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What sound-card for music, movies and little gaming?

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August 17, 2006 5:48:18 PM

Hi

I'm on the lookout for a good sound-card, the primary useage is music, but I'd like good quality on my movies too. I want the quality to be way above avarage. My current speakers is a 4.1 Altec Lansing 641 Ultimate, but I hope to change that to a 7.1 of a better quality in the future.

To complicate things I'm using Linux (and have no itention to change that). I'm using the ALSA-sound arcitecture http://www.alsa-project.org/ and a list of supported sound-cards can be found at http://www.alsa-project.org/alsa-doc/ but if you just give me suggestions on the soundcards, I'll do the reading on the support under Linux ^_^

Best regards
Rohde
August 17, 2006 6:26:39 PM

Im assuming that those speakers only have analog connections. If so, you will need a soundcard that decodes the Dolby formats...

If you want better queality, be prepared to spend the $$. Dedicated reciever and bookshelves is a good start. Otherwise, there is not much use in going for 7.1 and expect quality. Although you can buy something like the Creative Gigaworks, but dont expect it to sound better. But thats all up to you though.
August 17, 2006 7:02:57 PM

Ya know, I like to game, watch movies, do video editing and frankly prefere onboard audio. Maybe my ears are just bad or something but I can't tell the difference between a $200 sound card and my onboard audio. I bought a good audio card once and was underwhelmed when I put my $150 headphones on and didn't notice any difference.

I say spend more money on good speakers and sub. That you WILL notice. I think sounds cards are kind of a scam.

But I don't get into the whole surround sound thing either on my computer. I like great headphones better than anything. The sound is just so wonderful compared to speakers. Headphones block out fan noise, kids and TV and other distractions. IMO
Related resources
August 17, 2006 7:26:49 PM

Every onboard audio system I have listend to through my pair of headphones has had buzzing, and other sound anomalies. Including Soundstorm and Intell HD junk. Not to mention the poor DAC's. Just having something that is seperated from all the other electronics to reduce the noise floor is a good idea.
August 17, 2006 7:44:05 PM

The X-Fi is a good all-around sound card... but since your probably more into movies than games, you should check this card out:

http://www.guru3d.com/article/sound/363/

Auzentech's HDA X-Plosion 7.1 DTS-Connect, it got decent reviews, and seems to have enough outputs for you.
August 17, 2006 9:27:24 PM

Quote:
The X-Fi is a good all-around sound card... but since your probably more into movies than games, you should check this card out:

http://www.guru3d.com/article/sound/363/

Auzentech's HDA X-Plosion 7.1 DTS-Connect, it got decent reviews, and seems to have enough outputs for you.


Auzentech Xplosion is an amazing card for digital sound but horrid for analog due to it having subpar DAC's.

An Audigy2 ZS would be your best bet. It's priced at around 59USD on Newegg and offers better analog sound then an X-plosion.
August 17, 2006 9:51:02 PM

Quote:
Hi

I'm on the lookout for a good sound-card, the primary useage is music, but I'd like good quality on my movies too. I want the quality to be way above avarage. My current speakers is a 4.1 Altec Lansing 641 Ultimate, but I hope to change that to a 7.1 of a better quality in the future.

To complicate things I'm using Linux (and have no itention to change that). I'm using the ALSA-sound arcitecture http://www.alsa-project.org/ and a list of supported sound-cards can be found at http://www.alsa-project.org/alsa-doc/ but if you just give me suggestions on the soundcards, I'll do the reading on the support under Linux ^_^

Best regards
Rohde


TBH, I'd say check out the Audigy SE. ...or step up, for about the same $$, to the Chaintech AV-710, Turtle Beach Riviera (or step up to the Montego DDL). You don't need to spend $80+ on a soundcard to get sound you'll be delighted with given even half-decent speakers, IMO. You can, of course, but you don't need to.

NOTE: You said you've stepped up to Linux and I'm not sure the boards I listed all support the Penguin.

