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Bad positional audio makes it nearly impossible to estimate distance and direction by sound
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For the short time I've played now, I immediately noticed a very, very irritating behaviour of pretty much all sounds played. When a enemy vehicle was nearby, it was impossible to locate its position by listening to its gunfire (most of the time, it sounds the same, even when turning your head by about 20 degrees). The human ear is way more accurate than this and it provides a unnatural feel. Also, estimating the distance is very hard, since the volume differences are very small and at those short, bursted, cracking sounds (wich is gunfire) impossible to determine.


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I have even heard a gunshot as if I was standing next to the shooter while flying low in the helicopters showcase mission.

The sound engine was like this in A2. Height above/below sound source not accounted for in loudness.

The sound of distant weapons is also off, making it even harder to determine if they're actually distant.

By off i of course mean wrong and unrealistic.

Coming from JSRS in Arma 2, I want to agree that it's nearly impossible to locate the origin of a sound, as well as the distance from it in Arma 3.

Devlin added a subscriber: Devlin.May 7 2016, 10:42 AM

Indeed, its nearly impossible and unrealistic, so many times that I've turned around only to find that the source was in front of me and nearly 700 meters away.

Clarified the title.

It's not impossible, not when something is less than 50 mts away, our brain can measure the time it takes for sound to reach 1 year and the other, allowing you to know where it comes from

Of course you are not gonna get pinpoint accuracy, however you can get some sort of general area, and when they are right next to you, wall or something you can differentiate that from above bellow left or right.

Right now you cant tell if it was to your left right above below

SAMAGO added a subscriber: SAMAGO.May 7 2016, 10:42 AM

Yes! This the biggest annoyance for me. Vehicles sounds seem to have very little (if any) difference between 15 meters and 500 meters. Helicopters especially. A helicopter all the away across the map sounds like it hovering right over your head. Also, sometimes, if you face the sound it goes mute. When you turn your to the side (pointing your ear in the direction of the sound), it's very loud. It makes no sense.

Explosions and gunshots as well!

Ban13 added a subscriber: Ban13.May 7 2016, 10:42 AM
Ban13 added a comment.Mar 20 2013, 1:50 PM

Agreed 100%. Why use XAudio2+ X3DAudio when it's a PC only game?

Ezcoo added a subscriber: Ezcoo.May 7 2016, 10:42 AM
Ezcoo added a comment.Mar 20 2013, 8:21 PM

The sound engine should really be updated like the other parts of the engine, I hope that this has very high priority there... Sounds should have 3D at least and the sound frequencies and intensity could be affected by larger obstacles, like hills. But the 3D sound is really a must, because locating sound sources is very important and crucial part of the gameplay in any mission. The enhanced quality of the sounds actually emphasizes the weaknesses of the sound engine now.

I really hope that we won't have to turn our heads and wonder where is it coming from anymore when we hear something in the full release version ;)

zeep added a comment.Mar 29 2013, 8:52 AM

To the JSRS promoters, that's just sounds, sounds with effects / filtering etc already done to them and triggered in-game. Though the sounds are great, the Arma 3 sound engine is still bad.

Update the sound engine please BIS. We need 3D Audio. Not just for 5.1 setups either, 2 speaker setups need 3D Audio.

Urban added a subscriber: Urban.May 7 2016, 10:42 AM

Agree with zeep, sound engine is the problem.

rogerx added a subscriber: rogerx.May 7 2016, 10:42 AM

Ditto. When trying to locate gunshots, it is difficult with my stereo setup. And my dynamic range possible with my current setup is phenomenal! I have four to six speakers, all verified to be setup properly with left/right stereo. And am having significant difficulty trying to locate firing locations, unless I'm visibly nearby the guy who's firing.

Within Novalogic's Deltaforce, a decade plus year old game, I was easily able to locate originating sound locations blindly, and using a pair of old cheap computer stereo speakers.

Think the simulated left/right ears are not well simulated, including depth? Or, there's a bug/error with the programming, promoting the confusion?

