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View Full Version : How much difference do soundcards make?


kev13dd
01-15-07, 03:21 AM
I've been using onboard sound since I've ever had my own computer. I think the only computer with a soundcard I've ever even used was an old 486 that my uncle donated to our family

Recently I purchased a 150 dollar set of speakers and well... I'm dissapointed. The base seems muddy and the sound (no matter what I set the EQ or audio file to) just doesn't seem up to my expectations

My qusetion- will a soundcard change that? I know I could just have bought crummy speakers, but generally, do soundcards improve sound quality of music (I find music far more important than the sound quality of games) that much? I don't want to go buy one of the lovely 150 dollar ones, but will a nice namebrand soundcard be worth it? Or should I just continue to fiddle with the EQ or cross my fingers that my next speaker purchase will be wiser?

Btw, my speaker set is the Logitech 5300e, which I know a few of the people on the forums have used before, if that's any help

K

Dazz
01-15-07, 03:31 AM
Yes you will a higher SNR is better as it means less static/noise. You can try the lower end Xfi Familiy cards i personally recommend them.

Xion X2
01-15-07, 04:00 AM
Sound cards are almost always better than onboard chips. Get yourself a good Audigy 4 at least and you won't be disappointed.

If you want surround, go Auzentech like me.

Lazaredz
01-15-07, 04:08 AM
I have the same speakers and mine are GREAT. Every review/post I've ever read about them is also great, so I doubt its the speakers.

I'd say go with an X-Fi. Yeah creative is a smug bastard of a company, but they really do have a great product here. They have a new "budget" line with these starting at $55, but I would suggest going ahead with the Extreme Music model. I LOVE mine. Great for music, games, TV, DVD. Never had a problem with it.

kev13dd
01-15-07, 04:16 AM
I have the same speakers and mine are GREAT. Every review/post I've ever read about them is also great, so I doubt its the speakers.

I'd say go with an X-Fi. Yeah creative is a smug bastard of a company, but they really do have a great product here. They have a new "budget" line with these starting at $55, but I would suggest going ahead with the Extreme Music model. I LOVE mine. Great for music, games, TV, DVD. Never had a problem with it.
Great to hear from someone who has the same speakers as I do!

X-Fi is probably the way I'll go. Extreme Music is a 90 dollar card but Extreme Audio is more in the 60s, so I'll probably go that direction if I can't find a better price or a better card! I sure hope it makes my music sound better, because having a sock in the sub to eliminate some of the mud isn't why I bought the speakers

K

john19055
01-15-07, 04:28 AM
I have the logitech 5300e and they sound good even on the motherboards sound card ,but the X-Fi does sound a lot better IMO ,I had a X-Fi music one that went bad ,so I got one the cheaper X-Fi gamer ,it has the same guts as the other one have ,the main thing being the new processor ,it just don't have the extra features that you can hook up other stuff like the front audio pannel,which I don't care about ,But IMO you will be able to hear the difference and if you ever use head phone ,the X-Fi can make the cheapest headphones sound great.

kev13dd
01-15-07, 04:31 AM
Actually I just found an XtremeMusic for 75 with shipping... should I fork out the extra cash for the Fidelity model? Or will it not make that much impact... I just want improved sound quality of music without a detrimental effect on gaming...

K

PaiN
01-15-07, 05:56 AM
should I fork out the extra cash for the Fidelity model?

K
You don't seem like the type to need "extras" that come with those cards, save the $$$.
I use an X-Fi XtremeGamer (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E16829102006), I couldn't be happier with it....you should be amazed at the improvement going to a DSP soundcard after so many years listening to "on-board" ;)

CaptNKILL
01-15-07, 07:36 AM
I'd recommend an X-Fi XtremeMusic card to go with your speakers (since they are analog).
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E16829102188

Great price, and its a fully featured X-Fi card. I think the other slightly cheaper models (the small ones) are missing some features.

sharangad
01-15-07, 07:51 AM
Btw, my speaker set is the Logitech 5300e, which I know a few of the people on the forums have used before, if that's any help



I had the 5300es. They were terrible. Too boomy and as you said they sound 'muddy'. I used them with an Audigy 2 ZS and an X-Fi and they still sounded terrible,

Some people like the cheap boomy sound, but I don't. Upgrading the soundcard won't make your speakers sound better, at least not by much.

kev13dd
01-15-07, 03:03 PM
http://shop3.outpost.com/product/5017775;jsessionid=noZ9XfeSgULrdbE3mOnbhA**.node2? site=sr:SEARCH:MAIN_RSLT_PG

Its worth a shot to see if it won't make them better. Even if the soundcard doesn't make it 100% better, an actual soundcard should give me the option of tweaking them a lot more than my basic onboard will. I'll post back after I get it!

K

superklye
01-15-07, 03:04 PM
Getting an X-Fi will blow your mind.

SlieTheSecond
01-15-07, 03:23 PM
Sound cards will mostly be better. But the better card you get, the better the sound will sound. Kinda like speakers. You can get crap ones muggy, staticy, then good ones that are not muggy and staticy, then great ones that have crystal clarity. You would be supprised at what sounds you are actually missing if you have an ear for it.

