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mullet
12-22-05, 06:51 PM
Hey all, I was just wondering why so many people are wanting a soundcard? I usta always get a soundcard till the first 5.1 onboard sound and now with a fiber optical connection to my logitech 5500 5.1 its mindblowing on how nice it sounds. The point im trying to make is am I missing out not buying a good soundcard or a waste of money?

Thanks, mullet

wheeljack12
12-22-05, 07:01 PM
the main benefit of sound cards is that some like creative labs have digital signal processors (DSP or Audio processor) on them. In other sound cards like these have onboard hardware acceleration.This takes from the time that the cpu uses to process sound for most onboard sound as most onboard sound doesn't have it's own hardware acceleration. The only exception (and a big one) was Nvidia when they used the soundstorm audio on with their Nforce 2 motherboard chipset. It had the ability to encode Dolby Digital audio on the fly (hence the term DDL or Dolby Digital Live) and it had on audio-chip hardware acceleration. Hardware acceleration mainly helps with gaming framerates.

MrSavoy
12-22-05, 07:03 PM
the main benefit of sound cards is that some like creative labs have digital signal processors (DSP or Audio processor) on them. In other sound cards like these have onboard hardware acceleration.This takes from the time that the cpu uses to process sound for most onboard sound as most onboard sound doesn't have it's own hardware acceleration. The only exception (and a big one) was Nvidia when they used the soundstorm audio on with their Nforce 2 motherboard chipset. It had the ability to encode Dolby Digital audio on the fly (hence the term DDL or Dolby Digital Live) and it had on audio-chip hardware acceleration. Hardware acceleration mainly helps with gaming framerates.

Were talking maybe 1-3 fps at best case scenerio, just to clarify. :)

Medion
12-22-05, 08:04 PM
In most cases, a game is GPU limited, and the CPU is waiting on the GPU, so there is typically enough power left to handle audio with minimal loss. As noted above, in this case, the loss in framerate is around 1%.

In a CPU limited situation though, you'll notice as much as a 3-5% loss in framerates.

To put that in $$$ figures, for the frames you'd gain by going from onboard to an X-Fi XtremeMusic, you could spend the money to go from a 7800GT to a 7800GTX and get a much larger boost in performance.

I jumped off the sound card bandagon recently. With CL buying out all their competition, there's just very little innovation. EAX has never sounded like positional audio to me, it's just a bunch of reverbs. A3D was excellent for its time, but CL killed it.

jAkUp
12-22-05, 08:06 PM
I dunno, EAX just adds so much for me, the sound is bland and dull if a game doesn't have EAX to me.

superklye
12-22-05, 08:09 PM
Get an X-Fi...you'll never want to go back to anything less afterwards. :D

ViN86
12-22-05, 08:47 PM
Get an X-Fi...you'll never want to go back to anything less afterwards. :D
i agree, i really need to get one :)

a12ctic
12-22-05, 09:29 PM
im on intergrated 5.1, just bought 5.1 speakers though so itll be a couple months (i dont work) till i can afford beter, the sounds pretty good though....

ynnek
12-22-05, 09:42 PM
I was skeptical too, until I got my X-Fi.. The positional clarity on 5.1 sounds was worth it itself.. sometimes, I feel like I'm cheating in CS Source cause you can hear the footsteps so well. My onboard did not seperate out the rear speakers nearly as well.


Games like Quake 4 sound awesome.. things actually do come in alot more clearer and easier to detect.

Haven't tired BF2, but everyone says the position clarity is awesome.

Don't use headphones, but from what I read, the virtual 5.1 through headphones is great.

mullet
12-23-05, 08:16 AM
Thanks for the input. Im just not ready to give up my optical connection as of yet. I did notice when I went to the optical connection I played a dvd and I heard stuff in movies I never knew was there. I can deal with a 3 to 5 FPS loss as I will be upgrading to a SLI mobo soon with a 7800GTX.

Thanks again guys.

superklye
12-23-05, 08:36 AM
Umm...X-Fi's HAVE optical out...

Lfctony
12-23-05, 08:38 AM
Besides the small performance increase, I like the sound the Audigy offers. Also, I can't seem to enable surround sound in games with my ALC850. I removed the Audigy to test my PC with something. While it sounds very nice during music playback and tests fine in Windows, DVDs don't have 5.1 sound, nor do games. Even my Audigy Player works better.

