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will sound cards REALLY improve performance?

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August 26, 2006 10:12:18 AM

Ive been hearing that quote over and over again, also how the xtrememusic has X-Fi CMSS®-3D and how creative brags its the fastest ever. Of course I know they will, but by how much? is it noticiable from card to card?
But ive looked up in the web and I cant find any direct comparison, among lets say onboard sound and different sound cards.
If any of you guys would be so kinda and shine some light over this matter it would be apprecciated.
August 26, 2006 11:08:52 AM

I Don't know exactly what you do with your system.. But i think alot of the people exaggerate and just buy things cause others say it's the best.

I've been using an Asus A7N8X Deluxe (ONBOARD SOUND)

Since that board has been out.. 2001? not sure but it's been very close to 5 yrs now.

I've had no ONE problem with the entire machine (knock on wood) And I play anything from EA SPORTS games like madden, NHL to Counter Strike and all Steam games, to BattleField 2 as well as Unreal has been played on here.

Also watched a few DVDS and listen to Mp3's all day long accompany'd by my Klipsch pro media 2.1 speaker system..


I HAVE ZERO COMPLAINTS about this audio.. it's crystal clear, sharp and it sounds excellent to me.

From what i remember the audio chip on this motherboard was compared to an AUDIGY. Either way, it rocks and that's all that matters.
August 26, 2006 11:34:42 AM

well if ur comparing it to onboard mobo sound, then i wud assume it wud take load off the CPU, which might give u a little extra processing power, but i really dont think it will give u all that much. That is just theoritcally ofcourse, i dont think anyone has actually done any benchmarks to reflect that.
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August 26, 2006 12:52:41 PM

In a way it will improve performance, since a soundcard takes the sound processesing from the cpu. But higher quality sound is achieve with a use of high quality speakers nonetheless. Soundcards is not meant to increase performance the pc but rather for accurate sound processing. I have tried this with my rig and between using and not using the soundcard (X-Fi) I didn't notice a difference in performance but rather a low quality sound.
August 26, 2006 1:25:50 PM

The X-Fi Fatality and X-Fi Platinum wll improve performance as they (unlike the other X-Fi variations) are equipped with 64mb of onboard memory.
August 26, 2006 2:16:17 PM

Exactly my point, and even better in your case since you have such good speakers that wont bottleneck your sound.
I think creative and the other sound card manufacturers exaggerate on their products, otherwise, why wouldnt the have processing benchmarks liek AMD in their site??
August 26, 2006 2:37:29 PM

Sound cards improve performance over integrated sound in games because the CPU doesn't have to process the audio. You usually get 1-2 more FPS.
August 26, 2006 3:13:19 PM

It really depends on what you want to do with your system. In absolute numbers, you find a 4-5 FPS diffrence depending on the amount of audio processing the CPU has to do. However, as mentioned before its not as much about those extra FPS as it is about sound quality and accuracy.

I have a X-Fi Extreme (its over kill but go with it) and the XRam, I believe is what Creative likes to call it, makes a diffrence when I am playing battlefield 2. I am typically on a 64 person server with tanks shotting, snipers trying to catch me, artillerty being dropped and yet I still know where everything is.

If you go back to last summer when the X-Fi was released, THG did a huge break down of what the card does and why its so damned spiffy. Prior to the X-Fi if a tank was rubling behind a building the Audigy 2 kinda guessed what it would sound like, but the X-Fi knows exactly where to put it and what to make it sound like.

If you intend to just listen to music and watch a few movies now and then, I wouldn't suspect a discrete card is worth it. However, if you want to know where exactly that bullet came from you might want to consider a discrete card.
August 26, 2006 3:32:20 PM

Quote:

I have a X-Fi Extreme (its over kill but go with it) and the XRam, I believe is what Creative likes to call it, makes a diffrence when I am playing battlefield 2. I am typically on a 64 person server with tanks shotting, snipers trying to catch me, artillerty being dropped and yet I still know where everything is.

