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Is A Sound Card Really Worth It?

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March 2, 2007 8:02:44 AM

Hey, I was just wondering how much better the sound quality is on a sound card than onboard sound. I am somewhat of an audiophile and can appreciate good sound quality when I hear it. I'm not one of these people who fall for the Bose nonsense, I know real sound quality when I hear it. After knowing this do you think I will appreciate having a good sound card? I've never really heard sound from one before.

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March 2, 2007 9:02:49 AM

The only way to tell is to do a comparison of the two - preferably a blind comparison.

I have a lot of pro-audio friends, musos, etc, and some of them can't stand the noise from a motherboard's integrated sound, and for some of them it doesn't bother them at all.

Me, I'm indifferent. I prefer the sound of a decent sound card, but not enough to spend money on a sound card. besides, my music listening happens on my stereo :) 
March 2, 2007 9:12:18 AM

in terms of basic sound quality, there's very little in it these days between on board sound and an add-in card, I read a review of the first nForce mobo that said it actually sounded better than most creative cards at the time

it can depend on exactly which motherboard and which soundcard you're talking about, but unless you want recording studio quality and want to spend £500+, then onboard sound will most likely be more than acceptable for most applications

add in boards pretty much just give you more options on connectivity
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March 2, 2007 9:22:26 AM

To be honest, i firstly used ac97 integrated sound. I could here music, i could play games etc and everything was fine... At least i thought so. And then I decided to try Audigy (that was back in ~2000). From the first time i heard audigy sounding i understood, that before my audigy i heard only a crap, not music. This especially applies to games. From that day I never consider an integrated sound as an option. I would love to have a good MB without integrated sound which would be cheaper ;) 

Thats only mine opinion, not pushing you to the shop to buy it :)  I was using Philips HP SBC 890 headphones as I remember. Really loved them... :) 
March 2, 2007 9:49:20 AM

I second algisimu. A good sound card and good speakers will change the way you think about music. I like Creative sound cards. Match them with a good speaker ($40 or over) and you will rediscover music.
You will also be taking a load off from your CPU with a sound card.
March 2, 2007 9:53:23 AM

Quote:
I am somewhat of an audiophile and can appreciate good sound quality when I hear it. I'm not one of these people who fall for the Bose nonsense, I know real sound quality when I hear it.


That's an oxymoron. How can you claim to be an audiophile and not be able to hear whats good about Bose?
March 2, 2007 10:12:20 AM

Bose has *awful* sound quality.
March 2, 2007 10:32:06 AM

I only bought a sound card for battlefield 2, between software low (higher just ate up my cpu) and hardware extra high, there was a big difference. Dont know about non gaming stuff, havent noticed whether winamp sounded different.
March 2, 2007 10:45:09 AM

I make no claim to being an audio expert. But I can tell you there are differences and tell you what my experiences are.. It is a matter of what you want and what you are doing with your system.

Onboard sound, has improved. Personally, have not heard the latest derivatives of onboard sound. I have been using a sound card for longer than I can remember (and believe me, that's a long time).

One thing to consider, the onbaord sound will utilize cpu time. Any time your cpu is heavily utilized, such as during games, the sound has a lower priority to the cpu and you can get sound stutter or chop (like during games). My understanding is the newer chips using the latest standards are not as prone to this.

The sound card will not suffer from this problem. Now, one thing I like to do, is listen to music on my computer. I also like to listen to music while I play my games. And I might add, my system is somewhat effective at doing this. However, I occasionally get sound stutter in games and, because no player will utilize multi tasking, all of the player will try to take priority over other cpu operations and so I occasionally get game stutter. Windows media player is the worst since it has a relation with windows and think it rules.

The really positive note, music on my computer sounds awesome rivaling many quality component systems. My audigy X-Fi drives 5.1 logitec 500 watt speaker system. Granted, the speakers are not the best in the world, but to me (not being an audiophile), they sound awesome. everyone who has heard my system are totally amazed that the sound comes from a computer and not a high quality sound system.
March 2, 2007 11:21:08 AM

Quote:
do you think I will appreciate having a good sound card?

