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card for z-5500?

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which card is better for this gaming/music rig?

Total: 10 votes

  • AuzenTech HDA X-PLOSION 7.1 DTS Connect DDL Sound Card PCI 32BIT Optical Output
  • 30 %
  • Creative Sound Blaster X-FI Xtreme Music 24BIT Sound Card
  • 70 %
August 1, 2006 4:35:20 AM

ok, i was all set to get a creative xtreme music card with this rig, when i heard about another card from auzentech. I'll stat the setup.

1 x PC ASSEMBLY AND TESTING (PRE-CONFIG OS IF PURCHASED)
1 x Add Microsoft Windows XP Home to your system for just $99
1 x Viewsonic E90FB 19 Inch CRT Monitor - 1920 X 1440 - 0.25MM - PC,MAC
1 x Western Digital Caviar SE16 250GB SATA2 7200RPM 16MB 8.9MS Hard Drive 3 Year MFR Warranty
1 x Logitech G5 Laser Gaming Mouse 2000DPI USB Bilingual
1 x LOGITECH MEDIA KEYBOARD Black ULTRA FLAT DESIGN W/ AUDIO CONTROLS & ENHANCED FUNCTION KEYS
1 x 1 Year Parts & 1 Years Labour Limited Warranty On System Components
1 x ASUS Quietdrive DVD-E616A Black 16X DVD-ROM CD-ROM 48X Retail Box W/SOFTWARE
1 x BenQ DW1650 Black DVD+-RW 16X Dual Layer DVD Writer OEM
1 x AuzenTech HDA X-PLOSION 7.1 DTS Connect DDL Sound Card PCI 32BIT Optical Output
1 x Fortron FSP Epsilon FX600-GLN 600W ATXV2 20/24PIN Power Supply SLI Ready W/ 120MM Fan Retail
1 x ATI Radeon X1900XT 625MHZ 512MB 256BIT 1.45GHZ GDDR3 PCI-E Dual DVI-I VIVO HDTV Video Card
1 x Mitsumi FA404A-BK 7-IN-1 Floppy Drive & Flash Reader CF/SM/SD/MMC/MS Black
1 x Corsair XMS2 TWIN2X2048-6400C4 2GB 2X1GB PC6400 DDR2-800 CL 4-4-4-12 240PIN Dual Channel Memory Kit
1 x ASUS M2N32-SLI Deluxe ATX AM2 Nforce 590 SLI 2PCI-E16 1PCI-E4 1PCI-E1 2PCI SATA2 1394 Motherboard
1 x AMD Athlon 64 X2 5000+ Dual Core Processor Socket AM2 Windsor 2.6GHZ 2X512KB 89W 90NM OEM
1 x AeroCool ExtremEngine 3T-BK ATX Mid Tower Case Black 25CM Side Panel Fan 4X5.25 8X3.5INT No PS

these are the cards in question.

AuzenTech HDA X-PLOSION 7.1 DTS Connect DDL Sound Card PCI 32BIT Optical Output

Creative Sound Blaster X-FI Xtreme Music 24BIT Sound Card

now i heard that the x-plosion works better with dts, and uses optical cables and is better for sound with the z-5500 speakers i'm getting. But i also heard that it is slightly worse when it comes to fps in games, but could make specifically in-game music better. so is this just a case of speed vs quality, or are there features that make one card stand out? What do you think is best for this rig?
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August 1, 2006 5:11:51 AM

i'm not 100% on this but I was asking myself the EXACT same question when I went over to my local retailer. He said while the auzentech does support dts (dolby digital), the digital sound that the speaker would create using the x-plosion is only simulated. In order for the sound to be true digital the source must be created in a digital format. Right now barley any games support digital and the only reason to really get a digital setup would be if you are planning to watch a lot of movies or your a real audiophile. The average user won't notice the difference anyways. Just my opinion.
August 1, 2006 5:35:32 AM

Quote:
i'm not 100% on this but I was asking myself the EXACT same question when I went over to my local retailer. He said while the auzentech does support dts (dolby digital), the digital sound that the speaker would create using the x-plosion is only simulated. In order for the sound to be true digital the source must be created in a digital format. Right now barley any games support digital and the only reason to really get a digital setup would be if you are planning to watch a lot of movies or your a real audiophile. The average user won't notice the difference anyways. Just my opinion.


sooo... is that still a vote for the auzentech, or is it for the creative?
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August 1, 2006 8:41:10 AM

