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what is the best sound card

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August 28, 2006 3:57:26 AM

everybody here talks about audigy and xfi, no one ever talk about the AUZENTECH xplotion the card offer a lot a feature it has a fiber optics for a real digital output and it can do a audio upconversation (Dts 4 movies and a real dolby suround 4 mp3) and it cost 1/3 of the price than the two card (It makes me wander if that is a good card)... I also checked the hardware... it looks really good, all the capacitor that they used are all solid,, by the way it only cost $80

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August 28, 2006 4:33:49 AM

Okay I have read few reviews about this sound card but haven't have any reference that compares this AUZENTECH sound to Audigy and X-Fi. I guess it's a high quality sound card.
August 28, 2006 4:37:34 AM

audigy and x-fi are the best
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August 28, 2006 5:24:58 AM

It really depends at what.

Ask one of the audio experts or look for some of their posts, they know their stuff and some of the time, the audigy hardware looks pretty bad compared to some of the offerings from M-audio, Turtle beach and Auzentech.
August 28, 2006 5:55:09 AM

agreed... if youre only playing games, and absolutely need eax 3, 4, or 5... maybe creatives cards would be for you... but outside of versions of eax above 2.0... i would definetly recomment other brands than creative for gaming even...

supposedly the x-fi isnt a huge leap beyond the audigy 2 (its better, yes... but exponentially?, no, and not worth the noticable increase in price above the audigy 2, IMO)

as you mentioned, the hda auzentech x-plosion, hda bluegears x-mystique, turtle beach montego ddl... theyre all excellent cards for gaming... especially if you have an external digital signal decoder that can decode dolby digital and dts formats... for music and movies, theres definetly an increase in quality there too... ...the main advantage these cards have, is their surround capabilities... for gaming, its definetly prominant (especially when using some bookshelf or floorstanding speakers in conjunction with a HT receiver/amplifier)... and even when using a more moderate pc surround speaker system (it has to have a decoder that can use dd/dts signals)... as for quality difference between the 2 formats... dts is better than dolby digital, its less compressed (20 bits compared to 16)... and no, the channels arent simulated or guessed when the source has seperate discrete channels... most current games already come with 6 seperate channels (5.1)... so, yeah

i used an audigy 2 zs in my previous build, it simply didnt compare after i upgraded to a montego ddl... i realize im being kinda vague as far as details... but, there just really isnt a comparison for surround quality.
August 28, 2006 6:54:30 AM

Being more serious, as other posters have said, the choice of sound card fundamentally depends on what your intended use is.

If you are playing games, then creative makes much more sense. Since creative has such a dominant market share, there is much more likelihood that the game will have been tested and tuned to the creative cards. The creative cards also have on-board processors that the games can take advantage of in order to produce better sound effects.

On the other hand, if you are using the computer to listen to music or watch movies, then you really want a sound card with the best DAC (digital to analog convertor) possible. This leads to very life-like reproduction of whatever has been stored digitally. Other features that make up a good sound card in terms of sound reproduction are also likely to be found on a card that has the best DAC possible.

For my game computer, I have an x-fi. I got it for only $71 after rebate at Newegg - so the price is extremely attractive as well, especially considering just how advanced the cards are. People who have upgraded to x-fi have also been extremely impressed with the sound quality.

For my home entertainment computer, I have a rme digipad. The sound is certainly amazing, although the Lynx 2 is supposed to be slightly better. These are cards that cost hundreds of dollars, but they are worth it if you are into music. Googling for those names will give you some useful suggestions.
August 28, 2006 7:44:21 AM

yes... the intended use does matter, as does the interface being involved... referring back to what i was stating originally:

...over a multicabled analog solution from the sound card, you would be strictly using the sound cards analog converters... its SnR, OPAMPs, THD, etc (and even the computers internal acoustic interference, humming and such that can be introduced even, from nongrounded components in your tower, and computer noise in general)...

