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Best sound card for headphones and 5.1 surround gaming

Last response: in Components
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October 12, 2012 6:50:32 AM

Hi to all in this community

So my trusty old philips cans are on the verge of telling me to f@#$ off and get a new friend to play with, which couldnt have been a better time to do so. I was wondering if you guys could nudge me in the right direction, well i have a decent 5.1 surround system in place and would like to replace my headphones as well as a get a baller sound card.

My options are as follows:

Headphones: CoolerMaster Storm Sirus
Sound card: Asus Xonar Essence STX

My questions is: will these two play nice with eachother and surround sound?

Thanks
a b 4 Gaming
October 12, 2012 12:02:29 PM

Well, the STX is only capable of stereo out; really meant to drive high end headphones and stereo speaker sets. Best card on the market, but serves a very niche purpose. The Phoebus is more well rounded, with both 7.1 outputs and the headphone amp.
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October 12, 2012 2:50:30 PM

gamerk316 said:
Well, the STX is only capable of stereo out; really meant to drive high end headphones and stereo speaker sets. Best card on the market, but serves a very niche purpose. The Phoebus is more well rounded, with both 7.1 outputs and the headphone amp.


Thanks, i hear what your say but. The phoebus is just way out of my budget. Any other recommendations?
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a b 4 Gaming
October 12, 2012 3:16:30 PM

Well, if you can find a Xense without the packaged PC350 headset, that would also suffice. After that, you have to start cutting features. The D2(X) is the next card down, but you give up the headphone amp. And so on.

http://event.asus.com/multimedia/xonar/find.htm

Also, the Phoebus shouldn't cost terribly more then the STX...
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a b 4 Gaming
October 12, 2012 3:33:37 PM

creative Titanium HD, auzentech X-Fi, Asus. those 3 are my personal top choices :D .
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October 12, 2012 3:50:06 PM

HT|Omega Striker is what I use
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a b 4 Gaming
October 12, 2012 6:44:06 PM

The Striker was a good card, but ASUS's Xonar DX is a slightly better card at a lower price.
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October 15, 2012 7:03:49 AM

You guys are awesome, giving me so many replies Thanks. Ok so what if i went with the Xonar DX, a) it doesnt seem to have any EMI shielding, will this affect my experience seeing as im some kind of audiophile. b) the STX seems to be made for music, non of the cards are made for my three main usages music,gamig and movies. the phoebus seems to be the best choice, but will it serve all my needs well with the CM Storm Sirus headphones or would you recommend a other cans.
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October 15, 2012 8:47:22 AM

Hey guys, i like the phoebus but i dont like the bad reviews im getting. Some people are having what seems to be EMI shield problems, place the card as far away from the GPU , thats if you have extra slots. Other people cover their capacitors in nail polish to limit the whinning from the caps. Im so lost now cause i really want a good audio experience but with all these problems people are getting even though the phoebus is high-end i have to wait probably till they resolve these issues.
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October 17, 2012 9:55:40 AM

gamerk316 said:
http://event.asus.com/multimedia/xonar/find.htm

The D2(X) remains a very attractive option...at $100 or so. Its really at a very awkward price...


To me the STX is within my budget, but the phoebus is desirable. I am wondering if these sound cards would interfere with my GPU (Gigabyte gtx 670oc) since i heard that nvidia cards tend to have interference with these mentioned sound cards when working with headphone mics, in saying this i will not be using the mic at all, but you never know. This is my concerns seeing that i will be connecting my 5.1 surround sound system amp to the card.
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a b 4 Gaming
October 17, 2012 11:57:22 AM

There shouldn't be; I'm running a Xense next to a GTX 570 without issue. ASUS's cards are EMI shielded for that reason.
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October 19, 2012 2:36:55 PM

gamerk316 said:
There shouldn't be; I'm running a Xense next to a GTX 570 without issue. ASUS's cards are EMI shielded for that reason.


Is the Xense and Senns combo a good product, apparently these guys mod the Senn to make it sound better.

http://www.head-fi.org/t/406187/modding-the-sennheiser-...

I like the combo seeing that they quite expensive audiophile headphones and amp. Is this investment worthy of its price bracket over say the phoebus or STX brothers.
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October 29, 2012 5:10:14 AM

Ok so im leaning towards to phoebus and the cm storm sonuz, my reason for the sonuz is because the mic can be removed and the headphones arent that expensive. Any thoughts?
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October 30, 2012 9:52:20 AM

I might aswell give some input, recently was trough alot of research for what to use.

The 2 top cards for headphones are Creative SB X-Fi Titanium HD and ASUS Xonar Essence STX.

If you are an gamer the Creative will be a lot better than the Asus in fps games.

And gaming headsets ar just gimmick, I got 3 others headphones from 70-400$ all of em perform better 3d spotting for me trough the Creative SB X-Fi Titanium HD
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November 2, 2012 12:52:28 PM

leonarfd said:
I might aswell give some input, recently was trough alot of research for what to use.

The 2 top cards for headphones are Creative SB X-Fi Titanium HD and ASUS Xonar Essence STX.

If you are an gamer the Creative will be a lot better than the Asus in fps games.

