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Buying my first sound card.

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 

I've never had anything other than onboard sound before. I want to step it up. It needs to be PCI-e. Use will be mix gaming, movies and music. Mostly music. I'm not a professional gamer and I don't need the last .1fps or marginally better positioning, I probably wouldn't be able to tell.
I'd prefer to keep it under 100 but I can easily go up beyond that. Keep in mind my output though, I don't plan on upgrading any of that at this time. I'm not spending $500 on a $300 set of cans.


Current set up:
Senheisser HD 598(sometimes left at work)

Beyer Dynamic DT770 80 Ohm(not used as much as before)

Senheisser HD 280 pros(seldom used)

Klipsch promedia 2.1 speakers.
Fiio E7 portable amp(I want to migrate this to work)

I currently run the HD598 and the Klipsch speakers concurrently. The 598s do detail fairly well and the sub on the Klipsh somewhat makes up for any weaknesses headphones might have in producing Bass. I'd like to replicate this set up going onward.


If I could get a list of a few options that are decent that would be nice. I want to shop around for the best deal.


Edited by xlink - 4/3/13 at 12:08am
post #2 of 12
I believe the base-level Recon3D card is right around $100, and includes a built-in headphone amp. There's also likely an Asus card that lines up with that, but I'm not very familiar with the Asus product line. But either would be appropriate here.

Given that you probably don't explicitly need the device to be internal, you might also look at USB solutions; the X-Fi HD USB would very likely satisfy everything you want as well, and is under $100. I'm sure there are less "popular" (as in, mainstream) products that would also provide a headphone amp/output and line-outs to drive the speakers, although nothing comes to mind off-hand. redface.gif
post #3 of 12

I would stay away from Recon3D cards.  The new Soundblaster Z (~$100), or the Zx (~$150) would be a better card.  You can have your headphones and speakers plugged in at the same time, and it also has a built in headphone amp.  

 

I think that's going to be your best option, plus with the headphone amp you may not need to run both the headphones and speakers at the same time.

post #4 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by obobskivich View Post

I believe the base-level Recon3D card is right around $100, and includes a built-in headphone amp. There's also likely an Asus card that lines up with that, but I'm not very familiar with the Asus product line. But either would be appropriate here.

Given that you probably don't explicitly need the device to be internal, you might also look at USB solutions; the X-Fi HD USB would very likely satisfy everything you want as well, and is under $100. I'm sure there are less "popular" (as in, mainstream) products that would also provide a headphone amp/output and line-outs to drive the speakers, although nothing comes to mind off-hand. redface.gif

The recon 3d is garbage for music and has no headphone amp.
Edited by Poisoner - 4/3/13 at 10:36am
post #5 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by Poisoner View Post

The recon 3d is garbage for music and has no headphone amp.

It does indeed have a headphone amp, and is not "garbage for music."

It has a Maxim chipamp that puts out 125 mW/ch (into 32R; it's spec'd up to 600R (I think ~10-20mW) - this is more than more than enough for the overwhelming majority of headphones, contrary to a lot of the "power myths" that are floating around out there) on the dedicated headphone output, and while I've read a lot of people repost "the Recon3D is garbage for music" and "Recon3D is only for gaming" every time I challenge it, I get absolutely no data or counter-claim to support the assertion (and I'm not expecting one here either). I can also tell you I've A/B'd the Recon3D against the X-Fi Prelude, Audigy 2 ZS Platinum, a few not-so-inexpensive CD transports, and a few not-so-inexpensive external D/As - and as always, the differences are subtle (if even noticeable). So I welcome any legitimate, objective, credible, etc dissection of why the Recon3D (which has the same exact DSP/APU as the Z) is "garbage" - but I'm not gonna hold my breath after a year of people spouting it off, and not backing it up.

