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Sound Blaster Z: Everything sounds phenomenal except Youtube videos

By Coxis
May 19, 2014
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  1. Hey guys,

    Just got my new Sound Blaster Z in the mail this morning. After some research I found that I should set Windows Sound settings to 5.1 Speakers non-full range in order to best utilize the SB drivers. I use a pair of Razer Carcharias (stereo headset). I don't have speakers. Supposedly, by doing this and turning on SBX Surround I'll get simulated surround in games and listen to stereo music just fine simply by turning off SBX Surround when doing so.

    Well, games sound great with simulated surround, FLACs stored on my computer sound great and crisp no matter what Windows is set to (Stereo or 5.1) BUT Youtube videos sound awful. In order to get Youtube videos to sound good I need to go into Windows CP and set the sound options to Stereo Speakers. Once I do it goes back to sounding great again.

    It should be noted that I only use Youtube for music. As unlikely as it may sound, YT is an amazing resource for classical music. You can find a lot of performances by different conductors / orchestras or soloists if a solo piece and you can create your own playlists. It's kind of a big deal to me.

    Everything else about the card is amazing.

    Windows 7 x64
    Latest Firefox
    Latest Creative drivers (Jan 2014 as of this post)
    Problem: The sound loses clarity, it becomes muddy and the bass is way over the top. If I crank the volume too high, the sound becomes distorted. Not pleasant at all. This doesn't happen in the slightest with music stored on my hard drive, only YT.
     
    Last edited: May 19, 2014
  2. nismo91

    nismo91 TS Guru Posts: 1,004   +11

    Hey Coxis,

    The behavior that you explained can be fixed if you set the adobe flash player to 'follow' your soundcard settings. If you're on 64-bit windows, go to:
    C:\Windows\SysWOW64\Macromed\Flash\

    Open MMS.CFG and add this line:

    UseWAVPlayer=1

    Worked perfectly for my 5.1 setup. Youtube audio was previously stuck on its own upmix (a.k.a simulated surround) settings and ignored my soundcard settings.

    Good luck
     
    Coxis likes this.
  3. Coxis

    Coxis TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 33

    Thanks for replying. Yes, after some research I found out that Flash does some kind of utterly mindless upmixing from stereo to whatever number of speakers you have. It also adds some stupid bass management and it sounds awful.

    You mentioned that that fix makes flash follow my soundcard settings... but my soundcard is set to 5.1 speakers so that SBX can properly emulate 5.1 sound on my stereo headset in games and movies. I guess your fix won't make much of a difference, or did I get it wrong? sounds like I'd still need to set my speakers to stereo in order to make it sound right.
     
  4. nismo91

    nismo91 TS Guru Posts: 1,004   +11

    Hey Coxis,

    Before fix: Adobe Flash upmix your 2.0 (stereo) channel into its own version of 5.1 channel sound. Your soundcard detects all 6 channels and thinks it should not be altered. Hence the bad audio output and your temporary solution of stereo settings.

    After fix: Adobe Flash deliver the original audio channel that is 2.0 (stereo) for youtube. Your soundcard detects it as a stereo channel, just like a regular mp3 media. If you turn upmix on, it will be upmixed into simulated 5.1 channels.

    So the fix works by letting the youtube audio comes in stereo format, so it can be upmixed.

    If you're curious why did turning your windows audio settings to stereo solved the problem? That's because Adobe Flash will not upmix if the audio device is only stereo, and voila! your problem is gone.

    P.S. So the root of the problem is definitely the adobe flash upmix behaviour, which can be turned off by the fix I mentioned above.
     
    Coxis likes this.
  5. Coxis

    Coxis TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 33

    Nismo, (Nissan Motorsport fan or does it mean something else?)

    That was awesome. I had tried some crazy stuff, like downloading add-ons for watching youtube without flash and disabling flash altogether, all incredibly cumbersome and didn't really work well.

    Your fix is amazing and so easy. Thanks so much. :)

    Quick question, will the .cfg file be overwritten every time Flash is updated, or will it stay like that?
     
  6. nismo91

    nismo91 TS Guru Posts: 1,004   +11

    Hi coxis,

    im glad that fix worked well for you. there are fewer and fewer people using 5.1 nowadays since PC sales are declining and tablets are taking over... I'd be happy to help fellow 5.1 owners because when I introduced myself to 5.1 just 6 years ago, I learnt most if not all the stuff from the internet. so I figured I could return the favor by helping those who're in doubt at the forums ;)

    im afraid cfg might be overwritten if the flash is updated. but I am yet to re-fix the adobe flash. maybe there isn't any update since the last time I applied that fix.

    btw yeah nismo stands for nissan motorsports fan.. picked up that name from a playstation game when I was a kid, but I guess everyone already knows that lol...
     
    Coxis likes this.


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