3D positional audio and HRTFs

I've always been fascinated with 3d positional audio through headphones. The nice thing about headphones is that they don't bug your neighbors or your wife-- and they're actually the best way to hear surround sound, too:

This is a companion discussion topic for the original blog entry at: http://www.codinghorror.com/blog/2006/01/3d-positional-audio-and-hrtfs.html

That sounds very appealing but I wonder if I should get the basic model or the Platinum one. The Creative website doesn’t even specify whether you can connect headphones to the basic model at all. If I understand you correctly you own the basic model, and you say the on-board amplifier is decent enough for headphone listening?

The main difference is that the XtremeMusic is the only model that lacks an external breakout box. There’s a bit more on the ports on the back of the card at TechReport:


The only major limitation of the rear-only ports is that you can’t use digital output and analog input (microphone, line in, etc) at the same time. YMMV but I doubt that’s a common scenario.

Yeah, I was wondering if this separate box includes a dedicated headphone amplifier, since it has its own power connector.

But I just checked the I/O drive headphone connector on my Audigy Platinum vs the regular line out on the card, and the I/O drive connector actually sounds worse. So I guess those cheapskates at Creative really just put a potentiometer in the headphone output path. :frowning:

Oh yes, I remember my Monster MX300 Aureal 3D sound card back in the day…

It really was a massive leap forward in sound. It sounded amazing in Thief.

However then Creative Labs and Aureal got drawn into a legal battle. Even through Aureal won, it spent so much money that Creative Labs bought them out.
Then begin a long period of stagnation in the PC sound industry.

Okay, your article pushed me over the edge and I replaced my old Audigy with a shiny new X-Fi… and in case you’re still reading this I must ask you to fix your post:

You MUST install the CD-ROM drivers first! Installing only the web update drivers (which I did) results in a broken installation. Specifically, the audio console settings won’t be saved between reboots. That was a nasty little surprise. :frowning:

I had to install the “Performance” option from the CD-ROM, then re-install the web update drivers. Now the settings are properly saved.

I’d recommend the CD install anyway since it contains test sounds, and a much richer UI for audio creation settings.

I still don’t have the taskbar icon that should appear as a shortcut to the audio console – probably due to the initially screwed up installation. If that’s the only problem I don’t it much, though…

Otherwise, great card! Overall sound quality is excellent, a noticeable improvement over the Audigy. The 3D headphone enhancement works gret, too – playing back classical music files in “Entertainment” mode makes me feel like I’m standing in front of the orchestra.

…and another update: Figured out what’s up with the taskbar icon. It’s a separate installation selection in the CD-ROM setup – you don’t get it automatically with the “Performance” setup.

So not only shouldn’t you skip the CD install, you shouldn’t even choose the “Performance” option. Choose “Custom” instead, or you’ll miss out on stuff that the online manual takes for granted. :confused:

To be honest, if you’re paying that kind of cash for a sound card you’re better off getting a pro-level one, like from M-Audio or Echo Audio. Granted, part of me saying this is the absolute rabid hatred I have for any product by Creative (will they please hire someone who can actually write drivers?), but the reality is that if a pro card that will do 24bit/96kHz audio isn’t strong enough, then something’s wrong :slight_smile:

Tom, one word: Games.

I’ve tried a couple of non-Creative card over the years because I, too, hate their endless compatibility and driver issues. They all did music just fine; they all sounded like crap in games. Either they don’t have EAX at all, or some terrible emulation.

Since game functionality is important to me, I no longer even try non-Creative cards. They really have a monopoly on that sector.

The top end model (Elite Pro) actually has a better PCI card than the other 3 models. a href="http://www.tomshardware.com/2005/08/18/creative_x/page6.html"http://www.tomshardware.com/2005/08/18/creative_x/page6.html/a

Hey has anyone figured out how to add the externalI?O drive to the X-Fi Extreme. I tried to doo this but the software seems to know that the card is a non platinum version. The external box does not “just work” when it is plugged in .

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a href="http://www.binauralbeatsecrets.com/binary-digital-code.php"binaural sound/a