Versatile sound needs - what do you recommend?

I'm tinkering with some new computer specs for a system that I would use for games, general purpose use, DVD playing, and music. I am not concerned with huge volume levels so much as clear quality, and I prefer classical choral music, which tends to push music systems a fair bit.

At the moment I am leaning toward using on-board sound and investing the money saved in a better set of speakers. Does this seem wise? Other options include using my old Audigy (1) card in a new system, or buying a new card and somewhat cheaper speakers. A few folks today suggested that MSI on-board sound was of poor quality. Can anyone verify this?

As far as speakers alone are concerned, I would prefer not to spend more than $200, and would spend that only if I knew I could use them for years to come. Given space restrictions a 2.1 system is preferable as well. I've been trying to search for speaker reviews but they all seem to be very out of date, with the Logitech Z-2300s showing up as the best of the line.

I'd love your input. Thanks a bunch.
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  1. Quote:
    or buying a new card and somewhat cheaper speakers.


    There's no real point in getting one or the other, sure getting a good card and cheaper speakers will be better than a cheap card and cheaps speakers, same as the other way around, but if your going to buy a sound card you'll get a lot more out of it if you invest in good speakers/headphones.
  2. I understand what you're saying. I suppose it comes down to just how much difference there is between cards and onboard sound today. I'm open to options here and am essentially a total novice when it comes to the hardware involved. Any recommendations?
  3. Adding a sound card is one of the easiest upgrades to make later. Try the onboard sound first, you might like it. You could try your audigy card or get a new one if you want later. I would suggest that you get the best speakers that you can afford up front. They are one of the few technology items that don't become obsolete quickly. I had the klipsch promedia 2.1 speakers and was very pleased.(upgraded to 5.1) http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16836119101
  4. onboard sound sucks
  5. If you're going the 2.1 route, definitely consider Klipsch ProMedia 2.1 over anything Logitech makes. Klipsch has been making sound products for a lot longer than Logitech and they sound a lot better. I'd say if you want good sound quality go for an X-Fi XtremeGamer/XtremeMusic. Playback specs for both are the same. Only the Gamer is not gold connections, it lacks an expansion port you won't use, and it's smaller in size. Both are around the same price though. X-Fi's actually have their Crystalization feature which do make a difference in the quality of sound you hear, especially with a good speaker set. Onboard sound is never as good as a dedicated sound card anyways, and generally just puts more stress on your computer overall. It's up to you how much money you're willing to part with in the name of good sound, but if you're like me and listen to music every day, it'd be well worth your money to invest in a good sound card and speakers.
  6. Thanks for the great info all. I have a bit of a tangential question as well. I have an Antec P160 case that has worked great for me and is in excellent condition... I recall an issue connecting the input/output cables from my Audigy card to the front of this case. I want to say one was digital and the other analog, but I simply cannot recall.

    Have any of you used this case and connected either reasonable quality on board sound or one of the newer X-Fi cards recommended here? Since I'm starting from scratch I'd *really* like to be able to use this mic port if at all possible, but would hate to have to scrap a nice lightweight case to do it.
  7. My old Msi KT4 is still the best sounding onboard sound board I ever had, but
    the rest of it is (and most other msi motherboards I've dealt with) a flaky piece of crap. Hope this helps.
  8. Some non-Creative sound card options include the M-Audio Revolution 7.1 and the soon to be release (later this month) for retail Auzentech X-Fi Prelude.

    M-Audio makes a solid product geared more towards "audio enthusiasts" as compared to a "gamer's card" like Creative. The Auzentech X-Fi Prelude is the 1st 3rd party sound card to use the X-Fi audio chip, apparently Creative licensed it out to Auzentech. From all the previews, it's going to offer the same features as Creative's X-Fi plus a few tweaks from Auzentech. Also given Auzentech's reputation, the driver support should be better than Creative.

    Good luck!
  9. You might wnt to look at this sound card, it even comes with a fiber optic cable.

    Bluegears b-Enspirer 7.1 Channels 24-bit 192KHz PCI Interface Sound Card

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16829127002

    I bought two of them for system builds that I did. Not as bloated as my Creative X-FI Xtreme Music and they sound way better.
  10. Quote:
    My old Msi KT4 is still the best sounding onboard sound board I ever had, but
    the rest of it is (and most other msi motherboards I've dealt with) a flaky piece of crap. Hope this helps.


    Second that MSI comment, but like any onboard sound it still has the signal noise issue.

    As for logitech speakers, i find there the most common powerful decent speakers out there (decent sound for the price, better then most), theres always better but there dam fine at that.
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