Direct X 10 might just be a little over six months old, but 10.1 is already in the works
and supporting, among other things, an updated Shader Model (4.1) and a new audio API called XAudio2.
Currently in beta, XAudio2 will replace DirectSound with a new cross-platform audio API between Windows and Xbox 360 that is based on the Xbox 360 model of XAudio. In addition to extra features, it should also make porting games far easier with the “write once, compile twice”
approach. I know, I know, game ports = bane of a PC gamer's life; but cheaper, faster development can
lead to better games and it's very rare these days to have a game "PC Only".
XAudio2 should sit alongside OpenAL, which is also native to Windows Vista, but will offer a lower level functionality foundation.
"XAudio2 is a low-level audio signal processing library for Windows XP and Windows Vista providing a fully modern audio pipeline, including:
- Multi-channel and surround-sound support with full per-channel volume and mapping control.
- Programmable, cross-platform DSP effects framework.
- Per-voice filtering, arbitrary submixing, and multi-rate processing.
- Multicore optimized, non-blocking API design.
- Pluggable and generalized 3D spatialization support, with a full-featured implementation provided by the independent X3DAudio math library."
It's only taken seven years for Microsoft to get around to updating its audio interface on PCs, and finally we get inherent multi-channel surround sound support. It's not going to be Dolby or DTS because this is foundation level DSP (digital signal processing), but there is cool features like specific adjustments on individual channels: so if you want your rear speakers louder than your front ones, there will be it will be possible in the future.
Multicore optimisation is certainly needed and might even put a dampener on Creative's X-Fi processor. However, there's only generalised
3D spatialisation support; unlike EAX 5.0 HD which is quite a bit more in depth, but again, an effects engine.
Is this a long time coming and still falling short or just what's needed? Let us know your thoughts in the forums