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Sound card for music with EQ console on Win 7, like X-Fi

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April 18, 2011 6:03:45 PM

The title says it all, I'm a big buff for music and I use my pc a lot for audio reproduction. I'm still using XP but now I'm considering changing my OS to Win 7. The thing is, I have a Creative X-Fi Extreme Music and I use it a lot to tweak my sound. I have the EQ tweaked and I can't live without it. While browsing the Creative site and googling the subject I found out that the software I use on XP is barely available for Win 7. The only thing that's available is the Console Launcher application and in Beta stage. There isn't even the Audio Console that allows me to customize the audio settings. This isn't a problem with drivers for Win 7 but rather a problem of not having the software I use now available, and probably it never will be.

So I wanted to know if there is any workaround this situation in a way that I can maintain the use of the software I now have on Win 7. Since I've lost pretty much all hope on that I can then ask another thing, which sound card is recommendable for me if I want to upgrade mine? It has to be compatible with Win 7 in terms of drivers but specifically in terms of the software that controls the tweaking of the sound card. Plus, and this is mandatory, it must be able to support a software EQ of at least 10 bands, but more than 10 is fine too.

Any ideas?
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April 18, 2011 7:41:06 PM

Yep! the Striker is a good one festerovic and it does have an EQ.
April 18, 2011 8:05:02 PM

Hey Davcon, didn't you mean to recommend the Bravura model instead of the Forte? Because it seems, at least from the description on the Auzentech site, that the one that has all the software I use is Bravura. And it seems to me that the Forte model is more directed at pro-users or am I wrong?

As for the software use, I prefer to have the equalization applied from the Control Center (or Media Center) of the sound board. I'm accustomed that way, but other than that my sound card is a bit old and isn't even PCI-E but just plain PCI, so in the end it's probably best to buy a new one.

The Striker also seems interesting but I can't visualize its software. The big advantage that the Auzentech have is that they use the same software I've been using for 5 years now, and I've been very happy with it. I actually like the X-Fi processor very much and find that it does exactly what I need. Anyway comparing both which would be better in terms of hardware/software?
April 18, 2011 9:18:44 PM

So from what I've read on the Auzentech site and the Guru3D reviews of both Bravura and Forte, the main difference is that Forte has a stronger processing capability (due to using hardware acceleration) and in terms of software it has the three modes (Entertainment, Gaming, Audio Creation) whereas Bravura only has one (Entertainment), right?
April 18, 2011 9:48:59 PM

are u aiming for a flat frequency response?? cos if so , maybe u could jsut inveest in another headphone or a speaker.
April 18, 2011 9:57:21 PM

MEgamer said:
are u aiming for a flat frequency response?? cos if so , maybe u could jsut inveest in another headphone or a speaker.
What do you mean by that exactly? My problem is that for the sound card I have there's no supported software for Win 7, and as it's a bit old I would like to upgrade it to a new one with the same (or relatively similar) type of software. The Auzentech Forte is actually pretty similar to the one I have in terms of software and it's supposed to be a beast of a sound card from what I've read.
April 18, 2011 10:52:12 PM

I think hes saying that the main reason to have eq is to get flat freq response to negate the room's effects. And if you are trying to make speakers sound correct by EQ, you would be better served by new speakers. I can somewhat agree, but I doubt you are trying for flatness. Most people want to adjust eq for personal listening prefs, not audio production. Production would require it to be flat, but most people don't like that sound.
April 18, 2011 11:34:47 PM

festerovic said:
I think hes saying that the main reason to have eq is to get flat freq response to negate the room's effects. And if you are trying to make speakers sound correct by EQ, you would be better served by new speakers. I can somewhat agree, but I doubt you are trying for flatness. Most people want to adjust eq for personal listening prefs, not audio production. Production would require it to be flat, but most people don't like that sound.
It's like you say, I use the EQ on my sound board to customize the output to my liking. I still don't get were you guys are going with the flat frequency thing. Anyone who doesn't have an amazing (and by amazing I mean in the thousands of dollars level) sound system can always use the EQ to improve the sound quality. My speakers have a good response frequency as they support 20hz-20Khz and don't distort much with good bass and mid-range, but the fact is that the improvements made by the EQ tweaking are very noticeable, especially by being able to cut the boomy sounds and mud on mid-range while making the high-end shine a bit more.

