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Time for a Sound Card?

I'm back again. Yep, this the same person that almost bought a $600 setup with a Xonar Essence and a pair of AKG K701s.

I'm past wanting a sound system that costs roughly half of my entire rig, and have came to a revelation:
The more I listen to my Bose Around-Ear Triports, the more I keep hearing little hiccups here and there, and tiny little things that are pointing to the upper limits of my onboard audio's quality. Maybe I'm wrong, but I just that I'd benefit more from a sound card than I would from buying a whole other pair of headphones. I mean, I really like these Bose cans - sure, their build quality kinda sucks and they hurt your head after a while, but the audio they put out is the best I've heard for a long time. :na:

So I ask you this. I've been looking at mid-range audio cards that would be a decent upgrade over onboard audio. The more I read, the more I feel like I should get a PCI-e card, just for the added future-proofness of the latest interface. Since these still aren't $600 cans, I figure I can get away with a decent $80-ish card. ;)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16829132006

I know some people will disagree with this, but I'm avoiding Creative cards like the black plague.


For those of you who don't want to read through all of that, here's what I'm getting at:
Would I notice a difference if I were to buy that?

Much appreciated. :D
-Matt
45 answers Last reply
More about time sound card
  1. With good quality Speakers/headphones there should be a noticeable difference.
  2. http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16829132018&cm_re=ASUS_XONAR_XENSE-_-29-132-018-_-Product

    Comes with a headset (Sennhieser 350s) too so you can compare which sounds better vs the ones you have.
  3. I'm considering that as an option, Scorpinot. It's a little out of budget at the moment, but I'll do some surfing and see if it's worth getting the package deal with those Sennheisers. I can't really say that I need the entire headset with it, but it would be a nice added bonus.
  4. Newegg sells just the soundcard from an openbox for $200.

    In the $160 range you have the AZE-Forte
    http://www.amazon.com/Auzentech-AZT-FORTE-Forte-7-1-Sound/dp/B002665NXA/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=electronics&qid=1298424257&sr=8-1

    In the $90 range you have the Xonar DX
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16829132006&cm_re=Asus_Xonar_DX-_-29-132-006-_-Product

    You can get the open box version for $58.
  5. Man... I know I keep saying it's worth it, but that's a lot for a sound card. I guess maybe I should ask this first: Once I get upgraded from Onboard to a dedicate card, how much of a difference will there be between an $80 card and a $200 one?

    I'm thinking about going in the middle and checking out the Auzentech Forte. It seems like a fair balance in between the high end studio-quality cards and the Xonar DX.
  6. Yes the Forte is a well rounded card and does everything well.
    You can often find it for $120 on sale.
    That's what i paid for mine last year.
    You won't be disappointed.
    http://www.ncixus.com/products/35596/AZTXFF7105551/AuzenTech/
    http://www.guru3d.com/article/auzentech-xfi-forte-71-soundcard-review-test/
  7. I've been doing some more thinking (not always a good thing, as you'll see), and I'm going to go ahead and retract my statement about wanting a PCI-e card. I mean, EVERYTHING but the GPU uses PCI - sound cards, tuners, wireless cards, modems, and god knows what else.

    I've narrowed it down to this:
    HT Omega Striker 7.1
    Auzentech Forte X-Fi 7.1
    Asus Xonar DX 7.1
    I'm going to be honest here, and even though it would be nice, I really just don't need anything more expensive than that. Creative's out, so there's basically what's left.
  8. Does not show the same card as Amazon http://www.auzentech.com/site/products/x-fi_forte.php Wonder if it is worth the price premium over the other two.
  9. rolli59 said:
    Does not show the same card as Amazon http://www.auzentech.com/site/products/x-fi_forte.php Wonder if it is worth the price premium over the other two.

    The Amazon image is a Auzentech Bravura which is the direct competition to the DX1 and Striker.
    The Forte is a level up and competes with the Claro and DX2.
  10. I wouldn't be so fast to call sound cards useless, there, diggle. I can't say that I've ever seen a pair of consumer headphones that use an S/PDIF-Out or Coax connection. Please, go ahead and show me if you have... :D

    Ah, so that's the Bravura. I'm thinking that it would be better suited to that lineup than the Forte. I know it hurts you people hearing me downgrade my options, but unless someone can confirm that it's worth the extra $50-70, then I see nothing wrong with the next step down.
  11. Ahh, sorry... now I get what you're saying. My bad. :heink:
  12. someguynamedmatt said:
    I wouldn't be so fast to call sound cards useless, there, diggle. I can't say that I've ever seen a pair of consumer headphones that use an S/PDIF-Out or Coax connection. Please, go ahead and show me if you have... :D

    Ah, so that's the Bravura. I'm thinking that it would be better suited to that lineup than the Forte. I know it hurts you people hearing me downgrade my options, but unless someone can confirm that it's worth the extra $50-70, then I see nothing wrong with the next step down.

