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Virtual 7.1 Surround Sound processing in Headphones

mysiak

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The more I read the more I am confused. Some are loving SXFI even for FPS games. Some like it for movies/atmosphere but say there is too much reverb. Some say gen2 fixed excessive reverb issues. Very little information about what battle mode does other than reducing/eliminating reverb, but seems like it also applies some eq and compression. What I did find that the personalization has a significant effect, but no way to manually tweak it other than repeating the process and hoping for better results.
Recently I started playing Watch Dogs game with SXFI turned on and it starts to grow on me. Out of curiosity I switched to SXFI battle mode and while the dialogs were a bit strange (like coming from the center of my head), surround sounds were unbelievably easy to pin point in space. I can easily imagine that this would be highly desirable feature especially in FPS games. Compared to scout mode, I didn't notice any heavy compression or unnatural EQ with SXFI battle mode turned on.
 

Galz

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Can maybe get the G6 for 160$ locally (although it would be a bit tricky to get it at that price, it's not really "locally", it's 4h drive away, but might manage to get someone to pick it up for me if I decide fast enough). No returns once opened box.

GC7 is 182$ on Amazon (including taxes, base price is 150$) unless I can get my hands on another 15$ coupon and then it'll be 167$. I suppose I'll get the GC7 regardles, in hopes SXFI is actually preferable to SBX for games and the DAC/amp quality difference is really negligible for the HD560S, and might be able to return it as it's Amazon (not sure if free return shipping though, will only know if/when I decide to return).

Already ordered modmic USB from Amazon as it's supposedly better (doesn't rely on possibly crappy mic inputs on the DACs, and at least with the G6 there are documented issues people had with the modmic uni), and also cheaper as I used a 15$ coupon and also it has free shipping promo, unlike Antilon site which takes 12$ shipping. No taxes for items under 75$. I was afraid of desktop mics picking up too much background noise and desk bumps and not working too well when being far from the head, and also the HyperX solocast sale expired very quickly (it was 35$ with free shipping if I add something to go over 50$ total). Hopefully the extra cable will be manageable...
 

mysiak

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GC7 is 182$ on Amazon (including taxes, base price is 150$) unless I can get my hands on another 15$ coupon and then it'll be 167$. I suppose I'll get the GC7 regardles, in hopes SXFI is actually preferable to SBX for games and the DAC/amp quality difference is really negligible for the HD560S, and might be able to return it as it's Amazon (not sure if free return shipping though, will only know if/when I decide to return).
Not the most recent info, but it sound's like Amazon returns are for free and without hassle for you. :)
 

Galz

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Hopefully yes, I returned something to Amazon once for free, but their rules are constantly changing and not well-documented.
 

Rengoku

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Hi guys i have a little question for Redscape users:
In comparison to stock sound of your headphones (Without any virtualization or EQ) does Redscape sounds a little muffled in the mids and highs?
I remember it sounded that way for me when i was using the app a while ago.
Now i'm not sure if this is due to my headphones not responding very well to the virtualization(ISK HF 2010 rebrand) or the virtualization itself was intended to be this way since is further away and very out of the head. (Yeah i played with that head width slider in the anatomy customization settings)
 

Sycraft

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Hi guys i have a little question for Redscape users:
In comparison to stock sound of your headphones (Without any virtualization or EQ) does Redscape sounds a little muffled in the mids and highs?
I remember it sounded that way for me when i was using the app a while ago.
Now i'm not sure if this is due to my headphones not responding very well to the virtualization(ISK HF 2010 rebrand) or the virtualization itself was intended to be this way since is further away and very out of the head. (Yeah i played with that head width slider in the anatomy customization settings)

Not that I notice. I'm playing with it right now and I don't feel like they are muffled. Now of course I can't really do a fast A/B test with it because you have to stop the audio, shut down Redscape (since it takes exclusive control), switch Windows to output directly to the RME and then fire it back up but to me it sounds correct. Now the sound IS different, but in the general way that headphones have that more intimate sound.

Redscape doesn't sound any more muffled than my speakers. If you are used to headphones, I can see how the sound might be strange, but if you are used to speakers it sounds more or less "correct" compared to them.

This is using HD800S headphones with Oratory's corrections on my ADI 2.


As for the Soundblaster X4... I think I'm probably going to send it back. I can't find the ability to adjust the level of the SXFI, perhaps that isn't on this model. It is either on or off, and when on many of the other customizations are disabled (presumable because the DSP is busy doing the HRTF). There is a surround setting that can be used when it is off, but it doesn't really do much for me.

Also I got my optical cable today and it turns out you can't output the SXFI virtualizations over optical, so I can't route them in to the ADI-2 for equalization. Now not that I couldn't get something else to equalize for the phones, but this works well and I already have it.