Good luck.
August 17, 2006 9:53:23 PM

Quote:
The X-Fi is a good all-around sound card... but since your probably more into movies than games, you should check this card out:

http://www.guru3d.com/article/sound/363/

Auzentech's HDA X-Plosion 7.1 DTS-Connect, it got decent reviews, and seems to have enough outputs for you.


Auzentech Xplosion is an amazing card for digital sound but horrid for analog due to it having subpar DAC's.

An Audigy2 ZS would be your best bet. It's priced at around 59USD on Newegg and offers better analog sound then an X-plosion.

There's no excuse in 2006 for any contemporary $20+ card to have horrid DAC's. I do hope you're exaggerating.
August 17, 2006 10:00:37 PM

THD and noisefloor may be higher than that of Audigy... But I doubt it will matter unless you like to turn up the volume with no playback and just listen to them hum or static lol :roll:
August 17, 2006 10:26:59 PM

Hmmm...TBH, I know my SB Live! (which I love, BTW*) likely has worse THD+N and S/N ratio than any contemporary card, but it remains installed and running.


* This little archaic gem competes well with my X-Fi's in subjective 2-channel listening tests with the KX-Project drivers when using the card's DACs and analog outputs. When using digital PCM output, I canna tell the difference between it and the $82 X-Fi. So, either the X-Fi is slacking or the Live! is just a descent card, even now, 7 years later.
August 17, 2006 10:59:01 PM

Quote:
The X-Fi is a good all-around sound card... but since your probably more into movies than games, you should check this card out:

http://www.guru3d.com/article/sound/363/

Auzentech's HDA X-Plosion 7.1 DTS-Connect, it got decent reviews, and seems to have enough outputs for you.


Auzentech Xplosion is an amazing card for digital sound but horrid for analog due to it having subpar DAC's.

An Audigy2 ZS would be your best bet. It's priced at around 59USD on Newegg and offers better analog sound then an X-plosion.

There's no excuse in 2006 for any contemporary $20+ card to have horrid DAC's. I do hope you're exaggerating.

Not exagerating at all.. there's even a guide on how to replace the DAC's with newer better ones (as the Auzentech allows you to upgrade the DAC's... for quite a large premium).

AS for an Audigy 2 ZS... they had a retail version for 59,99 at NewEgg but it's now sold out.
You can still get an OEM though for a good price.
Audigy2 ZS OEM - $65
August 17, 2006 11:19:13 PM

Quote:


Not exagerating at all.. there's even a guide on how to replace the DAC's with newer better ones (as the Auzentech allows you to upgrade the DAC's... for quite a large premium).


That's a shame. Yes, some DACs will be better than others, but horrid junk? :evil: 

Why would anyone replace the DACs when they can spend $65 and get a card who's DACs are decent?
August 17, 2006 11:36:00 PM

Quote:


Not exagerating at all.. there's even a guide on how to replace the DAC's with newer better ones (as the Auzentech allows you to upgrade the DAC's... for quite a large premium).


That's a shame. Yes, some DACs will be better than others, but horrid junk? :evil: 

Why would anyone replace the DACs when they can spend $65 and get a card who's DACs are decent?

I'm sorry it's the OPAMPs that need replacement.
Auzentech

Quote:
Replacing Your Operational Amplifier s(OPAMPs)

Note that if you drive an external receiver through the digital S/PDIF output, this sound card upgrade is not for you. But if you drive multi-channel speakers directly from the analog outputs of the Auzentech X-Mystique and X-Plosion sound cards, this upgrade can make the analog signal stronger and clearer. Recordings have greater detail and accuracy and expansion and separation will be improved in the soundstage.

For this sound card upgrade we recommend the Texas Instruments / Burr Brown OPA2134PA. You will need six in total to upgrade the OPAMPs on your X-Mystique or X-Plosion card. Visit DigiKey.com to purchase your OPAMPs.

The steps to upgrading your OPAMPs are listed below. Before getting started, take a moment to read the full instructions. You may need to take a trip to Radio Shack®—see step four.

