ioquake3 Sound Options: OpenAL vs SDL

I am torn between whether to use OpenAL or SDL for the sound backend. My top concerns are quality of sound, surround sound support, and sound lag. Here are the following things I noticed:


  • Sound quality is good especially at high setting
  • However, there is a 0.2 second delay in sound when I pick up an item or fire a weapon

Open AL:

  • Sound quality is not as good but seems to have better surround sound support
  • There is no sound lag at all.
  • Sometimes, especially when a player fires the machine gun, popping noises can be heard at the end of each sound.

And that’s all I have observed. Has anyone here encountered any of the issues listed? And which soundfont do you recommend I use?

Are you on windows, mac os, or linux? What kind of sound chip or card are you using? Are you using a test build? If not, please upgrade to one.

I am using windows 7 and yes i am using a test build from a few days ago. I dont know my sound card yet i will post it once i get back from work

I use Realtek HD Audio and I have Logitech G430 headphones

What OpenAL dll are you using? You could try the latest OpenAL Soft if you are not already using it. Download the openal-soft-* on the page and rename the openal-soft-*-bin\bin\Win32\soft_oal.dll to OpenAL32.dll and drop in it your ioquake3 directory.

ioquake3 only uses digital audio (no midi). Soundfont would not affect it.

Also, the SDL backend currently does not support surround sound.


Here are more differences (at least on my system, Win 7, Realtek):

(default) ioquake3 OpenAL implemention:
- many sounds are missing during gameplay (e.g: grenade bounce), can’t handle more than 128 sounds(?).
- very bad Sound Quality (inclusive stuttering music/Video play).

(so I have to use OpenAL Soft):

- many sounds are missing during gameplay (e.g: grenade bounce), can’t handle more than 128 sounds(?).
- popping, crackling noises, when sounds stop/start.
+ good sound quality, even better than SDL.

- Compared to OpenALSoft, the sounds are not checked against PVS. This is easy to test. Start q3dm4, go to where the portal is, the portal sound will start to play. Go through the portal. The portal sound should no longer be heard. But you will hear the Sound although the Portal is behind the wall (PVS). THIS IS A SDL BUG!
The same is true for sounds when doors are opening/closing. In other words sounds that triggered once, will never vanish!
- comparison showed that SDL reduces FPS compared to OpenAL(?).
- sound quality seems not as good as with OpenALSoft.
- environmental effects are harder to implement than as with OpenALSoft.
+ SDL will NOT miss any sounds, regardless how many sounds are played at once.

Although OpenALSoft might be better, personally I choose SDL, the quality is not so good, there is this annoying BUG etc, but missing sounds as seen with OpenAL/OpenALSoft is inacceptable to me! :thumbsdown:

FWIW, I’ve noticed that openal handles 44khz sound files correctly on OSX but sounds like distorted mess through SDL