Author Topic: [Guide] X-Fi - Ultra High Sound quality on Sound Blaster audio cards 2018  (Read 604 times)

Offline Alubat

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[How to guide] X-Fi - Ultra High sound quality on Sound Blaster audio cards anno 2018

Have been playing around with FH2 audio settings to get the best out of Creative X-Fi Audio renderer and Ultra High sound quality in virtuel 7.1 HD headphones.




For some time I have looked for a sollution to get great audio from PC in headphones when gaming. More specific I wanted to hear everything while having the lowest possible audio volume in my ears. I went for a usb card (SoundblasterX G6 ) to remove extra stress on PCIe on overclocked SLI setup and to avoid irq conflicts etc.

How to get it working ┬┤quick and clean` with out lag or stutter on screen or in ears.

1. Optimize Pc for gaming

2. Find & Install audio card drivers and firmware.

3. Fix Creative X-Fi cards surround sound issues replacing files in bf2folder
Replace OpenAL files ( steps modified from https://pcgamingwiki.com/wiki/Battlefield_2#Surround_sound )

a.   Launch the game and set the audio renderer to Hardware.
b.   Go \EA GAMES\Battlefield 2 and create a backup of the file BF2OpenAL.dll.
c.   Install newest OpenAL https://www.openal.org/downloads/
d.   Copy the file OpenAL32.dll from %WINDIR%\SysWOW64\ (when using a 64-bit OS) or %WINDIR%\System32\ (32-bit OS) to \EA GAMES\Battlefield 2 and rename it to BF2OpenAL.dll.
e.   Download & extract Newest soft_oal.dll file https://kcat.strangesoft.net/openal.html#download to a temporary folder and copy the file soft_oal.dll from inside bin\Win32\ to \EA GAMES\Battlefield 2  (ex. needed when recording game incl. audio)

4. Run Creative ALchemy and add/make a Forgotten Hope 2 profile
tick Use Game Path and navigate to EA GAMES\Battlefield 2 folder that holds the forgottenhope2.exe file





Settings - on pic are the best I can set atm. Seems to run a little better than the default values for me.
Creative Alchemy default values for Battlefield 2 engine
Buffers : 4
Duration  25
Maximum Voice Court : 128

5. Open Soundblaster Connect software and tweak settings.
Like all other software these days this is kind of bloated with not needed features. Profiles that add many extra effects and adds more stress to the audio processing which may result in micro stutter and in worst case crash the game with wrong Alchemy settings




EAX5.0 is allready surround and 3D why add extra surround on top with other effects etc. + make the audio chain more muddy and longer ? I dont need extra bass or reverb to hear explosions louder or foot steps 200m away to sound like 50m away.




To skip all the extra processing disable Acoustic Engine and use Direct Mode if possible - setting also gives Lowest audio process respons time and best possible settings in Alchemy software

6. Starting FH2 and use ultra high audio for the first time.
After creative Alchemy FH2 profile enbled I could only change the audio settings in game to creative x-fi and ultra high setting. Not in the FH2 launcher when running the first time. After enabled in game no problem at next launch



Some times when joining a server ex CMP map or by joystickbutton in launcher. I get extra bathroom reverb effect that makes whole map sound like one big room.
 - Fix. Start FH2 with a stock map ex. 1 in list.After entering map -> disconnect and join multiplayer server
Rarely after many hours of FH2 with restarts and alt + tabs etc. Reverb bath room effect can be trippled and will not go away.
- Fix. Disable and enable audio device in windows device manager

7. Different settings and how to test
Playing with audio effects on is sure possible, but can add more micro clicks/stutter from time from time and adds latency to the audio processing
when in 1p mode find spots ingame with lots of action + sound. Moving mouse fast (shaking) from left to right and make 3d sound rotate fast from left to right and back) hear the 3d world and try to stress it :-)

ex. Purple Heart Lane map I have micro clicks in 1p with audio effects enabled
Try test with audio effects enabled and disabled and hear the difference in audio response time
The micro clicks in audio may not nesseary be a problem that can be fixed as some other players can have low quality mic audio or wrong setup. Nothing is perfect :-) 
When audio effects in soundblaster connect is added - game settings in Creative ALchemy may need also to be changed

Buffers : 5 or 6
Duration : 35 or higher like 40
Maximum Voice Court : 120 or maybe lower

