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View Full Version : Onboard Audio versus X-Fi - I was so wrong...


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Medion
11-14-06, 01:43 PM
I had originally blown $200 on the original day 1 release of the Sound Blaster Live! back in August of 1998. Yup, nothing says "retard" like a guy blowing $150 on a video card followed by $200 on a sound card just to get FF7PC to run because I was too "cheap" to buy a PS1 for $150 at the time. Ok, so I used it for Everquest as well.

Anyway, I used that same SB Live up until February of this year, through multiple systems. What changed was that I decided to go with onboard audio (Realtek ALC 850) and save money on the soundcard to spend elsewhere. For the most part, it worked. Going from 2 watts 2-speaker setup to a 32-watt 2.1 Logitech setup meant that the system sounded much better anyway.

Well, I recently had to open the case, and in doing so, I screwed up the mobo. Only the onboard audio was messed up though. Enabling it caused the system to lock up and crash in less than 5-minutes, without fail, no matter what I did. When the sound did work, it was distorted and full of static.

So I had to make a decision...RMA the mobo and be without my system for 2-4 weeks, or buy the soundcard I had wanted from the start. With the debut of two new cheaper models and the XtremeMusic being faded out, I bought it at ZZF for $100. Saved $5 over the slightly inferior XtremeGamer, while the even lower end X-Fi is crap and not worth considering.

One word...WOW. I'm hearing things I didn't hear before. EAX effects sound right, rather than just sounding like extra reverb and echo (WC3 was terrible with EAX enabled on the Realtek). Music sounds clearer, crisper, and it's as it my subwoffer just started working!

In WoW, I could HEAR where the rogue stealthed, and managed to get to him before he got me. I no longer need to crank every conceivable setting to max just for others to hear me on Ventrilo/TS. Can't wait to go to a better speaker setup once I move into the new house. As it is, my wife's PC and mine face each other. So, if I went for surround sound, my rear speakers would be next to her front speakers. That would get VERY annoying when we both play WoW.

Basially, 8 years ago I had a lot of buyer's remorse for buying a soundcard, though I did like it. My experience with Creative's drivers are what drove me most towards onboard this time around. Well, all I can say is no buyer's remorse here, and no driver issues (using the October 30 update). I'll eventually RMA the mobo, I have a little over 2 years left on the warranty. But when I do, I'm still sticking with the X-Fi.

superbooga
11-14-06, 02:15 PM
The Live! was awesome for its time. However, it was overpriced compared to other PCI based sound cards that had sound quality that was just as good as the Live (or even better). It was a pity that Creative held back the hardware, probably intentionally, through its drivers.

Anyways, I also love the X-Fi. I bought mine to replace the Audigy 2 ZS I ruined by spraying Dust-Off on the card, and then turning on the system while the card was still cold, resulting in water condensation.

Also, if you've read some recent articles, you should know that EAX doesn't work properly with Realtek.

Medion
11-14-06, 02:18 PM
Also, if you've read some recent articles, you should know that EAX doesn't work properly with Realtek.

Yup, specifically occlusion. AD's onboard audio solution is much better.

jAkUp
11-14-06, 02:21 PM
I definetely agree, I came from an Audigy 2 ZS and the difference in audio quality was breathtaking. I remember loading up BF2 and just being completely blown away.

jolle
11-14-06, 03:33 PM
I really like it aswell.
Especially CMSS3d HP since I always game with headphones, great surround emulation with the exception of a few games that "bug" a little with it.. like Oblivion where the player sounds, I think, are positioned all wierd.

einstein_314
11-15-06, 04:42 PM
I definetely agree, I came from an Audigy 2 ZS and the difference in audio quality was breathtaking. I remember loading up BF2 and just being completely blown away.
Lol. Same here! I upgraded from an Audigy2ZS to the X-Fi Fatal1ty and OMG! It was amazing. BF2 was the first game I tried too :D

CaptNKILL
11-15-06, 05:11 PM
Yep, I agree with everything said.