I'm just not seeing it as being a winner VS Redscape (which also has an integrated PEQ, if I wanted). Particularly since it doesn't do ASIO. I'm not sure if I'm missing something but it just hasn't been that impressive.
 

Coin3

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This is quite an interesting link to read re virtual surround sound:
https://www.notebookcheck.net/Embod...spatial-audio-software-hands-on.552294.0.html
You upload a photo of your right ear, and then it returns a personalised HRTF file for you to use as part of the included software.
Embody just released a "gamepack" for Final Fantasy XIV Online that enables spatial audio processing in the game using your personalized HRTF. I tried it out last night, and I was quite impressed! It was really easy and quick to set up, and the results are definitely better than what I could achieve with the game's 5.1 audio through HeSuVi.

https://embody.co/pages/ffxiv

FFXIV has an incredible amount of playable content for free players, and the spatial audio gamepack has a free trial, so I recommend trying it out if you're interested in that sort of thing. However, you may want to wait a few weeks, as FFXIV's latest expansion was just released, so you may have trouble logging in as the servers are overloaded...
 
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Robbo99999

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Embody just released a "gamepack" for Final Fantasy XIV Online that enables spatial audio processing in the game using your personalized HRTF. I tried it out last night, and I was quite impressed! It was really easy and quick to set up, and the results are definitely better than what I could achieve with the game's 5.1 audio through HeSuVi.

https://embody.co/pages/ffxiv

FFXIV has an incredible amount of playable content for free players, and the spatial audio gamepack has a free trial, so I recommend trying it out if you're interested in that sort of thing. However, you may want to wait a few weeks, as FFXIV's latest expansion was just released, so you may have trouble logging in as the servers are overloaded...
I don't play that game, but I'm interested in the technical side of the points you mention. I thought Embody created virtual 7.1 surround systems for use with any game that had 7.1, but this is a specific collaboration with Final Fantasy then? How's that fit in with their "generic 7.1 surround solution" that works with any 7.1 game (if you see what I mean)?
 

Coin3

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I don't play that game, but I'm interested in the technical side of the points you mention. I thought Embody created virtual 7.1 surround systems for use with any game that had 7.1, but this is a specific collaboration with Final Fantasy then? How's that fit in with their "generic 7.1 surround solution" that works with any 7.1 game (if you see what I mean)?
I believe Embody collaborated with the FFXIV team to integrate their system directly into the game with object based audio processing. A generic solution (their HIVE software or something like HeSuVi) takes the 7.1 audio output from the game and then processes it for headphones. At best this would sound as good a real 7.1 speaker setup. It's a bit of a work around, because the game is taking a sound source, assigning speaker outputs for it out of your 7 channels, and then those speakers get convolved with your HRTF. With built in spatial audio processing, each sound source in the game space is convolved with your HRTF directly, eliminating the virtual speaker setup.

There are other games out there with spatial audio processing built in (VR games are a prominent example), but this is the first I know of that has support for personalized HRTFs. Sony has talked about doing something similar with 3D audio on the PS5, but I don't think it's out yet...
 

Galz

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I always thought the future would be to have the full location information in-game rather than going through speakers (and for external hardware acceleration, could maybe even include information about other filters that the game wishes to use such as echo effects to simulate the specific in-game environment), although we'll need to see the actual difference in practice compared to downmixing to 7.1, if we actually lose any spatial information other than the height which is obviously missing already unless the game includes it (in a non-personalized way) when it mixes to 7.1. That is, if there is any practical difference between the imaging between the discrete channels to the imaging you might want to get if you would have applied hrtf to the original "object source".

That said, do current games with built-in Atmos/other HRTF include height information?
 
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Robbo99999

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I believe Embody collaborated with the FFXIV team to integrate their system directly into the game with object based audio processing. A generic solution (their HIVE software or something like HeSuVi) takes the 7.1 audio output from the game and then processes it for headphones. At best this would sound as good a real 7.1 speaker setup. It's a bit of a work around, because the game is taking a sound source, assigning speaker outputs for it out of your 7 channels, and then those speakers get convolved with your HRTF. With built in spatial audio processing, each sound source in the game space is convolved with your HRTF directly, eliminating the virtual speaker setup.

There are other games out there with spatial audio processing built in (VR games are a prominent example), but this is the first I know of that has support for personalized HRTFs. Sony has talked about doing something similar with 3D audio on the PS5, but I don't think it's out yet...
Ah, I see, so you don't have to have the normal Embody software installed in order to experience it with that Final Fantasy game, they've decided to just incorporate it directly into the game so that anybody with headphones can try it in that game after buying the "expansion pack" for the game. And I noticed they say in the blurb for the expansion pack that you can "Accurately hear sounds above and behind your character", which supports what you say about it not just being a 7.1 system but instead an object based spatial system like Dolby Atmos for Headphones (which I didn't like when I tried it, didn't work for me). Do they still take a picture of your ear to create the HRTF as part of that "expansion pack" for that game?
 