Yes. I'm an M-Audio fan myself. When I first got my audiophile 2496 I couldn't believe how good it was for the price. Personally I'd prefer a card aimed at musicians rather than gamers but X-Fi also gets a lot of recommendaitons here.
March 2, 2007 11:31:51 AM

Honestly it comes down to taste.

I play a few FPS's - Mainly America's Army Operations - and I like some of the extra features of my X-FI vs my onboard sound. Most noticeably the ability of the mixor in the X-FI. Once you tune it correctly you can take out most of the background noise and hear footsteps much more clear (headphones are a must of course).

I don't record music and very rarely listen to music on my pc so I can't help you there, but most soundcards have better ADC's than onboard.

It really comes down to preference. If you aren't an audiophile or a huge gamer you really won't notice a difference since most of the mobo's come with 5.1 or 7.1 high def surround sound.
March 2, 2007 11:35:47 AM

Quote:

That's an oxymoron. How can you claim to be an audiophile and not be able to hear whats good about Bose?


B adly
O verpriced
S ound
E quipment

That just about sums up BOSE.

AU$800 for an alarm clock? Get outta here.

You could get a decent Tannoy/Yamaha/etc monitoring setup for the price they want for one of their laughable 5.1 systems which use (wait for it)... satellite speakers! Getting decent (much less audiopile quality) sound from a satellite speaker is like trying to have an intelligent conversation with Paris Hilton; damn near impossible.
March 2, 2007 11:39:13 AM

Quote:
I am somewhat of an audiophile and can appreciate good sound quality when I hear it. I'm not one of these people who fall for the Bose nonsense, I know real sound quality when I hear it.


That's an oxymoron. How can you claim to be an audiophile and not be able to hear whats good about Bose?

You really aren't an audiophile are you? Get some good oem speakers and get a custom crossover and voila you have speakers that sound much better than bose and are also alot cheaper. Plus, bose has little to no midbass, it goes right from treble and upper midrange right to the sub-bass.

Anyways, thanks for the help guys, and by the way I'm running a gigabyte 965p-ds4, I'm really not sure what the quality of sound on that is, I do get noise though when video is being displayed or cpu power is being used.
March 2, 2007 11:42:00 AM

:idea: Get a cheap creative soundblaster 24-bit live card (i think its $25) and your ears will thank you.
March 2, 2007 11:53:16 AM

Quote:

I play a few FPS's - Mainly America's Army Operations


8O Thats my favorite game. And I love EAX option in this game. You can hear every noise enemy makes, locate his position dependind on that noise, then frag him without even seeing him, and then try to explain, that you are not a hacker ;)  Damn, I love all those noobs, who play using a crapy sound card and crapy Hama headsets :) 
March 2, 2007 12:27:17 PM

5.1 Surround is great. Can go for 7.1, but not sure if it gets you anymore (not everything has true 7.1 output, so most is interpolated) . It is something ya have to hear in game.

The recommendation someone made for the live card, that is a good old standard. But for a few dollars more, get the audigy or X-Fi.
March 2, 2007 12:31:00 PM

Simple answer: no.

If you're interested in audio quality, there's basically only two things (beyond a minimal standard of decent components) that matter, and that is the quality of your amplifier and the quality of your speakers. Unless the sound output from your PC is distorted, it makes f'all difference.

The only difference is the support for digital outs, surround sound etc, but lots of onboard sound is now 5.1 anyway, and you don't need digital outs.

And if you're doing audio recording, as I do, you're much better off getting something off-board like a MOTU Traveller. There's far too many risks of IRQ conflicts, driver problems etc.
March 2, 2007 12:35:54 PM

The trouble with appealing to audio experience is that it's utterly subjective and rather liable to 'persuasion'. There's a reason people manage to sell £20 a metre cable: people _think_ they can hear a difference, when any testing will conclusively demonstrate that it makes f'all difference. The scope for BS is MASSIVE, so just don't listen to these people.

Speakers are very difficult to design so that you get a good frequency response (to me, this would be a FLAT frequency response, such that the original source is not changed in any way). Ditto for amps: it's hard to boost a signal without changing its characteristics.

