Creative EAX Aureal 3D and others in old games

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Kristijonas
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Creative EAX Aureal 3D and others in old games

Post by Kristijonas »

Hello, I've only found out about ReactOS 4 minutes ago so excuse my ignorance but I think I have a valid question already.

I was intrigued by reading ReactOS is based on old Windows server 2003 version.

As a lover of old games I have to ask: Which version of directx is used by ReactOS? Is it customized specifically for ReactOS?

And very important: Since Vista, Windows bypassed audio processing which made sound cards a bit obsolete. This also made many special 3D sounds such as A3D (Aureal 3D) and EAX (by Creative) to stop working in many games. How is audio processed in ReactOS? Perhaps it will be processed just like in the old Windows OSs and it will be the perfect OS for old games and EAX and A3D will be possible to be enjoyed natively on it?

Thank you!

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EmuandCo
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Re: Creative EAX Aureal 3D and others in old games

Post by EmuandCo »

Hello and welcome.
As you might already know we are still Alpha quality software and thus don't expect anything from it yet, more be happy for everything which works. ^^
DirectX is not really existent yet. We have OpenGL acceleration and by abusing it with Wine's wrapper code we "have" DX9 as XP/2003 has too.
Right now the very unstable audio code is still based on the XP/2003 one, but this will and has to change to newer interfaces to stay on par. We try to mimic WIndows and by doing that we have to follow the recent interfaces. One of these is the Vista Audio architecture. I still don't get it why ppl tend to say it's crap. It's waaaaay advanced compared to WinMM. Only flaw is that you cannot use propietary extensions like all that Creative made EAX crap anymore at all. For this you need wrapper which exist for Vista.
ReactOS is still in alpha stage, meaning it is not feature-complete and is recommended only for evaluation and testing purposes.

PurpleGurl
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Re: Creative EAX Aureal 3D and others in old games

Post by PurpleGurl »

Is there any way one could provide compatibility to the older proprietary hardware without breaking the newer implementation when it comes? Like right now is the discussion about the shim engine and providing limited compatibility beyond our target on a per application basis. If they don't work or don't play well with what we have, then don't support them at all. So, is there any way to provide the older audio support for the apps to need it once we switch to a Vista or higher target?

I love Windows 7 for the most part, and I can strip it down to have the look and feel of XP. But where I have a problem with the audio handling is that is makes things more complicated. In XP, the mixer just combined all streams and you get volume controls per device. Now you get controls on a per app basis, which I find silly. Plus it provides extra "help" that is very difficult to turn off. If I want the sound to drop when I use MagicJack or browse to Netflix, I am quite capable of altering the sound myself. Why can't I listen to sound while on the phone or watching a movie? Whose job is it to decide what I want for me? And even worse happens when you try to keep the sound going on a streaming movie while playing a game with sound....Windows Audio crashes. It seems to have a difficult time dealing with multiple apps wanting sound. XP didn't try to micromanage the sound -- it just mixed all the streams on the same channels/devices together, and you could adjust the volume of each in their own app. So if there were a way to do it the XP way, even in Vista/7 and hide that fact from the OS, then I'd love to see that. Just give the simpler XP mixer and all and let me make up for the conflicts or whatever manually.

Kristijonas
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Re: Creative EAX Aureal 3D and others in old games

Post by Kristijonas »

EmuandCo wrote: Right now the very unstable audio code is still based on the XP/2003 one, but this will and has to change to newer interfaces to stay on par. We try to mimic WIndows and by doing that we have to follow the recent interfaces. One of these is the Vista Audio architecture. I still don't get it why ppl tend to say it's crap. It's waaaaay advanced compared to WinMM. Only flaw is that you cannot use propietary extensions like all that Creative made EAX crap anymore at all.
Not just EAX but also A3D and possibly several others. As for it being a crappy audio system in those old Windows, many would disagree. At least in the gaming community old game sound quality and their direct access to sound cards is considered a big plus. Naturally I was just curious if ReactOS would potentially work like those old Windows and EAX for example would be natively supported for Creative sound cards. Will be following development to see which way it goes! If audio goes the way of old Windoms systems, ReactOS might become the perfect Windows retro gaming machine for me.

