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AC97 Surround?

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July 2, 2006 2:24:10 PM

I am currently using onboard AC97 sound with my Z-5500. I am planning on getting a X-Fi XtremeMusic soon.

I would like to know if I am getting 5.1 surround at all while gaming at this time. HL2, DOOM3, and the Prey demo do not sound like they are in 5.1. I have my 360 connected to the Z-5500 also, and that is definitly digital surround. It sounds amazing. But my PC games do not sound that good at all. I have all the setting in the PC and games to 5.1, but it still sucks.

Is onboard sound really that bad? The Z-5500 gives me the option of 6-Channel Dirrect, or two Pro-Logic setting, would either of the Pro-logic settings be better than the 6-Channel for gameing? Also, for gaming is the X-Fi Xtreme Music my best bet for a moderately price card?

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July 2, 2006 2:56:02 PM

I did not say anything about "digital speakers." What is Dolby Digital, if there is no digital surround? All I know is that the 360, the 360 games, and my Z-5500 supprot Dolby Digital, and they are connected by a digital optical cable. Using the word digital so many times lead me to believe that I had digital surround sound.

I knew that Pro-Logic was an upmix tech, and did not think it would be the best option but I thought I woould ask. Yes, I have tested each channel and they all work fine in. The test I believe was part of the RealTech software that was pre-loaded on my PC. I can not say for sure right now becasue I am at work.

So I should have 5.1 in games now, even with the AC97? AC97 does not have any level of EAX right?

The X-Fi Xtrememusic is at the ceiling of what I want to pay for a card. What I am asking is if I am willing to pay for the X-Fi XM, is there any reason to look at anything else?
July 2, 2006 3:20:56 PM

I use the 6 Channel mini output, from the PC. I do not have a digital out on my mobo. I was planning on sticking with the 6 channel mini even once I get the X-Fi. I have been told that EAX can only be passed through an analog 5.1 connection, and will only work in stereo through a digital connection.
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July 2, 2006 5:04:13 PM

Man, I actualy had to work there for a few minutes while I am at work.

There is sound coming out of the rear speakers. It is just not directional. Noises that should be behind me are not and so forth. When I use the directional test via RealTech it works fine. It just seems that my PC games do not sound as good as I would expect them to, even with the onboard AC97.
July 2, 2006 5:21:06 PM

Since you are the only person answering my questions here, your opinion is the only one I am going to get. It there any reason I should look at anything besides the X-Fi XM if I do not want to spend more than $150? For gaming should I consider the Audigy 4, 2 ZS, or anything by M-AUDIO or Turle Beach?

I have a Gateway, with one of the first uBTX mobos. I have the exact name below. I have checked to make sure I have the latest AC97 drivers, but maybe there are some others that need to be updated. The thing is, my PC is only a few months old and there should be no reason why even out dated drivers would prevent surround. Right?
July 2, 2006 5:38:46 PM

I am not sure I know how to word this correctly but... Can I make sure that AFAIK is working correctly through the directx "control panel." I forget what that function is called.

If you are using EAX do you have to disable AFAIK. Will the AFAIK functionality be disbled when you remove the drivers for AC97? Can you jsut disable AC97 with out removing the drivers? I am getting ahead of my self here, considering I will not be getting a new card for a few weeks.

You answered my question though, thanks. I will certianly get the X-Fi XM.
July 2, 2006 5:54:05 PM

lol. I also noticed you used bth earlier, what does that mean?

If I have the on board sound disabled throught the BIOS, no I NEED to remove the drivers?

For my GPU, I have my BIOS set to detect the PCIe x16 slot before loading the on board video and I have never had a problem.
July 2, 2006 5:54:06 PM

i know this thread is leaning towards a creative labs purchase, i had an audigy 2 zs myself for a couple years, but had not been happy with the digital surround output... so i decided to read online, and check around for awhile to see what i could find, first looking at bluegears' x-mystique, but then deciding on turtle beaches montego ddl... pretty happy with the dolby digital 5.1 realtime encoding, since its not just simulated and matrixed surround output (dolby surround for example)... each channel is discrete, so you get sounds coming from exactly the speakers you want at the correct volumes and such ingame... dont know how it would work with your speakers though, but as long as they have a digital decoder built in, thats able to accept a signal via an optical cable, i would think it would work.
July 2, 2006 6:07:09 PM

