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 Post subject: Audigy 2 zs vs. Modern on board audio vs. X-Fi?
PostPosted: Sun Aug 22, 2010 12:44 pm 
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I have my old PCI Audigy 2 zs card that I have transferred to every machine starting from my AMD 754 board up to now.

I noticed that Windows 7 has really crappy audio support. I was told to make sure I download third party drivers in order to bypass latency (electrical engineer who designs audio boards and tech stuff).

I was thinking/wondering, how the sound difference is between current higher-ish end on board audio and my Soundblaster card is? I know that in XP, audio is better and even more so, the audio is processed through the graphics card offloading like 5-6% of cpu power when you need it most in a game.

Does Audigy X-Fi does come in PCI-E and is supposed to be even "better". I do not really believe it is a lot better, but I am doubting now that windows 7 audio system would make any card better or worse. Anyone have an opinion or understanding? It would make or break me getting new components.

I am building a 1090T AMD system with 8 gigs ram.... I want to go Micro ATX and put it in a carryable Lian-Li case (yes aluminum :) )


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 22, 2010 3:23 pm 
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I dunno much about todays sound cards, but I've read a lot of comments about Creatives lacking W7 support.
Also, Asus Xonar and Auzentech (the latter uses Creative chipsets) are considered being great alternatives for gaming, so I guess they are worth checking out before buying.

I know neweggs customer ratings should be taken with a kg of salt, but Creatives top rated card gets 54% top rating, while Asus gets 81% (yup, higher price), quite a difference. I've seen similar scenarios on other sites.


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 23, 2010 2:20 am 
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Creative's drivers (this includes Auzentech cards, especially seeing as the X-Fi's main issues are the firmware, which is identical afaik) are very, very iffy under any OS. The Xonar drivers aren't perfect (EAX support is limited and somewhat buggy, for example), but they're stable, and the hardware is of extremely high quality for a consumer card.

If you're happy with the Audigy 2 ZS, stick with it, if you want something nicer, get a Xonar D1 or DX (highly recommend the D1 over the DX). Be aware you'll probably not notice a lot of difference unless you spend large amounts of money on your headphones.


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 23, 2010 5:18 pm 
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I have noticed that some of the better sounding alternatives to Creative have also very primitive versions of EAX

the 64 voice eax is kinda a very useful thing to have.

HOWEVER!?

Does EAX even work in windows 7 gaming?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Aug 24, 2010 7:04 am 
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~El~Jefe~ wrote:
I have noticed that some of the better sounding alternatives to Creative have also very primitive versions of EAX

the 64 voice eax is kinda a very useful thing to have.


It's a gimmick which doesn't even work properly with Creative cards.

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HOWEVER!?

Does EAX even work in windows 7 gaming?


Semi-functional with a Xonar or an X-Fi. There's no such thing as properly working EAX.


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 Post subject: Re: Audigy 2 zs vs. Modern on board audio vs. X-Fi?
PostPosted: Tue Aug 24, 2010 7:53 pm 
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~El~Jefe~ wrote:
I noticed that Windows 7 has really crappy audio support. I was told to make sure I download third party drivers in order to bypass latency (electrical engineer who designs audio boards and tech stuff).


of course you'll be downloading third party drivers, microsoft isn't in the business of writing driver software for sound cards, so why blame win7?

test the cards you have, then decide what to do.

edit: fwiw...

Creative Labs PCI-Express X-Fi FatalTy Pro Gammer's Choice Sound Card
http://www.frys.com/product/5614511

$59.95


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Aug 25, 2010 5:18 am 
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http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... -_-Product

$69.99.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Aug 25, 2010 10:25 am 
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I swear to onboard sound, but i use optical output, not analog

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Aug 25, 2010 10:39 am 
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Wibla wrote:
I swear to onboard sound, but i use optical output, not analog


Which bypasses all their lack of quality and most of their horribly broken drivers.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Aug 26, 2010 5:45 pm 
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Modern onboard sound from Realtek is pretty good for most applications, although it does have a hard time not popping and making noise with half a dozen cars at the starting line in Midtown Madness 2. I've noticed with music (especially while wearing headphones) that the sound quality feels like it's flat or something, and lacks real depth.