CaptNKILL
12-23-05, 08:51 AM
Umm...X-Fi's HAVE optical out...
Yeah, but no creative cards have any encoding capabilities so optical out is simply stereo out unless you are watching a surround encoded DVD.

It sucks, but there are still a lot of arguments on whether optical connections really give you much benefit at all, at least for the PC. Id love to be able to use optical (with DDL) but I broke down and bought an X-Fi for christmas... I hope I wont be disapointed :)

superklye
12-23-05, 08:57 AM
Why would they need to encode 5.1? My Elite Pro has DTS and DD 5.1 DEcoding for surround sound in movies and anything else in 5.1 surround.

BrianG
12-23-05, 09:15 AM
Why would they need to encode 5.1? My Elite Pro has DTS and DD 5.1 DEcoding for surround sound in movies and anything else in 5.1 surround.
He is referring to encoding into a DDL stream so you do not ahve to use the discrete channel outputs. My speaker set up does not have 5.1 analog inputs.

Looks like somebody did not read my X-Mystique review. (mikec)
http://www.nvnews.net/reviews/x-mystique/

/me is listening to Modest Mouse in 5.1 with just one cable hooked up to the soundcard.

CaptNKILL
12-23-05, 09:15 AM
Why would they need to encode 5.1? My Elite Pro has DTS and DD 5.1 DEcoding for surround sound in movies and anything else in 5.1 surround.
Heh, youre going to have to look it up kyle, its been talked about 100000 times. Optical recievers (of any kind) need to recieve an ENcoded signal or else they are stereo only. If there isnt anything to ENcode your games or music to Dolby 5.1 or DTS, then optical out will get you nothing but stereo.

The only thing DEcoding does it let you play Dolby pre-encoded sources (like DVDs and maybe some 5.1 encoded CDs) through analog speakers. A decoder is whats in most recievers though too, so if you use optical out, Im pretty sure the decoder is bypassed anyway.

This is the #1 gripe most people have with creative... they have done *ZERO* to make advancements in optical\digital technology on computers because they havent made anything (other than that weird external encoder box thing... which is probably rather useless for most people) that can encode a signal for use on a digital reciever.

BrianG
12-23-05, 09:18 AM
Heh, youre going to have to look it up kyle, its been talked about 100000 times. Optical recievers (of any kind) need to recieve an ENcoded signal or else they are stereo only. If there isnt anything to ENcode your games or music to Dolby 5.1 or DTS, then optical out will get you nothing but stereo.

The only thing DEcoding does it let you play Dolby pre-encoded sources (like DVDs and maybe some 5.1 encoded CDs) through analog speakers. A decoder is whats in most recievers though too, so if you use optical out, Im pretty sure the decoder is bypassed anyway.

This is the #1 gripe most people have with creative... they have done *ZERO* to make advancements in optical\digital technology on computers because they havent made anything (other than that weird external encoder box thing... which is probably rather useless for most people) that can encode a signal for use on a digital reciever.
I refuse to buy Creative until they support DDL in hardware. I hope to have info on a new soundcard soon that takes it a step further with on-the-fly DTS encoding.

CaptNKILL
12-23-05, 09:22 AM
I refuse to buy Creative until they support DDL in hardware. I hope to have info on a new soundcard soon that takes it a step further with on-the-fly DTS encoding.
Yeah, I was reading about the next card that blue gears is working on... it looks like itl have some sweet features.

I was torn between getting the mystique and an x-fi but in the end, I figured Id get more out of the crystalizer, EAX and "x-fi only" features in games. I know, Im a sellout ;)

superklye
12-23-05, 10:28 AM
He is referring to encoding into a DDL stream so you do not ahve to use the discrete channel outputs. My speaker set up does not have 5.1 analog inputs.

Looks like somebody did not read my X-Mystique review. (mikec)
http://www.nvnews.net/reviews/x-mystique/

/me is listening to Modest Mouse in 5.1 with just one cable hooked up to the soundcard.
No, I definitely read your review and I still don't get what you guys are talking about. Maybe something just isn't connecting for me here.

