Go Back   Steam Users' Forums > Steam Game Discussions > M - P > Portal 2

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 03-21-2012, 11:36 AM   #1
rojimboo
 
Join Date: Feb 2012
Reputation: 52
Posts: 494
Portal 2 DirectSound3D sound fix for sublime sound

Yes, I have just started my first ever Portal 2 game (took me a while) and noticed no one had posted how to get DirectSound3D working for Portal 2.

This is only for Creative X-Fi sound card owners.

You can get sublime surround sound, with defined,distinct and crisp sound channels through hardware accelerated audio by doing the following.

1. Set up Alchemy for Portal 2 with Buffers=5 and Duration=10.

2. Enable DirectSound calls by changing
snd_legacy_surround=0
to
snd_legacy_surround=1
in your config.cfg found somewhere like in

C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam\steamapps\common\portal 2\portal2\cfg

Then set config.cfg to read-only, else it gets overwritten every launch.

3. Depending on your set-up and preference(the following is now purely subjective and a matter of taste), set your in-game audio to 5.1 and your Creative Console panel to 5.1 (make sure it is in Game Mode to enable EAX). If you have headphones I strongly recommend using X-Fi CMSS-3D to get positional sound on the z-axis. Music usually sounds slightly better in 2.1, or headphones setting, but I find Portal 2 is more about ambient effect rather than an overpowering musical score. If you have a 5.1 setup, I think CMSS-3D is unnecessary and redundant, but again a matter of preference.

So step 2 forces the Miles Sound system to use DirectSound, which Alchemy converts to OpenAl in step 1 where also the buffer/duration is fixed. Step 3 is whatever floats your boat.

Enjoy decade-old technology that sounds better than the default software sound s@#te in modern PC games.

Last edited by rojimboo: 03-23-2012 at 10:56 PM. Reason: EAX changed to DirectSound3D
rojimboo is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old 03-23-2012, 09:18 PM   #2
anonymous321
 
Join Date: Jun 2010
Reputation: 60
Posts: 158
Great post. Very true. It really is sad that decade-old technology sounds better than what we've got now. Microsoft decision to cut DirectSound3D from Vista and gave us the SuckBox's XAudio system instead was straight up inconsiderate.
anonymous321 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-23-2012, 10:15 PM   #3
Krevedko012
 
 
 
Join Date: Mar 2012
Reputation: 266
Posts: 364
OP, how can you enable EAX for Portal 2 if Portal 2 wasn't (I think) programmed for it? Or was it? You think Valve put EAX code there, several years after it became unpopular?

Alchemy only really works with games that were programmed especially for EAX using DirectSound hardware acceleration. Hardware sound acceleration is not supported in Vista or later so Alchemy uses its own libraries to make OS behave like XP.

Last edited by Krevedko012: 03-23-2012 at 10:18 PM.
Krevedko012 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-23-2012, 10:59 PM   #4
rojimboo
 
Join Date: Feb 2012
Reputation: 52
Posts: 494
Hmm...yes. It has been so long I have seen an EAX title, that I consider anything that uses DirectSound3D, and thus Alchemy and OpenAL, as EAX. Edited, and thanks for pointing it out.

In any case, you get hardware-accelerated sound via DirectSound3D, that sounds significantly better than the software Miles Sound system.

Edit: Damn, anyway to edit thread names?

Last edited by rojimboo: 03-23-2012 at 11:02 PM.
rojimboo is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-26-2012, 10:05 PM   #5
anonymous321
 
Join Date: Jun 2010
Reputation: 60
Posts: 158
I'm pretty sure there is no way to change the thread name, but you have a good point. The source engine was originally programmed to take advantage of DirectSound3D and that feature is still in the source engine. Regardless of whether there are specific EAX calls or not, the game straight up sounds better with DirectSound3D. It's sad when "legacy sound" is higher fidelity than what we have now.
anonymous321 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-27-2012, 02:28 AM   #6
hoilst
 
Join Date: Apr 2011
Reputation: 440
Posts: 249
Quote:
Originally Posted by rojimboo View Post
So step 2 forces the Miles Sound system to use DirectSound, which Alchemy converts to OpenAl in step 1 where also the buffer/duration is fixed. Step 3 is whatever floats your boat.

Enjoy decade-old technology that sounds better than the default software sound s@#te in modern PC games.
Amen, buddy.

And, man, I've seen "Oh, but CPUs are now so powerful we can do everything in software!" a lot.

