New Sound Engine - Settings

Discussion in 'Technical & Support' started by Lazza, May 14, 2022.

  1. Lazza

    Lazza Registered

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    An attempt at a guide for sound settings to make the most of the new sound system, and alleviate issues caused by fewer volume sliders in the game (which may have been used previously to overcome issues caused by incorrect settings). I'll try to keep it updated with any changes and in accordance with responses/questions in the thread. Any feedback welcome if things aren't clear or I'm showing the hard way.

    Credits and respect to Devin for useful links, info, clarifications (past and future, no doubt), and seemingly being a driving force behind the sound system upgrade.

    There are 3 sections: Windows Settings, Game Settings, and Physical Settings. Note that the instructions in Windows Settings may not suit your system exactly, but hopefully by getting to the right areas you can find the equivalent settings.

    Windows Settings

    There are 3 main things to check in your windows settings:
    • Speaker Configuration (layout)
    • Sample rate
    • Volume Mixer
    Speaker Configuration and Sample rate

    Right-click the speaker icon in the system tray (near the clock):
    upload_2022-5-14_13-13-11.png


    and click on Sounds

    That should get you to the Sound dialog as below
    upload_2022-5-14_13-25-16.png

    Those are all for the windows sounds, which we don't want to change here. Click on the Playback tab:
    upload_2022-5-14_13-26-17.png

    Your Default Device should be your standard output, select that and click the Configure button
    upload_2022-5-14_13-27-33.png

    This is where you select your speaker layout. It's important this matches your physical speakers, otherwise you might send stereo sound to your 5.1 layout and only get sounds from the front speakers; or, you might be sending 5.1 to your stereo speakers and simply lose the rear channels.

    Note that often you can switch layouts in the first menu that appears when you right-click the speaker icon, and plugging in headphones will usually automatically switch to stereo/headphone mode - but if you need to check you can do it here.

    From the Sound dialog, now click Properties (with your output device still selected) and go to the Advanced tab:
    upload_2022-5-14_13-33-54.png

    This is where you set the sample rate for the output device. As with many things it's easy to think bigger numbers are better (or to trick yourself into thinking things sound better with higher settings) but generally using the default option will give you best results and should be used unless you really know what you're doing. Very high sample rates will definitely cause performance issues in rF2. Click the Restore Defaults button if you're not sure what your default is.

    A note on the other tabs available in the Properties window:
    • Enhancements: Try to leave all the enhancements off (unticked). Equalizer should be ok to use but don't select any others (such as Environment, Pitch Shift, Loudness Equalization). This can mess with your sound and games won't sound right.
    • Spatial sound: Off always! We want the game to generate the correct number of audio channels to suit our speaker/headphone layout, and send that audio directly to the device. Any 3D/Spatial setting will completely mess that up.

    All or most of the options above are probably accessible via some software specific to your chipset or sound card, so you can check/change them there instead. My own onboard Realtek chip has its own speaker icon in the system tray, and that lets me bring up its Sound Manager that looks like this (but this is just an example; yours may vary):
    upload_2022-5-14_13-45-47.png


    Volume Mixer

    Windows has a built-in Volume Mixer, accessible with that same right-click on the speaker icon. (Open volume mixer)
    upload_2022-5-14_13-52-7.png

    This lets you adjust the relative volume of all running apps. Note that rFactor 2 has to be running to be able to adjust its volume here. (you can run rF2 in windowed/borderless mode to help facilitate that, or while rF2 is running you can get to the Volume Mixer through Windows -> Settings -> Sound -> App volume and device preferences. (sorry, bit of a run-around, but it's there...)

    The key goal here is that rFactor 2 is set to the full volume of your output device. You can see my device (Speakers) volume is at 50%, and my rFactor 2 is as well. That avoids Windows 'compressing' the rF2 sound (making quiet sounds louder) which will alter the levels in-game.

