Disclaimer: I suspect the sound “channels” I talk about here are actually different from the technical term of sound channels on sound cards. I call them channels since I can turn down one and it won’t affect another, not because it’s actually a different port (I don’t know if it is).
My guild is trying to change for the progression-orientation. As a result, the officers are getting a little tougher, a bit at a time, on expectations for raid performance.
They started a thing of requiring GTFO for all healers, so people can’t say they stood in the fire because they couldn’t watch their timers while healing a whole 25man Grid.
I’m with another raider; if you can’t see anything other than your Grid while in combat, you need to take a step back and look at your combat UI setup again.
I don’t mean just “I can see if I’m standing in stuff,” because if you need GTFO, either you actually can’t see stuff you’re standing in, or you need to look at whether you need a sound-oriented UI (versus a visual-oriented one). I also mean noticing your own spell alerts and maybe a boss mod timer or range checker.
However, I admit, GTFO is a temporary fix until we can get to this point.
GTFO is an addon that tells you to Get the Fuzz Out when you’re standing in any kind of bad. While it helps people to get out of bad (plus), I’d rather they not ever be in bad in the first place (watching a timer / travel time cast would help), or be in it as little as possible.
I scoffed a bit at the GTFO requirement — though it’s only for healers, for now — because I pointed out that DBM does the same thing. DBM tells me when I’m standing in doo, and even better, it has this gigantic warning across my screen that I’m standing in doo. It makes the what I call “DBM GTFO YOU MORON” sound. I can’t really have that sound anywhere else in any other mod because it’s the DBM GTFO YOU MORON sound and it provokes a very specific high-alert reaction in me.
Some healers play with their game sounds off. I understand this; I have a raiding volume setting that specifically puts almost every down low so I can hear things like Vent and my boss mods. These healers were saying they can’t play the game with little to no sounds AND hear DBM over it.
4.0 & Sound Channels
When Cataclysm / 4.0 opened, Blizzard broke the traditional way of boss mod sounds over combat sounds by making them go through the same sound channel. So you couldn’t turn down your combat sounds without also turning down DBM yelling at you.
There are actually 4 sliders of volume channels in the volume section of WoW: Master Volume, Music, Ambience, and Sound.
Music is obvious: it’s the music of the zone. Some of the music is gorgeous, and I feature this in my Questing sound preset, since I love to listen to all the sounds when I’m out in the world.
Ambience is obvious as well: it’s the nature-y sounds, to put it shortly. It’s the wind blowing, it’s the rain falling, it’s the birds chirping, it’s the water splashing. I too prefer this while questing, but also when I’m watching something in the background off my computer’s DVD player. I often watch DVDs while fishing, and the fishing bobber splash sound is under Ambience.
Sound is the game and combat sounds you hear when you hack and slash or cast spells at something. It’s also the Ready Check sound and some UI sounds now that Blizzard has relegated them all there.
Master Volume controls all sounds up or down, but it is also its own “channel.” I generally leave this one maxed, and slide the others up and down.
4.0 Sound Fix: GTFO vs. DBM
In order to fix the “addon sound with combat sound” problem, GTFO and DBM implemented two different solutions. In the beginning, they both did the same thing, actually, but later DBM found (in my opinion) the better solution to the problem.
GTFO solves this problem by very briefly turning up your combat sound right before it sounds off and then immediately returning your combat sound to its original settings (or to low/muted settings). You can try it out; when GTFO sounds off, you very briefly hear your game sounds too.
DBM temporarily fixed the problem this way, but then found a way to play its sounds through the Master Volume channel instead of the Sound channel. You can enable this in the DBM General Options.
I use an addon called Volumizer (usually categorized under the LDB addons) so I can easily reach these options without having to open the options panel every time. Volumizer also allows five preset options you can save to. I have 4 presets: Raiding, Questing, Video in Background, Battlegrounds.
Each sound option has increments of 10%, from 0 to 100.
Other options you can have are Loop Music, Emote Sounds, Sound at Character, Sound in Background, Error Speech, and Pet Sounds.
I prefer to leave Error Speech off all the time, since I spam keys and the human female is quite whiny actually.
Sound at Character means you’ll hear sort of a realistic stereo-type of sound; it’s meant so you hear sounds as if your ears were on your character instead on your camera. Try it: the difference really comes from perceived sources of the edges of your screen. It’s the difference between listening to something happen off-screen, and actually physically being where the camera is when the off-screen thing is sounding off.
Sound in Background means if you alt-tab you can still hear sounds from WoW. I find this useful while fishing or when on raid break (ready checks!).
Raiding is low on sounds. I’ve found a bunch of Ambience or combat Sound interferes with comprehending Vent voices (I can hear them, just not understand what they’re saying), so I keep those low.
I keep Master Volume higher than all of it so I can still hear DBM yelling at me when need be. 20% looks low, but really it’s about a few steps below the average Vent voice’s volume for me. If Vent is loud talking, DBM is speaking level.
Questing emphasizes sounds. I love a lot of the zone music, and I prefer to listen to the ambience around me. I often use it while questing (duh), but sometimes also while fishing or doing dailies. Basically whenever I want to immerse myself in Azeroth, I pick this option. When I have this volume set up, I often cannot hear or comprehend Vent voices (people like to talk during the big music crescendos o.O).
Video in BG (Video in Background) is for when I’m watching a DVD or a Youtube video or listening to iTunes (podcast or music) on my computer while playing WoW. I want to hear the combat sounds, but I also would like to hear what’s going on in the episode. I’ve balanced so I can hear low-mid combat sounds without cluttering up speech and thematic music from TV shows. I most often use this setting while fishing.
BGs (Battlegrounds) came out of an experiment and flipping between Questing & Raiding sets. I need to hear Vent when PvPing with guildies, but I also turn the Ambience and combat up higher than a raiding set so I can hear certain things like Stealth. I also emphasize the Sound at Character option here, since I’ve found my spatial awareness relative to my character has increased with it. (Things behind you seem to come from a slightly different “direction” than things behind you but slightly to the left do.)
In order to balance these high-awareness sounds with Vent, I flipped Master Volume up the highest (UI sounds) and left Ambience + Sound at mid-range. This allows important things like UI to be brightly clear and loud while also bringing up diminished combat ambience.
I’ve played WoW with all sounds on and with all sounds off, and I have to say I prefer to play with at least some sounds on. Particularly the combat sounds; I find I get antsy and it bothers me if I can’t hear at least a little bit of the combat sounds.
It’s completely fine if you play with all your sounds off. I did for a while, and never noticed that Peggle plays Ode to Joy upon winning a level until I accidentally left them up one night.
Me: “Omigosh, it plays Ode to Joy!”
Friend: “…how did you not know that.”
Me: “What? I never played with the sounds on.”
Friend: “WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU. ALWAYS PLAY PEGGLE WITH THE SOUNDS ON. D:”
Me: “…meep. >.<“