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Question about onboard sound

Last response: in Components
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January 31, 2010 4:28:14 PM

Hello,

I have had a Compaq Presario SR2050NX for several years now with a Pentium D 935 processor windows vista. Well I decided to get another new computer Dell 545 E5400 windows 7. Both have realtek drivers for onboard sound.

The sound is bassy and rich on the old computer with my headphones Audio Technica M50's.

I plug the same headphones in the new computer, same sound level, same winamp settings, same mp3 file and it is half the volume and no bass. I tried a headphone amp and it still doesn't sound very good. I really wonder if I should get a separate sound card? You would think that the newer computer would have just as good, if not better, sound.

Appreciate your thoughts in advance.

More about : question onboard sound

January 31, 2010 5:08:04 PM

If you have an ear for sound, a dedicated sound card will make a HUGE difference to your sound quality.
How large is your budget?
I take it your current cans need an amp also?

If you have the budget, an ASUS Xonar Essence STX (PCIe) or Essence ST (PCI) would be your best option.
Not only do they have the best sound of any current soundcard, they also have a verry good dedicated headphone amp onboard capiable of driving any set of cans.
These cards F'ing rock!
The only down side is that they cost around $200 :??: 

At the next step down, I would recommend a Xonar Dx (PCIe) or D1 (PCI).
Both have excellent sound quality and, priced at $90, are excellent value cards.
There is enough juice to drive lower impediment cans, not sure if it would be enough for yours.

If you are really on a budget, the $40 Xonar Ds would still be a massive improvement from your onboard codec.
There are several other cards from HT|Omega or Auzentech that also offer excellent sound quality if you would like other options..
Unfortunately, they are all in the $90+ range.

Which ever sound card you end up getting, you will be amazed at the difference in sound quality.
If your ears are for good sounding music, it really is that big a difference!
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January 31, 2010 9:20:14 PM

Thanks for your quick reply. I just wanted to let you know that I also performed this test. I hooked up my speakers to the onboard sound, listened to a couple of songs. Then I hooked up the same speakers to my cowon d2 and played the same songs. They were incredible sounding, so it has to be the computer.

My headphones don't need an amp with the cowon d2 mp3 player so I don't think my sound card will need much of one either. I am on a tight budget, but I also don't want to have $120 headphones with crappy computer sound. I do enjoy listening to music and movies.

Do you know if I do get a separate sound card, does it come with really cool software or an eq that is better than something like winamp? I do not see a way to increase say the treble or bass in windows 7 for the onboard realtek drivers.
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Related resources
January 31, 2010 9:30:45 PM

Yes, ASUS' xonar Audio Center has a full EQ.

If you really want to equalize for winamp, I would follow This Guide.
A little more in depth but quite good results!

If you don't really need an AMP and do not plan on upgrading your cans any time soon, I would say a DX or D1 is good enough for you.
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January 31, 2010 9:52:37 PM

Try Maudio Audiophile 2496(im using this card in my first home built PC,with Audio Technica ATH-M40fs,trust me sound its amazing,im never use equalizer or bass boost,sound its crispy clear,but again no headphone output,only RCA-Cinch), i recommend you try sound card from some friends or go to Music Instruments Shop.Best Luck
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February 1, 2010 3:04:05 AM

Actually when the music sounds so good and you get the feeling that using an equalizer actually distorts your music is when your audio hardware is no longer a real bottleneck. When all the sounds are perfectly reproduced as the recoding studio meant you to hear, there is little need for boosting or lowering frequencies. This is in fact the true test of HiFi.
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February 1, 2010 5:49:01 AM

Quite true :D 
Every time I feel saucy enough to mess with my EQ, I always have it changed back within a few min...
If you do want to equalize you system though, the above method actually helps to remove the distortion inherent to your gear.
Quite cool if somewhat limited in usage.
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February 1, 2010 8:51:09 AM

maxpain12 said:
Actually when the music sounds so good and you get the feeling that using an equalizer actually distorts your music is when your audio hardware is no longer a real bottleneck. When all the sounds are perfectly reproduced as the recoding studio meant you to hear, there is little need for boosting or lowering frequencies. This is in fact the true test of HiFi.


So true. I was taught to leave the EQ flat and turn up the volume until the bass sounds good.
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February 4, 2010 10:12:30 AM

outlw6669,

Can you tell me the quick differences in the D1 and DS?

Does the DS requires a separate power connector?

I do not have a blue ray DVD player or need HD sound, I think. So would going with the DS be just as good as the D1?

Which one came first?

Is the noise distortion a noticeable difference?

Thanks again so far!
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February 4, 2010 11:07:27 AM

Basically, the Xonar Ds is a watered down version of the D1 (which was released first).
Both share the same C-Media Oxygen HD chipset, have a similar feature package and neither require additional power.
The Ds does have lower a quality DAC, ADC and other components which will cause the sound to be less crisp and clear (though still a massive improvement over your onboard sound).

Although I have never owned a Ds myself, I could hear a quite large difference between my old X-Fi (similar SNR and grade of components) and the DX (same components as the D1).
If you can or not really depends on how good your ears are ;) 
I would say get which ever you can best afford and not to regret it either way.

I must say, the current $35 after MIR price of the Ds is quite compelling...
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February 5, 2010 9:39:03 AM

outlw6669,

I went with the D1 because my video card fan is completely covering my PCI express slot. I got it at buy.com without any S/H, so cost is about $79.99

http://www.buy.com/retail/product.asp?sku=209084334

I can't wait for it to arrive. Thanks for the advise.
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February 5, 2010 9:43:31 AM

No problem.
Make sure to post back after you get it!
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February 11, 2010 10:13:25 AM

Not only awesome, but f***ing awesome sound. Thanks!
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February 11, 2010 10:15:49 AM

Glad to hear you are liking it :sol: 
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February 18, 2010 12:46:12 AM

Outlw6669,

Just wanted to give a report now I have had Xonar D1 a week. I think the biggest problem with onboard sound was that the more you turned the volume up or the bass, my headphones and speakers would distort. The D1 is clear at all levels, I even have to be careful to not play the phones too loud. The bass is thumping... I love the fact I have much much more control over sound. I would in no way call myself an audiophile, but having the D1 is like the difference in listening to a crappy 96k bit mp3 player and flac files on a cowon d2.
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!