1. Power down your PC completely, unplug it, and open it.
2. Ground yourself by touching the metal casing of the computer. This lets the static electricity to safely dissipate. You should also avoid placing the circuit board on an ungrounded surface during the sound card upgrade.
3. Remove the sound card to upgrade from the computer, taking note of the direction of the six existing OPAMPs. Look for the small semi-circle at one end of the chip. The upper two chips face one way, the bottom four face another.
4. Remove the old OPAMPs using a chip puller (available at Radio Shack®).
5. Insert the replacement OPAMPs. Remember that they must face the same direction as the old chips.
6. Reinstall the card, close the case, and restart the PC. You have finished the sound card upgrade.
August 18, 2006 5:36:16 AM

I was wondering if it was the operational amps that you were speaking of, its not uncommon for them to be upgradeable in gear. I know in my Beyond Cute headphone amp they promote that the OPAMP is upgradable for tailored sound, yet this is the first time I've heard of having that option in a soundcard, though. Hmmmm.... 6 of them, eh? I wonder how much that ends up costing. Still, the card shouldn't sound weak or horrid out the box requiring an the purchaser to replace 6 OPAMPs to get strong sound, IMO.
August 18, 2006 1:20:34 PM

Quote:
I was wondering if it was the operational amps that you were speaking of, its not uncommon for them to be upgradeable in gear. I know in my Beyond Cute headphone amp they promote that the OPAMP is upgradable for tailored sound, yet this is the first time I've heard of having that option in a soundcard, though. Hmmmm.... 6 of them, eh? I wonder how much that ends up costing. Still, the card shouldn't sound weak or horrid out the box requiring an the purchaser to replace 6 OPAMPs to get strong sound, IMO.


It sounds just like on-board audio... no joke. But then again it's based on a chip that was geared towards on-board audio being the C-Media CMI8770. It's perfect for those wanting DDL as well as DTS Encoding and Decoding using a digital audio interface (it sounds better then my X-Fi). But it's the same idea as the nForce2 Soundstorm. Digital Audio hurray, Analog Audio Booooo.

Difference is you can make it sound better (clearer and stronger) by upgrading the OPAMPS. It has the same On-board audio tin-can like sound if you don't.
August 18, 2006 2:06:59 PM

LOL, I think we're getting off topic here, but there are many sound cards out there. Also depends on your price range which you haven't told us, if under $100, go with an older SB model, if over $100, many more options are open.
August 18, 2006 2:35:49 PM

True that...

Chaintech AV-710

TurtleBeach Montego DDL

...give them some consideration, they both appear to be good cards.
August 18, 2006 3:06:52 PM

all i can say, is when it comes to a soundcard you do get what you pay for, for a good allround card, with has a good price, the Audigy 4SE is great.
August 18, 2006 4:21:19 PM

Quote:
all i can say, is when it comes to a soundcard you do get what you pay for, for a good allround card, with has a good price, the Audigy 4SE is great.


In the Audigy SE's case, I think you may get a little more than you pay for.
August 18, 2006 4:33:21 PM

M-Audio Revolution 7.1 (Envy 24HT)

I love my M-Audio Revolution 7.1, crisp and clear with my beyerdynamic DT931 headset, or my Logitech Z-5500s.

http://www.midiman.net/products/en_us/Revolution71-main...

and review can be found here,

http://www.firingsquad.com/hardware/m-audio_revolution_...

The card is absolutely beautiful for movies and music. Plays games extremely well with a few more processing cycles than the infamous audigy series in games.

I've listened to many cards, including audigy, audigy 2, audigy 2 zs, audigy platinum EX, santa cruz, onboard sound, etc...

You will not be disappointed.
August 18, 2006 4:46:57 PM

I really lke my M-Audio Soundcard Revolution 7.1.A lot of People Love Creative but M-Audio has had no problems at all where certain Hardware doesn't work with the Creative Lineup.

If the Creative works good it is hard to beat but get one not compatible with System and troubles galore.


