X-Fi, Headphones & Virtualization

mellotron

n00b
Joined
Dec 27, 2007
Messages
19
Currently I have onboard sound with the ALC889a chipset and I primarily use my headphones for 90% of the time I'm at the computer. The onboard sound will downmix surround sound sources (quad, 5.1, 7.1) to stereo, but the virtualization is non-existent (can't tell the difference between front left and rear left it all sounds like LEFT).

If I got an X-Fi, would I be able to get really good virtualization of surround sources to headphones? I want to be able to hear enemies approaching from behind in games and be able to detect where gunfire is coming from.

Also, is EAX still a big deal? Will current games really benefit from EAX or would any soundcard sound pretty much the same?

Which brings me to my last question. If EAX is old news, are there other alternatives to an X-Fi that would provide even better headphone virtualization for movies and games?

Thanks.
 

dderidex

Supreme [H]ardness
Joined
Oct 31, 2001
Messages
6,328
Well:

1) EAX does matter in many games. Not all, true, but many shooters, especially, take significant advantage of it. And EAX3/4/5 (EAX HD) is fairly substantially improved over EAX1/2. Creative Labs, unsurprisingly, has a list of some newer games that are especially coded for their cards. It's not a short list, although much was removed from the list in the site update, and it hasn't been updated in a bit.

2) Yes, you get pretty good headphone virtualization with the X-Fi (when set in 'Game Mode' - and make sure to turn CMSS-Headphone ON, of course! LOL). Actually, best I've heard, really. Some games (Valve's 'Source'-engine, for example) sometimes take some fiddling to get working properly (basically, they don't use proper spatial 3d audio positioning, so you just tell the game that it's using something like 7 speakers, and tell Windows/the X-Fi that you have headphones...and it figures things out).
 

mellotron

n00b
Joined
Dec 27, 2007
Messages
19
Thanks for the info. Sounds like I got my work cut out for me, now I just gotta see if I can find a good price.
 
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