If you go back to last summer when the X-Fi was released, THG did a huge break down of what the card does and why its so damned spiffy. Prior to the X-Fi if a tank was rubling behind a building the Audigy 2 kinda guessed what it would sound like, but the X-Fi knows exactly where to put it and what to make it sound like.

If you intend to just listen to music and watch a few movies now and then, I wouldn't suspect a discrete card is worth it. However, if you want to know where exactly that bullet came from you might want to consider a discrete card.


You are talking about the newest EAX feature??
August 26, 2006 4:18:30 PM

If you're simply looking for a performance improvement, spend your money elsewhere.
August 26, 2006 4:31:01 PM

Quote:
If you're simply looking for a performance improvement, spend your money elsewhere.


I know I know, i wouldnt get a sound simply based on performance boost. But since some ppl and creative keep on saying I thought it had to be a significant amount.
Sound cards are to improve your Sound accuracy and clarity, i know... lol
August 26, 2006 5:58:50 PM

Quote:
Ive been hearing that quote over and over again, also how the xtrememusic has X-Fi CMSS®-3D and how creative brags its the fastest ever. Of course I know they will, but by how much? is it noticiable from card to card?
But ive looked up in the web and I cant find any direct comparison, among lets say onboard sound and different sound cards.
If any of you guys would be so kinda and shine some light over this matter it would be apprecciated.


uh yeah probably a little tiny bit but thats a bad reason for getting a sound card. you should be getting a sound card for audio reasons only because the proformance diff is so minimal.
August 26, 2006 8:27:16 PM

There is more to it than just the new EAX features. Phreejak provided some good articles to check out. I suggest reading one or two rather then I try to explain a 15 page review in one post hehe. 8O
August 27, 2006 9:49:02 AM

I also hope the OP understands that its only a Creative-based soundcard that's going to offload the CPU and get him/her that coveted extra 3-4fps. TBH with today's CPUs and GPUs I'm not sure how important that extra 2fps really is, like Stranger said, that's personal preference. I'd say the latest renditions of EAX would really be the gaming reason to go with a Creative card. If music and movies are your thing there are A LOT of good choices out there. Many believe the X-Fi to be the best card out there. However, when you read the reviews often-times you'll see that they're reviewing the X-Fi Elite Pro version which is considerably better than the Extreme Music, Platinum, and Fata1ity versions in terms of DAC, THD+N, and S/N ratio...but at $400, it damn well should be, eh?

Unless you really want the latest EAX, and the other toys the lower-end X-Fi's bring to the table you can get a wonderful soundcard for a lot less $$ than you'll pay for an X-Fi. However, if you go for an X-Fi, you'll have a nice Jack-of-all-trades-Master-of-One.

If you've got onboard sound with a digital output, its a different story. In my personal experience I've found my onboard sounds fine when connected to my Z-5500's via Optical. ...but it should. If I were a gamer though, I'd still just use a Creative card, why take any performance hit at all? Why lose out on EAX 3-5? Why put so much into my rig just to neglect audio? I've yet to hear analog output from onboard sound that competes well with even an old SoundBlaster Live! and I'm using a fairly contemporary mobo with contemporary onboard audio chipset myself.

...but I imagine if you have poor speakers analog onboard sound is just fine.
August 27, 2006 10:26:41 AM

Quote:
I Don't know exactly what you do with your system.. But i think alot of the people exaggerate and just buy things cause others say it's the best.

I've been using an Asus A7N8X Deluxe (ONBOARD SOUND)

Since that board has been out.. 2001? not sure but it's been very close to 5 yrs now.

.



I have to agree, but you have to understand that the Soundstorm audio Nvidia had was a rare case. I had the same motherboard the first month it came out and just upgraded two weeks ago. I loved the onboard sound but I am a gamer and also had an Audigy 2 zs. Onboard was for Teamspeak. The new system has crappy onboard sound, which is very typical.

There is allot of good advice for you in this thread Halcyon, unless you are a gamer or love your music then onboard sound works for most people.
August 27, 2006 12:36:01 PM

Quote:
lol, i really don't think halycon is in need of advice. i think you meant the OP of this thread.