Bull****. Software companies have just spent the last ten years trying to get EAX 1- and 2-grade sound from software. In short, they've just spend the last ten years marking time, trying to do something inefficient in software that was perfectly run in hardware. Not only that, there are NO software sound systems that can run X-Fi-grade sound - that's 128 voices, with four effects each, with 3D positioning, all at the same time.

FMOD cheats, and claims 200 voices (about 170 of which are stereo, with no effects - NOT 3D - they call these "virtual voices"). (FMOD also uses a ton of Creative and Directsound tech, but won't admit to it). Wwise claims something similar. Xaudio is a joke - I don't see why it's any better on Vista/7/Xbox 360 than DSound3D ever was.

DICE's vaunted Frostbite engine? Still the same. A lot of 2D voices, with a ton of reverb smooshed over it, and severe volume ducking on some sounds to simulate HDR.

And, at the end of the day, it doesn't matter if you're running a hex-core clocked to 5Ghz - the game was only designed with a 2.8Ghz tri-core in mind, if it was a console port. And it probably was.

Make no mistake: THE PRIMARY FUNCTION OF ANY MODERN SOUND ENGINE, ALAS, IS TO LOWER CPU OVERHEAD, NOT SOUND GREAT. If that means dropping sounds, or no effects, then so be it.

Rant sorta over, but I have more regarding Miles and EAX...

Miles, Directsound, and EAX - what's up with them?

Miles never was a sound engine, not like OpenAL ors Directsound or FMOD. What it started as was a wrapper for Directsound - a neat, easier-to-use interface for developers (it should be noted that developers will knuckle down into assembly-line coding to make sure the graphics look schmick...but will running screaming and in tears if doing the sound is a teeny bit harder than typing a few lines. Devs really, really hate sound. It's often left to be done at the last minute. By the intern.)

Basically, it was skin for Directsound. Scaffolding for a building site, allowing the builders to move around more easily.

What ended up happening most of the time is that the scaffolding would be left in place, since Miles is pretty unobtrusive and lightweight, and so the game would end up talking to DirectSound through Miles, rather than to DirectSound, er, directly.

Eventually, RAD started adding more independent functions to Miles, for non-MS systems (Playstation, Gamecube, Linux, Mac...) that ran in software.

But for Windows, any DirectSound effects and hardware capabilities still apply to Miles. So that means that Miles is basically Directsound in a thin candy shell. So you can stick it through ALchemy and it'll behave in the same way as Directsound game.

As for Kreved's question - what's the point of running ALchemy if the game wasn't specifically coded for EAX? - well, there's two answers.

One: putting a Directsound (or Miles!) game through ALchemy doesn't just reactivate hardware environmental effects, which is what EAX is - environmental filters. It (and this is more important, IMHO) also allows your X-Fi to read the 3D buffer directly. Read on...

The 3D buffer is where the distance and position of an in-game sound is calculated. Otherwise, in Vista/7, everything's just outputted by the dodgy DSound replacement as stereo, before it even reaches your sound card. (Under the DirectSound system, it was up to the sound card to decide how to output the sound - how many speakers, or headphone HRTF surround - in modern systems, the sound engine is meant to decide how many speakers.)

When your X-Fi can read the buffer directly, it know exactly where each sound is coming from, and you can use that sweet, sweet CMSS-3D for perfect 3D sound, or even use multispeaker surround again!

For some stupid reason, Creative never advertised this, instead only talking about EAX reverb. Probably because EAX is easier to explain.

Two: If a game uses Directsound, then it IS using EAX. EAX 1 and 2 were given up to Microsoft by Creative, and then rolled into the Directsound standard. So, most Directsound games do use EAX, that EAX is hardware-accelerated, and therefore, yes, putting Directsound games through ALchemy gives your hardware acceleration. (EAX 3-5 are proprietary, and not part of Directsound.)

The different types of EAX make it confusing, yeah. It's also why companies like Via and Realtek can claim their chips are "EAX Compatible" - of course they are; they're Directsound compatible.

At any rate, the rest of Directsound will still be run on hardware.

So, yes, the reverb in Portal 2 is more than likely EAX, and therefore, benefits from ALchemy.

Sorry for the long post, but game sound is a passion of mine, and the general state of it tends to trigger my Rant Mode.
hoilst is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-27-2012, 05:07 AM   #7
rojimboo
 
Join Date: Feb 2012
Reputation: 52
Posts: 494
Excellent, excellent post.

