Anyone give up on PC Surround sound and just go stereo? Any regrets?

Domingo

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While neat for environmental effects and the rare game with good positional surround sound, I feel like stereo is the way to go in a competitive 3D game. Positional audio just doesn't seem to be a focus in most games. Probably because it's a small niche and it's likely not easy to implement.
 

illram

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It's been a long time since I've used a really convincing, useful headphone surround sound scheme. I've found that stereo is best for locating enemies - especially in Apex Legends (which has pretty poor sound for an FPS game, sadly)
I simply cannot get the same precision in 360 degree audio with a 2 channel feed. Real rear cues in a well implemented virtual surround feed are miles ahead of whatever my brain can sort of piece together from the way games try to feed you spatial audio information in a stereo feed. Once you really hear it and have that "wow!" moment it is hard to go back. Most of the games I have played in the past 4 or 5 years that I have been using VSS had at least serviceable surround audio, only Shadow of Mordor really just had terribly mixed positional audio for me.

There's some pretty good tech out there now. Super X-Fi for example takes a picture of your ears and matches it with a pre-configured convolution for your HRTF, and it also has presets for a number of popular headphones. It is really convincing and they have improved the audio quality from its initial release (it sounded overly reverby when it came out.) Waves NX and the Audeze Mobius are also interesting VSS products in that they use a head tracking device that people say really aids in the illusion. (I have tried Waves NX without the head tracking and personally did not find it convincing however.)

The one thing I dislike about the Super X-Fi dongle is it has no line out so it's suboptimal to use it with any sort of external amp. The next best thing I have tried is "Out of Your Head" software, which is free to try, and which just comes out of your PC so you can hook it up to whatever system you want. (It uses PRIR's from the Smyth A8, the previous virtual surround king before the A16.)

After those solutions you have all the generic stuff. E.g. SBX, the GSX1000, Dolby Headphone/Atmos, etc. They work to the extent their generic convolution fits your HRTF profile. (I.e., most can use it, some can't.)
 

DoubleTap

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While neat for environmental effects and the rare game with good positional surround sound, I feel like stereo is the way to go in a competitive 3D game. Positional audio just doesn't seem to be a focus in most games. Probably because it's a small niche and it's likely not easy to implement.
I agree - for some games, an "ambient" surround might be fine, but for shooters, I've found that stereo is best.

Good players keep their head on a swivel and part of locating people often includes not just the L/R cues but how they sound when you're panning around and can hear the sound move.
 

IdiotInCharge

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I like to use active speakers, they garantee that the speaker has exactly the kind of an amplifier it was designed for and the speaker cables are as short as possible and no need for a passive crossover network which removes a boatload of problems.
If DT didn't already have LS50s...

I think I'm going to get the Monoprice THX DAC/AMP: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07KQW1WFX/
Let me introduce you to the SMSL SP200, a lower-priced but equally-functional entry into the THX headphone amp crowd.

I'm also considering the Liquid Spark which is 1/5th the price but the reviews of the THX/Dirac box have stellar...
Depending on the headphones, there are at least a half-dozen clean, powerful headphone amps that fit the bill. The Spark is one.

Anything above the SMSL SP200 would be for looks, convenience, or for a different, more colored sound i.e. a tube amp.

That would be less device switching
Left-click on the Windows speaker icon in the tray, left-click on the current output device (which has an up-carot '^' on the right side), and select the output device. Add it to the short list of things Microsoft has unfucked.

Any other solution would at best reduce the number of clicks by one.
 

IdiotInCharge

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I simply cannot get the same precision in 360 degree audio with a 2 channel feed. Real rear cues in a well implemented virtual surround feed are miles ahead of whatever my brain can sort of piece together from the way games try to feed you spatial audio information in a stereo feed. Once you really hear it and have that "wow!" moment it is hard to go back. Most of the games I have played in the past 4 or 5 years that I have been using VSS had at least serviceable surround audio, only Shadow of Mordor really just had terribly mixed positional audio for me.
This is really on the games themselves; HRTF should provide a better headphone mix than downmixing 7.1. However, Atmos has the potential to be superior simply due to expanding the soundstage into three dimensions.

