Tech View: Multimedia Items for the PC

by Gary Key on 11/28/2006 3:00 AM EST
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  • Trisped - Tuesday, November 28, 2006 - link

    Can/did you test the Oxygen HD CMI8788 audio processor's ability to decode 5.1+ digital sound and output it to analog speakers.

    I ask because the creative labs forums are full of 360 users who complain that they don't get clean playback on their X-Fi cards. I have an Audigy2, which isn't any better. A replacement would be nice...
    Reply
  • Gary Key - Friday, December 01, 2006 - link

    We are currently finishing the decoding tests. This will include output to both digital and analog speakers directly from the card and through a A/V receiver. Reply
  • LoneWolf15 - Tuesday, November 28, 2006 - link

    By my understanding, Vista does away with hardware DirectSound acceleration (or at least, hardware DirectSound3D). This means that any games or other programs that use EAX done via DirectSound3D will no longer have surround sound under Windows. Only apps that use OpenAL will be useful.

    Creative cards based on EMU10k chipsets will offer users a number of options, what with the kxProject's OpenAL drivers for these cards. However, those drivers aren't compatible with the X-Fi, which has a different chip. I'm curious as to whether many of the X-Fi's features will be obsoleted by Windows Vista.

    It could be that I'm drawing incorrect conclusions, so I'd be interested to hear from people more knowledgeable than I. But it seems like high-quality DACs will be the one important feature in Vista-ready sound cards, and that other fancy bits will become irrelevant.
    Reply
  • imaheadcase - Tuesday, November 28, 2006 - link

    X-Fi will work fine in vista, more so than other soundcards. Creative engineers have found a way to intercept directsound3d so x-fi can process it on the soundcard so does not matter in Vista.

    This driver will be released sometime late next month. The X-Fi card will still be the top dog for games (good or bad to some people :P)
    Reply
  • imaheadcase - Tuesday, November 28, 2006 - link

    To add from post above, here is link to article.
    http://www.custompc.co.uk/custompc/news/98878/vist...">http://www.custompc.co.uk/custompc/news...ll-suppo...

    Here is a quote from the article....

    ..........
    However, our source at Creative Labs exclusively revealed to Custom PC that the company has developed a driver for its X-Fi range of sound cards that will allow for full hardware sound processing in all games, not only those that use OpenAL. The driver works by intercepting DirectSound 3D calls from the game code and converting them into OpenAL on the fly, before these calls reach the DirectX 10 API. By converting the calls to OpenAL, Creative circumvents the limitations of Windows Vista.

    Creative told us that the driver is expected to be completed by December, a month before Windows Vista is due to launch, and will support all Creative X-Fi sound cards. However, older Audigy and Sound Blaster sound cards will not be supported initially, which means that the only way to get high-quality positional audio in Windows Vista is to buy an X-Fi.
    ..........

    Reply
  • yyrkoon - Tuesday, November 28, 2006 - link

    Just in case these points are not readily noticeable for some:

    1) This is going to create more load on the Creative sound cards, which COULD cause more CPU utilization. Now, I don't know why anyone else would buy an X-Fi, but if I bought one, I would be buying it to offload as much processing as possible onto the Audio card, vs the CPU. Pretty much defeats the purpose of buying an add-in Audio card(for $200-$300 usd, and for gaming).

    2)Creative, like all the rest of the gaming industry, is PROBABLY going to use this as an excuse to raise prices on their X-Fi line, and "force" users into buying one. If I'm incorrect, then why hold off on the drivers for the older products ?

    Since MS has been delinquent in sending me my copy of Vista Beta (yes, I'm an MSDN subscriber), I can only speculate here, but what about all the current Audio solutions on the market RIGHT_NOW ? Will this force the system into some form of Compatibility mode ? Older video cards causing the system to revert to using Directx 9L(D3D 9), I can understand, but as far as I'm aware, Direct Sound wasn't broken.

    This smells so much like MS, and OEMs trying to rape the end user to the ninth degree it's pitiful, and thats coming from a person who prefers Windows to *NIX (on the desktop) . . .
    Reply
  • Gary Key - Wednesday, November 29, 2006 - link

    quote:

    Since MS has been delinquent in sending me my copy of Vista Beta (yes, I'm an MSDN subscriber), I can only speculate here, but what about all the current Audio solutions on the market RIGHT_NOW ? Will this force the system into some form of Compatibility mode ? Older video cards causing the system to revert to using Directx 9L(D3D 9), I can understand, but as far as I'm aware, Direct Sound wasn't broken.


    We are running audio tests on the RTM release at this time. I hope to have an article up in about three weeks with the results of several audio solutions. The timing is dependent upon a couple of final driver release dates that are around 12/15 now.
    Reply
  • yyrkoon - Thursday, November 30, 2006 - link

    That is good to hear Gary, and thanks for mentioning it. I hate to sound like an ass when making comments about up and coming technology, and in no way do I direct this at any of the other readers here, or the AT staff. I just get worked up, thinking *this* product or that is great, then something like this comes out, and throws a monkey wrench into the big picture.

