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Soundcard recommendation for z5500+pc360

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May 23, 2012 3:24:16 AM

Can someone recommend a decent soundcard for a Logitech z5500 sound system & Sennheiser PC 360 gaming headset?

I plan on connecting the z5500's through analog.

My budget is ~$250.00.
I run a i7 3770k on a Asus z77 deluxe mobo.
May 23, 2012 6:42:53 AM

for that budget, any of the higher end from Creative or Asus will do the job quite nicely...
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Best solution

May 23, 2012 7:10:39 AM

Well instead of writing it all out again here is one of my posts from an earlier thread:
Quote:
Do you have to have a headphone amp? Do you listen to speakers as well or would you like to have a good option for that for possible future use?

The reason I ask is that while the "HT | OMEGA Claro Halo" has a quality Headphone Amplifier It doesn't have 5.1 or 7.1 analog connections and if you want to use your cards high quality DAC's (digital to analog converter) for PC speakers greater than 2ch you will need the analog connections.

There are several options. You could buy the "HT | OMEGA Claro Halo XT" or add on the "HT OMEGA XT Extension Board" at a later date assuming that HT | OMEGA still sells them. Right now they are available direct or through amazon for $59.99
http://www.amazon.com/gp/offer-listing/B005OU7MZ2/ref=p...

Of course this is assuming you have the need, desire and/or room for it in the first place. The Halo and Halo XT are excellent cards by the way.

You could also forgo the Headphone Amplifier if it's not super important and buy the HT | OMEGA CLARO II 7.1 Channels 24-bit 192KHz PCI Interface Sound Card
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

But the best option for you might be this card: "HT | OMEGA eClaro 7.1 Channels 24-bit 192KHz PCI Express x1" this card is very low profile and should fit nice in your top PCIe x1 slot which is were I have mine.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

These last 2 cards don't have a dedicated headphone amp but, my A700's still go pretty loud on my eClaro and they do have both digital and analog connections for up to 7.1. All of these cards, the Claro Halo, Claro Halo XT, CLARO II and the eClaro use the same Audio Chipset. They also all have a five egg rating on Newegg. There isn't even one single Asus or Creative internal sound card that can boast that.

The Claro Halo, Claro Halo XT and eClaro also have a swappable OPAMP socket.
IMHO you can't go wrong with HT | OMEGA they are excellent sound cards without all the driver issues that many people report with Creative or Asus sound cards.

There is one Asus sound card that I have been eagerly awaiting. The ASUS Xonar Phoebus: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... It has the Oxygen Express CM8888DHT processor which is the first sound processor natively designed for PCI-Express. Here's a review: http://soundnews.ro/2012/05/17/phoebus-english/ The problem as always is the drivers : http://hardforum.com/showthread.php?p=1038752415#post10... If they can properly address the driver issues I might consider this a top contender but, not until Asus does!
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May 23, 2012 3:57:28 PM

First off, for best quality, hook up the Z5500's via analog.

As a result, if you want to have both the headset and Z5500's plugged in at the same time, then you need a soundcard with a headphone amp [note the PC360's don't really need one though, but it doesn't hurt].

At the very cheap end, you have the ASUS Xonar DG. Moving up, you have the Auzentech Forte, Auzentech Home Theater HD, and HT Omega Claro Halo which have amps built in. [I'm not listing hte Xense, which comes with a PC350, or the ST(X), which doesn't have multichannel analog output].
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May 24, 2012 12:59:31 AM

Well, I checked into your board a little and it appears that you don't have an available PCI port just PCIe (please correct me if I'm wrong). Unfortunately sound card manufactures have been lagging behind everyone else when it comes to the development of high quality PCIe cards so this limits your choices considerably.

The most promising new card is the ASUS Xonar Phoebus but, with so few reviews and possible driver issues that won't be one of my recommendations at this time.