LOL, thats possible. I wrote it half asleep.
August 27, 2006 2:44:33 PM

Quote:
lol, i really don't think halycon is in need of advice. i think you meant the OP of this thread.


LOL. Heck, I need lots of advice and you guys give some of the best...so I keep read'n your threads, learn'n a little day by day.
August 27, 2006 4:06:38 PM

Quote:
I Don't know exactly what you do with your system.. But i think alot of the people exaggerate and just buy things cause others say it's the best.

I've been using an Asus A7N8X Deluxe (ONBOARD SOUND)

Since that board has been out.. 2001? not sure but it's been very close to 5 yrs now.

I've had no ONE problem with the entire machine (knock on wood) And I play anything from EA SPORTS games like madden, NHL to Counter Strike and all Steam games, to BattleField 2 as well as Unreal has been played on here.

Also watched a few DVDS and listen to Mp3's all day long accompany'd by my Klipsch pro media 2.1 speaker system..


I HAVE ZERO COMPLAINTS about this audio.. it's crystal clear, sharp and it sounds excellent to me.

From what i remember the audio chip on this motherboard was compared to an AUDIGY. Either way, it rocks and that's all that matters.


Just based on your experience, I already knew you have no knowledge at all about onboard sound and discrete sound card, because you haven't bought one yet. Of course onboard sound works ok, if not, then why manufacturers put it on? You are making comparison like between a civic and a ferrari. If you plan to run about 60mph then both will work almost the same, but nobody use a damn civic to race. Same analogy with sound card. Onboard sound have a SNR (signal to noise ratio) about 86 for the cheap one, and 92 DB for the expensive mobo, whereas the card like Audigy 2 ZS has 108 DB. And you will surely notice the difference. You have a 2.1 speaker and didnt even turn it on max, how can you tell the difference (like 60mph)? If you use an expensive speaker set like Z-5500 or Gigaworks, then why dont you spend extra bucks for a good sound card? Also, the X-Fi pro can produce 116 DB, and of course, it's for serious music (gamers dont need that much) and lots of review site advise you not to upgrade it from an Audigy 2 ZS if you just plan to play game and casual music.
August 31, 2006 9:23:58 PM

Ouch... I had to use my A7N8x onboard sound now for awhile and man, im sorry to say but it is horrible... even compared to my aging soudn blaster LIVE gamer card.
September 1, 2006 7:37:27 AM

Na, its not quite that bad. I hear the difference easily with lower-end speakers like the Logitech Z-5500's, Bose Companion 3's and, Creative iTrigue L3800's. You don't really need to spend $500 on speakers to appreciate a good sound card, IMO.
September 1, 2006 3:32:08 PM

Quote:
It really is a dilema. You buy a high-end sound card and and you'll be force to buy high-end speakers as well to hear the difference.

Me? I'm still using SB Live! 5.1 and speakers from my stereo, good enough for me to annoy the F*ck out of my neighboors in the dorm. :lol: 

Hey Griz, good to see you back! :D 


Well I had Logitech Z-680's when I was in the dorm 3 years ago ... man people hated me, but then you realise that Imanaged to fit a dual cooling loop into a Dell XPS case so I was kinda of a bad ass (just let me think that ok! lol). Acctually fried my 9800 Pro's transistor OC'ing that way.

Back to case research
September 5, 2006 11:03:26 PM

I rather buy some really good earbounds with that money than buy an audio card again.


When i bought the audigy 2 i was like "wel..it sound a little better but not that much" and i had the creative 4.1 speakers setup

when i upgraded my speaekrs with a very cheap sound theater of sony 5.1 (like $250) i was like "WOW" super upgrade.

And to be honest i dont like change often the "EAX sound" to "rock sound" every time i switch aplications
September 11, 2006 2:10:58 PM

Figured this is a good topic for my question...