Also as for EAX being crappy I guess it depends on a particular game and listeners ear. However better positional sound as provided by this technology in many games is a big advantage and an immersion/atmosphere part. Aureal 3D implementations are even better at least in my own experience. For example Thief2: The Metal Age supports both EAX and A3D and the latter sounds really great.
There are software solutions to enable both even in Windows 10 but people say software solutions aren't as good as hardware ones.

TVA
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Re: Creative EAX Aureal 3D and others in old games

Post by TVA »

How are the audio processing of XP and vista different? And what makes post-vista audio bad for older games?

Kristijonas
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Re: Creative EAX Aureal 3D and others in old games

Post by Kristijonas »

As far as I understand it (which is little), hardware acceleration of audio was no longer supported in Vista. Instead, all the audio was and is now processed by CPU and Windows. It is now generally called "software processing" of audio. There are two possible problems with that:

1. Proprietary hardware based audio solutions of old games that depended on very specific hardware algorithms - no longer work. Examples of such are EAX and A3D as I've mentioned (but not just them). These technologies add reverb/environment effects as well as better sound positioning. Here is a short example video
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vmk3dFQHX0I

2. While this is uncomfirmed, some people claim that old games were made to interact with very specific audio hardware architectures (specific sound cards) and as such audio quality parameters as well as the fullness of sounds being heard is only possible with that hardware - that games that were made before Windows Vista sound poorer without hardware acceleration.

This does not mean however that post-Vista audio sounds anyway worse otherwise. The only issue is with old games that were made before Vista and were made with hardware acceleration in mind - not software audio solutions which WIndows intercepts and attempts to supplement.

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EmuandCo
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Re: Creative EAX Aureal 3D and others in old games

Post by EmuandCo »

There won't be any way to bypass this. The new audio system is mandatory for recent DirectSound support which is more important than any EAX stuff. So only way you have is a software emulator sooner or later. Up to now we still sit on a unstable semi ready XP based architecture, but this will change.
ReactOS is still in alpha stage, meaning it is not feature-complete and is recommended only for evaluation and testing purposes.

LuxenDM
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Re: Creative EAX Aureal 3D and others in old games

Post by LuxenDM »

Wait, so I should take this audio card of mine out of my main PC, if hardware accelleration is a no-go?

PurpleGurl
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Re: Creative EAX Aureal 3D and others in old games

Post by PurpleGurl »

So there's no way we could support the new format in a way that can make use of hardware acceleration?

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EmuandCo
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Re: Creative EAX Aureal 3D and others in old games

Post by EmuandCo »

The "new" format is a global software based mixer and this one is there and you cannot skip it unless you wanna break the whole thing in pieces. So... nope.
ReactOS is still in alpha stage, meaning it is not feature-complete and is recommended only for evaluation and testing purposes.

PurpleGurl
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Re: Creative EAX Aureal 3D and others in old games

Post by PurpleGurl »

So no way to make them work together....okay. And I guess if the support in question is closed source and obsolete, then there's no way to black box reverse engineer it and make a driver that can be used by Windows. It seems we could modify the global software emulated code to where it could outwardly be compatible enough. But I'm no developer. It is a damn shame it seems that they deliberately locked out hardware acceleration.

TVA
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Re: Creative EAX Aureal 3D and others in old games

Post by TVA »

Kristijonas wrote:As far as I understand it (which is little), hardware acceleration of audio was no longer supported in Vista....
Interesting, thank you.

Will it be possible to make both audio systems coexist in the same machine? Like allowing the user to assign what audio system a program will use.

Tobi
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Re: Creative EAX Aureal 3D and others in old games

Post by Tobi »

TVA wrote:
Kristijonas wrote:As far as I understand it (which is little), hardware acceleration of audio was no longer supported in Vista....
Interesting, thank you.

Will it be possible to make both audio systems coexist in the same machine? Like allowing the user to assign what audio system a program will use.
+1 ;)

On the GUI side, it could be assigned in the program's properties - compatibility page.

How dependent is this audio system/mixing stuff to the sound driver's model (XP vs. Vista, or UMDF/KMDF 1.9 vs. above (as far as I understand)) ?

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EmuandCo
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Re: Creative EAX Aureal 3D and others in old games

Post by EmuandCo »

So dependent that we are unable to sync DSOUND with Wine head because they switched over to Vista+ model. This is impossible without waay too much hassle to be of any use
ReactOS is still in alpha stage, meaning it is not feature-complete and is recommended only for evaluation and testing purposes.

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