Voted up. Finding the exact placement of a shot fired in A2 was very easy to do. In A3 you can;t tell if a shot is near or far as they sound nearly the same.

rogerx added a comment.Apr 2 2013, 5:16 PM

I just noticed within the latest Alpha version a few days ago, the auto grenade launcher Humvee does seem to have positional audio along with delayed sound to account for distance. (I should also add, it sounds quite awesome!)

ie. Startup the editor, use the Humvee with the grenade launcher and fire away at the hill in the distance. I didn't check for left/right audio accuracy. You can also hear the distant impacts of using the Humvee with mini-gun attachment, albeit obviously not as loud.

Tajin added a subscriber: Tajin.May 7 2016, 10:42 AM
Tajin added a comment.Apr 4 2013, 9:52 AM

I agree with Kakepwnz there.

I can pinpoint the direction of a sound perfectly fine (using a logitech G35), the distance however is currently very hard to estimate.

Arkod added a subscriber: Arkod.May 7 2016, 10:42 AM
Arkod added a comment.Apr 4 2013, 12:04 PM

I believe it's been fixed already and will be available on the next update: - case 0006262 - Sounds at different distances - case 0001126 - Speed of sound (hearing the shot first and then the bullet impact)

I can't tell if positional audio is bad or not because of how loud the shots are. Before the last update the sounds were Ok-Good and I could locate vehicles/shots pretty well.

and i thought i was the only one!


Sound really needs improvement

I posted this yesterday in a related thread, but its probably more appropriate here.

This audio issue becomes extremely obvious when someone has a suppressor. It sounds like there is little to no variation in the volume based on distance. Someone shooting a suppressed weapon from 300m sounds like they are shooting right next to your head.

As we where discussing in the other thread, its understandable that the suppressor is going to be somewhat deceptive and conceal where you are firing from. But this is extreme and appears to be related to the sound engine just like the issues with regular gunshots.

Wow. Just watched (or listened rather) to the youtube videos of JSRS mod. Never tried it myself, but the sounds are amazing. Get these guys on the payroll BI!

The sound has been the biggest problem for me in this game. I even hear enemies reloading who are far away, yet they sound like they are standing next to me. Just wondering if the JSRS realism will make it into the actual game or if it will remain a mod you have to add into it just to have directional sound? As it stands I haven't been able to use one single mod offered via Play withSIX without getting kicked by every pub server I've tried. I'm still very, very new to Arma though.

I agree and i bleive this was introduced with ArmA2.
i Have true 5.1 Headphone which works very well for dolby digital and worked like a charm in ArmA1. Now in ArmA2 i noticed that the "channel width" is to small. And there is no "0verlap" of channels.

Let me think how to explain it....

In ArmA1 when a sound source was lets say 45° to your viewpoint you would hear the sound in both same loudness in the center speaker and the right speaker.

In ArmA2 when the sound source was also at 45°, you suddenly would only hear it in the right speaker, which made you believe the sound comes from 90° (right). Then you turn to the right and there was nothing.

This was so confusing for me that i switched the game and windows sound setting back to "Stereo"

I have yet to check it for ArmA3 too and will report back.
Btw, this was independent of Soundcard chip and Windows Version (switched from Vista to Win7 during ArmA2 times with new hardware but no change)

It look like the latest update has better support for surround.
Only gunfire isn't positional like the gun empty sound (click), but stereo front left/right.

This issue was processed by our team and will be looked into. We thank you for your feedback.

Please keep the issue monitored to see when it is fixed.

rogerx added a comment.May 2 2013, 7:58 PM

I haven't played for the past few days, and usually play developer version. Think at the time of my last play, positional was working but required better blending of left, center and right channels. (To include rear channels as well.)

For example with a noise making source in the front and turning your head right, you would only hear audio on the left channel, with very little if any audio on center and right channels. Kind of funny sounding, as if one simply turned off their right ear. Hence, my thinking blending needs tweaking.

They're likely developing from the bottom up, which is how it should be done. ;-)

but required better blending of left, center and right channels. (To include rear channels as well.)

