Best way to achieve positional audio on stereo headphones?

Discussion in 'Soundcards, Speakers HiFI & File formats' started by Ecurb, Oct 23, 2013.

  1. Ecurb

    Ecurb Member

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    Hi Gurus of 3D (and hopefully 3D sound as well!)

    With the upcoming release of Battlefield 4, i was interested to see your advice on positional audio and the best way to make it happen for stereo headphones.

    I have a set of high end headphones (Beyerdynamic T1) and decent DAC / Headphone Amp (Stock Asus Xonar Essence One) which does both music (love that Foobar and WASAPI!) and gaming duties.

    Although it's always a matter of personal taste i much prefer a good set of stereo headphones to the 5.1 / 7.1 sets (i have a couple of those gathering dust in the garage somewhere... :) ) The thing I tend to miss at times though is the less positional audio you get as a result. In my scenario I have no software based CMSS / Dolby Headphone and was wondering if this is something that would help out with this.

    I have an Asus Essence STX which i think can run something like Dolby Headphone that i CANT use (no PCI-E slots left = quad sli) :(

    Questions for the gurus:

    1. Is it possible to get another USB Soundcard (that comes with dolby headphone etc) that could feed into the Essence one via SPDIF or other input? What would be the best way to do this if so?

    2. If the above is possible, what would be the best usb soundcard to get to provide this positional audio that you would recommend (i.e. has good drivers, supports most new games etc well like BF3 etc)

    3. Is there any way I could achieve the positional audio by another method (clever software that alters sound before its dumped out via USB to Essence one?)

    Any ideas or ways to achieve this would be great so I can sort something out pre BF4. Or if you think its just not worth doing or better ways to get audio via settings etc please let me know :)

    Thanks very much in advance!!!

    Ecurb
     
  2. ])rStrangelove

    ])rStrangelove Ancient Guru

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    I have a AsusXonar D2X and also game via a stereo headset. To get positional audio i could use the AsusXonar D2X DolbyHeadphone but that sounds like standing in a bathroom -> garbage.

    What i did was:

    - set AsusXonar D2X to use 8 channels via Optical out
    - bought a TurtleBeach DSS2, connect AsusXonar D2X via Optical in
    - connect Headphone / Amp to DSS2 via analog out

    Voila. Sounds great. You can really hear whether things are behind you or in front.
     
  3. Ecurb

    Ecurb Member

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    Hi DrStrangelove,

    Ta for the suggestions :) The DSS 2 looks good BUT i'm really after something that could output via digital to the Essence One. I have onboard sound (maximus vi extreme with realtek chip that has SPDIF out) so i could digital out to DSS 2 type device however in an ideal world would be great to have it optical again to input of Essence.

    Do you know of any dolby headphone surround sound processors that accept optical input and do optical output?

    This way i would have two modes off the essence, i.e.
    Gaming = Onboard Realtek via optical to DSS. Optical to Essence. Essence input set to optical = gaming uber sound! :)
    Music = PC USB to Essence and input set to USB = uber music sound :)

    Know of anything that could do this?

    Ta,

    Ecurb
     
  4. yasamoka

    yasamoka Ancient Guru

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    Razer Surround!
     

  5. gridiron whirlw

    gridiron whirlw Ancient Guru

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    Nice cans and amp.

    To bad you cant get that Essence STX to work.

    I use the Asus software on my essence and use 8 channel, then switch to game mode and dolby headphone and use my AKG Q701 and it sounds fantastic.
     
  6. Darkest

    Darkest Ancient Guru

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    That definitely sounds like your best bet.
     
  7. GenClaymore

    GenClaymore Ancient Guru

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    Razer surround works very well after you config it towards your ears. But with some devices it cause sound to pop. you can get a used Xonar U3 for like 30ish and use that for Dolby headphone.
     
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2013
  8. ])rStrangelove

    ])rStrangelove Ancient Guru

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    Urgh. Plz don't use 'gaming uber sound' with 'Onboard Realtek' in 1 sentence. :puke2:
     
  9. elkosith

    elkosith Maha Guru

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  10. eclap

    eclap Banned

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    don't think razer surround works with w8.1.
     

  11. Ecurb

    Ecurb Member

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    G'day Guroids!

    Ta for the all the responses.

    DrStranglove- re the Realtek completely agree (i.e. NOT uber sound)- i was just thinking of using it to output via Toslink digitally only to device that could
    inject surround sound then to Essence for amping goodness. However its all getting too hard and messy doing all that! :)

    Yasamoka, Darkest, GenClaymore, Elkosith- Checked out Razer Surround and seems a FREE way to get UBER positional sound ala dolby headphone.

    Gridiron Whirlw- nice cans you have also- the AKG 701's are supposed to be uber for gaming.

    Unfortunately as Eclap noted- while it does install on Windows 8.1, it breaks up the sound horribly (think loud static getting turned on then off constantly)

    Having said that, I'm sure Razer will update for Windows 8.1 shortly then I will try again as it sounds (pun intended) like the best solution.

    Another solution i found that would suit my particular needs seems to be the extortionately priced Beyerdynamic Headzone. Over here is AUS
    they are both hard to find and crazy expensive (think 2 or so AMD 290x GPUs!!) so that's a no go.

    The last remaining option i can explore (until Razer Surround is fixed for W8.1) is to dig out the old PCI-E extension cable i have. i.e.
    IF (BIG IF!) the Maximus VI can run 4 GPUs and still have one of the other PCI-E slots (there a x4 and x16 which im pretty sure gets shut off with other cards
    being in) active, i can ghetto mod- that is run the pci-e extension cable and ghetto hang the Essence STX i have in the case- then as per
    Gridiron use that to output 8 channel / game mode through Essence software then output from SPDIF Coax from STX to Essence One and amp sound for uber goodness! Will see if that works, fingers crossed :)

    Regardless i think once the Razer surround software is updated to work with Windows 8.1 i'll try that out and see how it compares to STX Dolby headphone mode if i can get that PCI-E slot and ghetto mods to work... Will report back- the things we do for UBER gaming sound...

    Ta all!

    Ecurb
     

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