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Thread: To EAX or not to EAX?

  1. #1
    Member
    Registered: Dec 2013

    To EAX or not to EAX?

    I discovered that the non-Creative Labs onboard sound on my Asus P8Z77 motherboard supports EAX in Thief Gold & Thief 2. Or at least I'm able to enable the EAX options in in the games' Options Audio menus through the OpenAL selection. But does it really add anything to the game or make a difference? All I hear is a lot of echo & reverb that can get rather cloying. So what's the story on the Thief saga and EAX? Do others use it and prefer it? Is it possible I'm not getting true EAX audio because my sound chip is not Creative Labs and it's most likely emulated? If an FM builder indicates that he didn't use EAX when constructing his/her fan mission do we still get that echo & reverb? I guess I might even be confused as to exactly what EAX is and what benefits it brings. I usually play Thief games with stereo headphones

    M.

  2. #2
    Member
    Registered: Oct 2001
    Location: 0x0x0
    Can't stand it myself and have never bothered to incorporate it in any of my missions...nobody has ever complained it wasn't there.

    Maybe if it was done better but to me every space sounds too "wet".

    Now there are about 20 or so choices a mission designer can use ranging from small spaces to large ones so perhaps a good deal of the problem is designers not having a trained ear and implementing EAX incorrectly. The "sound" of a particular space is dependent on many factors, size being just one of them.

  3. #3
    Member
    Registered: Jan 2012
    Location: Gèrmany
    EAX can really improve the ambiente when it's set correctly... and thats the problem. What's correctly and was it done?
    No EAX => Just plain sound.

    I don't know what games you are playing but you play with headphones get a nice soundcard (together with nice headphones). Especially with surround sound in games/movies there is a huge difference (depends on the ear ofc) between onboard and a good soundcard, some extern (usb)soundcards are quite good as well and are cheaper.

  4. #4
    Member
    Registered: Nov 2003
    Location: Missoula, MT
    I like to use EAX effects for my FMs, but it can be quite a tedious effort trying to get all of the rooms to sound the way you intend it to be. Some FM authors don't even bother with working on the rooms' acoustics. But yeah, if done right, it can make you feel like you're in that very room.

  5. #5
    Member
    Registered: Jan 2009
    Location: Germany
    I'm also a big fan of EAX and use a X-FI XTremeGamer, which has a good sound production in thief. But the problem is, most of the FMs don't support EAX correctly. That's means, there only the default EAX room type (it's called "generic") is used, and that's the one with echo, which feels strange in outside areas.

  6. #6
    Member
    Registered: Dec 2013
    Well, I bit the bullet and decided to upgrade the rather crappy Realtek onboard audio on my Asus motherboard (I notice poor SNR & noise in the analog out), and just ordered a Sound Blaster Z sound card. I'm intrigued by its virtual surround sound mode which implements decent positional audio with ordinary headphones which customer reviewers seem to be raving about. Ironically, EAX is now emulated on Sound Blaster sound cards instead of a hardware-based solution since the Recon3D series. I wonder how it will sound with Thief 1/2.

    M.

  7. #7
    Member
    Registered: Dec 2013
    Well, I got my Sound Blaster Z this week and I immediately encountered a nasty surprise - both Thief 1 & Thief 2 have virtually NO stereo separation using the Sound Blaster Z with latest drivers, either with EAX or without. This is so disappointing. More details in this other post I made today. http://www.ttlg.com/forums/showthrea...=1#post2227524. I use Alchemy. Anyone have any ideas why I'm having this issue? It seemed to work fine using my Realtek onboard.

    M.

  8. #8
    Member
    Registered: Jan 2012
    Location: Gèrmany
    Check the other thread. What fixed it for me was inverting the polarity in the blue setup menu.
    Somehow that feels like StarTrek inverting the polarity always does the job..

  9. #9
    Member
    Registered: Dec 2013
    Quote Originally Posted by Daraan View Post
    Check the other thread. What fixed it for me was inverting the polarity in the blue setup menu.
    Somehow that feels like StarTrek inverting the polarity always does the job..
    haha. At first I thought you were being a wise-ass and giving me what I thought was a useless, star trek-geeky answer but I tried it and it seemed to help. I had one serious audio crash playing Thief 1 or 2 with the new Sound Blaster Z card (a loud endless audio screech) but I'm hopeful it was a fluke. Thanks for your help.

    M.

  10. #10
    Member
    Registered: Mar 2007
    Location: Krull Island, in the pub
    I've just purchased a Sound Blaster ZXR and will receive it in a couple of days. Do you have any experience with this card? Does it work with EAX via OpenAL? I really hope that Thief will sound good with this one.

  11. #11
    Member
    Registered: Oct 2013
    My understanding is that Creative allow any manufacturer to support EAX 1 and 2, but EAX 3 to 5 remains exclusive to their own cards (though things might have changed in the several years since I heard this, and assuming this information was correct in the first place ). So no surprise that your MB chip supports EAX 1, which is what Theif uses.

    Anyway, I always use EAX. I love the fuller more echo-y sound. Makes places such as the pridon level in Cragscleft mre immerive IMO.

  12. #12
    Member
    Registered: Apr 2000
    Location: Sweden
    If you have a Creative card then EAX should be on.. any other brands that I have tried sound very weird, be it M-audio, Terratec, Asus or onboard. They don't do EAX justice, as they sort of only emulate it.

