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Onboard sound vs Sound Card

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 

So, some guy on the BF3 forums was wondering whether he needed a sound card. I said I loved my Asus Xonar DG, and yes, he should get one. Then some random guy said this, "the onboard HD 24 bit sound is better than that crappy ass 30 dollar card. maybe you dodnt have HD onboard sound. a sound card is just a big waste of money.the HD onboard nowadays really all you need and sounds the same."

Is this really true? Has onboard sound gotten that much better in 1-2 years?

post #2 of 19

Unless he's packing one of those Gigabyte G1-series boards with actual X-Fi EMU20k2 DSPs on them, he doesn't know what he's talking about.

 

Even then, I question Gigabyte's implementation of the analog audio outputs on those boards, just because most mobo manufacturers get that totally wrong and introduce ground loops and other crap that add noise to the signal. And for the price of one of those motherboards, you could easily buy something much cheaper and still capable of overclocking and other niceties, add an X-Fi Titanium HD, and still have plenty of money left over to spend on the rest of the PC.

 

Most people just have cheap, crappy Realtek codecs for integrated sound, although I do admit that Realtek is at least less crappy than IDT/SigmaTel and current Analog Devices SoundMAX codecs. On top of that, they generally don't have support for Dolby Headphone or CMSS-3D Headphone or other headphone surround technologies in their drivers, so all you get with headphones is one-dimensional stereo.

 

I also want to know if he thinks BF3 is anywhere near good in terms of positional audio, because if it's anything like Bad Company 2, it's crap in terms of showing you where those sounds are supposed to be coming from. BF2142 and prior...now that's how it should have been done.

post #3 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Uzaar View Post

So, some guy on the BF3 forums was wondering whether he needed a sound card. I said I loved my Asus Xonar DG, and yes, he should get one. Then some random guy said this, "the onboard HD 24 bit sound is better than that crappy ass 30 dollar card. maybe you dodnt have HD onboard sound. a sound card is just a big waste of money.the HD onboard nowadays really all you need and sounds the same."

Is this really true? Has onboard sound gotten that much better in 1-2 years?

 

In an ultimate sense the responder you are talking about is either ignorant or flat out wrong, and for the reasons which Nameless pointed out.

 

But don't forget you have to consider the source/context.  And it's been my experience that many/most of the kids on computer forums - [i]{and yes, at one time I was one of them}[/i] have a mindset that Loud = Good.  Also, having been raised in a musical household, I can attest there is a large portion of the population who have a "Tin Ear" - meaning they couldn't hear the difference even if they tried.  So to them the sound either works, or it doesn't. Not to mention it's a little difficult to hear meaningful differences in source or amplification through $20 plastic~pack headphones or throwaway computer "monitors".  Anyhow, as long as it works then there's no problem and they can spend the money on stuff that matters to them - like Red Bull and Hot Pockets.  :P

 

So when I have my Ex-Computer Geek hat on, I tend to give audio answers as choices.  Meaning you could configure using onboard, or you could spend a little and get an improvement.


Edited by Scotteq - 1/1/13 at 4:49am
post #4 of 19

Do yourself a big favor and get a quality soundcard or an external DAC.  Leave the onboards for Grandmas windows sounds.

post #5 of 19

Onboard has come a long way in the last few years. The Realtek ALC898 tests very good (worst is THD+N: good, best is crosstalk: excellent), at least on my board. This means that the nasty stuff is about 90 dB down, and that is in loopback mode (so the input circuitry may be limiting this).

 

Of course, even a $30 xonar will show measurable improvements, but if you listen to compressed music or are just a casual gamer (many game sounds are also heavily compressed) or don't use a headphone amp then it's not going to make a big difference.

post #6 of 19

I bought a Xonar Essence STX to use with my HD555's to hold me over until I buy a true audiophile setup. I felt I didn't hear enough of a difference over my HD onboard audio with the latest driver to justify the price at the time. I recently bought a pair of Sennheiser HD598's a few days ago (still burning in) and they're certainly much better than my old HD555's. So I may buy the Xonar again in near future because I now believe my expectations were a tad too high with my previous headphones. But it also showed me that onboard audio(with the latest HD driver) has come a LONG way. 

post #7 of 19

I believe anyone who does any kind of gaming with headphones should use a soundcard for the crossfeed/simulated surround sound stuff on it(Dolby Headphone/CMSS-3D). 

post #8 of 19

 Usually when some one says onboard sounds the same as a sound card, they usually used generic headphones or speakers with said sound card or never really heard good audio..Besides having a good source, Having good gear to go along with it also matters.  I also agree with nameless,As there still a need for sound cards as onboard audio devices still isn't up to the level as good sound cards, no matter how much improvement realtek does to the chip.

