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5.1 or 7.1 for the masses???

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May 11, 2006 6:41:08 AM

WIth advancement in graphics and even a new Physics chip now, why is Audio still so inactive.

OK great, we have 6 channel and 8 channel audio now and you can buy speakers as well. However, I (like most people - I know) cannot and will not have all these satelite speakers all around the room (even if they are wireless and small).

Is there a solution to this problem?

I mean say are the headphones with directional sound or maybe headphones with the "front" open, so you can us 3 speakers next to the display and the headphones for the two sides speakers?

I was just so amazed when surround sound was in the movies, and then we could put it in home video system.

Pity my PC is in my study, and I cannot experience great sound when playing games.

More about : masses

May 11, 2006 7:29:48 AM

Quote:
WIth advancement in graphics and even a new Physics chip now, why is Audio still so inactive.


Depends what you mean by audio. If you mean by sound quality, well that's mostly limited by the speakers you use. Speakers are mechanical instruments, just like cars. They might look better over time, but true mechanical improvements are extremely incremental, and major commercial improvements come close to once every 5-10 years rather than once every 6 months.

If you mean by sound effects engines, well, you can thank Creative for killing off the competition with litigation and hostile takeovers.

Quote:

OK great, we have 6 channel and 8 channel audio now and you can buy speakers as well. However, I (like most people - I know) cannot and will not have all these satelite speakers all around the room (even if they are wireless and small).

Is there a solution to this problem?


Spend your money on less, better speakers. In a small to medium room with larger speakers with good dispersion, you've got the rears and sides covered pretty well through room reflections, as stereo was designed. Smaller speakers with point sources a somewhat more accurate, if you can place them properly, but can't fill the 3D space properly because of poor dispersion. So you're tradeoffs from a good stereo vs a poor surround set are either a wide 3D sound stage, or pinpoint sources.

Quote:
I mean say are the headphones with directional sound or maybe headphones with the "front" open, so you can us 3 speakers next to the display and the headphones for the two sides speakers?


Headphones are pretty point source already, since the the headphone drivers are geometrically alligned with your ears. Front, side, and rear effects are already apparent.

I'm not sure what you are trying to do with your example audio wise, but nothing stops you from trying it.

Quote:
I was just so amazed when surround sound was in the movies, and then we could put it in home video system.


Quite a bit more work goes into the mixing of sound in movies. It's quite world class actually, and currently far above the standards of the music industry.

Quote:
Pity my PC is in my study, and I cannot experience great sound when playing games.


A good surround setup is pretty hard to pull off in a small room. My personal recommendation would be a pair of high quality bookshelves for fronts, so music and movies are covered pretty well, and then some satellite center and surrounds which can be flipped on for games.

I understand your thread topic is "5.1/7.1 for the masses." Good sound, or good anything--a good PC, a good TV--all require research and a bit of handiwork. Good anything and "masses" don't really work unfortunately, because "masses" are usually synonomous with an inexpensive box of components that's preset to work with the minimum amount of input from the customer.

i.e a simple analogy--spend $2,000 on a Dell, or spend $1,000 building your own comp with select components. You're build will be faster, cheaper, but possibly not quite as good looking. Plus, you've taken up a lot of time building it--several hours of research, ordering, waiting a few days/weeks, and then putting it all together.
May 12, 2006 10:22:10 AM

5.1 for the masses exists:
cheap home cinema set.
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May 12, 2006 12:14:01 PM

You need a Project BrokenHalo

movie file:

Project BrokenHalo in motion


Its got a Creative 7.1 setup in it, the front 3 are around the monitor, teh back 4 are in BrokenHalo


Build time: 4 winter weekends at Virginia Tech
May 12, 2006 1:10:21 PM

Joe Six Pack (aka the masses) will be blown away by mobo-sound and a $60 set of 5.1 speakers.

(for example, the logitech x530's and any newer mobo with 7.1/5.1 capable on-board sound)

I'm not sure how you make sound, sound better. In other words, our ears can only hear certain frequencies. (hence, why mp3 and other formats, strip out the frequencies that we can't hear, or that blend in with other frequencies to reduce the total size of the file. Nearly imperceptible when using an mobile player and ear-plugs. Perhaps slighly noticable when using an extremely loud home audio setup, or to audiophiles.....but certainly not something the masses can tell teh difference between.

