3D Audio for Gaming
Rapture3D and Games
Rapture3D includes an "OpenAL driver". This is a piece of software that can be loaded into a computer game to look after sound placement. The game tells Rapture3D what sounds should be playing where and when, and Rapture3D gets on with the mathematics to make that happen.
There are various OpenAL solutions out there, including hardware ones. Rapture3D is unique in that it uses some very powerful new 3D audio techniques to produce a very high quality spatial image.
Rapture3D can be used easily with a few OpenAL PC games already, and more if you're prepared to modify your system. If you're a developer working on something that could make use of Rapture3D's superb 3D audio, we have some more information here.
But I Already Have A Multichannel Sound Card?
Perfect! Often, this means you're already wired up to use Rapture3D. Many modern sound cards have high quality ways to move sounds from within the computer to the outside world, rivalling the Hi-Fis of a few years ago.
Your sound card may also do OpenAL "hardware acceleration". Here, a bunch of mathematical algorithms are provided within the sound card. And they're even built into the chips on the card, so your main computer CPU isn't strained when processing is happening, which was really important in the early days of PC gaming and is still useful if your PC is struggling to keep up with modern games. Rapture3D does not use these algorithms, because it has its own, cutting-edge ones, and modern PCs have more than enough power in their main CPU to run them. We've put a lot of work into Rapture3D's algorithms and we think it was well worth the effort - and we think that, once you've listened to them, you will too!
So, for the best 3D gaming audio experience, we recommend Rapture3D to do the mathematics, and a good quality sound card to get the audio out of the back of the PC into your speakers or headphones with as little noise and distortion as possible. If you really want to go to the extreme, you could even try the "Advanced" edition, which supports Steinberg ASIO. This lets you send the audio out to a wide range of studio-grade sound cards and racks for extraordinary levels of low latency, high quality sound. And you can set up lots of speakers - the advanced edition will work out how best to feed them sound for a stunning 3D image.
There's a lot in there, but some high points in the standard editions are:
- 32bit floating point audio path.
- High quality sample rate conversion (used for various purposes including simulated Doppler shift).
- High quality effects and filters.
- Directional sound sources.
- Support for multi-channel sound sources (including ambisonic sound sources).
- No limit on the number of sources or effects except CPU power. Able to render hundreds of sound sources and multiple effects on relatively old hardware.
- Higher Order Ambisonic (HOA) bus running at up to fourth order.
- Rapture3D HOA decoder for exceptional 3D sound imaging.
- Access to audio hardware via Microsoft DirectSound.
- Support for the standard DirectSound Windows speaker layouts, including 5.1 and 7.1 and some special variants such as 3D7.1.
- 3D sound over headphones. This uses psychoacoustic techniques based on head shape. Six different "HRTFs" are provided.
- Optional patent-pending tinting on multichannel layouts to add psychoacoustic spatial cues.
- HCTC crosstalk cancelled stereo options (also using psychoacoustic cues).
- Surround stereo encoders.
With the "User" or "Game" editions of the software, the Rapture3D speaker layout synchronises with your Windows settings. With the "Advanced" edition everything is put under the user's control. Other features in the Advanced edition are:
- Support for custom layouts. Enter where your speakers have been located into the set-up program and wait for it to calculate settings optimised for that arrangement. This includes support for irregular speaker layouts (using some rather sophisticated mathematics).
- On Windows, there is access to audio hardware via Steinberg ASIO (this can allow sample-synchronised access to large numbers of channels of extremely high quality, low latency audio hardware).
- The Advanced edition is also available for OSX, although the OpenAL driver is intended primarily for game development use. CoreAudio is supported.