I just ordered an Asus Xonar DS yesterday ($30 after rebate!!), which uses the same audio chipset as HT|Omega's Claro cards (CMI-8788, rebranded as an Asus AV200), and it should be in in a few days. I'll let you all know what the difference in quality is between it and the Realtek when I get it.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Aug 27, 2010 3:48 am 
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I want good analog output so I went with an M-Audio card. I'm very pleased with it, the drivers are far better than the Creative crap I've been using in the past. Doesn't draw that much power either, some of the more expensive gamer sound cards can be real power hogs.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Aug 27, 2010 6:55 am 
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Monkeh16 wrote:
Wibla wrote:
I swear to onboard sound, but i use optical output, not analog


Which bypasses all their lack of quality and most of their horribly broken drivers.


Onboard sound bi passes all quality anyone serious about gaming or movies will not stick to crappy onboard sound. If you believe onboard sound sounds good you've never owned quality sound card and speakers.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Aug 27, 2010 8:51 am 
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johnniecache7 wrote:
Onboard sound bi passes all quality anyone serious about gaming or movies will not stick to crappy onboard sound. If you believe onboard sound sounds good you've never owned quality sound card and speakers.

How so? With digital output, how can quality be affected? I thought digital was just a data link used to send audio data (DTS or some other format) from the computer to the receiver.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Aug 27, 2010 9:47 am 
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johnniecache7 wrote:
Onboard sound bi passes all quality anyone serious about gaming or movies will not stick to crappy onboard sound. If you believe onboard sound sounds good you've never owned quality sound card and speakers.


Are you talking analogue or digital? See, because you don't specify, you come across as someone making sweeping statements out of ignorance.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Aug 27, 2010 10:27 am 
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How about Bravura from Auzentech, quite good for an mid-range card (price too) + the support for swappable OPAMP's :/

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Aug 27, 2010 10:54 am 
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johnniecache7 wrote:
Monkeh16 wrote:
Wibla wrote:
I swear to onboard sound, but i use optical output, not analog


Which bypasses all their lack of quality and most of their horribly broken drivers.


Onboard sound bi passes all quality anyone serious about gaming or movies will not stick to crappy onboard sound. If you believe onboard sound sounds good you've never owned quality sound card and speakers.


Onboard audio is realistically no different to a dedicated card when using S/PDIF output, unless the drivers screw with things. Analogue is a totally different ballgame.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Aug 27, 2010 11:44 am 
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johnniecache7 wrote:
Monkeh16 wrote:
Wibla wrote:
I swear to onboard sound, but i use optical output, not analog


Which bypasses all their lack of quality and most of their horribly broken drivers.


Onboard sound bi passes all quality anyone serious about gaming or movies will not stick to crappy onboard sound. If you believe onboard sound sounds good you've never owned quality sound card and speakers.


That's quite funny... because I've tried both creative cards and onboard with optical on my modest pc system (which runs in the $2500 range, by the way...), and onboard optical beats creative hands down. You see, creative even manages to break digital output, everything, and i mean everything gets resampled on creative cards. Not so with the onboard supreme-fx thingie on my asus maximus formula SE. the asus mobo supports bit-perfect output, and I am not limited to 44.1 or 48kHz samplingrate either...

Using analog output/input from the computer is obsolete for anything but a clip-on headset with mic boom for teamspeak/vent.. I recommend the Sennheiser PC 121 for that, comfortable to wear for hours on end, and it doesnt insulate other sounds too well unless you want it to (so you can listen to music on the stereo aswell without the sound suffering too much).

The only thing I find lacking on my current setup is DD Live / DTS Connect, but seeing as I now run a dedicated 5.1 system for my HTPC, and a 2.1 system on my workstation, I dont really mind.