Onboard is great now compared to what it used to be, but Creative (specifically with the X-Fi) are still the kings of gaming\multimedia sound cards.

flukester
11-16-06, 10:08 AM
Ya just too bad their support blows chunks, they blame others for their problems and they ignore their community.

MJO80
11-16-06, 11:25 AM
The X-Fi is a very nice soundcard it seems, but it is lacking in a couple of areas. (That I pay attention to)

1) It lacks a toslink(optical) output.
Then you will be able to connect it straight to the surround receiver, and not worry about any electrical connection between the PC and receiver.

2) It lacks Dolby digital live, I do not know how it encodes the output, but it is not as a Dolby Digital signal.

I am afraid I am going to miss my present nVidia Soundstorm that is capable of both things. And does it quite well too.

At present I am looking at some of the Soundcards from Audiotrak and HDA, they seem very nice and capable of the above.
But they do not support the "X-Fi only" setting in BF2 etc. and the drivers seems a bit dodgy concerning games.

If only nVidia would release the Soundstorm as an add-on card, or put it back on the motherboards.
I would love to pay a little more for it. ;)

(I will keep my nForce2 mobo with soundstorm in the secondary rig, but eventually it will be "retired")

nekrosoft13
11-16-06, 12:15 PM
simple

this is what you need, currently the best sound card
http://www.auzentech.com/site/products/x-meridian.php

MJO80
11-16-06, 12:25 PM
simple

this is what you need, currently the best sound card
http://www.auzentech.com/site/products/x-meridian.php

Thanks for the link.

It seems that Auzentech and HDA is the same company, or Auzentech makes the HDA cards? :rolleyes:
I'll keep an eye out for the X-Meridian I do not think it is for sale in Denmark yet.

But you must admit that the two cards look a lot like each other, not the same chip though.

X-Plosion:
http://www.extremeoverclocking.com/reviews/sound/images/Auzentech_X-Plosion/HDA_X-Plosion_4.jpg

X-Meridian:
http://www.auzentech.com/site/images/xmeridian_angle_verylarge.jpg

CaptNKILL
11-16-06, 12:52 PM
Thanks for the link.

It seems that Auzentech and HDA is the same company, or Auzentech makes the HDA cards? :rolleyes:
I'll keep an eye out for the X-Meridian I do not think it is for sale in Denmark yet.

But you must admit that the two cards look a lot like each other, not the same chip though.

X-Plosion:
http://www.extremeoverclocking.com/reviews/sound/images/Auzentech_X-Plosion/HDA_X-Plosion_4.jpg

X-Meridian:
http://www.auzentech.com/site/images/xmeridian_angle_verylarge.jpg
I think Auzentech either bought HDA or became HDA. The x-plosion is last year's model of DTS Connect\DDL sound card (like the HDA mystique was the model from the year before). It was originally the HDA x-plosion but is now supported by Auzentech.

The X-Meridian is the newest model.

tweaked
11-16-06, 01:35 PM
any soundcard bragging "the only all-original sound card engineered specifically to maximize the potential of the C-Media CMI-8788 chipset" leaves me anything but impressed.

because we know C-Media stands for quality. :thumbdwn:

SH0DAN
11-16-06, 04:40 PM
The Live! was awesome for its time. However, it was overpriced compared to other PCI based sound cards that had sound quality that was just as good as the Live (or even better). It was a pity that Creative held back the hardware, probably intentionally, through its drivers.

Anyways, I also love the X-Fi. I bought mine to replace the Audigy 2 ZS I ruined by spraying Dust-Off on the card, and then turning on the system while the card was still cold, resulting in water condensation.

Also, if you've read some recent articles, you should know that EAX doesn't work properly with Realtek.


I recently went from a Live to a X-Fi Plat and the difference is earth shattering,my headphones sound incredible in games and with music.

BrianG
11-16-06, 05:13 PM
Thanks for the link.

It seems that Auzentech and HDA is the same company, or Auzentech makes the HDA cards? :rolleyes:
I'll keep an eye out for the X-Meridian I do not think it is for sale in Denmark yet.

