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External sound card that can work as amp with only power drawn from usb?

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 

Can x-fi hd or x-fi 5.1 or u7 or some other external sound card, work on console?

I am looking for a external sound card for pc but which can also be used on my 360 when pc is turned of and that sound card is plugged into other usb. Maybe it is powered and amp portion of it works ?

 

basically I want functionality just as fiio products. That is - works as an dac when plugged to pc but as an amp, when plugged to other sources. But I want onputs and outputs + volume knowb of what x-fi hd have

 

Are those card any good anyway? x-fi hd costs same as sound blaster z. I will mainly play on headphones, so I need something with volume knob when i will be playing on console. For pc I have volume control on my g11 keyboard


Edited by HiCZoK - 7/7/13 at 4:12am
post #2 of 12

No, the soundcards you have mentioned will not work with consoles. They essentially require installation of drivers and software (i.e. on a pc) to make them transfer audio data through the usb so will not process console audio output.

 

What you need is something like the Sound Blaster Recon3D which will take your native DD 5.1 console audio from the optical port and apply some DSP to the different channels and output it through your headphones so as to make the sound appear that it's still positional audio. Although I have no experience with that particular model, I find the DSP effect to be convincing and worth it for headphones.

 

However, note that this method to get headphone surround from consoles has problems for PC gaming which I outlined in the post here:

http://www.head-fi.org/t/670506/usb-soundcard-for-gaming

 

Alternatively, you could go down the opposite route and pick up a gaming headphone which directly accept 5.1 audio and essentially do the work that the Recon3D would do anyway, and then get yourself a Asus Xonar U3 for your PC to convert your PC's 5.1 to DD 5.1 that you can then feed directly into your new headphone.

 

This would seem the more appropriate method to make both PC and console gaming work.

 

Hope my advice helps.

 

Regards,

Islam

post #3 of 12
Thread Starter 

Thanks. I dont care for 3d sound actually. I just want something to connect pc and console, speakers and headphones to the same box and amplify for headphones.

and I need a sound card for my pc. I though I might get a single device for all of that.

 

as for headphones. I am getting Creative Aurvana live.

post #4 of 12

If you're just looking for 3.5mm stereo audio from PC then any soundcard would work. Having been in a similar dilemma, the Xonar U3 is still an excellent choice for PC as it would do Stereo, Dolby Headphone, and Optical Out with Dolby Digital Live should you need and is probably the best soundcard in features and price with a good headphone amp. The U1 adds a volume control and the U7 and likely the weakest X-fi 5.1 Pro have analog outs and volume control.

 

The X-fi HD does not have Dolby Headphone or Dolby Digital Live but does have optical input to route your console audio through it. But I've read this is only going to be stereo which seems to have some problems and can exhibit audio delay through the headphone of almost half a second which would ruin gameplay. More on that on the 2 reviews here: http://www.amazon.co.uk/product-reviews/B003RRY3WE/ref=cm_cr_dp_hist_one?ie=UTF8&filterBy=addOneStar&showViewpoints=0

 

Short of buying a receiver to feed console audio through to get the volume control I'm not sure of any other method that would achieve this for 3.5mm headphones. You could always get the Xbox 360 Audio Adapter and connect the 3.5mm Headphones directly to the 2 RCA ports with a splitter and adjust game volume control in the dashboard but this is probably not ideal.

 

Given the cost of the X-fi HD, the Recon3D and Asus Xonar U3 would still be a better options. I highly recommend this method for gaming.

post #5 of 12
Thread Starter 
Yes. I want to output sound from my pc to 2.1 speakers thru 3.5mm and to headphones.
U3 would only output through to headphones.

But i am indeed ingested in Dolby headphone. Heardmanygood things about it.

As for 360. I do have a 2rca stereo cables coming from it. Connecting headphones right to it is not a good option. Volume is low and i have no control over it without volume mob on s cable.

