A3D

In the mid 90s I worked on a 3D sound technology called A3D. I recently found an old A3D CD-ROM with demo movies that I’ve posted below.

Listening tips: A3D sounds best on headphones (play the videos labeled “headphone version”, make sure you have your left/right ear pieces on the correct way). When listening to the speaker versions, there’s a listening sweet spot – your two speakers should be facing you and be the same distance away from you. You’re in the sweet spot when some of the sounds feel like they are right next to you instead of coming from the speakers.

The first are two videos of an A3D video game reel. You should hear lots of sounds moving and Doppler shifting all around you. See if you recognize any of the games (hundreds of video games used A3D in the mid 90s).

And here are some listening demos with sounds moving around your head (the view is top down with you as the listener in the center of the screen and sounds moving around you). Each demo is available in three versions: standard stereo, 3D over headphones, and 3D over speakers. Note in the stereo version how the sounds stay between the speakers (or between the ears in the case of headphones), and how in the 3D versions the sound stage extends beyond the speakers and outside your ears/head on headphones.

Demo 1

Demo 2

Demo 3

 

Demo 4

 

Demo 5

 

8 comments

  1. ThaMartian

    Awsome post. I remember being about 8 and playing one of those games. I believe it was called incoming. Actually a couple of years ago the game led me to try for a programming degree in that field. Anyway, nice post.

  2. bytesaber

    How I miss those days. Aureal really had something going for doing 3D with only 2 channels of audio. In real time too based on whatever the soundfx was in the 3D space. Real time even! Too bad no one does anything like this anymore. Just surround sound only.

    Anyone know what the games are in that video? I know the first one is the original Unreal, and I think the Star Wars game is Jedi Knight (Dark Forces 2), but I'm not certain, nor sure about the rest. Descent FreeSpace and Wargasm?

    -bytes

  3. WenkelRotaryEngine

    Brings back memories. I wish I had owned one of these before Creative patent-trolled Aureal into oblivion. Between that and their drivers causing hardlocks on the dual processor machine I was doing animation work on (back when you had to have more than one chip to run SMP) I decided to start boycotting creative. I'm only one person but I have happily lost them at least 200 sales over the years. Hopefully some day another company tries to really advance the field again so the biggest change over the next 10 years isn't me seeing an ad for new 13.1 surround

  4. Bob Safir

    Have you ever noticed that you don't realize the high points in your life until they're long gone? Such were the days of Aureal and A3D. Those were the "good old days." Innovative ideas, talented people, teamwork, and high octane entertainment. Sigh.

  5. Silikone

    I remember playing Incoming when I was around 5. The A3D screen popped up every time it loaded a map, and I was like "Wtf is that?". Now that I have learned about A3D, I lack the ancient hardware to experience it. I really wish Creative had legacy support for A3D, because some titles such as Half-Life + mods and Quake 3 (unpatched) make use of this awesome API, and they are still played much today. EAX sounds awesome in newer games such as Doom 3, but it doesn't help as much in games using older versions of EAX.

  6. Markus

    The A3D Sound in Half-Life is still unmatched today! I believe most of the good guys went to NVidia when Aureal went down the drain. I still have a SQ2500 and all the drivers at home. I will build a vintage PC just to run Half-Life and Unreal in old A3D glory.

    Real 3D sound is pretty much dead nowadays.

  7. Bill

    Great post Toni! You've got to give credit one tier back to your long hours at CRE that setup the Aureal gig. I just purged a bunch of CRE and Aureal hardware as I downsized my office into a smaller space. I kept one A3D Vortex card, one Alphatron, and one Beachtron.

  8. Bob Lewis

    I remember when we were Combining A3D & EAX, AND IT WAS AWSOME. Too bad they sucked us up & Spit us into closet, Creative: those bastards! Now we're again looking for a Gaming type API, for 3D sound, & there's nothing available, and EAX, is STILL an Echoplex, nothing else. What a Worrld…What a Worrlld…

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