 

It's a shame really, they could be doing much better with putting audio on the motherboard,But when they do, The motherboard cost like 2x more then the mobos without it. Plus It be something different if he was gonna connect his optical out of his onboard into a external dac amp. But like nameless says, the onboard audio might not have the features that the person would use for gaming like Dolby headphone or cmss3d, Which all would be sent over optical to the external dac/amp. Like how I did with Xonar DG's Dolby headphones when I sent that Thu optical to my NFB-12 for games.  In my case if you like me and your onboard audio drivers are glitched, where you can't even use it optical as it doesn't work correctly,Then a cheap sound card with optical saves you the headache.

 

I sent a friend of mind that same Xonar DG and he been using onboard audio for years, As soon he gave it a listen as he didn't expect it to do any thing. He fall on the floor in shock, It was his best Christmas gift ever.

post #9 of 19

Asus motherboards have pretty decent onboard cards...If all you do is game, more than enough...

post #10 of 19

It maybe more than enough for you but other people want better sound for their games.

 

Get a good soundcard.

post #11 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by WildStyle-R11 View Post

Asus motherboards have pretty decent onboard cards...If all you do is game, more than enough...


Just because you think it decent, do not mean other people feel the same way. Its not not more then enough, its sub-par.  Asus motherboards either using Realtek or VIA Audio chip just like the rest of the motherboard makers and neither one is not decent. If the op cares about sound quality, Then the best thing he can do is either get a sound card or a external dac/amp.  Before you say it, Yes I have tried on-board audio many times over, Including the VIA chip that's on my motherboard, Doesn't sound the same as a decent sound card. Not when you have good  headphones.

 

Now maybe if you had some generic headphones from dollar general or wal-mart, Then it be something different,Because the generic headphones wouldn't make getting a better source worth it, Until you get better gear.  But even a Xonar DG would be a good choice to use over on-board audio, And would do a better job. It would be very affordable for the op, plus a good start. It doesn't have to be more then gaming audio for one to get a sound card or some external device, All it really take is the want of better audio quality, for one to  wanna do it, or get features that is not supported on the device there using.  The only way what you saying was true is if they was using optical out from their motherboard audio into a external dac and did not care for any features that cheap sound cards has, that would sent over the optical, when your using the sound card as a digital transport device. If he gonna be using analog then a sound card would be totally worth it. Unless like I mention, is using subpar generic speakers or headphones.


Edited by genclaymore - 1/3/13 at 12:32pm
post #12 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Uzaar View Post

So, some guy on the BF3 forums was wondering whether he needed a sound card. I said I loved my Asus Xonar DG, and yes, he should get one. Then some random guy said this, "the onboard HD 24 bit sound is better than that crappy ass 30 dollar card. maybe you dodnt have HD onboard sound. a sound card is just a big waste of money.the HD onboard nowadays really all you need and sounds the same."

Is this really true? Has onboard sound gotten that much better in 1-2 years?

On-board audio has gotten better, but motherboard manufacturers are going to use the cheapest audio setup they can get away with.

The MB makers are under pressure to keep costs down, saving pennies where they can.

A $200 motherboard might come with better audio quality then a $100 motherboard.

 

Where as add-on sound card manufacturuers have to offer something that sounds better (then the built-in audio), or their buyers are just going to return the sound card.


Edited by PurpleAngel - 1/3/13 at 4:58pm
post #13 of 19

...exactly.  Between the two, add-in soundcard is where it is at.

post #14 of 19

Well indeed it all comes down to the price of the equipment your using, wont matter if you have low end headset and a good soundcard or for no apparent reason high end headset and onboard soundcard...You can't answer if he needs or doesn't need a dedicated card without knowing what type of headset and or speakers he uses...Suggesting that a guy with 5$ headset gets a dedicated card for 30+$ is ridiculous...
 

post #15 of 19

Ah the excuses people make....You gotta start somewhere, might as well be the source.  You want better audio, start with a better source and work your way out.  If he feels he needs better cans or speakers, that is up to him.

Suggesting the guy keep onboard audio that is worth a point of a cent is just as ridiculous. 

Just because you are happy with such subpar sound doesn't mean others are.


Edited by ROBSCIX - 1/3/13 at 3:13pm
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