View Full Version : EAX sound

24th Aug 2002, 13:52
I've just installed my new sound card (Creative Blaster 4.1 with EAX) and all went well, no IRQ conflics, 3d sound enabled etc.
I have a two speaker system.
So I started ThiefGold and in Options was able to switch Audio Hardware on (for the first time ever!). I also made sure EAX was enabled.
So I jumped into the training mission, and jumped up and down to test the sound of my feet in various rooms.

The problem is, I cannot tell any difference between EAX on and EAX off.
So what is EAX supposed to sound like and what might be going wrong?

24th Aug 2002, 14:59
Hard to describe how something should or should not sound on a message board, but I'll see if I can help you out.

When you installed your card, you should've also installed a bunch of software along with it, yes? In my Creative folder I've got a bunch of things ... Audio HQ, Diagnostics, Surround Mixer, etc.

Look for something called EAX Control Panel or similar. There are some baseline EAX environment settings there that you should be able to test out. Try setting it to "Auditorium" and then to other various settings while playing some audio through your card.

I don't know if any of this will help you at all, but it might give you some ideas of what the card should and should not be able to accomplish. Basically, EAX can process sound to give it the illusion of coming from or existing in a certain amount of space. It can be pretty subtle, especially in a 2-speaker setup.

Also, I have a Live! card, and just found out that there were new drivers posted - dated July 2002 I think. If you haven't already downloaded them I suggest you do so.


- Kas.

24th Aug 2002, 15:12

24th Aug 2002, 17:25
I have a Creative Audigy with EAX, and I have had some negative experiences with it.

EAX is primarily an echo effect. I don't like it because, depending on the implementation in a particular Thief mission, footsteps can have an unnatural, exaggerated echo sound. If it does enhance 3-D audio positioning, I haven't noticed it. I liked my Aureal Vortex 2 card better, but unfortunately it does not work in Windows 2000.

I believe that some Thief missions are coded with EAX capability and some are not. I think it requires special effort by the FM developer to put it in. That may be why you are not hearing it.

I have been trying to do the opposite - to disable EAX. It seems to have a mind of its own. The EAX control center does not affect the volume level of the EAX, at least not in the Win 2000 drivers (which have not been updated since January 2002). The control center seems to have ways to affect the properties of the echo, but I could not get it to do what I wanted. The only way I can find to minimize the problem is to turn it off in the Thief menu.

As a result of these and some other issues, I deinstalled all of Creative's software other than the bare bones drivers, and it seems to work better for me. The Audigy may be decent hardware, but I think their software leaves a lot to be desired.

Perhaps the Live series has better drivers and you can do what you want with it. Good luck.

24th Aug 2002, 17:56
I have a Creative Audigy and it works great with both Thief games, When I play Thief, I set my EAX to “Auditorium” in the surround mixer. This makes the game sound great! You really need a 4 speaker set up to really enjoy the Thief experience IMO. With 4 speakers you can locate a guards position even before you see him…great stuff!

Why don’t you try some different EAX settings on the rooms in your FM. Select a room brush and hold down crtl and press F1-F12 for the different EAX settings. Build your room database and see if you get the different echos? Something like “caverns” or “tunnels” should give you a long echo while something like “small dead” shouldn’t!

24th Aug 2002, 18:07

Is this greatness under Win 98 or Win 2000? If it is 98, that might explain our differences in experience. 98 drivers are updated more frequently. Also, maybe the four speakers have something to do with the effectiveness of EAX, as you say.

I have only two speakers. I will have to take your advice about four speakers seriously. I'm curious.... Where and how do you place the rear speakers so you can avoid tripping on them? Do you use stands?

24th Aug 2002, 21:34
I can't find anywhere that will let me tweek the card's EAX settings.

I've also found that my footsteps don't sound very load now.

I will play around with it a bit more.
Perhaps it's also because I am using analogue output.

24th Aug 2002, 21:54
Originally posted by Zaccheus
I can't find anywhere that will let me tweek the card's EAX settings.

I've also found that my footsteps don't sound very load now.

I will play around with it a bit more.
Perhaps it's also because I am using analogue output.

OPEN the Creative task bar EAX control. If you only loaded the drivers then you don't have it. But there is a control for the Mixer, Recorder, EAX, Environment and other stuff.

