Sound Experience Tests

When 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.

Index Sound Experience Test Cont.
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  • joldershaw - Tuesday, February 01, 2005 - link

    I have had the same problem. It seems that unless the program used is compatible with AC3 or Dolby Digital/Prologic, then Windows relies on the 6 speaker outputs on the sound device.

    It only gives a basic stereo on the two front speakers, and all other channels are silent.

    If you hear of anything else, please reply.

    Config:
    Nforce2 MOBO with Realtek ALC650 sound and SPDIF output going to digital input on amp.

    PowerDVD works OK, but nothing else in Windows takes advantage.
    Reply
  • joldershaw - Tuesday, February 01, 2005 - link

    Reply
  • mareksteele - Saturday, August 14, 2004 - link

    I'd like to comment just one thing about this review. There was no reference to how game settings (high/med/low) affect sound diversity for this game, I haven't seen yet a concrete explaination anywere for this issue (if it only affects low or slightly medium too). Thanks for your time. Reply
  • vhato - Thursday, August 12, 2004 - link

    I have a 5.1 setup with an Audigy 2 ZS and Doom 3 did not support 5.1. The Surround was there, but all voice was played on the front speakers and not the center channel. Definately not a problem though. Reply
  • TrogdorJW - Tuesday, August 10, 2004 - link

    #16 - this is an issue I have heard many people talk about on various sound setups. I myself experience it using an Asus K7N8X-E Deluxe with SoundStorm audio, but I have also heard of other onboard solutions and Audigy 2 ZS users having the same problem. As far as I can tell, id/Activision is aware of the problem, and hopefully they will fix it. In the meantime, there is something of a hack workaround. Open the console (Ctrl+Shift+~ or something like that) and type the following:

    bind m "s_restart"

    You can use whatever you want for m, but the idea is to bind a key to the audio reset function. I generally hit my M key every three or four minutes, and sound keeps going. Otherwise, about every 5 to 10 minutes it will start cutting out. Very annoying.

    The alternative solution is to open up DxDiag and turn down the hardware acceleration on your audio. It doesn't seem to affect things *too* much in Doom 3, but it will likely affect other games. I prefer the bind key solution as it's a Doom 3 specific problem and workaround.
    Reply
  • Jeff7181 - Monday, August 09, 2004 - link

    I'd still like to know if anyone else is experiencing the same problems I am with the sound... when I have "Surround Speakers" enabled the audio cuts out at what seems like random points. It must have something to do with a specific (or multiple specific) EAX effects because it doesn't do it when I turn Surround Speakers off. I have an Audigy 2 ZS and I'm using all the latest drivers for it... it's really a pain in the ass when you're fighting and all of a sudden the audio cuts out.

    I have to hit ESC and go to the options, turn Surround off, then back on, and it works again until the next event that causes it to lose the audio. I don't think it's a problem with my sound card because no other game has problems like that. Has anyone heard anything about this problem?
    Reply
  • magnusr - Monday, August 09, 2004 - link

    Where is spdif support out enabled? Doom3 dosen`t seem to support ac3 audio.....

    I have a sony ac3 amplifter. an optical cable from my audigy 2 card to it. Also using a projector (good picture at least)

    I have a lot of friends with similar configs.

    None of us can seem to get ac3 audio over the optical link.

    So much talk about sorround sound when it`s dosen`t even seem to support ac3 sound. Only a bunch of cables on small sound systems...... Where is the joy in that?
    Reply
  • Aquila76 - Monday, August 09, 2004 - link

    Warden - you got it exactly right. Doom3 only looks to whatever the Windows Control Panel is set to and takes it from there. It doesn't know/care about soundcard type. Reply
  • Aquila76 - Monday, August 09, 2004 - link

    Warden - you got it exactly right. Doom3 only looks to whatever the Windows Control Panel is set to and takes it from there. It doesn't know/care about soundcard type. Reply
  • TheWarden - Sunday, August 08, 2004 - link

    For those of you asking about the performance differences between Audigy/onboard/nForce, etc... the performance is likely identical. As the first poster alluded to, Doom 3 does not use the fancy hardware of an Audigy or nForce to process any sound; it's all done by the CPU no matter what sound solution you are using. I got this information out of an interview in the latest PC Gamer, but I'm sure it's available on the web, too.

    Cheers,
    Warden
    Reply

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