Heh, youre going to have to look it up kyle, its been talked about 100000 times. Optical recievers (of any kind) need to recieve an ENcoded signal or else they are stereo only. If there isnt anything to ENcode your games or music to Dolby 5.1 or DTS, then optical out will get you nothing but stereo.
I understand that. You can't decode something to 5.1 if the source only stereo. That's kind of a moot point.

The only thing DEcoding does it let you play Dolby pre-encoded sources (like DVDs and maybe some 5.1 encoded CDs) through analog speakers. A decoder is whats in most recievers though too, so if you use optical out, Im pretty sure the decoder is bypassed anyway.
Okay, again, it makes no sense that something would be 5.1 if the source is stereo. Sure, there's ProLogic II which emulates 5.1 (how it does it exactly, I don't know, but I tell you what, watching The Shield on FX with faux 5.1 is awesome), but it's not really. All that does is force background noise to the back speakers while keeping the main focus in the center channel and less important but not background-worthy noise in the front left and right.

And Creative Cards have the CMSS-3D which upmixes stereo to "5.1" but all it does is force whatever is coming out of the front left to the back left and the front right to the back right and mixes the two for the center channel.

This is the #1 gripe most people have with creative... they have done *ZERO* to make advancements in optical\digital technology on computers because they havent made anything (other than that weird external encoder box thing... which is probably rather useless for most people) that can encode a signal for use on a digital reciever.
Well, maybe I'm wrong, but I was under the assumption that all the high-end speakers (which are digital anyway) have built in DTS and DD5.1 decoders so that, when connected to the computer via an optical or coaxial connection, the speakers take care of what the computer cannot/does not.

And all this talk of digital out to analog speakers makes no sense...you can't have digital out to speakers that don't have digital in.



So maybe I still don't understand what we're talking about, but from the quoted parts above, that's what I'm getting from this...

BrianG
12-23-05, 10:57 AM
OK, let's say you only have the digital output hooked up to your speaker system on the X-Fi. If you select surround sound in your game's control panel, you still only get two channels throguh the digital connection as the X-Fi can not ENcode the surround sound created by the game. Do you agree?

You can have digital out, ie Dolby Digital or AC3 as it was formerly known as, if your sound card can encode the channels into a AC3 stream.

If your speakers ONLY have the 6 channel discrete analog inputs, then your sound card would have to DEcode whatever is coming at it into the six channels. That means the software has to do the conversion from Dolby Digital or DTS on the DVD into the six channels the sound card can output. Most bundled DVD software does not support the channel breakdown, so the only way to get true 5.1 surround is to pass-through the digital audio to the SPDIF port to go to a receiver or speaker system that can DEcode and out put the six channels. Games do not ENcode their audio into a digital SPDIF stream. Soundstorm and the X-Mystique does by taking the six channels of audio created by EAX or whatever and maps it into the AC3 stream output via SPDIF.

Yes, you can ENcode stereo into a 5.1 stream. When listening to music in 5.1 DDL mode, the X-Mystique takes the two channel and interprets the breakdown and splits the audio R/L and sub, adding the rear speakers into the mix. When i compare the sound quality and depth versus running PCM (two-channel digital) into my speakers that then process using Pro-Logic II, the 5.1 encoded signal is superior sound quality and channel seperation. My head hurts.

CaptNKILL
12-23-05, 11:39 AM
I understand that. You can't decode something to 5.1 if the source only stereo. That's kind of a moot point.

Heh, no thats not what I said. There is no digital 5.1 without Dolby 5.1 or DTS. If your soundcard cant ENCODE the 5.1 sound from your game to Dolby 5.1 or DTS (decoding has nothing to do with it) then your soundcard is only capable of sending a stereo digital signal to your reciever. If your reciever doesnt support digital sound (yours doesnt) then it doesnt really matter much anyway.

Its probably best to just search the forums here for discussions on digital sound and dolby encoding... there have probably been at least a dozen threads on this since Nvidias Soundstorm (on the Nforce 2 MCP-T) was available. That was originally the ONLY way to get digital surround from a PC before the Blue Gears Mystique was released.

superklye
12-23-05, 11:46 AM
Roger that.