    It may be easier/clearer if you set your windows volume to 100% while doing this (so windows 100%, rFactor 2 also 100%). Otherwise you can end up with all your apps at slightly different levels because of the way the sliders work.


    With your speaker layout, sample rate, and volume mixer settings correct, you're ready to set rF2 up and have the sound function correctly.

    A note on encoding/decoding: you may have a receiver or decoder you use when watching videos or listening to music that pulls channel information out of the source material and gives you surround sound. That won't work with games (unless they feature audio encoding - unlikely). Depending on your audio device you may have options to encode the audio so you can send through a cable (like optical) and get all the channels out at the other end, but that's going to be specific to your device and you should understand how to do that. If you don't know that you can encode channels correctly, expect your speakers to only play stereo unless you have discrete channel connections (like front and rear connectors) hooked up.
    Also: many/most encoding solutions reduce audio quality in comparison to simple multi-channel line-out cables.
    (my chipset has DTS support, but I'm using analog front/rear connectors, so I leave that off)


    Game Settings

    This part should be fairly straightforward. First tip: don't edit any .json files. There's no need. If you know better, or are advised to change a setting manually as part of troubleshooting, go ahead - but if you aren't sure, don't. Except in case of malfunction anything not in the UI doesn't do anything anyway.

    Fire up rF2 and go straight to the Settings section, and select the SOUND page

    upload_2022-5-14_14-53-26.png

    We'll go left to right, and I'll ignore anything that was already in the game and hasn't changed function - or is just obvious.

    Master Volume - this sets the overall rF2 volume. Remember how we went and set rF2 to full volume in the windows mixer, to avoid Windows' audio compression? This is where you can turn the sound down if you need other things (like voice chat, spotter) to come through a bit louder. It may be beneficial to keep this below 100% somewhat (let's guess <80%) to avoid clipping prevention.

    Onboard Volume - how loud everything is when riding in the cockpit. This doesn't adjust only some sounds and not others, it's everything. Effectively it's really just a way to balance onboard sounds with offboard (trackside etc) effects. If you find sounds are too loud when trackside (or at the monitor/garage screens), turn this onboard up and then lower the overall volume (or your speakers). Do the reverse if trackside is too quiet compared to onboard for you. 20-45 is a normal working range here, as most content will be pretty unbalanced on lower or higher values.

    Legacy Settings - these give you some control over specific types of sounds on cars that haven't been updated for the new audio engine. They do nothing for new/updated cars. No, you can't adjust opponent volume or engine volume for updated cars, here or in the .json files.

    Number of effects - more is better, but keep an eye on performance. If your sound starts breaking up or game performance suffers, try reducing the number of effects and see if that helps. Setting the sample rate in the Windows Settings section will help reduce the load, but it's very hardware dependent (and bugs in this area could be, too).

    Speaker configuration - important. Broadly, if you have speakers, set Speakers. If you have headphones, set Headphones. As a general rule, if your speakers move with your head (like VR sets) then treat them as headphones, otherwise they're speakers. Could always be exceptions of course. Auto might work well when switching devices, but consider setting one of the other options explicitly to make sure.
    Note: Setting Speakers when using headphones will give reasonable results, too. This is a good alternative to Headphones if that gives poor performance or you can't find the right HRTF setting and it sounds 'wrong'.

    Trackside mode - when looking from trackside cams, and especially when moving the camera around in freelook mode, Immersive will let you hear things correctly from your current position and orientation (facing a car? You'll hear it in front of you!). Broadcast will instead keep the default camera microphone location, which is often how things work when watching TV broadcasts. It gets pretty ugly if you move a camera a long way from its starting position though. Note that this setting does not affect onboard sound at all - turning your head/camera while in the car will always move the sounds to reflect the new orientation.

    HRTF selection - this is only available when using headphones, and lets you choose which HRTF profile to use. Your brain learns to recognise the direction of sounds based on how they reach your ears, and that is impacted by the shape of your head. This means a 2-speaker (headphone) surround that lets you hear sounds perfectly in front and behind you, might not work at all for the next person. This option lets you select the profile that works best for you. The game only comes with a few, but you can put other HRTF profiles into the rFactor 2\UserData\HRTF\Custom folder (you'll need to make the Custom folder yourself), and then you can select from those too.