I know i could plug those 2 rca or optical in xfi hd but probably i would have to have pc turned on in order for it to work.
Keep in mind that pc and 360 are on the same desk. That's why i wanted a single no cable swapping for those
So.... idk.
Edited by HiCZoK - 7/7/13 at 10:34am
post #6 of 12

Ok, I think I better understand what you're trying to do. Trying a similar setup myself.

 

The U3 would output 3.5mm Dolby Headphones and DD optical but would not work on the xbox. The Recon3D would work on the console and PC but not simultaneously (would need cable switching) and I don't think it would output to speakers either. (Does your 2.1 speakers have a headphone out?)

 

If you require simultaneous output to your 2.1 speakers and headphones and external input for xbox without pc power then unfortunately I don't think any of these soundcards would do it by themselves. The soundcard would go from PC to the 2.1 speaker and when the headphone is plugged in it will divert audio to the headphones. But external audio from say the xbox would still need the PC to be turned on to process it so the X-Fi HD would not be appropriate although given some reviews for gaming I wouldn't recommend the X-Fi HD anyway.

 

A Receiver would do what you need (ie multiple inputs for xbox and PC, outputs for your 2.1 speakers and headphone socket on a separate power) but I'm not sure that expense plus the cost of the headphones is required for what you're trying to do and it wouldn't contain Dolby Headphone processing either.

 

What you need is something with audio pass thru or seperate items for PC / speakers and xbox.

 

An alternative you may not have considered is to get a gaming headset that accepts audio from 2 sources independently (ie from optical and 2 rca) that way you could attach xbox and PC separately. A lot of headsets would do what you need. You could get a wireless headphones with independent mic and game volume control on the headset, a 3.5mm output with its own volume control for a second wired headphone or speakers, optical input that processes DD audio for positional audio over both 3.5mm output and wireless, and even 2 RCA stereo inputs for PC and an optical out to all in the same package that will do all that you need. That way you shouldn't need anything else at all and it would only cost about the same as a soundcard.

 

Let me know if you need recommendations.

 

Regards,

Islam

post #7 of 12
Thread Starter 
My speakers dont have headphones out.
You understand me completly.
Your ideas are good but i am already set on getting crestive aurvana live as headphones. It is recommended in this price range for its quality. I don't want any headsets nie wireless stuff.
I could get astro a40 but it is not available in Poland.

So... i think i have to drop this idea of all in one and receivers are to big and to expensive.



So i think i will get a sound card of some kind for pc and a headphone amp for console. Maybe fiio e7 sometime in the future. I am mostly gaming on headphones on 360 but if i will want to play on speakers i can connect them directly to 360 rca cables.

Let's drop the console existence for a moment and focus completely on pc. I will think about console audio in future when ps4 will come out.

Then what is Your recommendation for pc audio solution ? I want to connect those 2.1 speakers and a headphones. Don't need to be at the same time.

Internal or external doesn't matter to i could go for external to have a volume knob because cal don't have one.
That way or another.
Xonar dg. Speakers on the back. Headphones from front panel.
Sbz. Additional headphones out on the back
U3. No speakers.
U7. Not sure about it. Don't even know how much it costs.

I think i want Dolby headphone. Have not heard it besides YouTube. But it is the best imagining method and it is praised here on headfi so i guess it must be good tongue.gif
Thanks for all the help smily_headphones1.gif
Edited by HiCZoK - 7/7/13 at 2:08pm
post #8 of 12

The Crestive Aurvana Live looks like an excellent choice.

 

Being in Poland maybe you can shop from Amazon UK? I'll check some prices for comparison.

 

For only PC gaming with the Aurvana the Xonar U3 is good as it has Dolby Headphone and has a good headphone amp and good price and quality for what you need. Optical out too if needed. No volume control though and no stereo speaker output. (£30)

 

The internal Xonar DG has Dolby Headphone, rear 5.1 ports for your speakers and looks like a pin to connect a front headphone port on your computer for convenience. Being internal all volume control would be through windows which is not ideal in gaming. (£23)

 

SBz does not use Dolby Headphone but I think their own version of SBX surround which I'm not sure works for game surround but perhaps only prerecorded audio. It has rear 5.1 outputs for your speakers but no pins for a front headphone port that I can see so only a rear port for your headphone which would be problematic for switching, and again being internal all volume control would be through windows. (£50)

