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Best sound card, advice needed..

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About 4 months ago i built up my new PC and thought i would leave the sound card out what was on offer on the mobo appeared OK even though i never really used, i alwasy bought a soundcard.

 

Anyway it has worked OK, it is the Realtek one, but i have a couple of problems the first was to get it to deliver a 5.1 signal to my amp.

 

I have a AV amp with it connected via optical, but just dont get 5.1 coming up on the amp. Also recently the sound has not been great, something is wrong but i am not sure what so i might start with the sound card and was wondering what you all reccomended?

 

Im willing to spend up to 100$ what i want is one that will send a 5.1 DTS, DD, etc.. to the amp properly, and i want it to have the 24bit 192,000hz, full studio quality for listening to music. Im not to bothered by #D sound effects engine by the card for games and that..

 

Ive always had creative gear, but the ASUS Xonar i think it supposed to be very good? basically the best i can get for up to $100.

 

Cheers.

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Whatever the top xonar for you price is my pick. if you want cheaper, at least as a temporary i have a sound blaster audigy 2 zs, which is pretty good.

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using optical for 5.1 will give you low quality

does your amp have hdmi in or is it to old for that?

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Thats wrong Dasa, Optical will carry pure digital untill the amp decodes it. QUality is controlled entirely by the quality of the amp; digital connections basically take the PC out of the picture.

 

Optical can handle DOlby, and DTS just fine. Its only uncomressed 5.1 it cant 'handle' but most other computer sounds are stereo. 99.9% of movies with a 5.1 track is encoded into 'something'.

Edited by Master_Scythe

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true if the amp handles it then anything that comes with encoded 5.1 like most movies will be fine and for things like that it doesnt matter what sound card is used

but games where the soundcard usually has to do the compression/encoding will not sound good

im not sure how it handles it if 5.1 is enabled but the sound source is only 2.0 does it still compress it to leave the other channels open?

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its a little irrelivant. Since its digital, even if its compressed, its not lossy compression. Unless you have million dollar gear I honestly doubt a noticable difference.

FOr a fwe years I sold $100k stereo and theatre systems, you'll be amazed what 'people' miss in audio when they're not critiqueing them all day.

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maybe it is relevant as i suspect there is a huge difference between properly encoded dolby and something that is encoded on the fly by the onboard sound using very little processing power

i know i noticed analog sounded much better than optical with my z-680 when playing unencoded sound

Edited by Dasa

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using optical for 5.1 will give you low quality

does your amp have hdmi in or is it to old for that?

Older amp, coax or optica, i use optical. never heard of lower quality before... kind of sounds counter intuitive, but i think i get what you are saying, the Sound cad deconding is doing a better jod than the hardware on most amps? ..especiall if you buy a high end card..is this right?

 

Thats wrong Dasa, Optical will carry pure digital untill the amp decodes it. QUality is controlled entirely by the quality of the amp; digital connections basically take the PC out of the picture.

 

Optical can handle DOlby, and DTS just fine. Its only uncomressed 5.1 it cant 'handle' but most other computer sounds are stereo. 99.9% of movies with a 5.1 track is encoded into 'something'.

That is what i figured.. but i think i can see the 2 angles, yours and Dasa, ie: if you want the card to do the decoding for the DD then optical is not a good option.

 

Ive always had trouble with the dd5.1 on the amp from the PC, heres hoping a new sound card will do the trick.