All the Creative boards in the last few years have had them, and the Live and SB Audigy definitely have.

24th Aug 2002, 21:55
Hi Peter, Win ME to be precise...I know, I know it’s terrible but I’m not shelling out for XP! When T3 comes out I’ll upgrade my system then :D One word of note I’ve got my speakers set up digitally not analogue, this makes a world of difference. As for how I’ve set up my speakers up?....well pictures (http://www.culn01.freeserve.co.uk/Computer.jpg) speak louder than words :D The little black box is a Creative desktop theatre 5.1 from Cambridge Soundworks, this more than does the trick :)

24th Aug 2002, 21:58
Whoa RiCH. You are a certified NEATNIK. Looks good, but compared to the jungle where my computer lives, it's and operating theater for major surgery. LOL

25th Aug 2002, 03:12
Originally posted by RiCh
pictures (http://www.culn01.freeserve.co.uk/Computer.jpg)

Oooooh, I have to get one of those L-shaped desks. :cool:

I had the same problem as Peter with my 4.1 speakers, I kept tripping over wires and kicking over the little tripods. So I just went back to a 2 speaker setup. That L-shaped playing area looks pretty effective though, I might have to get something like that working.

Oh, and I think I'll add a Matrox Parhelia with an extra monitor on each side, too. :D Must get ready for DX2 and T3... ;)

- Kas.

25th Aug 2002, 03:48
Thanks for the picture, Rich. That's a very nice setup. Very neat, too.:)

As a matter of fact, I have been thinking about a new office arrangement in a new house. I had recently rejected a corner desk as not the best ergonomic solution for me. I got into a big hassle with that in my work office. The problem was the height of the keyboard and monitor. I like them both low for easy typing and use of bifocals. Most fixed corner desks are too high for me, and the adjustable ones do not have enough width in the keyboard area, so they jam you on the side when you use your mouse. The fix was to use a straight 60 inch adjustable table, not in the corner. Your speaker arrangement will not work that way.

Now I am going to have to re-think all of that.:) There is money to be made in computer furniture design. Most of it is so bad....

25th Aug 2002, 07:01
If you installed your new sound card and/or drivers AFTER Thief then you might have to reinstall a fresh copy of Thief. I have on many occasions updated my sound card drivers only to incur defects in EAX support in Thief. For the latest SBLive drivers that I installed, I could hardly hear my footfalls and many sounds were muffled. I uninstalled Thief (but copied the allsaves subdirectory), cleaned up, and reinstalled Thief and now the sound is good again. If you replacing the sound card and drivers, you're doing even more hardware surgery.

25th Aug 2002, 08:12
Originally posted by Vanguard
If you installed your new sound card and/or drivers AFTER Thief then you might have to reinstall a fresh copy of Thief. I have on many occasions updated my sound card drivers only to incur defects in EAX support in Thief. For the latest SBLive drivers that I installed, I could hardly hear my footfalls and many sounds were muffled. I uninstalled Thief (but copied the allsaves subdirectory), cleaned up, and reinstalled Thief and now the sound is good again. If you replacing the sound card and drivers, you're doing even more hardware surgery.

Yep, that is exactly what is happening to me, too.
I will try that, thanks.

Well, I got the latest drivers, and I tried what Vanguard suggested, but I'm still getting those muffled sounds and no real echo.

I might ask at work if someone can lend me a digital speaker system so I get try that out.

25th Aug 2002, 09:13
With four speakers, do your footsteps seem to come from behind you?
I've just done the 3D sound test, and sounds which are meant to xome from behind you sound quite muffled.

25th Aug 2002, 10:10
My computer desk is tidy for two reasons:

1. It’s Summertime, less use less mess :D
2. I’m not DromEding :D Did someone say bomb site?

Peter your correct about the height of the desk it is quite high and from time to time I do suffer from aching arms. When this happens a place the keyboard and mouse and the chair arms and this seems to work!

Zac right click on your volume in your task bar by your clock. Select ‘Adjust audio Properties’ then where it says Sound playback click ‘advanced’ Speaker set-up select Quadraphonic Speakers, press apply that should solve your problem. That’s if you do have 4 speakers? What card do you have Live or Audigy? I can’t remember the Live but in Audigy load up your surround mixer and select a 4 speaker output then test the channels you should get the front left front right rear left rear right coming out of the equivalent speaker. This should solve your problem? It sounds like your have your speaker setup as 2 instead of 4!