    I'm sure, I'm not the only person here, that sees Creative s "solution", as a complete *hack*. Being brought up, from very young, believing that when you do something, you do it right ONCE, and not 50 times WRONG. Perhaps I should send my parents over to Creative s
    "Lab" ?
    Reply
  • Gary Key - Friday, December 01, 2006 - link

    We are also looking at reviewing the new "low" cost X-FI cards under Vista once we have final drivers. Reply
  • Trisped - Tuesday, November 28, 2006 - link

    The odds of creating more work for the CPU by off loading work on the sound processor does not make sense to me. What might cause an increase in CPU usage would be if Creative finds ways to do things that cannot be done in current Vista settings. The reality is that is not going to happen.

    As for being forced to buy something, most people buy SoundBlaster because it has the most perks. As I see it, off loading sound work to the hardware is a perk.
    Reply
  • yyrkoon - Wednesday, November 29, 2006 - link

    Converting input from one sound API, to another, ON_THE_FLY, while playing a game, is not a trivial matter. Think of it along the lines of watching a movie, while decompressing an archive. I know that the Creative X-Fi's have a good amount of horsepower, but what remains to be seen, is if it can keep up, without any help from the CPU. Basically, this is a pretty fair comparison, because what you're doing is converting a data stream, while watching a video (put very simply).

    I honestly have no idea how Creative labs plans on doing this, and do not know much about their architecture, but what I can tell you is that while a video card MAY be able to do something along these lines, a sound card has no where near the on card bandwidth, and probably not any where near 1/10th the processing power. Besides this, take the video card for example again, when you increase the work load of the GPU, a faster CPU is often needed to keep up with it.

    You can remain the optimist, and I'll remain the pessimist, I guess we'll find out for sure in the end.
    Reply
  • imaheadcase - Wednesday, November 29, 2006 - link

    Its not as big deal as you make it out to be. Perhaps you can answer your own question if you read up on the card..cause its right in the ads for it. Reply
  • imaheadcase - Wednesday, November 29, 2006 - link

    Also not raising prices, as seen by the release of more X-Fi based cards for LOWER prices. Reply
  • yyrkoon - Tuesday, November 28, 2006 - link

    Sounds like a complete hack. I must say, this has to be the first bit of news regarding Vista, that has me saying to myself: "WTF were these guys thinking . . ." Reply
  • imaheadcase - Tuesday, November 28, 2006 - link

    The current chipset does not support openAL.

    Surprised you did not mention that if the person who buys it plays games.

    The current C-media chipset does not support openAL, and c-media has no plans to release a openAL card anytime soon. Bluesgears has asked them to but to no avail.

    This is the response i got from in email..
    "This is our request that we need to support OpenAL for our sound card. But C-Media, the chipset maker, still hesitates to support this OpenAL."








    Reply
  • Gary Key - Wednesday, November 29, 2006 - link

    I will update the article about OpenAL support. It is certainly mentioned in the full review. At this time C-Media still has not decided to release driver support, for what reasons we do not understand, and we were hoping to have beta drivers or a firm answer before the full review. I am testing the card under Vista (RTM) at this time so we will have some comments about its performance and audio quality in games. Reply
  • imaheadcase - Tuesday, November 28, 2006 - link

    edit: Yes i know you mentioned x-fi better for just games, but im just pointing out that the openAL part if someone is looking for this card for Vista and games to. Reply
  • JHutch - Tuesday, November 28, 2006 - link

    As I understand it (which could be completely wrong), the two major satellite companies in the US (Dish and DirecTV) do not use the DVB-S standard. Right now, I don't think there is ANY card that can grab digital TV signals from those two providers. Reply
  • kaborka - Wednesday, November 29, 2006 - link

    The docs for the card specified "free-to-air" satellite broadcasts. That rules out DishTV and DirectTV, which have their own encryption and require their own receivers. Reply
  • puffpio - Tuesday, November 28, 2006 - link

    That's what I want to know too...

    DVB-S is prevalent in Europe though right?

    I would still like to see one of these capture cards for directv or dish network..
    Reply
  • Rolphus - Tuesday, November 28, 2006 - link

    ... but do we have to call it VISTA all over the first page? ;)

    Good writeup though, I'll be interested to see what the DVB-S card can do, seeing as I'm getting a bit fed up with paying Sky for content I never watch.
    Reply
  • Gary Key - Wednesday, November 29, 2006 - link

    quote:

    .. but do we have to call it VISTA all over the first page? ;)


    That is corrected, sorry about it but MS tends to change their minds about how they want it presented. I have to say abit (Unverisal Abit, abit) is probably the most confusing one at this time. ;)
    Reply

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