But you must admit that the two cards look a lot like each other, not the same chip though.

X-Plosion:
http://www.extremeoverclocking.com/reviews/sound/images/Auzentech_X-Plosion/HDA_X-Plosion_4.jpg

X-Meridian:
http://www.auzentech.com/site/images/xmeridian_angle_verylarge.jpg
X-Meridian is about a half an inch longer.

Performance wise, it is far more refined than the X-Plosion. So far so good, I love the card. I am reviewing the card for another website and I believe nV News will be reviewing one, as well.

BrianG
11-16-06, 05:15 PM
any soundcard bragging "the only all-original sound card engineered specifically to maximize the potential of the C-Media CMI-8788 chipset" leaves me anything but impressed.

because we know C-Media stands for quality. :thumbdwn:
Don't knock it. C-Media is making a pretty heavy push forward.

Rakeesh
11-16-06, 08:11 PM
any soundcard bragging "the only all-original sound card engineered specifically to maximize the potential of the C-Media CMI-8788 chipset" leaves me anything but impressed.

because we know C-Media stands for quality. :thumbdwn:

Half a score ago people used to rip on AMD stating the same thing. Today on the other hand...

Bearclaw
11-16-06, 10:21 PM
I am looking for a sound card. What do you guys suggest?

CaptNKILL
11-17-06, 05:17 AM
I am looking for a sound card. What do you guys suggest?
What kind of speaker setup do you have, what games do you play, and what else do you use your computer for?

crainger
11-17-06, 05:22 AM
Seeing as Bearclaq is asking questions.

http://www.auspcmarket.com.au/show_product_info.php?input[product_code]=AL-SBXFI-HHOEM-STD&input[category_id]=101

I'm thinking about grabbing this OEM X-FI. Is there any reason I should go for the X-RAM versions? It doesn't look like Creative has the developer support to make X-RAM worth it this generation.

CaptNKILL
11-17-06, 05:47 AM
Seeing as Bearclaq is asking questions.

http://www.auspcmarket.com.au/show_product_info.php?input[product_code]=AL-SBXFI-HHOEM-STD&input[category_id]=101

I'm thinking about grabbing this OEM X-FI. Is there any reason I should go for the X-RAM versions? It doesn't look like Creative has the developer support to make X-RAM worth it this generation.
Yeah just go with that one. I doubt there will ever be a reason to have XRAM.

IMO its already lost any hype it had and we'll probably never see another x-ram enabled game.

Does BF2142 still have x-ram support? If they cut it out of that game then x-ram is dead.

flukester
11-17-06, 09:47 AM
I am looking for a sound card. What do you guys suggest?

The best

http://www.cc.jyu.fi/~jrop/specials/digisnap/adlibcard_small.jpg

Really hard to get now! Thanks to Creative Labs :D

ynnek
11-17-06, 11:12 AM
lmao

I never got one of those, but I did get the Soundblaster when it first came out. Wasn't the adlib limited to sythesized music or something?

Remember those boxes that plugged in the parallel port for sound? You could actually make your own DAC out of 20 or so resistors that connected to the parallel port..

SH0DAN
11-17-06, 02:53 PM
I am looking for a sound card. What do you guys suggest?


Grab an Audigy2 if you dont want to spend allot,or X-fi Extreme Music/Plat if
you want to treat yourself.

tweaked
11-21-06, 01:27 AM
Yeah just go with that one. I doubt there will ever be a reason to have XRAM.

IMO its already lost any hype it had and we'll probably never see another x-ram enabled game.

Does BF2142 still have x-ram support? If they cut it out of that game then x-ram is dead.

Actually, anything that uses OpenAL will utilize the Xram. How much of a difference the Xram makes is a different question altogether.

so, the Xram will be used for a long time to come because of Vista's OpenAL or BUST (Software) audio scheme. look for most new games to be OpenAL next year.

but like i said, does it make a practical difference? No idea. Only reason my card has X-ram was because i bought the Elite Pro for the superior DAC's.

and yeah 2142 has an X-FI setting.