Sounds Cards Comparo (or The search for Aural Pleasure)

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

  1. Blah72

    Blah72 Member

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    Thanks. Would a usb dac replace a soundcard? im putting together a new pc so i need a sound card, i'll just be using it with my headphones, don't have speakers. All i want is a good quality sound card for games and music (don't watch movies on my pc), i do like the CMSS3d on my creative card though.
     
  2. Aratahu

    Aratahu Member

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    Advice needed.

    I just got the fantastic sounding ATH-ADG1, paired it up with a new Asus DGX. I absolutely love them; so deep, clear and precise - with an airy feel to them that let me use them for hours. There's a world of difference to the Logitechs; have had the Logitech G35, then the G930s for a long while.

    Compared to the USB DAC Audio Technica provided, the DGX sounds truly amazing to my ears.

    However I cannot use the Z-5500s at the same time (it should be noted that the DGX is far supreme to my motherboard's onboard), and the Dolby positional audio is only so and so at best. Yes, I tried using the front panel however with my Antec 902 I do notice a certain degradation of quality.

    So, I am wondering if I could get the Sound Blaster ZX-R, as it'll let me use both the 5.1 and the headphones, and will have great positional audio as well.

    However, my ADG1s are 38 ohms, and the ZX-R (in low setting?) is 10 ohms. I've read that ideally, output should be 1/8th of input. This is just what I've gleamed though, so I'd like to know from those here who actually know this stuff if the ADG1s would be a good match with the ZX-R? Or are there other solutions I could be looking at?

    Basically, I want good music quality (at least as good as DGX) for my ADG1s, but better positional with dedicated outputs allowing me to also hook up the Z5500's three minijack for using that when needed. Currently I have to crawl back there and swap cables, or just use stereo by hooking the Z-5500 to the front headphones (doing that now).

    Thanks. :)
     
  3. scottath

    scottath Member

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    Hey guys,

    Looking at downsizing my desktop - and the Zonar D2x will loose out on a slot to run it.
    What would be a optical/USB DAC you'd recommend of similar quality (or better if not a large price difference)?

    Current Setup:
    Xonar >
    Shure SRH-440​
    OR
    SVS PB1000 sub >
    Swan T200B (@80hz crossover)​

    Thanks all :)
     
  4. Dingostolemyghz

    Dingostolemyghz Member

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    If CMSS3D is a feature you like, stick with creative then. No need to overthink things :D
     
  5. Aratahu

    Aratahu Member

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    I got the ZXR; the outputs are a bit on the loud side, however when plugged straight into the soundcard rather than the breakout box, the quality is just sublime. I turn the output level down a bit in the equalizer setting, and will use just 10% for fairly loud levels.

    The breakout box sound quality is rubbish. Just forget about it, it really kills the audio quality. You may need your own converters from mini to headphone jacks, as the included ones have a screw system that is too small for the splitter cable that came with my ATH-ADG1s.

    Positional audio is miles and miles better than the Asus DGX card. I.e. with Insurgency, it didn't work at all with the DGX, whereas with the ZXR I can clearly hear where the sound's coming from. Just using 5.1 output in the game, that's all - no need to engage shitty dolby encoders that muffle everything.

    Am having some fun shopping on https://www.hdtracks.com now, in particular http://www.hdtracks.com/the-ultimate-headphone-demonstration-disc-166309 which I got in 192/24 flac. So much fun. :)
     
  6. chrizzle

    chrizzle Member

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    I hate it when you get awesome new tech Aratahu. Hate it and love it.
     
  7. Blah72

    Blah72 Member

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    Has creative dealt with their bad rep though? xfi's were bloody awful in relation to drivers, basically no support, that's why i was considering an Asus card.
     
  8. bubblegoose

    bubblegoose Member

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    I'm still running a trusty PCI EMU 0404 into a stereo amp from the 80's hahah :lol: Why change what aint broke right? :Pirate:
     
  9. moseymoose

    moseymoose New Member

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    Thanks for this review mate, its made a good basis on which to make a decision on what to buy within my budget.

    Nice one :thumbup:
     
  10. Conquerer

    Conquerer (Banned or Deleted)

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    Hey guys,

    A pair of M50X headphones are on the way for music. I have a pair of Astro A50 Wireless gaming headset that i use from the ps4 for pc gaming.

    I have Gigabyte Z97-D3H which has Realtek ALC1150 115dB SNR HD Audio with built-in rear audio amplifier.

