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Need advice on new soundcard.

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June 15, 2010 1:59:46 AM

Hi everyone.

Last summer I built my current high end rig. It's pretty high in specs, and I tried to use the absolute best components I could afford at the time. One of the components was a Creative Labs PCI Soundblaster X-Fi Fatal1ty Pro Gamer sound card. I loved the card but a week or so ago, we had a major lightning storm and lost power. Despite the high end surge strip I had the machine hooked up to, when we got power back, I started having odd problems. I went through the normal diagnostic procedures and couldn't find the problem. The main issue was that the machine would periodically lock up. A hard boot would be necessary to get it going again. Originally I thought it might be Firefox, but I ruled that out quickly. Then I noticed that it almost always happened if I was running something that made heavy use of the sound card. Windows Media Player. VLC Media Player, Winamp, Divx etc... Sound heavy games really freaked it out.

Well I decided to do an experiment and so I removed the X-Fi card and set the system up to use the cheesy built in ATI sound chip on my MSI motherboard (790FX-GD70). The problem instantly went away.. So I was out a very expensive sound card and still am. Of course since I got it from eBay, Creative is completely disinterested in honoring the warranty (I hate dealing with those people).

Now I find myself in a bad situation. I am disabled and we are on a severely restricted budget, so another X-Fi Fatal1ty card is out of the question. And I am not really impressed with Creative the last few years. Their support is not very good anymore, and they charge way too much for their cards.

I have kind of been out of the loop on keeping up with new hardware for the last few years. Now I need some help.

I have no experience with any of the new sound cards out there. And I am kind of afraid to go with some of the odd brands I see now.

What I need is a relatively simple 7.1 card. I can use PCI or PCIE1x. I prefer it to have EAX 5.0 support and good reproduction. I need it DX11 compatible and as low priced as possible. I am hoping someone here can make some suggestions or let me know what their experience has been with a specific card. I am kind of rushed because my onboard audio is starting to act kind of flaky and I really want to disable it again before it damages something else in the system. As it is, I might have to replace the MB...

I appreciate any and all help and suggestions.

Thanks in advance.

Rich

More about : advice soundcard

June 15, 2010 5:36:18 AM

If you need EAX 5.0 then the lowest priced card would be a X-Fi Xtreme Gamer.. But before getting any new card, be thorough with your analysis.. May be re-installing the audio drivers or changing the slot etc. Would've fixed the issue you were having..
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June 15, 2010 9:11:13 AM

+ 1 for Emperus

if not successful and really need new card, check out the auzentech cards (for HW support of EAX 5 - they are using the same DSP as Creative) or Asus Xonar range cards.
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June 15, 2010 11:59:11 AM

Yep I'd have to agree remove all the Creative software and reinstall from scratch. If you check your Event Log in windows it should show you where exactly the problem is being caused (with a fault address) this might narrow down the time you spend trying to diagnose the problem (whack the fault address into google and it should come up with what's causing it eg fault mem address). If it is the soundcard, there are a few out there that do support the eax 5.0, but even a 2.0 card might be ok if you're under budget constraints. Auzentech seem to support it too like Stupido said, and you might get an Asus card too but the majority of what I've seen dont in their specs, but the newer drivers apparently do support EAX 5.0.
http://forums.amd.com/forum/messageview.cfm?catid=12&th...
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June 15, 2010 1:20:12 PM

Thanks for all the suggestions. I am pretty sure it's the card. I installed it in my Wife's machine and it started doing the same thing. Unfortunately I don't have the tools for board level repairs. Like I said, I am getting sick of Creative, so I'll check out the Asus and Azuntech cards.
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Best solution

June 15, 2010 1:47:07 PM

To get EAX 5 its gonna be tough alot of manufactures are doing away with onboard support and moving it to software since EAX is being killed off. Not many games use it these days so for newer games I wouldnt even worry about it.

A few good non Creative cards
  • ASUS Xonar D2 7.1 Channels 24-bit 192KHz PCI Interface Ultra Fidelity Sound Card with Complete Dolby/DTS Sound Technologies $179.99
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
    A little bit expensive but its truly a spectacular card it has superior sound quality and great support. Note that there is also a D2X which is just the PCIE version of this card.
  • HT | OMEGA STRIKER 7.1 Channels &89.99
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
    Another great card with very good sound quality.
  • ASUS Xonar D1 7.1 Channels $76.31
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
    Cheaper then the D2 and the D2X since it lacks certain connectivity and a few minor features but still has great sound quality and support. Note that the DX is the same as the D1 just in PCIE form.
  • AuzenTech X-PLOSION Cinema 7.1 Sound Card DTS Connect $46.98 after rebate
    http://www.ncixus.com/products/?sku=29233&promoid=1031&...
    I have heard nothing but great reviews on this card the sound quality is spectacular and also has the ability to change the OPAMPS. This allows you to basically upgrade the quality of the card without getting a whole new card its a really nice feature and it is only found on AuzenTech cards as far as I know.

    Picking a soundcard can be a little tough with all the different models out but out of the few I listed any of them will suit your needs quite well and sound amazing.
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    June 19, 2010 1:35:45 AM

    Thanks for all of the great info and suggestions. I checked reviews and finally decided on the Aren Auzentech X-plosion Cinema 7.1 card. I got it from Linke Computers Limited for $69 and $8.99 to ship. I went to the place with the rebate, but with $27 in shipping, and having to deal with a rebate form, and wait for shipping from Canada, I decided Linke was a better deal even if the card itself cost more. It arrived today and only took about 10 minutes to get it installed and tuned for my room. It sounds AWESOME!! It makes my old Fatal1ty card sound flat. I highly recommend it. And it came with the upgraded op amp chips. Now all I need is a really nice set of Logitech speakers with an optical digital input. That will have to wait until next year. I just used up my entire 2010 computer upgrade allotment LOL.... Thanks again folks.
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    June 29, 2010 12:02:38 AM

    Best answer selected by sparrownightmare.
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