SB live 5.1 card
I just built a p5q pro based system. I have a Sound Blaster Live 5.1 card that was in my old system. Is this card better or worse than the p5q pro on board sound?
Don't believe everything you hear... Though I'm not here to fight Holy Wars about it, either. Rather simply to attend to your sound card question...
What's your setup?? If you're using regular headphones or cheap~ish computer speakers, I doubt you'd be able to hear much difference between the two. If you're going for a more sophisticated setup, into a home theater or good receiver or high end headphones, then I'd check on what's supported as far as output. For example, if you have a decent receiver with a digital input, and your Mobo's setup does Dolby and/or DTS and the sound card does not... Then in that case it's onboard all the way.
I can say that I can hear a difference between the older cards and the newer X-Fi ones. I don't like Creative's app, though - Rather the clarity and dynamics of the cards themselves through a driver only setup. (For reference: I have an Auzentech Prelude, which uses an X-Fi chip, and not a Creative offering.) I haven't done much comparison between older sound cards and newer onboard. Though Onboard has clearly gotten a lot better than it used to be.
You may think about the path of least resistance - Go onboard for the time being, then maybe stick the old card in there for grins and see what the difference is. A newer X-Fi card, I'd use. But an older one is a tough call...
As it is true that Creative and their boneheaded move to not support any of their older generation cards with driver support in Vista, there are several independent driver developers around that have hacked Creative's drivers to work with all SB cards. You can google that and you should be able to find them. There is a built-in driver in Vista that supports basic functionality of the Live cards though it's not perfect. I have a box running Vista with an old SB Live card and it works just fine using the basic WDM driver. All I had to do to get it to sound right was to tell Vista that I was using 7.1 speakers instead of 2.1 speakers.
gamerk316 said:Any modern Mobo has 7.1 surround, the SB Live has only 5.1. Go with the onboard sound.
That has got to be one of the sillyest comments ive ever read. Just because it has 2 more channels doesnt make it any better. Who uses 7.1 speaker system anyway? What movies/games actually support 7.1 sound?
OP: As a few have said it depends on your uses, if you are using a decent sound system and you have the connectivity and functionality you need on the Creative Live card then stick with it. The sound output will be far clearer. If you dont have the speakers or you dont have connectivity with the Live then stick with the onboard.