This is why spending money on speakers and amps will make a differncne, whereas spending money on the source and cabling, for instance, doesn't. You can plug a _walkman_ into a decent stereo system and it will sound pretty darn good.
March 2, 2007 12:40:56 PM

sound cards definately worth it mayn

Quote:
You could get a decent Tannoy/Yamaha/etc monitoring setup


if you are referring to monitor speakers, you're dead wrong. common consumer stereo speakers have the frequency response "colored" (the frequency response isn't flat; its uneven, with the more "attractive" frequencies more apparent), whereas studio monitors have a flat response; its very unattractive unless you're trying to perfect the levels of some audio piece.

bottom line; creative isn't a bad brand. it'd be a good idea to get an X-fi, the sound quality difference is amazing. people are mentioning m-audio in here; this company creates products for musicians exclusively, and their cards aren't really meant for gaming application. they are of great quality, but creative is definately the gaming industries favorite, or they wouldn't add in lil creative-specific sound options :wink:
March 2, 2007 12:48:15 PM

Do you think sound engineers spend days on end mastering so that some muppet can come along with shitty speakers that boost the 200-500hz range to compensate for nothing underneath 200hz and claim that it's better?

The best speakers are flat frequency response from 20hz-20,000khz, full-stop. If you want a different frequency map, just process the sound at source or at the amp. You shouldn't be doing it at the speakers.
March 2, 2007 12:52:25 PM

Simple answer: It depends on what you want/need.

1.) You are an audiophile? Then yes.

2.) You are a hard core gamer? Then yes.

3.) You do either of those casually from time to time? Then no.
March 2, 2007 12:59:01 PM

Quote:
Do you think sound engineers spend days on end mastering so that some muppet can come along with shitty speakers that boost the 200-500hz range to compensate for nothing underneath 200hz and claim that it's better?

The best speakers are flat frequency response from 20hz-20,000khz, full-stop. If you want a different frequency map, just process the sound at source or at the amp. You shouldn't be doing it at the speakers.


actually yes; the reason sound engineers spend so much time mastering on flat response speakers is that they know every system that the music will be played on will be different; they use flat response monitors to make a general-purpose mix, so that everyone can enjoy it, even if the frequency curve/response is different on every system.

try lookin up the frequency response of any speakers besides studio monitors mayn. its plain as day that they have several curves, some cutting and some boosting. studio monitors sound really flat and unresponsive to the average consumer because 99% of people aren't used to the flat response.

this stuff I know since I produce and master usin some KRKs and a custom sub.
March 2, 2007 1:10:04 PM

Well, it's a constraint, I agree. You have to produce something that's going to be tolerable on somoene's old mono aiwa cd player that they have on in their kitchen, but it will still sound best in studio conditions (and that means without wall reverb, ideal speaker placement, flat freq response etc.).

If you don't wish to have the clearest sound possible, fine, but that doesn't mean that the best way of dealing with the source is to have sound-modification occuring at the speaker. Ultimately, if you want the 'sparkle' at the top end, or you just love the sound of a hi-hat, or you want your feet to feel the music first, it should be up to the user, not the speaker!
March 2, 2007 1:14:12 PM

Just to add my recent experience.

My media PC uses a Diamond Dolby Live Sound-card , and i connect to my 5.1 amp with optical digital link. The sound is fantastic because the external amp is doing the D/a and I can switch between PCM stereo for music and 5.1 for games with the sound card. Price $15 after rebate.

After lots of unpleasant experience with creative cards and analogue speakers for my desktop pc (popping sounds in the early days with sound blaster live and via / amd chip-set later driver and support issues with Audigy series) - I gave up and bought motherboards with on-board sound and was "satisfied".

Recently though I freed up my VIA ENVY 24 sound card from my media PC (to install the Diamond one) and decided to fit it to my desktop which was running an Abit MB with cmedia onboard chip set to external *cheap* speakers via analogue connections.

The first thing that became apparent is the mass of circuitry and capacitors on the Envy card compared to the localised area of the on board sound chip.

I was blown away by the sound improvement (I had only used the Envy card before for it's digital output). The improvement in quality was very evident, even with my cheap desktop speakers - it was like night and day. Again this sound cards based on this chip-set can be found for ~$20.

