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Quick Vote on Sound Card (Please Vote)

Last response: in Components
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What''s the best Sound Card for a gaming machine

Total: 53 votes

  • Audigy 2Zs
  • 17 %
  • X-Fi Fatality
  • 27 %
  • X-Fi Xtrememusic
  • 42 %
  • X-Fi Platinum
  • 16 %
August 9, 2006 7:24:54 PM

I plan to build a Conroe system that strictly will be used for gaming. Which one should I invest in? The best i have at the moment is a Sound Blaster live lol. Thank you for your input.
August 9, 2006 10:01:19 PM

Too bad there's not some non-creative cards in there. ...for gaming, given the choices, I'd say its a fight between the 2ZS and the X-Fi XM for several reasons which you'll likely get exposed to if this thread grows. Good luck.
August 9, 2006 10:07:13 PM

Thank you. I will check X-fi
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August 10, 2006 4:19:17 PM

auzentech xplosion--- it is the best soundcard around if u wanna use a digital connection :D 
August 10, 2006 4:30:58 PM

Chase, help me be less ignorant on these things. How does the Auzentech X-Plosion compare to the Chaintech AV-710, why is it better or worse for someone that wants 7.1 sound or pure 2-channel stereo?
August 10, 2006 4:56:42 PM

Get the X-FI Xtreme music; the other X-FI's are technically better, but the difference is so small, it doesn't warrant the extra cash.
August 10, 2006 5:13:10 PM

Thanks, can you let us know why the other X-Fi's (Platinum and Fata1ity) are technically superior. I know the Elite Pro has better DACs and a higher S/N ratio and the Fata1ity has some extra ram that might be useful one day.
August 10, 2006 6:23:35 PM

get the cheapest xfi if you are using analogue

dont get a creative if you are planning on using digital

the xfi is the best available for gaming because it supports all that new eax crap that creative has copyrighted

but as i said befoe if you wanna go 1cable (digital) than you need ddl or dts encoding so you get surround sound outa games

there are some pretty good deals on xfis so you can prob get one at like 70 or 80 bux
August 10, 2006 6:29:37 PM

the xposion and mysitque do ddl and dts encoding (mystique only does ddl)

for gaming, the sound needs to be encoded into a surround digital format such as ddl or dts (dts is 2wice the quality - 1.5 mbps as opposed to ddl at 754 kbps)

the chaintech does netierh of these,

movies are pre-encoded in ditial surround formats (often both dts and ddl)

so the chaintech just allows that to pasthrough to the decoder (reciever or w/e)

but for gaming, the sound is made up as it goes along so you need a real time encoder for dts or ddl which is what the xplosion (only one that does dts) otherwise you get 2channel sound -like the chaintech

if you only watch movies the chaintech is perfect, but you only get 2channel sound through digital if it isnt precencoded like a movie


there are only a few cards that encode into ddl or dts on the market now, and none of them are creative. i have the xplosion and it is really a great card.


it took me a week to figure out which card i needed and finally realized that the only cards that are good for a digital connection + gaming are the mystique, xplosion and the turtle bay montego

i decided on the xplosion because my reciever does dts and ddl so why not take advantage of the better qualtiy?
August 10, 2006 6:57:13 PM

Cool. Thanks Chase, I'll never have to ask that question again, and one day it may matter for me, so thanks for the info.
August 10, 2006 7:07:45 PM

no problem :D 

i just dont get creative these days- dont they realize people MIGHT want to use a digital connection for gaming?

i would have bought creative except that none of their cards fit my needs
August 10, 2006 7:14:16 PM

I have a X-Fi Platinum myself, but I do a lot more than just gaming. I agree with what was elsewhere said, that the music edition is good enough for most gaming, unless you have very good ears and can notice the small differences in the higher (more expensive) cards.
August 13, 2006 2:38:02 AM

If the gaming sounds are good on XM but if you notice the better cards have a slight edge, which of the high end card is better?


Thanx for the votes guys....keep em coming...and the advice
August 13, 2006 3:08:09 AM

i put in another vote for a ddl or ddl/dts interactive realtime encoding sound card, if youre using a digital output that is

over analog outputs, the cheapest x-fi will work just fine even

so really... i guess its more of a matter regarding which type of interface youd be using, and then the sound cards can be narrowed down from there
August 15, 2006 7:41:10 PM

What's the difference between analog, ddl or ddl/dts? Which is better for a gaming machine? Is the x-fi XM still recommended after these questions?
August 15, 2006 7:55:41 PM

Quote:
What's the difference between analog, ddl or ddl/dts? Which is better for a gaming machine? Is the x-fi XM still recommended after these questions?


