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Old 04-15-2008, 10:55 PM   #1
Rob Williams
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Default Creative EAX vs. ASUS DS3D GX 2.0

Not long ago, we received word from ASUS that they had managed to incorporate EAX effects into the drivers of their Xonar cards. Soon afterward, Creative told everyone that was false, and that ASUS "EAX" was not true EAX. Who's telling the straight story, and will you even notice a difference?

You can read the results of Rory's testing here and then discuss his findings here.
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Old 04-15-2008, 11:42 PM   #2
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I have the Creative Audigy 2Z card and never used the EAX part of it.....don't like the reverb or special effects.....if I fully understand what EAX is for. Nor simulate stereo

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Old 04-16-2008, 07:30 AM   #3
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Recently acquired a Xonar D2X myself. I have just a quick question regarding the positional audio and the fact that you were using headphones for your testing.

Did you have to enable Dolby Headphone to enable positional audio, or does EAX handle that itself.

I play a lot of BF2 and was wondering whether I need to enable Dolby Headphone to get positional audio, or do I leave it off and let Open AL handle it. I've tried both ways and it's hard to tell.

Cheers and thanks for the review
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Old 04-16-2008, 08:02 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Unregistered View Post
Recently acquired a Xonar D2X myself. I have just a quick question regarding the positional audio and the fact that you were using headphones for your testing.

Did you have to enable Dolby Headphone to enable positional audio, or does EAX handle that itself.

I play a lot of BF2 and was wondering whether I need to enable Dolby Headphone to get positional audio, or do I leave it off and let Open AL handle it. I've tried both ways and it's hard to tell.

Cheers and thanks for the review
BF2 was built with EAX, so I would enable it, there could be parts of the game that uses it more than others,.
REF:
http://www.soundblaster.com/technolo...ax&j2=gamelist

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Old 04-16-2008, 09:44 AM   #5
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Nice comparison but to be really complete it needs some numbers to complement the sound quality comparison. Would have been nice to see CPU load graphs for each game (identical runs under each card) and FPS graphs to show if there is (if any) real-world gaming impact.
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Old 04-16-2008, 12:37 PM   #6
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At this time, Creative is even more in a bind than before due to their recent PR crash/clash with a driver hacker, Daniel_K. In today's day and age, it's likely that many gamers will look elsewhere now instead of towards Creative's X-Fi solution. This is mainly due to the fact that their drivers are not robust/stable or crippled in Vista. Features that customers look for when the customers purchase the X-Fi are either missing or found to be crippled intentionally by Creative themselves, yet the product still carries the "Vista Capable" or whatever logo on the retail packaging.

To date, there doesn't seem to be any real improvement to resolve the PR disaster that took place early April. Many who have responded with harsh words for Creative have left to use other audio solutions such as the ASUS Sonar. The ball is on Creative's court and at the time, the customers are waiting to see what Creative wants to do with it.

There's also the fact that the X-Fi 2 is also in the works due to a recent finding of Vista hardware qualification results. So there are some speculations that the intentional disabling of features on Vista platform is to push new hardware onto the customers to force an upgrade. Unfortunately, there are plenty who are smarter than this than to go running out brainlessly to buy the latest hardware only to not have it work on Day 1.
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Old 04-16-2008, 01:14 PM   #7
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Default Question regarding the review

1.
When you said Xonar sounded better than X-fi, have you enabled the 24-bit Cristalizer on X-fi?
If yes, at what level?

2.
I've read ur previous review that compared Xonar and Audigy 4. Why not X-fi? Extreme Music could be had for USD 150, and featured an x-fi processor (at around sept 2007). As far as i know, Audigy 4 possess the same SPU as Audigy 2, with additional bells and wistles to improve sound quality a bit.

Btw, I'm using WinXP and X-fi Extreme Music.
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Old 04-16-2008, 03:00 PM   #8
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Thumbs up More testing would be nice, if you guys have time

I would have liked it if you had tested Theifeadly Shadows (TDS).
Simple why: Because in that game I could hear (clearly) the difference in EAX3 and EAX4 on my old audigy2 card.
After reinstalling windows (XP) I applied the drivers/updates in the wrong order causing EAX4 not to work, although EAX4 was enabled in the game-settings I soon noticed that EAX4 wasn't working... thanks to this game. (reinstalling the drivers in the correct order solved the problem.)
In other words it was solely thanks to TDS that I noticed my driver problems, so it should be a good game to test I think. (Pay special attention to how sound from the street sounds when your inside a house.)

Anyway thanks for the review!

