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Z-5500s.....what soundcard help please!!!

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December 18, 2007 3:10:30 AM

I ordered the z-5500s for $150 from clubit...seams like a great deal. my question is which soundcard would be the best for me. I plan on using digital coax and have fiber optic to my xbox 360. I dont want to spend over 140 dollars. any suggestions would be great!

More about : 5500s soundcard

December 18, 2007 5:22:16 AM

I would say any X-Fi from Creative.

I use the three 3.5mm mini jacks to connect my Z-5500's up to the X-Fi Fata1ty using the 6 channel direct mode of the speaker system. Digital coax and fiber optic inputs are the way to go if you want the Logitech's Dolby/DTS decoding to go to work.
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December 18, 2007 8:27:23 PM

Why has no-one brought up the Azuentech Prelude yet? it has everything OP wants and its NOT creative support has to be a plus
December 18, 2007 8:42:18 PM

chookman said:
Why has no-one brought up the Azuentech Prelude yet? it has everything OP wants and its NOT creative support has to be a plus


Because Creative has gone unchallenged for so many years until now and that people have enjoyed the Creative product for so many years. I have never needed Creative support before because I have never had any problems with Creative products even driver wise.

In what way is the Azuentech Prelude better? I am open minded and will buy who ever win my digital ear. Can you give some reviews?
December 18, 2007 9:24:58 PM

Be careful of creative when using with Vista...doesn't work.
December 18, 2007 10:12:03 PM

Evilonigiri said:
Be careful of creative when using with Vista...doesn't work.


That because with Vista audio is handled in software and not hardware.
December 18, 2007 10:17:12 PM

chookman said:
Why has no-one brought up the Azuentech Prelude yet? it has everything OP wants and its NOT creative support has to be a plus


The last I looked, Auzentech is still using Creative drivers. The Auzentech may be technically better, better capacitors etc, but still has X-Fi in its heart. My Creative X-Fi Fatality Pro does everything quite well, but that's also part of the reason its priced above the cheap X-Fi cards. I haven't have a problem with it and Vista 64 yet either.

As to the cheaper Creative X-Fi cards, well like the old saying goes, you get what you pay for.
December 19, 2007 9:01:28 PM

sailer said:
The last I looked, Auzentech is still using Creative drivers. The Auzentech may be technically better, better capacitors etc, but still has X-Fi in its heart. My Creative X-Fi Fatality Pro does everything quite well, but that's also part of the reason its priced above the cheap X-Fi cards. I haven't have a problem with it and Vista 64 yet either.

As to the cheaper Creative X-Fi cards, well like the old saying goes, you get what you pay for.



They are currently using MODIFIED Creative drivers, and supposedly work better with Vista. Auzentech are better with support, drivers etc. As soon as Auzentech get there own drivers sorted out you can bet that the preludes will work alot better with less issues than the current Creative products. They will also be looking at releasing front IO's and other added goodies later on i believe.
December 19, 2007 9:24:30 PM

Very well, Auzentech may be currently using MODIFIED Creative drivers that supposedly work better with Vista. I can't comment on that, not having ever owned a Auzentech card, but the reviews that I've read to date indicate there are still some problems. When Auzentech does get its own drivers written, and provides a front IO panel, it might indeed be a better card than the one I presently have, but I'm happy with the Fatality Pro and see no need to change.
December 19, 2007 9:43:19 PM

Well you want an audio card that can encode digital signals and send them to your Z5500 set. I know my onboard sound can do this but I was under the impression that creative cards don't have the encoding abilities so you will have to run everything that is not pre-encoded in a digital format through the 6 channel analog direct input.

Edit: To clarify my I have Realtek HD Audio onboard my motherboard and its the ALC8XX series. This series of onboard codecs can encode digtal signals on the fly and send them out to your Z5500 set to be decoded then played. Creative cards cannot do this. They can decode Digital signals and send them out as analog ones but cannot encode them.
December 20, 2007 4:45:33 PM

parawizard said:
Well you want an audio card that can encode digital signals and send them to your Z5500 set. I know my onboard sound can do this but I was under the impression that creative cards don't have the encoding abilities so you will have to run everything that is not pre-encoded in a digital format through the 6 channel analog direct input.

Edit: To clarify my I have Realtek HD Audio onboard my motherboard and its the ALC8XX series. This series of onboard codecs can encode digtal signals on the fly and send them out to your Z5500 set to be decoded then played. Creative cards cannot do this. They can decode Digital signals and send them out as analog ones but cannot encode them.