I am somewhat of an audiophile and also a scientist so I approach sound quality and gimmicks with a lot of scepticism.
March 2, 2007 1:18:15 PM

YES, even a cheap soundblaster live or audigy SE will make an enormous difference in sound quality. I have a decent logitech 2.1 setup and some Sennheiser headphones. Listening to onboard was horrible for me, my soundblaster live was the best $30 I ever spent on my computer.

It just sounds much more clearer, if you like games it may be worth it to spend a little extra for a card that supports hardware acceleration (X-Fi)
March 2, 2007 1:30:33 PM

Quote:
do you think I will appreciate having a good sound card?

Yes. I'm an M-Audio fan myself. When I first got my audiophile 2496 I couldn't believe how good it was for the price. Personally I'd prefer a card aimed at musicians rather than gamers but X-Fi also gets a lot of recommendaitons here.

+1
A nice card, pick them up for £60. Runs at 64 samples latencies of 1ms :D 

I personally wouldn't buy the creative stuff. It's all marketing. Some of their cards go for more money than decent integrated amplifiers.
March 2, 2007 1:34:04 PM

I completely agree there is a definant sound quality difference between on-board and sound card. I went from the on-board which was crap sounded "Ok" that is all to an Audigy 2 ZS Gamer then which at least made me want to turn up my speakers while listening to music or playing games to an X-Fi Fatal1ty card and IMO there was a HUGE difference. The sound clarity was def. better, All the tones from the music came out much better. Games were much more intense. It is a difference between on-board and a sound card that i think can't be truly described, you just have to try it yourself. But then again i will say this a friend of mine has a set of really crappy 5.1 speakers and to be honest you couldn't tell much of a difference between his on-board and his X-Fi now. Me on the other hand i have a set of Logitech Z-680s they are pretty decent speakers loud enough for me so hope this helps some.
March 2, 2007 1:38:09 PM

Quote:

That's an oxymoron. How can you claim to be an audiophile and not be able to hear whats good about Bose?



lol - when is the last time you saw a review of a BOSE system in a real hi-fi magazine?

They only get reviewed in GQ and the like as an after thought because they are the joke of the hi-fi industry....
March 2, 2007 1:39:54 PM

I had used onboard sound in my last few pc builds to save money. I lived with the sound quality but was never blown away. For X-mas I decided to get an X-fi Platinum (I wanted the front bay) and man was it worth it!! It completely changed the way things sounded. As you can see in my sig the on-board I was using was current generation but it can't compare to the X-fi. I use the crystalizer that creative supplies when listening to music because it does help restore some of the details lost in MP3 compression. As well, I found the 3D and positional audio in games improved dramatically. I'm now pairing it with a good pair of headphones (Sennheiser HD515s) and the difference is even more dramatic. As far as I am concerned you can't consider yourself an audiophile if you don't have a decent sound card in your system, and remember, this is coming from someone who didn't use one for years.
March 2, 2007 1:41:27 PM

Quote:

actually yes; the reason sound engineers spend so much time mastering on flat response speakers is that they know every system that the music will be played on will be different; they use flat response monitors to make a general-purpose mix, so that everyone can enjoy it, even if the frequency curve/response is different on every system.


Correct! Flat monitors sound horrible but they act as a kind of happy in between i guess. I personally don't have a pair, i've used them though but the mixdowns I get are useless since I am not used to the way they sound.
March 2, 2007 1:49:25 PM

Quote:
I am somewhat of an audiophile and can appreciate good sound quality when I hear it. I'm not one of these people who fall for the Bose nonsense, I know real sound quality when I hear it.


That's an oxymoron. How can you claim to be an audiophile and not be able to hear whats good about Bose?

You. Must. Be. Joking.

Bose = shit. There are a million other choices of sound equipment that sound better than bose. Especially their stupid little 2.25" piece of crap surround systems they sell. And their headphones suck. Seriously, most stuff outperforms bose at half the price. If you bothered doing research you can get stuff 5x better for the same price.