There is a new Card coming out very soon that looks killer.Here is their current version Auzentech HDA Digital X-Mystique 7.1 Gold Retail$99.00

Auzentech X-Purity is the name of the new one coming out soon.
August 18, 2006 4:49:19 PM

Quote:
M-Audio Revolution 7.1 (Envy 24HT)


I second that...I highly recommend the M-Audio Revolution 7.1...I currently have one installed in my HTPC and it performs fantastic with DTS...it has digital coax as well as analog outputs...crisp, clear, and no annoying stupid a$$ break out boxes like creative...

If not the Revolution, then I recommend the Auzentech as mentioned or the Audiotrak Prodigy 7.1...good luck!!!!
August 18, 2006 4:50:16 PM

I've heard that the M-Audio's are indeed nice cards, but I'm not convinced they're worth $72 more than the Chaintech AV-710. That's the only reason, I've not mentioned them.
August 18, 2006 5:15:16 PM

My Audigy 2 ZS serves me well to this day.

I hear that the X-Fi cards are having issues. Popping noises or something...
August 18, 2006 5:35:49 PM

Quote:
My Audigy 2 ZS serves me well to this day.

I hear that the X-Fi cards are having issues. Popping noises or something...


I've read online and in these forums all about the X-Fi's snap-crackle-n-pop issues but have 3 of them installed in various levels of builds and have only had the problem myself, for a cumulative 3 minutes in the 8.5 months. ...in both instances bouncing the PC (um...restarting them, I mean) sent the issue away.

If anyone's truly wanting an X-Fi I don't think the snap-crackle-n-pop issue is profound enough to hinder the purchasing decision, especially since Creative's released drivers that, I understand, have eradicated the issue, for many people. ...and I still believe the problem only affects a small minority of the total X-Fi user population, from what I've read. We just hear so much about if because there are a tremendous amount of X-Fi owners out there, folks who followed the marketing and may not be aware of the other excellent choices. I'm no hypocrit, I purchased 2 of the cards when the price dropped to $82 thinking I could sell them for a profit...but greed got me and both cards are living in active PCs. (The first X-Fi came with my XPS-600 and is almost a virgin.) ...but I'd only recommend an X-Fi to a heavy gamer-type that has some auxillary interest in music and movies as the X-Fi is really only unbeatable in the gaming arena. In the music and movie arena a lot of less expensive, potentially more trouble-free options that match or munch on the X-Fi, quite easily in sound sound quality and connectivity options. ...we've been discussing many of them in this thread. ...just my opinion.
August 18, 2006 6:35:21 PM

Quote:
My Audigy 2 ZS serves me well to this day.

I hear that the X-Fi cards are having issues. Popping noises or something...


I've read online and in these forums all about the X-Fi's snap-crackle-n-pop issues but have 3 of them installed in various levels of builds and have only had the problem myself, for a cumulative 3 minutes in the 8.5 months. ...in both instances bouncing the PC (um...restarting them, I mean) sent the issue away.

If anyone's truly wanting an X-Fi I don't think the snap-crackle-n-pop issue is profound enough to hinder the purchasing decision, especially since Creative's released drivers that, I understand, have eradicated the issue, for many people. ...and I still believe the problem only affects a small minority of the total X-Fi user population, from what I've read. We just hear so much about if because there are a tremendous amount of X-Fi owners out there, folks who followed the marketing and may not be aware of the other excellent choices. I'm no hypocrit, I purchased 2 of the cards when the price dropped to $82 thinking I could sell them for a profit...but greed got me and both cards are living in active PCs. (The first X-Fi came with my XPS-600 and is almost a virgin.) ...but I'd only recommend an X-Fi to a heavy gamer-type that has some auxillary interest in music and movies as the X-Fi is really only unbeatable in the gaming arena. In the music and movie arena a lot of less expensive, potentially more trouble-free options that match or munch on the X-Fi, quite easily in sound sound quality and connectivity options. ...we've been discussing many of them in this thread. ...just my opinion.

