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Best PCI-E sound card for gaming? (solely headphones)

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 

Just looking for a good/great sound card for sole use with gaming and the only usage would be with my AD700s and eventually a pair of "high end" headphones I decide on. Price range is 150-200 if possible and any cards fit that range. Any advice/suggestions are much appreciated! (I use a Xonar DX right now but get a lot of miniscule audio distortion and crackles and I'm not really sure why either but definitely want to look into a diferent card) Also to add I was going to get the Xonar Essence STX but I heard it's not that great for primarily gaming, and I'd rather a primarily great gaming sound card that also does well/decent on music audio.

post #2 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by richruzz View Post

Just looking for a good/great sound card for sole use with gaming and the only usage would be with my AD700s and eventually a pair of "high end" headphones I decide on. Price range is 150-200 if possible and any cards fit that range. Any advice/suggestions are much appreciated! (I use a Xonar DX right now but get a lot of miniscule audio distortion and crackles and I'm not really sure why either but definitely want to look into a different card) Also to add I was going to get the Xonar Essence STX but I heard it's not that great for primarily gaming, and I'd rather a primarily great gaming sound card that also does well/decent on music audio.

The Xonar DX is a nice sound card, just not that great for driving headphones.

Have you turned off the on-board audio (in the bios)?

Maybe delete the on-board audio's drivers and software?

Install the "Unified Xonar Drivers" from the Brainbit website.

 

The STX and DX use the same audio processor (CMI8788).

Most STX owners seem fine gaming with the STX.

post #3 of 8
Thread Starter 

I'd prefer a more "headphone centric" sound card for gaming if such even exists and yeah, I've tried all those other things and the general sound quality doesn't seem that great along with minute crackles and pops I get during certain sounds,

post #4 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by richruzz View Post

I'd prefer a more "headphone centric" sound card for gaming if such even exists and yeah, I've tried all those other things and the general sound quality doesn't seem that great along with minute crackles and pops I get during certain sounds,

"Headphone centric"?

post #5 of 8
Dolby Headphone and/or CMSS-3D Headphone support and maybe a decent built-in headphone amp with some moderate impedance... what else would be more "headphone-centric"?

Popping, distortion, and other noises may be the result of EMI/RFI. Does the noise happen only when you turn up the volume or is it always there? Try seating your sound card as far as possible from your GPU and PSU, especially if they're of the high-powered variety. See if that helps. TV/radio tuners and wireless cards may also be culprits, but they're less likely to be so. As a last resort, you can use your sound card's digital out to an external DAC to avoid any noise inside your computer.
Edited by HalidePisces - 11/15/12 at 8:53am
post #6 of 8

I don't know what you've heard about the STX that claims it's bad for gaming. It has fantastic Dolby Headphone and Virtual Surround; it even has a billion options to toggle depth of soundfield and even room material if you're into that kind of thing. It can set different profiles depending on whether you want DH on (gaming), DH on with some EQ changes (movies), or neither enabled for better musical playback.

 

Just about the only thing I can think of that might improve it is if it had application specific profile auto-switching, so that when you start up a game you don't need to manually change from your hi-fi

settings to gaming settings. But that takes two seconds, so I'm not even going to bother complaining about it.

 

If you have the money for it, it's a fantastic gaming and all around audio card. It's also specifically designed for headphones, has a built-in headphone amp of very reasonable quality, and has a 1/4 jack as one of the output options.

 

I can't speak as to any distortion issues, but keep in mind that the analog section of the STX is completely shielded from EMI/RFI by a metal shroud.

 

I have absolutely no complaints about it; IMO it was easily worth what I paid for it. The only thing to keep in mind is that you have to manually install new drivers for it. The ones it comes with are way out of date and will cause system conflicts.

post #7 of 8
Thread Starter 

I ended up going with a Creative Titanium HD, and hopefully the crackling/distortion won't be as bad. My power supply is a modular 750W Corsair TX and sits on the bottom of my case near the last slot, and my top PCI-E 3.0 slot is filled by a GTX 680 which is quite big so it doesn't have many options on where to sit. What is an external DAC or how much would that cost me/work? Also does anyone have suggestions of good headphones/headset to go with the Creative Titanium HD? I have AD700s but they are mostly placeholders for a future investment.

post #8 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by richruzz View Post

I ended up going with a Creative Titanium HD, and hopefully the crackling/distortion won't be as bad. My power supply is a modular 750W Corsair TX and sits on the bottom of my case near the last slot, and my top PCI-E 3.0 slot is filled by a GTX 680 which is quite big so it doesn't have many options on where to sit. What is an external DAC or how much would that cost me/work? Also does anyone have suggestions of good headphones/headset to go with the Creative Titanium HD? I have AD700s but they are mostly placeholders for a future investment.

http://www.head-fi.org/t/636270/fischer-audio-fa-011

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