Waves NX and the Audeze Mobius are also interesting VSS products in that they use a head tracking device that people say really aids in the illusion. (I have tried Waves NX without the head tracking and personally did not find it convincing however.)
Audeze's experiment was a pretty universally panned failure. They really didn't take into account usability, despite producing a decent set of headphones.

Waves NX is pretty damn good at what it does, though. It's possible at some point for this stuff to be done correctly.



Overall, the challenge is in finding what works with which games. Which sucks, as that means that one could easily be in the situation where both switching between output devices and switching between surround downmixers would be necessary, and that's just annoying.
 

DoubleTap

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If DT didn't already have LS50s...



Let me introduce you to the SMSL SP200, a lower-priced but equally-functional entry into the THX headphone amp crowd.



Depending on the headphones, there are at least a half-dozen clean, powerful headphone amps that fit the bill. The Spark is one.

Anything above the SMSL SP200 would be for looks, convenience, or for a different, more colored sound i.e. a tube amp.



Left-click on the Windows speaker icon in the tray, left-click on the current output device (which has an up-carot '^' on the right side), and select the output device. Add it to the short list of things Microsoft has unfucked.

Any other solution would at best reduce the number of clicks by one.
If I'm going to spend more than $100, I think I'm going to get the $500 Monolith because it seems to have a good DAC that would allow me to use the PC, CD and other sources and it would let me run the output to my Receiver/Preamp

The SMSL is a nice amp but the features for the price don't make sense for me.

Left clicking the speaker in my system tray does nothing. Right clicking does not let me switch sources. I have an Icon on my desktop to sound properties (my system has 9+ sound devices, all but 2 are disabled)

and it is easy enough to switch - I can see myself switching when I need HDMI 7.1 but 95% of the time I am running headphones or 2.1 so this does a few things for me:

1. Eliminates the need for a discrete DAC (the ones in my AVR are decent, but some 10 years old)
2. Let's me keep my headphones plugged in
3. Let's me run my main sources (PC and CD) through my headphones or speakers (currently, my CD runs optical to my AVR so I have to use the AVR HP Amp which doesn't sound that good)

Appreciate the suggestions though!
 

xmadror

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DoubleTap if you want an easy way to hook a headphone amp you can use the TAPE OUT from your AVR, then it won't matter if you leave them plugged in.
Before getting a $500 monolith I'd take a look at https://www.schiit.com/ (Asguard, Jotunheim, modi, magni, vali)
 

DoubleTap

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DoubleTap if you want an easy way to hook a headphone amp you can use the TAPE OUT from your AVR, then it won't matter if you leave them plugged in.
Before getting a $500 monolith I'd take a look at https://www.schiit.com/ (Asguard, Jotunheim, modi, magni, vali)
This is actually a good suggestion and the VCR Out is one I had not thought of because the Zone 2 Preouts are analog only - I assume for content protection reasons so I would have assumed that policy applies to the VCR Out as well (but I don't know and can't find it in the manual)

However, it would still leave some unsolved issues:

1. How do I easily mute the speakers while the HP output is live? (no mute button on the panel and I don't use the remote because the Receiver is right next to me)

2. I've read a lot of reviews of the Schitt amps and they seem fine - I was strongly considering the Asgard 3 and adding a DAC card later. The DAC lacks additional inputs (USB only) and I don't love that plugging the headphones is the way you switch from the HPA to the Preouts.

3. I ordered the Monolith yesterday
 

xmadror

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VCR out would work just as good.
1. turn off the amp (thats what I do)
2. That's one of the reason I prefer to get separate headphone amp and dac, more freedom on how you hook it up.
The way I have my setup is : optical out --> schiit bifrost dac --> preamp --> power amp (line out) and headphone amp (magni 3) via tape out.
3. Well all that is left is to receive it and enjoy it, I'm sure you'll love the Monolith too!
 

IdiotInCharge

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If I'm going to spend more than $100, I think I'm going to get the $500 Monolith because it seems to have a good DAC that would allow me to use the PC, CD and other sources and it would let me run the output to my Receiver/Preamp

The SMSL is a nice amp but the features for the price don't make sense for me.