The only other PCIe cards with headphone amps and analog connectivity for 5.1 (that I know of) are Auzentech's three PCIe cards. The two "gamerk316" mentioned (Auzentech Forte, Auzentech Home Theater HD) and the Auzen X-Fi Bravura. Of these three the Auzen X-Fi Forte 7.1 is the only one that did fairly well in user reviews before Newegg stopped carrying them. http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductList.aspx?Submit=E...

The Auzen X-Fi Forte 7.1 can be bought here for $119.99 http://www.jr.com/brand/auzentech/

If you don't have to have a headphone amp, the card I use is (the HT | OMEGA eClaro W/OPA1612 opamp on a SOIC-to-DIP adapter) is an excellent choice. My headphones are still plenty loud. http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=29-271-...

So to sum it up my recommendations for a PCIe sound card with analog 5.1 connections are:
#1- The HT | OMEGA eClaro (if you don't have to have a headphone amp) With rock solid drivers!

#2- The Auzen X-Fi Forte 7.1 (if you do have to have a headphone amp) With sometimes buggy Auzentech/Creative drivers.
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May 24, 2012 1:04:40 AM

I just bought a HT Omega Claro II! I have the same speakers as you. So if you wanna wait about 3-4 days... I can let you know how everything sounds!
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May 24, 2012 1:50:49 AM

You could consider an mbox or something from digidesign if you plan to do any recording. I have used onboard from two mobos on my z5500s without issue, as LONG as you stay analog. I've used an old audigy 2 zs and a USB creative 5.1 as well.

The z5500s don't require anything special to drive them, and I don't see the benefit of spending more on a pc soundcard than on the receiver and speakers combined.
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May 24, 2012 1:46:40 PM

Quote:
Well, I checked into your board a little and it appears that you don't have an available PCI port just PCIe (please correct me if I'm wrong). Unfortunately sound card manufactures have been lagging behind everyone else when it comes to the development of high quality PCIe cards so this limits your choices considerably.


Because soundcards don't really need the bandwidth. And C-Media only JUST released a native PCI-E chipset [which the Phoebus uses], so the uptake for PCI-E has been slow.
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May 24, 2012 7:23:51 PM

gamerk316 said:
Because soundcards don't really need the bandwidth. And C-Media only JUST released a native PCI-E chipset [which the Phoebus uses], so the uptake for PCI-E has been slow.
While it certainly is true that "soundcards don't really need the bandwidth" it's also kind of immaterial if your board doesn't have a usable PCI slot. From what I have seen the trend has been to move away from PCI and I'm willing to bet that in just a very few years you will have a hard time finding it on any boards.

Even on many of the last generation enthusiast boards (LGA1366), including my Asus Rampage III Formula the PCI slot was given a low priority since if you wanted to use SLI/CF in a 2X16 configuration the only PCI slot was rendered inaccessible leaving only 2 PCIe x1 slots for additional hardware like a soundcard.

The trend towards PCIe and away from PCI from everything I have seen is nothing new so yes, soundcard manufacturers are way behind the curve regardless of the fact that every soundcard before the Phoebus used a native PCI chipset. The technology to bridge that to PCIe is nothing new either. Just saying.
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May 25, 2012 12:20:12 AM

Well, I definitely had no intention of going anything other than analog with the z5500's.

Heard about the phoebus, but I've also read about the number of negative reviews, mostly due to the current drivers so I figure I'd hold off there, hope a little more reviews showed up.

I'll definitely look into the HT Omega Claro's, hadn't heard of these, and I'll wait a few days, see what ChrisUlrich has to say about them :ange: 

Thanks for all the input guys, really appreciate it :D 
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May 25, 2012 12:27:13 AM

Best answer selected by Oseriduun.
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May 25, 2012 5:54:14 PM

Oseriduun said:
Thanks for all the input guys, really appreciate it :D 
No problem Oseriduun, thanks for the B.A. and I hope you find the card that you need/want. If you have any more questions feel free to ask.
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