    Nothing wrong with a Bravura but i wouldn't pay more then $90 for one though.
    Last summer they were on sale from July-Aug for $75-90.
    I've noticed soundcards have increased in price this year quite a bit.
    The DX1 and Striker would be similiar in performance but don't offer a dedicated headphone amp.
    The Bravura still outclasses them in gaming as well.
    http://www.guru3d.com/article/auzen-bravura-review/1
  13. Despite everything I'm hearing about the Auzentech cards, I'm feeling like the Striker is my favorite right now. I honestly don't really need a dedicated headphone amp... the onboard audio can already blow my eardrums out well enough.

    Everyone seems to think that the drivers for it are rock solid, and easy to install and work with.

    It looks to be built really well, and honestly, society is probably going to fall apart before the PCI interface becomes truly obsolete. As I've said before, there's just too much out there that uses it.
  14. someguynamedmatt said:
    Despite everything I'm hearing about the Auzentech cards, I'm feeling like the Striker is my favorite right now. I honestly don't really need a dedicated headphone amp... the onboard audio can already blow my eardrums out well enough.

    Everyone seems to think that the drivers for it are rock solid, and easy to install and work with.

    It looks to be built really well, and honestly, society is probably going to fall apart before the PCI interface becomes truly obsolete. As I've said before, there's just too much out there that uses it.

    NCIX sells the Striker for like $60 when it's on sale.
  15. someguynamedmatt said:
    Despite everything I'm hearing about the Auzentech cards, I'm feeling like the Striker is my favorite right now. I honestly don't really need a dedicated headphone amp... the onboard audio can already blow my eardrums out well enough.

    Everyone seems to think that the drivers for it are rock solid, and easy to install and work with.

    It looks to be built really well, and honestly, society is probably going to fall apart before the PCI interface becomes truly obsolete. As I've said before, there's just too much out there that uses it.


    people usuallly use amps , so that htye can put the system volume on 100% and use the amp to control the overall volume, the 100% system volume is used so that the output is possible to be bitperfect.
  16. MEgamer said:
    people usuallly use amps , so that htye can put the system volume on 100% and use the amp to control the overall volume, the 100% system volume is used so that the output is possible to be bitperfect.

    True. I wasn't really thinking about that...

    I'm still looking around right now. The list is still pretty much the same, though - either the Asus Xonar DX 7.1, the Auzentech Bravura, or the Striker. All are pretty much made to compete in the same range, except for the Bravura being $50 more.
  17. lol just buy the an asus xaonr D2 , and then dish out on some good quality headphones if ur budget allows.
  18. I'm going to go with the Xonar DX 7.1. I wish I could get the D2, but I'm going to be ordering this with a lot of other stuff, and it just won't fit into the budget right now. I'm sure the DX will be more than enough for what I'm using it for.
  19. if your use primarily just use headphones then save the money
    and get a Xonar DG that has a headphone amp with Dolby Headphone Surround
    it gets great reviews
    for example :
    http://www.bit-tech.net/hardware/soundcards/2010/10/26/asus-xonar-dg-review/1
    and there is many more positive reviews
    almost every review says that if you want something better than onboard
    and primarily use headphones than the Xonar DG is the best choice
    I got mine for $35 shipped from Newegg
    as long as you dont need 7.1 then they really are the best choice in
    your situation
    And less you just want bragging rights.......
  20. king smp said:
    if your use primarily just use headphones then save the money
    and get a Xonar DG that has a headphone amp with Dolby Headphone Surround
    it gets great reviews
    for example :
    http://www.bit-tech.net/hardware/soundcards/2010/10/26/asus-xonar-dg-review/1
    and there is many more positive reviews
    almost every review says that if you want something better than onboard
    and primarily use headphones than the Xonar DG is the best choice
    I got mine for $35 shipped from Newegg
    as long as you dont need 7.1 then they really are the best choice in
    your situation
    And less you just want bragging rights.......


