Sign in with
Sign up | Sign in
Your question

Xi-Fis worth it with Vista comming?

Last response: in Components
Share
November 10, 2006 5:24:01 AM

Been reading that Vista will remove all EAX capability. This means that Xi-Fi's won't be much better than most other sound cards in games right?

Was going to get a new xi-fi to actually be able to turn on EAX in games with the new price drops, but if its just going to be like onboard or little better than my Sound Blaster Live! 5.1 in a few months due to Vista isn't even really worth their current price.
November 10, 2006 6:41:58 AM

Can you provide a link? This if true, is very interesting.
November 10, 2006 7:20:40 AM

i Have Read that some where as well however i do beleive that Open AL will still be supported and cards are starting to transition that way

http://www.openal.org/openal_vista.html

Now as far as a X-fi For Vista is Concerned i would would wait for a Vista certified Version(X-fi 2?) to come out as any eax enhancements on the card would be rendered useless
Related resources
November 10, 2006 8:04:34 AM

Dude, screw vista, im sticking with XP, its fine for me and runs my games perfectly. and sure, go for it, buy vista, but the X-Fi is still a performance enhancer as it generates the sound itslelf rather than loadig all the work of making noise onto the CPU, which, i imagine, is going to already have its hands full with the retardedly power hungry UI.
November 10, 2006 9:12:18 AM

Ya even the creative forums have a post or two about Open AL but my understanding is unless the game supported it(Open AL) still lose teh effects, as it has to be able to do it through another way besides EAX. At least is my understanding. I'll post the linkies in a few hours when I'm more awake assuming I can track it down. By all means my understanding could be wrong.
November 10, 2006 11:44:58 AM

Quote:
i Have Read that some where as well however i do beleive that Open AL will still be supported and cards are starting to transition that way

http://www.openal.org/openal_vista.html

Now as far as a X-fi For Vista is Concerned i would would wait for a Vista certified Version(X-fi 2?) to come out as any eax enhancements on the card would be rendered useless


Great link with good info. Thanks.
November 10, 2006 2:29:01 PM

Etherian mentioned some links to Creative forums.

There is a good sticky on Audio in Vista that explains it all:

http://forums.creative.com/creativelabs/board/message?b...

If I follow things correctly:
Under Vista EAX are hardware-processed if the game was written with openAL in mind. The real D33P $H1T with Audio in Vista is not that DX10 lacks EAX support but it lack backwards compatibility with DX9.

So any games that use DX9 and do not support openAL might sound crap under Vista and that includes getting stereo instead of surround sound.
November 12, 2006 5:17:49 PM

I have a X-Fi XtremeMusic. If I uprade to Vista. Will that mean that I get similar sound quality as the onboard AC 97 with Vista?
November 12, 2006 6:44:08 PM

That might be a bit extreme. You'll lose EAX. Creative has added full support for Open AL to their X-Fi drivers (32-bit XP) so it looks like their planning to, not that they have much choice, ...getting in line with Open AL and likely planning to use Open AL for Vista hardware 3D audio. As long as game developers get onboard all should be fine. Right?
November 12, 2006 8:11:27 PM

Thanks :)  I apologize for my ignorant post. I just bought XtremeMusic and I haven´t installed it yet. After some research I now know more about EAX and that it is a specific Creative trademark and technique.
November 12, 2006 10:12:20 PM

No need to apologize, at all. Even though you'll lose EAX in Vista you won't lose 109db S/N ratio and .004 THD...and with good Open AL support your X-Fi will still sound quite nice. The big games are adding support for Open AL and all the new games will likely have it so there's quite a future for a good sound card vs. a mediocre audio solution, I think.
November 13, 2006 7:34:30 AM

Ok, I´m not a hardcore gamer but even if I was I still think that X-fi without EAX is a better solution than the onboard sound chip. BUT the EAX is a game software so listening to music and watching movies will not be worse with Vista, am I right?
November 13, 2006 8:18:48 AM

