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Is PC Audio In Need of Improvement?


No question that many veterans remain of the OpenGL – DirectX wars. The two API’s battled for dominance, and for the most part, DirectX won out on the Windows front. But Microsoft didn’t rest on its laurels. from 9 to 10, and soon 11, each version brought with it vast improvements over the previous version. The 3D hardware stayed in stride, and multiplied in power each generation. At this moment, near photo-realistic environments being rendered in real time is being thoroughly explored.

But what about the audio in games? While OpenGL and DirectX locked horns, PC audio was in the midst of its own battle. A3D and EAX; both were promising realistic 3D audio. A3D fell early, leaving EAX the victor by default. With the PC Audio market in their hand, Creative began to release a new version of EAX but with one caveat: Creative hardware was needed to utilize anything over EAX 2.0. The company used this fact to dominate the sound card market for years.

On the hardware side, sound cards have improved over the years, but certainly not to the extent of graphics cards. Each generation brought higher sample rates, upsampling, and high end cards now support Dolby Digital and DTS real time encoding. The newer hardware sounds great, but is PC audio where it should be? On the consoles, Dolby Digital is pretty much standard in all games, and that is one of the problems in the PC realm: There are no standards. No standard API, no standard hardware support, No baseline that is set in stone like the graphic card market. For a graphics card to be DirectX compliant, it must have full support of the API. Lowly Intel integrated graphic chips are compliant, but your average Realtek HD Audio chip has no standard to conform to. Is this what PC audio needs? If not, is PC audio is fine as it is?

About Zeiram Wing

Just your average neurotic bag of problems.

One comment on “Is PC Audio In Need of Improvement?

  1. Well, this is almost the same problem plaguing the PS3, right? THERE’S NO STANDARD. Why does voice chat sound worse on the PS3? Because every person has a different interface device when it comes to that. As an aside, PS3 “Slim”(or PS3.5 as I like to call it now) will stream Dolby TrueHD, which the PS3 Fat will not. It’s just segmenting every aspect of the platform. This is no different. Everybody and their brother makes PC components nowadays. Most(if not all) of the computers I’ve built over the last year have onboard Realtek audio chips and I think that’s perfect. But also partnered with that fact is the problem of WHO bases what the standard should be. Should it be Microsoft using Windows as a gauge? Or should it be the individual users, who have a greatly non-uniform voice? This isn’t an issue with Apple as they have ONE platform with a few different entry points. I do agree with you, though, that a BASELINE standard needs to be set, then audiophiles can take it from there. So has this been an elaborate way of saying it’s fine as it is or that it needs a change? I’m not entirely sure…

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