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  • Reflex - Wednesday, June 01, 2005 - link

    #35 - You are quoting marketing information. I am telling you how sound engineers actually work with this stuff. Believe what you want, obviously you have no desire to know how these things actually work. Reply
  • xsilver - Wednesday, June 01, 2005 - link

    if you crack open an expensive reciever, you may be surprised to see that the dac and other audio chips are exact to that of some pc soundcards.... pro audio companies dont make the chips themselves, they buy them from chip manufacturers just like everybody else

  • ArneBjarne - Wednesday, June 01, 2005 - link

    #33 + 34

    Repeating it over and over will not make it more true. Bring some documentation to the table that contradicts Dolbys own.
  • Reflex - Wednesday, June 01, 2005 - link

    BTW, your statement about video cards is proof of exactly what I am speaking of. Video cards as they currently exist are 'fire and forget' systems, much like on the fly DD encoding. The result is that while most of the time your display is perfect, occasionaly you have serious glitches, for instance clipping and texture anomolies. This is because the video card has no quality control system, no way to report back to the rendering engine that something is in the wrong place. It simply renders whatever its told as best it knows how and moves on.

    Realtime encoding works the same way. Most of the time its just fine, but anomolies can definatly be detected by anyone who is paying attention.
  • Reflex - Wednesday, June 01, 2005 - link

    Your dedicated AMP will not make sound better than the PC is outputting it. When its being encoded on the fly with no quality control(fire and forget) it is not as nice as a quality analog output. Digital is not inherantly better than analog, it all depends on how it is being done. And yes, that $40 Santa Cruz will put your SoundStorm to shame. If you doubt that, you should peruse some audio forums, there is not even any debate on that topic.

    Furthermore, the Santa Cruz also has hardware accelleration, its CPU overhead is roughly 7%(compared to 5% for the SS), neither total would significantly impact performance of a game, it takes greater than 10% to be noticable to a user. Regardless, someone bragging about their $1700 AMP can surely spend a couple hundred on a decent CPU.

    As for the part about Dolby Digital that you do not understand, I am not going to try to explain the entire technology to you in the space of a commentary section. You can either do the research yourself or you can take the word of someone who has worked with this stuff for a living. Or you can continue being ignorant of how it all works and continue the "SOUNDSTORM IS TEH L337 R0X0RS!!! LOL OMG!!!11!!!" mentality.

    Just because people like me do not bemoan its loss does not mean it was terrible technology. But it was not some great leap because you could utilize one digital cable rather than three analog ones. It was integrated audio, with all the same pluses and minuses as other integrated audio solutions. Almost anything off the shelf is better than Soundstorm, the lowest priced card I know that puts it to shame is the Santa Cruz. The highest end card that is still in the consumer market is the M-Audio Revolution 7.1. Either of those cards make Soundstorm(and even the Audigy) sound like crap when using quality cables and a good sound system attached.
  • ArneBjarne - Wednesday, June 01, 2005 - link

    #30 You honestly want me to believe that the DACs on a $40 card is going to compete with the ones in my $1700 amp. Yeah right. On top of that it's acceleration capabilities are nowhere near the SS. For what i need it is crap. But hey, if you only care about stereo music then I or anyone else can't possibly have different needs which the SS fits, right? You'll have to excuse me if I don't think your needs alone should determine what there is or isn't a market for.

    With regard to the encoding process could you please provide some documentation since you claim to know more about it than Dolby themselves.

    "There is no 'source' 5.1 output for games, its simply an extrapolation based on the existing sound data from the game, a guesstimate more or less."

    What is it exactly that makes a realtime generated 5.1 mix any less a '5.1 source' than a pre-recorded one? The "rendering" of the sound by the SS APU is no more a guesstimate than the graphics rendering done by the GPU is. If a soundsource is placed behind the camera in the gameworld it damn well better be put in the back channels of the mix. If you turn the camera left to face the soundsource the sound damn well better be moved right in the mix until it is in the center channel, just as the gpu damn well better render the visual representation of the soundsource if it isn't hidden behind other objects.

    "Regardless, for gaming and basic Windows audio, Soundstorm is adequate and better than most integrated solutions. But for people who are more serious about their audio, its not a loss at all."