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Robbo99999

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I always thought the future would be to have the full location information in-game rather than going through speakers (and for external hardware acceleration, could maybe even include information about other filters that the game wishes to use such as echo effects to simulate the specific in-game environment), although we'll need to see the actual difference in practice compared to downmixing to 7.1, if we actually lose any spatial information other than the height which is obviously missing already unless the game includes it (in a non-personalized way) when it mixes to 7.1. That is, if there is any practical difference between the imaging between the discrete channels to the imaging you might want to get if you would have applied hrtf to the original "object source".

That said, do current games with built-in Atmos/other HRTF include height information?
I think the main theoretical benefit of an object based system like Atmos vs virtual 7.1 is that height information is supposed to be used, the "problem" with virtual 7.1 is that there is no height information conveyed - there are times in game where I get confused about height of sounds & if they are above or below me, having said that Dolby Atmos for headphones didn't work for me as an experience, I didn't get any front-back localisation, it was just rubbish. Same with Windows Sonic, that is an object based system that includes height information......again Windows Sonic didn't work for me, no front-back localisation. So far just the Soundblaster SBX system that works for me.
 

Galz

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The height information is obvious, I was wondering if there were additional benefits for object based even without height information.

How can windows sonic contain height information if it doesn't get it from the game in some way?
 
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Robbo99999

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The height information is obvious, I was wondering if there were additional benefits for object based even without height information.

How can windows sonic contain height information if it doesn't get it from the game in some way?
Yeah, if the game is not producing height information in it's sound design then no sound system will convey height information.
 

Coin3

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Do they still take a picture of your ear to create the HRTF as part of that "expansion pack" for that game?
Yes, you still take a picture of your ear for their algorithm to generate an HRTF for you.

In my experience so far with the object baaed spatial audio in FFXIV, front-back localization as well as top-bottom localization works pretty well.

As far as comparing the spatial accuracy between 7.1 and object based (ignoring height), I should be able to test that out by comparing Embody's HIVE software with their object based system built into FFXIV. However, the game only natively supports 5.1 audio, so the HIVE software won't be at its full potential. I'll report back when I'm able to try it out.
 

kyle_neuron

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I always thought the future would be to have the full location information in-game rather than going through speakers (and for external hardware acceleration, could maybe even include information about other filters that the game wishes to use such as echo effects to simulate the specific in-game environment), although we'll need to see the actual difference in practice compared to downmixing to 7.1, if we actually lose any spatial information other than the height which is obviously missing already unless the game includes it (in a non-personalized way) when it mixes to 7.1. That is, if there is any practical difference between the imaging between the discrete channels to the imaging you might want to get if you would have applied hrtf to the original "object source".

That said, do current games with built-in Atmos/other HRTF include height information?
If you want to see the real cutting edge, the surprisingly boringly named Project Acoustics from the Microsoft Azure Cloud platform is what you're talking about:

The video is pretty easy to follow. Solving the full wave equation on the scale they're doing it is crazy stuff, even if the world is decomposed into Minecraft style blocks to do so, and the results are embedded binaural room impulse response 'hotspots' with interpolation between them.

Like most things in games and film, it's a complex layer of 'trickery' to make us suspend our disbelief rather than a real simulation. But what's that old Clarke quote about magic? :)
 

Galz

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Regardless of tech, some acceptable interface is the first thing that would be necessary to implement *anything* (unless everything is done in software included in every game).
 
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Robbo99999

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Just a quick note for the folks that know me, I'm gonna be off-grid for a couple of weeks, I'll be back!
 

shevalier

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So far just the Soundblaster SBX system that works for me.
For me, just good work only CMSS3D of X-Fi.
lost technologies of the forgotten era(
some acceptable interface
not an interface (i.e. DAC). Headphones are the first problem. It depends 90% on them where the virtual sound source will be positioned.
P.S. Listen to binaural recordings. There is already a direction "encoded" in stereo. If the direction to the sound source does not match, then no algorithm will fix it.
 

shevalier

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as top-bottom localization works pretty well.
what headphones do you use? This is the main question
scientific approach.
Using several algorithms, we create a video with spatial sound, for example, as this.
The owners of the different headphones describe the perceived directions.
The statistically average headphone model is determined.
We repeat the choice of algorithms with the selected headphones.
After several iterations, the best headphone model for most users will be determined.
 
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