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What would be the right sound card for me? (if any?)

Last response: in Components
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November 17, 2008 2:47:28 PM

Hi there! I'm sure this question gets asked A LOT, but this one is a bit particular for my situation versus the general question, "should I get a sound blaster blah blah card or not?".
I have a new computer, just built it around the end of the summer, LOVE it.

It's specs are:
CPU: Intel C2D E8400 @ 3.0GHz (overclock won't work, bios don't like it :[)
RAM: 4GB G.Skill DDR2 800 5-5-5-15 (I know not all of it works on 32-bit, sue me.)
Mobo: ASUS P5Q Deluxe Intel P45
Video Card: ATI Radeon HD 4870 512MB
HDD: WD SE16 AAKS 320GB 7200RPM
Sound: Integrated Audio
PSU: PC P&C Silencer 610watt
Case: Antec 1200
OS: Windows Vista Home Premium 32bit

So I have a Logitech USB headet (got it for free from Logitech b/c last headset from them AND the first replacement broke within a day, not rough use) and it works pretty good, except I've found that it's a hassle to use the USB headset and speakers because if you plug in the headset while an app is running, you gotta restart the app. So I want just a regular, non-usb headset.

So I was looking at the Creative FATAL1TY 3.5mm gold-plated Circumaural Gaming Headset on newegg (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...). I read somewhere that it works better when used with a dedicated sound card vs. integrated audio. Not sure on how true this is, but I'll go with it.

So I began to look at sound cards on newegg and came across two that were about the same price and seemed to have qualities that I wanted in a soundcard. 1) EAX 5.0 2) Front audio headers 3) Creative name and a few others that have left my mind. The two cards I found were the: Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi XtremeGamer (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...) and the Sound Blaster X-Fi Titanium (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...).

They'd both the same price (almost) and as far as having available expansion slot, no problem. So which one would be better for me, my operating system, and for that headset?

Thanks!
--Garrett

More about : sound card

November 17, 2008 2:59:27 PM

The ASUS Xonar is better for a home theater system than for gaming.

Creative cards are usually better for gaming; the difference between them is usually cache size, and slightly better playback or extra audio options.

Audio cards in Windows Vista

http://techreport.com/articles.x/13874/21
November 17, 2008 3:05:38 PM

first get the new headset and try it with your mobo's sound. if it's good enough, why mess with it. my new pc's integrated audio is really good, but my old socket 939's stunk so i bought an auzentech xplosion. it made a huge difference for that pc, but my current integrated audio is almost as good.
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November 17, 2008 6:17:50 PM

I think I'll stick with a Creative if I get a sound card not only because I normally use my computer for gaming, but also because the headset is made by creative (and I've used Sound Blaster cards before back in the early 90's, but I've heard they have changed a lot, I dunno). Which leads to my next question, I have read about the x-fi sound cards having a feature used with that headset where it simulates 9 speakers so that you hear all around you while in-game. Is this true or false? If true, does it make a huge difference in playing online FPS games? Thanks for your help!
--Garrett
November 17, 2008 7:13:55 PM

Too many people have had issues with creative over the past few years for me to reccomend buying from them.

For gaming, I recommend the Razer Barracuda AC-1, which you can find for as low as $89.99 (newegg doesn't have any for sale though...). When my ExtremeGamer works (not often...), I compare it against the Barracuda, and it isn't close. The Barracuda wins hands down.
November 17, 2008 7:28:46 PM

Hm, well I'll look into that, but I think I'll do was what said above about getting the headset first.
Thanks for the help!
Garrett
November 19, 2008 4:17:43 PM

The key to successful audio in gaming, besides fidelity and specification is sound localization and positioning.

If is behind you and to the left, it should sound like something is behind you and to the left. If something is making noise from inside a room and you are outside the room, you should be able to tell that the noise is coming from inside the room not outside.

The XFI series does these tasks very well, and particularly well with good quality headphones. If you haven't used an XFI with EAXHD with decent headphones, you are missing out. In many online games, I get the jump on a player due to their audio cues, not visual ones.

However, this is all for XP. Vista is an audio mess, who knows what is best for Vista, possibly nothing.
!