    Again not only adequate and better than most integrated solutions for gaming in my setup, but better than most anything period, which certainly includes a $40 Turtle Beach Santa Cruz. But hey, if I use my dedicated amp and DVD player for playing music instead of a computer soundcard i guess i'm just not "serious" about my audio so my needs are not valid.
  • yacoub - Wednesday, June 01, 2005 - link

    "[SoundStorm] was the best of the low end solutions, but there are $40 add-in cards that are better these days, so bemoaning its loss is a bit rediculous."

    1: You just said why it's not ridiculous - it was the best of the onboard solutions. That alone made it appealing to those of us who DON'T want to go out and buy an add-in card.
    2: Not only was it onboard, but it had digital output.

    If you're someone like me who is attracted to an SFF for my next PC, the onboard nature becomes even more appealing as opposed to having to stick two PCI cards (PCI-E GPU and a PCI soundcard) inside a little Shuttle case, thus reducing the airflow over the GPU and just really crowding the darn thing. =

    If NForce4 Deluxe boards came with SoundStorm2 (which clearly would be better than SoundStorm was, though that was already acceptable enough for my usage considering the two positives listed above), it would have been IDEAL for SFF cases.

    So that is why I lament its death.
  • Reflex - Wednesday, June 01, 2005 - link

    First off, you can have a Turtle Beach Santa Cruz for around $40. It has quality DAC's and is used in even semi-pro environments. Secondly, the shielding issue is and always has been seriously overblown, and is an issue that *any* electronic reciever deals with as well. Remember, the packaging on the chips inside your PC themselves are designed to shield, go put your PC next to other devices and note the lack of interferance. Its not like it was in the Pentium Pro days anymore and hasn't been for a long long time.

    And finally, yes there are engineers who check the quality of encoded sound when it comes to DVD's and other pre-mastered sources. They don't simply encode and forget. Usually it will go through several stages before they consider it final, and they will tweak the encoding process as needed to make certain that the audio is perfect from human perception. This is not true of on the fly encoding for obvious reasons. There is no 'source' 5.1 output for games, its simply an extrapolation based on the existing sound data from the game, a guesstimate more or less. Now in general thats alright, although nothing that cannot be accomplished with analog cables as well. Since I do more than play games with my PC, I also expect a decent audio experience as well, Soundstorm provides merely a adequate experience easily topped with reasonably cheap off the shelf cards.

    Also, as I understand it the digital output on most Soundstorm boards was actually re-sampled by the PHY interface. I read about that a while back but I do not have the details handy(tough to find info anymore). If that were true than going digital does not necessarily make the sound any purer than the cheap analog DAC's that most boards used.

    Regardless, for gaming and basic Windows audio, Soundstorm is adequate and better than most integrated solutions. But for people who are more serious about their audio, its not a loss at all.
  • Gatak - Wednesday, June 01, 2005 - link


    There are enormous problems to get good analogue outputs from computer hardware. One of the first reasons is the electrical noise from within the computer. It is very difficult to properly shield.

    The second problem are the DACs which are often mediocre quality at best. The sound output is not balanced, optimized for the same impedance as your receiver/amp system and so on.

    A digital output, even if it is compressed, may very well give a lot better quality than analogue.

    Of course, Sound Blaster Live! cards (pre live 2) do not even have a proper digital output either!
  • ArneBjarne - Wednesday, June 01, 2005 - link

    1. Clearly there is a trade off between the two types of loss. You can aruge about where the scale tips, but to say that uncompressed analogue is always going to be better than lossy-compressed digital no matter what components are used is pretty silly.

    2. Sure there are, but none of the cards mentioned earlier are in that category, nor do those that are serve the same market as SS, hardware accelration + realtime encoding of 5.1 game sound.

    3 + 4. No monitoring of the perceptual coding used in AC3 is needed:

    "Perceptual coding vs. Metadata

    It is generally not necessary to monitor the Dolby Digital coding process from encode to decode to simply preview the effects of the encoding algorithm. However, it is very important to monitor the effects of [i]metadata[/i] on the source audio either through the encode/decode process or through the use of a DP570 Multichannel Audio Tool. The simple reason is that the Dolby Digital encoding process is specifically designed to be transparent, while metadata is intended to optimize the program audio for playback in a variety of home listening environments."

