What to look for in a Sound Card


I just got my new parts today and will be putting my new PC together tonight. In the next month or so I am planning on purchasing a new sound system, most likely 5.1. I tend to stick with some higher end stuff regarding sound, so I am looking at somewhere in the neighborhood of 150.00-300.00 for the speaker system.

As far as sound cards go, I haven't bought a SC for years and always used the onboard stuff, but I may look into getting one now. As far as the sound cards today go.. what should I be looking for in them spec wise. I was shoppin around Newegg and cards ranging from $50.00 - $200.00 seem to truly have little to no differences in specs... any help would be appreciated.
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  1. well........sound maybe?!lol

    if you are not getting a very expensive speaker system you wont tell the difference in sound quality from those 2.1 systems.

    the sound blaster gamer X-Fi is pretty good but i heard the Asus Xonar is pretty good in term of both quality and price.but i havent heard it myself so cant really tell you.
  2. Look for compatiblity (driver support) in the OS you're considering. Look for the licenses that you're interested in DTS, DDL, etc.

    Really popular cards today are the Asus Xonar D2(X), better X-Fi's, Auzentech Prelude (basically, the best X-Fi you can get), Auzentech X-Plosion...the list goes on.

    If I were looking to spend ~$200 today on a card I'd look at the new X-Fi Fatal1ty Titatium, Auzentech Prelude 7.1, or the Asus Xonar.

    However, the onboard sound over the past few years has gotten pretty good. You may want to take a listen and see if you really want to spend the money, unless, like me, you've developed a prejudice against onboard sound (I'm undergoing therapy now).

    See, I can say it, "Onboard sound is not necessarily hideous. Onboard sound can be okay. Onboard sound is not just for cheapskates." There, I said it. Are you satisfied? Stop it! What do you want from me?!
  3. Given Creative Labs history of support? for their products in the last few years, they would be the last vendor I would recommend. The selection of sound card is highly dependent upon what you are using it for primarily. Is the highest useage for music, multimedia (ie movies), or are you going to be using it primarily for gaming? The answer to these questions will help you refine your choice.
  4. Go X-FI...... They say they can make 10% or negligible, improvement on gaming plus the best sound quality. Unless for Multimedia or movies, this is really cool.
  5. Really need to know what you are doing with the sound on your machine.

    Games, i would think the X-fi series for proper EAX support (although this seems to be fading into the background of late.

    Music, any suggested by halcyon would be great.

    Movies, i would stick with X-fi Titanium, Prelude or Xonar as all these support DDL and DTS well.

    For professional stuff you should be looking at pro cards so none of the above mentioned would be much use to you
  6. Gaming mainly is my cup o' tea, but I am looking for good quality sound in music and movies as well. I'll leave the professional stuff to the profesionals :)

    I have been happy with onboard sound for years and so I don't know what it will be like with my new stuff recieved today (wish work would end so I can go make a cocktail and start building :) ) but we'll see how stuff sounds.

    I was just sort of curious as to the actual specs of boards I should look at:

    Sample Rate?
    Audio Chipset? -sounds like X-FI is the way to go maybe?

    For example I was looking at:

    Creative SB X-Fi Xtreme Audio 70SB104000000 7.1 Channels PCI Express Interface Sound Card ($60)


    Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi Titanium Fatal1ty Professional SB0886 7.1 Channels PCI Express Interface Sound Card ($150)

    Both are 7.1 I know and im talking about getting 5.1, but as far as numbers go on these boards... anything special I should be looking at for games, music, movie type use.
  7. X-Fi extreme will do it fine.anything above wont notice too much improvement for the price you pay.just like every other top end part.
  8. iluvgillgill said:
    X-Fi extreme will do it fine.anything above wont notice too much improvement for the price you pay.just like every other top end part.

    well,get a high end speaker or headphone you will notice that immediately :)
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