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Old 2008-03-31, 20:07   Link #1
You could say.....
Join Date: Apr 2007
Drivers/intellectual property

I consider myself to be one of the few Audiophiles on this forum, so I have had no dealings with Creative since 1995. But this concerns me as I use numerous 3rd party driver for gfx cards in particular which to my knowledge ATI and Nvidia are aware of and I wonder how this affects the numerous Linux users here.

Now certain functionality for hardware in my experience does not work in Linux as it is proprietary. Two that I know of is Dolby Digital LIVE! which converts mono/stereo to 5.1 Dolby Digital on the fly in high end sound cards and ATi's Universal Video Decoder which is hardware acceleration of video codecs.

If some clever bastard figures out a way to get full functionality for hardware on an opensource platform, where do they stand?
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Old 2008-04-01, 20:05   Link #2
Join Date: Dec 2005
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The whole issue here is that this guy was modifying Creative's closed source drivers, redistributing it, and asking for donations. All without Creative's permission.

This doesn't have any effect on Linux since the people writing drivers aren't taking hardware companies' software, modifying and redistributing it while asking for money.

I hate Creative as much as the next guy and hate the way in which they went about stopping the guy from distributing the drivers but they were within their rights IMO. However much it may suck they purposefully disable functionality in lower-end and older cards to sell new ones. They're in the game to make money.

I used to have a SB Live! card but incompatibilities with VIA chipsets meant either static on audio or, better yet, data corruption on IDE drives when sound played. I ditched that card for a Turtle Beach Santa Cruz. I got tired of the piss-poor Linux support so I got an Audigy. I also that until Vista came out. The beta drivers that were available crashed constantly. I couldn't get more than 2 channel output. It was what you might call weak. I couldn't buy any newer Creative cards like the X-Fi since they weren't supported in Linux at all. I have fallen back to using onboard sound on my PC. The sound quality on my speakers isn't appreciably different in Windows (slightly sucks in Linux).
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Old 2008-04-01, 20:38   Link #3
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Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: Northeast USA
Age: 31
Epyon9283 basically summed up why this was a big problem - the drivers were closed-source. The graphics card makers are open-sourcing their drivers, which largely removes much of their ability to throw lawsuits around at people who modify them (theoretically it should completely remove their ability to throw lawsuits, but I don't know what licensing conditions the drivers are opened under). I think they may also be turning to hardware-based approaches to cripple cards. I don't know if I read it here or somewhere else, but someone stated that with a lower-end ATI card you could resolder a single connector and then you'd have a higher-end ATI card. Interestingly, the system even recognized it as the higher end card. Since that requires "hardware hacking" you're immediately narrowing down the group of people who can (and are willing to) do it to an incredibly slim number. If the companies get burned by this more often, that'll probably be their solution.

On the subject of sound, are sound cards really necessary these days? If you want to do some really special stuff (7.1 digital audio, let's say) I can understand the need for them, but hasn't on-board sound become rather good as it is? I can remember a few years back hearing that nVidia's on-board "SoundStorm" in the nForce 2 was one of the best audio solutions available, even when compared with dedicated sound cards. Unfortunately nVidia discontinued that. But for the audiophiles, do soundcards really make that much of a difference?

I'm not asking from a practical standpoint, either. Obviously if you have crummy speakers the world's greatest soundcard won't sound any different than the world's worst on-board sound. But let's say you have decent speakers that don't have special requirements - is on-board sound really that bad?

(Side note: for some reason we have digital speakers (Altec Lansing) at my work, the only ones I've ever seen. Sadly they were dumped on during a sewer leak, and although they're in working order they've been quarantined on a shelf I think that our G5 is the only system we have that works with them though - laser connectors are really neat.)
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Old 2008-04-01, 23:39   Link #4
You could say.....
Join Date: Apr 2007
On-board sound is quite good, that's why Creative is in financial trouble. Audiophiles won't touch them, average joe won't buy them as its overkill and they are facing competition from all fronts such as Asus Xonar, Auzuntech and a few others. Vista has also killed them.

It does and it doesn't IMO, some features don't exist on onboard sound. Nforce2 had the DDL system AFAIK as well. The DDL system is quite good particularly if you like to listen to Live DVD concerts. For recording they are a godsend. What you pay for really is the opamp on these cards, and to I could write an essay about this but simply put help determine overall sound quality as they process the audio. I guess I could liken it to the preamp stage of a Class AB Vacuum tube amplifier if you're familiar with ancient tech. Like listening to a digital guitar amp vs a vacuum tube amp. There's a difference but it isn't as pronounced to someone who's not looking for it.

Put it this way, if you're not after anything in particular stick with onboard. I like my mp3's, cd's and anime in Dolby Digital and in a big room I like the spatial variation. A lot of my source material is in stereo as well. NOw if you mainly watch DVD's/HDTV broad casts well almost all of them are in Dolby Digital so it isn't worth it in this app.

No matter what anyone says IMO 80% of sound quality is a direct result of the source. Followed by output processing and ouput speakers then environment.
Before you ask "How do I convert fansubs to...." see the following
MP4 -
Convert AVI/MKV/MP4 to DVD
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