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What sound card for gaming AND recording?

  • Sound Cards
  • MIDI
  • Components
Last response: in Components
September 16, 2007 4:18:22 AM

What if one wants to do audio recording *and* play games/movies/music on one's 5.1 speaker setup?

Some background: I record from MIDI and sometimes from microphones (vocals, acoustic guitar). For MIDI, I have a MIDI electric piano. For microphones, I own a preamp with digital outs, but its several years old and never was top-flight to begin with. Two PCs ago, I used an M-Audio 2496 to handle MIDI; I don't remember whether I connected the piano thru that interface as well. The trouble was, it didn't coexist well with a SoundBlaster or other gamer-oriented card. And it wasn't a capable gamers' card.

And now I've got an even more basic problem: I have only one PCI slot! I have a Striker Extreme motherboard, Q6600, EVGA 8800 Ultra, Logitech Z-5500 speakers, and a fan in my open SLI slot. (When will I learn not to get SLI mobos when I never get around to actually using SLI?)

Does any sound card do double duty? With my last PC, I bought a SoundBlaster X-Fi Elite Pro to try to have it both ways. It's a good gaming card, but I only spent a little time recording with it, and I don't know whether it makes sense to use it as a recording card. Also, the danged four-pin power connector on that X-Fi seems slightly damaged, as I can't get a power cable to stay on it. So for now I'm using the Striker's onboard sound, SoundMax 8-channel ADI 1988B audio (NOT the old AC97), which supports DTS Connect and Dolby Digital. It sounds pretty great in movies and games; I'm not sure what I think of its music reproduction.

Any advice on what I should buy, if anything? Is the X-Fi sound for games any better than the Striker's onboard FX card? Is the X-Fi Elite Pro a respectable recorder for MIDI and some analog input (perhaps thru my digital preamp)? And does the X-Fi Elite Pro still come with that damned four-pin power connector?

More about : sound card gaming recording

September 16, 2007 4:48:23 AM

For any sorta gaming you want the X-treme Gamer 7.1 Amazingly loud and clear sound.
September 16, 2007 11:11:20 AM

the x-fi should be good enough for some recording work. i am currently using mine with cubase studio 4 and it works fine with latencies of <10ms. mine is the extreme gamer, so i dotn really ahve enough ports for audio recording, although i should imagine it would be fine. audio mixing/mastering is very good, also with low latencies.
beware though, if you're using vista (as i am) then the x-fi drivers are a little unstable (although its not a huge prob tbh)..
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September 16, 2007 3:50:51 PM

I am using Vista 64, so thanks for the heads-up on that.

So which X-Fi would be optimal? I've used the Elite Pro before, but the tiny little four-pin power connection broke when I took the card out, annoying me no end. Is the Elite Pro as good a gaming card as any other X-Fi model?

Also, the breakout box on the Elite Pro is large and not easy to place in a crowded PC work area. I noticed that some X-Fi models have a front-panel connection. Is it for a five-inch bay or a 3.5-inch bay?
September 16, 2007 4:13:49 PM

itotallybelieveyou said:
For any sorta gaming you want the X-treme Gamer 7.1 Amazingly loud and clear sound.

Can you enlighten us what an amazingly loud SC sounds like? tschhh.....
September 17, 2007 1:29:27 AM

Yeah, I've been looking at the Auzentech Prelude with interest, but I gather its software doesn't yet fully support DTS or Dolby Digital? Also, I don't think it has MIDI I/O, though I think you can buy a separate I/O box for it that includes MIDI. Anyway, that card is certainly a possibility.

The Elite Pro has a breakout box but no front panel thingie, unless I'm mistaken. The breakout box always struck me as long and awkward, and I especially dislike the power connection for it -- a flimsy little floppy connector on the card itself.

To complicate things further, now I understand that Creative will soon be introducing PCIe versions of the X-Fi.