KarbosGuide.com. Module 7c3.

PC sound - continued

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  • 3D sound
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  • 3D sound

    3D sound is a new hot area. You can create a very powerful illusion of 3D sound coming from just loudspeaker. This is done using new 3D processors on the sound card, which work with some very complex mathematical models. The sound comes from behind, from the front, from side to side - completely realistic.

    The idea of 3D sound has to come from games, which especially are designed for it. The sound systems often include 4 or 6 loudspeakers. But they work fine with headphones too.

    Sound Blaster Live is such a high-end, high fidelity 3D card coming from Creative Labs. It is a PCI-based card, and the best performance comes with the Four Point Surround sound system. Diamond MX300 is another.

    SB Live!

    The SoundBlaster top model sound card is called SoundBlaster Live!

    It includes a lot of fine and powerful features:

  • EMU10K1 accelerator chip

  • Connections for four speakers.

  • Digital DIN plug, which can be used for future high-end sound systems like Dolby ProLogic.

  • SP/DIF digital phone plug, which can be connected to units such as DVD drives, DAT or MiniDisc for direct digital input.

  • Plug for digital MPEG signal.

    The EMU10K1 is as powerful as a Pentium 166 MHz CPU. It is an accelerator chip which relieves the PCs CPU when executing sound, such as DirectX activities that require a lot of processor power.

    Creative Labs SoundBlaster Live is a phenomenal piece of hardware:

    3D sound - better than stereo

    In the 1950s stereo was invented. The music is recorded using two channels - a left and a right channel. Since then the aim has been to expand the sound into 3 dimensions.

    This is possible. Only using two speakers you can create an illusion of "room". Many new sound cards are capable of giving 3D sound effects (i.e. Virtual Dolby). This way games can achieve even more realistic sound.

    Diamond MX300 is a 3D sound card. It is constructed using accelerator chips from Aureal (Vortex 2 and A3D ver. 2.0). The first sound chip from Aureal was very revolutionary to 3D sound performance. It has been used by many vendors (such as Compaq). In 1999 the next generation chip was shipping.

    The Diamond card was very well received. It should be just as good as the SoundBlaster Live! product, which has been in a class by itself since the introduction in 1998.

    SoundBlaster Live works with an open standard for 3D sound called EAX (Environmental Audio Extensions). The MX300 card is compatible with this as well as with the Microsoft's standard for 3D sound.

    3D environmental sound

    The 3D sound card gives the listener an illusion of being in a landscape, where the sounds come from the front and the back. Sounds coming from up and down are difficult to reproduce.

    The illusion is best when you use a four-set speaker system as SoundBlaster PC Works, which gives a very high quality at a modest price.

    3D sound is also possible using only two speakers. The MX300 should be very good at this. The spacious sound is created using advanced mathematical manipulations, which need a good portion of CPU power. Hence the accelerator chip. This is called 3D Positional Sound. The best result should be achieved using headphones.

    Another 3D effect is called Environmental Sound. Here the sound from a game is changed corresponding to the physical situation of the characters. If a person enters a tunnel, there may be an echo. In a big empty hall the sound is completely different. This way the games can send commands to the sound card, which adjust the feeling of the sound to the environment.

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    Learn more

    Read Module 6a about file systems

    Read about chip sets on the motherboard in module 2d

    Read Module 4d about super diskette and MO drives

    Read module 5a about expansion cards, where we evaluate the I/O buses from the port side

    Read module 5b about AGP

    Read module 7a about monitors, and 7b on graphics card

    Also see: Module 7d - about digital music: MP3s, MODs etc.

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