DDL is Dolby Digital Live and DTS is another form of multi-positioned Audio. Both are encoding algorythms done in realtime. In games, either of the two are inferior to EAX. All they do is take a non Dolby Digital or DTS audio stream and convert it on the fly. This is of course not near as precise as using a native EAX Multi-positioned audio stream.

Also you're stuck with an audio stream that is decoded, converted then re-decoded. Therefore the audio at the end of the stream has gone through quite a few changes.

The best Audio positioning is Dolby Digital EX, or 5.1 as well as DTS. But a native Audio stream of the sorts would take considerable space on the hard drive. That's why EAX exists.

DDL and DTS encoding are nothing more then upmixes.

For games.. X-Fi all the way.
August 15, 2006 8:37:44 PM

hey the x-fi platinum does have digital outputs right on the front panel mount. both optical and coaxial. does dolby 7.1 and dts and eax and guess what, thx too. you guys need to read up on the cards to read up on the cards before saying something about it. I myself have a X-FI Platinum

R Collins
August 15, 2006 8:48:57 PM

Forget creative.

Turtle Beach every time.
August 15, 2006 9:18:11 PM

Quote:
hey the x-fi platinum does have digital outputs right on the front panel mount. both optical and coaxial. does dolby 7.1 and dts and eax and guess what, thx too. you guys need to read up on the cards to read up on the cards before saying something about it. I myself have a X-FI Platinum

R Collins


They don't natively support 5.1 Digital Audio through Optical or Coax.
August 15, 2006 10:00:03 PM

Quote:
What's the difference between analog, ddl or ddl/dts? Which is better for a gaming machine? Is the x-fi XM still recommended after these questions?


DDL is Dolby Digital Live and DTS is another form of multi-positioned Audio. Both are encoding algorythms done in realtime. In games, either of the two are inferior to EAX. All they do is take a non Dolby Digital or DTS audio stream and convert it on the fly. This is of course not near as precise as using a native EAX Multi-positioned audio stream.

Also you're stuck with an audio stream that is decoded, converted then re-decoded. Therefore the audio at the end of the stream has gone through quite a few changes.

The best Audio positioning is Dolby Digital EX, or 5.1 as well as DTS. But a native Audio stream of the sorts would take considerable space on the hard drive. That's why EAX exists.

DDL and DTS encoding are nothing more then upmixes.

For games.. X-Fi all the way.

ill agree about audio being re encoded on the fly, but the rest, well, not quite so much...

'when' a source (eg, a game for example), includes multiple surround audio channels by default (and then is re encoded in an ac-3 or dts format by a ddl/dts interactive card), those channels dont get misplaced, or misconstrued, or 'faked' at all... they are correctly positioned to the appropriate channels, audio quality in the worst instance being 16bit (the same as commercial cds and dvds), dts is 20bit audio, hence even better

the main advantage that going digital in that scenario, has over analog... is the ability to take advantage of an external digital signal decoder/processor and high quality speakers even then (which in all cases are noticably superior audio quality to pc speakers, due to a pc speakers typically compact size, so theres a few acoustic sacrifices made in exchange... a few naysayers may object to that though)

sure you can go multicabled analog to your external signal decoder, and acheive roughly the same thing, though you also risk having analog hissing, humming and such being introduced into the sound too... but thats why going analog for gaming again, with pc speakers even, is better suited to an x-fi

but, i have to correct this though... saying ac-3 and dts are only upmixes of 2 channels sources, is simply wrong... take a game that has 6 channels on average (as most games have), the card then reencodes those 6 channels into a digital stream, the external decoder decodes those 6 channels, and you end up with 5.1 on the receiving end, just how it was to begin with, aside from the digital compression that took place for transmission over the digital stream (16bit for ddl, and 20bit for dts, and 24bit for dvd-a as a comparison)

saying however that dolby digital ex, or dts es, are upmixes, is more correct... cuz theres not many sources that carry more than 6 channels (5.1, most ac-3 does, some dts), fewer that carry 7 (6.1, most dts formats do), and very little that carry a native 8 channels (7.1)... so, after the decoder decodes the ac-3/dts signal, it can then be matrixed up to 7.1+ by DD EX or DTS ES

when a source only contains 2 channels (most mp3s as an example), sure, the audio is then upmixed, as it doesnt contain more than 2 channels in most cases... but not if the source contains more than that... its like, upmixing from 6 channels, to 6 channels... that wouldnt be upmixing then, theres no matrixing even... UNLIKE with EAX that you brought up... ...EAX on the other hand is entirely a simulated matrixed surround sound algorithm, taking 2 discrete front channels, and matrixing additional channels off of that, just like dolby surround, or dts:neo... ...taking 2 channels originally, and gives a more surround feel, and even a different surround feel depending on the matrixing algorithm used, like the difference between eax 2.0 and eax 4.0 even, they may not sound the same, but they have the same basic principal, everything is derived from 2 channels (though i know every audio source starts as 2 channels to begin with anyhow, but, thats beside the point)

