Need some advice! Please help!

I already ordered a HT Omega Clario II because I am a jackass. I spent $155 on the bad boy. It was an impulse buy... regret it very much already!

But the good news is that it's not installed, it hasn't even arrived! So here is my question to everyone: since the main reason for my having a nice sound card is music and video games, is the Clario II an excellent choice? I see a lot of people recommending the Asus Xonar DX but is that card really better even though it's normally $100 cheaper? What justifies the price of the Clario II?

What makes this much more difficult than usual is that I can't find any professional reviews on sound cards! Very tough for me to do my own research when I am so ignorant on these facts. I would appreciate any help, thanks in advance.

Speakers are Logitec Z5500s and I plan to use analog cables.
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  1. It's price is not that much different from the ASUS Xonar Essence STX models.
    And it's probably a very good match for your Logitech Z-5500 THX speaker system.

    Claro II hasnt been out that long which might explain the missing independent reviews.
  2. Thanks for the quick response. So you're saying the STX is better than the Clario II?

    I imagine the STX is better than the D1 or DX from Xonar as well?
  3. At around $150 you're getting into the price range of stand-alone component receivers.
    As opposed to a upscale PC audio card.

    What motherboard are you using?
  4. The ASRock Extreme6.

    You think I am better off saving money and getting The D1 or DX? I am NOT an audio expert by any means. Just want something that is gonna sound awesome in games and music, that's all.
  5. ASRock A75 Extreme6
    ASRock X79 Extreme6
    ASRock Z77 Extreme6
    ASRock P67 Extreme6

    Looks like most (but not all) models have Optical S/PDIF Out for connection audio to home theater equipment.

    In your position, with that amount of money, I would have gone for the home theater component receiver option.
    Something like: Sherwood RD-7405 7.1-Channel A/V Receiver
  6. Sorry man, it's the P67 model.

    So you're saying, use the Optical S/PDIF Out and run it into the Sherwood Receiver? Then from that device, I hook up the Logitech Z5500s?

    Someone mentioned in another thread that The Z5500s process audio themselves and using optical connections (opposed to analog) would hurt the overall sound quality and limit the productivity of the device I will be purchasing/using.

    And how does the option you suggested compare to a sound card option? Is it really a better option for quality on music/gaming?
  7. Hey! do your Z5500 have a Optical S/PDIF input?
  8. Doh! I am not home! I will check that as soon as I get there! Although, that funky little cap does seem very familiar looking.

    Not to be a pest but, i'm gonna ask this again. :-)

    How does the option you suggested compare to a sound card option? Is it really a better option for quality on music/gaming?
  9. Optical S/PDIF sends pure digital audio signal out to your speakers, no sound card required.
  10. Actually, I wanna say, I do that have that on the back of my main controller thingy.
  11. I mean, will it make things sound better than going the sound card option? Is this Sherwood Receiver route better for music/gaming than the HT Omega or Asus Xonar route?
  12. Looks like the motherboard and speakers both support THX.

    As is usually the case the quality of the audio input (game sounds vs DVD movie theater sounds for example) and the quality of the speakers is what makes things 'sound better'.

    If you're not going with larger home theater type setup (TV, component DVD or Blu-Ray player, etc) I think you can skip the sound card.
  13. No, this is strictly for my PC. And for now, and probably for a while, just my Logitech Z5500s. They were pretty expensive and sound pretty damn good when tied to the X-Fi Fatality before it died. As long as you think this Receiver is a better option for gaming/music than a card (ANY sound card :-O) then I will definitely be getting this Sherwood unit!
  14. ChrisUlrich said:
    Someone mentioned in another thread that The Z5500s process audio themselves and using optical connections (opposed to analog) would hurt the overall sound quality and limit the productivity of the device I will be purchasing/using.
    I have some doubts about this. All the 'sound' is digital to begin with.
    It's got to be converted to analog before it gets to the speakers.
    As for what does the conversion - a PC sound card, the Z5500's own Control Unit (basically a sound card) or component receiver shouldn't make a ton of difference.

    Right now, I'm thinking you should skip the sound card and hold off an an AV component receiver and test that optical SDPIF connection to your Z5500s that you already have.
  15. Really? You really think I should avoid a sound card or AV Recever all together?

    Or are you saying do this as a trial run to see how I like the sound.

    Also, how would I use an equalizer if not using my sound cards software? Setting up 5.1, 10 band, etc...
  16. Will using the Sherwood still use 5.1? I am reading that the Optical S/PDIF supports 2 channel only. That would make me use "ProLogic" and fake surround.

    Trying to read up on this as much as I can!
  17. Wow, some horrid advice here.

    1: SPDIF is a horrid audio mechanism. You are limited either to Stereo or highly compressed 5.1 [which coincidentally, you need a soundcard to encode to].

    2: The HT Omega Claro II is a higher quality card then the ASUS Xonar DX, but its not worth double the price. The DX is cheap and has a good enough performance increase over onboard that most other soundcards, while better, aren't cost justified. The one exception would be if you needed a headphone amp for a high imepedance headset.

    I also note that the Z5500's aren't particularlly high end speakers, so there is a limit to how much a soundcard can help; another reason why cards higher then the DX are hard to recommend.

    3: Remember that at some point in the audio chain, all that digital audio is going to be converted to analog. You want this done exactly ONCE, usually by the component with the highest quality DAC. The DAC on, for example, a Logitech Z5500, is crap, and significantly degrades audio quality. Barring owning a $500 receiver, you want the soundcard doing the digital to analog conversion.
  18. S/PDIF can carry two channels of PCM uncompressed audio or a multi-channel compressed surround sound format such as Dolby Digital 5.1 or DTS 96/24.
    And your Z-5500 Control Unit is a hardware Dolby Digital 5.1 decoder & DTS 96/24 5.1 decoder.
  19. ^^ And Dolby and DTS are both lossy formats, and the Z5500's DAC is horrid. There is NO REASON WHATSOEVER to use SPDIF over a soundcards multichannel analog output.
  20. This is from a rep at HT Omega about the Claro II and the Logitech Z5500s.

    "I mean that your digital speaker system. Claro II provides high resolution
    than most of digital speaker system.
    Therefore, you can use very fine analog output with Claro II.
    And I think that you can compare SNR (signal to noise ratio) of z-5500 from
    RMAA test report which I attached file.
    By the way, for using digital output, Claro II provides Dolby Digital or dts
    encoding features. It means that you can get 5,1ch signal by one single
    digital cable."
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