Well, the sound environments that the X-Fi offers...Stone Hall, Cathedral, Theater, etc. ...those are all EAX so I guess we'll say goodbye to those unless Creative dreams up some magical way to do the same thing with Open AL or something else. This is the thing that's on my mind since I enjoy those environments...and I won't take my audio rig to Vista until I'm convinced I'm going to gain more than I'm going to lose...which is not currently the case for me.
November 13, 2006 11:21:31 AM

Onboard audio is of very varying quality; a test I read putting head to head a Creative Live! 5.1 and the Realtek ALC880 codec showed... a lower signal-to-noise (meaning less parasites) in the ALC880. Having one myself (and a pair of good quality speakers, but I laso tried a good helmet on all the outputs) and still good of hearing (I can hear up to 22 KHz with 60 dB volume, up to 18 KHz on 20 dB), I can tell you that integrated sound has gotten damn good.

The ALC880, by the way, supports EAX 2.0 effects, and quite nicely at that.

Don't buy a sound card yet if you're serious about Vista.
November 13, 2006 11:38:48 AM

Maybe but the day I install Vista to my computer will be the day I get rid of my X-Fi card. Propably in the year 2008. It seems like having X-Fi with Vista is like hunting mosquitos with a shotgun - overkill power.
November 13, 2006 12:14:54 PM

the day I install Vista on my machine is the day they PAY me (a lot) to do so.

I'm going back to my Linux cupboard now.
November 13, 2006 12:26:30 PM

Quote:
Onboard audio is of very varying quality; a test I read putting head to head a Creative Live! 5.1 and the Realtek ALC880 codec showed... a lower signal-to-noise (meaning less parasites) in the ALC880. Having one myself (and a pair of good quality speakers, but I laso tried a good helmet on all the outputs) and still good of hearing (I can hear up to 22 KHz with 60 dB volume, up to 18 KHz on 20 dB), I can tell you that integrated sound has gotten damn good.

The ALC880, by the way, supports EAX 2.0 effects, and quite nicely at that.

Don't buy a sound card yet if you're serious about Vista.


If the onboard sound had a lower signal-to-noise ratio than the SB Live!...that would mean the SB Live! was superior in that aspect, not worse. ...but the SB Live! is an archaic card from...circa 1998, I believe so to use it in a contemporary comparison isn't quite telling. I'd compare the ALC880 with something at least in the Audigy 2 or above class to see how it fairs. If the ALC880 does 106db signal-to-noise with .004 or less THD I'd say, "Yeahp, onboard sound is comparable to a contemporary sound card, save your money." Typically, that's not the case unless the onboard sound is an actual Creative Audigy which I've heard of.

If you're running a digital connection from the soundcard to the speakers the point is pretty much mute as its really the ADC/DACs that are in question as far as audible quality is concerned. I'm not a gamer so I can't really say whether or not EAX 2 sounds as good and is as efficient as EAX 4 or 5. I've read that it EAX 4 or 5 are quite notable improvements over EAX 2, but that's just what I've read.

As for Vista.... I hope the final product is WAY more polished than RC1. While I have to know it well for my job I don't have to succumb to the marketing hype in my personal life so, again, when I know it'll bring enough to the table to justify a possibly lesser audio experience at a higher cost, and until reviews and you guys show differently, I'll not bother with it for a while on the preferred rigs. The thought of a lesser audio experience in Vista is a show-stopper for this enthusiast. This is the first time since Win31 that I didn't feel genuinely excited about MS' latest OS, I almost wish I hadn't studied the betas and RC1.
November 13, 2006 12:47:37 PM

note: signal to noise is measured in negative dB values. The SB Libe! was measured around -98 dB, while the ALC880 is at around -104 dB.

Since -98 > -104 (pure mathematics), then a lower signal to noise ratio means less noise.

Please note that at such level, you need a fscking huge amp to hear the actual noise (you get a bigger difference using shielded audio cables). X-Fi's noise level hasn't gotten much better than the Live's, due to it being already very low. For comparison, early AC'97 StN ratio were around -60/-70 dB, on top of very bad dynamics and a lot of harmonics thrown in.
November 13, 2006 1:07:55 PM

If thats all true I sure am glad I haven't sprung for the x-fi fatality card yet. I very nearly purchased it last week too.