    most headphones under 200 dont need an amp.
  21. ^ probably true
    the OP did complain about his headphones being uncomfortable so maybe
    save the money on an expensive card and use it towards a high end
    headphone which takes advantage of the Dolby Headphone feature
    also the DG does have an adjustable impedance setting which is nice since I use
    decent buds and can set it to 32ohm
  22. king smp said:
    ^ probably true
    the OP did complain about his headphones being uncomfortable so maybe
    save the money on an expensive card and use it towards a high end
    headphone which takes advantage of the Dolby Headphone feature
    also the DG does have an adjustable impedance setting which is nice since I use
    decent buds and can set it to 32ohm


    problem with dolby headphone is that it is a lossy format (dolby pro logic ), using high end acns will jsut reveal more flaws in the audio.
  23. Thank you I didnt know that.
    I have never tried it.
    Is there special headphones for it?
    If so what are decent cheap ones?
    And is it only with music/movies or games?
    Sorry for all the questions
    I should just Google it.
  24. NewEgg is having an Asus sound card sale/savings event, and the DX is only $69.99 after a mail-in rebate. As far as I'm concerned, MIR's don't really make any difference in my final decision, but I feel like the DX is a good balance between power and price, if I ever want to upgrade my cans. I feel like I don't want to go cheaper in case I find a really good pair that I must have, but more expensive isn't really worth it to me.

    It sounds pretty good to me... the only other competition for the DX that I've seen is one of Creative's X-Fi cards, and I can't say that I've heard good things about their drivers...
  25. someguynamedmatt said:
    NewEgg is having an Asus sound card sale/savings event, and the DX is only $69.99 after a mail-in rebate. As far as I'm concerned, MIR's don't really make any difference in my final decision, but I feel like the DX is a good balance between power and price, if I ever want to upgrade my cans. I feel like I don't want to go cheaper in case I find a really good pair that I must have, but more expensive isn't really worth it to me.

    It sounds pretty good to me... the only other competition for the DX that I've seen is one of Creative's X-Fi cards, and I can't say that I've heard good things about their drivers...


    Good choice
    Asus cards are the way to go nowadays especially on a budget
    Personally I went with Xonar DG since in the reviews/tests they matched up to the DX in harmonic tests at
    half the price
    though the DX gives you some extra features that might come in handy
  26. From what I've read so far, the DX is one of the best, using the same processor as the D2(x). Creative's cards should be excellent by their specs, but their drivers are apparently absolute nightmares. HT Omega's Striker is rougly comparable to the DX, but is more centered around surround audio, where the DX's quality is weighted on the front two channels. :D

    It's not as sexy as the Striker, but I don't stare the inside of my case all day, either... well... not that often... ;)
  27. The DX is the best deal out there
    Dont mind me
    Might be my Jealousy talking LOL
    I wanted one also but explaining to the BOSS (fiance LOL)
    the reasoning behind spending $80 wasnt worth the aggravation
    (we are saving for house and family vacation this year)
  28. If my neighbor does that?
    Well I am about 6ft tall 260lbs
    and have been trained in taking down
    entry ways :)
    Plus I have a 75lb Pitbull
    Though usually I will try calling the cops first
    and see if they feel like showing up LOL
  29. Heh, I know the feeling...

    Lol, king... that's awesome. :na: Just wrote my response at the same time you posted that.
    Awh, I just now saw that the DX uses a 4-pin floppy power connector... looks like I'll be plugging another cable into the good old PSU. Oh well... ;)
  30. someguynamedmatt said:
    Heh, I know the feeling...

    Lol, king... that's awesome. :na: Just wrote my response at the same time you posted that.
    Awh, I just now saw that the DX uses a 4-pin floppy power connector... looks like I'll be plugging another cable into the good old PSU. Oh well... ;)


    I really cant see a sound card being a major draw
    though I have never seen wattage ratings on any cards

    Yeah for a little while I used my girl Molly (american bull staffordshire terrier)
    as an avatar.

    Also would you believe that doors have essentially a fulcrum point
    which when striked properly will cause a leverage effect on the
    lock

    ALWAYS have a industrial rated deadbolt preferable with steel jacketed wood core door
    though the tactical door ram that officers use will wipe that out

    BTW to any members on the job the above joke was entirely in jest
    and I have all the respect in the world for public safety officials
  31. someguynamedmatt said:
    Heh, I know the feeling...

