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Creative vs Asus for Headphone Gaming

post #1 of 3
Thread Starter 

Hiya, first I wanted to say thank you for all the amazing minds I have seen on this forum. I did a lot of homework when I was shopping for a new set of headphones, I was looking at the new Plantronics, Logitech, and Turtle Beach headsets, as well as the Razer products. And well after stumbling on this site from a google search, I started reading about other options from companies I never even heard of (thats how new to the world of PC sound I am). So after reading around, I bought the ATH A700's to replace my old Plantronic 337's. And while I admit I loved the 337's...the A700 blew my mind. I was literally sitting here in tears when I turned them on, and my mom just happened to see me and asked if they were broken. And I was like its so clear....LOL she thought I lost it


But now this is my new issue. I was going to just use the Realtek onboard cause people have said how it is good enough.And I agree, when I was using the 337's and before those some $20 Turtle Beach headset, and before that a $10 Walmart brand, the sound was great. But after I plugged in the A700, I started hearing a faint hiss in my MP3's and in some of my games. I thought it was the headset till I plugged it into the USB card that came with the Plantronics and the hiss went away. I could just use that, but I wanted to get a good dedicated internal card. I've read the discussions here on Head-Fi and I see a lot of posts about upgrading an existing card. But I am wondering as a upgrade from onboard sound trying not to go over $100 which card works best?


This is for me almost strictly a gaming card. Not much of a competitive FPS player, More for single player games, like Skyrim, GTA, Mass Effect (just avoid the ending of 3 lol), and games like that. Or online I play a few like off and on WoW, or SWTOR and GW2. I play FPS, but not as often online, I usually do the campaign modes in those. I wouldnt waste your time with this as search does do wonders, but this is what I havent totally cleared up in my head:


Asus seems more for music and Creative more for gaming (from what I hear)

Asus has better drive support than Creative

Creative's EAX works great for older games, but newer games use Dolby


In my research of decent cards, I am debating between Xonar DG, Xonar DX, Xtreme Gamer, X-Fi Titanium, and Recon3d.


Like the Xonar DG for its headphone amp and the price you cant beat. (Around $25 new)


I found a refurbished Xonar DX for $39. This one gets reviewed at blowing the X-fi Titanium away, but it lacks the power to drive headphones.


Xtreme Gamer I saw refurbished at $35, but I heard nothing but horror stories here and they said save up for Titanium instead


X-Fi Titanium for positional audio and its EAX features for older games (Refurbished at $45) I hear a lot of horror stories dealing with their drivers though, and most people have said that was the deal breaker with this card.


I've heard Recon3d was only good as an onboard upgrade, I havent seen it much cheaper than $80 though.


The motherboard is an Asus IPIBL-LB.  I was thinking about the X-fi Titanium, but after reading about how Windows 7 no longer supports EAX, I was wondering if that means Creatives line no longer has the gaming edge? I have Vista, but I am planning to build a new PC within the year with windows 7 so I wanted this sound card with that also in mind.


So for a headphone gamer, am I putting too much thought into all this? haha....Would it be easier to just go with the Xonar DG with the headphone amp, or is there another card under $100 that you'd say fits the needs of an onboard upgrade and can drive these headphones? I know I could have just run to a store, but in honesty, I think you guys are way wiser than the peeps you get to help you at those stores. Thanks for reading my little book

Edited by cronic22 - 10/9/12 at 1:54am
post #2 of 3

First off, read my PC gaming audio guide. It'll help straighten things out for you a bit.


The "too long, didn't read" version:


-Recent games are mixed using XAudio2 + X3DAudio and/or FMOD Ex, which constrains the imaging to a 7.1 speaker system's worth at most. There's no Dolby or DTS or anything else involved here whatsoever (all channels are handled as PCM, not encoded or compressed) unless you're using Dolby Digital Live or DTS Connect or whatever to make it all fit into an S/PDIF stream for output to a receiver.


-Older games (and some newer ones) are mixed using either the DirectSound3D or OpenAL APIs, which means that the audio device does the mixing using the 3D positional audio information it's fed from the game engine. This is frequently done in hardware on sound cards with DSPs, but also commonly done in software on the CPU with other sound devices or more specialized software like Rapture3D.


-EAX is just Creative's reverb/chorus/occlusion/etc. effect library. It has NOTHING to do with the actual audio positioning; that's the job for the DS3D and OAL APIs, even though they allow access to EAX effects. (Case in point: the original releases of Serious Sam: TFE and TSE. EAX support, but no 3D audio whatsoever.)


-DirectSound3D support can be restored in Vista/Win7 onward by wrapping it into OpenAL. Creative has ALchemy, Asus has DS3DGX, Realtek has 3DSoundBack, so on and so forth. It's just like wrapping 3dfx Glide calls into OpenGL or Direct3D so your old Glide-only games work with hardware graphics acceleration. And of course, games that implement EAX through OpenAL (like Battlefield 2 and Bioshock) don't need it anyway.


-What you're really looking for is a binaural HRTF mixing feature, ala CMSS-3D Headphone (on Creative cards) or Dolby Headphone (everything else). My personal experience is that CMSS-3D has a bit of treble emphasis, DH has a bit of bass emphasis, and both position roughly equally well for software-mixed games...unless the game in question uses DS3D or OAL, which means CMSS-3D wins by miles, because it uses the 3D positional audio information directly while DH has to downmix to 7.1 first.


Creative cards have their driver quirks, which is why I'd recommend using this driver package. Thing is, so does Asus, Realtek, and just about any other brand of audio device you can think of. That's why I see driver packages like this one for Xonar cards. Ultimately, a sound card is just going to not work for someone, even if it works for most of us.


Your A700 should be pretty sensitive, at least enough to work out of any decent sound card. It's not like you've got Q701s or anything else infamously demanding for amplification.


My pick would be this $40 X-Fi Titanium; all the gaming support you could ask for, good sound quality, and the potential to upgrade to an external DAC with optical S/PDIF input later if it doesn't sound good enough for you already. Alternatively, there's the $48 Xonar DGX if you really don't want to go the Creative route for whatever reason.

post #3 of 3
Thread Starter 

Thank you, actually I was reading your guide when I saw your answer. The guide itself is really well written, but I got lost reading the discussion that followed. But this is the learning process :) I was just thinking you were discussing more speaker based gaming.


The Titanium it is! That was my first choice and glad to see gut instinct was right.

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