//AnorZaken
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Old 04-16-2008, 08:03 PM   #9
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Default Creative vs Asus

I would suggest another test, try the same testing but in Vista instead of XP. Since XP has a direct kernel usage of the hardware compared to Vista's API on top of API hodgepodge of hardware emulation usage, I suspect you will get very different results in Vista. As I understand it, Asus released this ahead of schedule due to Creative's driver problems with Vista.
As an owner of an XFi, I have noticed very large difference with games when directly comparing onboard versus XFi in XP and Vista (tested with a P965-DS3 and EP35-DS3P). The effects in Vista are very lacking where they were very clear in XP. Onboard in XP sounded better then XFi in Vista... and onboard in Vista was a joke, may as well use those cheap earbuds that come with Taiwanese $3 mini mp3 player for the quality of sound you get.
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Old 04-16-2008, 10:19 PM   #10
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That's a good point... I'd like to know if the same shortcomings exist in Vista, or not. ASUS very well may have much better Vista drivers than Creative... and ASUS did especially tout these EAX 3-5 features for Vista...
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Old 04-16-2008, 10:57 PM   #11
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Hi, everyone. Rory here.

I didn't expect this thread to grow so rapidly, so I'll try to address everything in sequence.

When performing the game testing, I simply ran each sound card's output in 2-channel mode. I didn't test the combination of Dolby Headphone and EAX, but the suggestion has me curious now. I'll give it a go, and report back. My headphones have good enough stereo imaging on their own that they were able to place sounds to either side of, or even behind my head, so I don't think the fact that I used headphones in testing was detrimental to the goal of the review -- to ascertain any difference between the environmental effects added by either sound card.

Vista testing was also scrapped for a similar reason -- I didn't want to add unnecessary variables in the testing (compatibility with ALchemy, for example, or half-baked Vista drivers) that might skew the results in a particular situation, but don't provide a true picture of how the two processing methods compare when everything is working properly. The goal here wasn't to compare the ASUS product to the Creative product as a complete package, but to compare Creative's EAX 5.0 effects to ASUS' DS3D GX effects in terms of quality and game experience. I did try to install and run both cards under Vista with mixed success, but if your games don't use OpenAL and aren't compatible with ALchemy, then you'll be out of luck when it comes to 3D hardware-accelerated effects on the Creative card. In this case, it seems that ASUS' solution is significantly more attractive -- it works with both DirectSound3D and OpenAL games without a translator like ALchemy.

FPS numbers, in retrospect, might have been nice to include in the comparison. However, I wanted to focus my efforts on the experience contributed by the 3D audio engine itself, which seemed to be the main point of contention between ASUS and Creative. Creative alleged that the difference between EAX 5.0 and DS3D GX 2.0 would be audible -- and not limited to the (fairly inconsequential, in my view) performance hit that comes from software-based DSP processing.

The X-Fi 24-Bit Crystallizer was not enabled when testing with the Creative X-Fi card. Again, this was done to eliminate unnecessary variables that could affect the conclusion.

In the earlier Xonar D2 review, an Audigy 4 card was used instead of an X-Fi card because I couldn't beg, borrow, or steal one to use in the comparison. If I could have, I would. However, the Audigy 4 card still offers hardware DSP processing of EAX 1.0 and 2.0, which are the only EAX specifications tested by RightMark 3D Sound.

I hope that answers everything that's been asked so far. Keep the questions coming -- I'm loving the interest that people are showing in this subject.
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Old 04-16-2008, 11:38 PM   #12
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At this time, Creative is even more in a bind than before due to their recent PR crash/clash with a driver hacker, Daniel_K. .
The incident with Daniel_K has been resolved with Creative...the fix is back for use
And Hacker is not a bad word..... we hack our computers to make them more efficent.......hacking is changing the design of something to make it work better

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Old 04-17-2008, 01:58 AM   #13
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I think the writer should test in 5.1 channel mode to compared surround sound. With stereos, it's quite hard to compare the surround audio quality. Game performance benchmarks should be done to compare performance hit between hardware and software DSP since for gamers, every single FPS counts.
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Old 04-17-2008, 04:32 AM   #14
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Default Is EAX about positional audio?

I might be wrong, but, isn't EAX only about sound effects, not about positional audio, right?
I mean, EAX can enhance the echo/reverb to make it sounds more real, but not about the sound direction, is it?
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Old 04-17-2008, 05:42 AM   #15
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pro creative much? ...sorry but other reviews Ive read seems to indicate no difference, I dunno how this reviewer can tell the difference ...must hav bionic ears or something. Dont buy this review
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