If settings in Creative ALchemy are set wrong its possible to experience lower fps, in game experience slows down and can lag/freeze

8. Other EAX soundsettings in FH2 sound.con file
EA GAMES\Battlefield 2\mods\fh2\settings\Sound.con
sound.setProperty "balance2d3d-default" 0.55  (Only setting I changed so far. A little lower 1p gun sound to better hear squad voice chat & orders while intense fighting going on)

http://totalgamingnetwork.com/archive/index.php/t-68725.html
rem ** Balance between 2d and 3d samples.
sound.setProperty "balance2d3d-default" 0.8
sound.setProperty "balance2d3d-eax" 0.8
rem ** Reverb and obstruction
vars.set sound-maxreverb 3
vars.set sound-reverb-steepness 1
vars.set sound-raylength 17


9. Extra tips, tweaks & links
. Use a usb ports that does not share usbbus with other devices if possible and or try different ports. Both usb2 and usb3 type of ports works flawless for me in the motherboard ports on back side of pc
. Disable onboard audio device, bluetooth, webcam etc. in windows and bios if not needed
.Run Windows System Timer Tool in background while gaming. https://vvvv.org/contribution/windows-system-timer-tool
. RightMark Audio Ananlyser to benchmark audio http://audio.rightmark.org/download.shtml
.PCI or onboard audiocards Irq problems can be fixed
Windows: Line-Based vs. Message Signaled-Based Interrupts
https://forums.guru3d.com/threads/windows-line-based-vs-message-signaled-based-interrupts.378044/
MSI utility v2 http://www.mediafire.com/file/2kkkvko7e75opce/MSI_util_v2.zip to see possible irq conflicts.
This is not a tweak for every one. Be carefull with this tweak as it can mess up when done Wrong!



My IRQ settings in win 7 after turning the most devices into MSI mode

10. Is it worth it to upgrade to better audio in FH2 and other games ?
Satisfied by audio upgrade with SoundblasterX G6. Audio respons is as quick as the feeling of retro gaming in win Xp :-) Couple of bugs like hardware volume knob not working in win7 driver but do in win10 not a big deal for me. I have not tried testing the mic input much as I use a seperate usb mic
Dunno if its worth it. We all have different Ears. Im an audiophile and happy

TestVideo of different multiplayer action in ultra high sound quality https://youtu.be/Kv1TeLXrplQ

Video with sound of 255 bots in ultra high sound quality
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oBP1NEMhg1Q

Soundblaster X-Fi History https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sound_Blaster_X-Fi
What to get from Ultra High Sound quality in Battlefield 2 https://web.archive.org/web/20051211080841/http://www.soundblaster.com/products/x-fi/technology/battlefield2/

Offline Laboraffe

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Does it work without ALchemy since the X-Fi audio renderer should be routing to the OpenAL driver (ct_oal.dll) rather than the DirectSound3D wrapper (wrap_oal.dll)? If using the wrapper then there is a newer version than the "1.1 installer" which is package 2.07 including router 6.14.357.24 & wrapper 2.2.0.5, whereas 2.1.0 updates wrapper to 2.2.0.7.

Offline Alubat

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Did not work for me without Alchemy. When using Alchemy I think game uses BF2OpenAL.dll file.
I dont have any wrapper file wrap_oal.dll in my bf2 or fh2 install folders.

Offline Laboraffe

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wrap_oal.dll is installed to system along with OpenAL32.dll. Either can replace the original wrapper BF2OpenAL.dll as instructed, depending upon the hardware. It is strange that the direct router OpenAL32.dll and X-Fi renderer work yet require ALchemy since that effectively translates DirectSound3D to OpenAL; but BF2 is OpenAL so problems could be expected from extra processing. The originally intended hardware also requires Game Mode for X-Fi Ultra High so is there some equivalent setting? Probably the best result is without ALchemy and with the latest wrapper, even if limiting BF2 settings.