 

The U7 is the most expensive, uses Dolby Headphone virtual surround, 7.1 rear ports for your speakers, a front headphone port. Being external it has volume control on the top and easy switching between speakers / headphones by pressing the wheel. (£75)

 

I've taken a closer look at the Recon3D and it seems like it's could still be an option. It uses THX rather than Dolby Headphone for virtual surround which I assume is similar for the xbox but I'm not sure if this virtual surround works for PC games or likely only stereo. It has volume control, optical in for xbox and USB in for PC which can be connected simultaneously. No speaker outs though (£60)

 

In the end I'd likely stick to Dolby Headphone so an Asus would be my choice, most likely the Xonar U3.

 

Actually, I've just remembered what you need for your xbox, the Turtle Beach DSS2. It would be better than the Fiio for gaming. It has 5.1 Dolby Surround processing for any optical 5.1 source like the Dolby Headphone on the Asus, volume control and even secondary stereo inputs for your PC that has stereo virtual surround (which is not as good as Dolby Headphone surround from the optical 5.1 source) In fact, you could combine this with the Dolby Digital Live optical out on the Asus U3 too to get headphone volume control on the PC (£50)

 

I know there's no one item that is perfect like we would want, but there are some options for you to consider.

 

Regards,

Islam

post #9 of 12
Thread Starter 

Thanks for all Your answers. You've been very helpful and Your answers are surprisingly exhaustive :)

 

So, as I want dolby headphone(watched youtube vid of it. Not sure how creative counterpart from sbz fares), because everyone so recommends it, I think I will get xonar dg. u7 seems like a good choice too but It is new and rather hard to find locally and a tiny bit expensive. Tho, it costs just as much as sbz.

As for volume control, I will just use my keyboard volume wheel (logitech g11).

 

Xonar u3 would not cut it. The usb stick form factor is not really designed for pc and not being able to have my speakers connected, defeats the purpose of getting a sound card. It would have been a great factor for notebook if I had one.

 

And as for recon3d... now this thing is very weird. Nothing like it on the market. It wors for consoles and pc. have some kind of surround imagining and so on. it dont have ability to sport speakers and it is rather difficult to find on its own. It is expensive together with headphones tho it is a wireless setup then.

 

Overall xonar dg seems most reasonable... in pc, no more cables on desk, can output to my front panel on fractal3000 case, I jsut hope the sound quality is good because price is very small compared to other products and I wont have pci slot forever. There is also pcie version dgx but I've heard mixed things about it.

Then I will think of something for console. ONE THING I'VE NOT noted here - I currently have creative sigma tactic360 headphones. They came with xbox360 usb amplifier which works very well and sound is really loud. I could always just use this with aurvana. tho is it a rather poor little thing and cord on it is like 5 meters... very unpractical.

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

Thanks for all Your answers. You've been very helpful and Your answers are surprisingly exhaustive :)

 

So, as I want dolby headphone(watched youtube vid of it. Not sure how creative counterpart from sbz fares), because everyone so recommends it, I think I will get xonar dg. u7 seems like a good choice too but It is new and rather hard to find locally and a tiny bit expensive. Tho, it costs just as much as sbz.

As for volume control, I will just use my keyboard volume wheel (logitech g11).

 

Xonar u3 would not cut it. The usb stick form factor is not really designed for pc and not being able to have my speakers connected, defeats the purpose of getting a sound card. It would have been a great factor for notebook if I had one.

 

And as for recon3d... now this thing is very weird. Nothing like it on the market. It wors for consoles and pc. have some kind of surround imagining and so on. it dont have ability to sport speakers and it is rather difficult to find on its own. It is expensive together with headphones tho it is a wireless setup then.

 

Overall xonar dg seems most reasonable... in pc, no more cables on desk, can output to my front panel on fractal3000 case, I jsut hope the sound quality is good because price is very small compared to other products and I wont have pci slot forever. There is also pcie version dgx but I've heard mixed things about it.