    Devin linked to this video for trying heaps of profiles, with download links in the description (expect to take a few attempts to find the right one, and recheck a few times. Read the comments as well to help guide your own judgement):


    (google HRTF for lots of fascinating information on what it is and how it works - and why making your own custom profile just for you isn't really an option, but also not one you'll need with all the ones out there available to try)

    What's missing? - equalizer, treble, base, tone, warmth, ... . No, the settings above won't do any of those. Think Immersive gives better onboard audio than Trackside? You're imagining it. Want to make your own HRTF profile with more bass? That's not what it does, and you can't feasibly make your own profile anyway.


    That's it. No more game options to tweak, and no more game options to break. Does a particular car sound wrong, or have unbalanced sounds? Share video, ask others how they find it, check your settings. The car may need fixing, or will benefit from being updated for the new sound engine (by S397, or by the modder when documentation is released). Definitely consider sharing/finding example videos of it, because you may have a different perception to others of how things should be.

    If you've spent long periods of time playing rFactor 2 with unusually high/low tyre volume, engine volume, or opponent volume, you're going to have to get used to a more realistic mix.


    Physical Settings

    Yep, strange name.

    If you go to all the trouble of setting up the above to have the game outputting glorious 7.1 channel sound and $2000 cables* connecting to your amplifier, don't break it now by accidentally selecting stereo or virtual surround on your amp and breaking those channels. Don't activate artificial 3D/Surround on your headphones if you're using HRTF and completely kill the effect.

    The sound volume you hear from rF2 is a combination of:
    • rF2 Master (in-game) volume
    • rF2 app volume (windows mixer)
    • overall windows volume
    • your physical device volume (headphone volume control, amplifier volume, etc)
    The rF2 app volume needs to be at 100% of the windows volume, the rest you can basically do what you want to get the best results (not quite, but essentially). If you want to hear your car better don't just go cranking up on Onboard Volume in the game, because all you're going to do is change the balance between on- and off-board sounds. Increase the windows volume, rF2 Master volume, or your speaker/headphone volume. If the game is too loud, by the same token don't rush to find which in-game slider will affect it most, and never reduce the rF2 Windows Mixer volume - change the windows volume (you probably have keys made just for it!), or your physical volume control. Adjust the rF2 Master Volume if you consistently find you're turning it up (or down) in comparison to when running other apps/games.

    Running the Windows overall volume high (at/near 100%) and rF2 Master Volume lower is a better option than vice versa.

    *please don't buy $2000 cables.
     
  2. atomed

    atomed Member

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    Great information, thanks for sharing, as always, your knowlege.
     
  3. doddynco

    doddynco Registered

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    Super helpful for everyone. Thank you Lazza
     
  4. djvicious

    djvicious Registered

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    I'm going to tail off this thread instead of creating a new one. How do you get the reverb effects in trackside cameras? I can hear it in promo videos, but not at all in the game (at least to my crappy ears)
     
  5. Lazza

    Lazza Registered

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    Depends what you mean by reverb effects :D

    Have you set the majority of your settings as described above? Are you using speakers or headphones, and have you set your windows and game settings accordingly? Have you increased the number of sound effects in the game, or checked what it's set to?
     
  6. djvicious

    djvicious Registered

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    I mean the echoing of the cars' engines against the track surroundings.

    I have sound effects up to 256

    I'm actually using my Oculus Rift headphones, and I don't believe I have any spatial effect enabled for that, but I can double check.
     
  7. Simulation_Player

    Simulation_Player Registered

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    does that mean that there will never be sound mixer/sliders in future ? Did devin confirmed that ?

    btw, thanks for all the info...i was doing couple of things wrong in windows settings.
     
