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Best Sound Card for less than 120$?

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 

-Sennheiser HD 598s

-Onboard Sound.

 

I have 120$ that I can spend on a sound card. Here are my preferences.

Music>Guitar Recording>Games.

 

Music: I listen to metal mostly.

Guitar Recording: I use Guitar Rig 5 to record music, sound is horrible recording with onboard sound.

Games: I don't really care that much about audio in games.

I rarely watch movies on my PC.

A built in Headphone Amp would be nice, but I can live without one.

A 1/4 jack input for my Sennheisers would be really nice, but also, can live without it.

Any recommendations?

post #2 of 13

Unfortunately, a 1/4" output jack is not common on cheap cards. Some possible choices:

  - Xonar DG: likely to be much better than the onboard audio, and has a basic built-in amplifier; it only costs ~$30

  - Xonar D1 or DX: for the ~$80 price, quite good DAC/ADC performance, but no built-in amplifier (100 Ω output impedance); it is best used with an external amplifier

  - Auzentech X-Fi Forte: ~$120, good quality, built-in amplifier, gaming support (X-Fi DSP chip); a major disadvantage is that high failure rate has been reported (the card often did not last longer than a few months)

  - Creative X-Fi Titanium / HD: these may be within your budget if bought used. I do not know about the headphone output/amplification performance, but it is hopefully decent at least for your headphones


Edited by stv014 - 4/1/12 at 4:41am
post #3 of 13

A used Asus Xonar DX (or D1) sound card ($50) and the Fiio E11 headphone amplifier ($65).

(you can get a separate AC powered battery recharger and two extra batteries for $12 off eBay).

post #4 of 13
Thread Starter 

The Xonar DX/D1 sounds good. I have a Fiio E7 on the way, Can I use it amp only with the Card?

post #5 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by markzi View Post

The Xonar DX/D1 sounds good. I have a Fiio E7 on the way, Can I use it amp only with the Card?



Yes, FiiO E7 has both a DAC and an amp section.

post #6 of 13

I've seen the stx go for as little as $130 used here...

post #7 of 13
Thread Starter 

That would be nice but I would have shipping problems and I prefer not to use used products. I will go for the Xonar DX and pair it with my Fiio E7 Amp Only. If I don't find a DX in my country what alternatives should I consider? I've heard a lot of things about the HT Omega Striker. What do you think?

post #8 of 13

markzi, I think this is what you're looking for: http://www.amazon.com/Creative-Sound-Blaster-System-SB1240/dp/B004275EO4/ref=pd_cp_e_0

 

An external audio interface with both a high quality DAC and a high quality ADC for your recordings. And if falls nicely within your budget.

post #9 of 13

I read this does not have hardware support for 44.1 kHz sample rate ? Other than that, it is not bad, although it seems to have similar/slightly worse measured ADC/DAC performance than the Xonar DX; however, of course, it provides more safety against computer interference. It does have a built-in JRC4556 headphone amplifier, which is not very powerful (1 Vrms max. output), but is still a useful feature, and could work well with the HD598.

 

post #10 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by stv014 View Post

I read this does not have hardware support for 44.1 kHz sample rate ? Other than that, it is not bad, although it seems to have similar/slightly worse measured ADC/DAC performance than the Xonar DX; however, of course, it provides more safety against computer interference. It does have a built-in JRC4556 headphone amplifier, which is not very powerful (1 Vrms max. output), but is still a useful feature, and could work well with the HD598.

 



Where did you read measurements that it's worse than the Xonar DX? Also, it has slightly over 1Vrms for the headphone out while the line-out has 2Vrms. The JRC4556 is more powerful than you think, which can be read on NwAvGuy's blog, outperforming opamps with better stats on paper through objective measurements.

 

EDIT: Yes, it starts at 48KHz.

post #11 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by Roller View Post

Where did you read measurements that it's worse than the Xonar DX?

 

The specs by Creative are already not as good as what the Xonar is capable of, and the specs are usually the best case performance. But it may be "good enough" anyway, other than the lack of hardware 44.1 kHz support. It does not seem to support 192 kHz either, but that is not of much practical relevance for most people.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Roller View Post

Also, it has slightly over 1Vrms for the headphone out while the line-out has 2Vrms.

 

The JRC4556 is more powerful than you think, which can be read on NwAvGuy's blog, outperforming opamps with better stats on paper through objective measurements.

 

I know that the 4556 is good for driving headphones (it is also used in the O2, although with two parallel chips), and I did already read the NwAvGuy blog. I referred to the headphone amplifier as a potential feature, not as a flaw. Although the use of a particular chip does not guarantee good performance by itself; it is unknown how well the headphone output is implemented. But it could very well be better than the E7, other than the possibly lower maximum voltage, which is not an issue for the HD598.

 


Edited by stv014 - 4/2/12 at 9:57am
post #12 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by stv014 View Post

 

The specs by Creative are already not as good as what the Xonar is capable of, and the specs are usually the best case performance. But it may be "good enough" anyway, other than the lack of hardware 44.1 kHz support. It does not seem to support 192 kHz either, but that is not of much practical relevance for most people.

 



 

You have a point regarding the specs.

 

An option better than both the Asus Xonar DX and the Creative X-Fi HD USB is the Creative X-Fi Titanium HD, having both better measurements and a more complete feature set: http://www.amazon.com/Sound-Blaster-X-Fi-Titanium-Refurbished/dp/B0067MK23U/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1333388723&sr=8-2

 

EDIT: Forgot to mention the Titanium HD is shielded against EMI, something the Xonar DX isn't, and due to being internal, it bypasses potential bus issues.


Edited by Roller - 4/2/12 at 10:53am
post #13 of 13

What are you running other than headphones? Studio Monitors? Regular computer speakers? 


Edited by TheRH - 4/2/12 at 10:58am
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