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Unfortunate regression in 3D audio since the 90's

mihalski
Level 2
So we finally have decent and affordable head-mounted displays coming, but what about the audio?

Back in the mid 90's things were much more advanced than they are now in terms of immersive 3D audio:

http://toni.org/a3d/

I still have my Aureal Vortex2 audio card somewhere. I just wish it was still possible to use its capabilities today.

Has anyone heard of any recent progress in 3D audio? Whether it be hardware or software based?

Regards,
Michal
170 REPLIES 170

Rarzarol
Level 2
Bump for some news regarding personalized HRTFs:

(please ignore the sensationalism in the article... it's pretty ridiculous)
http://www.technologyreview.com/news/527826/microsofts-3-d-audio-gives-virtual-objects-a-voice/

Basically someone figured out how to do a 3D-scan of someones head with using Kinect, and uses this data to compare to a database of 250 3D-scanned heads + corresponding HRTF tables. His software then selects the best matching HRTF. Still a long way from actually measuring your own HRTF, but awesome nonetheless.

agnu
Level 2
Most gaming PCs and laptops have double video cards (one integrated into the CPU, one dedicated), and these integrated gpus are now GPGPU capable (both intel's and AMDs integrated GPUs support opencl 1.2).

Windows 8 allows a video card to run even if it does not have a connected monitor.

I wonder if they could use that unused processig power to generate better audio.

On single GPU systems the audio could be calculated on either the CPU or the GPU, for a bigger performance hit.

The question is: does the audio processing fit the GPGPU environment well? in layman's term, is it efficient to calculate audio on a GPU?

read material:
http://www.khronos.org/assets/uploads/developers/library/2011-siggraph-opencl-bof/OpenCL-BOF-Intel-S...
My 3D android game: Attack of the Teapotcopters Google Cardboard mode RELEASED! Screenshot

feelthree
Level 2
As a former Aureal soundcard user (MX300) I'm still extremely pissed off with Creative for suing Aureal, losing and then not only swallowing up the company, but burying the technology that they got out of it.

The silver lining though is that its (unbelievably) almost 20 years since the Aureal patents were filed and the technology is about to become free to use. I would be so happy if someone resurrected it, open sourced it and poked Creative in the eye for acquiring such an awesome bit of technology and doing absolutely nothing with it for 14 years.

This also provides such a great example of how completely stupid patent law is, you baselessly sue a company and even though you lose the suit you put them out of business. Scummy, scummy behaviour....

IsoMacintosh
Level 3
Is there really no talk about the binaural tech that oculus licensed?

Halopend
Level 2
"IsoMacintosh" wrote:
Is there really no talk about the binaural tech that oculus licensed?


I went to the site of the tech they've acquired and they have a demo on their site below.

http://realspace3daudio.com/demos/

Not sure I'm overly impressed with it. The oculus demo at least only used distance to the object and never took into account sound through walls vs line of sight. The worst part is the sound dropped off WAY too quickly. It goes from loud speaker playing music to being absolutely silent just by moving about 20 virtual feet!! It might just be a poor demo but I'm certainly not wowed yet.

Wireline
Level 3
I am a bit confused. I have a 5.1 surround speaker setup, which is just being run by the onboard sound. In most normal games I get great positional audio, with a few here and there that don't like my setup.

I've been confused as to why people automatically associate the rift with headphones, especially bog standard 2.1 (yeah I know, but they're reeeeealy expensive ones 🙂 )? I guess immersion is a factor, but I can't say as I feel more immersed with headphones than my speakers. if anything its less claustrophobic and sweaty, and I can also hear whats going on in the room around me, should unseen evil be afoot when I am rifting 😄

Do normal rift demos not take advantage of 5.1 / 7.1?

Halopend
Level 2
"Wireline" wrote:
I am a bit confused. I have a 5.1 surround speaker setup, which is just being run by the onboard sound. In most normal games I get great positional audio, with a few here and there that don't like my setup.

I've been confused as to why people automatically associate the rift with headphones, especially bog standard 2.1 (yeah I know, but they're reeeeealy expensive ones 🙂 )? I guess immersion is a factor, but I can't say as I feel more immersed with headphones than my speakers. if anything its less claustrophobic and sweaty, and I can also hear whats going on in the room around me, should unseen evil be afoot when I am rifting 😄

Do normal rift demos not take advantage of 5.1 / 7.1?


It's more so just the economies and complexity of having a 5.1 setup vs a headset. Besides this, having built in speakers greatly encourages developers to take sound design more seriously since they know work put into can be appreciated by everyone.

Dave
Level 3
Using a speaker array instead of headphones is valid choice for some people, and certainly cuts down on the number of things you need to clamp to your head!

The downsides of speaker arrays include:

-The speakers must be positioned exactly as the software thinks they are positioned.
-The listener must be positioned in the exact "sweet spot" of the array, and can not move from this spot.
-Sounds above or below the listener are not correctly rendered
-Sounds that are supposed to be very close to, or far away from the listener will not be correctly rendered (At least not without moving the speakers!)
-Expense
-Portability
-Interferes with microphone-based communications
-May annoy others

Currently, most games don't get 3D sound correct even when listening on headphones, so you may not be missing that much right now. However, if games start doing things "right", headphones, coupled with head-tracking, should allow a much more convincing soundscape than what a 5.1 or 7.1 array can achieve.

A sub-woofer or bass shaker might still be a worthwhile add-on to 'phones, going forward.

virror
Level 3
Exactly, simple headphones can give so much better surround sound than any speaker array out there since it can simulate ANY position and distance, while a speaker array are limited to the position of the speakers and cant do anything about distance and vertical position.

Wireline
Level 3
Some good points, especially the "above plane" sounds. How do headphones model this?

I don't really buy the "sounds close in vs far away" issue though. If the speaker is next to my ear as in a headphone, it will model "far away" by being quieter. If the speaker is 3 feet from my ear as in 5.1, it will model "close in" by being louder. If proximity is the issue, then headphones surely suffer from the inverse problem of speakers? I understand the issue of frequency drop off with distance and modulation due to ear shape / angle of incidence, but to me it seems all you need is to boost or reduce those frequencies.

Additionally, I can set speaker distances in my audio software, so all the programmer has to do is set relative volume. There is also software gating that can take care of microphone problems. I get that headphones are less complex, but I have just never heard convincing surround sound or positional audio on a pair of 2.1 headphones, despite the industry claims of simulated surround. The response may be "buy a good pair of headphones", but that can be a considerable outlay - just as much as a 5.1 setup in fact.

Proper 7.1 headphones seem a better solution, though speaker quality seems to be universally poor as a trade off for all those drivers in one ear cup.