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So, my Audigy sucks...n00b needs some questions answered! :)

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 
I have been registered here for less than a day, and have been poking around the topics a bit. I am in no way a hardcore audiophile, due to lack of technical knowledge and (mostly) money.

Anyway, in the course of a couple hours, I have learned that most people seem to dislike Creative (non E-MU, of course). In fact, it seems like people treat them like...dare I say it...Bose! Oh well, maybe not that bad...Anyway, I only spent $40 and can live with my mistake. I just need to ask a couple questions to get my on my path to decent hi-fi.

Here is my set-up:
CD or Flac -> Audigy (through SPDIF @ 96kHz) -> Cheapie cable (it is digital anyway, it shouldn't matter...right?) -> harman/kardon AVR-320 -> Fluance SX-HTB

Please don't tell me my receiver is no good...I really love it.
The speakers were a present, and I will probly get new fronts eventually, but I am working on other stuff first.

Questions:
1. What are some of the best soundcards to look at (<$100 and also overall, if possible)?
2. What is Kernal Streaming (KS)?
3. Why does everyone use Foobar instead of something like Winamp or a different player?
4. How did you all learn to mod your cards with all those nifty capacitors and stuff? I know some basic electronic stuff and have some basic soldering skills, but nothing to the degree of that stuff. I have fixed stuff and put a modchip in my PSOne, that is about it.
5. So...does my receiver suck? I am on a pretty tight budget, so if you recommend some good bang-for-your-buck amps I might take a look.
6. If Audigy is bad because it upsamples 44.1kHz into 48kHz, why is it good that every other card does it to 96kHz?
7. My receiver shows my Audigy putting out 96kHz. Is that good or bad?

Sorry if I am being stupid...a link would be fine, I don't mind reading. I am a fast learner and am pretty familiar with computers so you don't need to spell everything out. If you get me started in the right direction I can usually figure it out for myself.

Thanks, and umm....well, thanks.
post #2 of 5
Quote:
Originally Posted by SSSSSmokey
I have been registered here for less than a day, and have been poking around the topics a bit. I am in no way a hardcore audiophile, due to lack of technical knowledge and (mostly) money.

Anyway, in the course of a couple hours, I have learned that most people seem to dislike Creative (non E-MU, of course). In fact, it seems like people treat them like...dare I say it...Bose! Oh well, maybe not that bad...Anyway, I only spent $40 and can live with my mistake. I just need to ask a couple questions to get my on my path to decent hi-fi.

Here is my set-up:
CD or Flac -> Audigy (through SPDIF @ 96kHz) -> Cheapie cable (it is digital anyway, it shouldn't matter...right?) -> harman/kardon AVR-320 -> Fluance SX-HTB

Please don't tell me my receiver is no good...I really love it.
The speakers were a present, and I will probly get new fronts eventually, but I am working on other stuff first.

Questions:
1. What are some of the best soundcards to look at (<$100 and also overall, if possible)?
2. What is Kernal Streaming (KS)?
3. Why does everyone use Foobar instead of something like Winamp or a different player?
4. How did you all learn to mod your cards with all those nifty capacitors and stuff? I know some basic electronic stuff and have some basic soldering skills, but nothing to the degree of that stuff. I have fixed stuff and put a modchip in my PSOne, that is about it.
5. So...does my receiver suck? I am on a pretty tight budget, so if you recommend some good bang-for-your-buck amps I might take a look.
6. If Audigy is bad because it upsamples 44.1kHz into 48kHz, why is it good that every other card does it to 96kHz?
7. My receiver shows my Audigy putting out 96kHz. Is that good or bad?

Sorry if I am being stupid...a link would be fine, I don't mind reading. I am a fast learner and am pretty familiar with computers so you don't need to spell everything out. If you get me started in the right direction I can usually figure it out for myself.