Given that choice, I'd have to recommend the Creative card...and not just because that's what I currently use.
August 1, 2006 4:17:28 PM

yes creative
August 2, 2006 6:03:32 AM

Quote:
Given that choice, I'd have to recommend the Creative card...and not just because that's what I currently use.


why... because of the slightly higher fps? just wondering about the reason? or do you just prefer it?
August 2, 2006 8:29:50 AM

Because comparatively, I believe it to be a more powerful card in terms of its EAX options, CMSS-3D, and the fact that it has a positive impact on fps. I am not sure if there's an audible difference between the two, but if they're even close I'd likely chose the Creative card for these reasons.
August 8, 2006 9:07:03 PM

ill just give my two cents... but only go for the X-FI if you want EAX support above 2.0... the FPS difference is more negligable IMO, and would only go to benefit you if your gaming performance is suffering to the point of studdering... whichcase 20-30FPS is all you would need to prevent that... (an Audigy 2 based card provides very similar functionality, its older, and has less features, yes, but the basic overall emphasis remains much the same)

if your speakers didnt have a digital signal decoder built in (or if you even wanted to use headphones alot), i would say to get the X-FI again, as it has a high analog SnR and quality DACs... but even that advantage is slim then, because i think the X-plosion (much like the X-mystique), has upgradable OPAMPS, thus improving your analog sound quality a great degree if you did decide to upgrade them... (i think Burr-Browns are one example of quality OPAMPS that you can upgrade to)

but, as far as audio quality over a digital connection is concerned, the X-plosion re-encodes all sounds in realtime into 6 seperate independant discrete channels (not simulated), capable of encoding into both DTS(DTS Interactive) and DD (Dolby Digital Live)... so for ALL of your gaming, music, and movies, you can get true 5.1 20bit DTS surround over your digital connection... Dolby Digital is only 16bit (which also is the same quality as the vast majority of commercial dvds and cds BTW)

and if you have an a/v receiver for example to connect it to that supports either Dolby Digital EX or DTS ES, you can have your surround upmixed from 5.1 to 6.1, or higher (provided you have enough speakers)... ...for your games (out of many possible things you could do then), thats a major boon to have

for the X-FI, to get surround for your games and such, youre more forced to use a multi cabled analog connection (whichcase watching dvds and such would have to take a back seat, unless you wanted to switch to a digital connection to watch them), because you cant get surround for your games or music over a digital connection with it... you only get 2 channels (because theyre not re-encoded into DTS or AC-3, and only come out as PCM)... ...and 2 channels isnt very good for a surround speaker setup anyhow, certainly not much better at all even if the surround is matrixed into Prologic II or DTS:Neo6 and such (even EAX is matrixed surround)

speaking of matrixed surround though, it wont matter if theyre over a digital connection or an analog connection, theyre output the same regardless

for the particular sound card that i own (a Turtle Beach Montego DDL), which has a slightly older chipset (8768+), compared to the X-plosions 8770 chipset... ive heard nothing but good things for the X-plosion, its supposedly noticably better than my card as well (makes sense, even with comparing the DDL encoding quality between both cards)... and i havent looked back to the Audigy 2 ZS i upgraded from ever since... ...theres simply a difference of 'wow', because the sound now was actually immersive for everything (which is also the key advantage of surround sound anyhow, over stereo sound), the same with discrete, over matrixed...

if youve already invested in an X-FI, then the point is moot... ...but if you havent yet, i would say to seriously give the X-plosion a chance
August 9, 2006 12:12:24 AM

Your points seem very valid Choir, very valid.
August 9, 2006 12:27:26 AM

Hey you seem VERY knowlegable about audio, so here's another question for ya.... what do you think about these headphones for my mp3 player?

I think these are pretty good, at least compared to the others on the site. Thats Canadian dollars btw. Also, do you need that 7hz range since the human ear can onlhy hear down to 20?
August 9, 2006 12:27:35 AM

If you are running via digital out, then the surround sound processing is done via your external audio hardware.

If you're using analogue out, then its done by the card.

Given that few (if any) games support real-time surround sound in DTS, so contrary to what was said above DTS ES support in your amplifier won't be a consideration for gaming.

It is valid that the ability to upmix from 5.1 to 6.1 with external hardware is nice - but seeing as your thread is entitled 'card for the Z-5500' I presume this isn't a requirement.

