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Is it worth upgrading my sound card?

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 

Hello, im a total newb and need some advice.  Currently I'm running a Creative X-FI Fatal1ty "Champion series" (lol)  with a pair of Sennheiser HD595 headphones.  Would it be worth upgrading my current card to an Asus Xonar Essence STX or would I be better off getting an external amp?

 

I've been having a strange problem with cracking/popping ever since I upgraded my Motherboard and Video cards. (xfire HD5850).  Ive read that this may be caused by the sound card being so close to the vid cards. Would an external AMP help me out possibly?  My main use is gaming.. but I do use it for music/movies.

post #2 of 10

For those headphones, I wouldn't bother with another amp.  The amp will not help with crackling/popping.  You can certainly consider getting an external DAC and amp, which will very likely help with cracking/popping but is it worth it, it's up to you.  Personally, I wouldn't want errors in the sound caused by noise, so I'd try to debug the system to find the problem and fix it.

post #3 of 10
Thread Starter 

I've tried everything from troubleshooting the motherboard, drivers, bios firmware, different PCIe slots, etc.  The cracking and popping seems to get worse when plugged directly into the sound card vs. the front expansion bay.  The onboard sound doesn't give me problems what so ever.  The only thing I can think of is the sound card is picking up interference from the video cards being 2cm away.  I've had this problem for nearly a year and im ready to fkn shoot myself. lol  

post #4 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by soulj4h View Post

Hello, im a total newb and need some advice.  Currently I'm running a Creative X-FI Fatal1ty "Champion series" (lol)  with a pair of Sennheiser HD595 headphones.  Would it be worth upgrading my current card to an Asus Xonar Essence STX or would I be better off getting an external amp?

 

I've been having a strange problem with cracking/popping ever since I upgraded my Motherboard and Video cards. (xfire HD5850).  Ive read that this may be caused by the sound card being so close to the vid cards. Would an external AMP help me out possibly?  My main use is gaming.. but I do use it for music/movies.



If gaming is your main purpose, I strongly recommend the Creative X-Fi Titanium HD, it's literally the king of gaming, with sound at least on par with Asus Xonar Essence STX, a smoother sound signature and less expensive.

 

And if you have the possibility to keep your soundcard as further away from your GPUs as possible, it would help lessen that kind of issues.

 

Those headphones aren't known for being power hungry, and you getting an amp would be more for futureproofing regarding a possible headphone purchase than for the HD595 themselves.

post #5 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by soulj4h View Post

I've tried everything from troubleshooting the motherboard, drivers, bios firmware, different PCIe slots, etc.  The cracking and popping seems to get worse when plugged directly into the sound card vs. the front expansion bay.  The onboard sound doesn't give me problems what so ever.  The only thing I can think of is the sound card is picking up interference from the video cards being 2cm away.  I've had this problem for nearly a year and im ready to fkn shoot myself. lol  



Would it be possible for you to sell that pair of GPUs and get a single GPU that's more powerful than your Crossfire setup? wink.gif That would make things easier for both your soundcard and your gaming biggrin.gif

post #6 of 10
Thread Starter 

I could.. but how am i gonna impress the ladies with just one video card?  :)    Besides.. I've had the vidcards for over a year and they still perform quite well compared to some of the newer cards out. (was able to OC the **** out of em)

 

I dunno.. im kinda turned off by creative products right now with the problems I've had.. does the xonar not perform well in games? (such a sc2)


Edited by soulj4h - 7/14/11 at 2:16pm
post #7 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by soulj4h View Post

I could.. but how am i gonna impress the ladies with just one video card?  :)    Besides.. I've had the vidcards for over a year and they still perform quite well compared to some of the newer cards out. (was able to OC the **** out of em)

 

I dunno.. im kinda turned off by creative products right now with the problems I've had.. does the xonar not perform well in games? (such a sc2)



Hehe, you could get a single PCB dual GPU, that way the ladies would be all over you ;)

 

Xonar cards perform ok, and certainly better than onboard, but not nearly close to X-Fi based cards, they just lack on that. I honestly hope that changes in the future, as it would force Creative to step up their game, despite the X-Fi Titanium HD being nothing short of amazing.

 

I understand you being put off with those sound issues, but a soundcard should never have been that close to GPUs, of course it will pick up all sorts of EMI. A card with a proper EMI shield is a must, and even then it's not warranted that you're on the clear regarding that. The Titanium HD does have an EMI shield, even if it should look that previous X-Fi cards would have it more than the Titanium HD.

 

About SC2, it runs an odd engine that was made to have as wide compatibility as possible, but does tap on the hardware available on X-Fi cards (all X-Fi cards except XtremeAudio, that one isn't a true X-Fi) in order to provide higher quality SFX, better positional audio accuracy, the usual things that come when full audio effects are available wink.gif

post #8 of 10

There is a "quick fix" - buy yourself an Audio-GD Sparrow with S/PDIF input and run your headphones from that.  It's actually what I use for gaming mostly - X-Fi XtremeMusic (modded) -> Coax S/PDIF -> Sparrow -> DT770/80Pro.  It's kickass for gaming, not as much for music.

post #9 of 10
Thread Starter 

I was looking at the Audio-GD Sparrow you recommended.. but with shipping it came out to around $160.00 shipped. The exact same price as a xonar.  Wouldn't I benefit from a preamped soundcard instead?

post #10 of 10

You're assuming that another card won't have similar distortion on the analog section.  I'm not sure what a "preamped soundcard" is.

 

The Sparrow is a great value, nice DAC, nice amp, absolutely no complaints and at a fantastic price.  I haven't found anything that good at a similar price point.

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