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nope not what im getting at im afraid although its also possible

 

what i was trying to get at is that any source material that doesnt come pre encoded to a compressed format capable of working though 5.1 optical will sound bad

so anything your playing that isnt dolby dts

as the onbaord sound will do a bad job of compressing uncompressed 5.1 audio which works fine through hdmi but wont go through optical without first being compressed

 

ever compressed a movie into a avi and compared a encode thats completed in 5 min vs one that takes a few hours?

im not expert on sound but that is my understanding of it

Edited by Dasa

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nope not what im getting at im afraid although its also possible

 

what i was trying to get at is that any source material that doesnt come pre encoded to a compressed format capable of working though 5.1 optical will sound bad

so anything your playing that isnt dolby dts

as the onbaord sound will do a bad job of compressing uncompressed 5.1 audio which works fine through hdmi but wont go through optical without first being compressed

 

ever compressed a movie into a avi and compared a encode thats completed in 5 min vs one that takes a few hours?

im not expert on sound but that is my understanding of it

I see, as i wont be forking out the money for a HDMI compatible AV receiver, would it be better for me to use Coaxial connection?

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I see, as i wont be forking out the money for a HDMI compatible AV receiver, would it be better for me to use Coaxial connection?

same thing as optical any more than two channels and it has to be encoded

 

try analog which im guessing your amp already has and see how it sounds to you

5.1 dobly dts things may sound worse with onboard sound when using analog outputs but everything else may sound better

it will depend on the quality of your amp\speakers as to how noticeable the difference is

a decent soundcard with analog out to the amp is probably your best bet since you dont want to upgrade the amp

 

if i was to buy a soundcard it would probably be one of these which i guess is somewhere for you to start looking if you want to go that way

ASUS Xonar DX $81

Auzentech X-Meridian 7.1 2G $129

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i know i noticed analog sounded much better than optical with my z-680 when playing unencoded sound

for example?

 

its difficult to understand you when you havent explained in what exact instances you are referring to non-DTS sound etc.

 

ie. what source signal, from what source media, through what chain of devices...

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music mp3 ect. and most games dont suport dts the only thing i use that comonly does is movies

just direct from the pc onboard sound at the time to the logitech z680 speakers

also used creative audigy 2 with it before that but the drivers drove me to remove it

its been a few years since i used the z-680 as i moved to hdmi from the gpu to a pioneer amp so im afraid my memory is a little fuzzy on the matter

 

guess i could try compare optical with hdmi on the pioneer amp and see how noticeable the change is

Edited by Dasa

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on face value, it doesnt add up.

 

i havent checked the bandwidth of optical/coax recently, but for a stereo track it should be more than high enough - whether its a WAV or high bitrate mp3. i am not quite sure of the codec that would be used (if it isnt just LPCM at 24bit/48kHz?), but whatever form of conversion may be needed in each case, i cant imagine why the signal would be anything other than pristine at the soundcard output. the only 'difference' i would expect, would be the possibility of a tiny (imperceptible?) moment of latency after pressing play.

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if i had the soundcard set to 2.0 instead of 5.1 it probably would have sounded fine as optical\coax can handle two channels raw just fine but not 5.1 unless its compressed

if it still sounded bad even on 2.0 then it was probably just a really bad decoder in the logitech speakers but it was to long ago to remember if i tested that or not

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Whats better the Xonar DX for $82 http://www.asus.com.au/Multimedia/Audio_Ca...#specifications

 

or the Xonar HDAV 1.3 Slim for $119 http://www.asus.com.au/Multimedia/Audio_Ca...ar_HDAV13_Slim/

 

The HDAV does have HDMI out but i dont have it on my amp anyway. But it does promise full 192/96kHz. and if i upgraded my amp i was wondering if i could put the HDMI into the amp and then into the screen to watch Bluray etc.. through the HDMI through the soundcard. im not sure if that is exactly how it works though..

 

or just get the DX which i could be sure if it did 192/96kHz. im pretty sure it does..

 

im thinking the DX will do all i want, thoughts?

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All the post atre well here are some more best branded sound cards ASUS Xonar Essence STX, Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi, ASUS Xonar Essence ST and the final one is Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi Titanium HD.

 

Tech Ability

 

1/14 Brooke Ave Palm Beach, QLD 4221 Australia

Phone: +61 7 5657 0870

techability.com.au

 

Having computer problems? We repair computers in your home. Tech Ability offer fast, effective and fully guaranteed computer repairs, in your home.

Edited by Broad

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