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Sound card question, looking to upgrade..

Last response: in Components
February 28, 2006 1:49:24 PM

My mother board is an ASUS P4P8x SE

the best i can find as to which sound card i currently have is
( SoundMax intergrated digital audio ) i have never upgraded my sound card before as it has always came with the computer that i bought.

My question is i have been checking Newegg and found these sound cards, im trying to get something better as an upgrade. Would anyone miond making some suggestions on which sound card to get. Price range is $100-$125

The Ones i was looking at are

i just noticed alot of these are PCI does that make a big difference with my mother board?
February 28, 2006 8:26:03 PM

I don't get anything with those links, so I'm not sure what products you are considering.

I think most sound cards are PCI (difficult to find anything else really). PCI is fine for you motherboard (the 5 white slots are PCI).

I'm not sure about US prices, but I bought an X-Fi XtremeMusic in EU for €129. The X-Fi series is considered to be one of the best I think (this model is the lowest in this series).

However, you shoujld also consider what speakers you are using. There's not much point getting a top-end sound card if you have some cheap 2-0 desktop speakers.

Hope this helps
March 1, 2006 12:22:08 AM

Very good suggestions.

Spend your money in speakers first, then electronics. The loudspeaker determines the majority of the output characteristics, and distortion on a loudspeaker is *several times* higher than the full range of all sound cards at maximum output.

But sometimes it's hard not to get caught up with the shiny gold interrconnects and the nice looking boxes for some of the bigger, more expensive sound cards.
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March 1, 2006 3:21:58 PM

Any chance either of you could refer me to some decent speakers i have my cheap creative speakers still that came with my system.

i have checked newegg but to me a speaker is a speaker ya know.

i mainly use headphones for my gaming, but would be open to some good speakers to work with. As far as a spending limit im open to ideasmost i looked at were around 100$ but im flexible.

Thank you guys again for the informative input thus far.
a b V Motherboard
March 1, 2006 11:03:44 PM

You will get a pile of varying opinions here and it really comes down to what you think you need and can afford.

To be honest with you I haven't heard a set of purpose built PC speakers I liked, but I require them to sound OK with my music. I have always hooked my computers up to some form of home audio equipment at the least (you don't want to know what I'm running now). Even back in the day running my 16bit FM synthesis Pro Audio Spectrum it sounded great IMO. It really doesn't take much of an audio system. For $50 down at the local pawn shop you can hook up with gear that will trounce any PC speakers sonically.
a b V Motherboard
March 2, 2006 12:16:46 AM

I just noticed I never even answered the question. Sorry. I have never used either of thos esoundcards and therefore couldn't make any suggestions based on experience. I'd probably be looking at the x-fi since it's newer though.
March 2, 2006 2:02:45 AM

I would go with the X-fi card...the sound quality is out of this world.
As far as speakers I would go with a good set of headphones since you use them for gaming. I own a set of Sennheiser HD555 ( around $110 US.) and they are just amazing. I cant say enough good things about these headphones. Music, games, movies, everythings just sounds so much better, and combined with the x-fi card and these headphones you will be blown away.
March 2, 2006 3:09:22 AM

the most expensive inspire line, which is still around $100 are good, if you can affor megaworks or even gigaworks thats better. No computer speakers are as good as a home stereo like knewton said. Some of the pricier logi's are good too.

knewton what do you have? I've got an older pioneer premier 5.1 with 547watts (yeah it's old but it still works!) 2 JBL studio s312's, 2 JBL studio s38's for surround, JBL studio s-center II, and a JBL 12" sub (300 watt I think).

Are you a mark levinson, marantz or higher kinda guy? :) 
March 2, 2006 4:30:11 AM

If you are used to home theater level audio, I wouldn't go any lower than the iFi ($200) or the Altec Lansing MX5021 ($150) for PC listening. They are, at least, built with traditional loudspeaker ideals in mind, like linear response, low distortion, and *decent* dispersion, although I admit the MX5021 is a little bit reaching as it is comparitively boomy.
a b V Motherboard
March 2, 2006 5:02:07 PM

Hey Michael,

OK now you did it....Maybe this long post will teach you not to ask me about something I like. :wink: Sorry about the OT, I just can't seem to contain myself.

