Sound Experience TestsWhen we first sat down to test with our copy of Doom 3, we didn't go with anything fancy. We had a 3 speaker (left, right, sub) setup and just jumped right in. The sound effects, voice acting, and overall impact of the audio was intense, even with our simple setup. Unfortunately, the issues discussed previously were very apparent only a little way into the game. When unable to see, feel, or hear exactly where enemies are coming from, death tends to reach out with its cold embrace rather quickly.
Our hope, after this initial experience with audio, was that hooking up a 5.1 system and enabling surround in the game would allow us to hear where danger was coming from, turn towards it and unload without having to think about it. In our opinion, no matter how visually stunning, the dark and shadowy visual environment was too restrictive and frustrating to play in without some other method of sensing danger.
The first surround setup we tried was comprised of the Realtek AC'97 audio solution attached to our MSI K8T Neo2 board. The onboard 5.1 hardware was paired with Logitech Z5300 speakers (purchased for this test at $199 from our local retailer). We also tested a Creative Labs Sound Blaster Audigy 2 with our Logitech speakers in order to determine if there were any perceivable advantages to onboard or discrete audio when paired with Doom 3. After we tested our 5.1 system we hooked up a much cheaper generic 4 channel system just to see if the center channel and sub had a real impact on gaming.
We will compare our surround systems to our standard stereo setup. The computer system we used in this test is the same one we used for our Doom 3 Graphics article earlier this week, equipped with the NVIDIA GeForce 6800 Ultra and 2GB of RAM.