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Onkyo SE-300PCIE vs Onkyo SE-200PCI LTD

Discussion in 'Computer Audio' started by headfinoob, Jan 17, 2012.
  1. headfinoob
    Can anybody provide any input regarding the sound quality of the Onkyo SE-300PCIE vs Onkyo SE-200PCI LTD?  I own a SE-200PCI LTD and I think its just an outstanding card.  I don't have any plans on changing it, but I wanted to satisfy my curiosty.  
    I'll quote another user from another forum:
    "Why do they have to use such junky capacitors? Toshin Kogyo caps in the picture "fake" Japanese caps that are really just rebranded Taiwanese junk."

    In any case, I think it looks like a great card but I'm curious how it compares to the SE-200PCI LTD.
  2. hardeejr
    I am new to this forum, but definitely not new to good sound.  I finally broke down and purchased an Onkyo Wavio SE-300PCIE.  I immediately regret my decision, and here's why:
    1.  This thing runs hot - not the biggest deal, but see other points below.
    2.  This thing SCREAMS Creative sound card.  It is lacking all the warm and natural sound that made the SE-200PCI/SE-200PCI LTD such a great card.  The sound is thin, lacking depth and very "digital" sounding, like the other Creative X-Fi based cards on the market.  If you have discerning ears when it comes to sound and have had the chance to compare a Creative card to an SE-200PCI, you know exactly what I'm talking about.
    3.  ZERO, and I mean ZERO sound stage.  The highs are extremely over-emphasized and the mids are harsh and irritating.  The bass is a bit better than the mids and highs, though a bit muddy.
    4.  Creative drivers.  'nuff said!
    5.  Lacks line-level RCA outputs.  The RCA analog outputs are controlled by the volume control in Windows and in the Creative control panel application.  The SE-200PCI RCA outputs were not affected by the volume control in Windows.  They remained at line-level as to avoid unnecessary amplification by the sound card, which causes distortion.
    6.  Takes 2 slots.  This may or may not be a problem for you, but the old design on the SE-200PCI had a break-out style cable that plugged in and split out the other channels.  This one has a separate mini-card that takes another slot in your PC chassis.
    I was REALLY hoping that Onkyo would find a way to at least somewhat eliminate the obligatory "Creative" sound.  It just sounds so thin - completely lacks depth.  I am kicking myself for paying the ridiculous price for this card that is only good for gaming.
    My equipment (at least that is pertinent to this review) is as follows:
    PrimaLuna Dialogue Two Tube Integrated Amplifier (KT88 based)
    Marantz HD-88 Speakers
    Hopefully this review will help some of you make the correct decision, and maybe you won't feel like a complete idiot for paying big bucks for an inferior sound card like me!
  3. RPGWiZaRD
    ^ Which X-Fi card are you comparing with, I found Titanium HD very warm sounding.
    So you still concider Onkyo SE 200 pretty good sounding card?
  4. Roller
    Entirely different cards despite the same manufacturer. Original designs with different purposes IMHO.
  5. RPGWiZaRD
    I found a very nice deal, some1 offering a Onkyo SE-200 Limited Edition, 140 EUR in my country, should I bite? That's quite a lot cheaper than retail price. I just can't find any info/pics or anything regarding the software used for these cards, it at least comes with an equalizer right?
    Kinda disturbing that Onkyo doesn't even have their site in english, just japanese.
    Also the driver support is also a concern, seems like it's not updated too often and will even Windows 7 work properly with it?
  6. headfinoob
    I found that the se200pci Ltd works in Windows 7, but I had issues with the multichannel outputs not producing sound. Under Windows xp, It works flawlessly. I will hop back on this thread after I get some sleep