Graphics on the other hand, or CPU power - is something that we can see improvements on, very, very easily. The more power/speed you throw at video and cpu, the better the experience. This simply isn't true with audio. YOu can spend $5000 on a graphics card and speakers for your PC, and I can spend $60 on my speakers and use mobo sound for my PC, and there will be very little difference in overall experience at low-to-moderate volumes, where most of the masses play their speakers (why? cause they are in a home office, or a study, and cranking out the tunes or the games, etc... disturbes the rest in the house).

So, while I certainly understand that there are benefits of having that $400 sound card and the $1000 speakers versus a $60 set of speakers and mobo sound, there is certainly NOT the benefit there, that seems to exist between a $1400 CPU solution and a $60 CPU solution, OR A $1400 graphics solution versus onboard graphics.

So the "5.1 for the masses" exists - use the onboard mobo sound and a decent set of speakers for $50-$100 range.....or get a newer set of speakers that are beginningn to come out that are 2.1 spekears, but contain technology to throw sound to a rear channel (2 speakers on each satelite pointed in a different direction to create the illusion of 5.1 with 2.1).

There are improvements all the time with audio, but they are much harder to detect. Another example, many can't hear the difference between Audigy 2 and the Xfi and a decent mobo sound. Are there differences, you bet. Does the Xfi have technology the others don't, you bet. Will newer games take advantage of some of that technology to improve the gaming experience, you bet. Is it worth spendning $100, $200, $400 to get that extra 4fps in teh game and perhaps a better 3D sound expience? To some most definately, to the masses, probably not......but it all flows down hill. So in a few years the Xfi technology will be in the mobo-sound. What will the latest audio cards have in them to attract new buyers? I have no idea.

I can say this though, what is in the Current Audigy 2, 4 and Xfi, doesn't have enough to make me want to shell out that kind of cash for them over the mobo sound I have in my A8N32-SLI mobo sound. Am I missing a bit of sound in some future game, sure, do I care, no.

While I'm a techno guy, and certainly wouldn't consider myself part of the joe-six-pack-masses crowd, I would consider myself part of the joe-six-pack-masses crowd when it comes to audio. I just dont' see the benefit of shelling out the extra bucks. I don't see (or rather hear) any benefit at this time.

I have a great sounding system. Blows the doors off of EVERYTHING I've ever owned.....not sure why I'd spend the extra $100 or $1500 on audio at this point.

Jeesh that was long-winded, my apologies for writing a book.....I was in the zone :) 
May 15, 2006 4:00:43 AM

Great info.

However My meaning is that many sound cards (even on-board) now support 5.1 and 7.1, but in fact you cannot get the full benefit with just 2 speakers (even high quality speakers). You cannot get the front, back, left right effects with stereo speakers.

Many people just do not have the right room configuration nor can they hang speakers around the side and back of thier rooms, so the 5.1 and 7.1 features are just for the enthusiasts.

I cannot find a simple, "plug and play" solution which at least gives some surround effects without, hanging speakers and positioning and calculating distance from my seat.

I just read about the new Creative series which simulates surrond in headphones. I think that may be the right direction.
May 15, 2006 7:42:32 AM

That's like 1970s Bose, "stereo everywhere."

The problem is, stereo is already recorded to with room reflections in mind (duh). So these matrix algorithms are just exaggerated the reverbs, and making some dubious assumptions which is why you get some interesting results like effect of the same sound coming from multiple sources, due to inefficient algorithms.
May 18, 2006 3:15:04 PM

When you have source in stereo that's right. But games and movies are in fact 5.1 so azrealhk's question has its merits.
I stay by what I said: surround for masses are cheap home cinema sets.
But he is right about gaming. I happen to have X-Fi and its CMSS-3D is indeed great for games. This gives you very precise surround sound over regular headphones.
But that's only possible because gaming audio is 5.1 already so no go with it for your regular CDs and mp3.
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