WOW Mac 5.1 Sound?

Discussion in 'Games' started by G5guy, Dec 22, 2004.

  1. G5guy macrumors member

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2004
    #1
    I just received as an early gift the Logitech z-5500 5.1 speaker set. Being a computer gaming fan, I also have 3 WOW games for me and my 2 sons. I have the dual 2 Ghz G5 and hooked up the system to the optical out. Will this provide 5.1 sound or do I need a sound card also ( I hope not). I want to be set up before we go online and I can't find the info in any Blizzard tech support forum.

    Rob?? :)

    Thanks,
    Jim
     
  2. rbarris macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Oct 28, 2003
    Location:
    Irvine CA
    #2
    You can't get surround sound from a game via the optical output. The optical link is inherently a two-channel format - things like DVD's that have had their 5.1 soundtrack pre-encoded into Dolby DTS two-channel form can and do work with the optical out, as long as the attached speakers have a DTS decoder. A game has no easy way to encode on the fly into DTS form and so you will only get stereo by that route.

    It would be nice if OS X could do this automatically inside Core Audio but as I understand it this would entail licensing fees to Dolby.

    WoW supports surround sound on true multichannel output devices such as the Revolution 5.1 and 7.1 sound cards, and there will be some news in this product area at Macworld in January that should be interesting.
     
  3. G5guy thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2004
    #3
    Thanks Rob!

    I spent most of the day searching for this kind of info on the Mac to no avail. I really appreciate this reply and I am sure others will learn from it as well. I agree it would be great if Core Audio included a way to do this. I would think DTS might allow it for free just to get it into the public eye more so than it is now. Apple could just pay them for technical support. Since I have a dual processor system I don't care if my 2nd one is used a "sound chip" on these kinds of games. I notice BF1942 can use up to 20% of my 2nd processor for sound when I enable 64 channels. I would think WOW would be similar.

    I guess I will have to save up to buy a sound card after MWSF! It would be great if EAX was licensed, but I am not holding my breath. :)

    Jim
     
  4. rbarris macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Oct 28, 2003
    Location:
    Irvine CA
    #4
    Concretely speaking what would the EAX feature offer you as a player, that you feel you are missing out on now?
     
  5. G5guy thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2004
    #5
    I guess as a player I want as many games as possible that are ported to be up to par with the PC version. If Mac OS X used the same API's (like OpenGL is common) maybe this would be easier. Perhaps this helps having all the same sound effects.

    What I really care about most is hardware accelerated sound channels to offload cpu (this for the single cpu crowd) and 5.1/7.1 sound support. The Aspyr folks said Mac OS X does not support 5.1 without a hack (I asked about Doom 3 5.1 support - and the guy said no!). Is this true? Is OpenAL a hack that is needed or will Core Audio do it? I read in a forum that 5.1 was supported on G5s with Panther.
     
  6. rbarris macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Oct 28, 2003
    Location:
    Irvine CA
    #6
    I can't speak as to how other games do things but Mac WoW is based simply on Core Audio. Core Audio is Apple's baby and as such has Apple engineers working on it, tuning it for AltiVec and SMP, great stuff like that.

    OpenAL on the Mac as I understand it is presently based on Core Audio. i.e. it's a translation layer. So, for a developer with an OpenAL based game in hand, porting might be made simpler by way of using OpenAL. But from a features or performance point of view I don't see one path as all that different from the other.

    If you have a multichannel 5.1 output setup on your Mac and have all the speakers properly assigned in the Audio/MIDI setup program, WoW will give you surround sound out of the box. Location-specific reverb is something we're working on and I would acknowledge that as a specific feature that we are presently missing in comparison to the PC version. Beyond that I have a hard time finding anythign else missing sound-wise.

    As to hardware acceleration, this is an interesting one because the machines that would potentially benefit the most (iMacs and laptops) don't have the slots to accomodate such a device. I could get some numbers as to what our sound processing CPU load is, but my honest quick recollection is that with the latest OSX, it is pretty darn low even with the surround sound processing and so we don't worry about it too much. I'm a little more focused on tuning up the graphics end of things, there are much bigger wins to be had there.

    And if you are on a dual processor machine, my belief is that you are not missing out on anything with respect to sound acceleration, Core Audio can use the spare cycles just fine and keep those AltiVec units busy.
     
  7. G5guy thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2004
    #7
    Thanks Rob for your informative reply. I hope Aspyr and others will support 5.1 sound as well. I played Battlefield 1942 on my PC in 5.1 and there is a major experience difference compared to 2.1. The Mac version does not support it. I did notice that when I used 'hardware acceleration' on the PC, I was limited to 32 sound channels where I could get 64 otherwise. I have the Audigy 2 ZS card too which isn't old.

    I understand there is a major driver issue with OpenGL on Mac. Here is my forum topic:
    Mac-PC OpenGL Performance
    I think Apple would be set if they fixed the display list part of OpenGL now that they support OpenGL v.1.5. In another forum, I read that the difference between Quadro and Geforce drivers is the Quadro uses SSE/SSE2 code while the geforce uses the basic scalar FP code. Apple could be king using Altivec for their drivers! Perhaps you could mention this to your Apple contacts. :) This would not only help games but professional apps. Openmark is a great tool to status progress on the issue. I am sure the author would supply the code to you if you wanted it.

    As an aside, my boys and I are now addicted to WOW and rarely play Halo2 which they also just received as a gift. It reminds me of the good-old Diablo 2 days of long sleepless nights. If only there were a Diablo 3 to play...<hint hint> ;)
     

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