Just confirmed with Creative as well that the base-level Recon3D does indeed have the headphone amp as well. smily_headphones1.gif

As far as a I know, from looking at the boards, the Recon3D boards and the Sound Blaster Z and Zx are actually built on the same (or nearly the same) PCB, while the ZxR comes with a more robust TI chipamp and some other tweaks. This is pretty standard for Creative as well - multiple iterations of the same hardware, separated by firmware and drivers. They all use the same APU/DSP, have very similar features, etc. They're drawing from a common pool - the primary difference is marketing; and unfortunately I've noticed a strong trend recently to dismiss anything that doesn't say "audiophile quality" or "for audio only" in the brochure, which is quite disconcerting. ph34r.gif
post #6 of 12

The Z has a better DAC, a better SnR, and a better headphone amp than the Recon3D series.  They are based on the same design, yes, but the components have been improved.

 

The Recon3D was designed for games and gamers; the Z took that design and altered it to improve response to music.

 

http://forums.creative.com/showthread.php?t=699173

post #7 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by liquidzoo View Post

The Z has a better DAC, a better SnR, and a better headphone amp than the Recon3D series.  They are based on the same design, yes, but the components have been improved.

Prove it.

The ZxR is openly stated to have an improved headphone amp (and I've seen specsheets for both, assuming they didn't massively screw it up (which early reports indicate they didn't), it's more robust - but the majority of dynamic headphones don't benefit from it). The Z and Zx look almost 1:1 with the Recon3D boards, and even if they have "better components" (what does this mean? what specifically was improved, by how much, how does this effect the overall circuit, by how much, can this effect be observed beyond marketing material, etc) the proof will be in the pudding; not only should it measure better, but it should subjectively sound better. Do you have this evidence? Thus far I'm not seeing it.

Again, like I said - I keep hearing about how "bad" the Recon3D is, and how much of a god-send the Z is, but most of it is just Creative's marketing literature talking about how the Z is "designed for audio" and "audiophile approved" and "built with audiophile components" and so on; that doesn't tell us anything useful except that Creative wants more money (and they've been doing this "designed for high end" spiel for a *long* time to hawk their most expensive parts).

Quote:
The Recon3D was designed for games and gamers; the Z took that design and altered it to improve response to music.

This is marketing dribble. The hardware does not know the difference and does not care what is originating the signal (and games have music in them, believe it or not!); a lot of woo-woo has been put out by a lot of manufacturers in recent years about how this is a "big deal" and you need the one that says "audiophile" on the box (of course at substantial mark-up), and it's forced more or less everyone else to follow suit just to appear commercially relevant, but they're all nonsense words. If it's good at reproducing an audio signal, it's good at reproducing an audio signal, and it doesn't matter if that happens to be watching a UFC fight, playing Call of Duty, or listening to Dianna Krall.

I stopped reading where they said THX is owned by Creative, and making other wild claims. But this doesn't prove anything; it's yet more "Z is designed for audio and is therefore better" with no proof. Yet again, the echo chamber grows and grows, and nobody ever stops and asks "why?"
Edited by obobskivich - 4/3/13 at 1:19pm
post #8 of 12

I can't find anything comparable on the Z (and I use ASUS cards, personally), I did manage to find this post from Daniel K on the Recon3D...

 

http://hardforum.com/showpost.php?p=1038369497&postcount=5

 

Also, the DAC on the Z is a Cirrus Logic chipset, where the Recon3D is integrated into the "quad" core SoundCore3D.

 

Anyway, I don't want to argue the point; this isn't the place.  I don't trust "Gaming" products in general as they tend to be overpriced.

post #9 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by obobskivich View Post


It does indeed have a headphone amp, and is not "garbage for music."

It has a Maxim chipamp that puts out 125 mW/ch (into 32R; it's spec'd up to 600R (I think ~10-20mW) - this is more than more than enough for the overwhelming majority of headphones, contrary to a lot of the "power myths" that are floating around out there) on the dedicated headphone output, and while I've read a lot of people repost "the Recon3D is garbage for music" and "Recon3D is only for gaming" every time I challenge it, I get absolutely no data or counter-claim to support the assertion (and I'm not expecting one here either). I can also tell you I've A/B'd the Recon3D against the X-Fi Prelude, Audigy 2 ZS Platinum, a few not-so-inexpensive CD transports, and a few not-so-inexpensive external D/As - and as always, the differences are subtle (if even noticeable). So I welcome any legitimate, objective, credible, etc dissection of why the Recon3D (which has the same exact DSP/APU as the Z) is "garbage" - but I'm not gonna hold my breath after a year of people spouting it off, and not backing it up.

