Low Sound/Bad Sound/Awww Mannn...

I just purchased a new computer. It came with a Gigabyte Ga-7ZX Athlon motherboard. This motherboard has integrated Creative 128 PCI sound.

I've already used it with my Cambridge speakers/subwoofer, and it performs fine, nice sound, good and loud. However, once I changed to my headphones, the sound became really, REALLY quiet, as well as gaining an annoying crackling sound.

I think I've gone through most of the standard procedure troubleshooting this:

- I made sure that the volume control on my headphones was at max. It was, and the sound was still crappy.

- I made sure that the Windows Volume Control sound was at max (Wave, Master, Out, etc...basically all of 'em). They're all at max, and the output is still crummy.

- I checked the board's bundled software mixer, to see if its volume controls were low. Nothing there, as they were also set to max.

- I checked my headphone connection by pulling out and re-inserting the plug, making sure it was firmly planted into the jack.

- I tested the headphones to see if they were bad, by hooking them up to my other computer, also with integrated sound, but on a PII motherboard. Checks out OK, nice bass, good volume.

- I reinstalled the sound card drivers. Still nothing.

- I checked the sound card for improper installation (me...install something...badly...NEVER). All is fine with that, but the sound is still hard to hear, and the graininess is still there.

I think I'm pretty much out of options. Nothing I do seems to work, so I'm considering buying a new sound card. Here's the kick (*in the balls*), if I do that, I won't have enough money to get that GeForce 2 GTS I had my eye on, grrr...

You can see my dilemma (I hope). Any response is welcome. I'm looking mainly for help troubleshooting this problem, as I'm practically broke as it is! :)

Thanks for your time all,


P.S. Apologies for any spelling errors, I'm working on the world's crappiest keyboard (a SIAM United. Yeah, ? is right.)
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  1. I'm just shooting in the dark here, but I'll need to know a few things first:

    How many jacks and whay type are they on the back of your sound card? (I.E. 4 jack, line in, line out, speaker out, mic)

    Which one of these jacks is/did you plug your cambridge sound works into?

    Which one of these jacks is/did you plug your Head phones into? Or is it plugged into the Cambridge sound works?

    What type of headphones are they?


    Fighting a one-man-war against Windows.
  2. The back of my sound card (which is integrated, don't forget; not like it makes a difference) has line out, line in, and mic in.

    O - Line out
    O - Line in
    O - Mic in

    I wish it had speaker out. My buddy suggested plugging into that, and I would have, if I only HAD a speaker out.

    My speakers/headphones are always plugged into the line out jack (I've tried all three just in case connections have been soldered incorrectly - like that'll ever happen - but to no avail).

    I don't plug my headphones into my speakers (wish I could). They go directly into the line out. This works on my other computers, however the law of computers dictates that it does not on mine :)

    I'm writing this from "work", so I don't have an exact model number for you, however for the time being, they are Plantronics headphones. This is my second set, as I destroyed my first one (snapped the cord), and I've always found them to be reliable.

    Thanks for your time, any more assistance would be of great use. If I can't fix this, my vendor has agreed to swap motherboards. I hate waiting!


    "My goal is simple; it is the complete understanding of the universe." - Stephen Hawking
  3. Well, there's your problem.

    Headphones are essentially small, passive speakers.

    They need amplified output, not line-level voltage.

    I don't know your specific hardware, but there may be a jumper to select amplified output on the mobo, many integrated sound cards have this feature.

    Your active speaker setup won't like it though.

    Best solution is to get an active speaker setup with a headphone socket.

    That's probably not what you wanted to hear, sorry!
  4. soundblaster 128 sucks.
    just a general impression
    get a better sound card, then wait a couple of weeks for the price of the graphics card to come down in price
    it wont take long

    "Don't be too proud of this technological terror you have created"~Darth Vader, Star wars
  5. It is, unfortunately, true that the problem lies in your head phones, or lack of amplification with your integrated sound. I have an Epox 8KTA3 with integrated sound it does not have on board amplification. What saved me was that I had a pair of power speakers with a headphone jack on them. When I upgraded my soundcard, there was a speaker out option for passive speakers or line out for powered.