I copy and pasted some info from the "Creative Sound Blaster X-fi series User's Guide" to clarify things.

FlexiJack (first plug on the right) Performs a 3-in-1 function, supporting Microphone-in, Line-in and Digital I/O connections.

Connect one of the following to this jack:
-analog devices like cassette players and other line-level sources
-a microphone
-the Digital I/O Module*
-external digital audio devices that accept stereo PCM or compressed Dolby Digital/DTS Bitstream from the S/PDIF output

Select the Digital I/O option when connecting digital audio devices to the Digital I/O Module (available with selected models or as an upgrade option). Also select the option if you want to connect external digital audio devices that accept stereo PCM or compressed Dolby Digital/DTS Bitstream from the S/PDIF output.

All the OP would need is a RCA to 3.5mm S/PDIF Cable to plug in to the digital coax jack on the Z-5500's.
http://www.ramelectronics.net/audio-video//rca-to-3-5mm...
December 20, 2007 8:42:11 PM

parawizard said:
Well you want an audio card that can encode digital signals and send them to your Z5500 set. I know my onboard sound can do this but I was under the impression that creative cards don't have the encoding abilities so you will have to run everything that is not pre-encoded in a digital format through the 6 channel analog direct input.

Edit: To clarify my I have Realtek HD Audio onboard my motherboard and its the ALC8XX series. This series of onboard codecs can encode digtal signals on the fly and send them out to your Z5500 set to be decoded then played. Creative cards cannot do this. They can decode Digital signals and send them out as analog ones but cannot encode them.



You sure it actually ENCODES them... to my knowledge this is a straight pass-through so the card isnt actually doing any work in this case.

If your talking about encoding 5.1 analogue signal into something like a dolby digital surround format on the fly i think your dreaming.
December 21, 2007 12:29:03 AM

chookman said:
You sure it actually ENCODES them... to my knowledge this is a straight pass-through so the card isnt actually doing any work in this case.

If your talking about encoding 5.1 analogue signal into something like a dolby digital surround format on the fly i think your dreaming.


Encoding to DDlive started on the Nforce1 chipset. I dont think they included it on Nforce2+ but other venders have included its support along with DTS Connect to encode digital signals on the fly to send out of your computer via Optical/Coax.

Anything that supports DDlive or DTS Connect will work. Such as the Realtek ALC888DD Onboard HD Audio or other cards. Sadly Creative cannot encode any Dolby or DTS formats on the fly so anything that isn't in native Dolby or DTS format will have to be played to your surround sound with analog 3.5mm RCA plugs. Thus anything but basically movies on your computer that come with native DD or DTS you will have to use analog on a creative card cause the digital out is just a passthrough.

For example an old review but this card encodes DDlive on the fly and squirts it out that Digital Interface (spdif/optical) for your nice Z-5500s to decode.

Sound Card Review
http://www.nvnews.net/reviews/x-mystique/index.shtml

Realtek ALC888 (ALC888DD DD stands for the optional encoding version of the chip)
http://www.realtek.com.tw/products/productsView.aspx?La...
December 23, 2007 10:50:04 PM

I stand corrected... The only way i can see this being relevant is if you dont have a 5.1 surround system with no discrete ports... and to me the only use for it is for surround gaming? In what other instance do you have an analogue 5.1 going to your sound card?
December 23, 2007 10:52:33 PM

parawizard said:
so anything that isn't in native Dolby or DTS format will have to be played to your surround sound with analog 3.5mm RCA plugs. Thus anything but basically movies on your computer that come with native DD or DTS you will have to use analog on a creative card cause the digital out is just a passthrough.


Did you make this up? Or do you have a link?

When using the fiber optic or digital coax cables from the X-Fi Fatal1ty every non Dolby/DTS sound my computer makes is recieved as stereo by my Z-5500's.

I copy and pasted some points made by the author Brian Gray from the link you provided and the fourm discussion linked in the article.
http://www.nvnews.net/vbulletin/showthread.php?t=50318

From the article you linked.

"A quick note here - when in Dolby Digital Live mode, the analog ouputs are disabled. This may give insight into how the system work, as it would seem reasonable that the analog signals are rerouted from the discrete channel outputs into the hardware encoder. This is the basis for one of the complaints audio purists have with DDL. You have to add another analog to digital conversion, there by inducing some compression loss. The only time this compression loss has an opportunity to be noticed is in situations where each of the six channels is running at higher output levels. Is it an actual complaint for most users, no, and moreover the instances where the encoding "loss" could happen when gaming will be moments too frenzied for the gamer to perceive the inaccuracy."