speaking of which, EAX can also be carried over a digital stream as an ac-3/dts signal... so you end up with 6+ correctly positioned discrete channels with the addition of EAX, including all the other benefits the external decoder and quality speakers can provide

x-fi falls abit short there in that respect... it cant do digital surround for gaming, limited strictly to 2 discrete channels in that respect, as it would only send its digital audio stream out as a 2 channel pcm signal, whichcase, you could then perform very similar processing as EAX, with prologic and such... and those other external decoder algorithms can be applied to all sound sources, and isnt just limited to games that support eax

so... analog for x-fi, it has some quality dacs which would be used then too... digital for ddl/dts (the dacs from the card arent anything to worry about then, as its strictly a digital signal when its output from the card, and then the decoder can worry about it at that point)... quality comparison between the two cards isnt worth going into, unless you really dont like how most dvds sound, whichcase, eh

but again, if you dont even have a digital signal decoder and mediocre speakers even... then x-fi is definetly the choice to go with for gaming.

edit: come to think of it, i can imagine the reason creative didnt want to pay the licensing fees to introduce ddl/dts into their sound cards, is because of the performance hit that would occur... you do take a loss of about 5FPS with ddl/dts encoding enabled, but that shouldnt matter if you have at least semi capable hardware... ...creative is known for their low cpu usage gaming cards, and i guess they didnt see losing that slight FPS advantage as being remotely worth it, compared to the definite audio improvement and advantage that would occur if they did choose to include either format...

...its very possibly why they sell the DTS-610 as a seperate component, rather than integrating it into their cards... so i guess licensing aside, they probably didnt include it, most likely due to the performance hit, if anything... cuz they offer it as a seperate interconnect component regardless.
August 16, 2006 7:05:58 PM

*haven't read the thread so bear with me if I repeat others*

The important question is which games do you play? OpenAL games support the X-RAM on the Fatal1ty and Platinum versions of the X-FI. Some examples are BF2, Prey, FEAR, Quake 4.

If you don't play X-RAM capable games, there is absolutely no reason to get anything more than the XtremeMusic card. The hardware is identical sans X-RAM. Of course, you also lose the external bay, so if having those extra connections is something you'd use, then the X-RAM argument is out the window.

There is no reason to get an Audigy Z unless you are on an extreme budget. My experience was that jumping from the Live to the Audigy was amazing, the Audigy to the X-Fi was more of an "eh". But my philosophy is always get the best you can afford when building a system; that way it's not obsolete by the time you open the box.

Of course, unless you're using a semi-decent set of speakers, I doubt you notice any real difference between any of these choices and your onboard sound.
August 16, 2006 9:44:45 PM

Games I play:

Sims 2
Rollercoaster Tycoon 3
Zoo tycoon 2
Out of the Park Baseball 7
Civilization IV
Simcity 4000
Mall tycoon 3
CivCity: Rome

* Flight Simulator X (when its released)
August 17, 2006 1:32:38 PM

Okay, so since you're not really an FPS person, then X-RAM really isn't going to help you out much. Go for the XtremeMusic unless you really need those extra connectors on the drive bay (1/4" headphone, 1/4" line-in, optical in/out, digital coax in/out, MIDI in/out, infrared remote control)
August 17, 2006 3:49:52 PM

Im just a strategy, simulation, sports, rpg person. Im not into first person shooters. My game collection is 95% strategy.
August 17, 2006 4:12:35 PM

another vote for auzentech, i personaly have the x-mystique prefer it over an audigy everytime since my speaker setup is digital :D . now all we need to do is get game companies to encode all the audio in the game sinto dts/ddl or dts es :D 
August 17, 2006 5:24:36 PM

Quote:
Im just a strategy, simulation, sports, rpg person. Im not into first person shooters. My game collection is 95% strategy.


XtremeMusic.

Oh and it's a little off-topic, but I can't wait until Supreme Commander comes out. Total Annihilation is still one of my most frequently played games.
August 17, 2006 7:58:41 PM

Quote:
Im just a strategy, simulation, sports, rpg person. Im not into first person shooters. My game collection is 95% strategy.


XtremeMusic.

Oh and it's a little off-topic, but I can't wait until Supreme Commander comes out. Total Annihilation is still one of my most frequently played games.

i second that (game part) TA rocked, and still does i just can't find my disc :( .
August 20, 2006 7:49:05 PM

If I were you I would get the Audigy 2 and use the money I saved on a future upgrade, unless it is an absolute priority to future-proof. I have an original Audigy and it's more than enough for me, for watching movies and gaming. I was thinking about upgrading to an X-Fi but for now it really doesn't make sense to me. Just my 2 cents.
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