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Looking for sound card recommendations and surround sound help

Last response: in Components
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November 5, 2013 12:13:05 AM

I have recently built a new pc for gaming and movies that I'm overall happy with, however I guess I didn't do quite enough research into audio as I should have. I have been having a hard time figuring out how to get 5.1 from my pc to my receiver, I have only been able to get any combination of the front left-center-front right speakers and the sub. I originally thought I could get it through just my mobo but I guess that went out the window.

I'm using an Asrock z77 Extreme4 and i5-3570k on Win7 home premium, and I'd be happy to list any other components if you think they're relevant. I have an Onkyo hts-3400 system hooked up via hdmi, though I also have an spdif lying around. Neither seem to make a difference. From what I gather, I'll need a dedicated sound card with either ddl or dts on the fly encoding to be able to have positional surround sound in games and 5.1 from movies (even when popping in a dvd I can't seem to get 5.1), or am I mistaken?

As it stands, I'm assuming my options are to deal with it, or get a sound card in the 100-200 range. Am I right?

I have a gtx 770 coming in the next few days and I think I'll hold off on buying anything until I give that a shot, though I don't have much hope it'll help with audio at all. I have around $120 to spend for now, and if I can't afford a sound card or don't need one, I'll be buying a 128gb ssd to put some more games on and just worry about sound later.


I'm sorry if this has been long winded or illegible in any way, I'm a bit burnt out atm. Any help you can offer would be great and I will of course provide any details you ask. Thanks!


ps, as for sound cards I was thinking either the Asus Xonar DX or Creative SB Recon3d Fatal1ity (mainly because I like the front panel!). Sound good?
November 5, 2013 12:34:54 AM

How about if he wanted more khz on a soundcard, what would be the price range for that?
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November 5, 2013 12:57:18 AM

So dts will encode into 5.1? I'm not exactly proficient in any of this so forgive me if it's a stupid question. Would the Xonar DS sound better than my onboard sound? I'm assuming so, but I'd hate to have 5.1 and terrible sound compared to decent sound over 2.1.
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November 5, 2013 1:01:33 AM

i have the $30 sound card from asus, and with $500 studio monitor speakers i noticed a big difference. and i have a $200 motherboard. so yes.

also takes a little bit of load off the cpu.
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November 7, 2013 6:49:17 PM

GamerXtreme2013 said:
How about if he wanted more khz on a soundcard, what would be the price range for that?


There is no higher than 192Khz. And 192 Khz is pointless anyway as the limit of human hearing is 22Khz and you need double that for a sound wave to go up then down (hence 44.1 being the standard). As a result finding any 192khz music/games is hard let alone actually playing a game that supports 192.

Further than that, the tech that you need to throw in to utilise 192 is expensive, so they likely skimped on caps, clock jitter and a lot of other important things in order to throw that 192 A/D converter on there. In pro audio (where that chip comes from) you can't get a decent 192Khz capable interface for less than £500/$1000.

Here's an example. Probably the cheapest (and regarded as the bargain option) example in existence:

http://www.m-audio.com/products/en_us/ProFire2626.html
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November 13, 2013 8:24:49 AM

You ran into the classic problem with SPDIF: It can only support three audio formats:

1)Uncompressed 2.1
2)5.1 Dolby Digital
3)5.1 DTS

Most all PC audio avoids using Dolby and DTS because they are HORRID audio formats; the only reason they are used for movies is because they are very compressed, and most peoples audio equipment isn't good enough to pick up the badness of those formats.

Most newer soundcards support encoding an uncompressed 5.1 audio stream to either one of these formats (Dolby Digital Live and DTS-Connect).

Alternatively, you can use the audio output from the GPU and connect via HDMI. That should work, as you can carry up to uncompressed 7.1 audio, avoiding the use of Dolby/DTS altogether. Just make sure to install the NVIDIA audio driver.
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