You should make something clear. when using Analog connectors no other card can touch the X-fi in any area... whether gaming, music of movies.

It's when you have a Digital Capable sound system that the X-Fi loses ground and even get's surpassed in some area's. My Auzentech X-Plosion (undoubtably the best DTS/DDL card available) only surpasses my X-Fi in Music and Movies when I'm using a Digital Connection, it still loses out in gaming performance and sound.

Just to clarify... other then that your post is dead on.
August 18, 2006 7:59:11 PM

For Digital Audio

Definitly get something that has a passthrough option or can do DDL/DTS Connect.

Hook it up to decent reciver and GOOD speakers non of this Logitech/Creative crap get something nice from like Yamaha, B&W, Infinity, Misson Audio, Klipsch, Etc.

Analogue

Any SB card with Logitech/Creative speakers will be fine

Example:

My Audio setup (which i love, nothing like gaming in Dolby 5.1)

Auzentech X-Mystique 7.1
Sony STR-DE697 Reciever
Yamaha NSP106 6.1 Speakers
Toslink Digital Audio Connection

I love that setup it's awesome.
August 18, 2006 8:41:18 PM

Quote:
My Audigy 2 ZS serves me well to this day.

I hear that the X-Fi cards are having issues. Popping noises or something...


I've read online and in these forums all about the X-Fi's snap-crackle-n-pop issues but have 3 of them installed in various levels of builds and have only had the problem myself, for a cumulative 3 minutes in the 8.5 months. ...in both instances bouncing the PC (um...restarting them, I mean) sent the issue away.

If anyone's truly wanting an X-Fi I don't think the snap-crackle-n-pop issue is profound enough to hinder the purchasing decision, especially since Creative's released drivers that, I understand, have eradicated the issue, for many people. ...and I still believe the problem only affects a small minority of the total X-Fi user population, from what I've read. We just hear so much about if because there are a tremendous amount of X-Fi owners out there, folks who followed the marketing and may not be aware of the other excellent choices. I'm no hypocrit, I purchased 2 of the cards when the price dropped to $82 thinking I could sell them for a profit...but greed got me and both cards are living in active PCs. (The first X-Fi came with my XPS-600 and is almost a virgin.) ...but I'd only recommend an X-Fi to a heavy gamer-type that has some auxillary interest in music and movies as the X-Fi is really only unbeatable in the gaming arena. In the music and movie arena a lot of less expensive, potentially more trouble-free options that match or munch on the X-Fi, quite easily in sound sound quality and connectivity options. ...we've been discussing many of them in this thread. ...just my opinion.

You should make something clear. when using Analog connectors no other card can touch the X-fi in any area... whether gaming, music of movies.

It's when you have a Digital Capable sound system that the X-Fi loses ground and even get's surpassed in some area's. My Auzentech X-Plosion (undoubtably the best DTS/DDL card available) only surpasses my X-Fi in Music and Movies when I'm using a Digital Connection, it still loses out in gaming performance and sound.

Just to clarify... other then that your post is dead on.

Hmmm.... so you believe the X-Fi to be the best when it comes to analog out? Even better than the top M-Audio and Terratec boards? I know the X-Fi molests the audio stream by its re-sampling...quite a no-no for the audio purist. However, I know I'm quite satisfied with what one of them is doing with the Z-5500's I recently purchased but I still feel some others may best the X-Fi in analog out, given that they're not re-sampling the sound. ...but I'm not arguing, I'll do some more research, I never aim to mis-inform. :wink:
August 18, 2006 9:13:51 PM

Quote:
My Audigy 2 ZS serves me well to this day.

I hear that the X-Fi cards are having issues. Popping noises or something...


I've read online and in these forums all about the X-Fi's snap-crackle-n-pop issues but have 3 of them installed in various levels of builds and have only had the problem myself, for a cumulative 3 minutes in the 8.5 months. ...in both instances bouncing the PC (um...restarting them, I mean) sent the issue away.