Left clicking the speaker in my system tray does nothing. Right clicking does not let me switch sources. I have an Icon on my desktop to sound properties (my system has 9+ sound devices, all but 2 are disabled)

and it is easy enough to switch - I can see myself switching when I need HDMI 7.1 but 95% of the time I am running headphones or 2.1 so this does a few things for me:

1. Eliminates the need for a discrete DAC (the ones in my AVR are decent, but some 10 years old)
2. Let's me keep my headphones plugged in
3. Let's me run my main sources (PC and CD) through my headphones or speakers (currently, my CD runs optical to my AVR so I have to use the AVR HP Amp which doesn't sound that good)

Appreciate the suggestions though!
I do recommend revisiting the speaker icon in the system tray -- if you're on at least 1903, it should let you switch by clicking on the active output device, which would then provide a list of all non-disabled audio output devices on the system. This is bar none the easiest way to switch default outputs.

As for an 'integrated' DAC/Amp, I use Topping's DX7, which is really more than powerful for all but the thirstiest planars. The Monolith THX is very nice and perhaps something I'd have considered as an alternative if it were available, however, it's not as powerful as the amps found in the dedicated Drop and SMSL THX amps.

Also, the Monolith DAC/Amp has no outputs other than headphones. Not even a single 3.5mm stereo line out. While it does appear to offer top-quality components, that's a rough limitation.
 

IdiotInCharge

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It has analog out as visible in this image
Ah, you're right! Missed that pair of RCA outputs, I was looking at the input group headings. Still, for a balanced DAC, I'd want balanced outputs (as XLR, TRS, or a combo like many interfaces have), but that's more for studio monitors.
 

DoubleTap

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Ah, you're right! Missed that pair of RCA outputs, I was looking at the input group headings. Still, for a balanced DAC, I'd want balanced outputs (as XLR, TRS, or a combo like many interfaces have), but that's more for studio monitors.
The RCA out is level controlled by the volume knob. Loud enough for speakers is too loud for the headphones and the volume knob is slow.

I got an optical splitter and now run the speakers and hpa from the sale stream. I like it but I think I want a 4x2 optical matrix switch so I can independently change the source to each device.

Not missing surround so far although its still hooked up, just not configured.

Will probably buy a nice 2.1 preamp with the tax return...
 

Arcygenical

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Ah, you're right! Missed that pair of RCA outputs, I was looking at the input group headings. Still, for a balanced DAC, I'd want balanced outputs (as XLR, TRS, or a combo like many interfaces have), but that's more for studio monitors.
I, too, am still looking for a balanced output DAC that's not like 300$.
 
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I prefer surround sound to headphones for gaming and I have a really nice 7.1 system in my office.

The problem is I can rarely use it.

1. I almost never watch TV/Movies in here
2. I don't always want to let everyone know I'm gaming with speakers
3. A lot of games don't have good surround sound support. By a lot, I mean a few.
4. The whole HDMI audio connection is always a hassle.
5. I don't want my little kids hearing the discord conversation in games.

For me, the best surround sound games are Overwatch and Guild Wars 2 (and Battlefield, but I don't love the last two versions) but I don't play them that much.

I don't really prefer headphones, but I find myself using them more and more.

I'm wondering if it's time to take it down, sell off the parts and roll the cash into a pair of LS50s (for music mostly)

Current speakers:

KEF Q100 L/R
KEF Q200c C
JBL Arena B15 (side and rear surrounds)

Even though it's hard to use, there just isn't anything quite like hearing things clearly in your surround channels - it really puts you in the game...
I have a 5.1 setup in my office and I love the hell out of it. My audio processor is a smallish Yamaha 5.1 HT AMP. Until it dies I will likely continue to rock that setup. I use a pair of Klipsch Bookshef speakers, a BIC Center and 2 Klipsch Surround Speakers paired with a 10" Infinity Sub in a custom box.

It only seems to matter when I am watching films encoded to take advantage of surround sound or AC3 audio. Gone are the days when I recall games like Baldurs Gate that would environmentally use Creative Labs to create an interactive soundscape. I think that was before Microsoft tossed out their direct sound suite. Positional audio has been hit or miss since. More like glorified prologic than anything else.
 