25th Aug 2002, 10:23
Zac, even though I said digital output puts analogue to shame. With an analogue output you should still have clear sounds and good audio performance. Digital just makes everything clearer, louder and better quality. When I first had my Live when Thief first came out I used analogue for ages before eventually switching to digital and everything was great! Have you selected the maximum playback channels in your creative taskbar? I can’t remember how to do it on the Live now, but make sure you set it to maximum number of payback channels, 32 if I remember correctly?

25th Aug 2002, 11:15
Thanks for your help, guys.

Ok, I have a very simple analogue two speaker system.

In my task tray, I have the Creative Mixer, and in Start>Programs>Creative I have Sound Blaster PCI>Creative Configurator.

Creative Configurator has two tabs:
One lets me chose between WaveSet v4 (4MB) and GM/GS WaveSet v5 (8MB), selecting either gives me an 'unknown error'.
The other lets me chose between head phones, two speaker and 4 speaker system.
That's all I can find, but I will have another look on the CD.

25th Aug 2002, 12:32
Well you can tell I’m bored this Sunday afternoon, with my football match cancelled I fired up DromEd. I made several rooms with stone floors and different EAX settings on the room bushes. I tried 4 different set-ups to see the difference:

2 speakers no EAX effect:

Made sure that both my creative surround mixer and my windows volume where both set to 2 speakers, played my level. There’s a slight difference between the rooms but it’s not exactly amazing! I can’t believe how bad this sounds compared to a 4-speaker set-up.

2 speakers ‘auditorium’ EAX effect:

This helped create a better sounding echo but again, it’s not great.

4 speakers no EAX effect:

Changing back to my original 4 speaker set-up and playing the game immediately improves the EAX experience the difference between the rooms is more profound and the echoing effect goes from the front speakers to the back…good stuff.

4 speakers ‘auditorium’ EAX effect:

This is the setting I play Thief with and it sounds fantastic. The extra ‘auditorium’ EAX setting makes Thief a joy to play. With deep echoing footsteps when in rooms with ‘caverns’ or ‘large live’ EAX settings on them. And short or no echo with rooms with ‘small dead’ on them.


If you have a 3d sound card and only 2 speakers you’re not using it to its full potential it’s as simple as that! I seriously don’t think I could play thief without 4 speakers now. Personally ‘sound’ in Thief is just, if not more important than the graphics. Not just because you can find out the direction of the guards and which way they’re going. But it’s also the tension 4 speakers creates. Imagine your lock picking a door and you can hear footsteps slowly getting louder and louder in your rear speakers, its great stuff believe me. Having 4 speakers will transform the way you play and experience Thief, and in fact any other game that supports EAX (most if not all games now)

A perfect FM to play with 4 speakers is ‘Equilibrium’ with its almost invisible AI sound probably becomes more important than sight when trying to locate the AI. I’ve played this FM more than any other because of the tension it creates.

If you can afford em buy em! If you can’t, save up for them because it’s well worth it!

25th Aug 2002, 13:52
For my SBLive, the Creative driver/software installs includes Audio HQ. Run that and there should be a selection to configure how many speakers you have. If you have only 2 front speakers, make sure to configure it that way; otherwise, part of the signal may be going to nonexistent rear speakers.

I have heard some users find that ensuring Windows sound is setup the same way also helps. Under the Sounds and Multimedia control panel applet (or whatever it is called for your version of Windows), you should find an Audio panel or similar where you can configure the advanced properties of the audio output device (i.e., your sound card). Make sure your sound card is selected, not an emulated device. Also make sure the speaker setup is correct; with only 2 front speakers, select "Desktop stereo speakers". Check under the advanced tab that hardware acceleration is set at full and sample rate is at Good (the higher the sample rate, the more crunching is needed).

Did you replace a sound card with this new one? Or were you using onboard audio (on the motherboard)? If it was onboard audio, make sure you have disabled it.

