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Sound card for 2.1 setup?

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July 14, 2009 5:20:29 AM

Hey guys, I just built myself a pair of bookshelf speakers (5" woofer and a silk dome tweeter) and threw a pre-amp in one of the cabinets so I could use them as multimedia speakers. Now they have replaced my Bose Companion 2.0 speakers on the computer.

For the money I spent on them, they sound darn nice but the bass was a little shallow and didn't sound very rich, especially on the way low end, so I added a Bose 10" powered sub that I had just chilling in the basement.

I'm using the onboard sound from my Foxconn P45A-S which uses the ALC888 codec, and the Realtek HDA interface/gadget thingy from the motherboard install disk. Currently i have 2 options for the setup:

1. Use the speakers as a 2.0 stereo configuration and hook the sub up as a front main speaker also - it only picks up the low end anyways (current setup)
2. Use them in a 5.1 setup and just tell the thing I only have 2 speakers (FL and FR) and a sub hooked up



THIS IS WHAT I WANT TO KNOW

Can I get some sort of crossover on the computer so I can send the low frequencies to the sub only, and not to the speakers where I would get a thin bass sound. Also, a good equalizer to tune the speakers in.

ALSO, would a sound card benefit me in this type of setup? I know the difference is noticeable with surround sound, but I only have a 2.1 setup. On the other hand, I will be using it to listen to classical music and want the most accurate and true sound I can get and all my music is at 256kbps. Will any sound card give me this crossover/equalizer functionality?


I don't want to spend over 100 bucks on a sound card - would a cheaper one get me noticeably better sound quality on my setup?

More about : sound card setup

July 14, 2009 2:15:58 PM

i guess you could try getting a creative X-fi sound card there under $100.00. the Asus Xonar series cards and the HT omega cards are getting better praise now too here are some good cards i found on newegg:


HT | OMEGA STRIKER 7.1 Channels 24-bit 96KHz PCI Interface Sound Card - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

ASUS Xonar DX 7.1 Channels PCI Express Interface Sound Card - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi Xtreme Audio 7.1 Channels 24-bit 96KHz PCI Interface Sound Card - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
July 14, 2009 3:14:40 PM

The ASUS DX card is the best sound card for under $100, it sacrifices almost nothing over the $200 counterpart.

As for the sub, you will need to split the cables because it will only work by having your speakers and the sub coming through the same line in. The sub will not work in any other port, even the one designated for the subwoofer.
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July 14, 2009 4:34:38 PM

^^ Yeah, my D2X (And its lovely bridge chip) is on the way out next time I upgrade. DX is the best thing for under $100, and takes everything short of the Titanium/Forte to the woodshed (ASUS has the Essence to take the other two to the woodshed).
July 14, 2009 10:35:10 PM

Alright, so the Omega is out since its the same price as the ASUS, but the Creative's price is still attractive.


If I have to split the line out to the speakers/sub, then there's no way I'd be able to use some sort of crossover to limit the lower frequencies to the sub only, which I'd really like to do.

As for the equalizer... anyone have one to recommend? Does the sound card software usually come with one?


But the question remains - on my limited setup, will I even be able to hear a difference?? I don't have a 7.1 surround system here. And if so, will the cheaper Creative give me a good step up from the ALC888? How much better is the ASUS?
July 15, 2009 2:51:15 AM

For me driver support also takes a role in the decision. Creative will never be high on the list there... HT-Omega and ASUS both have flawless windows 7 x64 support already.

I happen to own the striker and i can attest that it is a beautiful piece of hardware.
July 15, 2009 12:23:49 PM

The ASUS Xonar DX is basically a D2X moved nativly to PCI-E, minus a few minor features and with a few minor upgrades. That makes it at least as good as the Fatality/Prelude (the card the D2(X) competed against). By contrast, the XtremeMusic is a bottom end model, barely better then the old Audigy line.

The DX is simply a safer option. Stable drivers, fewer compatability issues, a far better card, and extra upmixing options (DDL) that you don't have to pay for, should you move to 5.1 at a later date.
July 15, 2009 12:33:07 PM

yea i read around and people are saying the "creative extreme music" isn't even a true x-fi card but something like a relabeled creative audigy card
July 15, 2009 3:14:24 PM

I appreciate all the input and it certainly seems to me that the ASUS is the way to go (especially with the current rebate). BUT I still wonder if it would be worth it for me.