All the stuff that I was always puzzled about, but never found out why it was so, like why Alchemy clearly has an effect on so many games where it apparently should not work.

I can certainly understand game sounds being a passion - I used to enjoy the aural aspects of games as much, or even more than their graphics. Ever since OpenAL was dumped, and all these console ports just copy pasted their software sound straight to PC, I've been unable to fully enjoy gaming environmental effects with clear, undistorted music. It's always fuzzy, or effects are missing, it's sort of undefined. Doesn't matter whether it is FMOD for Mass Effect (the first one, I still consider unplayable...unless I mute it) or Miles for Witcher 2, I always keep thinking how much better the experience would be if someone put some effort into the sound design.

Usually PC gaming is escapism, and the aural aspect is very important, but I keep getting let down, even in the most recent games like Skyrim. Not sure why I expect things to get better, as the same consoles have been around for half a decade. Maybe with the new consoles, and Windows 8, developers and Creative et al. embrace a new platform, for the benefit of everyone.

I am also glad to see there are people who still care about hardware accelerated sound for PC games.

+rep btw
rojimboo is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-27-2012, 05:30 AM   #8
Crow550
 
Join Date: Aug 2011
Reputation: 22
Posts: 143
Oh looks like you knew too: http://forums.steampowered.com/forum....php?t=2620152

*fixed link*

Last edited by Crow550: 03-27-2012 at 10:02 PM.
Crow550 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-27-2012, 05:35 AM   #9
McMasterGold
 
 
 
Join Date: May 2009
Reputation: 210
Posts: 3,810
Didn't Windows 7 restore DirectSound3D?
McMasterGold is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-27-2012, 07:47 AM   #10
rojimboo
 
Join Date: Feb 2012
Reputation: 52
Posts: 494
I wish.

In fact, sound quality has gone backwards in Vista and 7. You have to go back to XP for DirectSound3D. Luckily though, we have Alchemy.
rojimboo is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-27-2012, 06:58 PM   #11
anonymous321
 
Join Date: Jun 2010
Reputation: 60
Posts: 158
Beautiful post. I couldn't agree more. While Windows vista/7 continue to push graphics forward with Directx 11, they have left sound by the wayside to rot. DirectSound3D is amazing for games. The quality is flat out superior. But what's even better is DirectSound3D encompasses the entire computing environment! The videos you watch on youtube or the songs you listen to on media player, will also sound noteably improved. I remember the first time I hooked up my X-Fi XtremeGamer to my 5.1 speakers and turned on some music in media player. It was as if the whole band was planning around me. I was completely inmmersed in sound. Even better than that, all the harmonies were distinct and spatially positioned. It was pure sonic bliss. Never again since Windows XP has sound sounded so good.

Oh yeah, and as for Mass Effect 1 not having good sound, that's just a programming error caused by an incorrect autodetect. The sound is actually far superior than Mass Effect 2 and Mass Effect 3. To quote from the Alchemy Games page,

"This game has a bug in the configurator tool who change every time you use it the sound to software device.

To restore the Hardware openAL acceleration :
Launch the configurator tools, configure it and lauch the game.
In the game, check especially sound option (eax on)
Quit the game

Edit the file locate in c:\user\yoursession\BioWare\Mass Effect\Config\BioEngine.ini

in [ISACTAudio.ISACTAudioDevice]
Change Devicename=Generic Hardware (could be Generic Software too)
to Devicename=
change MaxChannels=128 (x-fi only)
That's all, you can check the log after the next launch of the game
you should see something like that

Init: Audio Device: SB X-Fi Audio [EC00] (number can vary)
[10.172] Init: 127 Free Sources, 2 Reserved

no more generic software in the log
Do not use the config tool or change and save audio setting in the game or the devicename will be rechange to generic software."
anonymous321 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-27-2012, 10:05 PM   #12
Crow550
 
Join Date: Aug 2011
Reputation: 22
Posts: 143
Fixed my link in my last post. Check it out!
Crow550 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-27-2012, 11:43 PM   #13
hoilst
 
Join Date: Apr 2011
Reputation: 440
Posts: 249
Quote:
Originally Posted by McMasterGold View Post
Didn't Windows 7 restore DirectSound3D?
You might be confused with Windows 8 restoring a (more) direct link to the hardware in its sound system, similar to what Directsound did in XP and below.

However, do not get your hopes up. There's no evidence this is for gaming. It's more like the hardware path in Win 8 is part of MS's push into tablets: it's much more power-efficient to run some communications-type audio on dedicated hardware DSPs than in software - things like noise cancellation and voice compression for VOIP.