...but over a digital interface, coaxial rca or optical toslink, none of creatives cards are capable of doing discrete multichannel surround, being strictly limited to 2 channel stereo pcm, from your front left and right speakers only... ...(though you do oftentimes have the option of also upmixing that stereo pcm signal with dolby prologic or dts:neo6 and such, which are also in line with eax, (which creative has also stated cannot be output over a pcm signal)... they basically give the effect of having simulated surround from 2 channels, and can each sound different from one another, depending on the algorithm used... though unlike eax, those simulated matrixing algorithms are not only limited to games that support them, and can be used with all sounds)... ...speaking of eax though, it can also be encoded into a dolby digital (ac-3)/dts formatted signal by dd live/dts interactive real-time encoding cards, so you also get the benefit of having eax being able to be used in conjunction with an ac-3/dts encoded signal, for an extra surround bonus

...the output from the sound card is then carried via a digital connection as a digitally encoded signal (typically stereo pcm, ac-3 5.1, or dts 5.1/6.1), bypassing the soundcards analog processing (and as a result avoiding the additional noise from your computer that would get mixed in with the sound, as the noise is not part of the digital stream of 1's and 0's), and instead using the external decoders' converters and processors to yield the results instead... and if the external decoder supports it, you can even upmix an ac-3/dts formatted signal up to 7.1+ channels by way of dolby digital ex or dts es, provided you have enough speakers to make use of it anyhow... otherwise, that upmixing wont matter one way or the other really

but yes, if an analog connection is only being used... creatives cards would be a better option, as the X-FI does have a fairly high SnR... but over digital, i would really disagree, and seriously consider other sound card solutions... ...its primarily whether you would want discrete multichannel surround, and which interface you would be using thats the issue.
August 29, 2006 6:54:34 PM

For analogue the X-Fi is unequivocably the best consumer-grade soundcard on the market, not just in terms of features / audio enhancement but actually in terms of quality (low Stereo crosstalk, low THD, and a high SNR). The DAC's are good, with slightly higher-grade ones on the card-side outputs (not the external box!) on the Elite version.

It also provides the lowest CPU utilisation in games when using 3D audio, due to it having the most powerful DSP of any PC audio solution when it comes to gaming.

For digital, then there are alot of good cards mentioned above that perform well.

However, if you are using Analogue forget the Auzentech. You can upgrade the 'OPAMPS' or something for better performance but according to reviews the default hardware is particularly bad in quality terms compared to the X-Fi, so no - the hardware in that card for analogue connections is not good.

For digital, though, this card is great - not least because it offers Dolby Digital and DTS Live in real-time without a significant increase in CPU utilisation as this is a hardware-based solution. Strangely, though, according to reviews the DD gives better sound/positioning than DTS live in games. For music / movies though I'd use DTS (whether a pre-encoded audio stream on DVD or 'live' encoded) as it offers a higher bitrate compared to Dolby Digital.

I hope this explains it. If you are using analogue don't bother with the Auzentech unless you a) know how b) can afford to c) can be bothered to upgrade those opamps.
August 30, 2006 3:30:16 AM

Quote:
For analogue the X-Fi is unequivocably the best consumer-grade soundcard on the market, not just in terms of features / audio enhancement but actually in terms of quality (low Stereo crosstalk, low THD, and a high SNR). The DAC's are good, with slightly higher-grade ones on the card-side outputs (not the external box!) on the Elite version.

It also provides the lowest CPU utilisation in games when using 3D audio, due to it having the most powerful DSP of any PC audio solution when it comes to gaming.

For digital, then there are alot of good cards mentioned above that perform well.

However, if you are using Analogue forget the Auzentech. You can upgrade the 'OPAMPS' or something for better performance but according to reviews the default hardware is particularly bad in quality terms compared to the X-Fi, so no - the hardware in that card for analogue connections is not good.

For digital, though, this card is great - not least because it offers Dolby Digital and DTS Live in real-time without a significant increase in CPU utilisation as this is a hardware-based solution. Strangely, though, according to reviews the DD gives better sound/positioning than DTS live in games. For music / movies though I'd use DTS (whether a pre-encoded audio stream on DVD or 'live' encoded) as it offers a higher bitrate compared to Dolby Digital.

I hope this explains it. If you are using analogue don't bother with the Auzentech unless you a) know how b) can afford to c) can be bothered to upgrade those opamps.


Thanks a lot,, it xplain a lot,,, but, I think i will wait for X-PURITY it sounds very promising and I hope the price will still be affordable


