I am trying to verify some information i've been researching elsewhere and was hoping someone here more familiar with things could help me...
I'm trying to find which Aureal Vortex card was the absolute best in terms of quality.
This is the list i've seen elsewhere of having the 8830 chipset which is supposed to support A3D 2.0:
Using the Aureal Vortex 2 (8830) chipset
Absolute Outrageous 3D Sound
Aureal Vortex2 PCI
Aureal Vortex 2 SuperQuad 2500
Aureal Vortex2 SuperQuad Digital PCI
Diamond Monster Sound MX300
(Monster Sound MX25 daughterboard)
Hi-Val PCI 576 A3D
TechWorks Power Vortex 2
OEM Turtle Beach Montego II
(Digital & Optical I/O daughterboard)
Turtle Beach Montego II Home Studio
Turtle Beach Montego II Plus
Turtle Beach Montego II Quadzilla
Turtle Beach Montego II VoiceXpress
TerraTec XLerate Pro PCI
VideoLogic SonicVortex 2
Xitel Storm Platinum
Now my points of confusion are I see discussion of an A3D _3.0_ version alternately being mentioned as supported or not supported by various cards like the Monster MX300 and similar. Is this something that was enabled by some later driver? Is it supported on ALL of the above 8830 chipset cards or is it unique in drivers or hardware to some of them?
The next question is the SQ3500 doesn't seem to be on the list, yet at least one person on the internet claims to have actually owned one. And talks of A3D 3.0 support again, and possibly additional features which maybe weren't even on the Vortex 2 chipset at all. Was this some totally new chipset barely released? Was it another 8830 in some later revision with actual new features? Was the card ever released at all and did anything support it's features beyond the handful of things listed to support A3D on the Vortex 2 already? I definately want a card with 3.0 support and I can't tell if it's all 8830 cards or not.
The titles I have a list of suggesting 3.0 support are:
Experience The Whole Experience
FMOD Firelight Multimedia
Halo Bungie Software (is this true?? Halo on the PC used A3D 3.0??)
JHexen Raven Games
MDK 2 Interplay
Messiah Shiny Entertainment
Soldier of Fortune Raven Software
Star Trek Voyager: Elite Force Raven Software
Unreal Tournament Epic Games
Finally, which A3D card is "the one to have"? Is there actually any quality difference between them? I saw a review suggesting the Aureal Vortex 2 SQ2500 had a distinct framerate advantage over the MX300 in Half Life... which should be irrelevant with any kind of modern cpu I should think (?) because I can't imagine a solid Pentium 4 win98 rig being slowed down by a little audio overhead. Four channel (or more) output would be nice but I expect to mostly use headphones normally since this sounds like where the system really shines. (just like Sensaura did)
I've seen VERY confusing commentary on how many voices are supported ranging from 16 to 576 voices depending on which card i'm looking at and under what conditions (headphone or 4 speaker) - yet all have the 8830 chipset and use the same drivers and I can't imagine there being that huge of differences. <-- hence my reason for posting.
A couple cards offer an optical out (Xitel) - this is nice but is not necessarily critical to me IF it has some lower quality (less sample voices for instance, or some older less impressive algorythm).
Does ANY card support A3D in 2000/XP or is a win98 system an absolute requirement? It's sounding like the cards work as general cards in XP with disabled A3D.
Does ANY card actually support EAX modes as well since it seems some games used both A3D and EAX 1.0 or 2.0 on top of it? There are very mixed signals again, suggesting the MX300 does or doesn't depending where I read.
Is there ANY modern card (or card not on the above list) that actually works for A3D? I see A3D 2.0 listed as supported by various modern 7.1 cards... claims elsewhere are that these are poor quality hacks routing thru directsound3d. This may be the case. I know that I have a win98 Sensaura card that claims A3D 2.0 compatibility - but if it's routing the A3D 2.0 calls through Sensaura (instead of DS3D) i'm already impressed - the extreme directional accuracy seems to be there in games i've played. But it's possible its only A3D 1.0 and is not as good as it could be either! Perhaps a modern Sensaura card with their HRTF will do it as well??