If anyone's truly wanting an X-Fi I don't think the snap-crackle-n-pop issue is profound enough to hinder the purchasing decision, especially since Creative's released drivers that, I understand, have eradicated the issue, for many people. ...and I still believe the problem only affects a small minority of the total X-Fi user population, from what I've read. We just hear so much about if because there are a tremendous amount of X-Fi owners out there, folks who followed the marketing and may not be aware of the other excellent choices. I'm no hypocrit, I purchased 2 of the cards when the price dropped to $82 thinking I could sell them for a profit...but greed got me and both cards are living in active PCs. (The first X-Fi came with my XPS-600 and is almost a virgin.) ...but I'd only recommend an X-Fi to a heavy gamer-type that has some auxillary interest in music and movies as the X-Fi is really only unbeatable in the gaming arena. In the music and movie arena a lot of less expensive, potentially more trouble-free options that match or munch on the X-Fi, quite easily in sound sound quality and connectivity options. ...we've been discussing many of them in this thread. ...just my opinion.

You should make something clear. when using Analog connectors no other card can touch the X-fi in any area... whether gaming, music of movies.

It's when you have a Digital Capable sound system that the X-Fi loses ground and even get's surpassed in some area's. My Auzentech X-Plosion (undoubtably the best DTS/DDL card available) only surpasses my X-Fi in Music and Movies when I'm using a Digital Connection, it still loses out in gaming performance and sound.

Just to clarify... other then that your post is dead on.

Hmmm.... so you believe the X-Fi to be the best when it comes to analog out? Even better than the top M-Audio and Terratec boards? I know the X-Fi molests the audio stream by its re-sampling...quite a no-no for the audio purist. However, I know I'm quite satisfied with what one of them is doing with the Z-5500's I recently purchased but I still feel some others may best the X-Fi in analog out, given that they're not re-sampling the sound. ...but I'm not arguing, I'll do some more research, I never aim to mis-inform. :wink:

Well all the tests conducted by Tom's Hardware as well as Anandtech seem to indicate that it has no competitors in this domain.

This one is in french but they test it against MANY competitors.. including Terratec. X-Fi creams them all.
August 18, 2006 9:38:59 PM

Quote:
Hmmm.... so you believe the X-Fi to be the best when it comes to analog out? Even better than the top M-Audio and Terratec boards? I know the X-Fi molests the audio stream by its re-sampling...quite a no-no for the audio purist. However, I know I'm quite satisfied with what one of them is doing with the Z-5500's I recently purchased but I still feel some others may best the X-Fi in analog out, given that they're not re-sampling the sound. ...but I'm not arguing, I'll do some more research, I never aim to mis-inform. :wink:


For analog, I give it up to the X-Fi, while the X-Fi may "molest" the audio by resampling, it's actually that same resampling with all the filters and software tweaks that let's the X-Fi seem to sounds better, not so much the hardware alone, but without all the software tweaks, the X-Fi isn't really all that special...the Creative break out box totally kills me, you would think Creative could offer true passthru and at least give one coax or optical connection with the money your paying for the top of the line X-Fi...

For anything digital, I recommend Audiotrak, Auzentech, or the M-Audio over anything Creative...
August 18, 2006 10:27:42 PM

*confused*

I have an X-Fi Platinum, and the drive-bay unit has both Coax and Optical digital IN/OUT.
August 18, 2006 11:04:17 PM

I'll not argue. I've been lead to believe the X-Fi is nice, but overrated.
August 18, 2006 11:05:11 PM

Quote:
*confused*

I have an X-Fi Platinum, and the drive-bay unit has both Coax and Optical digital IN/OUT.


2-Channel PCM only.
August 19, 2006 2:51:34 AM

Quote:
*confused*

I have an X-Fi Platinum, and the drive-bay unit has both Coax and Optical digital IN/OUT.


the DRIVE BAY UNIT has coax and optical...not the pci card itself like the M-Audio or Audiotrak...with an HTPC or even an everyday machine, I do not want speaker wires dangling out the front my case just so I can use a digital connection.
!