I own a Dell Dimension 3000 (I know I know... keep laughing)

Anyway, its currently running off of onboard sound and onboard video. Although I rarely play games, it is a minor concern. The main thing is that my computer is my stereo and I am ALWAYS playing music. My speakers are the logitech Z-2300 2.1s. So my question is, with those speakers, would I notice any beneficial difference if I were to buy a sound card over using just the onboard sound?
September 11, 2006 2:47:47 PM

The best example I can give of improved perfomance is BF2. I have an X-Fi Fatal1ty and there was actualy a notacible difference in frame rates on my machine when I turned it on (you have to tell BF2 to use OpenAL....) anyway it also got rid of the stuttering sound when loading a level :)  it only happens when I load a level and only then for 2 seconds but its still anoying !

I use my headphones alot so for me the virtual surround sound on the X-Fi was totaly worth it (it realy works but sometimes its freaky I will think my speakers are on and take off my headphones to make sure they are not !)
September 11, 2006 2:53:27 PM

Quote:
Figured this is a good topic for my question...

I own a Dell Dimension 3000 (I know I know... keep laughing)

Anyway, its currently running off of onboard sound and onboard video. Although I rarely play games, it is a minor concern. The main thing is that my computer is my stereo and I am ALWAYS playing music. My speakers are the logitech Z-2300 2.1s. So my question is, with those speakers, would I notice any beneficial difference if I were to buy a sound card over using just the onboard sound?


Its one of those things, you get benifit from both but together you get more ! I know some people say if you have cheesy speakers it doesnt matter. My opinion is that a sound card is a good investment I always buy the top of the line model where I wouldnt think to do it with a graphics card, why ? you ask :)  well soundcards are on a much slower upgrade cycle my X-Fi could be top of the line for another 2 years ! where the best video card is out done in 6 months or less !
September 11, 2006 3:49:33 PM

To answer the question directly, yes, sound cards can really improve performance or FPS in games. Now theres the question of how much? I doubt you'd ever notice the difference because its a very small amount.

Lets assume devs start programming games to take advantage of the higher end creative cards with the extra memory. These might make a little more difference still and potentially be noticable in actual practice. However you must remember its a very small portion of PC users that will buy the high end cards and so its unlikely any Devs will actually take the time to do so and it may then be moot.

At the end of the day you are the only one who can decide if a sound card is worth it over integrated. I play games and listen to a lot of music and personally can tell the difference in my Audigy 2 and my boards built-in sound. For me its worth it although its not a huge amount of difference(shrug).
September 11, 2006 5:43:27 PM

Quote:
The X-Fi Fatality and X-Fi Platinum wll improve performance as they (unlike the other X-Fi variations) are equipped with 64mb of onboard memory.


Only if the game makes use of the extra ram (and it's debatable how much of a gain it is).

If you can get the Fatal1ty for about the same price as what the regular versions sell for, go for it (I think zipzoomfly has it for 130 AR), but the bottom line is they all sound the same and unless you play the right games, the extra xram will provide no benefit at all.
September 11, 2006 6:59:11 PM

So with good speakers, there will be a noticable sound change with a new sound card?

If im not an avid gamer (just every once in awhile) and listen to a lot of music, do I need top of the line sound card? What should I get?
September 11, 2006 7:30:54 PM

Quote:
So with good speakers, there will be a noticable sound change with a new sound card?

If im not an avid gamer (just every once in awhile) and listen to a lot of music, do I need top of the line sound card? What should I get?


The short answer is a good sound card is generally quieter than on board sound; you don't need a top of the line Sound Card; and for music, M-Audio is probably your best choice for roughly $100.00.

If you aren't worried about surround sound, or you're using an external decoder, then the m-audio 2496 is probably the choice. If you want it to decode the Dolby DIgital stream, then the M-Audio revolution cards may be a better choice (they also add some gaming features, but are not as good as the SB at gaming).

I've never used my computer for surround sound and do not own the revolution, so I'm basing that advice on a few reviews I've seen in the past year or so.
September 11, 2006 8:10:45 PM

i would imagine that the total gaming performance would be negliglble since games aren't encoded in a high cpu intensive format. More likely you would get a better audio experince. But then again that has to do with the speakers then the soundcard :) . I personally refuse to use creative soundcards anymore. regardless of how "good" they are.