Just confirmed with Creative as well that the base-level Recon3D does indeed have the headphone amp as well. smily_headphones1.gif

As far as a I know, from looking at the boards, the Recon3D boards and the Sound Blaster Z and Zx are actually built on the same (or nearly the same) PCB, while the ZxR comes with a more robust TI chipamp and some other tweaks. This is pretty standard for Creative as well - multiple iterations of the same hardware, separated by firmware and drivers. They all use the same APU/DSP, have very similar features, etc. They're drawing from a common pool - the primary difference is marketing; and unfortunately I've noticed a strong trend recently to dismiss anything that doesn't say "audiophile quality" or "for audio only" in the brochure, which is quite disconcerting. ph34r.gif

 

I went from a Recon 3d to a X-Fi Titanium HD,  Its a world of difference, even my games sound better.

post #10 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by liquidzoo View Post

I can't find anything comparable on the Z (and I use ASUS cards, personally), I did manage to find this post from Daniel K on the Recon3D...

http://hardforum.com/showpost.php?p=1038369497&postcount=5

Also, the DAC on the Z is a Cirrus Logic chipset, where the Recon3D is integrated into the "quad" core SoundCore3D.

Anyway, I don't want to argue the point; this isn't the place.  I don't trust "Gaming" products in general as they tend to be overpriced. [

A lot of that post is inaccurate (and it isn't by Daniel K) - I got zero WHQL errors when installing the hardware, zero issues with the drivers in general, and yet again they're just repeating "this is bad" with no evidence. All of the complaints about SoundCore will apply 100% to the Z as well (because...they're *ahem* the same thing). And some of the "cons" are kind of nonsense items - like no HDMI, no 192k, etc - stuff that doesn't matter. Seriously, just a lot of bashing and ripping with no foundation (and the post openly admits this is based on analysis of a pre-release specsheet and the drivers...).

Yes, the ZxR is, on paper, a superior card (and the question still has to be "will it be noticed by the listener?"), but that isn't what we're talking about (and it shouldn't be a revelation that ZxR is better - it's billed as the TOTL).

I stand by what I've said, and I've yet to see credible evidence to support the "Recon3D is garbage" claims - it absolutely has a headphone amplifier, is a fine piece of hardware, and will work with games, music, movies, etc - because again, it doesn't know the difference, and doesn't know what the brochure says about it.
post #11 of 12

After listening to one song on the computer with the Recon 3d with my Sennheiser HD 280 Pros, this is what I will tell you.  I think that the sound quality on the Recon 3d isn't that bad if you have good headphones.  The X-Fi HD is still better but the difference is less pronounced with a good set of headphones.  I used to have a cheaper set of cans where I noticed a big improvement from the Recon3d to the X-Fi HD.  I think there maybe several factors involved, but this sure does invite some more testing once I get some time to do some. 

post #12 of 12

I also have a titanium x-fi hd .Got it at large reduction as the computer mags didn't like it here in UK as it didn't do what specially designed audio cards for GAMING did[in their view]

                 PC World [UK] had it at half  the price .  They  did admit the quality of audio reproduction was better than the "made for gaming" cards.

                       I was VERY happy with their negative reviews  as it influenced sellers.on the price.

                           There is still a place in Ireland that sells them for less than half-price[the last time I checked]

                              Very happy with quality of reproduction from my PC into an old A+R [UK] power amp. and SONY APM -22 ES speakers-anybody remember them?

                                   Flat Diaphragm [no cone]=light aluminum honeycomb -got good write up in UK  mags at the time -tweeter near electrostatic.

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