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Old 11-10-07, 10:46 PM   #42
Rakeesh's Avatar
Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: Sonoran Desert
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Default Re: Blizz removes HW sound acceleration from WoW

Originally Posted by ATI_Dude
1. I never claimed NASA "invented" HRTF. But the fact is that NASA ran a space sim program which resulted in a virtual 3D sound system over headphones.
Well either way Aureal did not come from nasa as you said (aureal and nasa have never had any relationship whatsoever,) and...

Originally Posted by ATI_Dude
2. Marketing or not, Aureal used some of NASA's technology and research when they brought Aureal 3D to the consumer PC market.
No, they didn't. They happened to use the same technology that NASA used. That is about all they have in common with nasa. And again, nasa didn't use hrtf because it was better, they used it purely as a cost cutting measure.

Originally Posted by ATI_Dude
I agree that speakers are preferable for pre-recorded content such as movies or music where vertical postitioning of sound is less important.
How often is vertical positioning important even in games though? Possibly for flight or space related games, but not much else.

Originally Posted by ATI_Dude
I find your movie theater example is a little silly. There're other considerations than accurate sound reproduction when you run a movie theater. If all movie theaters were equipped with individual headphones instead of surround speaker set ups it would completely ruin the social aspect of watching a movie in a theater.
Not really, you could always make it optional. It has been proven many times over that more people will pay to go to a theater that has a better sound experience. This would especially apply to a theme park attraction where there is virtually no social interaction, and sound positioning is critical to the whole experience.

Originally Posted by ATI_Dude
On the other hand headphones and HRTF technology allow for accurate positioning which is very useful in first person shooters.
I have both (a decent set of both at that) and I really don't like HRTF for FPS games. At best it gives you the impression of the direction of the sound, but it just isn't nearly as convincing as a speaker setup. It just physically can't be, for many reasons.

EDIT: Here is a paper that explains it in more detail:

This paper does account for the sensaura tech you mentioned btw:

Downsides of HRTF

1. Sound can be badly distorted!

2. Operation can be pretty slow.

3. If sound sources are immovable, their positions can't be determined precisely, because the brain needs them moving (movement of the source or subconscious micro-movements in the listener's head), which helps to determine a sound source position in the geometrical space.

It's typical of people to turn their heads towards unexpected sounds. When the head's turning, the brain gets additional information defining the sound's position in space. If the sound source does not generate a special frequency forming the difference between the front and rear HRTF function, the brain ignores such sound; instead, it uses data from the memory and compares the information about location of known sound sources in the hemisphere.

4. Headphones give the best results. Headphones make it simpler to solve the problem of delivering one signal to one ear and another signal to another ear. Moreover, some people do not like headphones, even light wireless models.

Besides, the fact that a sound source seems to be much closer when the player has headphones on should also be accounted for.

Acoustic systems make it possible to avoid some problems of the headphones, but there are other troubles popping up: first, it's not clear how to use speakers for binaural listening, i.e. when a part of the signal goes to one ear and the other part to the other ear after the HRTF transformation. When we connect speakers instead of headphones the right ear catches the sound meant for the left one as well, and vice versa. One of the way-outs can be crosstalk cancellation (CC).

In so-called sweet spots a listener can hear all 3D effects perfectly, while in other areas the sound will be distorted. The necessity to choose the right position, i.e. sweet spots, brings in new problems. The wider the sweet spot, the better. That is why the developers keep on looking for new ways to expand the sweet spots.
Also I didn't see mentioned (only alluded to,) in the majority of cases, hrtf does not do well at properly positioning audio sources that are very close to the listener, especially in a headphone configuration. Rather than sounding like they are near you, they sound more like they are coming from inside of your head. If it weren't for you actually seeing the physical location of the object, you would have no idea where it actually was just by listening to it. This is just not physically possible with headphones.

In fact, speakers are invariably going to allow for much greater ambiance than headphones, regardless of the source material, and regardless of whether you are using stereo or surround sound. This is critical for many FPS games.
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