    Lol, king... that's awesome. :na: Just wrote my response at the same time you posted that.
    Awh, I just now saw that the DX uses a 4-pin floppy power connector... looks like I'll be plugging another cable into the good old PSU. Oh well... ;)


    if u have a spare PCI slot, then get the asus xonar D1, its the PCI version.
  32. huge speakres eh??? active PA speakers all the way bwois..
  33. I've got one last PCI slot. God, why do I have to be so freaking indecisive...

    I've been told on Overclock.net now that the Striker has better analog quality overall than the Xonar DX, even though it uses a slightly less powerful processor.

    Jeez... I'm about ready to just flip a coin on the two and order whatever comes up. I feel like that's what I'm going to end up doing...
  34. I've heard that, too... I know that the DX 7.1 doesn't have full EAX - it tries to emulate it, which I can almost guarantee doesn't sound as good as true EAX support.

    At this point, I apologize to everyone who gave their suggestions in this thread. As long as it's taking me, just trust that I'm listening to you, even if the post count isn't showing it. ;) We're down to two, at least:

    Asus Xonar DX 7.1:
    +Better processor
    +Quality weighted towards front stereo channels
    +PCI-Express x1

    -Requires external power
    -Emulated EAX

    Omega Striker:
    +Sexy
    +No External Power
    +Excellent analog quality

    -PCI Interface

    Man... if the DX just didn't have that external power connector. Heck, we can run a Radeon HD 5670 without one, but a little sound card like that apparently needs auxiliary power.
  35. Quote:
    Which xonar dx the dx2 or the 7.1 one?

    Btw. the DX uses different dacs for stereo and rear channels. bet they don't know that at overclock.net

    Here's another good one
    Auzentech HT HD

    ASUS dont have EAX.. they have GX 2.0 .. which is software that tries to use EAX and emulate it.


    both of them are 7.1
  36. someguynamedmatt said:
    I've heard that, too... I know that the DX 7.1 doesn't have full EAX - it tries to emulate it, which I can almost guarantee doesn't sound as good as true EAX support.

    At this point, I apologize to everyone who gave their suggestions in this thread. As long as it's taking me, just trust that I'm listening to you, even if the post count isn't showing it. ;) We're down to two, at least:

    Asus Xonar DX 7.1:
    +Better processor
    +Quality weighted towards front stereo channels
    +PCI-Express x1

    -Requires external power
    -Emulated EAX

    Omega Striker:
    +Sexy
    +No External Power
    +Excellent analog quality

    -PCI Interface

    Man... if the DX just didn't have that external power connector. Heck, we can run a Radeon HD 5670 without one, but a little sound card like that apparently needs auxiliary power.


    i just dont understand your problem.... if u'd look... u say u want to tget the the DX but because of its extrenal power it is a let down, why dont u jsut get the PCI version (asus xonar D1)...

    u cant tell too myuch differnce between quality of the physical components unless u have very very very revealing system, its usually from the processor that you can hear the differences especially the bass. my advice to u is, if u really want to get a xonar then go for the D1 or teh D2, not too much diff, but u can still kinda tell, especially at louder volumes.
  37. I don't understand my problem, either. I'm just the most indecisive person you'll ever hear. :??:

    You're right. I never noticed that the D1 didn't have the power connector that the DX has. Huh... makes sense, though. Looks like that's what I'm going to get.
  38. Are you SURE that you are the most indecisive person?
  39. Heh... well... I take back me claiming that I'm getting the D1. It looks like I'm going to go with the Omega Striker after all.

    ...and it only took me about two 80-comment threads to determine that. Yup.
    Yeah... I got what you said, just in case you're wondering. ;)
  40. Thats alright
    they were good threads
    I still think Asus is the best...
  41. Quote:
    ASUS Xonar HDAV1.3 - Auzentech Auzen X-Fi HomeTheater HD

    ^those are the only two cards I would go for personally. They support features that none others support like PAP, Dolby True HD and DTS HD Master Audio Blitstreaming.


    people usually get those cards if they have a blu-ray player on their PC, but i thinkts thats kinda stupid, cos u could probably get much better one separately, and get a receiver to decode the dolby and DTS signals.
  42. Hopefully my last post to end this topic:

    I've decided. Instead of looking for the best way to give up performance to fit my budget, I'm just going to stick with what I originally planned a couple months ago and hold onto money for a couple more weeks until I can get myself an Omega Claro (Plus?).

    There you have it. What an end to a two page thread about the best $100 sound card you can get... :??:
  43. Good luck
  44. as requested. thread closed.
  45. This topic has been closed by Mrface
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