My soundcard, built into my Asus A7N8X deluxe, is essentially my surround decoder and is currently performing the "reciever" function in my system. It drives JBL Model 6290's (amplifiers) directly. I have a dedicated bridged 6290 driving each of my main speakers, Peavey #?(can't remember model now but some big 3ways with horn mids and tweeters and a 17"woofer) which are biamped and thus presenting a ~4ohm load and potentially the victims of 1200W/channel in this config. The fronts also are using some old 10 band/channel +-15dB equalizer by ADC as they seem to have a natural roll off around 30Hz and I want lower. The rears are Infinity SM152's (8ohms) and are currently driven by a single model 6290 giving them each 300W, and they don't seem to need as much eqing as the Peaveys. At the moment there is no center, no sides (still on 5.1), and no subs, but I have another 6290 in mothballs waiting for it's turn.

I also run an ancient Pioneer Spec 1 preamp into the souindcard inut to support all my old stereo gear ie tape decks, record player, tuner, etc.

Plans for the future:

I have often considered the x-fis for 7.1. I am planning to do some DIY subs. I'm thinking maybe a big box and a sonotube but haven't decided yet. I have also been eyeballing the Behringer EP2500 amps as a possible way to drive the new subs. Also these fancy new auto eq functions built into the latest recievers seems interesting.

As you can see I tend to geek out a bit on my radio but I think it sounds pretty good, and can realy pump out some good dB's when I can leter rip after ditching the old lady and kids.
March 3, 2006 1:23:05 AM

Awsome, we won't get in to my car audio on the watt/amp race (used to do proffesional comp rigs), I'm glad to see you have the same mb as me though! Also the Infinity's I actually used to own two of, gave them to my bro in law and he mounted some crappy polk woffers, the bastard :evil:  I'm slowly building up funds to replace my receiver with some component amps, I never actually use the radio :)  Good to see you're a Harmon man, I've sworn by their brands for years!

I have a 1960's era marantz setup, model 15 amp (talk about heavy) a preamp (can't remember model) and a 21 Tube Model 10B receiver (this puppy is worth around 2k) I don't even power these up unless someone says "hey I remember those!" (These are still almost 30 years older than me.)

What was this thread about again? Oh yeah, get a sound blaster live :)  (really, the 5.1 is great!)

Edit: my wife and kids love my cars' stereos, it's great on long trips, I don't even hear them :) 
March 3, 2006 2:17:30 AM

I would go with the X-fi card...the sound quality is out of this world.
As far as speakers I would go with a good set of headphones since you use them for gaming. I own a set of Sennheiser HD555 ( around $110 US.) and they are just amazing. I cant say enough good things about these headphones. Music, games, movies, everythings just sounds so much better, and combined with the x-fi card and these headphones you will be blown away.

Good headphones can be pretty amazing and Sennheiser phones are great stuff. I forget the model number I'm using now. I got them on sale a few years ago for ~400 bucks and if anything, they sound better now than they did brand new. That said, good-sounding computer speakers are available at a very reasonable cost, like $75 to 150 for a satellite/sub rig. Don't worry so much about reviews and recommendations. Just take along stuff you know the sound of well - favorite CDs and or games and listen a while at a shop that has speakers set up to demo (many stores no longer do demo setups). Just see what you like. The editor of The Absolute Sound may think they suck but you're the only person that really needs to like them. On my main home office computer, I'm using a 4 year old Altec Lansing system that I spent $100 on and I love them. so do many people that hear them. I'm careful to not overboost the sub. I'm old school with subs and believe that if their sound stands out, it's overboosted. At work I have a pair of 10+ year old Altus Selecta speakers that sound great. Good speakers last a long time. My Altus have no sub but the are very neutral and play clean at a remarkably loud volume when you're in the mood. They are also very well balanced at low volume. I am currently listening to some $10 Actecks I got down here on Mexico while onthe road. They sound like they are worth about 10 bucks, not much more, but I'm tired of wearing headphones all the time so they do the job.
March 7, 2006 6:41:32 AM

Lol trying to get your post count up? : P

Anyway, for anyone interested into moving into home theater quality sound--I'm talking about listening at levels that don't bother your neighbors, because the speakers are so much clearer and room-filling, you should check out the following manfacturers:
SVSound SBS-01 bookshelves ($220/pair)
AV123 X-LS bookshelves ($200/pair)
Ascend Acoustics CBM-170SE bookshelves ($350/pair) <--which I own.

These speakers would make great for an HTPC or home theater surround or 2.0/2.1 music setup. The Ascends you can get away with running without a sub, as they are flat to 40hz in-room without a subwoofer, and are +/- 1db from 60-20KHz. The X-LS and SVSound are both +/- 1.8db in that range.