>For example with a noise making source in the front and turning your head right, you would only hear audio on the left channel, with very little if any audio on center and right channels. Kind of funny sounding, as if one simply turned off their right ear. Hence, my thinking blending needs tweaking.

Exactly what i was writing 3 posts above. So there was no change since ArmA2, because its the same there. Hopefully channel widthness and blending will be optimized so i can switch the 5.1 Sound again for the final game.

@Christian That's how Xaudio2 + X3DAduido (sound engine used in A3) works. This can't get better. You can blame the devs for choosing the worst sound engine ever made.

@ChrisReaman: If this is true (do you mind share some sources?), we have to immediately set-up a new ticket with a vote for a better Sound Engine.

Jesus no, this cant stay that way, a huge simulator with a 3D Audio feeling like its 15 years old... Only Stereo useable in ArmA3? Please not again :-(

@Christian: Unfortunately XAudio2 plays all the sounds according to your Windows settings (7.1 is the limit, headphones are only good for left and right). Even if you have a quality 7.1 setup it can't know where your speakers are placed so it's all very generic. This is made a lot worse if you're wearing headphones. The only reason this sound engine is used is because it'c multi platform, but A3 is PC only so it makes 0 sense to choose it. You can read a sponsored article on it here:

rogerx added a comment.May 3 2013, 5:33 PM

I'm laughing at the mention of cross-platform being a feature. (See XAudio2 Features and Architecture.)

Cross platform usually means Linux, Microsoft, Mac, Solaris, etc. (See Cross-platform Wikipedia.)

Microsoft Windows is XBox, in my opinion. ;-)

bez added a comment.Jun 3 2013, 9:18 PM

Wounded people who scream MEDIC, they all sound like they are near you
no matter where they are, also you can not know the direction.
Not even left or right, god damn it, not even STEREO???!!?!

I must say I am a bit disappointed from BI.
When they announced ARMA 3 I thought we gonna get a new engine but it looks
that again it's the same, just many more patches on top of the old one.

Well bez, it was mentioned else where that the cry for medic in domination is not content provided by BIS and that the modders are responsible forimplementing it bbetter.

But that said, i do agree about the modified engine, i too was hoping a whole new engine, completely redone and built from scratch to suit the modern tech better... Can only hope they consider this for the next iteration of virtual reality engine.

bez added a comment.Jun 3 2013, 9:47 PM

Ho ok, didn't know that.
I am glad to hear it because this is really bad lol

there is stereo - but from certain distance engine morphs it into mono to get positional audio. Jsrs sm isnt just sound samples but various scripts to enhance soundscape. Check jsrs 2.0 mod video for A3 you will simply notice it sounds much better than what we have in vanilla. If they wont cut back on the features A2 had like occlusion/doppler effect but rather bring more - it will only get better. They should enhance dynamic sound department for better feel of the environment - example being in the building feels being separated from outside, more echoed reverbed sound of steps and almost no outside sounds (filtered)

I suggest you to check Advanced Combat Sound Environment for ArmA 2. Google it on bis forums and look out inside youtube channel for BMP-2 and Abrams videos too. It's the power of scripts, still needs tweaking on strange echoes happening at close quarters but it shows that everything is possible. Now if we could adress it along with filters not only to weapons and explosions but global, for all sounds in all environments... Endless possibilities.

In the beta I've noticed that when playing the Green challenge, the audio for the talking rangemaster isn't positioned correctly. Only Left and Right speakers have voice audio, but when in Center (or Surround) the sound is very low.

Using Creative 7.1 surroundset (tried 5.1 setting as well for testing purposes).