    So will getting a external amp/dac be a upgrade or a soundcard?

    Budget of about $200-300.

    My intended use are first music then gaming.
     
    Last edited: May 25, 2015
  11. lithos

    lithos Member

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    Best bang-for-buck, I maintain, is a sound card - high end, either a Sound Blaster ZxR or Xonar Essence II for that money.
     
  12. metcard

    metcard Member

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    bought a steinberg UR12 today and the thing sounds incredible.
    http://www.askaudiomag.com/articles/review-steinberg-ur12-audio-interface
    Bought it from storedj in Melbourne for $135.
    I was using a Xonar DG which sounded way better than my onboard, but this steinberg UR12 USB Audio Interface blows the DG out of the water.
    I have a Sony micro system with some Wharfedale speakers, and I always thought it lacked bass and power, also, the audio with the DG seemed (after using the UR12) muddy or you really couldn't make out individual sounds/instruments. With the UR12, my speakers sound like every sound/instrument has it's own driver, the bass is also so damn sweet and I've actually had to step the bass setting down 3 notches - it's not boomy though it's sharp and clear bass. Volume overall is so much higher too, setting my stereo at 20 it's about the same volume I got with the DG at 26 or more and with far more bass.
    I was a little iffy about buying it since I wasn't sure that it would be suitable to use as a Soundcard but it has far surpassed my expectations.
    Why don't people recommend USB audio interfaces more? they are essentially external sound cards and I have no doubt that it probably sounds better than a similarly priced ASUS or Creative external sound card.
    If you are looking at getting an external stereo sound card, I can't recommend the UR12 enough.
     
  13. Camm

    Camm Member

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    Going back the other way.

    Whats the best Win98-XP PCI soundcard? Bonus points if compatible with dos games and has nix drivers.

    Have a ridiculous old school build project going on atm, and feel the sounds somewhat missing on the Conroe865 I picked up.
     
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2016
  14. philscomputerlab

    philscomputerlab Member

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    Well my go to card for Windows 98 is the Aureal Vortex 2.

    It has this amazing A3D surround over headphone technology that many Windows 98 era games use. It also works great in DOS and has a working MPU401 interface as well as a wavetable header.

    No go in Windows XP I believe though.

    Other cards that people use are the Live! and Yamaha based PCI cards.

    It's a very complex subject, so you should definitely do some research on your options.
     
  15. NSanity

    NSanity Member

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    Some form of Creative Audigy2 tbh.

    The only other option would be a Roland card - which i doubt will be PCI (more likely to be ISA iirc)
     
  16. Linkin

    Linkin Member

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  17. dcyloo

    dcyloo Member

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    My Sound Blaster Audigy Value card I'd bought back in 2006 finally upped and spat out it's magic smoke today so I'm on the hunt for another sound card.

    Been thinking of using an external one for a while now and wondering about the Asus Xonar U7 external unit. It seems to be something that does a good number of tricks and would suit my desires out of a sound card. The switching between speaker and headset output is a nice desirable out of this.

    Amazon's user review system shows a 72:32 ratio. Negative ones range from bad drivers to just bad product that fails after a few months. If I get one of these, would I be getting myself some trouble or would I be getting something which hopefully will give me a good few years of blissful audio entertainment?
     
  18. bobbyjimmy

    bobbyjimmy Member

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    Got one of these on the wife/kids PC, it's ok.
    It works, it switches between headphones and speakers 9 out of 10 times on the fly.
    Had to use the first Win10 driver to get it to work properly and it still stuffs up the mic volume every now and then.

    It hasn't got that good a sound quality and doesn't have much bass, compared to my PC with an Asus Xonar Pheobus (using Audio Technia ATH-AG1X)

    Overall i'd give it maybe a 7.
     
  19. dcyloo

    dcyloo Member

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    Thanks for the heads up.

    I needed a sound card and didn't want to plug another day into using my onboard. Today I had free so I've gone and bought the U7. So far so good. Setup has been a breeze. I'll keep an eye on the switching and the functions of the headset and mic when it comes through. I've got the latest drivers from the website installed.

    As for bass... I guess since I don't have anything to compare it to, it won't be such an issue for me. All I can say is that it was utter night and day comparatively when using onboard sound to my 10 year old Audigy last night.
     
  20. eastley

    eastley Member

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    I have had the STX II and the ZxR.

    ZxR is miles better IMO.
     

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