My midrange stereo (I have kids, can't afford anything new)

Sony TAE2000ES Preamp
Sony SDP-EP9ES Dolby Digital Decoder
Sony TA-N80ES Amplifier (Main)
Sony TA-N220 Amplifier (Center and Surround)
Sony ST-S730ES FM Tuner

I was into rock when I was younger, so my main speakers are Cerwin Vega AT-15's. I have a pair of Sony MDRV900 headphones if I want to really enjoy the music though.

Before you laugh and say "but it's Sony", the older ES line was top notch. Consider the fact I got this stuff in high school and it still works as new is a testament to the engineering. They had a 5 year warranty. The stuff is 16 years old now and works better than anything Bose could put out.

I used to have a Marantz 8b tube amp and 10b tube tuner also, but sold them because I needed the money.

Oh, a separate decent sound card will do wonders. Although I have a problem with my Audigy 4 on my new mb, I'm getting an X-fi later, there should be a measurable difference.

Centurion
March 2, 2007 1:53:52 PM

I have a pair of old bose 301's. I got them to replace my goodmans magnums when they got flooded. Personally I like them, they can take quite a beating too. They didn't cost much though. £200. Wouldnt buy their surround systems though.
I now have another pair of goodmans though :D  £40 on the bay, wont find anything that sounds anything near as good for anywhere near that price ;) 
March 2, 2007 2:13:44 PM

What onboard sound was it? It's a bit confusing to me, since the actual processing of a sound-file is incredibly easy to do. I mean, what does it have to do? Every 44,000th of a second, you adjust the voltage on your output to patch the value on the wave file. And this is then the basis of the speaker's movement (the voltage controls the magnet in your speaker, which creates compressed air).

Even with the fanciest compression, what the sound card does is minimal (it would all be done by the CPU).

I can only think that maybe the difference is a bit of on-board amplification that makes standardy computer speakers (which are almost always terrible) sound slightly less terrible.

But this is making the best of a bad situation. If you've got a decent amp and decent speakers, you will make onboard sound sound great.
March 2, 2007 2:14:01 PM

bottom line?

yes, sound card is definately worth the purchase; the sound quality difference is amazing and it puts less strain on your CPU if you have a higher-end hardware-accelerated card.

if you have the money, get an Xfi - I've seen some cheap ones on newegg. if you want to spend less money, look for some form of Soundblaster audigy.

just remember... even if you have the greatest soundcard, your speakers/headphones matter heavily too. if you got the $$, get a stereo amplifier and a set of some nice speakers wit high and mid-range, and then a sub or two. otherwise drop a lil extra to get a nice set from companies like logitech, etc. tomshardware did a review of computer speaker systems not too long ago, check the archives.
March 2, 2007 2:23:11 PM

wasnt one of Bose's selling-point-products those little "space filling" units - small in size but big bass and loud and clear?

i've heard one of those, theyre pretty good.

i've heard a Creative version, too (zen brand), its not so good...but like 5 times less money.

not that i know anything about bose, but for some reason i was under the impression that the little-but-powerful things were their big product...then they just lived off the brand? (curious about it now)
March 2, 2007 2:27:26 PM

Quote:
bottom line?

yes, sound card is definately worth the purchase; the sound quality difference is amazing and it puts less strain on your CPU if you have a higher-end hardware-accelerated card.

if you have the money, get an Xfi - I've seen some cheap ones on newegg. if you want to spend less money, look for some form of Soundblaster audigy.

just remember... even if you have the greatest soundcard, your speakers/headphones matter heavily too. if you got the $$, get a stereo amplifier and a set of some nice speakers wit high and mid-range, and then a sub or two. otherwise drop a lil extra to get a nice set from companies like logitech, etc. tomshardware did a review of computer speaker systems not too long ago, check the archives.


This is the sort of post that baffles me. You are talking about sound quality on a sound card, then you mention logitech!

You'll gain a lot more quality from other components. You can't polish a turd. An amplifier and speakers are much harder to get quality out of since they are restricted by laws of physics. A sound card essentially produces line level voltages. There is no amplification that is moving a magnetic coil.
March 2, 2007 2:31:45 PM

Hear hear!