"I am extremely happy to have one great feature, that NVIDIA should have kept alive, back in my system. Dolby Digital Live will give HTPC owners and gamers that just hate having the cable rat's nest to their speaker speakers and opportunity to simplify the connection between their speaker system and sound card."

From the fourm.

"Quote:

Originally Posted by sonicfrequency
But then Ill just apply prologic II on the receiver since basically thats all DDL would be doing in the first place as it receives only two channels of data and makes it 5.1. If I bought an Audigy and ran analog outs to the multi channel in on the back of my receiver, would music be in multichannel? Thanks again Brian.


No, DDL does not just receive two channels and upmix. The sound card receives the six channel information from the game, just as an Audigy would, and then encodes it into a Dolby Digital stream. HUGE difference.

What DDL adds is the ability to eliminate all of the cables from the sound card to the tuner by encoding to DD. In my case, I do not have the six channel inputs, so DDL is the only way for me to have true surround sound gaming, which makes a major difference in Doom3 and HL2.
__________________
Brian - aka HalcYoN"


The fourm goes on to suggest that the HDA X-Mystique 7.1 Gold is outperformed by the Audigy2 in games, only supports Eax 1.0 + 2.0 and has no OpenAL support.

Based on the impression given by the article and fourm I'd say that the HDA X-Mystique 7.1 Gold would be a bad purchace for gaming then(2005) and a horrible purchace today.(X-Fi > Audigy2 > X-Mystique)

The author Brian Gray would have really liked the Z-5500's. The included 6-channel direct cable is one piece so no "rat's nest" and the six channel inputs would eliminate his need to compress audio into a digital form to have surround sound gaming.


December 24, 2007 1:42:29 AM

pc-cola said:
Did you make this up? Or do you have a link?


I'm not sure but I don't believe you are quite comprehending what I wrote correctly. I said firstly if you want to use only a optical/digital cable to your decoder enabled Z5500 speaker set you will need a soundcard that has the DTS Connect or Dolby Digital Live encoding features.

http://www.dolby.com/consumer/technology/dolby_live.htm...
http://www.dtsonline.com/consumer/pc/dtsconnect.php

Secondly I stated that creative does not make a card with DDL (dolby digital live) or DTS Connect. Thirdly I stated that if you do not have a card with real time encoding support then you will only ever use your Z5500 decoders on your computer for basically movies which are native format DD or DTS.

pc-cola said:

When using the fiber optic or digital coax cables from the X-Fi Fatal1ty every non Dolby/DTS sound my computer makes is recieved as stereo by my Z-5500's.


Exactly my point...

This is because your soundcard cannot encode your surround sound gaming into a surround sound digital signal unlike cards with DDL or DTS Connect technology. Analog connections do not need any encoding as they are just 2 channel (L & R) cables.

pc-cola said:

Based on the impression given by the article and fourm I'd say that the HDA X-Mystique 7.1 Gold would be a bad purchace for gaming then(2005) and a horrible purchace today.(X-Fi > Audigy2 > X-Mystique)


What I originally said about that Mystique 7.1 card link was...

parawizard said:

For example an old review but this card encodes DDlive on the fly and squirts it out that Digital Interface (spdif/optical) for your nice Z-5500s to decode.

Sound Card Review
http://www.nvnews.net/reviews/x-mystique/index.shtml


Of course that old card doesn't not compare with newer technology and I posted it as just an example. The other funny thing is the their newest card the prelude is using the X-fi chipset; The Auzen X-FI Prelude 7.1 soundcard.

:pt1cable: 

I believe the part of DTS Connect package im talking about is DTS Interative. Also the Auzen X-Fi Prelude 7.1 does support these technologies (at least in upcoming driver updates)...

from http://www.ncix.com/products/index.php?sku=23788&vpn=PR...

Quote:

he World's first soundcard custom-engineered around the X-Fi chipset .
Additional X-Fi Prelude Features Coming Soon

The Auzen X-FI Prelude 7.1 soundcard marks the first time Creative has permitted a third-party soundcard vendor to use the Creative X-FI chipset in its own soundcard design. The Auzen X-Fi Prelude 7.1 soundcard will fully support EAX 5.0 and have the same expandability as the Auzen X-Meridian 7.1. Additional features such as Dolby® Digital Live, DTS® Interactive, and DTS NeoPC will be available soon via driver updates.


From http://www.auzentech.com/site/products/x-fi_prelude.php...