The DSP on the X-Fi is so powerful for gaming, it depends what you want to do.

If you are looking to watch DVD's with surround sound, or listen to MP3/CD audio upmixed to surround then you will do absolutely fine with the X-Plosion and Digital out as your external amp/decoder whatever can handle that with ease.

However, if gaming is a heavy concern then yes you most definitely want an X-Fi. It's also a good all-rounder for music/video playback and also for audio editing if that is of any interest.

So - in my opinion the more versatile card is the X-Fi so it would be more to my tastes. If you're gaming, then its the one to go for - not least because of the DSP and standards it supports but also because (contrary to a few opinions) the FPS difference is worth considering, particularly in a game where the CPU can be a bottleneck.

If you aren't worried about gaming then there are plenty of cards on the market that offer good digital out to external hardware.
August 9, 2006 12:52:14 AM

Quote:
Hey you seem VERY knowlegable about audio, so here's another question for ya.... what do you think about these headphones for my mp3 player?

I think these are pretty good, at least compared to the others on the site. Thats Canadian dollars btw. Also, do you need that 7hz range since the human ear can onlhy hear down to 20?


TBH, you can do better, IMO. ...and I'm not knowledgeable, just opinionated, so that must've been aimed at Choir. 8O However, for headphones, in that price range I'd recommend these, based on what I've read in my huntings... http://www.headphone.com/guide/by-budget/40-80/akg-k-26...
August 9, 2006 12:57:06 AM

Hey Cor,
I would recommend the Creative card as well. If you can.... get one of the X-Fi extremes. Make sure it has the "Optical cable plug in though. However, check on the specs for the board you are getting because it may already have onboard digital.

I have the Asus A8N32 SLI-Deluxe and it has Analogue, Coaxial Digital, and Optical digital hookups. The onboard sound is Realtek AC-97. Some people have had some issues with it, but I can say that I have NONE whatsoever and the optical sound is clean, crisp, and clear.

My Z-5500's sound awsome on optical and whether I game or listen to live techno mixes & recordings, I am thoroughly pleased. So if you don't have optical hookups onboard, then I'm with Halcyon and go with Creative.

Good luck on your build bro :wink:

RIG specs
Antec P180 PerformanceSeries Mid-Tower Case
SeaSonic S12 600 watt power supply
Asus A8N32 SLI mobo AMD N-Force 4 SLIX16 (bios 1103 V02.58)
RealTek 97 onboard digital 5.1 Surround
AMD Athlon 64 X2 4800+ Toledo Core, 2 X 1mb L2 cache (AMD driver 1.3.1.0 w/MS hotfix & AMD Dual Core Optimizer)
2 gigs of Corsair TwinX3500LL Pro @ 437Mhz 2-3-2-6-1T
2- BFG 7900 GT OC 256mb in SLI (nvidia driver 91.31)
Western Digital RAPTOR 74.3 gig 10-K rpm HDD for XP & Apps
Maxtor SATA II 250 G HDD for gaming, movies, MP3's
Maxtor SATA II 250 G HDD for document backup (unplugged)
Sony CDrom 52X
Plextor 708-A DVD/CD rom
Logitech Z-5500 Digital 5.1 THX 500watts
August 9, 2006 1:00:24 AM

Ya those do look pretty good. The question is how do i get them. Are they available in Canada? If so where?
August 9, 2006 1:08:17 AM

youre right, most games dont come with dolby digital/dts encoded sound... and the decoding is done by the external digital decoder, yes... but the source signal in this case is what would matter... ...in the case of a dts interactive/ddl encoding sound card, the original audio source materials are manipulated 'on the fly' (such as music, voices, and sound effects from a game like battlefield 2, or warcraft 3 even... or a live music performance broadcast online... or even a game like pong if you wanted to go that far lol); reencoded to a format that the external decoder can interpret as a discrete multichannel surround signal, such as dts, or ac-3, which the external decoder can then distribute to each of the seperate channels... and as such, the 6.1+ ES and EX upmixing can then take place, to all 7+ channels

