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  • Soundcards

    As my X-Fi ExtremeGamer is slowly starting to get the same as... pretty much all of my previous creative products (i have a habit of blowing the preamp out, somehow.. or just making them nonfunctional) and after thier recent PR fiasco, I'm looking for recommendations on soundcards. I've been a fan of the Soundblaster line for a long time, but thier last couple year's products have been really bad. Poor driver support, cards that offload most of thier work to the CPU instead of the other way around (using software emulation in the drivers instead of onboard chips), etc.

    Anyone have any experience with other types of soundcards and how they compare and contrast? I was looking up things like the Asus Xonar but thats hella expensive for hardware i'm not going to use most of. I don't have any digital devices, DTS/Dolby systems, etc hooked up to my computer, nor do i use a 5.1, etc setup. I have a decent 2.1 system and a nice headset I use most of the time, so i make the most of Dolby Virtual Surround or CMSS3D when it's available. Wondered about those 5.1 "surround sound" headphones but the few serious reviews i looked at back in the day basically said don't blow your money on them, get a good pair of headphones and today's stereo surround emulation is nearly the same.

    My onboard Realtek HD Audio is pretty decent, but the board is definitely designed for powered systems as the output is very weak, as is the mic input. Is there some kind of thing like a blockboard like the old audigy pro's, etc connected to that would provide powered digital input/output to my onboard sound through the S-PDIF or optical out?

    <04:11:24> *** You are now talking in channel: "TFP - Task Force Proteus"
    <04:16:25> "|TG-XV| Tralic": this channel is so gay
    DICE needs to make a comical boxing glove attached to a spring punch the player in the face 40% of the time they get into a helicopter or jet.


  • #2
    Re: Soundcards

    The new Xonar DX mentioned tonight on /. looks good, but it doesn't say anything about working on 2000, so I won't be trying it out. But I was ready to throw the cash at it.

    Until recently I've been using, and have been mostly happy with, the HT Omega Claro. I noticed what may be a flaw in its recording, but I haven't really investgated it. Also, there's a new Plus model. I uninstalled it and put the old Audigy2 back in solely for the sake of MIDI and soundfonts, because eventually I'll get around to tinkering with my keyboard, and the HTΩ seemed to have a lot of latency with MIDI.

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Soundcards

      There is a Asus Xonar that retails for the same price as the Xtreme gamer, about $89, but it was just released in the last few weeks. Look around for some reviews.
      http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16829132006

      Also, I am very happy with my 5.1 surround headphones. I do wish they had more bass, but the 5.1 does work. It has actually startled me a few times thinking something was behind me in my computer room. (I have a lot of animals in the room too, and thought something escaped. Not good when it could have been the copperhead)
      I use these:
      http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16826235001

      But I have heard these are decent:
      http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16826504004

      Just read the reviews, and there are lots of other options.

      LINKS

      * *


      Stoop and you'll be stepped on; stand tall and you'll be shot at.

      -Carlos A. Urbizo-

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Soundcards

        Yay thread necromancy!

        Currently reinstlaling my X-FI for mic while using onboard for sound, sigh. I bought the Xonar DX, and am putting in an RMA replacement. Hopefully the next one will actually work.

        My problems with it stem from.. the mic volume being VERY pitifully low despite it having "a powerful microphone pre-amp", having to crank the mic volume over 90% with mic boost. Also, it seems like the graphic equalizer cuts or limits frequencies with the volume turned over 20% or so and it has a great deal of problems trying to play music or sound with a decent volume without my powered 2.1 system hooked up to it.

        Whenever i turn on the "gaming" mode or the dolby virtual surround it sounds like it's got one speaker in the middle of a hollow room instead of speakers surrounding me, doubly so for the Pro Logic software. It's SUPPOSED to turn 2channel into descrete surround but it doesnt, it only muddies the sounds and adds echo like an EAX mode is stuck on somewhere. EAX in games is a complete crapshoot... with the DX mode on or off, placement is really hit or miss (for example, in Halflife 2 engine games as well as battlefield it seems that front/back is reversed and most smaller sounds don't even play (no audio for footsteps, reloading sounds, etc. If i throw a grenade infront of me, it's fairly soft explosion while one landing behind me is much much louder.) Theres only the initial release drivers available too, so if it's strictly a driver issue then there's nothing i can really do about it.

        As I've said before, I have no use for 90% of the stuff they're filling the high-end soundcards with like the Auzentech Pros, Fatal1ty versions of the X-FI, etc because i either physically don't have the equipment (I don't have an actual 5.1 system and i'm leery of "5.1" headphones, don't have any need for HDMI, optical, coax, or S/PDIF out because i don't have a media center/home theatre or HDTV, etc) so i'd be paying 100-120 dollars for stuff that I'l never use. I DO need good EAX for game compatibility and some kind of virtual surround however, because I use a decent Plantronics headset 95% of the time.

        I suppose my biggest hangup with other cards is EAX support. The X-FI has the Advanced HD 5.0 (HD EAX pretty much just means it's got EAX greater than the standard 2.0) but i require the positional and environmental enhancements it gets. I'm not sure if other cards that only support 2 and A3D (and aureal hasn't been an option in games for years now) will work the same.