I'll stick with my audigy 2 card for a bit and see what happens.
November 13, 2006 1:15:29 PM

You got it in one; simply put, since there is still nothing able to do perfect silence, the scale chosen to measure pre-amp levels is minus infinite ('perfect' silence) to 0 (anything over 0 means saturation, and is thus lost).
But due to -119 being LOWER than -106, they decided to drop the minus sign - for purely marketing reasons (119 is BIGGER thus BETTER than 106 - damn 'big is beautiful' motto).

Note: over 130 dB makes you deaf (plane taking off). It would require an amp of a few hundreds of watts to produce; sound card output is usually around 4W per channel.
November 13, 2006 8:00:54 PM

Quote:
Been reading that Vista will remove all EAX capability. This means that Xi-Fi's won't be much better than most other sound cards in games right?

Was going to get a new xi-fi to actually be able to turn on EAX in games with the new price drops, but if its just going to be like onboard or little better than my Sound Blaster Live! 5.1 in a few months due to Vista isn't even really worth their current price.



Thanks for this topic. I had no idea, there was problems with EAX.

I'm building my system in 2/3 months - and I bet there are a lot of
people building new systems - who are paying a lot for a audio card -
For the EAX - and it's not going to be there. I spent a great deal of time
in the creative forums - talk about - piss off people. don't blame them
though.
November 13, 2006 11:51:37 PM

so basically there will ot be EAX due to the drop of direct sound, but the OpenAL standard will be adopted, which the x-fi supports....so whats the big deal? i mean it sucks EAX will not be used anymore, but I am sure OpenAL will be made better.
November 14, 2006 12:59:58 AM

So is there any word of Creative looking into making a new DX10 line? Or are they just hoping that OpenAL will be universally adopted by game producers?

I was thinking about getting myself a Xtrememusic for christmas this year, but now I really don't know... Should I get it anyway or wait a few months to see what happens?
November 14, 2006 1:30:25 AM

I've been using Vista RC1 and i don't know about you guy's but EAX is supported by Creative's drivers for Vista. So i don't see how anything has changed. The drivers are in beta by Creative until Vista get's released but unless someone is just assuming and floated a rumor. Microsoft doesn't make drivers for X-FI, Creative does.

R Collins :twisted:
November 14, 2006 2:37:14 AM

Quote:
I've been using Vista RC1 and i don't know about you guy's but EAX is supported by Creative's drivers for Vista. So i don't see how anything has changed. The drivers are in beta by Creative until Vista get's released but unless someone is just assuming and floated a rumor. Microsoft doesn't make drivers for X-FI, Creative does.

R Collins :twisted:


I don't understand how you can even say rumor.
See creative forum link to vista below
http://forums.creative.com/creativelabs/board?board.id=...

here'san exerp from the creative administrator:

3. The Vista audio architecture disables DirectSound 3D hardware acceleration; resulting in legacy DirectSound based EAX game titles not working as they did in XP.

Issues that may be encountered:
Could range from loss of EAX functionality in EAX enabled games to a complete game incompatibility, depending on how the game title was authored. This would only happen with games that render 3D audio using DirectSound, it should not affect games that render 3D audio using OpenAL.


Status:
These issues cannot be addressed by the Creative audio driver, because the functionality was purposely removed by the operating system. We look forward to game titles moving away from DirectSound and toward OpenAL for fully optimized Creative 3D audio hardware and technology support.


So rumor is BS. the forum is full of piss-off users.

There is so much information old/new - I'm not sure what the latest is.
The exerp is old from above 10 Oct. - But it's a stickey - and you
would think creative would update there status in the stickeys -
November 14, 2006 6:26:50 AM

EAX is still supported in Vista in the way that Creative actively contributes at the OpenAL development and still develops EAX extentions in its drivers.

From the diagrams made available at Creative's and OpenAL's website, any and all 'legacy' apps that make use of DirectSound will hit a software emulation layer, that will then redirect a pre-mixed channels to the driver (which will act as a dumb playback system).

In OpenAL's case however, the app will hit OpenAL's API, which will then check the sound driver's capabilities: if it's EAX-capable, OpenAL will 'prep' sound samples and effects to be applied and transfer them directly to the hardware. If it's not EAX-capable, OpenAL will use its own effect engine, and use acceleration systems such as direct memory access and hardware mixer if the driver supports that.