But that still doesn't mean a dedicated third party can't add their own HAL - like what Creative does with OpenAL (people about the size of Creative's drivers, but there's a reason for it - their adding in new abstraction layer).

Remember, when people talk about "MS removed hardware audio", they only mean Directsound - OpenAL and ASIO aren't affected.

Quote:
Originally Posted by anonymous321 View Post
Oh yeah, and as for Mass Effect 1 not having good sound, that's just a programming error caused by an incorrect autodetect. The sound is actually far superior than Mass Effect 2 and Mass Effect 3.
Yeah, Mass Effect 1 uses OpenAL, the default with that version of the Unreal Engine, but 2 and 3 use Wwise from Audiokinetic.

Why? Because it's easier on the consoles, of course!

Unfortunately, a lot of Unreal-engined games default to software, just because it's easier. Medal of Honor is one, Alpha Protocol is another.

The new UDK, sadly, uses Xaudio. I suppose Epic got a nice fat cheque from Microsoft for that ("It'd be suuuper if you could make your engine harder to use on other platforms. Thanks!")

It used to be that you could tweak the .ini files in a game, and get it to use a different sound renderer - but not anymore. I tried doing that with Homefront - Unreal Engine, Xaudio - but it, naturally, appears that Xaudio architecture is completely incompatible.

I'm trying to think of any advantages Xaudio has over Directsound. Can't really, but, 'cept for easier porting and less reliance on hardware. Which I wouldn't call advantages.
hoilst is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-28-2012, 02:02 AM   #14
rojimboo
 
Join Date: Feb 2012
Reputation: 52
Posts: 494
Quote:
Originally Posted by Crow550 View Post
Oh looks like you knew too: http://forums.steampowered.com/forum....php?t=2620152

*fixed link*
Man, that post is awesome. It's like "how to get hardware accelerated sound in Win7/Vista, for all users", if you ignore the Buffer=5 and Duration=10 for Source engine games, and modify those (or leave at default) depending on the game.

Mass Effect 1: Thanks for the workaround anonymous321 - I remember actually using that and saw it working OK in the log files, but for some reason it introduces sound glitches like insanely loud static randomly popping up (ouch, my ears), and crackling and popping. No amount of Buffer/Duration experimentation helped, or changing Bit quality, or anything (I must have tried dozens of things). Had to resort to software audio, without glitches, yet sub-par audio. It almost ruined the game for me, but then I developed a crush on the Asani girl and forgot about the audio.

Mass Effect 2 sounded OK, I think, as I have very fond memories of that game, but I do not think I used Alchemy.

For me, there seems to be a threshold for audio quality when I can actually start enjoying the game, and whatever they used for Mass Effect 2 was OK. hoilst mentions it is Wwise, so I guess that one cannot be atrocious, like some of the other engines. Mind you, I was probably recovering from the trauma of the first Mass Effect, and anything sounded better.

@ Crow550: Are Daniel_Ks drivers better? I am using Creative beta X-fi drivers currently.

Last edited by rojimboo: 03-28-2012 at 02:25 AM. Reason: avoid double post
rojimboo is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-28-2012, 04:01 AM   #15
DotS
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Reputation: 52
Posts: 702
Very nice topic. When I switched from XP to Win7, I was stunned by the bad audio quality and it took me weeks to figure the ALchemy stuff out. It even affects Winamp! And yes, I had awful discussions with people being like "ALchemy is for EAX games and nothing else, you talk bull" and so on...

I still can't understand why they clusterf.cked Win7s audio system so bad. Rumors say that Win8 (or its successor?) will behave more like WinXP when it comes to audio. Might be the only reason for me to switch OS. On the other hand, since ALchemy, sound works fine.

Btw. I never was able to see much difference between Daniel K's drivers and the ones provided by Creative. To me, they seemed to be pretty much the same. I assume they are the drivers of choice if you run into problems with the Creative ones.

Quote:
Sorry for the long post
Thank you for the long post! I cut a part of it and posted it somewhere else. If you disagree with this, I will remove the post again.

However, enjoy rep for this one.

Last edited by DotS: 03-28-2012 at 04:16 AM.
DotS is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Go Back   Steam Users' Forums > Steam Game Discussions > M - P > Portal 2


Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off



All times are GMT -7. The time now is 06:16 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
Site Content Copyright Valve Corporation 1998-2012, All Rights Reserved.