        The other thing was if I ever decide to go with SLI, I need an PCI-E 1x solution, which limits my card availability severely.
        Last edited by Bisclaveret; 05-02-2008, 01:51 AM.

        <04:11:24> *** You are now talking in channel: "TFP - Task Force Proteus"
        <04:16:25> "|TG-XV| Tralic": this channel is so gay
        DICE needs to make a comical boxing glove attached to a spring punch the player in the face 40% of the time they get into a helicopter or jet.

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Soundcards

          You can replace the opamps on the x-fi, if that's you problem. Do a google on 'hotrodding x-fi'.
          The Dirty

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          • #6
            Re: Soundcards

            Not sure exactly what it is, but I'm thinking the output jack is failing, or something leading up to it. Basically the problem is this:

            In BF2, or HL2 games, or just music, but it's less apparent in music without it's 3d space, i get a hissing, overdriven sound on the right channel. It used to just be an occaisional, ignorable thing but over the previous few months it's grown a lot worse. It's readily apparent with certain frequencies and loud noises originating on the right side, fading out to nothing the more the sound source moves towards center or left. Only happens with sounds originating from the right side (or, for example, engine sounds in PR while in a tank cupola or CO truck, if i turn to the left the noise goes away/lessens). If i move the balance from center to left, the right side fully activates into loud distorted crackling whenever sound is played, no matter whats played, instead of there being no output on the right channel like there should be. The noise decreases as the balance is shifted towards the center to nominal levels, then increases as i move to the right, but on full right balance it's overcome with normal sounds to be disguised.

            Edit: Also, after physically inspecting the card, it looks like the metal on the output jacks is being corroded or at the very least discolored by something, maybe heat. Unable to tell what it is, but they all have some small brown spotting and tarnishing on them.

            Also Dirty, I looked at that thread on Hi-fi.org and i have some severe problems with it. His pictures aren't very clear and he gives no actual locations on the PCB for the components (most PCB components have a small numeral designation on them) as well as orientation for the new op-amp (putting it in backwards might blow it up!). Also, his reference pics are with the high-end (at that time) X-FI Platinum (SB0460), while i just have the 1st generation ExtremeGamer (SB0730). He makes reference to a capacitor that doesn't exist on my card, as well. It has a few Jamicons, but they're 4.7 microfarad, not 470, and another guide references the larger cap which is a G-Lux 220. His guide also says it's not recommended for people who drive headphones/headsets directly through the card, which is exactly what I do, and exactly the opposite of the audiophile soundcard population, who use S/PDIF or coaxial/digital optical out directly to a 600+ dollar external DAC to speakers.
            The soldering, etc I can do, electronics engineering student, halfway to my A.A.S, but most of my grounding so far has been with passive analog circuitry, not so much digital.
            I'm not looking for extreme sound fidelity, i'm looking for good 3d sound positioning. Gaming audio is complete crap compared to actual music. It's compressed and filtered to hell and back, I wouldn't be surprised if most of the sounds in a lot of the games were simply sub-128kbps mp3s or uLaw compressed wavs.
            Last edited by Bisclaveret; 05-02-2008, 09:25 PM.

            <04:11:24> *** You are now talking in channel: "TFP - Task Force Proteus"
            <04:16:25> "|TG-XV| Tralic": this channel is so gay
            DICE needs to make a comical boxing glove attached to a spring punch the player in the face 40% of the time they get into a helicopter or jet.

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Soundcards

              imo the best sound card out thare is the Xfi Xtreme fatality. theyre running about 250$ but i love mine.

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Soundcards

                The Auzentech cards might suite you. Basically they are X-fi cards but built with better components yet have all the eax support etc.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Soundcards

                  Originally posted by Metrius View Post
                  imo the best sound card out thare is the Xfi Xtreme fatality. theyre running about 250$ but i love mine.
                  The big difference is that the fatality has X-RAM but not many games support it. I honestly don't think X-RAM or the breakout box is really worth it for gaming.

                  Originally posted by Long Bow View Post
                  The Auzentech cards might suite you. Basically they are X-fi cards but built with better components yet have all the eax support etc.
                  I haven't heard any first hand opinions on these cards. I've seen driver screenshots and they look exactly like the Creative included software except with the Auzentech logo stamped on the software. It also uses the same X-Fi chip so I'm not sure if it really avoids any of the Creative problems.

                  - It's who you game with.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Soundcards

                    Sorry, I should have clarified. Auzentech is the only company that has a license from Creative to build a reference card and has access to all the eax stuff. However they use much better quality components in their cards.
                    Apparently it turns the cards into something much better then creatives offering but offers all the eax features.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Soundcards

                      While on the subject, here is a new review out today for Asus sound card
                      http://www.hothardware.com/Articles/...71_Audio_Card/

                      They gave it good marks.
                      It is the newest card from them, the one that is around $90

                      LINKS

                      * *


                      Stoop and you'll be stepped on; stand tall and you'll be shot at.

                      -Carlos A. Urbizo-

                      Comment

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