Cheap soundcard recommendations
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lollercheese

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I've recently bought senn HD497, and while i'm happy with them, the sound on my PC is *****. Even my ipod sounds better, with much beefier bass. I have a realtek AC97 integrated sound card. I also have an sb live5.1 card in an old computer... which isnt great. I need recommendations on a sound card <$35 US, that will give me better sound than what I have. Keep in mind I will not be using an amp, but I do not think this will be a problem as the hd497's are very easy to drive.

I was considering the AV710 but everyone seems to say that it requires an amp. I haven't heard very good things about soundblaster cards, but i'm not really looking for high end stuff, so how would the sb live 24bit do? All I really need is a notch above the crap I have now.

Thanks in advance, and no i'm not willing to spend more money on an amp + high end sound card


edit - oh and music is first priority, gaming second.
 
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SockMan!

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I know that both of the SB Lives that I have (4.1 and 5.1 versions) sound terrible even compared to my SB16 ISA, SB128, and even integrated sound. I can't comment much on the 24-bit version, but if it's anything like the 16-bit versions that I have then I can probably safely say that it won't sound very good. I say avoid all budget Creative cards.

I don't think the Chaintech really needs an amp for such low-impedance cans. Granted, it will probably improve the sound significantly considering that you're connecting to a low-power line out. But, I think it will still be a better sounding choice than plugging your cans into a SB Live or AC97.
 
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ilovesocks

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Yeah, I'd go with the AV710, and if you really think you need an amp, save up another $35 to build a cmoy, or have someone build it for you.

Nice name, Sockman!
 
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lollercheese

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Quote:

Originally Posted by ilovesocks
Yeah, I'd go with the AV710, and if you really think you need an amp, save up another $35 to build a cmoy, or have someone build it for you.

Nice name, Sockman!



Yes that probably sounds like the most sensible way to go. Somewhere down the track I probably will get an amp, or build one... but first i'll need the right tools aswell :/
 
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sgrossklass

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The Live! 24-bit is quite different from the old Live! cards. It does not feature a true EMU10kX DSP but it does have good converters (not Sigmatel crap like on the old ones). The analog stage still is nothing to get overly excited about, you'll still want to use software resampling, but with a 4556 onboard you'll have better luck driving headphones than with the AV-710's Wolfson equipped output (which is unamped). I guess the AV-710 runs into similar trouble as my old XFire even with HD590s, which started to clip and distort at high volume and had a very warm sound due to high output impedance. I should try my new HD424s (2kOhm!) with it, maybe these work better.
 
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mattpwill

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Go the step up, and get a EMU0404, but use Winamp with Shibatch decoder and ASIO plugin. Foobar2000 sounds plasticky when used with the EMU DSP, but incredible with Winamp and this setup
 
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fr4c

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if you do plan on getting the av-710, keep in mind that the card offers only line-out, and not headphone-out. so if you blow your headphones or your ears, dont say we didnt warn you about getting an amp
 
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lordgibbness

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You could also look at the M-Audio Revo 5.1. It has a cmoy-quality headphone output as well as a standard line output for your speakers and has a good DAC (AKM 4358).
 
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lollercheese

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Quote:

Originally Posted by fr4c
if you do plan on getting the av-710, keep in mind that the card offers only line-out, and not headphone-out. so if you blow your headphones or your ears, dont say we didnt warn you about getting an amp





Looks like revo 5.1 might be a good choice... but yea.... bye bye meagre uni student wallet.

Thanks for the input so far.
 
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]|[ GorE

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If you cant spend on a amp,get the Live! 24 bit.
 
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lordgibbness

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Quote:

Originally Posted by ]|[ GorE
If you cant spend on a amp,get the Live! 24 bit.


The Live 24-bit is not as high qual as as the revo 5.1
 
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Albatross05

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Quote:

Originally Posted by SockMan!
I know that both of the SB Lives that I have (4.1 and 5.1 versions) sound terrible even compared to my SB16 ISA, SB128, and even integrated sound. I can't comment much on the 24-bit version, but if it's anything like the 16-bit versions that I have then I can probably safely say that it won't sound very good. I say avoid all budget Creative cards.

I don't think the Chaintech really needs an amp for such low-impedance cans. Granted, it will probably improve the sound significantly considering that you're connecting to a low-power line out. But, I think it will still be a better sounding choice than plugging your cans into a SB Live or AC97.



I just picked up the SBL 24 for about $30 at Best Buy. It's not bad at all for the price and you don't have to wait around for mail order. Frankly, I was so disgusted with my onboard audio (hissing, buzzing, scratching, all sorts of very noticable noise) pretty much anything would have been an upgrade.

Anyway, I can't say how the SBL 24 compares to other budget cards because it's the only one I've ever had besides onboard. I WILL say, however, that it beats the hell out of my onboard audio. When I first installed it and put on my headphones, I didn't think it was working because I couldn't hear the background his and noise I'd been living with for the last two years or so. I didn't hear anything (I also have the 497s) I juiced the volume up to max and still heard no noise but when I put on a CD, I found out that it was working just fine (My ears finally recovered...I think).

Anyway, it sounds decent for what it is and what it cost. FWIW, the headphone sound out of it is better than out of my Kenwood home receiver as well. That's probably not saying much for high end junkies.

I was kinda screwed when I went to buy a sound card because I just don't do mail order. It's too much hassle and I'm known for returning things if I'm not completely satisfied. There was no way I was gonna order one, either wait several days for regular shipping or pay premium for faster and then possibly have to have it shipped back if I didn't like it.

I couldn't find ANY of the more recemmended brands around here locally (at least, nowhere that I know of) so I was basically stuck with what they sell at Best Buy and Circuit City. The Creative card didn't seem like a major risk at $30 so I went ahead and bought it. I'm a little puzzled at why these cards have such a bad reputation around here. It sounds fine to me. Admittedly, I'm not really hardcore but I do care how my music sounds. Unless something drastically changed from the older versions of the Creative cards I don't really see what people are complaining about for $30. I know there's some issue about the upsampling. Well, my old onboard didn't upsample and the Creative still sounds much better. The onboard WAS louder by quite a bit but the noise floor was also extremely high. I couldn't hear anything even remotely subtle.

I'll give a moderate recommendation for the SBL 24 bit....IF the OP isn't extremely picky. Maybe I just don't have enough experience with really good audio to know the difference. I'm satisfied with it and I'm pretty picky (though not as picky as many). The software's pretty decent too (With XP HE anyway). You get a lot for what you pay.

If anyone with more reliable advice then mine has any imput on the Creative 24 bit card, feel free to chime in because I'd like to hear it too. I'm still learning and am not real sure why upsampling to 96 is so bad. What exactly does it do to the sound quality? That's the only gripe I have, I guess. I don't understand why you wouldn't be able to select the audio's native sampling rate. Nevertheless, it still sounds decent to my ears.
 
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elinkei

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i've been searching, but cant find the ASIO plug in to download
 
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