Author Topic: The state of audio (OpenAL) in FreeSpace 2 Open  (Read 18206 times)

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Offline galneon

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Re: The state of audio (OpenAL) in FreeSpace 2 Open
I'm glad to see a thread like this here, and stickied no less.  I searched for a thread like this so I could create one extolling the virtues of OpenAL if one didn't already exist.  It gets a lot of flak, especially from developers trying to justify their use of inferior, but easier to implement, solutions like FMOD and Xaudio2, which are abominable in terms of positioning and realism but highly portable.

OpenAL Soft was updated last year to implement HRTF (head-related transfer function) support.  This results in headphones giving the wearer the impression that sounds are coming from in front of, behind, above, and under the user (and of course to the sides).  It works by simulating two microphones placed in the ears with all the dampening of sounds based on the shape of the ears and head that that would entail.  Basically, it emulates how people actually hear and how they process sounds from all directions with only two eardrums.  You can find HRTF demos on YouTube and they will work with stereo headphones of any quality.  I recommend listening to this one with headphones (and closed eyes):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IUDTlvagjJA

I used OpenAL Soft for headphones and for discrete 7.1 surround until I finally purchased Rapture3D.  It features HRTF (and other things) as well as "tinted reconstruction" which attempts to adapt HRTF to stereo, quadraphonic, 5.1, 7.1, etc. speaker setups to simulate some of the improved directional perceptions of HRTF (such as sounds coming from above and below the listener).  It also comes with more HRTF presets than OpenAL Soft, which can be important as certain HRTF datasets will mesh better with certain people for the simple reason that we all have different ear and head shapes.

Some games that have extraordinarily impressive positional audio via OpenAL that almost no one knows about (and none of these require a physical soundcard as I use HDMI or an onboard Realtek chip depending on what PC I'm on):

Thief: Gold
Thief 2
System Shock 2
S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Series (Clear Sky and Call of Pripyat are especially impressive)
Unreal Tournament 3
And of course FreeSpace Open

There are more.  These are the ones I've most recently enjoyed on both Windows 7 and 8.1.

Please don't dismiss OpenAL just because Creative bought and then attempted to bury it just like they did Aureal3D.  Unlike A3D, OpenAL is still under development, most notably by the OpenAL Soft developer(s) and the Rapture3D developer.  Most developers spend almost no time working on their engine's audio, but almost any game with OpenAL support has serious potential that can be unleashed using the right methods.  FMOD/wwise/XAudio2 may still be the future because developers find them so easy to work with and port, but it's a bleak one.  Anyone with a good reference point for positional audio who has played any triple AAA titles in the last 5+ years knows this :/

 
Re: The state of audio (OpenAL) in FreeSpace 2 Open
On my system the audio would often clip or get distorted in intense battles and especially during explosions. Using OpenAL Soft instead of the default OpenAL from Creative seems to fix this.

About HRTF, I've tried it with a couple of games now (FS2 included) and for some reason it makes everything sound a bit thin. Sort of like having everything run through a high-pass filter and taking out a good chunk of bass in the process. Other than that it works pretty well.

 

Offline Jackho

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Re: The state of audio (OpenAL) in FreeSpace 2 Open
Hi,

Haha! I'm glad I'd be curious enough to find this thread about sound while i'm searching for something else  :lol:
Now I finally got 5.1 sound placement after years of stereo in freespace. Good news!

A+
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Offline Bryan See

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Re: The state of audio (OpenAL) in FreeSpace 2 Open
Excuse me, I have something to tell you.

3D sounds usually have only one channel, that is mono. Nowadays, in most modern games, 3D sounds have more than one channel, I presume. So, this warning at sound.cpp, line 354 needs to be changed.
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Offline The E

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Re: The state of audio (OpenAL) in FreeSpace 2 Open
Excuse me, I have something to tell you.

3D sounds usually have only one channel, that is mono. Nowadays, in most modern games, 3D sounds have more than one channel, I presume. So, this warning at sound.cpp, line 354 needs to be changed.

No, it doesn't. Your presumption is wrong and based on an invalid interpretation of what a "3D sound" in FSO is.
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Re: The state of audio (OpenAL) in FreeSpace 2 Open
So this is old, but it's Google's most recommended hit for surround sound in the game.
I'm just going to say I'm dumb and I don't understand, but maybe also things have changed slightly since this was released? Is there an easier step by step guide? Or an updated one now that both the OpenAL soft and FSO have been updated? I'm just really unsure of how or what to do with the various 32 bit and 64 bit files and where to put them. I don't want to just monkey around with things and break stuff.

 

Offline jr2

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Re: The state of audio (OpenAL) in FreeSpace 2 Open
So this is old, but it's Google's most recommended hit for surround sound in the game.
I'm just going to say I'm dumb and I don't understand, but maybe also things have changed slightly since this was released? Is there an easier step by step guide? Or an updated one now that both the OpenAL soft and FSO have been updated? I'm just really unsure of how or what to do with the various 32 bit and 64 bit files and where to put them. I don't want to just monkey around with things and break stuff.

IIRC, You'll need the 32-bit .dll in the wxLauncher directory and the 64-bit in the FS2 directory (unless you're using a 32-bit FSO, in which case, just a 32-bit in the FSO directory will do fine).  There may be a specific subdirectory you're supposed to put it in.  Hop on the HLP Discord server and ask.

 

Offline AdmiralRalwood

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Re: The state of audio (OpenAL) in FreeSpace 2 Open
Current nightly builds include the OpenAL Soft DLL so it doesn't require any effort on the user's part.
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Offline jr2

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Re: The state of audio (OpenAL) in FreeSpace 2 Open
Current nightly builds include the OpenAL Soft DLL so it doesn't require any effort on the user's part.

Would just need a 32-bit in the wxLauncher folder then, right? (if the FSO build was 64-bit anyways)

 

Offline Gregster2k

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Re: The state of audio (OpenAL) in FreeSpace 2 Open
Just to throw my $0.02 in here, I can second everything Galneon said - I own a copy of Rapture3D "User" - bought it for $50(?) and it works w/ most OpenAL apps (not all, though - it worked with FS Open last I checked a few years ago). It continues to receive updates from Blue Ripple Sound (for free - buy once, get updates forever) and its HRTFs are, at least to my ears, the best 3D sound I've ever heard. I recommend using open-back headphones such as the Audio-Technica ATH-AD900X; closed-backs may sound muffled.

edit: For games which support 7.1 but not OpenAL, Razer Surround _kinda_ works but sounds inferior and in my exp. is laggy and glitchy (often turns itself off)

edit2: Can confirm putting 32bit in wxlauncher dir and 64-bit dll in FSO dir seems to be the way to go for any 3rd party OAL https://www.hard-light.net/forums/index.php?topic=94134.0
« Last Edit: December 26, 2017, 10:32:11 am by Gregster2k »