    So what you need is a new sound card with an on board amplifier or a new set of speakers that are powered and have a headphone jack on them. Replacing the MB won't do since I don't know of any that have onboard amplifiers. What I suggest is:

    1) you buy a new speaker system that is powered and has a headphone jack. I don't know what your current speaker setup is. If you have an elaborate one with a subwoofer and the works, this option may not be good. But if you're using standard desktop, run out to staples or best buy and get a set of powered speakers with headphone jack for ~$20 - $25.

    2) Upgrade your sound card. My onboard sound wasn't the best, only sound blaster pro. (8-Bit stereo) so I went and got a Sound blaster 16 PCI. It has an onbard amplifier, a speaker out line and a line out. Works well in all modes (windows, dos box, real mode dos, and true dos 6.22) and supports some basic EAX. I chose this simple solution since an SBLive! Won't work in my system for some odd reason. I think it's the southbridge chipset. Futher more, this card is $50 retail from wal-mart, but only $15-$25 from Priceline.com or on ebay. So it's a cheap elegant solution.

    I would not swap MB since I don't think any exist that have an on-board pre-amp.

    Hope that helps. Good luck with everyhing.

    Fighting a one-man-war against Windows.
  6. Sorry guys, you don't have the whole story :(

    The day after I made the first "help" post, I went back to my computer to further troubleshoot the problem. My amplified/powered speakers DO NOT WORK AT ALL with this sound card. That's it, kaput, nada, zip.

    They *used* to, but no more. This is very strange, as they worked perfectly fine just two days prior (before I wrote my initial post).

    My headphones work incredibly well using the line-out on my other systems, PII 400 w. Crystal Audio, and Athlon 800 w. Sound Blaster 128 PCI. I am convinced that the headphones are not at fault.

    You may or may not have picked up on this, but I have three computers. The one with sound problems is an Athlon T-Bird 850 w. Sound Blaster 128 PCI integrated. That means that I have two computers with the exact same sound card (both SB 128 PCI).

    The integrated sound in the Athlon 850 machine is the broken one, and the plug-in sound in the Athlon 800 machine works fine,but they are the same card. I use line out on both, and on the good machine I get amazing sound quality, and incredible volume. And yes, I'm using headphones.

    To summarize:

    - My new computer's Sound Blaster 128 PCI Integrated sound card has low/zero volume output and crappy clarity
    - I have another computer with the exact same sound card, and it tests fine, under the same conditions (both using line out)
    - Neither my powered speakers, nor my headphones work with the broken sound card, leading me to believe that if I go out and buy another set of speakers, they too, will not work

    Thanks for your input, maybe this sheds some more light (again apologies for any spelling errors, bad keyboard).


    Oh, could anyone help me to switch my line-out to an amplified setting. I've been hearing talk of that, and I might as well try.

    Thanks all,

  7. I have a headphone and speaker out, but if I want to use headphones, I just connect my surround sound stereo system to the speaker out, and plug my headphones into my stereo system. It's much better to just get a stereo receiver with a headphone jack than buy another sound card. Plus, a stereo receiver has much better amplification than what you'll get hooking your speakers to the sound card.
  8. um... ok, now that sounds to me like a bad MB. Either that or the onboard sound just does not have the same EXACT specs as your plug card. First thing I'd do is try checking the BIOS or the MB manual for a jumper or setting for amplified audio. After that, um... I guess I'd swap MB ^-^

    Fighting a one-man-war against Windows.
  9. Uk user here.
    I have the gigabyte motherboard with a 1.3 Athlon, integrated soundcard, you guessed it, PCI128!!! And yes, no sound for me too! Need an amplifier with it, so I bought the Videologic SonicFury, but that's another story!
  10. I dont know whats up. Is all your Jumpers in right. Did you try looking in the Bios or Registery.

    Well my onboard C-Media 8738 works just fine.

    Nice Intel and AMD users get a Cookie.... :smile: Yummy :smile:
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