What I really want is for someone to say "YES! I had a limited audio setup as do you, and the ASUS kicked the crap out of my onboard sound! GO FOR IT!!!"

or... "In my experience, a soundcard like this will only help noticeably with surround sound."


With gratitude for the info so far, I'm not necessarily trying to find the best sound card at a price point, but rather discerning if one is right for me.
July 15, 2009 4:07:44 PM

Bro, your using real speakers and not that PC speaker ****, it will make all the difference.

As for equalizer, I stay away from those. I want to hear the music how the professional mixer wanted it to be heard.
July 15, 2009 6:23:08 PM

In a 5.1 system, ASUS would win hand down. Even with a high end 2.1, you'd hear the difference. I just don't know if a soundcard is really even a necessity for a low end 2.1 system quite frankly, but will stand by the DX in this case. The Extreme Music hardly even counts as a soundcard, as its the worst card from the worst manufacturer.
July 16, 2009 2:37:23 PM

One thing I'm worried about is that the amp I put in these speakers was a $20 thing off of ebay but since it has RCA inputs (rather than a digital in) I figured all it was doing was supplying power and had little to do with the quality of the sound. The quality of the signal is the PC's job (or ipod or what have you) but now I'm second guessing myself on that assumption.

Was I wrong on this and should I be looking for a better amp before this sound card? Anything good that can fit inside a small bookshelf speaker?
July 18, 2009 7:30:23 PM

Do we not have any audio guys in these threads?
July 18, 2009 10:40:08 PM

From what I can tell I am one of the few who can tell the difference between distortion and music on these forums, this place is more about overclocking and new tech. The forums I linked is more focused on this stuff and if you want an even more focused forum then go here (note that this is an "audiophile" site and full of people who have lost perspective on their hobby a long time ago...):

http://www.head-fi.org/forums/f46/

Anyway on to your question. The amp DOES have a good deal of say so in the sound. This is because an amp can push 10,000w but still distort when supplying only 100w. In a perfect world an amp would just power the speakers and amplify the signal without distortion, but this isn't a perfect world. I can't tell you if that amp is any good without listening to it so it is up to you to decide.
July 22, 2009 2:03:36 PM

coopchennick said:

THIS IS WHAT I WANT TO KNOW

Can I get some sort of crossover on the computer so I can send the low frequencies to the sub only, and not to the speakers where I would get a thin bass sound. Also, a good equalizer to tune the speakers in.

ALSO, would a sound card benefit me in this type of setup? I know the difference is noticeable with surround sound, but I only have a 2.1 setup. On the other hand, I will be using it to listen to classical music and want the most accurate and true sound I can get and all my music is at 256kbps. Will any sound card give me this crossover/equalizer functionality?

I don't want to spend over 100 bucks on a sound card - would a cheaper one get me noticeably better sound quality on my setup?


For under 100 bucks you can get one of the X-Fi sound cards, they have very good sound and decent driver support including Windows 7 drivers.
Myself I have been using X-Fi card for 3 years and I am pleased with both sound and performance. No drivers issues but I tend to always update to the latest version.

I would probably buy PCI-e version if I was buying now. There are audiophile-grade sound cards out there that sound better but will cost more. But for 70-90 bucks you should be happy with one of the X-Fis also because unlike many other sound cards they come with an option for bit-perfect playback. With this option on CD quality is not upsampled through 48kHz or 96kHz engine which might (does not have to) deteriorate quality. Nice to have.

There is both crossover (called bass redirection):
http://ask.creative.com/wwimages/audio_int/xfi/game_mod...
and the equalizer:
http://home.comcast.net/~tim2679/eq1.jpg

When buying make sure you check what connections you need especially in terms of digital outputs. Some card have optical, some coaxial and some digital mini jack. Not a big deal but it is good to check before buying as e.g. for longer cable runs optical is not practical.

Good Luck
July 22, 2009 3:06:23 PM

Eh, Xonar DX for $80 on newegg.

I will never, ever, recommend a Creative product because
A: Their support stinks
B: Their drivers stink (hence why there are so many hacked driver releases)
C: Their cards aren't that good to begin with
D: Removing features when Vista came out, and forcing you to pay for them (DDL anyone?)

And for the record, every soundcard I know of except Creatives cards supports 192kHz output (even my aged Razer Barracuda). Why even the Titanium lacks 192kHz output is beyond me...

At least go Auzentech if you go X-fi for god's sake...
!