DoubleTap

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I have a 5.1 setup in my office and I love the hell out of it. My audio processor is a smallish Yamaha 5.1 HT AMP. Until it dies I will likely continue to rock that setup. I use a pair of Klipsch Bookshef speakers, a BIC Center and 2 Klipsch Surround Speakers paired with a 10" Infinity Sub in a custom box.

It only seems to matter when I am watching films encoded to take advantage of surround sound or AC3 audio. Gone are the days when I recall games like Baldurs Gate that would environmentally use Creative Labs to create an interactive soundscape. I think that was before Microsoft tossed out their direct sound suite. Positional audio has been hit or miss since. More like glorified prologic than anything else.
The AVR setup is a hassle and I'm kind of stuck at 1080P - if I try to go 4K, I'll probably need a 4K compatible hardware EDID emulator and those seem to cost a few hundred bucks. Not really worth it to me.

I am exploring this idea:

A 2.1 Preamp with HT inputs. I can set this on my AVR and leave the AVR off most of the time (it gets pretty warm, even when I use outboard amps) while I run 2.1 - then, in the rare circumstance when I want surround, I just turn the AVR back on and set my 2.1 to use the Home Theater Inputs.

I guess it's kind of a waste of an AVR but I don't think it has much value on the used market and I don't want to use it on a daily basis because of the heat output so maybe this configuration would be a good compromise.

I'll probably just setup 7.1 surround using discrete analog connections and maybe use Dolby through optical for watching Netflix (which I almost never do in here).

Someone is selling an Emotiva USP-1 preamp locally for $250. That seems too high for a unit that was $500 ten years ago, but I think it's the type of preamp I'm looking (with HT inputs).
 

IdiotInCharge

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I, too, am still looking for a balanced output DAC that's not like 300$.
Depending on what you want in a DAC, that's nearly every audio interface around the US$100 mark. The TRS outputs are balanced, and with studio monitors you can just run TRS, or you can get TRS <-> XLR cables if going to a balanced amp etc.

If you're looking for more, well, price climbs accordingly ;).
 

Arcygenical

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Depending on what you want in a DAC, that's nearly every audio interface around the US$100 mark. The TRS outputs are balanced, and with studio monitors you can just run TRS, or you can get TRS <-> XLR cables if going to a balanced amp etc.

If you're looking for more, well, price climbs accordingly ;).
I just want a good S/N ratio with a balanced output, as I'm feeding the audio into a chain of balanced rack devices:
EQ > 3 way stereo crossover > 2x behringer 2x750wrms (BS, but they sound nice) PA's.... Going into a 2.2 stereo setup, two ported woofers that reach to around 17hz at 200w input, enough to chip drywall spackle - and a 3 way component bass, high-mid and AMT tweeters on the top end. All are XLR.

The speakers are DIY, so, we're not talking reference monitors here, but I'm getting a bit of annoying signal issues from the Ryzen platform, and I feel like a balanced output, rather than 3.5mm DAC output - or even optical to balanced TRS/XLR would help seal the deal.

I have balanced everything except I'm currently using 3.5mm in, and it really sucks. The EQ does pseudo balancing - but we all know that's BS, and you can tell a difference compared to a truly balanced signal.

I don't mind building it if you have a kit/product in mind - but In Canada, even the TRS balanced DACs are in the 300$ range AFAIK ://

Ironically I'm getting better sound quality due to dirty power with a 4$ aliexpress BT 5 adapter that does balanced output, than I am my motherboard, or sound card's 3.5mm. And that's super annoying. BTW this is the best sounding BT5.0 receiver I"ve ever used, and I have over 40 different boards. If anyone cares, I can link it.



- so, are you telling me I'm basically blind and incapable of searching for this shit? I swear I've looked everywhere from prebuilt balanced TRS dac's to kits, to importing parts to DIY. All are >200$ for DIY or 300$ for prebult.
 

jthomas

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I'll get you a start down a different rabbit hole:

Behringer UMC22 for CDN$70 shipped with balanced TRS on the back

This can be treated as a USB balanced DAC...
...I'm going to look into this quite substantially.
To go along with this idea, you could also check out the Focusrite Scarlett or Presonus interfaces, they're all fairly inexpensive. I got the Scarlett to feed my PC to monitors based on a recommendation from here and I'm plenty happy with it (even though I barely use most of it's features).
 