TL:DR; you are dead wrong.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Aug 27, 2010 12:00 pm 
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Wibla wrote:
johnniecache7 wrote:
Monkeh16 wrote:
Wibla wrote:
I swear to onboard sound, but i use optical output, not analog


Which bypasses all their lack of quality and most of their horribly broken drivers.


Onboard sound bi passes all quality anyone serious about gaming or movies will not stick to crappy onboard sound. If you believe onboard sound sounds good you've never owned quality sound card and speakers.


That's quite funny... because I've tried both creative cards and onboard with optical on my modest pc system (which runs in the $2500 range, by the way...), and onboard optical beats creative hands down. You see, creative even manages to break digital output, everything, and i mean everything gets resampled on creative cards. Not so with the onboard supreme-fx thingie on my asus maximus formula SE. the asus mobo supports bit-perfect output, and I am not limited to 44.1 or 48kHz samplingrate either...


Actually it's only the Live! and Audigy cards with the emu10kx chips which do that. And certain models of Audigy are capable of untouched digital output. The X-Fi has no need to do resampling in such a manner as it's capable of processing other sample rates than 48KHz. The X-Fi has other ways to mangle your audio, though..


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Aug 27, 2010 12:07 pm 
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Details, details ;)

I concede that im not up to date on the latest crud creative has put on the market, even so, their drivers and corporate philosophy should be enough to encourage buyers to stay well clear. I suggest you read up on how they have 'dealt' with the competition before...

That being said, even onboard analog output on the better (> $100) motherboards will be more than sufficient for most normal usage (headset or typical "pc" speakers). No need to shell out another $150 for a sound card unless you have actual noise or audio quality problems. This is true even for my old ass nForce2 motherboard, sound quality rivaled the audiogy back when it was released.

And if you're serious about output sound quality from a PC, you should be using optical anyway, which favors the onboard solutions even more. (Exception is for music production etc, then you'll want balanced analog input/outputs and the whole shebang, be prepared to pay for that tho :) )

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Aug 27, 2010 12:18 pm 
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Wibla wrote:
Details, details ;)

I concede that im not up to date on the latest crud creative has put on the market, even so, their drivers and corporate philosophy should be enough to encourage buyers to stay well clear. I suggest you read up on how they have 'dealt' with the competition before...


Oh, trust me, I'm well aware what they're like. They've sued people I know in the past. I don't purchase Creative products.

Quote:
That being said, even onboard analog output on the better (> $100) motherboards will be more than sufficient for most normal usage (headset or typical "pc" speakers). No need to shell out another $150 for a sound card unless you have actual noise or audio quality problems. This is true even for my old ass nForce2 motherboard, sound quality rivaled the audiogy back when it was released.


The Soundstorm was a fairly unique example. Almost all motherboards are painfully noisy over headphones. Laptops are somewhat better.

Quote:
And if you're serious about output sound quality from a PC, you should be using optical anyway


Real men use coax. ;)


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 27, 2010 12:56 pm 
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I wonder how many people hook up their PCs to an audio receiver? Except for occasionally plugging a computer into the TV for watching shows over Hulu, all the computers around here use analog speakers with a direct 3.5mm plug.

I've got a pretty good set of 2.1 speakers on my PC (Creative T3100). They already sound pretty nice with the onboard sound, but I'd like to see just how much a sound card can improve them. :)


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 27, 2010 12:59 pm 
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Monkeh16 wrote:
Real men use coax. ;)


I think I read somewhere that although optical may have greater bandwidth, coax has a slightly cleaner signal. But only a true audiophile with a $2,000 set of speakers could really tell by hearing it. The rest of us in-duh-viduals with less trained ears can live with less than perfect sound and not even notice the difference. :)


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 27, 2010 2:20 pm 
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Quite a lot of people hook their pcs up to a reciever, either via hdmi, S/PDIF (using optical or coax) or regular 3.5mm -> stereo rca connector.