    - Standards and Pratices for Authoring Dolby Digital and Dolby E Bitstreams, Issue 3

    Finally, I don't really care about HiFi music quality in relation to SS DD encoding. Why would you want to use it for that in the first place? Even if you insist on using SS you would turn of DD encoding and use uncompressed PCM or passthrough just like Gatak said.

    "I'm not a Soundstorm or a DD hater. But I don't pretend they are something which they are not. SS was a low end sound solution, it was the best of the low end solutions, but there are $40 add-in cards that are better these days, so bemoaning its loss is a bit rediculous."

    That is pure BS. If you used the crappy DACs the SS was often paired with by motherboard makers then sure, but if you used the DD out with a home theater setup then no damn $40 add-in card is going to come even close when it comes to 5.1 gaming sound.

    #24 Sure, dts would have been nice and if you were to make a new solution today dts lossless would be even sweeter, but I can understand why the went with AC3 instead. If you implement only one of them then the install base of AC3 decoders is larger than that of dts. In fact, I think most amps that can decode dts can also decode AC3, while the oposite is not true.
  • Calin - Wednesday, June 01, 2005 - link

    stmok, the Mac Mini is more than a stylish case and a opensource operating system.
    Would you be glad to pay for the components to make a car? Just think about it, there are books you can borrow from library about every aspect of making a car.
  • Calin - Wednesday, June 01, 2005 - link

    SoundStorm was a typical integrated sound solution, and its audio quality was no better than the quality of its digital to analog converters (which usually weren't very good).
    However, the digital output did made it by far the most desirable mainboard with integrated sound. Maybe only the mainboards with tubes were better than that, but that is a subjective thing with lots and lots of pro and cons (space, power use, heat and so on) having no relation to quality. Also, tube was just stereo, not multichannel
  • Reflex - Wednesday, June 01, 2005 - link

    #24 - My only issue is this continued perception that Soundstorm and its on the fly DD encoding is a good thing for sound quality. Its not, its a lower quality method than analog outputs by a long shot. That said, for an integrated solution nothing can touch SS. But anyone who cares about sound quality won't be using integrated audio anyways, and once you get to add in boards there are plenty of quality non-Creative solutions.

    I'm not a Soundstorm or a DD hater. But I don't pretend they are something which they are not. SS was a low end sound solution, it was the best of the low end solutions, but there are $40 add-in cards that are better these days, so bemoaning its loss is a bit rediculous.
  • Gatak - Wednesday, June 01, 2005 - link

    #18 I agree with you that compression is not good. AC3 is also even more difficult to properly encode than for example DTS. DTS also uses more bandwidth with less encoding. For most home users that would be good enough.

    You are right too that for Hi-Fi music/audio then uncompressed is totally unmatched. But usually the source you use is either two channel PCM, or already compressed multichannel in some manner. Either way you could stream both digitally without re-compression.

    Of course, There is no true Audio-DVD reader for consumer PCs yet. So it is a moot point?
  • Reflex - Wednesday, June 01, 2005 - link

    #18 -

    1) Not really, but even if it did it all depends on if your serious about sound quality, which is the issue I am addressing. Regardless, uncompressed sound is better sounding even on crappy cabling than compressed sound over a digital cable.

    2) Depends on the card of course, there are decent sound cards that compete with nice amps, but you'll pay quite a bit for them. Once again though, a high quality amp is only going to amplify the crappy audio quality of the compressed signal. No matter how nice the amp it cannot make something sound better than the source.

    3) If the compressed source is pre-encoded(ie: a DVD movie) where sound engineers are correcting for any glitches or excessive loss of range, than you would be correct. THe issue with Soundstorm is that it is encoding on the fly with no quality control or engineers listening for mistakes. For a movie or games thats fine, for music fidelity it is not.