    Sent from my ADR6425LVW using Tapatalk 2
  7. Roller
    At least there are some 5.60C drivers that are compatible with Windows 7 (not Vista compatible that work on Windows 7).
    I'm still waiting for Onkyo to sell the SE-300PCIE worldwide and at a lower price.
    Also, it seems the SE-200PCI uses a custom VIA software package, akin to what Auzentech does with their X-Fi powered cards as well as the SE-300PCIE. Screenshot of one control panel window of the SE-200PCI:
    The SE-200PCI comes with a 7 band equalizer. If you want to find out more about the control panel, read this (original japanese text): http://www.jp.onkyo.com/support/manual/manualpdf/SE-200PCI_Win7setting.pdf
  8. RPGWiZaRD
    7-band EQ only... I'll pass then, even portable players have that.
  9. hardeejr
    I'm comparing with an X-Fi Titanium - not the HD version.  But I've observed the same sound characteristics on most Creative cards from the Audigy 2 ZS and up...  They just seem to sound so thin and lifeless...
    I do consider the SE-200PCI LTD a great sounding card.  The sound it produces out it's analog RCA output is very warm and rich.  It's like it takes the "digital edge" off of whatever is being played.  The only complaint I have about the SE-200PCI LTD is that it could use a bit more on the treble end.  It can seem muffled on certain recordings.
    I know sound quality is a personal preference.  I prefer a laid back, warm sound.  I don't listen to much piano music, but when a piano is being played, I want to FEEL it in the room... If that makes sense.  With the SE-300PCIE, that feeling just wasn't there... Everything seemed so fake and unnatural.
    I guess I'm just an audio purist - the SE-200PCI LTD sounds beautiful with the EQ completely disabled.  In order to make the SE-300PCIE sound tolerable, I had to enable the "Creative Crystalizer" and change a few EQ settings.  Even after making the EQ changes, it still didn't cut the cake.
  10. headfinoob
    I thought I would chime in with my personal experience on the SE-200PCI LTD.
    I haven't heard some of the high-end sound cards to compare to the SE-200PCI LTD, but I can say it does sound fantastic.  I also own an SE-90PCI, which sounds great, but not in the same league.  I have an Audigy 2 ZS, which sounds decent.  I've heard various X-Fi cards (don't know which ones) that seem only marginally better than the Audigy 2 ZS.  I have not heard the Titanium HD.
    The Onkyo SE-200PCI and SE-200PCI LTD use the VIA Vinyl Envy 24 chipset.  You can use the drivers directly from the VIA website, as well as the drivers which I found on Onkyo's Japanese site.
    After spending a couple frustrating days dealing with driver issues, I found the following:
    Both new and old VIA drivers will not play audio on the Multi-channel outputs (7.1 analog outputs on breakout cable) on Windows 7 32-bit (haven't tried Windows 7 64-bit.)
    Both new and old Onkyo drivers will not play audio on the Multi-channel outputs (7.1 analog outputs on breakout cable) on Windows 7 32-bit (haven't tried Windows 7 64-bit.)
    Both new and old Onkyo drivers, under Windows 7 32-bit and Windows 7 64-bit, have a quirk in the Windows Mixer with the Master Volume slider.  I can't remember exactly, but when using WASAPI, you need to have that slider all the way down or up.  I remember it not being a big deal at all, but occasionally I think I got blasted with volume because I thought the volume was lower.   Remember that the Preamp outputs are always at full volume, and there is absolutely no working provision to control the preamp volume on the SE-200PCI LTD.  IMO, it is ideal to have true preamp outputs.
    I settled for running Windows XP with my SE-200PCI LTD because I wanted to run the multichannel analog outputs.  I since scrapped my multichannel project, but I have been unable to find a single issue with the newest VIA drivers under Windows XP.
    I have used Kernel Streaming, ASIO4ALL, and WASAPI with the SE-200PCI LTD under Windows 7 32-bit, Windows 7 64-bit, and Windows XP (of course no WASAPI under XP.)  It all works pretty well.  I have tried Foobar and Winamp, but generally almost always use Foobar.  All volumes are muted (player volume at 100%.)  The receiver controls the speaker volume.  I have sampling rate selection set to Auto in the Envy Control Panel and I can confirm it switches appropriately depending on the sampling rate of the content.
    I almost feel like buying another one of these cards in case mine dies.  I've had no hardware problems with the SE-90PCI and the two SE-200PCI LTD cards I have purchased.
    Just my $0.02
    @ RPGWizard
    I don't see why an EQ is important.  IMO, you will find far superior EQ using something like Electri-Q.  I use Electri-Q and a VST wrapper in Foobar, which I am quite pleased with.
  11. Roller
    A somewhat convoluted workaround would go through running XP on a VM from within Windows 7, and having the SE-200PCI set as anything other than the default output/intput device on Windows 7 audio settings.
  12. headfinoob

    That might work okay, I haven't played with VM much lately but I had trouble getting hardware to work in the past.
    Generally, I like keeping my audio PC separate from my main PC.  This way I don't have to mess with changing or un-muting volumes so I can hear content in Windows, particularly when using WASAPI, ASIO4All, or Kernel Streaming.  I have been blasted by Flash content, injecting itself into the audio stream with the music, causing the Master Volume to max out...  Since then, I've changed my approach to that of a dedicated audio PC that I remote desktop or VNC into.
    I can give some pointers for people interested in a such an approach. 
    I attached a pic below so you guys can see my PC as controlled via Remote Desktop from my HTC Rezound over WiFi.
    Sorry if I got off track.  I would personally be happy with the SE-200PCI LTD on Windows 7 since I don't need the multi-channel outputs.  I will try to get my buddy to test it out on his card (he's running Windows 7 64-bit) for me to see if he is having the same issue.  Perhaps something in my computer's hardware configuration wouldn't allow for the multichannel to work.
  13. Roller
    Well, hardware support has improved greatly from the initial VM iterations available at the time.
    I certainly understand having not only separate OSes but actual machines, but that's not always feasible, for one reason or another. By going the VM route, you can actually have the separate machine effect with the ease of use of local access altogether.
    It's odd that you're having issues with multichannel alone, as audio issues of the kind usually affect all channel formats.
  14. rjm003
  15. rjm003
    I've been doing some research reading the Japanese reviews of the card.
    Large majority of users seem very happy with the sound, but a small number of people with experience with the previous version consistently note the change from the 200PCI in the same generally unfavorable light. Namely: there is a shift/change in the presentation away from the highs and upper midrange to favor the lower mids. Loss of air/natural presence/"the Onkyo sound" as a result.
    I'd personally call the sound "washed out", but its pretty clear we are all hearing the same things.
    That's unfortunate. I had hoped this would be at least as good as the '200. Not that the change to X-Fi didn't ring warning bells - it did. I was willing to give it a shot because it is after all just the codec. Onkyo still does all the analog parts. That was the rationalization anyway. Seems I was naive.
    I do find a lot to like though, perhaps its fairest to call it different more than anything else. '200 had its quirks, and coming off that card long term some adjustment period is needed I guess. "Washed out" is afterall just a hop skip away from "restrained" with is spitting distance from "refined"... I'm not giving up on this just yet.

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