Sycraft

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The Focusrite Scarlett Solo has balanced TRS outputs and supports up to 192kHz. Not sure what it costs in Canada, but lists for $110 in the US. Focusrite generally does a pretty good job with their audio interfaces, in my experience (I have a first generation 6i6).
 

atarione

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I had a gen 1 Scarlett 2i2 ... it would make my pc bsod when coming out of sleep mode (solution from focusrite.. don't use sleep mode =\)

not really liking this idea.. I replaced it with a Steinberg UR22mkII nearly identical feature set no more BSOD's so I'm pleased with this, I also feel the headphone output on the Steinberg is better~ (a bit) than the 2i2 I had.

too be fair my Scarlett was a gen 1 I'm not sure if the gen 2 / 3 have the issues with windows 10 my gen 1 did.. but whatever.
 

IdiotInCharge

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too be fair my Scarlett was a gen 1 I'm not sure if the gen 2 / 3 have the issues with windows 10 my gen 1 did.. but whatever.
Had a second gen for a few weeks for my LSR 305's and DT880 headphones -- no problems in Windows or Linux, however, it could not drive the 250Ohm DT880s for crap so it went back.

That's the only real caveat with most of these interfaces that are powered off USB, which are the affordable ones. They're not designed for >50Ohm headphones, you should be using monitoring headphones with them and that's it. They should work with most gaming headsets though.
 
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The Focusrite Scarlett Solo has balanced TRS outputs and supports up to 192kHz. Not sure what it costs in Canada, but lists for $110 in the US. Focusrite generally does a pretty good job with their audio interfaces, in my experience (I have a first generation 6i6).
I have the third gen 2i2 to two powered monitors. Monitor has outputs which I use for sub. Love it. Use the 2 scarlett inputs for multiple instruments/sources as needed. Separate headphone volume is a great feature.

As for the thread argument - when 5.1 is mentioned in pc gaming its usually an all in one cheapo system. Even the logitech z series at 300-500 is defined as cheapo. A $400 dollar 2/2.1 setup will be much clearer, balanced sound stage and tweak-able if desk environment allows for it. If you build a good 5/6/7/11.x system great; to compete it will be thousands in price. Good headphones would be a better option for "surround".

This all said, I find it to be painful to get Windows, sound card drivers and whatever games implementation of audio delivery is to sound good.....universally. Each game needs a separate setup per your liking. Similar to music variances between classical to jazz to rock and so on. This is well beyond most users who want simple and easy to get results. Diablo 3 for example, good luck getting any form of clear audio from that title with high quality speaker drivers.
 

Sycraft

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I have the third gen 2i2 to two powered monitors. Monitor has outputs which I use for sub. Love it. Use the 2 scarlett inputs for multiple instruments/sources as needed. Separate headphone volume is a great feature.

As for the thread argument - when 5.1 is mentioned in pc gaming its usually an all in one cheapo system. Even the logitech z series at 300-500 is defined as cheapo. A $400 dollar 2/2.1 setup will be much clearer, balanced sound stage and tweak-able if desk environment allows for it. If you build a good 5/6/7/11.x system great; to compete it will be thousands in price. Good headphones would be a better option for "surround".

This all said, I find it to be painful to get Windows, sound card drivers and whatever games implementation of audio delivery is to sound good.....universally. Each game needs a separate setup per your liking. Similar to music variances between classical to jazz to rock and so on. This is well beyond most users who want simple and easy to get results. Diablo 3 for example, good luck getting any form of clear audio from that title with high quality speaker drivers.
Ya but it is awful nice when you do have it :). Maybe because of consoles a lot of games have pretty competent surround these days and it just sounds better over a good speaker setup. I'll agree it is a pain to get all set up, but I do love it so.
 
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not everyone wants to be "that sound guy" and a decent 3-500 system is just fine.
Just giving my opinion to the OPs topic, to each their own. My opinion is a 3-500 system is best served in 2.1 and not surround. Don't care what people choose, I hope what they pick works.

