VOGONS


First post, by aaron158

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i got an aureal vortex 2 sq2500 today from a local pc store guy let me have it for 10 bucks.

its just like this one here
https://www.ebay.com/itm/254816521898?hash=it … -QAAOSw22Ff5GVv

its got the digital optical output connector vs the coaxial output most of them seem to have. now on the board there is 2 pin headers the one close to the pci connector witch is obviously the wave table connector. but there is another set of connectors in the top right that are on a right angle they have no label and i can't seem to find anything online that says what those are for are they like front panel audio or for some add on that was never released.

also the version with optical out is that like a later release then the one with coaxial i noticed a bunch of the reviews back in the day complained they wished it was optical out instead of coaxial.

Reply 1 of 12, by 7F20

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Yeah, I think that's the feature connector. They used to advertise Dolby Digital upgrade boards for the diamond boards under the "MX Link" name, but they were rare af. that's probably something like that I would assume.

Nothing wrong with coaxial at the frequency and bit rate you will be using there. They would have been complaining about it in 1997 because ADCs were much more expensive and most people only had either optical OR coax and optical was a lot more common to find at the time (as I remember it). Nowadays it doesn't matter at all because you can buy a device on ebay to convet it or to add a toslink onto that card for like $5.

It's important to note that Aureal crashed and burned as a company because of some crazy illegal stuff and lots of law suits. They left a huge mess that was never cleaned up and lots of unfinished projects that make no sense. Don't get too caught up with trying to figure it out.

Reply 2 of 12, by Doornkaat

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7F20 wrote on 2021-06-28, 23:59:

It's important to note that Aureal crashed and burned as a company because of some crazy illegal stuff and lots of law suits. They left a huge mess that was never cleaned up and lots of unfinished projects that make no sense. Don't get too caught up with trying to figure it out.

Afaik Creative sued them and ultimately lost but Aureal were tied up in court so long and had so many resources wasted they started to struggle. They counter sued Creative (because it turned out Creative was actually infringing Aureal's IP) but because of their bad financial situation after the legal dispute Creative was able to buy them (including their IP) and settle the matter like that.
Since Creative was a much larger company it is entirely plausible this is what they were planning on all along.
Please correct me if this is wrong.

Reply 3 of 12, by betamax80

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I own a SQ2500 as well (its in a machine I'm not currently using). One great thing about all Aureal cards is that they pair really well with an ISA card because the Low-level stuff is fairly non-disruptive (Phils computer lab has inf files that let it co-exist with an AWE64 for example).

From what I can find out the SQ2500 was Aureal's own board (which is similar to when 3DFX suddenly started doing their own for graphics after leaving things to 3rd parties). Look to get the final Windows 98 and Windows 2000 drivers to get the 4-speaker operation (kind of in Beta) with A3D 2.0. The green board with the Toslink ports were actually produced only by Diamond I think as the Monster 3D 2200 (and there was a coax daughterboard for that I think).

There was a alpha-stage A3D 3.0 which was supposed to support proper 4-speaker output and I think it's in a final beta driver for Win9x but it never had the chance to get off the ground. I think these 4 speaker cards were released for an upcoming proprietary standard which Aureal never had the chance to finalise prior to the whole mess in 2000.

Reply 4 of 12, by dinth

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I never had A3D card but i remember reading reviews that were describing a truly 3d effect where a player could hear precisely from which direction a sound is coming which was apparently possible on headphones or even a pair of speakers. Was that true?

Reply 5 of 12, by mothergoose729

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dinth wrote on 2021-06-29, 16:02:

I never had A3D card but i remember reading reviews that were describing a truly 3d effect where a player could hear precisely from which direction a sound is coming which was apparently possible on headphones or even a pair of speakers. Was that true?

Sort of. There are some great implementations of it, but IMO most of the time it sounds pretty similar to EAX 2.0 in terms of quality.