Thanks, and umm....well, thanks.
Actually, your Audigy1 (not Audigy2) resamples everything - even 96kHz/24-bit audio - to 48kHz/16-bit internally, then re-converts the 48kHz/16-bit digital audio back to 96kHz/24-bit. That causes a loss in sound quality.
post #3 of 5
Quote:
Originally Posted by SSSSSmokey
Questions:
1. What are some of the best soundcards to look at (<$100 and also overall, if possible)?
2. What is Kernal Streaming (KS)?
3. Why does everyone use Foobar instead of something like Winamp or a different player?
4. How did you all learn to mod your cards with all those nifty capacitors and stuff? I know some basic electronic stuff and have some basic soldering skills, but nothing to the degree of that stuff. I have fixed stuff and put a modchip in my PSOne, that is about it.
5. So...does my receiver suck? I am on a pretty tight budget, so if you recommend some good bang-for-your-buck amps I might take a look.
6. If Audigy is bad because it upsamples 44.1kHz into 48kHz, why is it good that every other card does it to 96kHz?
7. My receiver shows my Audigy putting out 96kHz. Is that good or bad?
1. The Chaintech AV-710 is the standard recommendation around here for an inexpensive ($20-25) soundcard. At the higher end, the E-MU 1212 has made quite an impression on a lot of people, but it costs $200.

2. Kernel Streaming is a technique to bypass the internal Windows sound processor, known as Kmixer. Believe it or not, Kmixer resamples data needlessly in a lot of cases (we're talking about going from one sample rate to the same sample rate). Your sound card and music playback software have to support Kernel Streaming to use it. There is an alternative to KS called ASIO which does the same thing.

3. Foobar has a more accurate data processing pipeline than Winamp. People who use plugins like equalizers or crossfeed get better quality with Foobar. Foobar also has a lot more features than Winamp.

4. Some of us started out by building amplifiers (see the DIY forum); others just started replacing capacitors and learned as they went.

5. Does your receiver sound good to you? That's the most important question. (Be aware that your Audigy is not feeding your receiver the best quality signal, so if your receiver sounds good with the digital signal from a CD player but not from your card, it's not the receiver's fault.)

6. As Eagle_Driver pointed out, the Audigy is bad because it mangles the digital signal in ways you can't prevent. Better cards are like a good CD player; the bits on the CD get passed along unchanged to the digital outputs or to the DAC. For gaming this doesn't really matter, and in fact the Audigy series is the best card for gaming, but for music its behavior is undesirable. Your best bet is to set Foobar to resample to 48kHz (not 96kHz or 44.1kHz). This will bypass the Audigy's hardware resampler and most people report better quality sound doing this.
post #4 of 5
Thread Starter 
4. Some of us started out by building amplifiers (see the DIY forum); others just started replacing capacitors and learned as they went.

Now this is what really interests me. I am only 17 and still in high school, so I haven't had a lot of opportunity and have had trouble getting started learning about this stuff. I learned all the basic stuff about electronics in physics but nothing specific or hands on whatsoever.

Also, how does replacing capacitors really change anything? I know in theory how a capacitor works and what it does, but are some better than others or what? Why don't sound card and amp makers just use the best ones? Sorry if I am asking too many questions, but I always love to learn new things.
post #5 of 5
Changing capacitors that are directly in the signal path makes the biggest and most immediately audible difference. Electrolytic capacitors by their very nature are not the most linear devices in the world. Compounding this, manufacturers aiming at the mass market will always use the cheapest possible components they can find. The best electrolytic capacitors can cost 10 times as much (or more) than the cheapest ones. You can read a lot more about choosing capacitors here:
Picking Capacitors
and here:
The Sound of Capacitors

If you're interested in getting started in audio DIY, go here:
http://tangentsoft.net/audio/
You can build a CMOY headphone amplifier or a clone of a commercial amplifier whose name can no longer be mentioned but which costs roughly $350 and comes in a wood box for as little as $25, if you already have a soldering iron. Tangent also sells PCBs for making a more complicated design called the PIMETA which would also be an excellent first project for the beginner. You can find a ton of information about this on his website.
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