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Sound Card Help

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 

Okay, so after diligently searching for an audio solution for my set up and reading days worth of forum posts, I have purchased studio monitors instead of a gimmicky out of the box surround sound system. 

After narrowing my search to Yamaha H50s, KRK Rockit 5s, Audioengine A5 and Mackie MR5 MK2s, I decided to purchase the Mackies as most reviews stated that MK2s are a newer generation and out of the box bass response is accurate and solid even without a sub. However, I do plan on adding a sub later on. I hooked them up and wow what an amazing sound. Blows out the Boss I had tried that were $150 more money. 

Now, on to my question. I want to purchase a sound card and after doing some research came across the fact that in order for my Astro A50s to get the true surround sound response it is built for, I need a card with DDL. That narrows my search down to pretty much anything with an optical out. I was ready to pull the trigger on this: http://www.amazon.com/Creative-Soundblaster-Surround-System-SB1095/dp/B0044DEDCA since it is reasonably priced, post creative issues (they fixed a lot of problems with their new line) and has external features such as headphone input, mic input and volume control. This is actually semi important since turning down the monitors manually is a pain in the ass and done from behind them. 

My only issue now is how do I make these monitors emulate surround sound? What is coming out of them is great, but what interface would allow the directional illusion I am looking for. I bought these not to reference music but for entertainment and I am glad they push a better sound that any "PC Speaker" system can give, but I definitely want position audio. 

Thanks in advanced.

post #2 of 18

Is there no option in the software or audio properties that let you choose it as 5.1 surround sound output? Could be with supplied software or failing that in the Windows audio playback options. 

post #3 of 18
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by 34cupablanca View Post

Is there no option in the software or audio properties that let you choose it as 5.1 surround sound output? Could be with supplied software or failing that in the Windows audio playback options. 

What? I am looking for a sound card recommendation. From my understanding the sound card should allow my speakers to emulate 5.1 anyway. 

post #4 of 18
I thought you'd already bought the one you linked.

I own an Asus d2x sound card, it has phono ou, recommend it.
post #5 of 18

Take the discussion to the proper section folks,

http://www.head-fi.org/f/46/computer-audio

post #6 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Crooked View Post

Okay, so after diligently searching for an audio solution for my set up and reading days worth of forum posts, I have purchased studio monitors instead of a gimmicky out of the box surround sound system. 

After narrowing my search to Yamaha H50s, KRK Rockit 5s, Audioengine A5 and Mackie MR5 MK2s, I decided to purchase the Mackies as most reviews stated that MK2s are a newer generation and out of the box bass response is accurate and solid even without a sub. However, I do plan on adding a sub later on. I hooked them up and wow what an amazing sound. Blows out the Boss I had tried that were $150 more money. 

Now, on to my question. I want to purchase a sound card and after doing some research came across the fact that in order for my Astro A50s to get the true surround sound response it is built for, I need a card with DDL. That narrows my search down to pretty much anything with an optical out. I was ready to pull the trigger on this: http://www.amazon.com/Creative-Soundblaster-Surround-System-SB1095/dp/B0044DEDCA since it is reasonably priced, post creative issues (they fixed a lot of problems with their new line) and has external features such as headphone input, mic input and volume control. This is actually semi important since turning down the monitors manually is a pain in the ass and done from behind them. 

My only issue now is how do I make these monitors emulate surround sound? What is coming out of them is great, but what interface would allow the directional illusion I am looking for. I bought these not to reference music but for entertainment and I am glad they push a better sound that any "PC Speaker" system can give, but I definitely want position audio. 

Thanks in advanced.

If this setup is for speakers only (no headphones), then the Asus Xonar DX or D1 sound card ($55-$70) would do the job.

It comes with the optical output and DDL, for use with the Astro A50s

You could also just plug the power speakers into the Xonar's line-out jack (green).

post #7 of 18
Thread Starter 
Thanks, I heard great things about the Asus and its nice to hear I don't have to drop $150+ on an interface to get the sound I am after.

Do you think I should keep the Mackies? Or exchange them for the Swan M50W since it has a sub for more bass and is geared more towards entertainment. The fact that it has a DAC is also nice. The reference monitors make a buzzing sound when at high volumes. Maybe a sound card will help that though since it should reduce interference.

Edit: Actually none of the cards mentioned have an optic out. The Astro a50s need a optic out.
Edited by Crooked - 3/16/13 at 11:32pm
post #8 of 18

The Xonar DX & D1 have an optical output, it's a shared 3.5mm jack.

So, you can use the Asus 3.5m optical to Toslink adapter.

