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  • bug glitch 4596
    pc 3432
    technical issue 2776
    91 Likes/236 Replies/5278 Views
    CaptainStarPaw
    Original poster 27 posts

    I'm an audio producer hobbyist and can confirm a number of audio specific issues present with AC:Valhalla, running Patch 1.0.2. I originally posted my findings on Reddit but wanted to share it here with the Ubisoft team.

    1. The audio quality in general suffers horribly because of heavy lossy compression (low bitrate optimised for size). It is also exacerbated by the fact that the compression quality is not consistent across dialogue, music and SFX. You can pick up on this much easier with a pair of studio headphones/monitors. Beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO owner here. The high frequencies are tinny and washed out, similarly to what a 64-96 kbps MP3 sounds like.
    2. If you've played both Origins and Odyssey, you may have noticed that this is not a new issue, although Valhalla seems to suffer worse. Audio quality complaints have been prevalent in the past. Ubisoft do not appear to prioritise audio quality for release as this would significantly increase download and install size. This is presumably due to how they package their releases for the console market. They really ought to release a HD audio pack for their recent AC games so we can actually enjoy unspoilt crystal clear audio.
    3. The audio constantly cuts in and out. I have a very clean and up-to-date Win10 installation with an NVIDIA RTX 2080 Super, along with a Focusrite Scarlett 18i20 sound device. Audio cuts in and out randomly for 1-2 seconds at a time whenever I interact with the UI. Personally, it is most easily reproduced during the tattoo and hair customization screen. This issue does not occur with their previous games.
    4. The volume balance of sounds seems really out of whack, and I can only bare to play this game with the Dynamic Range set to Midnight in the game options, otherwise there are certain sounds that are so loud they almost make me [censored] myself. This is not supposed to be a jump scare horror experience in the sound department.
    5. Less of an issue, but they have re-used a lot of sound assets from their previous titles. It can be really tacky/cookie cutter whenever this is done, but particularly so when the sound quality is poor to begin with.


    Oddly, many of the official reviews I have read so far completely fail to mention the audio issues, and this is concerning. The issues are so obvious that they must have either purposefully omitted the critique, have sub-par sound systems, or couldn't care less. I remember back in the day when video games magazine reviewers took pride in providing a detailed opinion of sound effects and music.

    How do you guys feel about it? To me, the $60 price tag is a bit of a kick in the teeth, and I feel that Ubisoft should really have audio technicalities down to a T. We also deserve to optionally download HD quality assets, especially since there are many gamers among us that invest a great deal of time and money into our home cinema set-ups.

    Put it this way, would you be okay if you bought a $60 blu-ray box set of your new favourite show and the audio was poor quality?
    Your best Valhalla sound experience would be to listen to the soundtrack on Spotify. It is a beautiful, wholly remarkable piece of work, sadly let down by poor integration within the game itself.




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  • Grand_Alf
    1 posts

    Hi, I just started playing Valhalla and I appear to have some strange audio, like the voices are echoing and it sounds like I am in an echoing room even outside in the overworld.

  • ZealotQ.
    7 posts

    Ive experienced this issue in Origins aswell, for some reason my Audio sounds really muffled and just bad In general. Odyssey didnt have this issue, Id really like to know how to fix this. It's very annoying.

  • ThorHammer96
    10 posts

    playing and the cutscenes audio will stop playing it happens in the last 2 game now watch dogs now this a recurring bug by lazy dev not learning from past games sort it this is now a joke it happening it all your games

  • zhead_
    28 posts

    Same issue with me. It is really annoying

  • VanixLH
    12 posts

    I also experience the same thing, audio sounds like it's been super compressed. There's no mids or lows, audio levels are all over the place, many sounds are far too high pitched and too loud (like the air assassination noise for example) dialogue in particular sounds terrible. Like it's a very low bitrate. Even the original AC in 2007 had better audio though you could still hear the compression then, but this is much worse. I sincerely hope there's a fix on the way as it's very distracting and not pleasant..

  • Mr_Queenie
    5 posts

    Playing the game yesterday I noticed that Eivor (male) has a large volume difference to every other character, I kept having to tweak my settings to make it sound less strange but he always sounds about 50% louder than every other actor. Was this intended? I tried using that boost function but it didn't seem to affect anything.

    Also sounds are totally out of whack, I stood next to a waterfall and the loudest thing was the clang of my flail on my leg as i walked slightly. It just feels like the audio in this game is really out of balance, some abilities such as the harpoon one are insanely loud as well. I've also had the swing of a hit be louder than the impact.

  • zhead_
    28 posts

    this is true for a lot of people. You might also notice its sounds like everything is in a bean can. It's really bad

  • DoctorMcBatman
    4 posts

    I'll start by saying it's mostly the environmental/ambient audio that is terrible. The voice audio is OK.

    With that out of the way, the overall audio experience in ACV is genuinely horrible. This is the worst overall audio I've heard in any AAA game. I don't know if it's due to file compression, recording methods, mixing/mastering, or something else, but it sounds so thin and cold, void of musicality. Hopefully, if it is file compression, maybe they will release an optional HQ audio pack that isn't so ineptly compressed? We'd have to raise awareness though. So if you feel the same, please make posts and upvote posts.