I play games at 1080p on a 1060 and a 27" monitor. Ray tracing, 1440p+ res and all the other cutting edge gfx are meaningless to me so I don't spend $2k on the setup. Plenty of folks think the same way about audio.
 

Sycraft

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Not disagreeing with that price point. My system is quite a bit more expensive than that, just saying that I really do find surround on speakers to be quite awesome with many games, better than good headphones. However I fully understand it isn't for everyone and there's no way I'd advocate most people go out and try to replicate my setup.
 

DoubleTap

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Surround sound is truly great when your game supports it. My current main game does not.

I've decided my solution is to just use my AVR as a Pre-amp with bass management and run my main speakers with a power amp. I still have access to surround sound, but I've dismantled the HDMI connection - if I decide to get it working again, I'll just use the discrete 7.1 analog inputs on the AVR

I've looked at replacing the AVR with a stereo preamp, but most of them have really basic (or non existent) bass management and I don't really see any benefits to counterbalance that.
 

Sycraft

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Something to be wary of is that bass management often doesn't work with the 7.1 inputs, though often pass right through to the preamp. All the bass management, and other audio processing, is done digitally in modern receivers and they don't normally have an ADC on the multi-channel input so it can't process them.

That's why I do HDMI in to my processor for games, even though it is kinda a pain. For pro audio I have a 6i6 that does S/PDIF.
 

DoubleTap

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Something to be wary of is that bass management often doesn't work with the 7.1 inputs, though often pass right through to the preamp. All the bass management, and other audio processing, is done digitally in modern receivers and they don't normally have an ADC on the multi-channel input so it can't process them.

That's why I do HDMI in to my processor for games, even though it is kinda a pain. For pro audio I have a 6i6 that does S/PDIF.
This is correct - most AVRs using 7.1 inputs basically turn into dummy amps.

If your sound card has bass management, you can get away with it as your main operating mode, but the Xonar U7 MkII that I use does not have any bass management - so if you run the 7.1 inputs and play music, it only goes to L/R and you will lose your subwoofer. You can use - I think REW to mix the bass from L/R into the sub channel but it's a pain.

I'd like to try the Sound Blaster X3 and see how it compares to the Xonar - I think the Creative cards have bass management and other features.

In any case, I've found it much easier to live with 2.1 over optical for the last 2 months. I have an Optical Matrix switch that has 2 inputs (PC and CD Player) and 2 outputs (HPA and AVR). It's super flexible and simple.
 

Tapper

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Hi I hate surround sound! I am blind and have never liked it. I have herd it on some pretty nice systems and still cant get on with it. This is films I am talking about not games. I have a dacmagic connected to my PC by USB and my amp is a rotel ra01 and speackers are quad 12l
Most of the time I stick to my Headphones beyerdynamic DT770 pros. I think that the thing with surround sound for me is that the sound follows what's on the screen and not how sound would be in the reall world. BTW some of you have very nice systems.
 

Sycraft

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This is correct - most AVRs using 7.1 inputs basically turn into dummy amps.

If your sound card has bass management, you can get away with it as your main operating mode, but the Xonar U7 MkII that I use does not have any bass management - so if you run the 7.1 inputs and play music, it only goes to L/R and you will lose your subwoofer. You can use - I think REW to mix the bass from L/R into the sub channel but it's a pain.

I'd like to try the Sound Blaster X3 and see how it compares to the Xonar - I think the Creative cards have bass management and other features.

In any case, I've found it much easier to live with 2.1 over optical for the last 2 months. I have an Optical Matrix switch that has 2 inputs (PC and CD Player) and 2 outputs (HPA and AVR). It's super flexible and simple.
S/PDIF is for sure easier to deal with. I really wish they'd expand the standard to support higher channel counts. It is physically capable of it, the optical format that it uses is the same as ADAT lightpipe which does 8 channels of 48kHz 24-bit audio, but consumer gear will only do 2 channel over it unless you compress the audio and then only 5.1. So for now it is an HDMI connection on a dummy display running to my processor. I'd love to just move to a multi-channel pro card and feed that right to the amps, but I find Dirac Live to be a major improvement I don't want to give up. While it is possible to get a separate DL processor for various reasons it ends up being extremely expensive overall for the kind of soundcard you need to hook it to, so I don't. Maybe someday.
 