My Rational

1. Drivers suck, they take for ever
2. X-FI doesn't have DDL or DTS Connect
3. Creative Speakers suck (i know i have some, my yamahas blow them out of the water)

I personally love the sound cards from Auzentech or M-Audio. I lean towards cards that support DDL/DTS Connect since i have a DD/DTS reciever and games sound better in Dolby/DTS. :D 

My 2 cents, i will now get off the soap box.
September 11, 2006 9:19:26 PM

Quote:
1. i have heard far worse things about the other soundcard makers drivers if you get any.
2. that is true but most gamers still connect using analog so who cares. good thing to consider though if you have a receiver
3. my speakers do not suck.

also the reason for creative cards is not the extra few FPS but the EAX effects and dedicated audio processor. i know you will know that already but i felt i should stick up for creative.

personally apart from the cases where you might to get surround through a digitial connection, IMO none of your reasons hold much water. sorry.


Going right 2, it matters, because the person who asked is interested in AUDIO and MUSIC, not gaming.

3 is subjective, but if you compare any computer speakers a decent receiver/speaker set up, the latter will make the computer speakers sound like crap. Computer speakers are fine for games. They're acceptable for surround if you don't have the space and/or money for a receiver, 5 speakers and a sub, but they're not a good choice for music. You'd be better off listening through some cheap Sennheiser EH350's for $50.00 than virtually any computer speakers on the market.

As for 1, I've never had much of a problem with drivers for onboard audio, my m-audio card, or any of the creative cards I've owned. Though there are no 64bit drivers for my now aging SB Live. Hopefully the 32bit XP drivers will work with vista. I'll find out soon.
September 11, 2006 9:25:41 PM

onboard sound friggin sucks i aint ever goin back, there is a diffrence.

performance wise (fps etc) ~5%?
September 11, 2006 9:38:42 PM

What my real question is...

With a good set of speakers (forget surround sound or anything... I guess just think like a good 2.1 system) and without a lot of gaming, just mp3'ing and stuff, would there be any point or benefit to buying a new sound card?
September 11, 2006 10:19:48 PM

I used to think sound card improved quality, but unless you are extremely hardcore and need that 1-2 fps on 3dmark0*, then drop 200 on a card. I have an audigy, audigy 2 and audigy 4 ( and a few other cards that i've aquired freely and no, I did NOT steal them, lol) and I cannot tell a sound difference.

I hooked up a recieve and some crap BOSE speakers to my computer which had onboard sound. It sounded 10x better. That computer died and now I'm using one for the moement that has the audigy 2 card. I can't tell a difference. Actually, the other system had better sound (probably better codecs).

Unless you do insense audio editing and need to hear EVERY little thing, I think dropping a lot of money on an audio card is over-rated (unless you plan on using it for 4 or 5 years as many of us do).

Save your money, get a decent card with THX or DTS ( or both) and spend the rest on a good reciever and speakers. You'll thank yourself later.
September 11, 2006 10:22:08 PM

Quote:
What my real question is...

With a good set of speakers (forget surround sound or anything... I guess just think like a good 2.1 system) and without a lot of gaming, just mp3'ing and stuff, would there be any point or benefit to buying a new sound card?


It depends on your ears. Onboard audio has more noise. There's always hiss and sometimes hum. A better audio card won't have that.

You haven't even defined what "good" is. One persons good is a pair of 5 year old Altec Lansing Speakers. Another's good is a pair bookshelf Polk Speakers hooked up to a Denon receiver using the digital output from an audio card.

I use over the ear headphones, and there's a noticable difference between an old SB and on board audio and there's a noticable difference between an old SB and an old m-audio card.

m-audio > SB > On board audio.
September 12, 2006 1:33:41 AM

Yeah when I say headphones I should probably specify that im not using ear buds..... Im talking princess laya type deals ! If Creative wanted to sell more X-Fi units they should set up some sort of demo with headphones and let people hear the difference (yes its that noticable and no I dont work for creative) Im not kidding the virtual 3D sound from the headphones is freaky !
September 12, 2006 1:07:24 PM

Quote:
Yeah when I say headphones I should probably specify that im not using ear buds..... Im talking princess laya type deals ! If Creative wanted to sell more X-Fi units they should set up some sort of demo with headphones and let people hear the difference (yes its that noticable and no I dont work for creative) Im not kidding the virtual 3D sound from the headphones is freaky !


