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View Full Version : Will the next generation of consoles support HD audio?


viivo
02-03-2010, 04:04 PM
I know this makes me a heretic in the world of console gaming, but I care less about graphics than good sound. Great sound effects, music and voice acting can make a terrible looking game great, and vice versa if the graphics are cutting edge and the sound sucks (I'm looking at you, Divinity 2)

So has anybody heard any rumors, or is HD audio still two generations away on consoles?

Thraxen
02-03-2010, 04:30 PM
The PS3 already supports lossless audio in games. Many multiplatform games don't have it thanks to the 360, but many PS3 exclusives actually do have lossless 7.1 audio.

erwos
02-03-2010, 04:39 PM
The PS3 already supports lossless audio in games. Many multiplatform games don't have it thanks to the 360, but many PS3 exclusives actually do have lossless 7.1 audio.
Not sure I'd really blame the 360 per se - according to this list, at least, there are plenty of multi-platform games with 7.1 audio:
http://forums.highdefdigest.com/game-room/67201-ps3-games-support-7-1-audio.html

(Which seems sensible... doesn't strike me as much more difficult to handle 7 speakers than 5, if at all.)

While I'm not going to argue against 7.1 LPCM as a good thing, I will point out that it seems like the issue vis a vis games is more with sound material and design than the number of channels and bitrate at this point. That is to say, all things being otherwise equal, I'd prefer 7.1 LPCM over DD-5.1 any day of the week. But things tend not to be equal across games.

I'd also like to see more support for positional audio... while it certainly works better with headphones (IMHO), I remember hearing some insane positional audio tricks back in the days when Aureal was still around...

Sahakiel
02-04-2010, 12:11 AM
My vote goes to better positioning as well. It gets real annoying to break immersion because the character on screen is obviously to your side or behind, but somehow, the audio only emerges from the center speaker.

biggestmuff
02-04-2010, 01:23 AM
My vote goes to better positioning as well. It gets real annoying to break immersion because the character on screen is obviously to your side or behind, but somehow, the audio only emerges from the center speaker.

If the character is on screen, then the sound should project from the center channel speaker.

Raduque
02-04-2010, 02:54 AM
Honestly, for a game, getting the positional and environmental audio correct is FAR more important than "HD" audio. 5/7.1 with the surrounds (and on some games, the fronts) used for more than just ambient audio and bullet ricochets.

santz
02-04-2010, 03:47 AM
position is more important than 7.1

Sahakiel
02-04-2010, 06:36 AM
If the character is on screen, then the sound should project from the center channel speaker.

I disagree. If a character on screen is to the side of the screen, audio should project from the appropriate front side or front side in addition to the center speaker, not just the center speaker so it sounds as if it's coming straight down the middle. Maybe it's not an issue if your screen takes up 5 degrees. However, when your field of view obviously shows two characters 40 degrees apart but sounding as if they're both standing on top of each other, something's wrong.
Positional audio can be so bad on 5.1 I can pick out which speaker is being used quite easily because the game doesn't seem to mix speaker use for the same audio source. Devs seem content with shoving most data through the center channel and using everything else for environment.

Before developers work on better aural clarity and range, I'd much rather they work on positioning. I should be able to sit in the middle of a multichannel setup, close my eyes, and point out direction and distance for every distinct audio source.
Some games are quite annoying when there's multiple characters, some with their backs turned or facing a different side, and the only way to figure out who was talking is to look for a moving mouth or read subtitles. Suspension of disbelief breaks easily if you're character is moving and the noise source off to the side only changes volume as you approach and pass and doesn't change speakers.

As a side note, some movies are terrible at this. You can have five or six characters in the scene, the camera angle may move around, but lo and behold, all conversation flows from the center channel only. Movies like that actually sound better downmixed to stereo to make everything equally defective.

BD2003
02-04-2010, 09:19 AM
You need to more clearly define what you mean by "HD Audio". Audio has come very far on consoles, just no one is paying attention. Its way beyond what it was back in the 1999 aureal days.

I've had a 5.1 system for years hooked up to my 360/ps3, and I've found the positioning to be nothing short of perfect, especially with FPS games. I could absolutely close my eyes and pinpoint directions...I simply do not hear the whole center channel effect youre talking about.

Perhaps many of you need to properly set up and tune your systems or place your speakers?

