I am looking to buy the new tiamat razer headset when it comes out and was wondering if someone could tell me if i will see better sound quality with a decent sound card vs my onboard audio, I know my way round a pc and am a php developer however I have never really done much in the way of sound cards.
My priority is for gaming so if anyone has any advice on which sound card is the best for gaming then that would be great.
I am considdering getting the xonar D2x as it seems to have great reviews and seems like a great all round choice.
So yeah thats 2 questions:
1 - Will i notice a difference going from the on board audio on that motherboard or not?
2 - If it would be noticeable what would your recommendations be regarding which sound card is best for gaming purposes.
I'd say the biggest difference is that sound cards have a better signal to noise ratio. This means you won't hear as much hum from your speaker/headphones.
It also depends how you connect the two. It you're using spdif optical out or any other digital format, it won't make much of a difference. Analog signals sound way better through a sound card.
Other than that, sound cards usually support more features, which can be a plus or a minus. For example, I really like the creative labs crystalizer, it helps sharpen the sound by restoring loud peaks, and can be heard in gunshots and drums.
Sound cards are more likely to support Surround sound encoding (both the x-fi titanium, and Xonar do this). Which lets you get surround sound for games over spdif and coax digital.
Well, the "best" 7.1 soundcard is either the ASUS Xonar Xense, Auzentech HTHD, or HE Omega Claro XT. Those are overkill though. Barring a high end audiophile headset, the ASUS Xonar DX is usually my recommended choice.
The Xense has a special headphone amp, which is useless with the new tiamat. If there's not a special razor soundcard designed to be used with the tiamat, your best bet is still the Xense, but most of it's special features will be wasted.
The DX is a good choice. If you don't hate creative, there is the X-fi titanium HD which uses Burr-Brown DACs and might be another interesting choice.
(on closer inspection I'm not sure the x-fi hd has 7.1 analog out, which seems odd.)
(also none of the current Xense cards have 7.1 analog outs, some "allow" you to purchase daughter cards to add this)
So your best choices are:
ASUS Xonar DX 7.1 for pci-e 116dB
ASUS Xonar D1 7.1 for pci 116dB
Creative X-fi titanium for pci-e 109dB (the only reason to pick this is it has slightly more flexible ports)