Reply 6 of 12, by 7F20

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mothergoose729 wrote on 2021-06-29, 16:04:
dinth wrote on 2021-06-29, 16:02:

I never had A3D card but i remember reading reviews that were describing a truly 3d effect where a player could hear precisely from which direction a sound is coming which was apparently possible on headphones or even a pair of speakers. Was that true?

Sort of. There are some great implementations of it, but IMO most of the time it sounds pretty similar to EAX 2.0 in terms of quality.

Yes, it was all based on how well the developer implemented it. AFAIK, Unreal was the only really, really complete implementation that even made decent use of elevation and primary reflections. I can't remember exactly, but Unreal might have also been a patch, or maybe it was in Unreal Gold. It was also only effective using headphones because it relied on binary encoding and featured no cross-cancellation technology. One could setup a 5.1 speaker arrangement, but it wouldn't be using the A3D magic sauce and be almost the same as EAX in that case. EAX was much better for multi speaker arrangements because it was designed specifically for that. That may have been why A3D had the feature connector and the planned dolby add-on cards.

Last edited by Stiletto on 2021-06-29, 21:17. Edited 1 time in total.

Reply 7 of 12, by mothergoose729

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That's the first I have heard about Unreal Gold being really good. I tried it briefly and I don't remember forming a strong opinion. I'll have to take a second look... I do remember EAX being pretty good, even if the positional audio doesn't have much of a sweet spot.

The A3D game that people are usually talking about when they say it's awesome is Quake III. Finding the specific Quake III patch for A3D is pretty hard. Most versions don't support it. There are also a million source ports, I think some of them use modern software positional audio and HRFT, and also multiplayer is the point of the game so you will need one of those for matchmaking anyhow.

In half life there are extra ambient sound effects in some of the locations... like low background hums and the like. It isn't a huge difference, but there are extra features (retail release of course, and getting it to not crash was also pretty hard). There is also a problem many A3D cards have with this game where all the sound effects are muffled, which was the case with my card, making it definitely not worth using.

I am not aware of any other significant examples. The total number of games supported is like 30, with the total games you might actually want to play being closer to 10.

Reply 8 of 12, by 7F20

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As I said, I don't remember if Gold had it, or it was a patch for the OG retail version of Unreal. It's good though. I work for a company that specializes in audio signal processing and we demoed it one day in the office maybe 5 years ago.

Reply 9 of 12, by ZanQuance

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The card you got is called the SuperQuad, it's the OEM varient of the SQ2500 and typically is found using the older AU8830 A2 rev of the chip.
All Aureal SQ2500's used the AU8830 B0 chip revision. Aside from some hardware layout changes and part selection they both operate near identically.

7F20 wrote on 2021-06-29, 18:25:

Yes, it was all based on how well the developer implemented it. AFAIK, Unreal was the only really, really complete implementation that even made decent use of elevation and primary reflections. I can't remember exactly, but Unreal might have also been a patch, or maybe it was in Unreal Gold. It was also only effective using headphones because it relied on binary encoding and featured no cross-cancellation technology. One could setup a 5.1 speaker arrangement, but it wouldn't be using the A3D magic sauce and be almost the same as EAX in that case. EAX was much better for multi speaker arrangements because it was designed specifically for that. That may have been why A3D had the feature connector and the planned dolby add-on cards.

Aureal themselves were more proud of the A3D 2.0 implementation in Heretic II and Soldier of Fortune II. I've only checked Heretic II and it sounds alright, not a whole lot going on to really hear any elevation cues, though the reflections do sound good.
The Vortex 2 does all CrossTalk cancellation in hardware, I'm not sure why your multi-speaker setup failed . I've tested Unreal Retail CD with patch v226 in Stereo and Quad Speaker mode and they both sounded proper with A3D 2.0 running, also with the Santa Cruz running Sensauras A3D 2.0 in their multi-drive Quad speaker mode without issue.
Be sure you were testing with the 2041 drivers, the 2048 and 2050's are known to have many undocumented issues. The A3DAPI 2.25 version seems to have the best compatibility with older A3D titles, with the 3.3.678 version being required for A3D 3.0 titles and Descent 3.