Offline Alubat

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ahh
wrap_oal.dll is installed and is version 2.2.0.7 probaly got installed with the newest openAL driver.
replacing with wrap_oal.dll in bf2 folder does not work in any way for me.
Alchemy works fast and flawless for me Im happy

I think "game mode" is similar to "direct mode"


Offline Alubat

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I got it working without Alchemy enabled. ( Stll thinks it use Alchemy settings some how )

I have found the proper Sens_oal files from https://www.azdll.net/files/sens-oal-dll.html and windows folders look like

C:\Windows\System32
OpenAL32.dll 120 KB
Sens_oal.dll 1.85 MB
( - not needed Ct_oal.dll 1.85 MB )
( - not needed wrap_oal.dll 455 Kb )

C:\Windows\SysWOW64
OpenAL32.dll 107 KB
Sens_oal.dll 1.572 KB
wrap_oal.dll 435 KB
( not needed Ct_oal.dll 1.572 KB )


https://community.pcgamingwiki.com/files/file/625-openal-tools/?

Moved game to C:\Program Files\EA GAMES\battlefield 2
Copied dsound.dll from C:\Program Files (x86)\Creative\ALchemy into \Battlefield 2 folder
(soft_oal.dll 966 KB) - Download & extract Newest soft_oal.dll file https://kcat.strangesoft.net/openal.html#download to a temporary folder and copy the file soft_oal.dll from inside bin\Win32\ to \Battlefield 2 folder (ex. needed when recording game incl. audio)


after gaming and quit I get a dsoundlog.txt in gamefolder
------------------------------------------
Logging Time : 30/4/2019 at 17:34:50


Using Creative Software 3D Library
DirectSoundCaptureEnumerateA - Passing to real dsound.dll
DirectSoundCaptureCreate - Passing to real dsound.dll

---------------------------------------------


Game works, but I have to try out some more settings :-)
« Last Edit: 21-07-2019, 01:07:17 by Alubat »

Offline Michael Z Freeman

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Also to add to the guide. Many players have noticed that with X-Fi hardware (as well os the X-Fi MB3 software) some maps have distorted reverb and EAX. This is due to a missing "Sounds.con" ...

1. The level should have this file (for example) "D:\SteamLibrary_Win10\steamapps\common\Battlefield 2\mods\aix2ex_mm\Levels\Dalian_plant\server.zip\Sounds.con". If it does not add it to the level "server.zip".

THIS FILE IS CONFIRMED *MISSING* IN MAPS THAT HAVE DISTORTED EAX.

The file contains ...

Code: [Select]
rem ------------------------------- Global Reverb ------------------------------
rem -----------------------------------------------------------------------------
sound.setReverb "common/sound/levelambients/Openlandscape.eax"
rem -----------------------------------------------------------------------------

This file defines the EAX setup.

2. Make sure the all important "Openlandscape.eax" is in "D:\SteamLibrary_Win10\steamapps\common\Battlefield 2\mods\bf2\Common_client.zip\Sound\LevelAmbients\". There is also "City.eax" for maps that have a more enclosed city environment.

Some have accused BF2/X-Fi/EAX being "bugged" when it comes to BF2 EAX. However this is not the case as I've seen this problem cleared up in multiple maps now using the above fix. Before, the reverb is distorted with sounds being heard right across the level. After the fix is applied this goes away and EAX is back with environmental reverb and sound occlusion.

Offline Leopardi

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Also to add to the guide. Many players have noticed that with X-Fi hardware (as well os the X-Fi MB3 software) some maps have distorted reverb and EAX. This is due to a missing "Sounds.con" ...

1. The level should have this file (for example) "D:\SteamLibrary_Win10\steamapps\common\Battlefield 2\mods\aix2ex_mm\Levels\Dalian_plant\server.zip\Sounds.con". If it does not add it to the level "server.zip".

THIS FILE IS CONFIRMED *MISSING* IN MAPS THAT HAVE DISTORTED EAX.

The file contains ...

Code: [Select]
rem ------------------------------- Global Reverb ------------------------------
rem -----------------------------------------------------------------------------
sound.setReverb "common/sound/levelambients/Openlandscape.eax"
rem -----------------------------------------------------------------------------

This file defines the EAX setup.

2. Make sure the all important "Openlandscape.eax" is in "D:\SteamLibrary_Win10\steamapps\common\Battlefield 2\mods\bf2\Common_client.zip\Sound\LevelAmbients\". There is also "City.eax" for maps that have a more enclosed city environment.

Some have accused BF2/X-Fi/EAX being "bugged" when it comes to BF2 EAX. However this is not the case as I've seen this problem cleared up in multiple maps now using the above fix. Before, the reverb is distorted with sounds being heard right across the level. After the fix is applied this goes away and EAX is back with environmental reverb and sound occlusion.
Good bit of info, at least Studienka was missing this file, now it can be fixed.