Or just order a 3.5mm to Toslink optical cable.

post #9 of 18
Thread Starter 

Oh, nice... I see. This makes much more sense when it comes to sound card recommendations I have been getting. 

 

However, if I stay with the monitors, don't you think the Creative ones I linked might be a better choice since it has a built in DAC?

post #10 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Crooked View Post

Oh, nice... I see. This makes much more sense when it comes to sound card recommendations I have been getting. 

 

However, if I stay with the monitors, don't you think the Creative ones I linked might be a better choice since it has a built in DAC?

The Xonar DX & D1 come with a built in DAC chip (CS4398).

I'm going to guess it's a better DAC chip then what is in the external Creative sound card.

post #11 of 18
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by PurpleAngel View Post

The Xonar DX & D1 come with a built in DAC chip (CS4398).

I'm going to guess it's a better DAC chip then what is in the external Creative sound card.

Okay, so after research and despite your recommendation (lol, not that I don't respect it I just decided to get a step up), I decided to pick up the Sound Blaster Z. 

 

It made my A50s sound amazing. So that is done. Like, Jesus the comparison between DDL on and off (where I was before) is ridiculous. 

 

My only issue now is with my monitors. Am I supposed to have them connected through my headphone jack? The guy at Sam Ash sold me the conversation cables to 3.5mm and told me to put it in the line in. It works, yes, but I want to make sure I am getting the correct quality. 

 

Also, my monitors make a buzzing sound when on. Even when using the on-board sound card, when they are on and no audio is coming through. I also want a way to control the volume of the monitors manually. I hear this is called a DAC? Should I get a DAC? I love how this sound card can emulate surround sound and the upgrad-ability of studio monitors. I just want to make sure I get the right **** and quality out of them. 

 

 

Thank you all so much for the help btw. 

post #12 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Crooked View Post

Okay, so after research and despite your recommendation (lol, not that I don't respect it I just decided to get a step up), I decided to pick up the Sound Blaster Z. 

It made my A50s sound amazing. So that is done. Like, Jesus the comparison between DDL on and off (where I was before) is ridiculous. 

My only issue now is with my monitors. Am I supposed to have them connected through my headphone jack? The guy at Sam Ash sold me the conversation cables to 3.5mm and told me to put it in the line in. It works, yes, but I want to make sure I am getting the correct quality. 

Also, my monitors make a buzzing sound when on. Even when using the on-board sound card, when they are on and no audio is coming through. I also want a way to control the volume of the monitors manually. I hear this is called a DAC? Should I get a DAC? I love how this sound card can emulate surround sound and the upgrad-ability of studio monitors. I just want to make sure I get the right **** and quality out of them. 

Thank you all so much for the help btw. 

I would take the SB-Z (& Zx) card over the Xonar DX/D1, they all use the same CS4398 DAC chip, but the Z series also has the headphone amp.

And the Z series has separate headphone and line-out (front) jacks.

 

I just like to throw out the Xonar DX/D1 because of the low price for what it offers.

 

Not sure on the volume control?

post #13 of 18
Thread Starter 
Nice... But do you think I should get the ZxR? Or is the extra $100 for the high model really not worth it for what I am using it for?

Also,anything on the buzzing? And yeah... I am looking for a volume control recommendation.
post #14 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Crooked View Post
Nice... But do you think I should get the ZxR? Or is the extra $100 for the high model really not worth it for what I am using it for?
Also,anything on the buzzing? And yeah... I am looking for a volume control recommendation.

I could not see myself spending $250 for the SB-ZxR.

For that kind of cash, I would rather get a separate external headphone amplifier, like the Schiit Magni or O2 amplifier and connect it to a sound card.

The head amp on the SB-ZxR has a headphone output impedance of 10-Ohm, which is fairly low impedance and is fine for headphones that are 60 to 80-Ohms or higher.

But the Magni and O2 have an impedance of under 1-Ohm, which is a little better for driving my ATH-A900X 40-Ohm headphones.

 

Sometimes the SB-Zx goes on sale for around $110-$120, which I think is a really good buy.

post #15 of 18
Thread Starter 
I was able to pick up the Z for $99 so I am going to keep that based on your recommendation. I also hear the only diff between the two is the volume controller.

Anything on the buzzing sound? I wish I didn't need DDL so much for my A50s or I would have just gotten an external interface to run the monitors through so I didn't have to deal with the obvious interference I am getting running them directly into the SB-Z.

If I can't get rid of this buzz I might just return the monitors and get the Swan m50w. But I liked the upgrade-ability of monitors.

Any thoughts?
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