The SQ3500 Turbo which would have featured the DSP addon board was only for mixing Dolby Digital in hardware, it offered 8 more audio streams for such use.
When using the S/PDIF and Coax digital outputs, the driver limits the card to Stereo output. The older drivers had support for Dolby Prologic 5.1 mixing in software, but this was removed due to licensing issues with Dolby.

Reply 10 of 12, by 7F20

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ZanQuance wrote on 2021-07-01, 21:48:
The card you got is called the SuperQuad, it's the OEM varient of the SQ2500 and typically is found using the older AU8830 A2 re […]
Show full quote

The card you got is called the SuperQuad, it's the OEM varient of the SQ2500 and typically is found using the older AU8830 A2 rev of the chip.
All Aureal SQ2500's used the AU8830 B0 chip revision. Aside from some hardware layout changes and part selection they both operate near identically.

7F20 wrote on 2021-06-29, 18:25:

Yes, it was all based on how well the developer implemented it. AFAIK, Unreal was the only really, really complete implementation that even made decent use of elevation and primary reflections. I can't remember exactly, but Unreal might have also been a patch, or maybe it was in Unreal Gold. It was also only effective using headphones because it relied on binary encoding and featured no cross-cancellation technology. One could setup a 5.1 speaker arrangement, but it wouldn't be using the A3D magic sauce and be almost the same as EAX in that case. EAX was much better for multi speaker arrangements because it was designed specifically for that. That may have been why A3D had the feature connector and the planned dolby add-on cards.

Aureal themselves were more proud of the A3D 2.0 implementation in Heretic II and Soldier of Fortune II. I've only checked Heretic II and it sounds alright, not a whole lot going on to really hear any elevation cues, though the reflections do sound good.
The Vortex 2 does all CrossTalk cancellation in hardware, I'm not sure why your multi-speaker setup failed . I've tested Unreal Retail CD with patch v226 in Stereo and Quad Speaker mode and they both sounded proper with A3D 2.0 running, also with the Santa Cruz running Sensauras A3D 2.0 in their multi-drive Quad speaker mode without issue.
Be sure you were testing with the 2041 drivers, the 2048 and 2050's are known to have many undocumented issues. The A3DAPI 2.25 version seems to have the best compatibility with older A3D titles, with the 3.3.678 version being required for A3D 3.0 titles and Descent 3.

The SQ3500 Turbo which would have featured the DSP addon board was only for mixing Dolby Digital in hardware, it offered 8 more audio streams for such use.
When using the S/PDIF and Coax digital outputs, the driver limits the card to Stereo output. The older drivers had support for Dolby Prologic 5.1 mixing in software, but this was removed due to licensing issues with Dolby.

If that's the case, I didn't get the cross cancellation version to work in Unreal, or it wasn't very effective. I've used newer, far more advanced and convincing software in conjunction with Princeton's proprietary cross-cancellation tech, and while noticeable, it's far too finicky to be useful. The sweet spot for it is so specific that you can lose it by turning your head.

Reply 11 of 12, by ZanQuance

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Princeton's proprietary cross-cancellation tech
This must be what you were talking about, they are using XTC with head tracking so it's going to sound much better than the static listener setup you get from Aureal and Sensaura.

A3D and the other 3D audio products like Sensaura are in the "good enough" box for the retro games which support them, I never enter expecting the absolute best 3D experiences ever.
They are impressive enough considering the era in which they debuted.

Reply 12 of 12, by 7F20

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Yes, that's what I'm talking about. We have a setup from them at work, and I've hooked it up with head-tracking. It works, but it's still not nearly as good as using headphones. To me, the best 3D audio solutions over speakers from today are still not good enough, and I would prefer surround sound to positional audio for speaker setups. The main issue is that is only sounds good enough when you are in the sweet spot, but if you lose it, then it becomes much more distracting that helpful, and the sweet spot simply does not have a wide enough margin of error.