  13. #13
    Member
    Registered: Nov 2003
    Location: Missoula, MT
    Another note about EAX on different sound cards other than creative ones...
    Some of you may already know this, but I have a video that compares one of the EAX settings between the on-board Realtek and a PCI Creative SB X-FI Extream Music.
    Here the video...


    You'll notice that on the PCI card it will have some pitch curving. That is also how it sounds on the Sound Blaster Live! cards.

  14. #14
    Member
    Registered: Oct 2013
    Does that video apply to OpenAL or is it a demo of hardware EAX from the pre-Vista days? Surely OpenAL would sound roughly the same whatever is playing it?

    Also where is that section? I have a Creative SB Z and I've never heard a ringing metal echo like in the in first half of the video.

  15. #15
    Member
    Registered: Nov 2003
    Location: Missoula, MT
    This was done on Windows 10 64-bit. Also, I've tested OpenAL on both of them. The results are still the same between the two. The only difference on the PCI Creative SB X-FI Extream Music sound card is that OpenAL will be a bit louder than the original EAX setting.

  16. #16
    Member
    Registered: Oct 2013
    So OpenAL it was. Just wondering where that section is from? Is it from an OM? Would like to go there and see if I can hear that ringing on my setup.

  17. #17
    Member
    Registered: Dec 2002
    Location: Saint-Petersburg, Russia
    Well, I remember I played SS2 with eax just because my soundcard of the day supported it. Sounded so so cool! After moving to Win7 with no directsound and working drivers for Audigy I've found out that there's a hacked version of ALchemy with disabled hardware check, so it could be used with any sound device in your system (I've tried it with on-board Realtek HD and usb M-Audio). What's cool is if you use surround system (5.1 in my case) you will get a surround positional sound in those old games WITH eax! I've never felt the power of a swinging wrench in a tunnel of HL Opposing Force. That's really something you should hear!

    After that I've learnt that X-fi Titanium (not hd version) have nice drivers and support newer versions of ALchemy. So I got one and feel really happy.

    I've uploaded all versions of ALchemy and related stuff that I've collected here: ftp://ftp.valet2.com/alchemy

    The one which doesn't require a creative hardware is ALchemy Universal (ALUNI_PCVTAPP_LB_1_00_8.exe)

    What about OpenAL vs ALchemy + EAX - I don't know. Both are really good, but very different. I've played with both options but can't prefer one or another.

    There's another option to improve the sound positioning if you use headphones - HRTF plugin for OpenAL, the procedure is described here: https://www.systemshock.org/index.php?topic=8371.0
    In short, you will be able to localize sounds coming from various vertical directions. I've tried it, but didn't have a wow effect sadly.

    Offtopic, but I have to mention it. The best in-game sound that I've experienced was in Alien Isolation. The actual reflections comes from the surfaces, so if you face a wall the sound will reflect from it, and you will feel like it's really there. But after I tried it in VR... my brain simply believed I'm in there. The most realistic experience in my life, no kidding.
    Last edited by Valet2; 5th Oct 2018 at 22:53.
    ---Old Habits Never Die---

  18. #18
    Member
    Registered: Apr 2011
    Oh! Thanks for the link, Valet! I've just tried out the OpenAL Soft HRTF settings you linked, then found the HRTF that works well for my head, and have 3D sound in Thief now with OpenAL! It's pretty damn great

  19. #19
    Member
    Registered: Nov 2003
    Location: Missoula, MT
    @ Cigam

    That video actually takes place in the hidden mission "Garrett's Nightmare" of the FM "The Rebellion Of The Builder 2". One of these days I think I'll make a video that will have all of the EAX effects comparisons. For the most of the common ones, they are pretty much the same. But, there are some like the psychotic one that have noticeable differences.

  20. #20
    Member
    Registered: Mar 2007
    Location: Krull Island, in the pub
    The Sound Blaster Zxr works nice with OpenAl, however, EAX in Thief is a bit "distant" and "underwater" but still great quality.

  21. #21
    Member
    Registered: Oct 2007
    Location: Angelwatch
    Quote Originally Posted by GORT View Post
    Here the video...


    You'll notice that on the PCI card it will have some pitch curving. That is also how it sounds on the Sound Blaster Live! cards.
    WTF?! Which mission is that? I'd like to check myself as I never noticed that on my Audigy 2 ZS (running Win 10) - and maybe upload a video.

    Other than that: Yes, with an hardware accelerated Creative card definitely turn EAX on. It sounds very decent and natural unlike the emulations you get with e.g. Alchemy Universal (better than nothing tho…)

  22. #22
    Member
    Registered: Nov 2003
    Location: Missoula, MT
    In case anyone with Thief 2 is interested, I've made a quick simple demo for testing the EAX effects. *NewDark Only*
    EAX Test.zip

  23. #23
    Member
    Registered: Mar 2007
    Location: Krull Island, in the pub
    Quote Originally Posted by GORT View Post
    In case anyone with Thief 2 is interested, I've made a quick simple demo for testing the EAX effects. *NewDark Only*
    EAX Test.zip
    I just tried it, it's great and really useful! Thanks!

  24. #24
    Member
    Registered: Nov 2003
    Location: Missoula, MT
    Here's one for Thief Gold. *NewDark Only*
    TG EAX Test.zip

  25. #25
    L'architecte de Rocksbourg
    Registered: Nov 2005
    Location: Narbonne, France
    Really useful demos, thanks to them I'm adding EAX settings in my fm now.
    Because roombrushing isn't fun enough, I have to do it all over again...

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