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Thread: Soundcards

  1. #1
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Kadayi's Avatar
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    Soundcards

    Presently using onboard sound on a Gigabyte X58A -UD3R (Realtek 7.1) and a Steel series Siberia Headset rather than a speaker system.

    Is there any real advantage to getting a modestly priced dedicated sound card such as a Sound Blaster Audigy SE in terms of gaming performance?
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    Network Hub JohnnyK's Avatar
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    Unless you are doing audio mixing or any other form of audio processing, most of today's onboard solutions should be more than enough. I have an X-Fi Gamer in my PC as my old Asus onboard card caused some bluescreens, but I really do not notice much difference in audio quality (I only use a stereo headset though, and am not really an audiophile).

  3. #3
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Skalpadda's Avatar
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    You'd probably notice a far greater improvement by investing in a pair of quality speakers/headphones and a good amplifier.

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    Obscure Node Bad Sector's Avatar
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    I'm *very* satisfied with my Asus Xonar Essence ST. The sound quality is way better than any other sound system (onboard or dedicated) i've used. However it is a card designed mostly for headphones (there is a dedicated output for headphones) and if you're not going to use a pair of high quality headphones, you're probably wasting money on the card. Also since the focus is on headphones, there is only stereo output. Some people dislike this because they want to connect their surround system, but personally i use headphones for years and only have a pair of cheap Creative speakers for when i want others to listen something.
    ~bs~

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    Obscure Node jackspade's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Skalpadda View Post
    You'd probably notice a far greater improvement by investing in a pair of quality speakers/headphones and a good amplifier.
    Expensive.

    OP: Ooooo I'd get a soundcard :). Especially for gaming and movies. The main reason being Dolby Virtual Headphone. Pair any stereo headset with a decent soundcard (ranging from Xonar DG for 20) and you'll get a gaming audio experience unlike anything you've ever heard before.

    I'd compare it to having a 5.1 speaker system set up perfectly around you for gaming. Instead of sound playing directly into your ears, it will sound like the sound is coming from the environment around you. If you have light headphones, you'll actually forget that you're wearing them at all. I used a DG for a few months and towards the end of the period I was still taking my headphones off to check that the sound wasn't coming from my speakers. I upgraded to an Essence STX but the difference wasn't that much, so if you are thinking of getting one just go for the DG.

    The difference in sound between a PCI card and your onboard is night and day (unlike many things in audio which require sensitive ears and possibly a bit of an inflated ego to hear :p). Seriously. Get one. Next to an SSD it's one of the best upgrades you can make to your system.

    PS: a siberia is plenty good enough to use with a dedicated card.

  6. #6
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus mashakos's Avatar
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    If you are going to hook up your pc to a home theater system, get a soundcard with Dolby Digital Live.
    Otherwise, stick to onboard.

    I've got an Asus Xonar and it has made amazing, passionate love to my modest Onkyo home theater setup.

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    Obscure Node solipsistnation's Avatar
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    I have the built-in sound card on my XFX motherboard (I forget the chipset.) It's quite acceptable.

    I recommend, if you're looking for decent sound, buying a decent pair of speakers. I have a set of Roland micro monitors that are sort of like cheap computer speakers if somebody bothered to actually design them rather than just throwing a cheap driver and a chip amp in a plastic case and calling it a day. The model number is MA-8, and they were about $80. They don't make the same thing any more, but you could find something similar at a similar range. Try looking at music stores rather than home electronics stores. Studio monitors are your cost-effective key to great sound without spending a ton of money-- at the same price range, you'll get better sound from a decent pair of studio monitors than you will from some junk from Best Buy.

    Of course, having a good set of speakers will reveal the deficiencies of your sound card, so at that point you might want to upgrade. But otherwise I wouldn't bother... 8)
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  8. #8
    Obscure Node Hunt0r's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kadayi View Post
    Presently using onboard sound on a Gigabyte X58A -UD3R (Realtek 7.1) and a Steel series Siberia Headset rather than a speaker system.

