i never had a soundcard before, are they worth it?
Sep 29, 2009 at 7:19 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 13

my.self

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so the title says it, i never owned a soundcard and ive ALWAYS used onboard integrated audio.

currently my motherboard is a gigabyte GA-M57SLI-S4.

im about to purchase a pair of ad900's and so i thought why not i give this soundcard thing a try.

are they really that much better than integrated? like what so much better about them? clarity? details?

i have three questions:

1. if i get a soundcard, how much better would it be compared to the onboard one in my motherboard? would it be worth it?

2. how about the power supply? are these things like video cards where u have to check and make sure u have enough power or else they dont work?

3. if i should get one, which one should i get? i have roughly about 100 dollars to spend, the cheaper the better of course. and remember, i never had one before. so i do not know what to expect honestly.

thanks in advanced!
 
Sep 29, 2009 at 7:31 AM Post #2 of 13

El_Doug

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i'm far too tired to answer questions 1 and 3, which require some extra info on your part

however, when it comes to question 2: sound cards typically do not even need a power connection via a wire from the PSU, instead there is sufficient power from the PCI socket itself. sound cards use like 5 watts or less of power, so you really don't need to worry about it
 
Sep 29, 2009 at 7:59 AM Post #3 of 13

Zoomastigophora

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I just upgraded to a Asus Xonar DX from onboard (ADI A2000B which I believe is just a rebadged ADI 1988), and the difference is mostly in clarity, details, and volume output. Separation in soundstage of instruments was really the most noticeable effect right off the bat. Whether or not a sound card is worth it is very much a personal thing. This was my first sound card as well, and I bought it mostly just to see if there was really a difference, which there is. Was it $80 worth of difference? Not sure yet. Will a decent sound card make you realize how crappy 128kbps MP3s are? You bet.

A lot of sound cards now need the 4-pin floppy connector for extra power (not really sure why, it may actually have to do with the PSU providing cleaner power than most motherboard circuitry since the sound card definitely does not need that much power).

If you're looking to spend $100, then the Xonar DX is probably the best new card you could get. If you buy soon, ZipZoomFly has the Xonar DX for ~$75 with free shipping and a $25 MIR brings it down to $50, but the rebate offer expires 9/30. There's also the HT Omega Striker, but HT Omega only has cards with PCI, which is a rapidly dying interconnect. If you shop around used, you may be able to pick up some lower end Auzentech's around the $100 mark.
 
Sep 29, 2009 at 8:40 PM Post #5 of 13

my.self

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thx for all the replies guys i appreciate it.

to zoomastigophora or anyone really if they know,

how much better are auzentech's than xonars? idk any of these brands so yea. i notice that the auzentechs may be a little bit too expensive for me at the moment. atleast the upper ones are.

that deal on the xonar dx, i believe this one

ASUS Xonar DX 7.1 Channel PCI-E Sound Card Retail at ZipZoomfly

seems to be pretty good price. but nto sure. how good of a deal is this?

how would u compare that one to the 60 dollar auzentech x-raider?

Auzentech X-Raider 7.1 Sound Card - PCI, CMI 8768, 24-bit/96kHz at TigerDirect.com

any other recommendations are welcomed and appreciated since idk anything about soundcards.

EDIT: i found a better deal on the raider. $43

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16829156012
 
Sep 30, 2009 at 6:45 AM Post #8 of 13

Zoomastigophora

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Like I said, I would try staying away from PCI sound cards. You're going to see less and less motherboards supporting PCI slots, but sound cards are one of those things where there's isn't a real need to upgrade regularly, unless you get really into the audiophile thing at which point you're looking at burning a lot of money, so you'll want to make sure the card will be able to fit in future system upgrades.

When it comes to sound cards, the brand only matters insofar as the tech support and software you're likely to get. For audio quality, you'll actually want to pay more attention to the onboard components. If you're mostly a gamer, you'll want to go for a Creative based sound card, either from Creative or Auzentech. Auzentech essentially takes the very capable X-Fi processor and matches it with non-crappy DACs, OPAMPs, capacitors, etc. Creative puts decent components on their higher end cards, but Auzentech is geared much more towards the audiophile market. In both cases, you're looking at over $100 easily.