...without that surround encoded signal though, the external decoder wont have that signal to decipher, and itll come across as just a standard 2 channel pcm signal... and the most you can get for surround then is something matrixed... as is almost always the case with most other sound cards available

for gaming performance though, in regards to FPS, thats really a matter for the most part of how capable the rest of your hardware is... if your computer is chugging along at 6 FPS on the lowest graphics settings, i think a new sound card wouldnt be the first place to look then to improve performance... ...really though, to each person their own for whatever card they would choose to game with... lots of people go the creative route for gaming (primarily because theyre more well known to make 'the gamers card', not to mention having more of a stranglehold on the sound card market anyhow :p ), and lots of people go elsewhere for gaming with brands other than creative... for gaming though, this is a card i would recommend personally though

for watching dvds though... the audio tracks on a dvd are already encoded into the proper format, so there would be no reason to have the ddl/dts re-encoding enabled, cuz theres no advantage in that case... so you would then just enable spdif passthrough to bypass the cards processing, and send the signal directly to the decoder (the same as you would do with an audigy 2)
August 9, 2006 1:24:51 AM

Ya i'm getting an AM2 4600 EE and overclocking to either 2.6 or 2.8(probably 2.6) and an x1900xt so i'm not concerned about losing a couple frams per second if i can get better quality music. I think i'm getting the auzentech.
ps. choir... how bout headphones, which do you like, mine or the other suggested ones?
August 9, 2006 1:25:36 AM

Quote:
Ya those do look pretty good. The question is how do i get them. Are they available in Canada? If so where?


You can get them from HeadRoom directly, their customer service is nice and I don't think you'll have any problem getting them to Canada. You can buy them online with that link I provided: http://www.headphone.com/guide/by-manufacturer/akg/akg-...

Cheers!
August 9, 2006 1:33:00 AM

Quote:
Hey you seem VERY knowlegable about audio, so here's another question for ya.... what do you think about these headphones for my mp3 player?

I think these are pretty good, at least compared to the others on the site. Thats Canadian dollars btw. Also, do you need that 7hz range since the human ear can onlhy hear down to 20?


as far as frequency range... in most cases (in regards to speakers), hearing a significant amount of sound around even 20Hz can be rather difficult... unless the bass volume is boosted by abit, youd mostly end up with alot of rumbling earthquake though if the speakers can handle it well, it works more on a bell curve, ~3.5KHz or so being the loudest (i think) with frequencies closer to even 18KHz getting more difficult to hear, but it depends on the person too (some people can hear above 20KHz even...)... ...for headphones though, you probably could hear (feel?) down to 7Hz at a decent volume... ...i have a pair myself that register down to 10Hz, but mostly all you can hear is just faint rumbling then...

im sure those numbers arent completely accurate, for what most people can comfortably hear, but its more or less close

edit: also, unless you have something thats playing a sound down to 7Hz, having headphones be able to go that low really wouldnt matter... most music is closer to 30-40Hz at lowest im sure, cuz people can usually hear that easier, so going much lower than that wouldnt be very useful musically... ...27.5Hz A0 is the bottom note on a standard piano, and earthquakes can measure at <1Hz lol, so, you could use that as a comparison i guess... i cant imagine you would have much music playing around the infrasonic range

Quote:
ps. choir... how bout headphones, which do you like, mine or the other suggested ones?


as far as choosing between headphones... i hear AKG is a good brand, i think i would go with them
August 9, 2006 4:17:10 AM

Quote:
i'm not 100% on this but I was asking myself the EXACT same question when I went over to my local retailer. He said while the auzentech does support dts (dolby digital), the digital sound that the speaker would create using the x-plosion is only simulated. In order for the sound to be true digital the source must be created in a digital format. Right now barley any games support digital and the only reason to really get a digital setup would be if you are planning to watch a lot of movies or your a real audiophile. The average user won't notice the difference anyways. Just my opinion.


i do agree to the extent that if the source itself doesnt carry more than 2 channels (such as most mp3s)... then in order to have the 5.1 surround, the mp3 would then have to be upmixed to 5.1... its still 5.1, but not 6 'unique' channels in that sense, where each channel has something completely different from any other channel, and would more than likely be something you had never heard before in the mp3 either... that cant be done (unless the mp3 was already carrying the data for the 5.1 channels, then its very feasible)

a great majority of games however, released in easily the last few years or more, already carry 6 seperate audio channels in the game itself, so the dts/ddl encoding card can then extract those audio channels into a dts/ddl stream... ...in doom 3, if you 'pan around' for example while in game, everything will sound exactly to where it should sound in relation to you, from the front, the sides, from behind (including all the little ambiances and stuff that you hadnt really noticed before, but were always there, and will definetly do their share in dragging you into the game)... with the lights down, and the volume up... it makes for a more than uncomfortably realistic experience...
!