Apologise if this had been already addressed. But there are just too many post to read through everything.
I'm wondering about how external amps/DACs would compare to these soundcards.
I understand that external amps/DAC generally has better sound fidelity than internal sound cards, mostly because of electronic noise isolation, less space constrains for better layout and in general external "audiophile" amps/DACs would have better components due to its target audience.
However, I'm a gamer as well and would like to experience both high fidelity and surround reproduction from my games.
Based on Nameless's guide, it's based mainly on gaming soundcards.
I've read and watched videos of "experts" saying that soundcards are gimmick and that external amps/DACs are far more superior. They also stated that they get the same level of surround sound.
For the headphone portion, I think it's easier to understand since most people have the same advice.
For headphones with bigger soundstage and opened would have better surround. That sounds like it makes sense.
But there's a very grey area to soundcard vs external amp/DACs. Is soundcard surround sound feature really a marketing stunt or is it necessary?
Thanks and sorry in advance, if someone had already addressed this. Been having trouble finding someone with both expertise to give precise advise.
If you're talking about that infamous Teksyndicate video, it's been ripped apart in this very thread countless times for generating more misinformation and FUD. Well-intentioned as it may be, they're only spreading more misconceptions, to the consternation of all us Head-Fi folk.
I'll just tell you this: if games mixed headphone surround properly from the outset, then we wouldn't be using virtual surround on PCs or consoles alike to begin with. The problem is that they DON'T, so we get sound cards (or Mixamps/AVRs with Dolby Headphone/etc. for the consoles) and leverage their virtual surround capabilities so that everything doesn't sound one-dimensional.
Furthermore, a USB DAC has precisely ZERO gaming DSP features, not even the rudimentary EAX 1/2 you get out of integrated Realtek codecs or any ALchemy-esque wrapper to convert DirectSound3D to OpenAL. Do you have even the slightest idea how lifeless and awful DS3D-based games sound without ALchemy to re-enable hardware acceleration through OpenAL? Sure, they tend to be very old titles from the Win9x/early XP days as opposed to today's FMOD/Wwise software-mixed fare, but I like the classics. (And that's not even getting into how I built a Win9x gaming box with an Aureal Vortex2-based card specifically to get the most out of A3D-based titles...)
Yes, there's Razer Surround, which is entirely software-based and could work on USB DACs, but it just doesn't do it for me at all, no matter how I tweak it.
Maybe one day, the audio middlewares in common use will have binaural mix options by default, and then I can believe them. But until that happens? I continue to stand by CMSS-3D Headphone.
Edited by NamelessPFG - 3/8/14 at 12:37pm