Sounds Cards Comparo (or The search for Aural Pleasure)

Discussion in 'PC Audio' started by smiddi, Feb 8, 2009.

  1. anthonyl

    anthonyl Member

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    Well my "upgrade" is turning into a nightmare...

    Bought the Sound Blaster Zx (for the headphone amp to drive my AKG K612 Pro's) and the sound is aweful.. the volume is very very low.

    All volume sliders are on 100% and it sounds like they are on 40%..

    Might re-install the Titanium Fatality.
     
  2. Radley

    Radley Member

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    Why not the Xonar STX?
     
  3. anthonyl

    anthonyl Member

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    Dosnt help me with my current dilema... Does the Sonar STX do 5.1?

    I am also running 2 x GTX 970's and only have 1 X PCIE-X slot (the small one) left.
     
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2015
  4. Spork!

    Spork! Member

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    Get a DAC/Amp.
    Connect via USB.
    Frees up valuable room for GPUs,
    Sounds better.
    WAY louder / will drive higher impedence headphones.
    Volume control, if your keyboard doesn't have it.
    :thumbup:
     
  5. anthonyl

    anthonyl Member

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    SO does the DAC/AMP bypass the soundcard or does it "amplify" what comes out of the sound card.

    I want to retain the "surround sound" in games and just make what I currently have louder.
     
  6. Sarsippius

    Sarsippius Member

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    In that case then just a headphone amp with a regular line in should do. Any DAC/Amp you connect via usb will bypass the Zx completely afaik, using optical I'm not 100%, you may be able to have the Zx do the surround processing etc. before outputting the optical signal.

    Btw where are you plugging the headphones in? Looking at the Zx specs it looks like only the rear headphone out is amped. If you're plugging into the module that could explain the low volume.
     
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2015
  7. anthonyl

    anthonyl Member

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    I have tried both the socket on the sound card itself and also the module ...no difference whatsoever.

    I think I have created a monster for myself... buying the AKG K612 Pro's and then thinking a soundcard with a "dedicated headphone amp" would be the solution. Now I have 2 new items that don't work well together.

    Perhaps I would be better off taking the AKG's back and replacing them with a set of cans that don't require $$$$'s worth of amps/dac thingies to drive them..
     
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2015
  8. chi

    chi Member

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    what was wrong with the akg/xfi combo?
    why "upgrade"
     
  9. anthonyl

    anthonyl Member

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    The AKG/X-fi combo is really really quiet.

    I have re-installed the Titanium Fatal1ty and the sound is better than the Zx.

    I have all volume sliders and knobs at 100% and the sound is what I would expect at say 40% there is no loudness.

    The Sound Blaster Zx is supposed to have a "dedicated headphone amp" but even with the AKG's plugged in to the socket on the card itself there is no difference in volume..

    And I was trying to get away from the "gaming headsets" like my Logitech G35's.
     
  10. Spork!

    Spork! Member

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    Depends how it's connected.
    I think for the "best" sound you use USB and bypass the sound card entirely.
    I'm using ATH AD900x headphones, and positional sound in games is still excellent without using the onboard surround sound stuff. Of course, you can still connect via the sound card, which will allow more software control, but will loose some purity of signal, as both onboard hardware AND the software will be altering the output to the DAC/Amp.

    I only have a basic DAC, it can connect either way, but isn't switchable. Higher end ones will enable connection several ways and be able to switch between different inputs, depending on if you're gaming or listening to media.
     
  11. chi

    chi Member

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    i meant why did you move from the Fatality, wasnt that working for you, or was that quiet too
     
  12. anthonyl

    anthonyl Member

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    I wanted something that had a volume control on the desk for both headphone and speakers..and thought that the Fatal1ty didn't have a headphone amp..
     
  13. Sarsippius

    Sarsippius Member

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    It seems strange that on the Zx the two different headphone jacks have the same volume, maybe there's a setting somewhere that's having an influence.

    If you want to use the surround of the sound blaster and not spend any more money you may be right in that you could be best to replace your AKG's with a pair that are easier to drive.
     
  14. chi

    chi Member

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    ah, probably best to get an external amp (with pre amp for speaker or 2 output depending on how your speakers work) if you want to keep all the surround processing and return the Zx if you can.
     
  15. anthonyl

    anthonyl Member

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    The Zx is going back tomorrow... The difference in SQ between the Titanium Fatal1ty and the Zx is big... the Zx sound in games is very "muted" and "muffled" regardless of settings...it's almost like they are afraid of getting sued for being too loud.

    The Titanium is totally differnt in terms of "sharpness" and punch..much more defined.
     
  16. anthonyl

    anthonyl Member

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    Before I took the Zx back to the shop i re-installed it..played a few rounds of BF/4...then uninstalled it .. re-installed the Titanium Fatal1ty Pro and the sound was much much better with the Fatal1ty. Sounds were a lot crisper.. gunshots were not "muffled" (its like the guns had a reduced sound when fired through the Zx)..

    So the soundcard went back for a full refund and I picked up a cheap headphone amp http://www.presonus.com/products/HP4

    Kept the AKG K612 Pro's and through the above mentioned amp sound a hell of a lot better and quite a bit louder.

    So now I can have my Logitech Z5500's AND my headphones plugged in at the same time and switch the headphone amp off when I don't need it and am able to regulate the headphone volume without having to switch to Windows whilst in game.

    Getting there...:thumbup:
     
  17. Blah72

    Blah72 Member

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    I'm building a new PC and i need a new soundcard, sick of my Creative Xtreme music. Can anyone recommend something decent? was looking at the asus xonar essence stx, or has creative actually picked up their game?


    (use headphones with an amp, so not sure if the essence amp will have any effect on my setup).

    Cheers.
     
  18. TheBear21

    TheBear21 Member

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    I have the Soundblaster ZxR and can't complain... Actually it would be nice if the desk/headphone module controlled system volume, But that's it. Nothing to complain about the sound at all.

    I don't have Anthonyl's problem. My headphones come to life using it.
     
  19. Dingostolemyghz

    Dingostolemyghz Member

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    Blah72, if you've already got a good external headphone amp, then why not grab a USB DAC. Something like the ODAC would suit if you just want it for your computer, it's no frills without additional inputs or features, but has very good sound quality.

    The STX is an option, even with an external amp. The quality of the line out on the STX is top notch. Thing is it depends what you actually want from the soundcard, the dolby headphone feature only works on the headphone output not the line output.
     
  20. cdtoaster

    cdtoaster Member

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    I still can't find the essence one MKII muses edition for sale anywhere :(
     

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