Still horrible sound positioning.
I even think ARMA2 sounds (even as bad they are) were positioned WAAAY better.(except G36's and XM8's of course)

I too have noticed this. The reload sound can be heard loudly from extreme distances and there is little or no direction to it. The same can be said for other sounds but not all of them.

aziz added a subscriber: aziz.May 7 2016, 10:42 AM
aziz added a comment.Oct 15 2013, 6:43 PM

Yes, volume differences in sound are weird. Explosions sometimes cant be heard from just few hundred meters away, whereas in real life a mortar/artillery round exploding rings for miles. And they have an awesome sound with the weird initial two-part thud when listened from far away, not present in any game for some reason! Here's the real deal (in bad quality):

Any difference within the dev version?

imagio added a comment.Nov 1 2013, 3:08 PM

I find the lack of accurate audio volume and positioning to be by far the most game breaking thing about arma. It simply makes the game *confusing* to hear something in one position but see it somewhere where you would have not placed it by sound.

Positioning of gunfire is especially problematic for me -- I should be able to easily hear the difference between my teammate's rifle 5m to my left and the enemy's rifle 50m to my front. Right now those two sounds are not distinct enough and cause confusion (and frustration).

Playing the first episode of the campaign I noticed that voice positioning is completely wrong. I stood directly in front of a character who was speaking and he sounded as if he were an ambient sound from all directions. Turned left and the audio intensified in my *left* earphone when my right ear was facing the character. Turned my back to him and he was very faint. Turned my left side to him and I heard him in my right ear. At no point did it sound like the audio was actually coming from his mouth.

These kind of things really break immersion, and in some cases gameplay! Please devote some attention to proper sound positioning and volume.

zeep added a comment.Nov 1 2013, 5:55 PM

I experienced the same weird voice placements in the Campaign as described above.

BIS, please work on the audio in game. Occlusion, filtering, positioning.

On 2 speakers 3D sound should be working. It isn't.

Please upgrade the audio experience. By sounds and -much more important- by engine capabilities.

I had the same scenario last night with turning my ass to someone and hearing them much louder.

I found I had turned down my front left and front right speakers only a notch or two within a software C-Media mixer for my ASUS XONAR STX PCI-E card connected via Toslink to a 5.1 Yamaha RX-V375 stereo receiver, which effectively cancelled almost all front positional audio within the front speakers.

I turned those speakers back to their original position (+0 db or more) from within the third party software and now could hear positional audio from all directions.

(Funny thing is, that person also could hear me louder within Direct Chat from the rear. Maybe his front and rear wiring is mixed as well? ;-)

I did try briefly using HDMI for the past week, using no in between 3rd party software mixing (ie. drivers) and only using the Windows 5.1 speaker software, but found HDMI to be much too buggy! When the stereo reciever auto powered off (or power cycled) while connected via HDMI, the game would loose audio and would not regain audio again until the game was manually stopped from execution and restarted. Toslink (ie. S/PDIF), audio is able to be restarted easily by using ALT TAB keys with a game restart.

Also if I'm not mistaken and against software engineering logic here, HDMI didn't seem to provide good positional audio while using (Toslink) S/PDIF seems to be far superior. Using my (Toslink) S/PDIF connection also requires additional 3rd party (driver) software as the five channel audio is remixed into Dolby Digital over SPDIF. (ie. Dobly Digital 5.1 channel audio is compressed into 2 channel audio, or more commonly referred to as AC-3 or A/52.) Really weird, but that's HDMI for you. HDMI == pain in the ass. ;-)

I'm using stereo headphones - still - left channel is loud and clear, when turning right channel to the source of sound it is much fainter. Is really a limiter over mastertrack everything A3 devs can do about their sound engine?

I use a 5.1 Yamaha RX-V375 with Toslink connection from a ASUS Xonar STX PCI-E card, and think I can hear the four sound channels getting slightly better over the past months.

I'm guessing you notice this increase and decrease in sound levels due to having only two channels. Just goes to show you don't need a high-end sound system to detect the smallest of problems. ;-)

One method that can be used to further verify, many consumers have speaker db level meters. However, guessing the in-house Bohemia Interactive engineers probably will have the equipment on hand.

UPDATE: Sweet. $500 firewire audio device and a $100 headset. As they say, two channel audio is all you really need.

My audio system is what specifically I've been using for audio engineering: akg k240 studio with ProFire 610 M-Audio interface. Wouldn't say it is low-end, just different purpose equipment but yeah - soundscape is better than in alpha, but still that quite annoying L vs R channel problem.