Offline Michael Z Freeman

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Cheers. I wrote this bash script to automatically check for the missing file. It has to be copied to the levels directory and "Sounds.con" needs to be in the directory above. This is using the official installable Linux console in Windows 10 ...

Code: [Select]
#!/bin/bash
# Iterate through zip files adding missing file that should be there.

# Change to directory that script was called from.
# cd $(dirname $0)
for i in `ls -d *`;
  do
    # Don't replace the file if it's already there.
    echo Scanning $i ...
    if ! zipinfo -1 $i/server.zip | grep -Fqx "Sounds.con"
    then
        echo Adding "Sounds.con" to $i ...
        zip -vu $i/server.zip ../Sounds.con
    fi
  done

Offline Alubat

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Also to add to the guide. Many players have noticed that with X-Fi hardware (as well os the X-Fi MB3 software) some maps have distorted reverb and EAX. This is due to a missing "Sounds.con" ...

1. The level should have this file (for example) "D:\SteamLibrary_Win10\steamapps\common\Battlefield 2\mods\aix2ex_mm\Levels\Dalian_plant\server.zip\Sounds.con". If it does not add it to the level "server.zip".

THIS FILE IS CONFIRMED *MISSING* IN MAPS THAT HAVE DISTORTED EAX.

The file contains ...

Code: [Select]
rem ------------------------------- Global Reverb ------------------------------
rem -----------------------------------------------------------------------------
sound.setReverb "common/sound/levelambients/Openlandscape.eax"
rem -----------------------------------------------------------------------------

This file defines the EAX setup.

2. Make sure the all important "Openlandscape.eax" is in "D:\SteamLibrary_Win10\steamapps\common\Battlefield 2\mods\bf2\Common_client.zip\Sound\LevelAmbients\". There is also "City.eax" for maps that have a more enclosed city environment.

Some have accused BF2/X-Fi/EAX being "bugged" when it comes to BF2 EAX. However this is not the case as I've seen this problem cleared up in multiple maps now using the above fix. Before, the reverb is distorted with sounds being heard right across the level. After the fix is applied this goes away and EAX is back with environmental reverb and sound occlusion.

Thx - You should have a medal!!

This is the solution I been looking for.
Adding Sounds.con fixes my audio issues (bathroom sound experience) in Custom maps like Berlin

Offline Michael Z Freeman

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Also to add to the guide. Many players have noticed that with X-Fi hardware (as well os the X-Fi MB3 software) some maps have distorted reverb and EAX. This is due to a missing "Sounds.con" ...

1. The level should have this file (for example) "D:\SteamLibrary_Win10\steamapps\common\Battlefield 2\mods\aix2ex_mm\Levels\Dalian_plant\server.zip\Sounds.con". If it does not add it to the level "server.zip".

THIS FILE IS CONFIRMED *MISSING* IN MAPS THAT HAVE DISTORTED EAX.

The file contains ...

Code: [Select]
rem ------------------------------- Global Reverb ------------------------------
rem -----------------------------------------------------------------------------
sound.setReverb "common/sound/levelambients/Openlandscape.eax"
rem -----------------------------------------------------------------------------

This file defines the EAX setup.

2. Make sure the all important "Openlandscape.eax" is in "D:\SteamLibrary_Win10\steamapps\common\Battlefield 2\mods\bf2\Common_client.zip\Sound\LevelAmbients\". There is also "City.eax" for maps that have a more enclosed city environment.

Some have accused BF2/X-Fi/EAX being "bugged" when it comes to BF2 EAX. However this is not the case as I've seen this problem cleared up in multiple maps now using the above fix. Before, the reverb is distorted with sounds being heard right across the level. After the fix is applied this goes away and EAX is back with environmental reverb and sound occlusion.

Thx - You should have a medal!!

This is the solution I been looking for.
Adding Sounds.con fixes my audio issues (bathroom sound experience) in Custom maps like Berlin

Cheers !

Yes "bathroom sound" is a good description. You must have a very echoey bathroom !

This fix truly brings back the full X-Fi/EAX experience. Works really well with the new Creative Super X-Fi virtual surround sound headphones.