Is it a VIA chipset on your motherboard? If so, do you have the latest 4-in-1 drivers installed for VIA? If not and you need to install them, you might also have to reinstall the audio drivers again but after the VIA driver install.

Are you using any kind of game commander software that adjusts audio/video when you start a game and readjusts it when you exit?

What version of DirectX do you have installed? Run diagx.exe to find out. Although Thief doesn't require more than the feature set provided by DirectX 6.0, your audio drivers may require DirectX 8.0 or 8.1. I don't know if your audio driver/software install includes DirectX or it assumes you have the minimal version installed.

If your BIOS was enabled for ACPI (Advanced Configuration and Power Interface) when you installed Windows NT-2K-XP, you don't get to adjust the IRQs automatically assigned to the sharable (PCI) devices. However, if you are running Windows 9x-ME then you can change the IRQ used by a device. Try to put the sound card on its own IRQ, preferrably IRQ 5. If there is another IRQ free after moving the sound card to its own IRQ, also try moving the video card to its own IRQ. This is done in Device Manager.

25th Aug 2002, 14:57
Vanguard, you are the best. ;)
I will check those things out.

28th Aug 2002, 12:25
Well, I have tried just about everything but still no joy.

A few more interesting little facts:
In the ThiefGold training mission, if I stand with my back to one of the instructors when he speaks, his voice is very echoy and sounds great, but if I stand facing him he sounds normal.
Also, with EAX / hardware support On, the speaker test sounds more echoy than otherwise.
I can only hear my footsteps clearly when I turn hardware support off.
I still cannot find the EAX control panel anywhere.
I've now also got the patched Thief2 running, same problems there.

28th Aug 2002, 12:59
The precise nature of the problem is not clear to me. I do not think you have told us whether or not you installed the Audio HQ software or whether you can find the Audio HQ software, which is where the EAX control tab is located.

The creative blaster 4.1 is a designation used only in Europe. I think we are assuming that this is the same as the Soundblaster Live series in the US. I think the advice above applies to the Live series.

I can say for sure that with the Audigy series, which has similar software, there is an EAX control tab within the Audio HQ control software that you get when you install Creative's complete software set. It is not a separate control panel, but is obtained within Audio HQ, which in turn is available from Start / Programs / Creative. I don't recall whether it is in a Control Panel too. I have deinstalled mine. You do not get Audio HQ if you install just the bare drivers, as I have done, but I remember the Audio HQ well from before I de-installed it.

I am pretty sure, but I cannot verify it now, that the Audio HQ / EAX control is also present with the install of the Live series complete drivers and software. I have that software on another machine that is 1000 miles away.

I don't know about the Blaster 4.1

I would do two things. First, verify that the Blaster 4.1 is equivalent to the Live and has the same software. Second, ask someone from tech support, either your reseller or Creative, why you do not find Audo HQ. Or if you do find it, why you cannot find the EAX tab.

28th Aug 2002, 21:39
Will do.

The Audio HQ software is certainly not installed, but I will have another look for it on the CD tomorrow.

4th Feb 2003, 11:45
Thanks all of your comment here.
Guess what. Playing Thief 1 & 2 already lots with Soundblaster Live but never put on EAX cause it sounded toooo echo.
Now i read here to use the setting [Auditorium], its amazing...
echo sound when in tunnels and stuff, and no echo when
just in open space. Love it!
Now im still thinking about going to buy 4 speakers instead of 2,
then play all Thief stuff all over again.



5th Feb 2003, 01:40
There are arguments about too much echo or wrong depth when using EAX, but what makes it shine is having front AND rear speakers. Focusing your view in one direction while monitoring what is happening behind you or being able to track the location of an AI only works well if you can hear like you normally would. One time the EAX got disabled but I didn't realize it. I was having a he<I></I>ll of a time getting through an FM because I kept getting caught or killed by an AI that snuck up on me. That's because I couldn't hear them coming up from behind. I kept thinking there were somewhere ahead of me because the front speakers were the only ones playing the sounds. Turned on the EAX, the rear speakers came on, and it was like finally getting your ears to pop clear after they've been plugged by a cold or after landing from an air flight. Wow, what a difference.

5th Feb 2003, 11:51
Thanks for the highlight man! Now im getting more and more convinced to get 4 speakers instead of 2.