    4) Movie theaters and DVD's are using pre-encoded content, not on the fly encoding. The quality control can be done during the mastering process.
  • Googer - Tuesday, May 31, 2005 - link

    #6 You can still have an SSD in iWILL's SFF, it would be installed in the 5.25" drive bay, It's called HyperDrive and can be found at
  • stmok - Tuesday, May 31, 2005 - link

    my response was for poster #12. Reply
  • stmok - Tuesday, May 31, 2005 - link

    You're willing to pay extra for a case that looks stylish (which means nothing to me), and an Operating System that is essentially open-source technology? (The same Unix technology can be downloaded for free and used on your typical x86 setup.)

    I use FreeBSD, (which is what Mac OS X largely consists of)...I only used up 2x 700MB CD-Rs...How much did you spend on a Mac Mini? Alot more than 1.4GB of monthly internet download, 2 blank CD-Rs, and some reading time, that's for sure.

    Heck, even a variant of FreeBSD is under development...Its targetting for desktop users. Its called PC-BSD. I've been testing this, and it has alot of potential. (The simple "double-click to install" applications and Linux-binary compatibility is a nice touch).

    You praise Steve Jobs for basically duping you into a pre-packaged platform that has a ridiculous price tag and a pretty GUI slapped ontop of freely available open-source software!

    And don't say you're secure. A rootkit can change your tone on that issue as well.

    We do many stupid things in life...We get drunk, we wake up next to a stranger (hopefully a good looker), we pull some pranks, we probably even ran over the next door neighbour's cat...In your case...You bought a Mac!

    Now, with regards to the Iwill SFF dual CPU/Video card solution. Sure, its a cool package, but don't be too hyped up by it. Its predecessor had some issues that caused much headaches to owners.

    My advice...Wait until they'll gone through at least one revision before spending this kind of money.

    Opterons ain't cheap, neither is SLI. To spend much money on a system, only to be plagued by various causes of instability is not a path to satisfaction.

    One thing I would like to see...A new approach to video card cooling.

    With both ATI and Nvidia solutions taking up a total of 4 slots (2 by video cards, 2 by coolers), there isn't much left in terms of expansion is there?!

    Why not a new solution that is relatively thin enough? What about that liquid metal cooling solution that Sapphire is playing with? Maybe a variation of that?

    Could that be made to tame the thermal characteristics of a modern day GPU/VPU such that the video card only occupies 1 slot?
  • Shinei - Tuesday, May 31, 2005 - link

    Boo, no G70 pimping on nVidia's part. I thought for sure they'd have at least one or two engineering samples set up to put the smack on ATI's H.264 decoding devices (PureVideo 2?)... Reply
  • ArneBjarne - Tuesday, May 31, 2005 - link


    1. 5 meters of analogue cabeling competing in quality with the digital transfer is going to cost some serious money.

    2. The DAC's on those cards cannot compete with the ones in my home theater amp.

    3. Although AC3 compression is lossy it is a controlled loss unlike the loss associated with the analogue transfer.

    4. SS uses the lowest possible AC3 compression, (640 kbit/s), since space is not a concern. This is better than what is used in movie theaters (320 kbit/s) and on DVDs (most use 384kbit/s while 448kbit/s is the maximum). Personally i can live with a compression only half as hard as the one used in SRD :)
  • ArneBjarne - Tuesday, May 31, 2005 - link

  • Reflex - Tuesday, May 31, 2005 - link

    #15 - Nope, the cards I mention have superior output to DD, however they will pass on DD content just fine to a reciever in digital mode if your source is encoded. DD is a lower end standard, its compression and no quality sound card will use lossy compression on audio by default.

    If quality sound is important to you, you can simply run 3 analog lines to a reciever and have a better sound experience than Soundstorm from virtually any modern card. And the ones I reccomended will give you a superior sound experience to Soundstorm for a reasonable price.

    Granted, running a single cable is nice and all, but saving five minutes of time is not worth degraded sound to anyone who cares about audio quality and accuracy.
  • missleman - Tuesday, May 31, 2005 - link

    Plenty of sound cards that offer dolby digital live output? Where are you looking? None of the ones you suggested offer that. Too many people just completly fail to realize the importance of DD encoding and how it fits perfectly in a home theater setting. There is NO replacement. PCM is not good enough.