    Is there any real advantage to getting a modestly priced dedicated sound card such as a Sound Blaster Audigy SE in terms of gaming performance?
    Please dont buy a creative card! the cheap caps they use on the cards can cause a variety of issues! i would invest in a good pair of USB headsets that come with DSP, failing that a Asus card

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    Network Hub DarkNoghri's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hunt0r View Post
    i would invest in a good pair of USB headsets that come with DSP, failing that a Asus card
    That's what I've been doing. I have a good set of speakers that I run off of the integrated sound card, but both my old headset (Plantronics DSP-500, RIP) and my new headset, a Logitech G35, had their own DSP chips. I don't trust microphone jacks on integrated chips to not be staticky. To my knowledge, my voice has always been crystal clear, and the G35's have excellent sound quality (but useless buttons, for how much they get advertised).

    The only issue is that sometimes you'll have problems with random games. DOW2 did NOT agree with my G35's. At all. And you have to learn how to swap sound devices in windows, unless you're gonna be plugging/unplugging your usb cable all the time.

  10. #10
    If you do go for a soundcard, I'd advise against an X-Fi. They are really good when they work, but seem to be the cause all manner of problems.

    I don't know about game performance specifically but I think you would get better overall results from a new pair of headphones, I use Sennheiser HD595s and the sound is beautiful, you won't need an amp to drive them either.

  11. #11
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Kadayi's Avatar
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    Well I opted to get a Asus Xonar DG (about 30) and albeit I haven't played much with it, actual in game sound is a lot crisper I've noticed (as is video). I fired up Portal and I could hear the various parts of Wheatley squeaking and bleeping as he talked for example, and I never heard that stuff before with the on board sound card. Need to test out the virtualized 7.1 sound headphone sound a bit more, but I'm thumbs up so far.
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    Activated Node Ansob's Avatar
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    Is there a magical trick to the Xonar DG that I've not figured out? Because otherwise, it seems like the one I bought was DoA - Windows sees it, is convinced it's putting out sound, but the card doesn't actually pipe anything through the jacks.

    That, and the drivers BSoDed Windows 7 three or four times before I could get them installed.
    Last edited by Ansob; 16-06-2011 at 08:23 AM.

  13. #13
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Kadayi's Avatar
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    I didn't have any problems with the drivers. Have you tried the latest ones from Asus? (the ones on the CD were from last year) Also it might be worth updating your MB bios. I made sure to connect the front microphone jack to the card, and disable the onboard sound completely.

    If it's still not working RMA it.
    Last edited by Kadayi; 16-06-2011 at 08:28 AM.
    Why yes you're right I'm deliciously evil

    Tradition is the tyranny of dead men

    Steam:Kadayi Origin: Kadayi GFWL: Kadayi

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    Quote Originally Posted by Finicky View Post
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    He who controls the Doge controls the universe

  14. #14
    Activated Node Ansob's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kadayi View Post
    Have you tried the latest ones from Asus? (the ones on the CD were from last year)
    Yeah, I did - also tried the Uni Xonar ones, which are third party. It seems they like to BSoD my machine the first time I try to install the package, around about the point where it prompts you to identify whether your front panel audio is AC97 or HDA. After the forced restart, Windows picks up on the drivers automatically and successfully installs them, though - I'm fairly certain my issue is hardware-related, which'd be a shame.

  15. #15
    Obscure Node Bad Sector's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ansob View Post
    Because otherwise, it seems like the one I bought was DoA - Windows sees it, is convinced it's putting out sound, but the card doesn't actually pipe anything through the jacks.
    Open the Audio Center, roll it up (press the little triangle inside the circular button that is below the volume and select one of the output devices.

    This image might help. It is for Xonar Essence ST, but i don't think that Asus would use totally different UIs for each submodel.
    ~bs~

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