Asus Xonar U3 and 2.0 speakers: good enough for EAX games?

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Asus Xonar U3 and 2.0 speakers: good enough for EAX games?

Postposted on Sun Apr 01, 2012 1:14 pm

I'm traveling back and forth between two cities. To save cost, I rent a flat instead of sleeping in hotels. It is not feasible for me to set up a "full gaming rig" at my flat, but recently I just bought a Lenovo B460 - a laptop with GeForce 310M and Windows XP support! The GeForce 310M ain't probably much for newest games, but I can re-live old games with full AA and good frame rate. Yeah! :D

However, many old games like MDK 2 and Neverwinter Nights support EAX, so I'm interested to buy EAX-capable USB sound cards. Right now I'm interested in Asus Xonar U3, because:

a) the spec says it emulates EAX 5.0.

b) it also supports Dolby Virtual Speakers. In my flat, I already have a pair of bookshelf speakers. Right now, I don't have the time to set up 5.1 home theater monitors in my flat. So I want to be able to hear virtual surround from my stereo speakers.

c) while it doesn't have multi-channel analog output, it supports real-time multi-channel digital audio encoding, so I can still upgrade to 5.1 setups later if time permits.

Short question: with Asus Xonar U3, will I be able to enjoy virtual 3D sound on games like Neverwinter Nights through my stereo speakers?

Detailed questions:

(1) does the Dolby Virtual Speakers work with games' 3D sound, or does it only work with movies?

(2) since I'm playing old games, how backward compatible is the Xonar U3's EAX 5.0 emulation with older games? Does it emulate, for example, EAX 1 or EAX 2?

(3) how good is Dolby Virtual Speakers on stereo speakers instead of headphones?

(4) how about Creative X-Fi USB? Considering my situation (old games, stereo speakers), which one is better choice?

Thanks.
Kreshna Aryaguna Nurzaman
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Re: Asus Xonar U3 and 2.0 speakers: good enough for EAX game

Postposted on Sun Apr 01, 2012 4:36 pm

I'll attempt to answer based on my experience. I have owned Xonar PCI card that had dolby headphone. Before that my cyberlink software had Dolby headphone/speaker plug-in.

Short question: with Asus Xonar U3, will I be able to enjoy virtual 3D sound on games like Neverwinter Nights through my stereo speakers?
- Depends on what you mean by 3D sound. EAX is not so much for positioning but environmental effect. Yes, Dolby Virtual stuff can be applied to games.

Detailed questions:
(1) does the Dolby Virtual Speakers work with games' 3D sound, or does it only work with movies?
- Movies: need to set media player sound settings to 5.1 or greater
- Games: need to set game's sound option to 5.1 or greater
(2) since I'm playing old games, how backward compatible is the Xonar U3's EAX 5.0 emulation with older games? Does it emulate, for example, EAX 1 or EAX 2?
- If it can do 5.0 then it should be able to to 1 & 2. 1&2 can be licensed from Creative anyway so no need to emulate. That's how even onboard codecs can do EAX 1&2.
(3) how good is Dolby Virtual Speakers on stereo speakers instead of headphones?
- That's subjective. To me, experience is pleasant for movies whether it was speaker or headphone. For games, result is varied depending on games. For some games it sounds weird like EAX. For others, difference is superficial and doesn't add much to experience. Eventually went back to good old stereo cuz you get tired of fiddling with settings back on forth.
(4) how about Creative X-Fi USB? Considering my situation (old games, stereo speakers), which one is better choice?
- I suppose it's same difference. Sound card is snake oil. There's always good old stereo from good old onboard codec.
Coulda
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Re: Asus Xonar U3 and 2.0 speakers: good enough for EAX game

Postposted on Sun Apr 08, 2012 6:21 am

I see. Thanks, Coulda.

Since most games use DirectSound 3D for its positional audio, I guess I'm good to go, because Xonar U3 supports DirectSound 3D.

Or does it?
Kreshna Aryaguna Nurzaman
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