I can second that. When I go home for the weekend I can't take my speakears home but I still take my desktop home. So I use E3C headphones with a X-FI and it sounds amazingly similar to what it sounds like with my z-680's (save the bass of course).
September 13, 2006 2:54:15 AM

Quote:
What my real question is...

With a good set of speakers (forget surround sound or anything... I guess just think like a good 2.1 system) and without a lot of gaming, just mp3'ing and stuff, would there be any point or benefit to buying a new sound card?


Hmmm...ask yourself if you can hear and appreciate the difference between a 128kbps MP3 and a CD. If so, you'll likely appreciate a soundcard.
September 13, 2006 3:37:12 AM

Quote:
What my real question is...

With a good set of speakers (forget surround sound or anything... I guess just think like a good 2.1 system) and without a lot of gaming, just mp3'ing and stuff, would there be any point or benefit to buying a new sound card?


Hmmm...ask yourself if you can hear and appreciate the difference between a 128kbps MP3 and a CD. If so, you'll likely appreciate a soundcard.

Yeah I could see that (and yeah I can tell the difference in a heartbeat) now when you get up a little higher it gets much harder 192kbps can fool me alot of times ! I prefer 256kbps even if its wasted space (What is space when you have several 200GB HD's ???)

Also those WMA's do sound better then normal MP3's at lower bit rates, but I dont like the DRM jizz in my stuff :( 

Edit: And to add to this whole sound card broil... The Crystalizer that is supposed to enhance your MP3's sound does work but I can still tell the difference from a 128kbps MP3 and a CD ! Of course this could depend on the types of music you listen too. I listen to alot of old rock/metal and alot of 80's music.

Edit Edit: I think that R&B and maybe some Rap would be easyer to get by with lower bit rates (less high notes and I think bass compresses easyer)
September 13, 2006 4:35:24 AM

Quote:
Ouch... I had to use my A7N8x onboard sound now for awhile and man, im sorry to say but it is horrible... even compared to my aging soudn blaster LIVE gamer card.


You have to keep in mind that there were a number on A7N8X boards. The Deluxe had a sound system known as Sound Storm, if I remember correctly and it was incredably good. None of the other A7N8X boards had that sound system. I know, because when I replaced my Deluxe board with a "X" board, it didn't have the Sound Storm and didn't sound near as good.
September 13, 2006 11:00:20 AM

Remember this rule:

Your audio system is only as good as the weakest component.

Having an X-Fi is useless unless you have decent speakers (no no, they don`t have to be studio monitors; just good speakers). My dream speakers are 5 Mackie HR824`s with a Mackie HRS120 sub. Then again, not everyone is insane enough to spend nearly AU$20k on audio (before acoustic treatment) like me.

Anyway, my crappy old PC has an Audigy, which is actually a CPU hog. I may claim to be an audiophile but it`s difficult to be one when you`re as poor as I am (hence the crappy PC).

One reason why I would recommend you get a good card for is the wealth of inputs, that way you can record just about any audio source when you aren`t pwning n00bs.
September 13, 2006 12:09:03 PM

Quote:
Hmmm...ask yourself if you can hear and appreciate the difference between a 128kbps MP3 and a CD. If so, you'll likely appreciate a soundcard.


Although I don't like the example I agree that the question really is can you appreciate the difference between onboard and a real sound card. I would say a vast majority of users could. The difference is alot bigger than most people would lead you to believe

I love it when people say "yeah onboard sound is ok...no problems." When they have never owned a sound card!! How can you know if its ok or not? It's like saying..yeah 8-track is ok..but I've never heard or owned a CD player. I'm happy :) . Ignorance is bliss isn't it.
September 13, 2006 1:18:54 PM

The reality is you won't notice a different 95% of the time. But, if you play games that make heavy use of sound (specifically mixing many sounds at one time) or you are after sound quality, then a dedicated sound card will have much more of an impact.

