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Sound Card Advice...

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 

Hi all,


Long time lurker, first time poster. I'm looking for a new sound card, but first a bit of back ground...


I'm in an (apparently) somewhat unique situation. My PC sits in the corner of my lounge, whilst my hifi lives under the TV on the same wall. At present, my PC is connected to my amp via a simple 3.5mm jack-to-RCA cable. I also have some 2.1 PC speakers on my desk for gaming, which are also connected to the sound card via a 3.5mm jack. The Hifi is in the "rears" socket, and the pc speakers are in the "fronts" socket. My current sound card is an X-FI titanium (or one of the variations thereof). When I'm gaming, I have the PC speakers on and my sound card set to 2.1 speaker configuration. When I want to listen to music, I turn the PC speakers off, set the sound card to 4 speaker configuration, select "stereo surround" as the CMSS upmix option to get simple duplication of the right left channels in the rear channel, and I get music out of my hifi speakers. Great.


However, there's a snag. The drivers for the sound card in question are fairly broken in windows 8.1. Settings are never saved, sometimes sound isn't working on startup, necessitating switching the creative console thing between "modes" to bring it back, etc. So, I'm considering an upgrade to better supported/more current hardware. 


I don't want to spend an absolute fortune, so had settled on the Creative Sound Blaster Zx, assuming naively it would replicate current functionality. Unfortunately, based on what i've read online, it seems it doesn't. The basic problem is that the "stereo surround" upmix is gone from the software, replaced instead with crappy surround sound emulation, something i wouldn't be interested in even if I did have a 5.1 system, but as you can imagine is completely useless in my situation, since i'm only listening to the "rear" channels. I've been unable to find out online whether the various asus xonar/phoebus cards offer a simple stereo surround sound channel duplication option either.


There are other options, from switches to extra USB sound cards/dacs just to run to the hifi. However, if I can do all this in one device, that would be my ideal (and the cheapest option). The sound card could also do to feature dolby digital live output, since I use an astro mixamp with headphones for gaming when the missus is watching TV ;) Anyone know of such a card? Is anyone doing the same thing as me, essentially running several sets of speakers from one card and wanting them to behave effectively as selectable outputs?


Thanks for taking the time to read this, and for any help you can offer. 

Edited by randomtangent - 12/3/13 at 2:05pm
post #2 of 5
Originally Posted by randomtangent View Post

However, there's a snag. The drivers for the sound card in question are fairly broken in windows 8.1. Settings are never saved, sometimes sound isn't working on startup,


While I can not help you with recommendations on hardware, I may be able to help you with your current software problem(s).


Most  Creative cards seem to be suffering some problems under Windows 8.1. There seems to be two ways to fix the settings not being saved and the sound not working on reboot. The first is to set up your sound card the way you like and then to put your PC into sleep mode. Leave it like this for a minute or two and then wake it back up. After doing so, wait a minute and reboot your PC. Your settings should now be saved. Your second option would be to try the latest PAX Windows 8.1 drivers. 


I should mention that I have never used PAX drivers and therefore I can not say if they actually work or not. I have tried the sleep "trick" to great success, however. About all you can do is frequent this page and hope Creative updates the non-HD Titanium line of cards soon.

post #3 of 5
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the tip, Rene. I have tried that and it seems to work in part. I find it still doesn't save settings, but i lose sound less frequently on cold boot. Thanks for the tip about the PAX drivers - I'll look into them. I won't hold my breath for new drivers from creative. They don't have the best reputation when it comes to software support, sadly, but you never know! 


I wonder if anyone else is using a setup similar to mine and knows of an alternative card that does everything I need? 

post #4 of 5
By chance are you using ultra fast uefi boot?
post #5 of 5
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by rene mauricio View Post

By chance are you using ultra fast uefi boot?


I'm not entirely sure. I haven't turned it off, and I'd have guessed the default for the board, given it's an ASUS ROG, is on. I'll have a check as soon as i get home.

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