Quote:

Dolby® Digital Live
Available via the latest free driver update.

Enjoy audio from your PC or game console through your home theater with Dolby® Digital Live. A real-time encoding technology, Dolby Digital Live converts any audio signal into a Dolby Digital bitstream for transport and playback through a home theater system. With it, your PC or game console can be hooked up to your Dolby Digital-equipped audio/video receiver or digital speaker system via a single digital connection, eliminating the confusion of multiple cables and ensuring the integrity of the audio signal.


@Chookman It is funny that the very card you recommended had the technology I was talking about. :lol: 
December 24, 2007 2:18:36 AM

I don't use Creative products, I currently have an HT Omega Claro, and in the past have used Auzentech. I had an X-fi but have found my Claro to be vastly superior.
December 24, 2007 2:29:23 AM

0p3n said:
I don't use Creative products, I currently have an HT Omega Claro, and in the past have used Auzentech. I had an X-fi but have found my Claro to be vastly superior.


Just to note this card also supports...

From: http://www.htomega.com/rgboard/view.php?bbs_id=soundcar...

Quote:

CLARO can make encode Dolby Digital (Dolby Digital Live) or DTS (DTS Connect) signal with real-time.
December 24, 2007 9:23:45 AM

parawizard said:
Thirdly I stated that if you do not have a card with real time encoding support then you will only ever use your Z5500 decoders on your computer for basically movies which are native format DD or DTS.


This is not what you stated as it is not what I quoted.(see my previous post) :pfff: 

I understand you perfectly (thanks for the links :ouch:  ). Can you say the same of my statement you quoted twice before you edited your post?

You are absolutley correct in the statement that "Sadly Creative cannot encode any Dolby or DTS formats on the fly". The text of yours I quoted however was incorrect as my triple connected Z-5500 demonstrates. It is possible to recieve sound through any connection desired (even the digital ones). To be clear, the use of the Z-5500's decoder in not manditory. Uncompressed sounds play too, even when digital connections are used.

Yes, if you want the DTS or Dolby Digital logo's displayed on the Z-5500 while playing music or games with a digital connection you will need a card like the one you mentioned to compress the audio and create a digital 5.1 signal. Otherwise you will have a stereo signal wich can be up scaled by the Z-5500.(digital output not "passthrough" by the way)

The question is why would you want to compress an audio signal when the option exists to leave it pure(6-channel direct)? I'm all in favor of putting hardware to full use, but encoding sound just to give the 5.1 decoders of the Z-5500 something to do seems redundant, especially as the X-Fi and the Z-5500 each have their own Dolby Digital and DTS decoding capabilities as well as 5.1 upscaling options.

Dolby Digital Live is a good workaround for gamers without six channel inputs (like Brian). Beyond gaming, DDL appears to be no more than 5.1 upscaling (and yes encoding) to be delivered digitally to a reciever.

After reading that Mystique article, the jack layout of Creative cards makes a lot of sense. 6-channel direct is clearly the way to go for gamers. I have got to admit that seeing the Dolby Digital symbol on the screen of my Z-5500's while gaming would be cool, but now that I know about the compression involved in creating a 5.1 digital signal I can easily do without. :kaola: 
December 24, 2007 8:59:08 PM

pc-cola said:
This is not what you stated as it is not what I quoted.(see my previous post) :pfff: 

I understand you perfectly (thanks for the links :ouch:  ). Can you say the same of my statement you quoted twice before you edited your post?


The only way I understand that you would think I was wrong if I was talking about stereo sound? This thread was about surround sound. Of course you can plug a RCA stereo 3.5mm jack to Digital cable and get stereo sound but who is even talking about stereo sound here? Upscaled stereo sound is not the same as 5.1 surround sound at least from my past experience?

I have re read my posts and I still don't see what the hell your talking about maybe you could make it more clear for my eyes. I'm tired of re reading my posts and your quotes. If I`m wrong good on you I`d rather stand corrected but please make it clear.

Edit: Also yes analog works I never said it did not but the OP said he was going to use one digital connection for his xbox and the other for his PC. I gave him the suggestion of getting a DDL or DTS connect supported soundcard.
December 24, 2007 10:40:20 PM

parawizard said:
The only way I understand that you would think I was wrong if I was talking about stereo sound? This thread was about surround sound. Of course you can plug a RCA stereo 3.5mm jack to Digital cable and get stereo sound but who is even talking about stereo sound here? Upscaled stereo sound is not the same as 5.1 surround sound at least from my past experience?