yeah, like StrangeStranger had said, creative only licensed out up to eax 2.0, the montego ddl does support it... but if music creation is something youre gonna go for though, the x-fi would definetly be better

edit: come to think of it though, the primary advantage i would think of having the montego ddl over the x-fi for gaming, would be use of the external decoders effects and enhancements in conjunction with the digital encoded surround signal, which a strictly analog cabling setup might not allow i wouldnt think, but if the external amplifier has no such effects really to take advantage of, then definetly the x-fi
July 2, 2006 6:19:04 PM

The reasons I need a stand alone card is for an increase in over all quility and EAX.

I have looked into the Turle Beach and M-Audio cards extensively, when it comes to their encoding and digital versus analog out puts. Once I realized I could not get a 5.1 signal and EAX through a digital out put at the same time, I no longer really needed a sound card for Dolby digital. I then bought the Z-5500 which has there own dolbly digital decoder. Therefor all I need is the best audio quality with EAX in a sound card under $150.
July 2, 2006 6:20:58 PM

hmm... well, you can get eax through dolby digital... just nothing higher than 2.0... but yeah

its like... the game comes with a particular version of eax supported... that version of eax is then processed... and then reencoded in surround

...its okay though... was just trying to help with an inital suggestion

also ...in order to take advantage of a dolby digital decoder though... it has to have a dolby digital encoded signal to decode (AC3), such as what would come from a dvd movie for example... without an AC3 decoder to handle the sound from the dvd, it would just come out as standard 2 channel sound (dolby surround can help there though)... but thats where the decoder comes into play
July 2, 2006 6:38:27 PM

"However if you are connecting to the speakers using digital connection,
The standard is that the digital output cable is only able to transfer
stereo PCM signal or an encoded multichannel digital signal such as
Dolby Digital or DTS. Therefore in digital connection, CMSS upmix and
EAX effects will not pass through the digital signal."

This is part of a responce I recieved from Creative Labs. They did not specify what version of EAX would not pass through a digital signal, so I just assumed that it would not work on a Turtle Bay card either.

So you are saying since the Montego DDL encodes a dolby digital signal that the EAX is also part of the encoding? If so, why would Creative leave a EAX digital encoder out of thier new fancy top of the line cards?

I use the decoder on the Z-5500 to decode the digital signal from my 360.

Also, choirbass, do you have any input on my AC97 surround problem. Considering I am going to be using that for a few more weeks.
July 2, 2006 6:56:04 PM

yeah... there were alot of complaints before about them not including realtime ac3 encoding in their new cards (i was initially going to get an x-fi when there was lots of hype about it before its release)... as far as i can tell though, it was payments for royalties and such, and they just wouldnt do it, for whatever reason... it would be very easy for them to impliment though otherwise i would think

as far as eax over a digital connection, its definetly possible... was using BF2 not too long ago for it with eax and ddl turned on... upmatrixed to DD EX 7.1... both of them turned on are definetly more immersive... ...as far as eax though, its still 2 channel pcm though, just upmatrixed, to simulate additional channels (or environments), that arent really there, like dolby surround and dts neo... theyre all 2 channels, but use different matrixing algorithms, to give a different sound... so theyll pass through a pcm stream just fine

as far as getting surround from your onboard sound... make sure the 1/8" speaker jacks are delivering sound to all of the correct speakers... and balance each channel accordingly in the ac-97 control panel... as far as the back surrounds... if the control panel is able to play a sound to each speaker correctly... and a game isnt... try a few different games maybe... ...if it still doesnt seperate the back channels correctly in game, then its probably nothing you can do anything about with the onboard sound

...ac-3 encoding is definetly a world of difference over standard 2 channel pcm sound by itself, even with the matrixing algorithms helping to improve the sound some... ...take your xbox 360 for example with your speakers (xbox 360 also encodes sound in ac-3)... ...then compared to your onboard sound with those same speakers... and i had an audigy 2 zs as well just prior, dont forget...
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