If everything fails, OpenAL does software effect processing and mixing and send fixed frequency sound samples to the hardware.
November 14, 2006 6:55:57 AM

Quote:
so basically there will ot be EAX due to the drop of direct sound, but the OpenAL standard will be adopted, which the x-fi supports....so whats the big deal? i mean it sucks EAX will not be used anymore, but I am sure OpenAL will be made better.


I think you're right, for gamers the future's still pretty bright and there may more good choices for gaming audio than just Creative with the migration to Open AL....
November 14, 2006 7:00:54 AM

Quote:
So is there any word of Creative looking into making a new DX10 line? Or are they just hoping that OpenAL will be universally adopted by game producers?

I was thinking about getting myself a Xtrememusic for christmas this year, but now I really don't know... Should I get it anyway or wait a few months to see what happens?


The Creative cards still have good audio specs even if EAX isn't available...but so do a lot of other card manufacturers. That Montego DDL, X-Meridian, and M-Audio 2496, etc. are cards whose audio specs are all good...if they throw in the Open AL support in Vista the gaming consumer really wins.
November 14, 2006 11:06:14 AM

Problem is, if you remove the interface to get to hardware real-time effects (said interface being DirectSound3D) and don't allow the process to hit the driver directly (user space to system space), you're left with:
- using the application in compatibility mode (software DirectSound, no hw accel)
- using the application with upgraded privileges to have native EAX access (hits the driver directly, security problem and probable stability troubles - on top of increased development costs)
- using the application with OpenAL (user=>system space bridge, developed jointly by several editors and hardware manufacturers) or any other third-party API (however OpenAL is the most widespread and platform-agnostic sound API)

Now, of course X-Fi cards are NICE due to the heightened immersion they provide. If said immersion disappears due to their capabilities being impossible to access, they become no better than AC'97 with a good DAC.
November 14, 2006 11:35:39 AM

The point being - before you spend $200 for a sound card -
What are u paying for.
If creative can still use their old marketing claim of gaming superior -
with EAX - they're still going to try yo sell their cards. They may be
sill good cards - but are they worth $200.
November 14, 2006 12:41:23 PM

I feel like we're back to the time when the Creative Soundblaster Pro duked it out with Gravis Ultrasound cards - the latter could provide 4-channel sound and some acceleration features, but lacked software support, while the former was not too expensive but was nothing more than a glorified buzzer.

Using those required setting up system environment variables, loading drivers through Config.sys and setting up IRQ, DMA and RAM with on-card jumpers... And you were deliriously happy if this card managed to squeak out stereo 8-bit 22050 Hz sound (SB Pro2 only, with Yamaha OPL-3 synthetizer for MIDI emulation).

Those were the days...
November 15, 2006 8:34:57 AM

OMG, I remember those days. We'll see what happens, again, its gonna make me hold off on Vista for my favorite rig. I do think Creative will get around the loss of hardware accelerated EAX.
November 21, 2006 6:04:58 AM

hi

with all this talk of vista 'maybe' not supporting eax, i was wondering will this effect the choice of speakers as well. i know this might sound stupid, but one doesn't surely get eax certified speakers or anything? the reason im asking is that i want to buy a new set of speakers. will this potential drop of eax in favour of openal restrict me or influence my decision on a new speaker set? :?:
November 21, 2006 6:57:36 AM

Vista won't support EAX through DirectSound - period.

EAX acceleration will be accessible only with apps bypassing MS's sound APIs - either hitting the driver directly (almost back to DOS days), or using a third-party API which hits the hardware directly (such as OpenAL). This is actually what happens now in XP, but developers won't have much choice now: it will be OpenAL (or similar) or no hardware sound acceleration.

About EAX certified speakers: this is market speak. At most, it designates speakers of a quality high enough to reflet EAX effects. Non-EAX branded speakers of sufficiently good quality may have equivalent if not better rendering than EAX ones.

Remember that speakers do nothing more than translate analog signals sent by the sound card into vibrations; it's the speaker's magnet and membrane that qualify its fidelity, not the EAX logo put on it.
!