In the end it's a matter of personal taste, obviously, but few (if any) systems have a perfect output with a flat EQ.
April 19, 2011 12:55:37 AM

There are some good deals for the Sound Blaster X-Fi Titanium and Sound Blaster X-Fi Titanium Fatal1ty Pro on eBay, they are at least 2 to 3 time newer revisions compared to the Xtreme Music.
(personally I'm a Xonar fan)
April 19, 2011 5:12:28 AM

androdion said:
II still don't get were you guys are going with the flat frequency thing..


the goal of audio recording and flat freq response is to have the sound exactly like it would sound if it was played in front of you. If you used a sound analyzer that broke down freq by dB, and played white noise (white noise is tonally even, and is used for baseline comparison) at high volume in a room, it would tell you where the frequencies are that are gaining or losing strength because of the acoustics of the room. You would ideally use the eq to make your room sound flat, thus letting you hear the recording exactly as it was meant to be.

someone once told me, "So you think you can mix sound better than studio engineers with golden ears? Doubtful" but as usual, if it doesn't sound good to you, its not good! Everyone has their own choice on how you like it, some are purists for the flat sound.
April 19, 2011 1:35:08 PM

Well, most sound cards have at least a 5 band EQ these days, though I'd definatly read a review on a particular card just to make sure...

Right now, the card I would recommend that would be a step or two up from the Extreme Music [which was a low-tier card when it came out] would be either the ASUS Xonar D1/DX or the HT Omega Striker. A slighter more affordable option would be the ASUS Xonar DS, though you start to lose a lot of features at that level...

Going up a tier (~$100 - ~$150), you have a LOT of options:
HT Omega Claro
ASUS Xonar D2/D2X
Auzentech Forte
Auzentech Bravura
Auzentech Meridian 2G
April 19, 2011 10:23:45 PM

festerovic said:
the goal of audio recording and flat freq response is to have the sound exactly like it would sound if it was played in front of you. If you used a sound analyzer that broke down freq by dB, and played white noise (white noise is tonally even, and is used for baseline comparison) at high volume in a room, it would tell you where the frequencies are that are gaining or losing strength because of the acoustics of the room. You would ideally use the eq to make your room sound flat, thus letting you hear the recording exactly as it was meant to be.

someone once told me, "So you think you can mix sound better than studio engineers with golden ears? Doubtful" but as usual, if it doesn't sound good to you, its not good! Everyone has their own choice on how you like it, some are purists for the flat sound.

I got it now. ;)  Anyway I use the EQ because I listen to a whole array of music and my system gives a sound that's too boomy with a flat EQ. I've managed to find a custom preset that allows me to bypass the boomy sound and increase the clarity at the same time. Now I do have some good speakers but fact is they give a much brighter sound with the EQ tweaked instead of flat. If I could get some top tier speakers? I could, but I don't want to spend 300-500€ on some high-tech speakers given that I use 2.1 and not 5.1 or 7.1 speakers. Plus I'm very happy with the ones I have.

The upgrade of the soundboard has to do with keep using the same software that I use now while upgrading my OS to Win 7, this because I'm not taking full advantage of my system with Win XP.
April 21, 2011 6:51:11 PM

the things is with eq, u can degrade the performace of the speaker, changing the speaker's natural frequency response, will reduce their resolving power hence u will lose details.
maybe that boomy sound is due to the speaker being slow? or maybe its your room? either way if u do make the speaker flat ... say down to as low as 15, i think it would incredibly boomy sound, unless u not in a 'room'.
!