended up just shooting immediately after starting a new game without moving the camera at all, but even then it turns out that the position of the pistol sound is different every time and so I'm not sure how the game decides where to place it.

The game uses head-relative positioning for everything, which means that it never changes the position or orientation of the listener and instead specifies positions of sounds relative to the listener/origin (which is unusual but useful for the current discussion since it makes it easy to tell at a glance if a sound is coming from in front of or behind the listener). Here is one example position from shooting the pistol after starting a new game without moving the camera at all:

( 0.000448688, 0.0974991, -0.00231867 )

The sound is almost playing at the origin, but slightly to the right, above, and behind. Here is another example:

( -0.000114512, 0.0995336, -3.81707e-005 )

In this case it is playing slightly to the left, above, and very slightly behind. So, as I had guessed in my previous post, unfortunately I believe that IndirectSound is actually behaving as it should when it plays the gun shots behind the listener :depressed:. A nice solution would be for me to try and mimic the way that a Sound Blaster decides which speakers to play a 3D sound out of rather than using Microsoft's implementation; doing so is definitely on my "one day" wishlist, but it's probably not going to happen in the near future. (This is the only game I know of that has this problem, and when it comes to qualitative vs. quantitative features more people seem to be much more interested in EAX being emulated, and so that is probably next on the to-do list.)
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Re: Restoring surround sound to Deus Ex and other games - should I get Sound Blaster MB3?

Postby DracoNihil » 2014-12-13 @ 22:57

Oh and I totally forgot this one bug in Unreal's sound system. If you have EXACTLY 0.000000 ViewRotation Pitch.. the panning sometimes becomes hard left or hard right based on your Yaw direction. In practice though you wont hardly encounter this bug unless you're a keyboard player and you always centre your view.
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Re: Restoring surround sound to Deus Ex and other games - should I get Sound Blaster MB3?

Postby jonpol » 2014-12-14 @ 01:49

NamelessPlayer wrote:
Davros wrote:
NamelessPlayer wrote:-It was DirectSound3D specifically that got removed from the Vista sound stack onward. OpenAL remains unaffected. This is why wrappers like ALchemy work in the first place.

DirectSound3D IS STILL THERE its just no longer done in hardware, its done on the cpu

If it's still there, then why does every DirectSound3D application act like DS3D isn't there when you're not using a wrapper under Vista onward?

The basic DirectSound API's still there, but that's not what we're talking about. DirectSound3D, for our purposes under Windows Vista and later, is as dead as 3dfx Glide.

The thing is, you still need that wrapper or you're completely unable to get proper audio out of those old games.


I can try to answer based on what I've personally discovered working on IndirectSound (which basically echoes mirh's post and link): The reason many older games don't output 3D sound under Vista onward is that they don't create 3D buffers if hardware support isn't available. On the other hand, any older game that still creates 3D software or deferred buffers will still correctly output positional 3D sound on recent versions of Windows (using Microsoft's CPU implementation). I don't know about Everest/AIDA64 and can't speak to what they report, but if you're still skeptical (and know C++) you can verify this for yourself by creating a DSBCAPS_LOCSOFTWARE IDirect3DSoundBuffer and hearing what happens.

I keep a list of games where IndirectSound is required to hear 3D positional audio, but there are actually many games that I have tested since starting the project that I don't have listed there because IndirectSound is not required even though it's compatible and works properly (i.e. the games will still use DirectSound3D buffers and listeners without it).

(Side note: I remember when I realized that this was the case, and being bewildered why Microsoft doesn't provide a compatibility mode that does the exact same thing that IndirectSound does, since it seems to me like it should be pretty easy for them to do.)

I think the reason that so many games don't create 3D buffers if hardware support isn't available is because in the "old days" it resulted in a much bigger performance hit to calculate on the CPU than it does now. We can look back with the benefit of hindsight and wish that the developers had provided both "2D software" and "3D software" modes, but at the time these games were written it was probably a sensible choice.

(One more potentially interesting side note in the context of the current thread: Deus Ex actually won't create 3D buffers even if hardware acceleration is available if EAX 1.0 isn't also supported.)
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Re: Restoring surround sound to Deus Ex and other games - should I get Sound Blaster MB3?

Postby Stiletto » 2014-12-14 @ 16:34

oh hey, welcome back jonpol. Sounds like work on IndirectSound has resumed! :)

FYI, as you may have seen, mirh has been doing some crazy research you may find fascinating over at PCGamingWiki: http://pcgamingwiki.com/wiki/Glossary_talk:Sound_card
to help out this page: http://pcgamingwiki.com/wiki/Glossary:Sound_card
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Re: Restoring surround sound to Deus Ex and other games - should I get Sound Blaster MB3?

Postby swaaye » 2014-12-14 @ 21:51

leileilol wrote:I've noticed strange spatial problems on a SBLive in WinME (DONT LAUGH) back then too. Half of Deus Ex sounded drenched, the more clearer parts of the game were the tunnels

Could be Creative WDM drivers being troublesome.
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Re: Restoring surround sound to Deus Ex and other games - should I get Sound Blaster MB3?

Postby jonpol » 2014-12-14 @ 23:48

Stiletto wrote:oh hey, welcome back jonpol. Sounds like work on IndirectSound has resumed! :)


Thanks! Work on it never really stopped, but the rate that changes happen definitely varies according to what's going on in the real world. :happy: The bulk of the past 6 months was spent, believe it or not, on a single bug that only affected the patched version of Mafia and made it run at about 1 fps. It would be hard to overstate how happy I was to finally figure it out and not have to spend any more hours trying random things, playing the intro again, and staring at log files!

Stiletto wrote:FYI, as you may have seen, mirh has been doing some crazy research you may find fascinating over at PCGamingWiki: http://pcgamingwiki.com/wiki/Glossary_talk:Sound_card
to help out this page: http://pcgamingwiki.com/wiki/Glossary:Sound_card


Yeah, very cool stuff!
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Re: Restoring surround sound to Deus Ex and other games - should I get Sound Blaster MB3?

Postby F2bnp » 2014-12-15 @ 01:21

May I just drop in to say that I just found out about Indirect Sound and it looks phenomenal? As far as I understand it, I don't need any specialized hardware, just my onboard sound card for it to work properly, right?
This is absolutely fantastic and an ingenious method of restoring 3D sound on all these old games. Thank you so much jonpol!
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Re: Restoring surround sound to Deus Ex and other games - should I get Sound Blaster MB3?

Postby jonpol » 2014-12-15 @ 18:44

F2bnp wrote:May I just drop in to say that I just found out about Indirect Sound and it looks phenomenal? As far as I understand it, I don't need any specialized hardware, just my onboard sound card for it to work properly, right?
This is absolutely fantastic and an ingenious method of restoring 3D sound on all these old games. Thank you so much jonpol!


You're welcome! As far as I know it works with any audio hardware, so you should be set. Good luck and enjoy!
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