X-PURITY software

* DTS® Interactive – A real-time 5.1 channel encoder that takes any 2 or more channels and encodes them into DTS bit stream.
* DTS® Neo:p C - An up mix matrix that turns any 2 channel audio into 7.1 channel surround sound.
* Dolby® Digital Live (DDL) - A real-time 5.1 channel encoding bit stream to facilitate the connection with CE AV receiver.
* Dolby® ProLogic IIx surround processor spreading stereo audio into 7.1 channel surround sound.
* Renowned Dolby® Headphone technology, conveying 5.1 surround and 3D gaming audio over stereo headphones.
* The latest Dolby® Virtual Speaker solution, bringing amazing virtual surround sound fields via general two speakers.
* C-Media FlexBass™ – LFE channel crossover frequency settable from range 50 to 250Hz in Small speaker mode and Small/Large speaker selectable.
* C-Media Magic Voice™, popular feature for disguising your tone in online chatting.
* C-Media Xear 3D™ 7.1 Virtual Speaker Shifter technology.
* C-Media’s unique Karaoke functions: Microphone Echo, Key-shifting.
* Individual 10-band EQ for each channel.
* 27 global reverberation environments.
* Supports most industrial standards of 3D sound for PC gaming, including EAX™ 1.0 & 2.0, A3D™ 1.0, and DirectSound™
* Supports 7.1 CH digital audio playback for WinXP 64, WinXP, Win 2000 (Microsoft® DirectX V.9.0 above is required).

X-PURITY hardware

* PCI 2.2 interface with bus mastering and burst modes.
* Only one 24.576MHz oscillator adopted.
* 4 synchronous I2S output data stream pairs for using high performance DACs(24bit/192kHz).
* Four AKM AK4396 DACs adopted - 24bit/192kHz 120dB DAC.
* DIP type / Swappable design for DIY, final sound quality managed by OPAMP.
* Programmable hardware channel routing mechanism–reliable signal routing available.
* 4 synchronous I2S input data stream pairs for using high performance ADCs (24bit/192kHz).
* One AKM AK5385 ADC adopted - 24bit/192kHz 114dB ADC.
* AC97 codec supports AUX input ,CD input, MIC input.
* All I2S I/O pairs support 32-bit PCM data transfer and adjustable sample rate up to 192KHz.
* Integrated up to 192k/24-bit S/PDIF transmitter for 44.1kHz,48kHz, 96kHz, 192kHz SPDIF output.
* Supports onboard high grade TOSLINK (Optical) transmitter module for 192kHz SPDIF out.
* Supports onboard high grade TOSLINK (Optical) receiver module.
* Supports onboard CD SPDIF (Coaxial) input.
* S/PDIF IN selection supports switching between optical input and CD SPDIF input connections.
* Standard 10PIN Front Panel Audio supports connectivity for stereo audio output and a microphone input from most new chassis.

So, is this better than X-PLOTION
September 1, 2006 7:38:56 AM

:D  Here is the latest information I got from Auzentech support team.

<quote>

Here is the reply from Auzentech support team:

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

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

Below are the specifications:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

* Upgrade Extension available (Extra 6.35mm MIC / Extra Digital I/O sold separately)
September 1, 2006 8:07:54 AM

Quote:
everybody here talks about audigy and xfi, no one ever talk about the AUZENTECH xplotion the card offer a lot a feature it has a fiber optics for a real digital output and it can do a audio upconversation (Dts 4 movies and a real dolby suround 4 mp3) and it cost 1/3 of the price than the two card (It makes me wander if that is a good card)... I also checked the hardware... it looks really good, all the capacitor that they used are all solid,, by the way it only cost $80


The XPlosion is a good card, as well as the Turtle Beach Montego DDL, the points you make are valid. Which card is the "best" varies depending on the use. The Creative cards, as I'm sure you know, provide lower CPU usage than any other, so some say that makes them the "best" for gaming. I think the Xplosion and Montego DDL probably are better (best?) for movies where there Dolby Digital and DDL are of more benefit. I guess some would say that more people play games on their rigs than watch movies so a card geared towards gaming might be more popular than one geared towards movies. A lot of people like X-Fi's DSP features for music, as well. In reality the Creative cards are nice all-around cards with a lot of the competition better at rendering movies or pure, unmolested music. ...and most people don't have the X-Fi Elite Pro that seems to make its way into so many comparisons and reviews and come out of them so highly-rated. ...but don't forget that only Creative offers support for EAX revisions 3-5, another reason why they may be deemed best for gaming.

This X-Plosion is a great card for movies and music and, you're dead-on, it or the Montego DDL makes sense for the user who's not a heavy gamer or who has a rig that is so powerful that it doesn't need the extra 3 fps an Audigy-class or X-Fi class card delivers for gaming. For $200 and pure music listening I'd consider an M-Audio card...but does that make sense when I can get a nice sounding X-Fi for ~$120 and when an SB Live! still sounds great? It seems like there will always be this discussion.

So, if you have $100US, no more, to spend on a soundcard I'd really consider the card's use. If you're not a gamer, you don't need to go with an Audigy or X-Fi.
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