  8. Corti

    Corti Registered

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    Thanks for the configuration, now much better. By the way a very annoying sound when in multiplayer while loading the list of drivers
     
  9. Lazza

    Lazza Registered

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    No, I've seen no confirmation of that myself. Right now they aren't there, so that's why I said that. If that changes, I'll change this :)
     
    Simulation_Player likes this.
  10. Lazza

    Lazza Registered

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    Is it possible you have Immersive selected for the trackside mode, and what you've seen in promo videos is using Broadcast so the sound of the cars pans from one side to the other?

    Sorry, just not sure what you're missing without a sample to compare to. I'm pretty sure the old reverb effect is currently inactive so you won't get the extreme reflection off fences etc.
     
  11. Qi Dawei

    Qi Dawei Registered

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    My computer can't run smoothly with Number of effects set to 64 and racing against ai drivers, but my cpu and gpu usage is not very high. I am wondering whether this issue is caused by my cpu/gpu performance or is caused by other components of my computer. Could I solve this by change some settings, use an independent sound card or buy myself a new computer?
     
  12. Lazza

    Lazza Registered

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    I believe a sound card won't make a difference as hardware acceleration isn't used.

    Is 64 worse than 32? Are you on Speakers mode or Headphones mode? (if headphones, try Speakers - even if you're wearing headphones)

    Your windows sample rate is set to default?
     
  13. Qi Dawei

    Qi Dawei Registered

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    Yes, 64 is worse than 32.
    I changed headphone mode to speaker mode, but there is no obvious difference.
    The windows sample rate is set to default.
     
  14. Lazza

    Lazza Registered

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    Ok, so there doesn't seem to be much more you can do with the sound settings. Is your CPU running a stable speed? I can see it's one that supports speed step and turbo etc, if the frequency fluctuates it can mess with rF2 - are you able to lock it at a decent speed, and/or can you check that during use?
     
  15. rafnix

    rafnix Registered

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    Yes, also I think it's up to the Devs again to fix the wrongs.
    The all new KartSim shows a front engine sound even a few metres ahead of the vehicle whereas the old ISI Karts are correct. Same vice versa effect for both Aston Martins, GT3 n GTE, the Corvette C7..:rolleyes:
    These symptoms are encountered with a Rift S and the exact same sound settings from opening post.
     
  16. Qi Dawei

    Qi Dawei Registered

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    It's a low-voltage CPU for light-weight laptop, so the frequency is always changing.
    Is it a CPU problem? I used to think if my CPU usage is below 100% then it means my CPU is running okay.
     
  17. djvicious

    djvicious Registered

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    Thanks Lazza! I had immersive selected.
     
  18. Lazza

    Lazza Registered

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    I know in the past a changing CPU clock has caused issues, but that doesn't mean it's definitely your problem. Something to consider though.

    Do you have your windows power profile set to full power? And tweak any CPU cooling and performance to max. Good chance with your CPU and laptop you're going to hit some power draw limits though.

    For CPU occupancy you should check the Ctrl-C graph in-game, the purple bar will reach the right hand side if it's maxing out. This is a better indicator than overall CPU usage.

    If the engine sound is in the wrong location it's up to the vehicle maker to fix it. Kartsim is the kartsim guys.

    So the Aston Martin has the engine sound too far back?
     
  19. rafnix

    rafnix Registered

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    Yes, it's a mid or rear engined car soundwise. All front engines sounds like right behind you except the KartSim Karts. You'll notice wrong sound position even better when in chase cam moving around your car. Isn't this obvious for 2D players as well?
    Hopefully nothing's wrong on my side as I'm using the vanilla default sound setting that came with the recent release candidate?
     
  20. Lazza

    Lazza Registered

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    Depends what people are using for their sound and how much they use swingman.

    But yes, same here with the Bentley and the BMW GT3. I very much doubt it's your settings, will just be the car.

    Of note is that there's a single position defined, no separation of engine and exhaust. Maybe some of the new parameters will change that.
     

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