As a (not serious) comparison, the Logitech Z-5500s are measured at Audioholics at 200-20KHz +/- 4.95db. That means these speakers are three to five times more accurate and linear. Yes, no more boomy bass, no more beaming (and thus a wider soundstage). You can turn these up a couple notches (most likely four or five times) higher than you could with a multimedia speaker setup because there are no +20db upperbass peaks that penetrate through the walls and annoy the neighbors...and you have far deeper bass than you ever thought existed.

For anyone who wants to learn the joys of a great musical HTPC experience, you ought to do yourself a favor and visit
September 1, 2006 7:45:14 AM

If you are still upgrading, than look at what Auzentech ( will be coming out with. Here is the reply I got from their support team:

Here is the reply from Auzentech support team:

We have actually received many feedbacks from our audiophile community and we thought that it was important to hear them and to implement some changes in our card. That is why we have some delay in the release. Due to the many changes we have implemented, we have changed the product name from X-Purity to X-Meridian 7.1 and below are the specifications of the X-Meridian. We will update our website this weekend. The small changes are for example, some customer asked “why the X-Purity” does not support coaxial In/Out”. Therefore, we decided to change this with combo Coaxial AND Optical In/Out…small communities wanted us to support 6.35mm MIC and so on, and we decided to add an external board for the X-Meridian supporting the 6.35mm MIC and additional Digital I/O board.

This is a long delay, but we wanted to make it right to satisfy our customers.

Below are the specifications:

* The C-Media Oxygen HD CMI8788 Audio Processor is the heart of the AUZEN X-MERIDIAN 7.1.

* 4 pcs 24-bit/192kHz AK4396VF (120dB-part spec.) DACs for 7.1 channel output. (24-bit/192kHz in 7.1channel playback)

* 1 pc 24-bit/192kHz AK5385BVF(114dB-part spec.) ADC for LINE input (24-bit/192kHz recording)

* 1 pc CMI9780 AC'97 2.3 CODEC for AUX input, CD input, MIC input (16bit/48kHz playback/recording)

* Integrated up to 192k/24-bit S/PDIF transmitter for 44.1kHz,48kHz, 96kHz, 192kHz SPDIF output.

* Supports onboard high grade special COAX+OPTIC combo type transmitter module for up to 192kHz SPDIF out.

*Integrated up to 192k/24-bit S/PDIF receiver for 44.1kHz,48kHz, 96kHz, 192kHz SPDIF input.

* Supports onboard high grade special COAX+OPTIC combo type receiver module for up to 192kHz SPDIF input.

* Standard 10PIN Front Panel Audio supports connectivity for stereo audio output and a microphone input from most new chassis. (All 7.1channel analog output muted by jack connection sense of front panel headphone out / Dual MIC input available by back panel mic input and front panel mic input)

* DTS® Interactive - A real-time 5.1 channel encoder.

* DTS® Neo:p C - An upmix matrix technology.

* Dolby® Digital Live (DDL) - A real-time 5.1 channel encoding.

* Dolby® ProLogic IIx surround processor spreading stereo audio into 7.1 channel surround sound.

* Dolby® Headphone technology, conveying 5.1 surround and 3D gaming audio over stereo headphones.

* Dolby® Virtual Speaker solution, bringing amazing virtual surround sound fields via general two speakers.

* C-Media FlexBass™ - LFE channel crossover frequency setable from range 50 to 250Hz in Small sepaekr mode and Small/Large speaker selectable.

* C-Media Magic Voice™, popular feature for disguising your tone in online chatting.

* C-Media Xear 3D™ 7.1 Virtual Speaker Shifter technology.

* C-Media’s unique Karaoke functions: Microphone Echo, Key-shifting.

* Individual 10-band EQ for each channel,.27 global reverberation environments.

* Supports most industrial standards of 3D sound for PC gaming, including EAX™ 1.0 & 2.0, A3D™ 1.0, and DirectSound™.

* Swappable DIP type OPAMP controlled preamp out circuit (4pcs output control OPAMP IC with DIY socket)

* Suface mount type OPAMP controlled preamp input circuit (2pcs input control OPAMP for ADC and 1pc MIC input gain control)

* Max 2.8Vrms full swing analog output gain by unique preamp circuit / incredible powerful analog output,

* Proper OPAMP control circuit (large capacity 1A +8V, -8V, dual power supply circuit) for high quality audio quality, prevent audio distortion at high volume level.

* Upgrade Extension available (Extra 6.35mm MIC / Extra Digital I/O sold separately)