The Asus Xonar series is a very compelling alternative in this case. The D1 and D2 both use the same audio processor: a rebranded Oxygen HD CMI8787, but Asus works in driver level magic known as DS3DGX or some such. Essentially, it captures calls to EAX hardware effects and processes them via software, whereas with a real Creative chip, the X-Fi would be handling the decoding. This means, you should generally be able to enable EAX effects all the way up to EAX5. On top of that, the Xonar D1 (DX is the PCI-e variant) is matched with Cirrus Logic DACs, whereas the D2 uses Burr Browns, but if you're not a hardcore audiophile, you're unlikely to tell the difference. The Xonar is better than the Raider you linked to, both in terms of audio processor as well as quality of onboard components. The only thing the Raider has is swappable OPAMPs, but again, if you're not into being a serious audiophile, you're unlikely to feel the need to change them. The DAC is probably more important for consumer sound cards anyway. Here is a pretty detailed review of the Xonar DX, both in gaming performance as well as listening test.

For me, I can't really justify to myself spending over $100 for a sound card for a couple of reasons. First, there's the whole issue of diminishing returns. Will I really be able to tell the difference between a $100 sound card and a $200 one? Audiophiles will say yes, I probably couldn't though. Second, a sound card in a PC is a really electrically noisy environment for sound generation, hence all the crazy ass mods you see in this forum. I totally dig the concept of using a PC as a source for high quality sound, but I very much believe there's a point when it's good enough. As a fellow gamer, I'd rather spend my time and money on more games
smily_headphones1.gif
. Finally, $200 for a sound card? That's a GPU right there as far as I'm concerned :p. I just recently completed my audio setup. I now have the Xonar DX, ATH-A500, Edirol MA-15D Stereo Monitors and tSc ASW-8 subwoofer. Spent roughly $450 total over time (I bought the headphones earlier), but I view it as an investment that will last until I actually have need for a serious surround setup, which probably won't be for a long ass time. Headphones for games where I need serious positional audio, 2.1 setup for everything else. Anyway, this was a really long post, but I hope it's been helpful.
 
Sep 30, 2009 at 7:31 AM Post #9 of 13

my.self

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Zoomastigophora:

wow, that helped me understand some stuff quite a bit. thanks man.

i actually pulled the trigger on the d1 before u typed this up tho.

i got the d1 because i thought id make some use of my pci slots and i wouldnt need a 4 pin power connector cable. the dx actually needs a 4 pin power cable i believe and the d1 does not.

i understand what ur saying with the motherboards not support pci slots in the future. but for me personally, i plan on keeping the mother board i have until it breaks or until is necessary to upgrade. ive had mine so far for atleast 3 years about. im not the kind of person who likes to constantly upgrade things just for the sake of it so i can see my self continuing to own this motherboard for several more years until i actually need to upgrade.

this will be my first soundcard so im sure ill be very pleased with it just how i was really excited when i got my px100's when i started this audio thing haha.

so yea, im kinda like u in a way, no need to upgrade if u dont need it. after i got my ie7's, i didnt come back to this site for quite a while i must say cuz i was happy with my iems, comfy, microphonic free and sounds great.

i think ill be happy with my d1. after a mail in rebate, the d1 would be about 64 dollars with tax included and all that. id much rather spend 64 then over 100.

thanks for the advice man, i appreciate it!
 
Sep 30, 2009 at 3:39 PM Post #11 of 13

nicholo85

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If desk space was not an issue, and say I already have a desktop headphone amp, wouldnt it be better to just get a dedicated DAC and connect it to the motherboard via optical/coaxial or USB? I think dedicated DAC's are available at a similar price range when comapred with sound cards.

The impression I got was that all the processes inside the CPU causes too much interference in the sound card. As a result, its better to just export the raw digital data into a dedicated DAC/AMP combo outside the computer.
 
Sep 30, 2009 at 8:09 PM Post #12 of 13

ROBSCIX

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Onboard sound chips are OK for email dings and windows sounds but for serious sound quality you need some other gear. You can either go with a internal soundcard or go with an external DAC. The choice depends on what your after and your budget...

EDIT: To the OP enjoy your D1...
 
Oct 1, 2009 at 6:26 AM Post #13 of 13

ford2

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Quote:

Originally Posted by nicholo85 /img/forum/go_quote.gif
If desk space was not an issue, and say I already have a desktop headphone amp, wouldnt it be better to just get a dedicated DAC and connect it to the motherboard via optical/coaxial or USB? I think dedicated DAC's are available at a similar price range when comapred with sound cards.

The impression I got was that all the processes inside the CPU causes too much interference in the sound card. As a result, its better to just export the raw digital data into a dedicated DAC/AMP combo outside the computer.



It looks like you got the Wrong impression,I can assure you that a GOOD card suffers from none of the problems you mentioned.
Go have a look at lynx/rme to name just a couple,these cards leave a lot of dac's floundering.
Just because the DAC is outside the pc means nothing as far as SQ is concerned.
 

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