REDMOND, Wash., Oct. 6, 1997 — Microsoft Corp. today announced widespread industry support for the Microsoft® DirectSound® 5.0 and DirectSound3D APIs, with endorsements from top innovators in the field of audio technology, including Analog Devices Inc., Aureal Semiconductor Inc., Aztech Labs Inc., Chromatic Research Inc., Cirrus Logic Inc., Creative Labs Inc., Diamond Multimedia Systems Inc., DiamondWare Ltd., Dream-Atmel, ENSONIQ Corp., ESS Technology Inc., EuPhonics Inc., Focal Point 3D Audio, Harman Interactive Group, NeoMagic Corp., Oak Technology Inc., Philips Electronics, QSound Labs Inc., Rockwell Semiconductor Systems, Roland Corp., S3 Inc., Spatializer Audio Laboratories Inc., Texas Instruments Inc., Trident Microsystems Inc. and Yamaha Systems Technology Inc. Developed in cooperation with the industry’s leading developers of 3-D algorithms, audio hardware and best-selling games, DirectSound 5.0 delivers unprecedented flexibility, particularly for hardware and software that provides 3-D positional sound.
The adoption of DirectSound 5.0 as the pre-eminent API for PC-based audio allows developers of hardware and software to incorporate innovative, advanced audio functionality into their products and applications while being assured of widespread interoperability and optimization with other DirectSound-compatible products and applications. The result for end users is greater product choice and superior audio performance leading to enhanced interactive experiences with games and multimedia applications.
“We are very pleased by the strong support that DirectSound 5.0 has received from these leading developers of audio technologies, which are uniting under a common standard to drive audio to new heights on the PC,” said Jay Torborg, director of multimedia and graphics at Microsoft. “DirectSound 5.0 with DirectSound3D will ship as part of Windows® 98 and Windows NT® 5.0 operating systems, assuring application developers and hardware manufacturers of a broad base of end users who can take full advantage of advanced audio functionality in their products.”
“Microsoft has made a significant contribution to 3-D audio development by creating an open, easy-to-implement API that’s highly extensible,” said Tom White, president of the MIDI Manufacturers Association. “With DirectSound3D, software developers can incorporate advanced 3-D audio functionality into their applications, knowing that end users can achieve nearly identical results using various types of sound cards.”
New Features of DirectSound 5.0
Several powerful new features make DirectSound 5.0 the clear choice of developers creating the next generation of audio hardware and software:
DirectSound3D. Supports hardware that performs 3-D audio positioning, allowing sounds to be located in any position in 3-D space rather than ordinary left/right balancing. DirectSound3D can be accelerated in hardware or implemented in software when 3-D hardware is not available.
New IKsPropertySet interface. A standardized interface that allows applications to pass unique parameters to device drivers, making it possible to implement enhanced features not contained in standard operating system services. Such features could be exposed to the user through a control panel or other software interfaces.
Audio capture. Enables audio recording, giving developers access to both recording and playback capability in a single API. The new audio capture interface allows developers to implement recording features easily into applications, such as games that record the speech of the user for conversational interactivity with other players.
DirectSound is a part of Microsoft’s integrated suite of DirectX® APIs for game and multimedia development. The device-independent access to audio accelerator hardware in DirectSound enables features such as real-time mixing of multiple audio streams, with precise control over volume, panning (left/right balance control), frequency shift and other parameters. DirectSound also provides low-latency playback (on the order of 20 milliseconds) for accurate synchronization of sounds with other events, adding dynamic real-time interactivity to games and multimedia applications. More than 2,500 companies participated in the beta program for DirectX 5.0, and more than 5,000 copies have already been delivered to developers.
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Audio Technology Leaders Applaud DirectSound 5.0
Leading developers in the field of audio technology and 3-D audio announced their support for DirectSound 5.0:
Analog Devices Inc.
“Microsoft’s release of DirectSound 5.0 delivers to users of Windows a more reliable and clearly superior audio experience, heralding a new generation of interactive 3-D audio products and applications,” said Campbell Stras, SoundMAX product line director, Analog Devices Inc. “Its scalable mixing and 3-D software architecture perfectly complement Analog Devices’ new line of SoundMAX codecs, controllers and DirectX accelerators.”
Aureal Semiconductor Inc.
“DirectSound 5.0 provides a new level of audio quality and 3-D enhancement to PC games and multimedia applications, especially when accelerated by technologies such as our new VORTEX chip architecture,” said Gary Catlin, vice president of engineering, Aureal Semiconductor. “DirectSound 5.0 will help licensees of Aureal’s A3D technology and the industry as a whole to move toward a more exciting, interactive gaming experience.”
Cirrus Logic Inc.
“With DirectSound 5.0, advanced PCI audio accelerators like our SoundFusion CS4610 will deliver a whole new level of end-user audio experiences,” said Joe Maurin, director of software product marketing, Cirrus Logic Inc. “Cirrus Logic is pleased to provide full support for DirectSound 5.0 in all of our CrystalClear audio products. We believe DirectSound 5.0 will be the cornerstone for audio device compatibility going forward.”
Creative Labs Inc.
