Replacement Sound Card + New Headset (?)


I've spent a few days fighting with my computer and reading tales of other people's battles, but I have now given up. My m-audio Revolution 5.1 is just far too frustrating. There are hardware issues, there are driver issues, there are, I'm sure, user issues.

It's time to get a new sound card, because onboard sound, and more so, mic volume, isn't cutting it for me. What I want, but am currently unable to achieve easily:

a) clear voice pick-up for in-game VOIP (BF2142) and Vent (this is the current major major issue)
b) good sound in games, that permits excellent pin-point directionality
c) the ability to adjust volume using the controls on my game pad (non-functional with the "new and improved" m-audio drivers)
d) some ability to listen to music, but this is low priority

Currently I have:
a) ASUS P5N-E sli motherboard
b) AKG headphones
c) Zalman clip-on mic
d) fairly fresh install of Windows XP SP3 due to zombie hard drive (the problems with the low mic volume predated and survived the new hdd/install)

I am more than willing to upgrade my "headset" as well, to an actual integrated headset, possibly a SteelSeries 5H v2

I am grateful for any and all suggestions of parts/miracle fixes/headache remedies. While I'd be happier spending less money, I can part with up to $300CAN to solve these problems.

Thank you!
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More about replacement sound card headset
  1. Two options: You can get a USB based headset, bypassing the sound card entirely, or get a good sound card to go with a standard analog headset.

    Frankly, the best option for a low price would be the ASUS Xonar DX (~$80). Don't let the price fool you; its basically like its big brother, the ASUS Xonar D2/D2X, which competes against the high end Auzentech Prelude/Creative Titanium. If thats too expensive, the HT Omega Striker is a good soundcard for its price as well (~$50-$60)
  2. Thank you for the advice. I am leaning towards the Asus Xonar, although I've found the process of researching sound cards very confusing... I'll just get set to get a particular make or model, and then find tonnes of terribly negative reviews. So far it looks good!

    Will a USB headset help with the low mic issues? It is super-low (totally useless in Vent) with both the current sound card, and when I tried using the onboard sound.
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