    #2 and 3,

    Go find me a SSD that costs $50 empty. Found one yet?
    Ok, lets make it "easier"- find me a SSD that has a BIOS chip on it, or is connected over a SATA/PATA/SCSI so it is bootable. (The only ones I've seen that even qualify are external SCSI ones that are like upwards of $10,000- now granted it's been a long long time since I've looked, but I havn't found any that would qualify to fit in a segment that a high end home user would be able to afford). Considering the cheapest SSD cards i've seen are upwards of $500 empty, one could populate the $50 card with 4 Gig for the same cost as, say the rocket drive...empty, which cannot be booted. a $50 MSRP puts the card in the "affordable segment" for the first time. 4 Gig is plenty for the OS + some more frequently used apps. Heck with 2 of those I could remove the hard drive in my HTPC and have enough room for everything plus some room to record tv shoes (moving anything I want to save to a remote data server.) Which would REALLY make my HTPC silent, as the HD is the only thing you can hear right now, the one slow spinning(5 volted) fan makes virtually no noise.
  • Reflex - Tuesday, May 31, 2005 - link

    #8 - There are plenty of sound cards with far superior sound quality to the SoundStorm without the Creative name on them. On the cheap you can get a Turtle Beach Santa Cruz, which is still a top notch sound solution. For a bit more money you can pick up an M-Audio Revolution 7.1, which simply has no equal in the consumer audio market.

    No reason to cry over spilt milk. SS was great for an integrated solution, but it didn't compete with stand alone solutions at all.
  • shaw - Tuesday, May 31, 2005 - link

    Stability is just one reboot away. Reply
  • WooDaddy - Tuesday, May 31, 2005 - link

    Tell me that Iwill SFF isn't sweet?! Dual CPU with SLI in a SFF case? Wow...

    I still like my slow Mac mini though :)

  • semo - Tuesday, May 31, 2005 - link

    porkster, amd does not have enough market share to command form factor trends. btx was intel's brainchild but it is consumers and case and mobo manufacturers that are holding back the btx take up. Reply
  • ImJacksAmygdala - Tuesday, May 31, 2005 - link

    #8 Don't worry now that Nvidia has abandoned Sound Storm I can now consider the ATI Crossfire paired with the HDA Digital XMystique 7.1 sound card that has Dolby Live. This way I can get a dual R520 system with H.264 GPU acceleration and surround sound in games using a single digital coax to my Onkyo HT-S770.

  • porkster - Tuesday, May 31, 2005 - link

    I wanted BTX when I purchased my latest system, but there were no one selling them or making the boards witht he form factor.

    I'm sick of AMD keeping the market behind.

  • yacoub - Tuesday, May 31, 2005 - link

    Did you have a chance to lament to NVidia execs the loss of SoundStorm2 that was intially spec'd for NForce4?

    I still enjoy the SoundStorm digital coax output on my NForce2 Deluxe board to my Z-680s. I loathe the thought of ever having to buy a Creative Labs soundcard again so I will have to hunt down a board with decent onboard sound, hoping to find one at least as good as SoundStorm was. =\
  • Dmitheon - Tuesday, May 31, 2005 - link

    G70 behind closed door? Boo! Reply
  • Imaginer - Tuesday, May 31, 2005 - link

    But with Iwill's dual SFF, no RAMDisk for you unless one is made with PCI-E slots in mind. Reply
  • Googer - Tuesday, May 31, 2005 - link

    ATI's GPU accelarated VIDEO playback, now that is something to get excited about. So is iWILL's new SFF dual sokcket, dual core, Dual HTT, and DUAL GPU SLI. Reply
  • Googer - Tuesday, May 31, 2005 - link

    #1 SSD is not a new technology, so there is really nothing to be exicted about. If you wan't one you can go out and buy one here and now, then have it installed then next day after you get it from UPS. Reply
  • AnnihilatorX - Tuesday, May 31, 2005 - link

    #1 Solid state HDD s are not impressive at all. They are simple technology and simple to implement. It's just that the memory chips are expensive and data densit not high enough so they are so rare and considered a premium thing to get hold with. Reply
  • avijay - Tuesday, May 31, 2005 - link

    Interesting to see more things about server implementations. Reply
  • Brian23 - Tuesday, May 31, 2005 - link

    None of that was as impressive as the solid state hard drive. Reply

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