“As a result of our long-standing working relationship with Microsoft on DirectX, we are pleased to see the fruits of our efforts with the delivery of DirectSound 5.0 and DirectSound 3D,” said Hock Leow, worldwide vice president of multimedia at Creative Labs Inc. “By working closely together from the beginning on this and other technologies, Creative and Microsoft are able to offer tightly integrated solutions that are of great benefit to the end user. The combination of these new APIs and Creative’s award-winning Sound Blaster line of audio products provides a stable, standard platform that will let developers create convincing content and enable the PC to deliver a new, more immersive level of audio realism.”
Diamond Multimedia Systems Inc.
“The introduction of the DirectSound 5.0 and DirectSound3D APIs has facilitated the development of a whole new realm of 3-D interactivity and realism in PC games and multimedia applications,” said Pat Little, general manager for the audio division at Diamond Multimedia. “As a result, game enthusiasts can now experience fully immersive 3-D positional audio with Diamond’s award-winning Monster Sound audio accelerator. The PCI-based Diamond Monster Sound was specifically developed to support Microsoft’s DirectX APIs and bears the distinction of being the only hardware-accelerated 3-D audio solution with drivers included on the DirectX 5.0 CD.”
“Dream-Atmel welcomes the new DirectSound 5.0, which marks a new generation in game experience, especially through 3-D positioning enhancement,” said Chris Deforeit, CEO of Dream-Atmel. “The Dream-Atmel Hardware Acceleration allows gamers to reach new levels, with up to 32 3-D-positioned simultaneous quality sounds and four-speaker output. The 3-D feeling is more realistic, and sound immersion is complete.”
“Microsoft has opened a new world of opportunity for audio in the PC,” said Albert Charpentier, president, ENSONIQ Corp. “Our AudioPCI solution is ready to exploit the features of Microsoft DirectSound 5.0 and Intel’s MMX on the PCI bus. The consumer will benefit from hardware and software acceleration of multimedia and game titles at no extra cost. Full-immersion 3-D sound from four speakers adds unbelievable realism to the multimedia experience. DirectSound makes it happen!”
ESS Technology Inc.
“DirectSound 5.0 provides the standardization and compatibility necessary to drive the development of innovative audio technologies,” said Daryl Sartain, director of system architecture for ESS Technology. “With DirectSound 5.0, game developers can take maximum advantage of high-performance audio products like our new, PCI-based Maestro family. We value the opportunity to work with Microsoft in reshaping the future of audio for the PC.”
“DirectSound 5.0 properly frames the debate regarding the PC’s audio subsystem in 1998, and we’re delighted,” said Dr. Jeffrey Barish, president of EuPhonics. “Concurrency of the DirectSound audio APIs is the issue on which we’ve focused with our SoundCore products, and, with DirectSound 5.0, hardware acceleration is assured.”
Harman Interactive Group
“DirectSound 5.0 will take PC gaming to a new level,” said Eric Lucas, executive vice president, Harman Interactive Group. “The well-designed, open architecture of DirectSound 5.0 will allow Harman to push the envelope of 3-D audio functionality on the PC platform even further through the incorporation of our VMAx 3D VirtualSound technologies.”
Oak Technology Inc.
“Windows 98 and Windows NT 5.0 will open the door for the delivery of an enhanced audio environment that maximizes PCI, DirectSound and DirectSound3D,” said Ken Boyce, director of Oak Technology’s audio business unit. “The Audia 3D is a complete PCI sound solution from Oak for vendors interested in quickly taking advantage of the audio capabilities inherent in Microsoft’s WDM format.”
“DirectSound makes all audio streams available on the PCI bus and USB, finally offering the PC a streamlined and balanced PC audio architecture, from the client application down to peripherals such as our Philips USB loudspeakers and components such as Philips Semiconductors’ USB Audio DAC and CODEC chips,” said Johan Van Ginderdeuren, business development manager, DSP and USB, Philips Sound & Vision.
“QSound Labs welcomes the latest version of DirectSound3D, since it provides PC game developers a standard interface for implementing 3-D audio,” said David Gallagher, CEO of QSound Labs. “Our Q3D positional algorithms, available today in both hardware and software, work with DirectSound 5.0 to deliver QSound’s unique proprietary blend of quality, speed and efficiency.”
Rockwell Semiconductor Systems
“DirectSound 5.0 provides the necessary framework for hardware and software development, allowing for effective partitioning between MMX and hardware acceleration,” said Tom Eichenberg, audio product line manager, Rockwell Semiconductor Systems. “Rockwell’s complete line of codecs, controllers, accelerators and MMX-based applications has been designed to support DirectSound 5.0.”
“Providing an optimized interface for both hardware and software developers, Microsoft DirectSound 5.0 and DirectSound3D enable higher levels of audio performance and functionality for the mainstream PC segment,” said Mike Nell, vice president and general manager, audio/communications, S3. “Leveraging the success of its SonicVibes audio accelerator, S3 is working closely with Microsoft to define next-generation hardware and software solutions that take full advantage of these APIs.”
Spatializer Audio Laboratories Inc.
“Having the DirectSound3D API open and available makes it easier for hardware and software developers to incorporate more sophisticated and advanced audio capabilities, such as Spatializer enCOMPASS, our interactive 3-D audio positioning technology,” said Steven D. Gershick, president, chairman and CEO of Spatializer Audio Laboratories Inc. “Although we introduced our first positioning technology in early 1996, developers and hardware manufacturers have been waiting for a universal interface to emerge. These open APIs will enable the segment to build momentum and speed adoption of Spatializer’s technologies.”