As others have said, if you are only concerned with improving system peformance then your money is better spent elsewhere, especially if you already have a fast CPU. Most of the time in games, sound processing will only reduce the quality of things slighly, such as lost frames or occasional stuttering of the image as you hit a particularly complex mix of sounds. With dedicated sound hardware those issues mostly go away.

If you are after quality sound, there is no comparison between the crap they put on motherboards and a decent sound card. I recently bought a SoundBlaster Audigy 4 and I will say that with a good set of speakers and that card, the sound coming out of my computer rivals that of my home theater system.

Another point to consider is the whole Internet phone revolution. With a sound card you can be carrying a voice conversation in the background while still playing your game and have no loss in performance. Dedicated hardware makes a lot of sense in this new world we live in.
September 14, 2006 9:56:21 AM

Quote:
With a sound card you can be carrying a voice conversation in the background while still playing your game and have no loss in performance.


That's seems very true. Dedicated audio device takes care of sensitive audio data. Same as with graphics one of the common error correction method is droping frame. But if you drop a few video frames game is still playable, when you drop sound frames, you will hear it immediately and it is so irritating.

You don't appreciate sound as long as there are no audible problems. No way I ever go back to onboard audio.
September 14, 2006 11:41:33 AM

well i can say this to you, i bought my p4 and started using the onboar sound that came with it with a 2.1 sounsystem from creative inspire 3800 i think, and had my platinium live just laying around from my p3 , one day i thought ahh let me put that in there an installed , with micrososft standart driveres and man , some other dimension to me , fuck on-board souns, i installed hundreds of pc's with onboard sound and man nothing sound better that my live platinium,with 6 or 7 years, so i imagine how a XI-FI will sound great comparing to on-board sound.
September 14, 2006 5:40:25 PM

Quote:
i always find it strange that everyone knocks creative and yet even those cards which are nearly a decade old sound good today.


Not me I think you get what you pay for :)  Onbourd sound is good its not totaly a turd sunday but at the same time a sound card does sound better !

I guess some people are happy with built in sound (and some of the onbourd stuff is very good hmm of course some of it is very bad too... the whole reason I bought an Audigy 1 is becouse the onbourd sound in my old P3 sucked so much arse.) After that it wasnt even a thought about the upgrade to the X-Fi and what ever replaces it I will probably buy that too. (it helps when you have a few computers and you never throw away parts you just shuffle them down the line lol)
September 15, 2006 12:09:30 AM

If you're piping out digital audio via coax or optical audio out to a receiver, the SNR and dynamic range differences between onboard and dedicated sound card don't matter. The signal my receiver gets when I play a DVD comes straight off the DVD. If I play DTS-ES with matrixed back channels, my receiver shows that I'm receiving DTS-ES with matrixed back channels. If I switch the audio to Dolby Digital 5.1, then the receiver changes modes to DDL 5.1 decoding. In fact, the master volume control doesn't even cause a change to the output volume when I'm outputting digital 5.1 or more.

CDs that you rip (I use lossless WMA with no DRM) and play sound fantastic with this approach. Not perfect mind you, due to the frequency change from 44.1 to 48 kHz, but good enough that it's difficult to hear a difference from the original.

Most of the onboard audio systems introduce noise and distortion, as well as gain differences between L and R. But if you connect up using a digital audio output, you avoid these issues. THG did a study on 6 975X boards recently, and most showed a lot of noise introduced in the onboard audio, though there were exceptions.

As for CPU utilization, if you're talking about music or DVDs then you really have little to worry about. With an Intel D 830 or better you can watch time-shifted TV, record HDTV, watch a recorded show through a MCE extender, rip a CD to disk and transcode video all at the same time without a dedicated audio card. Granted the transcoding will be slow, but how much do you really need to do at once?
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