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Need a Sound Card for current headset and future 7.1 speakers

Last response: in Components
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June 13, 2014 3:02:29 PM

I've been doing my research and have been looking at several models and makes for sound cards. Honestly, this is the most difficult computer component that I'm having trouble deciding on what to buy so I ask you guys for help.

I'm not an audiophile by any means, but I do expect rich quality from my sound because I spent alot of time and research into building my computer. I'm not a budget guy either so right now I'm looking for suggestions that fit what I want for my sound.

I'm a gamer, I just received my new pc360's and the sound with the onboard is great right now. I'm going to get used to a week of playing with my on-board.

I'm looking for a sound card that can enrich the quality of these headphones, but also provide me the versatility to use 5.1-7.1 speakers in the future and also provide rich quality since I plan to have music blasting around my house since my wife is an avid music listener.

I was going to buy the Essence STX - but my headphones don't need that kind of card since I'm using only an entry level headset and not a true audiophile headphone, so I don't believe the price fits the bill - HOWEVER, asus recently released a new Essence STX II with a 7.1 daughterboard - this fits my needs perfectly - but it's not yet being sold in NA retailers.

I want to stay within the xonar line. I can't really differentiate between the DGX, DX, DS1, DS2 - too many models

I was wondering if anyone can help me out and pick out for me the best out of the xonar line below the STX that will fit the bill.

I am also open to hearing about Creative's brands.

As long as it meets these requirements and the reviews are good I'll take it.

Tldr:

I need a sound card which

- Enriches audio quality of my pc360's
- Allows for a 5.1 or 7.1 Channel configuration for speakers due to home theatre and music (doesn't 7.1 automatically assume it can do 5.1 too?)
- Is the best of the sound cards in regards to the top two requirement
- A bonus if the solution is cheaper than the Xonar STX.
June 15, 2014 9:55:13 PM

I've also now got my eyes on the Creative ZxR.
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Best solution

a b Ĉ ASUS
June 16, 2014 8:50:18 AM

Ok, these are the main contenders in my mind:

1: ASUS Xonar DGX. The lowest cost entry ($30), but the amp is a huge plus for HP users. A decent step up over onboard. Limited to 5.1.

2: ASUS Xonar DX. Old, but still solid. Lacks HP amp though.

3: Creative Soundblaster Z. Creatives "budget" offering, but packed for the price. Higher scale models of the card (Zx/ZxR) don't offer enough to justify getting over this.

4: ASUS Essence STX. For best possible HP experience. Stereo out only.

5: ASUS Phoebus. ASUS's highest rated all around card. Fully 7.1 with HP amp. Slighty lower quality then the Essence, but made up for with the newer SW package and 7.1 outputs.

Those are the five I would compare and consider.
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June 18, 2014 1:52:28 PM

Great answer man. You actually listed all of the products I narrowed my search down to.

1/2 - I was considering these cards and it definitely is a step up over onboard, but both are quite old models, and no EMI shielding.

3. The ZXR was the model I was going to get out of all the Creative offerings. But you are right, the price isn't right and I'm waiting for a sale to snag these if one comes.

4. I ruled out the STX since I don't think I'll be going audiophile headphones that need more to be driven. BUT if the STXII is offered sometime, I would switch in a heart beat.

5. You've intrigued me with the phoebus. I was doing research on this card and seeing that most people had driver issues with it. I haven't in-depth looked at and compared this card yet seeing as most posts about it I find are telling me to stay away. Will definitely giving this one a double-check.

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