Computers are a lot easier to understand on paper. When it comes to sound, people are very, very easily fooled. Just walk into any car audio place: the amount of BS they spout is horrendous.
March 2, 2007 2:43:58 PM

Flat response speakers do not sound horrible! They simply re-create the sound.

To repeat: if the user wishes to boost certain frequencies, that's up to them. At least this way you get an option! I cannot faithfully recreate the sound of a cello on most commercial systems. It's impossible because of the way they're set up.
March 2, 2007 3:25:58 PM

Quote:
Hear hear!

Computers are a lot easier to understand on paper. When it comes to sound, people are very, very easily fooled. Just walk into any car audio place: the amount of BS they spout is horrendous.


Heh i know, people actually think they have 5000watt systems in their car. Well they do, but they arent going to get 5000 watt of audible sound!
I always argue if you get that much power in a car, why not park 3 cars in a club turn the volume up and you got yourself a cheap soundsystem :D 

Quote:
Flat response speakers do not sound horrible! They simply re-create the sound.

To repeat: if the user wishes to boost certain frequencies, that's up to them. At least this way you get an option! I cannot faithfully recreate the sound of a cello on most commercial systems. It's impossible because of the way they're set up.


I do kind of agree with what you are saying I simply meant that a "flat" sound is awful.
Anyone that cares will test out their amp and speakers then pick the setup they like. The "colouring" is an attribute imo.

Personally though if making a track, i find the best way to find out what it sounds like is to test on multiple systems, especially cheap ones :) 

Anyway back on topic. My view on this thread is, no point buying a "good" sound card if you have a shit amp / speakers.
March 2, 2007 3:32:51 PM

yeah, to the trained ear they're nice speakers.

to the average person, if you did a blind test, they'd pick the other pair of speakers over studio monitors any day. even with heavy EQ, monitors still won't produce that nice warm sound you get from a nice pair of aiwa speakers, etc... plus GOOD monitors cost a fortune, and you have to find a sub that goes wit the system - or build your own. we know that wouldn't be a popular choice because most people don't care that much.


Quote:
This is the sort of post that baffles me. You are talking about sound quality on a sound card, then you mention logitech!


knew someone was gunna get at me for throwin whuteva name I might throw around. wasn't saying logitech is almighty, but was naming a popular brand that has okay speakers for the average consumer.

Quote:
There is no amplification that is moving a magnetic coil


never said there was; but the quality of DAC converter on an audio card, coupled with the hardware ability of the sound makes a large difference in experience. for example, try playing FEAR or BF2 with the sound settings turned all the way down. then, enable the highest settings, EAX, X-Fi, etc.... without a good audio card, you can't enable those options because the hardware doesn't possess the extra functionality.

Quote:
An amplifier and speakers are much harder to get quality out of since they are restricted by laws of physics.


while I realize the theory you're talkin about, you cannot tell me that a set of speakers with higher RMS wattage ratings, two subwoofers, and an amplifier with perhaps a 24-band equalizer will not outperform even the best 7.1 creative or whoever surround system. granted, its a lot easier to just buy a system, but the custom-built system will always be better if you know what you're doing.

I use the same 1500 watt system for my comp, TV, stereo, phono, etc... and it definately outperforms the 150 watt system one of my older computers uses


I'm not arguing that monitors are bad, or that the soundcard is what you have to concentrate on. I'm jus tryna say - a good soundcard with a good sound setup will definately make a huge difference.

chances are, if this guy buys a set of monitors (which are, again, ridiculously priced for anthying of any quality - plus he'd have to buy an amp to power them) he'll be disappointed.

so, simply get a niec soundcard and a good set of 5.1 or so speakers from newegg. nothin fancy. have a really large budget? get some real quality speakers (or build you own), a few subs, and an X-fi.
March 2, 2007 3:36:51 PM

on top of it all, monitors always fall short in the low-frequency range.

sure, they'll go to 20 Khz... but they'll drop out at around 75-45 Hz, not to mention the slight decline in response beforehand
March 2, 2007 3:50:52 PM

That was something i was going to mention, deleted it out my post in the end. I really dislike the lack of bass in monitors. PLus they are small by design hence lack of bass.

