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Audioengine 5 - sound card advice

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May 3, 2012 3:40:16 PM

Hi all,

I recently acquired a pair of Audioengine 5's. I have always used on-board audio but since I'm saving up for a new build I was wondering what I should do to maximize the potential of my speakers. So these are my questions:

1: Is there any difference between on-board solutions? Mobo's I'm considering have either Realtek ALC 887, 889 or VIA VT2021. All Gigabyte.
2: Are my Audioengine's of high enough quality that a dedicated sound card makes a difference?
3: If the answer to 2 is yes, what sound cards should I consider?

Primary use: music and movies/tv-series -- gaming is unimportant
Budget: max 200 euro for mobo with on-board audio or max 120 euro for a dedicated sound card. I'm a sucker for biggest bang for buck though.
Preferred webshop: www.azerty.nl
I don't consider myself an audiophile but high quality audio makes me smile somehow :D 

Thank you for your time and input, much appreciated!
May 3, 2012 3:53:45 PM

Thomas_89 said:
Hi all,

I recently acquired a pair of Audioengine 5's. I have always used on-board audio but since I'm saving up for a new build I was wondering what I should do to maximize the potential of my speakers. So these are my questions:

1: Is there any difference between on-board solutions? Mobo's I'm considering have either Realtek ALC 887, 889 or VIA VT2021. All Gigabyte.
2: Are my Audioengine's of high enough quality that a dedicated sound card makes a difference?
3: If the answer to 2 is yes, what sound cards should I consider?

Primary use: music and movies/tv-series -- gaming is unimportant
Budget: max 200 euro for mobo with on-board audio or max 120 euro for a dedicated sound card. I'm a sucker for biggest bang for buck though.
Preferred webshop: www.azerty.nl
I don't consider myself an audiophile but high quality audio makes me smile somehow :D 

Thank you for your time and input, much appreciated!


1. There is some, but it's relatively negligible between the Realteks and the VIA.

2. They are, but since the highest card your preferred web shop carries is the Asus Xonar DX, which has a lower SNR and output capability than any of the onboard audio cards, your best bet is to stick with onboard audio.

May 3, 2012 3:57:40 PM

sk1939 said:
1. There is some, but it's relatively negligible between the Realteks and the VIA.

2. They are, but since the highest card your preferred web shop carries is the Asus Xonar DX, which has a lower SNR and output capability than any of the onboard audio cards, your best bet is to stick with onboard audio.


Thank you for your reply!
If the web shop could be any other, what would you recommend?
Related resources
May 3, 2012 4:12:38 PM

Thomas_89 said:
Thank you for your reply!
If the web shop could be any other, what would you recommend?


HT | OMEGA STRIKER, NuForce Icon uDAC, or possibly the ASUS Xonar Essence STX.
May 3, 2012 5:03:56 PM

sk1939 said:
HT | OMEGA STRIKER, NuForce Icon uDAC, or possibly the ASUS Xonar Essence STX.


Ok, so it's impossible for me to get the HT OMEGA Striker, only Newegg and NCIX sell it and they don't ship to The Netherlands.
I can, however, pick up a ASUS Xonar Essence STX from a local retailer: http://www.norrod.nl/geluidskaarten/20036565/asus_xonar...
I can also order the NuForce uDAC-2 from a web shop: http://www.audiodroom.com/nl/product/nuforce-udac-2/

The Xonar is 164 euro and the NuForce is 139 (free shipping).
From your previous post I think you prefer the NuForce? Since it is also cheaper I think that's the best option. Am I correct?
May 3, 2012 5:15:13 PM

The Xonar is the highest quality of the two, but the Nuforce provides a good balance between performance and cost. It also helps that the device itself is rather small.
May 3, 2012 5:55:50 PM

sk1939 said:
1. There is some, but it's relatively negligible between the Realteks and the VIA.

2. They are, but since the highest card your preferred web shop carries is the Asus Xonar DX, which has a lower SNR and output capability than any of the onboard audio cards, your best bet is to stick with onboard audio.


Uhhh...the DX is rated at 116dB SnR for the front stereo outputs; the surrounds are lower [I *think* 109]. The top realtek chipset, the ALC889, is rated at 109dB SnR.

Anyways, those speaker look good enough to warrent a soundcard, but I can't imagine they are high end enough to really benefit from anything much higher then the DX.
May 3, 2012 8:09:21 PM

gamerk316 said:
Uhhh...the DX is rated at 116dB SnR for the front stereo outputs; the surrounds are lower [I *think* 109]. The top realtek chipset, the ALC889, is rated at 109dB SnR.

Anyways, those speaker look good enough to warrent a soundcard, but I can't imagine they are high end enough to really benefit from anything much higher then the DX.


Your right, although some sites place it at 100dB SNR.
!