5.1 setup.
It seems gun shots and explosions come from all speakers equally making it impossible to pinpoint a direction, while vehicle sound like tanks and helicopters have proper surround and play from the right direction.
Eg someone shooting direcly behind me = sound played from front (all?) speakers.

Going into distance gunshots seem to get better directional placement.
In Arma2 sound (direction) was working perfectly and also occulsion was working better.

Yup. Positional audio is getting better. But I'll take your word gun shots are still heard from all speakers or more exactly, "sounding as if originating from all directions."

Think they template these (effects) functions in, and then later go back and link all the other effects into their respective function. Basically a programming tactic to tackle bugs more effectively by initially reducing the amount of code to debug, then once working, linking everything else in.

Just implement JSRS 2.0 already jeez :P In JSRS you can here a lower "Pop" sound and a "KSSS". Plus you know exactly where it came from.

Koala added a subscriber: Koala.May 7 2016, 10:42 AM
Koala added a comment.Apr 15 2014, 5:39 PM

There is still a big difference between the ArmA 2 sound engine and the sound engine in ArmA 3.

I am in a great german community, where we regulary play big ArmA 2 and ArmA 3 events (like ShackTac). In ArmA 2 it is easy to locate, where everybody and everything is (footsteps, engine sounds, choppers, far and near gunfire, and so on). In ArmA 3 it is often pretty difficult, especially, if you don't have sight on the target or own units.

I can play all games in brilliant 5.1/7.1 sound through my stereo headphones in combination with CMSS3D. But in ArmA 3 it is different. The spatial sound feels like Stereo and I just can't tell exactly if the sounds are coming from f.e. rear left or front left.

Please fix the sound engine in ArmA 3 (if possible, maybe use the old ArmA 2 engine) and give us back the immersion, ArmA 2 has.

Best regards

oukej added a comment.Jul 3 2014, 3:17 PM

Please let us know if that helped at least a bit. Thanks a lot!

Noticed yesterday that if a vehicle was behind me, I could barely hear it. If I turned towards it the sound would pop in loud and audible. I imagine this is the same for gunshots, and probably all sounds, although I haven't tested yet.

Start a vehicle, eject with it running, put your ass right up against it and you will hardly hear it. Now slowly turn towards it.

Never mind my comment. During moving my PC around yesterday and plugging my headphones into a different port, my sound software configured my headphones for quadrophonic. Switching to stereo made me able to hear behind me again. duh. lol

On the other hand, positional sound and echos, while annoying compared to how easy it used to be to pinpoint a shooter, seems realistic.

I've been around a lot of shooting and often your brain is tricked by echos into thinking the shot came from the wrong direction. Hell, if you go into my garage at night you'll think I have a large boat in my bedroom which is the opposite direction the boat (on Lake Huron blowing its horn) actually is.

With small caliber rifle rounds, you'll likely only hear the round going through the tree leaves above your head. Your first response might be amazement and wondering what's that sound, when you should be doing duck and cover!

It doesnt work as it should. I can hear small arms fire (soldiers with rifles) from distance louder, then shoot right next to me (50 Meters). I died many times beacuse enemy was right next to me and all i was hearing was sonick cracks and not rifle itself. It really must be fixed

rogerx added a comment.Jul 1 2015, 4:35 AM

Yup. The more I think of it, the more I think the current version of ARMA 3 has just a template introduced for sonic cracks, but lacks realism.

If I'm down range, gun shots should sound louder than when standing behind or even near the line of fire. From either locations, I should be easily able to distinguish the location of the origin of the weapon firing. When compared to within the game, the sonic crack and ricochet is significantly over-powering (or has a much higher volume level) then the distant actual firing of the weapon(s). So significantly reduce the sound level of the sonic bangs/cracks and ricochets, and letting the original weapon firing be heard above the sonic bangs/cracks and ricochets should resolve this bug??

