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Questions about using a sound card/speakers for surround

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August 23, 2006 4:47:52 AM

I just ordered a refurbished Audigy2 ZS and refurbished Creative Inspire T7700 7.1 speakers for $95 shipped directly from Creative. I know those two aren't top of the line stuff but money is tight, and the Audigy2 ZS has most of the features I need.

Due to lack of space, I use my computer for nearly everything in my dorm room. Again, it's not the best but it's sufficient for what I paid and what I get.

Anyway, with that set-up, would I be able to hear surround sound formats from movies and games? I.E., if a game supported 5.1 audio or if a movie had DTS 7.1, would that sound card combined with those speakers actually use 5.1 and 7.1 channels respectively?

Another thing, I know that most music/MP3s are in stereo meaning they can only use up to a 2.1 channel set up. But most A/V receivers can use Dolby Pro Logic II decoding to output stereo through 5.1 channels. Does the Audigy2 ZS have any similar features?

Finally, does a sound card hurt system performance any? Like, will my FPS drop any when I play some of my more resource intensive games?

And, this is more of a side question, but did I get a good deal or not? I'll be getting a X-Fi and a much better audio system once if I ever get some extra cash in my hands but this'll have to due for a year or two.
August 23, 2006 12:42:46 PM

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Anyway, with that set-up, would I be able to hear surround sound formats from movies and games? I.E., if a game supported 5.1 audio or if a movie had DTS 7.1, would that sound card combined with those speakers actually use 5.1 and 7.1 channels respectively?


Yes, but you need a software player that's capable of decoding digital sources. Most of the "free" versions of DVD players don't actually offer surround sound decoding.

Quote:
Another thing, I know that most music/MP3s are in stereo meaning they can only use up to a 2.1 channel set up. But most A/V receivers can use Dolby Pro Logic II decoding to output stereo through 5.1 channels. Does the Audigy2 ZS have any similar features?


Yes, it's called CMSS3D. CMSS3D more or less came about due to poor horizontal dispersion of PC satellites, and having "all channels playing" helps make the sound more enveloping. The downside is, the soundstage is completely destroyed.

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Finally, does a sound card hurt system performance any? Like, will my FPS drop any when I play some of my more resource intensive games?


Having sound on always reduces framerate.

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And, this is more of a side question, but did I get a good deal or not? I'll be getting a X-Fi and a much better audio system once if I ever get some extra cash in my hands but this'll have to due for a year or two.


X-Fi is an incremental upgrade for music. But it's your money to spend.
August 23, 2006 5:02:58 PM

What do you mean by 'sound stage'? I'm not familar with that term.

As for the X-Fi XtremeMusic, I honestly don't know for sure to be honest. Some people say it's worth the extra $60 or whatever while others say it's not worth it unless you'll use the software. I'm not sure if people mentally want to justify the extra $60 or not.
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August 24, 2006 1:30:29 AM

Quote:
What do you mean by 'sound stage'? I'm not familar with that term.

As for the X-Fi XtremeMusic, I honestly don't know for sure to be honest. Some people say it's worth the extra $60 or whatever while others say it's not worth it unless you'll use the software. I'm not sure if people mentally want to justify the extra $60 or not.


Sound stage is the 3D image that's created when the two stereo channels coalesce at a point (this "point" can be small or huge depending on the dispersion characteristics of the loudspeaker).

If you take those two channels and feed it into matrix algorithm like CMSS or Pro Logic, said algorithm makes some liberal assumptions about how the stereo information is presented through the different channels, including quite a bit of redundant playback from multiple channels. Instead of getting a nice 3D image from 2 mics, you get a cocaphony of of spliced images.

Just imagine taking the images from each binocular lens (a binocular pair which has depth), and then splicing parts of each into 5 or 6 components, that are then superimposed into a single image (which has no depth, such as single lens photographs).

You might get something interesting, but there's no more depth perception, in the same way splicing up stereo into a bunch of mixed parts aren't going to give you a soundstage.

Quote:
As for the X-Fi XtremeMusic, I honestly don't know for sure to be honest. Some people say it's worth the extra $60 or whatever while others say it's not worth it unless you'll use the software. I'm not sure if people mentally want to justify the extra $60 or not.


The thing is, nobody ever bothers to make a scienfic analysis of whether or not a slightly newer version of EAX is "worth it" over a previous version, since its more or less a fruitless endeavor. It's totally a value judgment, because what is the difference between more reverbs and a slightly different EQ or room reverb mixing, vs an older version? I suspect no one ever actually makes an apples and apples comparison, so until someone does, it comes down to whether or not you care you have a newer version of EAX. If something so totally nebulous as that is worth $60 bucks to you, all the power to you. Otherwise, you can find soundcards that are more accurate for music reproduction than what Creative provides with as little as $20.
August 24, 2006 2:59:57 AM

Ok, thanks.. I get it now.

I was going to get this Diamond XtremeSound card but a lot of people kept saying it's either Creative or Bust with sound cards. The only reason I got the ZS was because of the Firewire. But this is a temp solution so I pretty much don't have a choice.
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