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Sounds cards: A few choices ($150-200).

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August 31, 2010 2:23:49 PM

Hey everyone!

I've recently purchased myself an amazing set of Audio Technica ATH-AD900 headphones and need to upgrade my UD4P on-board to get the most out of them. My usage is around 45% gaming, 45% music and %10 movies. I have been reading mixed reactions, and have been recommended the Asus Xonar STX. The problem is, I have read this isn't great for gaming? I want a great all-rounded card with amazing atmosphere and perception in FPS shooters (CSS/COD), as well as incredible music tonality. What would you guys suggest? I have also been suggested the Auzentech X-Fi Forte 7.1, though I have been told this may be too far aimed at gaming? So I need the sweet spot in the middle.

Thanks for any help. It is greatly appreciated! Price-range is around $200 max.
August 31, 2010 4:03:52 PM

well it seems to me, that all cards with a x-fi chips seem to be aimed at gaiming, over have an advantage at games.

my reccomendation is ASUS xonar D2X and over. with those headphones, you should be able to find a fair amount of improvement in quality.
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August 31, 2010 4:36:55 PM

Obviously, you will get a lot of differing opinions on here, but I'd personally recommend the Auzentech X-Fi Forte. Has a dedicated headphone amp, and sounds great in games and very good in music.

I've tried some Xonar cards and while the audio quality was good, I didn't like the way they performed in games.
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August 31, 2010 6:53:40 PM

I would second the Auzentech Forte recommendation.. It has got the perfect specs to be called an all-rounder in proper technical sense.. I personally own the Essence STX though.. And its no slouch when it comes to gaming and definitely the best when it comes to plane music listening.. You cannot go wrong with either of those cards.. There is another alternative though.. Get any sound card and a separate headphone amp..
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a b 4 Gaming
August 31, 2010 8:22:58 PM

"gaming performance" for a soundcard; its a total myth. The only noticable difference is that the Xonars tend to focus more on music reproduction, so the audio tracks used in games tend to be processed differently then some other cards. Its a matter of taste really. I know I never had any problem with directional location (5.1 mostly in my case) with my ASUS Xonar D2, and this is comming from someone who spent 5 years in BF2 competition.

Based purley on performance/features, the Essence ST/STX, is frankly, the best total package on the market, followed very closely by the HT Omega Claro, and the Auzentech Forte. It close between all three cards really.
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August 31, 2010 10:54:52 PM

Thanks for the responses so far guys!
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August 31, 2010 11:04:36 PM

To clarify, when I referred to performance in games, I meant the way the sounds were rendered; on the Forte things sound better to me than they did with a Xonar. For example, echoes didn't sound right with the Xonar, but did with the Forte. Totally subjective, I know, but that's how I perceived it.
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August 31, 2010 11:36:53 PM

Yeah I've read that the sound was still great, but positional awareness and reverberation etc in gaming on the STX sounded a bit off, which is important to me. That being said, I love me music and the STX is a beast in that regard. Most of the reviews (from last year) I've read said that maybe newer drivers would fix the gaming issues of the STX? Anyone know if this has happened?

ATM it seems that I am leaning slightly towards the Forte as to me it sounds like the more all-round approach. Best gaming performance, with still great music response, though compared to the beast STX for music it does lack, but what card doesn't?
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a b 4 Gaming
September 1, 2010 12:03:39 AM

Good post with great comments and it's hard to argue with anyone since the posters know their stuff.
I own a Forte and would agree it's a very well rounded card and for the price that's what sold me.It's kinda hard to beat if you buy one for $100 considering all the other good cards are more expensive.
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September 1, 2010 12:14:20 AM

Unfortunately I live in Australia, the prices for both are the same anywhere. They're both pretty much equivalent to $170ish U.S. :( 

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