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Many games support EAX 4 and only state 'EAX 3' in their preferences. And yes, it isn't much of an advancement over EAX 3.


As far as KOTOR 2 goes, since the sound is in mono, directional effects are a bit limited. EAX does cause environmental and positional effects in KOTOR 2, I can hear them. But to my ears, the effects are not very strong.

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Erm, I think I have to address some misconceptions :)


Mark, you're right, the uncompressed wave format of the music files in KotOR2 is defined with a 32kHz sampling rate. The truth though is that only up to 10 kHz are really inside the wave. They used a 10900 Hz lowpass filter for encoding, so all the 32kHz are wasted... they could have easily sampled in 22kHz and it would have had the same effect.


That's how bad the music has been degraded, which I have explained in this thread:




So, saying it's "32000 Hz mono" is giving LucasArts more credit than they deserve for this butchering of the music. It's much worse than that (myself, I like to say it's 10kHz mono, because that's what's practically left and audible). But technically you're of course right.


As far as EAX 4 goes... it's just a minor update (API extensions) to "improve" something that has already worked in EAX 3: something called 'Multiple Environments/Morphing'.


What this basically does is make the transitions between rooms of different reverb settings (the EAX late-order reflections, or "echos") more seamless and smooth, and also lets you hear different room reverbs simultaneously. Without 'Environment Morphing' when you cross the reverb boundaries of two different rooms/environments, the switch is abrupt and noticeable (more or less depending on the listener's perception, of course). Without 'Multiple Environments' all sounds you hear will only have the one reverb setting of the room you're currently standing in, even if they came from other rooms that have other reverb properties.


It's actually not a new EAX API, as far as I understand it, just an extension. Creative simply devised a new increment number for their EAX "standard" in order to make their recycled Audigys for the holiday season appear as if they have new features.


Very cheap marketing tactics... but when it comes to Creative, I think nobody is surprised anymore.


So, in order to benefit from EAX "4" you basically have to install the webupdates of last year that "enable" that feature. They're just bugfixes, that's all there is to it. All smoke-screen.


In games themselves, you only need EAX 3 support, since 'Multiple Environments' was always already defined and a part of EAX 3.


I hope this clarifies things. Btw, EAX 3 is not an open standard, i.e. it's a proprietary Creative API, which they don't allow other sound card makers to use.


EAX 1 and EAX 2 are open standards and have since been included in the DirectX API.


Kiwegapa, I think you confuse something with 3D positional audio support and the sound being in mono. The music being in mono is of course very sad and we've discussed this already in other threads. That's because music doesn't have to be positional, in facts it's always used as a 2D sound in games (think about it, you don't want music to come from a certain direction, since it's not tied to any objects in the game... well, unless e.g. you have a radio on a table in a game, then that music needs to be positional :D )


But generally music is to be played back 2D, i.e. coming out "plain" from the front stereo speakers as it was recorded.


However, all other *sounds* that are emitted by sound-emitting objects in a 3D space HAVE to be in mono. You need the sound to come from a distinct direction, so using them in stereo would make no sense. It would be pointless and a waste of resources.


Any sound effects you hear in games are always (with rare exceptions) MONO, because they have to be, coming from a single source. Stereo is an invention that was made primarily for music. Stereo is actually nothing but an early and crude attempt to capture & position sounds in a virtual space in front of you, if you think about it.


It's what 3D sound cards for the PC now do in realtime, and much better: in a 360 degree circle around you. :)


EAX works as expected, since Miles Sound System (which the game uses) has never let me down before. The music in KotOR 2 is the biggest offender, really, because being MONO, the whole music "sound-stage" collapses into the middle and sounds hollow, narrow and dull.


Man, I can't get over that. I will never forgive LucasArts for doing that to us gamers and to the composer. Unless, of course, they fix it... then I might forgive and forget. o:)"

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CMSS2 on Creative's cards is actually a very cool thing. I love it.