Not sure why you brought up the comparison of a 7.1 vs that setup ??
The reason i mentioned amplifiers being harder to get good quality is because of the AC->DC conversion and the fact they have to store energy in order to power speakers. The level on the sound board is so tiny it is barely a problem. A small capacitor will store the energy required to boost the line frequency.

Anyway, not sure why you quoted a load of wattage. That has nothing to do with it. 1500 watt...what did you buy. Unless you're talking some couple of grand system, you bought marketing ;) 
March 2, 2007 4:20:29 PM

i say yes... i went out one day and picked up an Audigy 2 and the difference was awesome...

but then it broke...

and now i don't care anymore because i i buy another $40 OEM Audigy 2 then it will be like i paid $80 for one lol

blharg

buy one... just one though
March 2, 2007 4:31:14 PM

alot of new Boxed systems come with "good quality" sound cards, example dell (only cuz i am lookin at gettin one) packages this with their system:
* Sound Blaster X-FiTM XtremeMusic with Dolby 5.1
* Integrated 7.1 Channel Audio
Audio – six back-panel connectors for line-in, line-out, microphone, rear surround, side surround, SPDIF interface in rear, two front-panel connectors for headphones/microphone, integrated 7.1 channel sound

*edit*
but then again i only use my system for games and surfin pr0n. plus after getting blown up in Iraq i can't hear crisp clean sound as well as i used to. to the studio quality sound is moot for me
March 2, 2007 5:15:36 PM

If you have to ask this question, then no, you don't need one.
March 2, 2007 5:45:32 PM

If you have the money then yes it is.

However!!! Creative card's are having major issues in Vista, and they are saying that they never claimed any of their card's currently out on the market would work with Vista.

So if you plan on using Vista, don't buy a Creative card unless the box say's "BUILT FOR VISTA" or whatever... Go read their Forums, lot of poor souls that are SOL.

Marell
March 2, 2007 5:49:53 PM

Quote:
If you have to ask this question, then no, you don't need one.


heh.

That's the reply I gave to most questions asked around here when i joined this forum. People don't take it seriously though :( 
March 2, 2007 5:51:28 PM

Men, you just have to consider that a soundcard also sets free the procesor of the calculations to render sound. Then, a pc with a sound card not only sounds better, it also performs better. Consider also that realtek codeks, even though they state that eax is suported, it is not.
March 2, 2007 6:23:48 PM

Quote:
wasnt one of Bose's selling-point-products those little "space filling" units - small in size but big bass and loud and clear?

i've heard one of those, theyre pretty good.

i've heard a Creative version, too (zen brand), its not so good...but like 5 times less money.

not that i know anything about bose, but for some reason i was under the impression that the little-but-powerful things were their big product...then they just lived off the brand? (curious about it now)


Well, yes, that is what they try to sell. But they are too small for anything useful. Have you seen a full size theater setup where you could compare Bose to anything else? I haven't. All I've seen is the stupid little surround setup they have at the big box stores with the tiny little speakers about 3 feet away from your head in all directions. Maybe they've changed, but I was thoroughly uninpressed. And a $1000 5 disc clock radio? WTF, are they kidding? Bose is a "style" product. There are many other manufacturers who spend far less money on advertising, hence they have more money in the actual product.

This is the detail from their specifications page for an Acoustimass 6:
Cube speakers: • 3"H x 3"W x 4"D • (7.6 x 7.6 x 10.2 cm) • 1 1/5 lbs. ( .55 kg)
Acoustimass module • 16 1/3"H x 8 1/8"W x 22 1/3"D • (41.5 x 20.7 x 56.7 cm) • 27 lbs. (12.3 kg)
Total shipping weight: • 46 lbs. • (20.9 kg)

Seriously, wtf? Where's frequency response? Distortion? Sensitivity? [Here is the spec page for the Paradigm Cinema 70

Google bose reviews. Hint, the volume of bad reviews isn't because of how many systems Bose sells.

Centurion
March 2, 2007 6:26:24 PM

start by looking for around 30-70 dollar dolby digital sound cards then move to the 80 dollar and up xifi creative ones for really gd quality
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