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Good soundcard to go with my Sennheiser PC350s

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April 27, 2010 3:05:12 AM

Alright, I currently am using a Creative Soundblaster Live! 24-bit for my sound card, with my headset being a Sennheiser PC350. The headset sounds good, but the bass is fairly low compared to previous Plantronics headsets I've used. I believe this is due to the impedance of the PC350s, a whopping 150 ohms.

Is there a good PCI sound card that would provide a noticeable improvement over my current Soundblaster? I've been looking at maybe an ASUS Xonar or something similar, maybe an HT Omega Striker?
April 27, 2010 1:32:15 PM

Asus Xonar would be my recommendation. Are you a gamer or an audiophile?
April 27, 2010 7:33:20 PM

Not exactly an audiophile, but over the years I really have upped my standards for music quality. I do a lot of gaming too (BC2, CS:S, SC2, etc.) so I guess I am just looking for a card that gives good directional performance, and good audio quality for music too.
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April 27, 2010 8:04:40 PM

Any ASUS Xonar, the HT Omega Striker, or the Auzentech Prelude/Forte.

Given how its still a standard stereo headset, it would be hard to recommend anything other then the following:
ASUS Xonar DS (~$50)
ASUS Xonar D1/DX ($89) [Note: The D1 is PCI, and the DX is PCI-E 1x]
HT Omega Striker ($89)

As for the differences between the cards:

The DS lacks encoding for Dolby Digital over the digital SPDIF port
The D1/DX lacks encoding for DTS over the digital SPDIF port
The HT Omega Striker supports encoding of both Dolby and DTS, but lacks EAX 5.0 emulation.

Assuming you have no plans of using the SPDIF output, then the DS is probably perfect for you. The D1/Dx/Striker are great if your willing to spend a bit more though.
April 27, 2010 8:11:31 PM

Alright, thanks for the information. I was planning on going with the DS when I did this new build, but I decided to keep my old SB Live!

I think that is the route I will go, I just have a 5.1 stereo speaker system in addition to this headset anyway, so no need to really go over the top.

Also, a follow-up question: I do some FPS gaming (mainly BC2 and CS:S), is EAX really that important now in 2010? Most of the searching I've done brings up posts from 2002-2007, when yeah, EAX was a big deal. But now with Windows 7, isn't the EAX emulated via drivers in the OS anyway? Vista had the Alchemy drivers for that purpose IIRC. If I go with the D1, I figure I might as well go with the HT Omega, unless EAX emulation is really still important these days.
May 5, 2010 9:44:44 AM

i think itd be better to get an headphone amp first, or you could get a soundcard with built in amp.

such as asus xonar essence stx, which has a built in headphone amp.

if ur not driving ure headphone properly even getting a gd soundcard will not help.
May 5, 2010 12:05:00 PM

EAX is dead. If Vista didn't kill it, the wave of USB headsets (which ignore the presence of a soundcard) did. Only a handful of games use the spec, and even Creative admits the standard is more or less dead.
May 5, 2010 6:55:08 PM

gamerk316 said:
EAX is dead. If Vista didn't kill it, the wave of USB headsets (which ignore the presence of a soundcard) did. Only a handful of games use the spec, and even Creative admits the standard is more or less dead.


im guerssing ur replying to look?

anway to teh OP, a headphone amp will be a much better upgrade to your headset first.
May 5, 2010 8:11:21 PM

Agreed about the headphone amp. Consider an Auzentech (Forte or Bravura) or Asus (Xonar Essence ST/STX). Note that the Essence currently only has DIGITAL 5.1 output, since you mentioned the speaker system.
May 6, 2010 12:41:04 AM

If you like playing older games that used EAX, then yeah, EAX is important. There's plenty of great titles that did use it, and that now sound bland without it in Win7/Vista. Also, EAX itself wasn't broken on Vista/7, rather the exclusion of DirectSound in the new audio stack is what was broken. You can still get hardware accelerated EAX effects with ALchemy, which doesn't emulate EAX but rather translates EAX calls to DirectSound into OpenAL calls, which can then be processed by your hardware. OpenAL is still fully supported in Vista/Win7.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_video_games_that_s... List of EAX games: If you plan on playing any of these EAX might be nice to have :) 

Also, If you're going to upgrade your soundcard, you should definitely be looking at a soundcard that provides a headphone amp. The headphone amp on something like the Auzen X-Fi Forte should help drive those headphones quite a bit better than what you have now, and with better audio quality to boot.
May 20, 2010 10:15:26 PM

Hi, haveing same problem.
i have the sennheiser pc350's as well with a auzen x-plosion 7.1 cinema
soundcard. i use it for strictly gameing (left4dead2) mostly.
but it seem like my card was ment for just music or movie because i cant get no real gameing mode setting. i can only play with the default frequencies. and iam not real good with tweeking that kinda of stuff.
iam currently looking at the Asus Xonar D2/PM 7.1 PCI Sound Card w/ Dolby® / DTS®
my other question is does anyone know if the headset is even 7.1 compatible.
I would like to be able to have a soundcard that iam able to tweek a gameing mode setting.

thanks.
May 21, 2010 3:57:04 PM

theres no need to boost frequency or such

your headphone are very good, and are fine on flat frequency settings.

gaming setting dont much, unless you have eax and such.. but theres no need nowadays.

if you soundcard has dolby live. then enable dolby headphone, to get virtual 5.1 surroound sound feel.

if you ask me, yes teh dolby headphone is good (Y)
!