First, it (or CMSS1) is absolutely needed if you want positional audio also work in the *virtual* positions around you, i.e. where there is no real physical speaker. With CMSS you get the full 360 degree surround virtual placement of sounds through HRTF algorithms. That holds true for both playing with real speakers or with headphones.


Second, in CMSS2 you'll get an extra subtle room reverb added to the sound. CMSS1 is totally "dry", i.e. no accoustical effects added. The reverb in CMSS2 is not a strong reverb, i.e. it doesn't make sounds "echo", but rather a simulation of a small room's accoustical first-order reflections. It's quite subtle.


But it helps make the sound space sound bigger and more natural. It sounds like you're in a real room rather than in an accoustically dead recording studio.


CMSS2 is especially useful when playing with PC surround speakers or headphones, since it makes it sound as if you are playing back on a much larger home theatre setup (with bigger speakers that are much wider apart).


Note though: If you activate 5.1 you won't get the HRTF virtual surround placement of sounds! Creative does not have HRTF algorithms for a 5.1 speaker setup. What that means is that the sounds will only come out straight from the direction of the speakers and when a sound is placed somewhere between two speaker, you only get a simple mix of the sound between the two speakers!


For example, if a sound should come straight from your left, there is no physical speaker there, and in 5.1 it won't be positional... CMSS is deactivated in that case.


Gaming in 5.1 very much limits and destroys the positional surround virtualization. The center speaker for example interferes with the natural panning of the sound between front-left and front-right speaker.


If you are playing by yourself and are sitting in the sweet spot right between the left and right speaker, I do not recommend playing in 5.1, at all. 5.1 is best used for movies with prerecorded Dolby Digital 5.1 information, where you need a center speaker for the dialogue coming from the center of the picture, especially when you don't sit in the sweet spot and are watching with other people in the room.


For gaming, 5.1 is totally inappropriate. Use 4.1 instead. In an interactive sound simulation, the sound can be positioned in realtime anywhere in a circle around you, and very precisely. 4.1 speaker setup best simulates this circle, and it's there that Creative's HRTF algo's kick in (once you activate CMSS) and make sound appear from any direction even between your speakers. It's as close to a smooth circle as you would expect. In 5.1 the 3D sounds "jump" and "shift" between your speakers, and the surround "circle" is very broken and inaccurate.


You can do these tests yourself by downloading Sensaura's 3D Player. Creative doesn't offer useful tools like that. It uses DirectX and you can load a sound and make it circle around you at a constant speed.


I use either 4.1, or more often than not, headphones, because I turn it up much louder. The headphone HRTF algo's in Creative's drivers aren't the best in the industry (Sensaura is known to have the best virtual positioning), but they work well enough. So, with a good set of headphones (I would always recommend Sennheiser without hesitation), and CMSS2 activated, you actually get an incredible 3D sound experience, and can play at much louder and more immersive sound levels, without bothering or waking up the neighborhood. :o


And CMSS is really cool for listening to STEREO sources like music. Or when a game only supports STEREO, because it makes the stereo source sound much wider. Even MONO is improved (although i rarely get any mono sources... KotOR2 being the only recent case with its butchered mono music).


I hope this info is helpful to someone.


EAX in KotOR2:


Well, it works but I wish they would also make speech and player sounds (e.g. footsteps) be affected by the EAX reverb effects. They should be part of the 3D environment!


I don't like the speech to be played back "dry" (2D), it would sound much more realistic and immersive if the characters' voices would also reverb naturally in the environments/rooms they're standing in. Same goes for the player/footstep sounds. It bothers me a little.


I can understand why developers sometimes opt to playback dialogue in 2D (to make sure it plays loud and won't be missed), but it's jarring and unrealistic, and shouldn't be done in a virtual 3D game. It destroys the illusion of being in a natural sound environment if half the sounds are played in 3D and the other half are played in 2D (exaggerating here).


The only time sounds should be played in 2D, is if they are either background music or some non-positional looping ambient soundscapes.


I wish they would fix that for KotOR2 in a patch.

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