For Gamers (Continued)
This is the amount of "voices" or audio streams a sound card can process using its dedicated hardware at the same time. This is an important feature for gamers because it determines how many audio streams the sound card can support at the same time. Obviously, if you have 100 men in the game shooting at the same time, you would want to hear all 100 shots, not just 5 or 6.
The complexity of gaming audio is important in gaming because it really adds to the reality and immersion of the game. It also allows the player to properly discern separate aural cues, making it a truly important tool for the gamer.
A long, long time ago, there were many positional audio technologies - Aureal 3D, Sensaura and EAX. Now, only one remains - EAX. All because Creative Technologies realized that if you can't beat 'em or buy 'em, just take 'em to court and use your lawyers to pummel them into bankruptcy and then buy them. So, there's nothing really left to talk about here, except to differentiate the different versions of EAX from each other.
There are currently 5 versions of EAX, and naturally the newer (higher) versions are better than the older versions. What each version adds is usually three-fold :
- more hardware voices, allowing the sound card to process more voices simultaneously,
- environmental effects like reflections, reverb, distortion, scattering and other fancy stuff, and lastly,
- the amount of overlapping effects you can apply to each voice.
For gamers, the higher the EAX version, the better. There's really no need to use your heads for this one. Now, chant along with me, guys, "The higher the number after EAX, the better!"
If you do want more specifics on sound and environmental effects, head over to this article, which was very well written - http://www.digit-life.com/articles2/sound-technology/index.html.
Do remember that environmental audio is not 3D audio. Environmental audio is the measure of how the virtual environment affects the sound effects, 3D audio focuses on the direction of the sound effects and how the gamer discerns that directionality. This metric is pretty much a subjective one that one can only ascertain through listening tests and observations. I have included it just for the sake of knowledge and basic understanding. For this metric, I suggest using the Right Mark 3D sound accuracy test.
With that, I'm finished with the attributes and metrics gamers should look out for. Now, let's move on to the audiophile's side of the sound card spectrum.