Or set louder shoots firing sound from the distances. 50 meters cannot be quieter than 200 meters! I think sonic cracks are way good there, there was many tests and those sounds very realistic and have good loudness.

rogerx added a comment.Jul 2 2015, 2:17 PM

And I also think they have the origin shot sound or sound volume level mixed-up or reversed with ricochet sound levels. Obviously something is amiss here, because I can definitely tell the origin of a shot, whether being shot at or the shot is going down range.

The only trick is suppressed weapon fire from a certain distance, in which case one would hear things whizzing and hitting around them, with no apparent origin, and most people without experience would walk around wondering what are those sounds? And I now realize, a very similar reaction to the automatic intelligence!

As far as the sound quality, I think they only implemented a few different methods. (ie. One with vacant surroundings, one within the wooded areas, and one inside structures.) For example, the inside the building shots obviously sound like shots fired within an indoor shooting range having concrete block surrounding walls. Notice the odd ringing sound when shooting inside the OpenGL simulated wood houses? Due to this, the shot sounds sound amazingly out of place within wooded structures!

To all B Devs: If you will fix this issue, and this :
You will can rest, and cool down, then work with no hurry on the rest of content, its two most important features of game - correct sound placement, and right configuration of game graphics. Off course you could fix how game is using our pc's (now too low), bot as temponrary fix i recomend to use "Process Lasso" - it gain me 15-20 FPS. But remember to configure it before runing game - its very simple.

Will this be fixed in 1.48? Please say yes....

I tried 1.48 last night, and found the audio of gunshots a little bit dulled down instead of having a high ring to them?

It's really difficult to perform any comparison between versions due to the required extensively large amount of data. Performing comparisons with the current ARMA 3 package distribution, would require both (or all) versions available to be installed at once for easy switching. The only way to currently do this is by either (luckily) copying the folders and changing folder names, or have two identical complete computer systems.

Also coaxial MG in vehicles like tanks, is a little bit too quiet. In aircraft while using First person, sound of arms is playing just like in third person (no mulled, just like you are outside the plane without helmet). It a little better, but still not so good. BI, you should put choppers and airplanes sound definetly louder at the distances. I'm living in civilian-military airport - i know what i'm saying. Choppers are abble to hear from very long ~1.7 - 2 KM. And small arms like riffles, smgs, should also be louder specially if its up to 500 M. I know for now, from where AI is shooting but its still to quiet.

Is this bug any better with 1.48?

I cannot tell as the AI have become even more accurate. Maybe their accuracy and ability to see through objects was further increased, to cover this bug? Shrugs.

As for the above comment concerning sound within versus 3D view, I usually don't care much as I tend to assume I'm viewing from an externally mounted camera on the aircraft. Hearing the sound levels fluctuate from going from first person to 3D view is very distracting and unrealistic! Further more, 3D view aids greatly to overcome the one foot by 2 foot window of our computer monitors. Within the real world, our field of vision is far greater than a simple computer monitor!

1.48 still not fixed. Dear Devs, how could you feel playing beta for 2 years? I'm getting out of patience .....

Please make game playable - today after 2 hour of battles (in game) i'm very dissapointed. First of all explosions - they are definetly too quiet over distance - about 300-400 meters and i almost dont hear it. Second - fly-by rockets are impossible to hear. Third - firefights are too quiet over distances and in close distance. Fourth - Sonic cracks are able to heat 80 meter from shooter - its definetly too much - my team member is firing forward, in direction when i look, he is 80 meter from me to the left. Five - helicopters are heared only if i see it. And overall to few explosion sounds, it should be 5 or 6 diferend sounds. Very disapointing.......

Just also realized there are no sounds of (any type of) rocket thrust during flyby either.

doosh added a comment.Sep 3 2015, 1:24 PM

Sound spatialization was improved.

In current release sound starts to appear in opposite channels (opposite to direction to sound source) in very short distance (few meters) so it is possible to clearly specify direction of sound source in any distance.

Attenuation curves, ranges and other parameters which affects volume (dynamic range respectively) are being reviewed.