Then I will think of something for console. ONE THING I'VE NOT noted here - I currently have creative sigma tactic360 headphones. They came with xbox360 usb amplifier which works very well and sound is really loud. I could always just use this with aurvana. tho is it a rather poor little thing and cord on it is like 5 meters... very unpractical.

 

Having gone though a very similar setup I thought I'd save you time and give you all the options I found.

 

I later thought that my final recommendation for the U3 was not as much suitable for you as it may be for me. As I already have an internal soundcard for my speakers the U3 would be fine for headphones. But as it's equally important to run speakers too one of the other cards would have been better.

 

The Recon3D would be too messy with wires all over the place. The THX virtual surround is apparently nowhere near as good as Dolby Headphone and still wouldn't get your speakers running with it so I'd forget that.

The SBz has no Dolby Headophone and no convinient headphone port so I'd forget that too.

 

That leaves the U7 and DG which would both work for Dolby Headphone and your speakers. Given the significant price difference I'd have suggested the DG which I see you've already selected anyway. The sound quality will still be good.

 

The U3 technically can run both speakers and Headphone. One reason I was leaning towards the U3 and U7 is that along with Dolby Headphone for your headphones they also have Dolby Digital Live encoding which is what I need for mine. Because of this extra function you could run your speakers out of the Analog Out socket and then use Dolby Digital Live for a second output over optical. At this point your PC audio essentially becomes like the xbox. Not sure you need to bother with that and you could simply stick with the DG for Dolby Headphone on the PC.

 

The creative sigma tactic360 looks like a stereo hedphone that will only use to channel audio from the xbox rca outs. However, for the console I'd suggest the Turtle Beach DSS to achieve Dolby Surround through the optical out in a similar way as you are using a Dolby Headphone Soundcard on the PC. The DSS does have it's own volume control too, and this way you could use your nw Crestive Aurvana Live.

 

I think with those two combinations your audio would be sorted for both PC and xbox. I'd also get a simple 2 way RCA / Phono selector switch so you can change your speakers from PC to xbox easily.

 

Regards,

Islam

post #11 of 12
Thread Starter 

So DG only have dolby headphone ?

 

U3 have all the other dolby live enconding stuff, but if I dont care for those, then dolby headphone is the same on both cards ?

To say the truth I am not sure if I will even game on 360 anytime soon. It will be ps4 when it comes out and we dont know about that connectivity yet ;)

 

oh, and as far as sound blaster z goes - there is additional amped headphone out on the back of the card. Speakers and headphones can be connected all the time and switched in control panel.

post #12 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by HiCZoK View Post

So DG only have dolby headphone ?

 

U3 have all the other dolby live enconding stuff, but if I dont care for those, then dolby headphone is the same on both cards ?

To say the truth I am not sure if I will even game on 360 anytime soon. It will be ps4 when it comes out and we dont know about that connectivity yet ;)

 

oh, and as far as sound blaster z goes - there is additional amped headphone out on the back of the card. Speakers and headphones can be connected all the time and switched in control panel.

Yes, that's all correct.Dolby Headphone is the same on both DG & U3. Dolby Live is only needed to send native 5.1 Dolby Digital signal over the optical cable like the xbox does to either a receiver or a digital surround processor like the DSS. If you're not going to need optical on your PC then all you need is Dolby Headphone to do the surround processing and send it to the 3.5mm headphone jack.

 

If you're not going to game on xbox soon then you can leave the DSS that does the surround processing for optical output outputs. I know the PS4 has optical out and I think the Xbox One does too, so I think it's almost certain they will still use Dolby Digital too so the DSS would work on them as well.

 

Yes the SBz has a headphone amp on the back that you can connect your headphones to all the time and switch between speakers and headphones in the control panel. It can power up to 600 ohm headphones. The DG also has a built in headphone amp too and the Aurvana Live has an impedance of 32 ohms, so the DG will be able to drive it just fine. Plus the front panel headphone out on the DG will probably be more convenient for switching and the SBz doesn't seem to have Dolby Headphone either.

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