    Honestly, this level of audio degradation is unacceptable at the AAA level. It feels like incompetence, as this should have been caught. As someone who records a fair bit of audio, I like to do what a lot of people call the "car" or "computer" test. That is, after mixing your audio on your high quality studio monitors, you burn it to a disc and check it on regular ol' speakers that 99% of people will be using. If it doesn't sound good there, it needs more work. It feels like the ACV audio designers did not do this. Because I can't imagine any audio engineer would hear this audio and think it's passable.
    This is my biggest grievance with the game (though there are others), and frankly, it's unacceptable.

    (PS: Ubi's new forums are garbage. I can't believe it, but they're worse than the old forums! lol I can't believe UI/UX designers thought this design was good... I'm picking a lot of bones with Ubi staff today, but honestly, they deserve it - this is a huge AAA company and they charge huge AAA prices for their [censored])

  • CaptainStarPaw
    Original poster 27 posts

    Update @ 11:54AM CST 11/11/2020: I extracted the audio files using Wwise-unpacker and discovered that the audio quality is a lot worse than I previously anticipated. SFX is saved at a 24000 Hz sample rate, with a variable bitrate that seems to peak at around 70 kbps. Looking at the Frequency Analysis tab, you can clearly observe a frequency rolloff at around 11000 Hz. Standard CD audio is at 44100 Hz (DVD standard is 48000 Hz), and that is the sample rate that nearly every sound device and operating system is designed to work with.

    Here is a screenshot of my analysis


  • xrayspex_73
    79 posts

    @captainstarpaw

    I found another bug that might be causing some of the issues with sound cutting in and out. By default the game's controller scheme is set to "Hybrid" mode which allows you to switch between controller and mouse/keyboard. I play with a controller, and I found that every time i moved my mouse the sound cuts out for a second. When I start using the controller again, the sound again cuts out. I think some of my audio cutting out randomly was due to possibly accidently moving the mouse while I was playing with a controller (like bumping the desk).

    This is easily reproducible. Just switch between controller and mouse/keyboard while in Hybrid mode.

    Once I changed the controller scheme to be ONLY controller, I have yet to have the audio cut out.

    This doesn't of course fix the issues with the terrible audio quality and weird mix, but it might be the cause of some the the sound cutting out.

    TLDR: Hybrid mode causes additional audio issues and you should set the control scheme to either Controller OR Mouse/Keyboard.

  • xrayspex_73
    79 posts

    @captainstarpaw

    OMG that is like what MP3's sounded like in the 90's.

  • CaptainStarPaw
    Original poster 27 posts

    @xrayspex_73 Aha. I did notice that whilst switching from controller to keyboard, the cutting out issue seemed to occur more frequently. Thanks for the tip! I'll give it a go and see if it will at least eliminate that problem.

    Yeah, the terrible audio quality is inherent to the way it was compressed for distribution. Ubisoft should learn from the guys and gals responsible for Middle-earth: Shadow of War. They released 4K cinematics for free, along with higher quality in-game assets.

  • zhead_
    28 posts

    @captainstarpaw Pretty cool finding. This explains a lot. I guess there is no workaround that we can use for now

  • PierreAngelique
    18 posts

    @doctormcbatman

    Yes I totally agree. I actually refunded the game on PC and am going to wait until they patch the game and address this particular issue (assuming that they do). The audio was really strange and compressed sounding, at least while using headphones. Its hard to say what is wrong with it exactly but it is not AAA level.

  • dlmthree
    42 posts

    Audio mixing is all over the place. Mainly I find the audio related to the main character very loud, be it voice over and noise that you make.

    That wouldn't be much of an issue since you could just lower your volume but a lot of voices are actually lower than yours, which already makes most dialogues quite unpleasing to follow.

    My first impression of the game was really bad, that was the voice of child Eivor that had a lot of echo (I mean like recorded in a big empty room). They said that COVID didn't really impact the development of the game but I feel like it had its toll on voice recording which doesn't seem to have happened in a professional environment.


  • xrayspex_73
    79 posts

    @captainstarpaw

    The sad thing is, this game is relatively small (45GB) compared to most games these days (hell Odyssey is over 100GB). They certainly could have given the audio more space "budget" as it were. I would gladly have downloaded 65-75GB if it meant better sound quality.

  • DoctorMcBatman
    4 posts

    [censored]...

    "ERRORYou are only allowed to edit posts for 5 minute(s) after posting"

    Seriously? My god, this forum just gets worse and worse. lol

    Anyway, thanks for the replies. My post on reddit is getting a lot of attention and support, hopefully the devs see and agree.

  • CaptainStarPaw
    Original poster 27 posts

    @xrayspex_73 Totally. The compression is unnecassarily strict, considering that the English audio and SFX only take up 4.5 GB of hard disk space.

    If they provided the sound at 44100 Hz with an average variable bitrate of 128-160 kbps, you would likely see the total size increase from 4.5 GB to approximately 12 GB. Still not very large, but it would be a light and day difference for sound quality.

  • AstroCat
    6 posts

    Another audio thing, I use 5.1 surround (true/speakers) and the center channel mix is way off. There is way too much audio data coming through the center channel, including all the player movement SFX. It sounds pretty bad, and also "audio pro" by trade. 😉

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