I prefer optical because you then achieve galvanic isolation, stopping electrical noise from reaching from the pc to the reciever. the actual signal over coax and optical is identical. I originally used coax, but I experienced popping/sound dropping out when the compressor in the old fridge started (0.1sec dropout, but annoying), and it went away using optical.

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Last edited by Wibla on Fri Aug 27, 2010 4:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 27, 2010 2:41 pm 
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You have electrical problems then, Wibla. ;)

Coax is better than optical, IMO, because it's far more durable and has a greater range. You can run coax 20m easily if needed, TOSLINK maxes out at 6m (or 10m, depending on who you believe). It's expensive and delicate.


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 27, 2010 3:04 pm 
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Well, the old fridge had issues :P ... so it was swapped out soon enough, problem solved.

toslink really shines for short runs from a "noisy" device, you want to use something else for longer runs.

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 27, 2010 3:17 pm 
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TOSLINK or otherwise, if your ground is that noisy, you've got a problem.


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 27, 2010 5:02 pm 
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Na, there's several reasons for why you'd want to have galvanic isolation between the audio source and the amplifier/hi-fi... most hi-fi systems dont use mains ground at all, as it is often a source of ground loops between other components (inducing noise in the speakers). Most recievers suppress mains noise well, but they might not always do that from the coax inputs, meaning you have another potential noise source for the hi-fi.

Anyhow, I think we're fairly well off-topic now :D

To the OP:

The "higher"-end motherboards usually have their own daughterboard for sound, meaning that you usually get better power filtering for the DAC's / opamps, I'd honestly give onboard sound a go in your new build before dishing out cash for a new soundcard. And stay away from Creative, their drivers leave much to be desired.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Aug 29, 2010 12:46 pm 
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Creative is the only one that has EAX up to the max.

Creative is cheaper.

Creative often has mid-high quality on analog ratings using various scales.

Creative has always worked for everyone I know from Ad-lib sound cards in DOS to win7 professional 64.

The whole "buggy drivers" thing... eh?

Now, some say anything above EAX 2.0 is broken. any info on that? If that is the case, yes there are better alternatives to analog sound out and yup I would hop over to that definitely so.


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 29, 2010 4:32 pm 
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~El~Jefe~ wrote:
Creative has always worked for everyone I know from Ad-lib sound cards in DOS to win7 professional 64.

Who cares if it works, if Windows 7 has really crappy sound support? That's a major failure to me.
~El~Jefe~ wrote:
I noticed that Windows 7 has really crappy audio support.


"Always" and "used to" doesn't mean the same thing, necessarily. The whole W7 gaming community have discovered this.


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 29, 2010 10:47 pm 
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~El~Jefe~ wrote:
Creative is the only one that has EAX up to the max.

Sorry, does EAX offer anything that other software based solutions (OpenAL) doesnt?
~El~Jefe~ wrote:
Creative is cheaper.

Their lower quality cards are decently priced, but these are really not good contenders in todays market. I'd much rather buy an asus xonar than an audiogy SE.
~El~Jefe~ wrote:
Creative often has mid-high quality on analog ratings using various scales.
Most soundcards not in the bargain bin has this, as does most decent motherboards.
~El~Jefe~ wrote:
Creative has always worked for everyone I know from Ad-lib sound cards in DOS to win7 professional 64.

You missed the whole "vista edition" creative cards furore then?
~El~Jefe~ wrote:
The whole "buggy drivers" thing... eh?

Did you miss this aswell? hell, just try getting the drivers without the original CD handy... I have a Creative 24bit live usb soundcard that has excellent analog output, but I gave up on getting it to work, because I've not been able to even GET the drivers. And when I originally got the soundcard, getting it to work on XP was interesting, the drivers and software did their best to mess with my setup.
~El~Jefe~ wrote:
Now, some say anything above EAX 2.0 is broken. any info on that? If that is the case, yes there are better alternatives to analog sound out and yup I would hop over to that definitely so.

EAX is considered deprecated, see OpenAL for the future.

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