DoubleTap

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S/PDIF is for sure easier to deal with. I really wish they'd expand the standard to support higher channel counts. It is physically capable of it, the optical format that it uses is the same as ADAT lightpipe which does 8 channels of 48kHz 24-bit audio, but consumer gear will only do 2 channel over it unless you compress the audio and then only 5.1. So for now it is an HDMI connection on a dummy display running to my processor. I'd love to just move to a multi-channel pro card and feed that right to the amps, but I find Dirac Live to be a major improvement I don't want to give up. While it is possible to get a separate DL processor for various reasons it ends up being extremely expensive overall for the kind of soundcard you need to hook it to, so I don't. Maybe someday.
I think what really kills surround sound on the PC is big media - they don't want it to be easy to deal with multi channel digital sound because they're afraid of high quality piracy.

I don't think there is any reason that Nvidia can't pass 8 channel PCM through HDMI with a black burst / blank video channel or like you said - no reason why TOSLINK shouldn't be able to pass it as well. The media companies have a lot of sway over hardware makers and the industry is so interdependent that nobody wants to be black listed or denied some kind of license to make the latest tech (like HDMI 2.1 or whatever).
 

Sycraft

Supreme [H]ardness
Joined
Nov 9, 2006
Messages
4,593
I think what really kills surround sound on the PC is big media - they don't want it to be easy to deal with multi channel digital sound because they're afraid of high quality piracy.

I don't think there is any reason that Nvidia can't pass 8 channel PCM through HDMI with a black burst / blank video channel or like you said - no reason why TOSLINK shouldn't be able to pass it as well. The media companies have a lot of sway over hardware makers and the industry is so interdependent that nobody wants to be black listed or denied some kind of license to make the latest tech (like HDMI 2.1 or whatever).
Probably. Usually if there's an option for media companies to be stupid and evil, they are. Another issue is I just think it isn't that popular, most computer gamers seem to be either headphone people or just "whatever crap speaker" people. You don't meet a lot that like good surround.

Ultimately what I'd like to do is get a multi-channel pro card, send the audio to it, have it go digital out to a Dirac Live processor, back in digital to the card, which would then convert to analogue and go out to my amps. Thing is the only stand-alone DL processors I know of want to do multi-channel AES/EBU, not ADAT and the only reasonably priced multi-pro channel cards do ADAT (and sometimes MADI). The Steinberg AXR4 would do the trick... but it is almost $3000, and then the MiniDSP processor is another $1000. While that's not out of the question for my setup, that's still a shitload of money, particularly since I already have an expensive processor that would then no longer be useful.
 

DoubleTap

2[H]4U
Joined
Dec 16, 2010
Messages
2,402
Well, I have not used multi channel sound for a good two months or so and so far don't really miss it (also, I stopped playing Overwatch which is one of the best surround sound games)

The biggest challenge of a 2.1 system is bass management. An AVR can help with that, but I'm trying to get away from it.

I bought a SVS SB12-NSD 12 off of Amazon - I kind of needed a new sub anyway because mine was old and fussy - I was originally going to get a Rythmik but the ones I want are on backorder.

Anyway, this particular sub has an RCA level crossover which isn't that common.

I tore out a bunch of wires and moved some things around to do a quick and dirty test hookup:

Instead of using my AVR as a preamp (for the sub channel and 100Hz HPF on the L/R preout)

I am now using my Monoprice/Monolith THX 788 Headphone amp as a preout:

Monolith RCA out --> Subwoofer Line Input / Sub HPF Line output ---> Adcom 100W Amp ---> Speakers

So far, this is working really well - very clean and simple. The Monolith has a parametric EQ - not sure about using the same source level EQ for both speakers and headphones (you can defeat it for headphones I guess)

Still not sure I'll use this as a preamp, but at least I know I can use a simple 2ch preamp and still get a decent crossover from the sub.

The Adcom 535 is kind of big - if I could get a smaller, decent amp, this has the makings of a nice desktop 2.1 system...
 
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