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View Full Version : A good sound card to upgrade to?


avirox
09-02-07, 10:24 PM
So I've been looking at upgrading my sound card and the x-fi series looks good, but I'm just not sure how much of a difference upgrading will make and/or what would be worth upgrading to. Currently I have a 2.1 Klipsch speaker system (which I really love and don't plan on upgrading to 5.1+ any time soon) with a Sound Blaster Live! 5.1 card. I'm looking for something for music and gaming. Can you guys please help me find a new card :) Thanks,

Redshirt #24
09-02-07, 10:39 PM
The music side opens up the field a bit, but the gaming side closes it up again. If you could find a cheap Audigy 4 Pro, that'd probably be perfect...

avirox
09-03-07, 08:06 AM
While that looks good I don't think I'd be willing to spend 400$ on a sound card (atleast not for a 2.1 system). Anything within the 100~ range perhaps?

jeffmd
09-03-07, 08:49 AM
The problem is your looking to upgrade you sound card, but not your dated speaker system.

Well since you obviously aren't serious about sound in your games (no 3d), you can find one of the many non creative cards out there that have high quality dac's, Creative is only a requirement if you plan to do 3d sound.

Rakeesh
09-03-07, 09:36 AM
The problem is your looking to upgrade you sound card, but not your dated speaker system.

Well since you obviously aren't serious about sound in your games (no 3d), you can find one of the many non creative cards out there that have high quality dac's, Creative is only a requirement if you plan to do 3d sound.

? no, there are many cards out there that will do that the same. Creative is only a requirement if you want buggy bloated drivers and popping noises.

jeffmd
09-03-07, 11:10 AM
alpha, err, show me a card that actually does 3d sound in games correctly... just one. ^^ Nobody does the old eax correctly, and no one does the newer eax. I dont disagree with you that the drivers are bloated and buggy sometimes, but unfortunatly after living with non creative sound cards and solutions (soundstorm) for a while now, nobody else has working 3d sound in games. It has to do with overall crappy vendor support for eax, and even if they do get eax working, its the old version, the new ones are not licensed by creative.

avirox
09-03-07, 02:34 PM
The problem is your looking to upgrade you sound card, but not your dated speaker system.

Well since you obviously aren't serious about sound in your games (no 3d), you can find one of the many non creative cards out there that have high quality dac's, Creative is only a requirement if you plan to do 3d sound.

TBH the promedia 2.1 setup I have now can hold its' own and sounds pretty darn good. I'd just like to know if upgrading my sound card will make much of a noticeable difference and if so what card would be best for that.

Rakeesh
09-03-07, 09:29 PM
alpha, err, show me a card that actually does 3d sound in games correctly...

Easy. Any DS3D card. What you call "3D audio" (which is a bad term IMO, because it is more two dimensional than three dimensional - 3D sound would imply audio from above and below you as well as in front and behind) is done entirely in DirectSound3D.

EAX has absolutely ZERO to do with surround sound. I've lost track of how many times I have explained this on this forum, so I am not going to elaborate further WRT EAX. And EAX is only supported by a small selection of games anyways.

DirectSound3D is going to sound the same from one card to the next though, whether it is done in software or hardware. There are quite literally hundreds of cards that support it as well, be it in hardware or software.

CaptNKILL
09-04-07, 12:22 AM
Easy. Any DS3D card. What you call "3D audio" (which is a bad term IMO, because it is more two dimensional than three dimensional - 3D sound would imply audio from above and below you as well as in front and behind) is done entirely in DirectSound3D.

EAX has absolutely ZERO to do with surround sound. I've lost track of how many times I have explained this on this forum, so I am not going to elaborate further WRT EAX. And EAX is only supported by a small selection of games anyways.

DirectSound3D is going to sound the same from one card to the next though, whether it is done in software or hardware. There are quite literally hundreds of cards that support it as well, be it in hardware or software.
Don't forget OpenAL and the lack of hardware DirectSound3D in Vista.

IMO, an X-Fi is the best choice right now.

After MS revamps the sound system in Vista though, who knows. Hopefully they don't screw it up too bad...

Mr Bigman
09-04-07, 12:31 AM
I agree with wolf. Cracking still happens once every 10 bootups for some reason and Creative don't know why either.

Auzintech is a good choice too.

jeffmd
09-04-07, 09:19 AM
what ever, all I know is on my last 3 cards, which include the santa cruze TB and the soundstorm rated chipset on my nforce 2 board, none of them did directsound3d accurately enough in most games, often screwing up badly with music coming out distorted, or front channel sound effects simply being repeated in the rear channels. On the other hand, right after building my rig and installing one set of drivers, the bioshock beta ones from the creative boards, any dolby surround sound movies played back beautifully, and bioshock, WoW, and oblivion worked and sounded excellent.

Havn't gotten crackling sound yet, but if its something that only pops up once in a while, I won't be surprised if it does. Like I said, I acknowledge creative is the devil and that the drivers are pretty horrible, but atleast they work. ^^

Rakeesh
09-04-07, 12:39 PM
Don't forget OpenAL and the lack of hardware DirectSound3D in Vista.

It is a common misconception that you can't get surround in vista. DS3D HAL was the ONLY thing removed in vista. The software layer still exists, and for all intents and purposes, the sound is exactly the same. In fact, it was only creative users lost surround because creative didn't implement a software layer in their drivers IIRC (I don't own any of creatives newer cards, so I don't know this for certain.)

Audio HAL is pretty worthless these days anyways. The reason MS didn't add an audio HAL to their new audio stack was because it creates yet another pathway for exploits and BSOD's, while adding no significant benefit. In fact, you are going to see more latency with HAL than you are with a completely software setup anyways.

often screwing up badly with music coming out distorted

FWIW that is the purpose of EAX, to distort audio in such a way to make it sound "environmental."

Monolyth
09-04-07, 01:12 PM
The whole "good" EAX vs "bad" EAX debate aside, X-Fi cards aren't that bad, and can be found well under $100. And to avoid the "Bloatware" just don't install anything off the CD's. Drivers are available online in most cases.

Auzentech makes some good soundcards, while they aren't fully "EAX", you at least won't have to deal with Creative drivers (unless you buy the newly released X-Fi Prelude).

That being said, I had a Santa Cruz and it was one of the best sound cards I've ever owned.

Redshirt #24
09-04-07, 02:00 PM
Oh, God, yes. The Santa Cruz was an absolutely gorgeous product...great DACs, slim drivers with very little bloat, hardware DirectSound support, and only one flaw I ever came across (which might have been an EAX implementation quirk, IIRC)--an annoying chirping noise in Battlefield 1942. If they could have kept producing drivers for it, it'd still be viable now.

jeffmd
09-04-07, 11:58 PM
I loved my santa cruze, but you know, the drivers havn't been updated in years and it shows. I tried installing it about 2 years ago but had to ditch it, the drivers were just to unstable with all my current stuff. Besides, the cruze's biggest selling point for me was its higher snr then the live. By todays standards, the SC's snr is only average now, with the x-fi being higher.

It however wouldn't do unreal 2003 in ds3d correctly either. :/