Also, dont overstate what kind of positioning you could actually accomplish with only 5 speakers - it is going to be virtually impossible to localize sounds on the screen itself, even if its a huge screen. You just cant pull that off with three front speakers. If it were so easy to localize sounds by blending speakers, you wouldn't need a center channel at all.

And then there's a number of challenges on top of that...a screen is a much easier to define space...the left side of the screen will always be just that. But the left speaker could be bordering the screen, or way out to the left...and there's no way for the system or game to know where exactly. So positioning a sound that precisely, especially by blending channels, is pretty much out of the question. Surround could be to the side or behind. An then there's room acoustics on top of that, which can completely change the game, especially since no two rooms are alike.

And even then, there's no clearly defined spec for placing speakers. Ideally, for 5.1 you'd want the speakers in a ring around you, with the fronts 30 degrees to the side, and the surrounds 45 degrees behind. You'd absolutely need to follow your recievers auto calibration with the included mic, or get out an spl meter to balance them, and you'd need to make sure there's no egregious acoustical issues.

biggestmuff
02-05-2010, 12:43 AM
I disagree. If a character on screen is to the side of the screen, audio should project from the appropriate front side or front side in addition to the center speaker, not just the center speaker so it sounds as if it's coming straight down the middle. Maybe it's not an issue if your screen takes up 5 degrees. However, when your field of view obviously shows two characters 40 degrees apart but sounding as if they're both standing on top of each other, something's wrong.
Positional audio can be so bad on 5.1 I can pick out which speaker is being used quite easily because the game doesn't seem to mix speaker use for the same audio source. Devs seem content with shoving most data through the center channel and using everything else for environment.

Before developers work on better aural clarity and range, I'd much rather they work on positioning. I should be able to sit in the middle of a multichannel setup, close my eyes, and point out direction and distance for every distinct audio source.
Some games are quite annoying when there's multiple characters, some with their backs turned or facing a different side, and the only way to figure out who was talking is to look for a moving mouth or read subtitles. Suspension of disbelief breaks easily if you're character is moving and the noise source off to the side only changes volume as you approach and pass and doesn't change speakers.

As a side note, some movies are terrible at this. You can have five or six characters in the scene, the camera angle may move around, but lo and behold, all conversation flows from the center channel only. Movies like that actually sound better downmixed to stereo to make everything equally defective.

My statement reflects the general rule for audio mixing for home use. The sound from anything on screen should be reproduced by the center channel loudspeaker; especially dialog. It's a little much to expect sound to be produced for near-infinitely different home theater setups. It would be a huge undertaking. It would possibly require an established standard between source equipment (video players, VG systems) as well as A/V receivers and then require calibration by the end user.

Some theater sound reproduction systems correct for the issue. Sony's SDDS has the capability to utilize five front channels and I believe there is one other format that uses 4 front channels.

If you're having an issues with your system, you may purchase a larger, wider center channel loudspeaker or sit a little further back from the screen with your current speaker setup to correct for the audio/visual misalignment.

DaveSimmons
02-05-2010, 01:05 AM
Lossy 5.1 is OK with me for games. I use a $70 Logitech 5.1 system with my PC and that's just fine for sound effects and in-game music.

I'm only a snob when listening to my CD collection, that's ripped to lossless FLAC and plays through an optical digital connection to a receiver with a much more expensive pair of Polk speakers.

BD2003
02-05-2010, 08:49 AM
My statement reflects the general rule for audio mixing for home use. The sound from anything on screen should be reproduced by the center channel loudspeaker; especially dialog. It's a little much to expect sound to be produced for near-infinitely different home theater setups. It would be a huge undertaking. It would possibly require an established standard between source equipment (video players, VG systems) as well as A/V receivers and then require calibration by the end user.

Some theater sound reproduction systems correct for the issue. Sony's SDDS has the capability to utilize five front channels and I believe there is one other format that uses 4 front channels.

If you're having an issues with your system, you may purchase a larger, wider center channel loudspeaker or sit a little further back from the screen with your current speaker setup to correct for the audio/visual misalignment.

Youre probably thinking of audyssey DSX, which allows for two extra horizontal front channels, or two front height channels.

Was playing some mass effect 2 yesterday, and the positioning was excellent, it even did as the previous poster wished - characters on the left of the screen were slightly mixed into the left channel. That game has some amazing audio.

Crizza
02-05-2010, 11:10 AM
The audio available and supported in gaming is already the best of what's available. Any perceived shortcoming is just the production quality and not a technical shortcoming; it's up to the developers to create and implement sound well.