But something else you should note is current sound settings on your computer. For example winamp comes with an EQ and if you set it up properly, it will sound a lot better than without the EQ.

I use on board myself. But I use the s/pdif out to a home stereo. I've never heard computer speakers as good as home stereo speakers.

einstein_314
01-15-07, 04:31 PM
Getting an X-Fi will blow your mind.
QFT!

I have a set of Z5300s (not the Z5300e's - not sure what the difference is...) and they sound amazing with my X-Fi Fatal1ty! You will not be disappointed.

superklye
01-15-07, 04:43 PM
I had the 5300es. They were terrible. Too boomy and as you said they sound 'muddy'. I used them with an Audigy 2 ZS and an X-Fi and they still sounded terrible,

Some people like the cheap boomy sound, but I don't. Upgrading the soundcard won't make your speakers sound better, at least not by much.
I've got the same speakers and I've got them sounding pristine. I even wrote a guide that outlined how I got the awesome sound...the link is in my signature...it's in my Elite Pro review.

sharangad
01-16-07, 03:33 PM
I've got the same speakers and I've got them sounding pristine. I even wrote a guide that outlined how I got the awesome sound...the link is in my signature...it's in my Elite Pro review.


I remember that guide. You were suggesting turning on bass redirection for the Z-5300s, which really don't need it at all. I've upgraded to the Z-5500s which like the 5300s produce coloured sound without the exaggerated bass.

kev13dd
01-16-07, 08:29 PM
Sigh... well, I shelled out the cash and bought the X-Fi XtremeMusic card

And then this morning my computer died... and won't even turn on

So I have to buy a new powersupply (which I won't get till next Monday... stupid NewEgg) and I might have to buy a new motherboard when I find out the power supply wasn't the problem- which I won't know till next Monday, meaning I won't order a new motherboard till Monday... meaning I won't get it till Friday... which is over a week away...

So... I went broke buying the soundcard... that I won't get to use... so it will be awhile before I review how much it helped!

K

EDIT: Btw, after reading your review Superklye, I actually am really looking forward to hearing the soundcard and my speakers. My biggest gripe is muddy- and some of the X-Fi features AND the fact you mentioned you hated the mud before you got the card... it makes my day. Cause I've been regretting getting those speakers since my old sound system was almost better with onboard

sillyeagle
01-16-07, 11:21 PM
Hmm, I have a SBLive 24bit, and I asked on here one time if I would get higher quality music by getting a more expensive card and pretty much everybody said no. I have a very keen ear for sound and I did not notice any difference going from the a8n-sli premium onboard sound to the SBLive.

john19055
01-17-07, 12:36 AM
You must have had a defected set of the 5300e because they sound good ,you could turn the bass up to much and it sound boomy ,but it has everthing to set them the way you like to hear your music.For the price you will not find a better sounding 5.1 system.

kev13dd
01-17-07, 01:40 PM
Since my computer is down, I used an adapter and connected my 5300es to my iRiver. They actually did sound a tad bit different- the bass was actually less muddy and more boom, not to mention I could crank up the bass a ton more than I could with my onboad sound. So I'm a believer that the soundcard can make them sound better too! I got the card today and I can't wait to try it out eventually

K

einstein_314
01-17-07, 04:54 PM
Hmm, I have a SBLive 24bit, and I asked on here one time if I would get higher quality music by getting a more expensive card and pretty much everybody said no. I have a very keen ear for sound and I did not notice any difference going from the a8n-sli premium onboard sound to the SBLive.
I used to have an Audigy2ZS and when I upgraded to my X-Fi, I was blown away. I didn't think sound could get that much better. But it did.

superklye
01-17-07, 05:31 PM
I remember that guide. You were suggesting turning on bass redirection for the Z-5300s, which really don't need it at all. I've upgraded to the Z-5500s which like the 5300s produce coloured sound without the exaggerated bass.
Yes, I've since stopped the bass redirection but have left everything else the same. I have incredibly clear, bright sound with thundering bass. :)

superklye
01-17-07, 05:32 PM
SigEDIT: Btw, after reading your review Superklye, I actually am really looking forward to hearing the soundcard and my speakers. My biggest gripe is muddy- and some of the X-Fi features AND the fact you mentioned you hated the mud before you got the card... it makes my day. Cause I've been regretting getting those speakers since my old sound system was almost better with onboard
hehe...glad I could reinstate your confidence. :D You won't be disappointed...once you get your box back up and running. :|

kev13dd
01-22-07, 10:04 PM
hehe...glad I could reinstate your confidence. :D You won't be disappointed...once you get your box back up and running. :|
I won't say it's the difference between night and day, but I do think the sound quality is better, not to mention the millions of new settings I now have available to me. I havn't gamed with it yet, but so far I'm enjoying it! I'll read through your guide and read more once I get the chance, but right now I'm just going to enjoy some good music!

I also moved the spot where I kept my sub, so my sub is now in a different environment, so it's going to be impossible to tell if the difference with the mud is because of that or because of the card. But I do enjoy the bass more regardless of what caused it!

K