AFAIK, the RCA to 3.5mm jack will send encoded digital 5.1 audio(when available from movies) to the reciever to then be decoded into DD/DTS surround by the reciever (the cable is analog but the signal is digital). When no 5.1 signal is present stereo sound is the result. The comments of yours I originally quoted gave the impression that without a 5.1 digital signal going through the cable, sound would not be possible. I apologise if I misinterpreted you. Your revised statement is clearer.

My point is he could use the 3.5mm to RCA cable exclusivly to provide sound to his speakers. I quoted some good points from the Mystique article regarding the negative aspects of DDL. The article you provided paints 6-channel direct as being better for gaming. If the OP is a pc gamer, he might consider 6-channel direct after reading the article you linked, even if he ends up with a card that supports DDL.

I agree with you 100% that upscaled stereo is not the same as 5.1. That is the main reason I described DDL as little more than upscaling. Using stereo music as an example(I don't believe the OP mentioned what type of sound but rather wich connection he intended to use), DDL or hardware based 5.1 upscaling both change the stereo sound in to a 5.1 sound(6 speaker). This upconversion is changing the sound into something other than its original form. I am new to the world of audiophiles but my understanding is that original unchanged sound is best.

December 26, 2007 6:12:24 AM

pc-cola said:
AFAIK, the RCA to 3.5mm jack will send encoded digital 5.1 audio(when available from movies) to the reciever to then be decoded into DD/DTS surround by the reciever (the cable is analog but the signal is digital). When no 5.1 signal is present stereo sound is the result. The comments of yours I originally quoted gave the impression that without a 5.1 digital signal going through the cable, sound would not be possible. I apologise if I misinterpreted you. Your revised statement is clearer.

My point is he could use the 3.5mm to RCA cable exclusivly to provide sound to his speakers. I quoted some good points from the Mystique article regarding the negative aspects of DDL. The article you provided paints 6-channel direct as being better for gaming. If the OP is a pc gamer, he might consider 6-channel direct after reading the article you linked, even if he ends up with a card that supports DDL.

I agree with you 100% that upscaled stereo is not the same as 5.1. That is the main reason I described DDL as little more than upscaling. Using stereo music as an example(I don't believe the OP mentioned what type of sound but rather wich connection he intended to use), DDL or hardware based 5.1 upscaling both change the stereo sound in to a 5.1 sound(6 speaker). This upconversion is changing the sound into something other than its original form. I am new to the world of audiophiles but my understanding is that original unchanged sound is best.


:)  Indeed

Do you know how the xbox handles digital stuff? Is it in native digital format in the game? Or is it on the fly? I guess it must be on the fly in any dynamic scenes. Possibly native in static ones. Dug around about some Dolby Digital Interactive Encoding.
December 26, 2007 8:59:50 PM

parawizard said:
:)  Indeed

Do you know how the xbox handles digital stuff? Is it in native digital format in the game? Or is it on the fly? I guess it must be on the fly in any dynamic scenes. Possibly native in static ones. Dug around about some Dolby Digital Interactive Encoding.


Had the GF's Xbox360 plugged into my AMP via optical out over the weekend, Dolby Digital surround 5.1 on Need for Speed no issues. It has to do it dynamically (on the fly) as the sound would change each time you played, sounded awesome actually i was suprised.

I still dont get why you would ever want to use DDL (unless you didnt have 6 channel analogue outputs on soundcard). Playing movies would be straight pass-through in Dolby to the Z-5500's. Playing games would go through the analogue outputs and again surround sound. What other application is there?
December 27, 2007 2:21:33 AM

chookman said:
sounded awesome actually i was suprised.



I had a similar experience with Halo 3. The thing that impressed me the most was how I could still locate unseen enemies by sound during split screen action. Player 2 could be in another part of the map with different orientation and the 3D sound was seemingly accurate for both of us. :sol: 
December 27, 2007 9:53:49 AM

chookman said:
Had the GF's Xbox360 plugged into my AMP via optical out over the weekend, Dolby Digital surround 5.1 on Need for Speed no issues. It has to do it dynamically (on the fly) as the sound would change each time you played, sounded awesome actually i was suprised.

I still dont get why you would ever want to use DDL (unless you didnt have 6 channel analogue outputs on soundcard). Playing movies would be straight pass-through in Dolby to the Z-5500's. Playing games would go through the analogue outputs and again surround sound. What other application is there?


I dunno other then it makes more sense if everything could just use the same port to send all the audio signals. It would be nice I guess. Its odd though cause they employ the technology on most consoles now.
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