And gaming headsets ar just gimmick, I got 3 others headphones from 70-400$ all of em perform better 3d spotting for me trough the Creative SB X-Fi Titanium HD



I think i would rather wait until the new Creative Sound Blaster Z, Zx & ZXR show up and see how they fair towards the competition, maybe by then the phoebus would drop in price :pt1cable: 
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a b 4 Gaming
November 2, 2012 2:20:44 PM

I will say the Z series looks good...on paper. But I'm still VERY wary of Creative driver support.

And no, there is no FPS advantage between soundcard these days, specially since everything is done S/W side now.
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November 7, 2012 7:44:09 AM

gamerk316 said:
I will say the Z series looks good...on paper. But I'm still VERY wary of Creative driver support.

And no, there is no FPS advantage between soundcard these days, specially since everything is done S/W side now.


So essentially what you're actually saying is that no matter which Asus Xonar high-end card i choose i cannot go wrong?

Ok, now i just got to sort out the headphone choices!! :heink:  I dont have access to the audiophile cans i would like, thats why i started looking at the CM Storm series.
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November 12, 2012 4:28:02 AM

gamerk316 said:
Well, there are differences between ASUS's cards; I went from a D2 to a Xense, and they do have different sound signatures. All their cards are high quality for the most part though.

http://www.head-fi.org/a/headphone-buying-guide
http://www.head-fi.org/t/534479/mad-lust-envys-headphon...

Check these two threads out.


All of those are audiophile grade which my heart is so burning for, but seeing that i live all the way in the very southern tip of South Africa - Cape Twon, i am unable to get my hands on a sampler to even just test before buy kinda approach. Although i do have access to the following brands: Corsair, Coolermaster, Zboard, Asus, Krator, Creative, Steelseries, Razer, Zalman, Microsoft, Skullcandy and Logitech. So much choices have been made with these brands in mind, not much i know.

Any advice concerning these brands and any favourites with particular products of these brands.
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November 20, 2012 5:00:52 AM

let me just add i would prefer it to have a 3.5 jack and not usb.
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November 23, 2012 3:23:34 PM

Gamerk, do you have a link for a gaming sound card just for 5.1 digital speakers?
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November 25, 2012 11:58:37 PM

mikeny said:
Gamerk, do you have a link for a gaming sound card just for 5.1 digital speakers?


Why would you want a digital connection? Your better off with analog. The Asus DX from what I've heard is pretty good. It has a digital connection. I plan on getting the DX soon.
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November 26, 2012 12:23:53 AM

The 8 year old card? I thought analog isn't of good quality? I have 5.1 Logitech Z5500s.
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November 26, 2012 12:29:34 AM

mikeny said:
The 8 year old card? I thought analog isn't of good quality? I have 5.1 Logitech Z5500s.


If you use analog then the sound card does the work. If you use digital connection then the speakers do the work. And yes the DX is still quite relevant. I'm certain that the DX can decode better than the Logitech's.
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November 26, 2012 12:33:32 AM

Creative focuses on gaming.

There is a creative titanium HD card (over 100 dollars) and a NON HD card (about 50 bucks).

The only way to hook up 5.1 speakers to the HD card is via digital. But if you use a digital connection then it won't sound any better than the NON HD Card. So you'd be wasting money.
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a b 4 Gaming
November 26, 2012 3:45:03 AM

Agree with Shadows last two posts:

1: Audio is going to be converted to analog at some point in the audio chain. Either by the soundcard, receiver, or speakers. Generally, you want the component with the best possible DAC (digital to analog converter) to handle this conversion. When you connect from a soundcard using digital, then the component you are connecting to is doing that conversion. Hence why I always recommend speakers that have both an analog and digital connection ALWAYS be connected to a soundcard via analog. (Nevermind you avoid lossy formats like Dolby/DTS, so you get an improvement right there)

2: The Titanium HD and Essence ST(X), again, serve a VERY niche market: High grade stereo speakers, and headphones that require an amp for best effect. I generally don't recommend them unless I see someone using a headphone that can benefit. Hence why I typically recommend the DX, because higher tier cards either serve different markets, or aren't cost justified. Sure, the DX is old, but still a very good card.
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November 26, 2012 2:19:00 PM

I didn't realize sound cards and speakers were so complicated. On the back of the Logitech console on my speakers, there is Optical In, and 3 colored spots that say stereo. So the colored ports are the stereo (3 plugs on one side, and one on the opposite side). For best sound and use of the sound card, use this connection? Otherwise, if I use Optical/Toslink, the speakers will do the work, which is not the way to go? I always thought Digital is so much better than Analog, not so?

I saw the DX is $80 (not bad). I was reading a lot of recent reviews that are scary; the bracket that gets screwed into the case doesn't line up correctly and causes the card to be crooked and be seated incorrectly causing failures, the drivers are causing instability, and the engine that encodes EAX ( DS3D GX) is causing instability also.
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a b 4 Gaming
November 26, 2012 6:03:17 PM

Quote:
I didn't realize sound cards and speakers were so complicated. On the back of the Logitech console on my speakers, there is Optical In, and 3 colored spots that say stereo. So the colored ports are the stereo (3 plugs on one side, and one on the opposite side). For best sound and use of the sound card, use this connection? Otherwise, if I use Optical/Toslink, the speakers will do the work, which is not the way to go? I always thought Digital is so much better than Analog, not so?


Depends on how well the Logitech console is capable of decoding the audio. I'd wager the soundcard would do a better job, so I'd connect via analog.
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November 26, 2012 6:06:09 PM

Use the green cable and the other colored ones, that is the analog connection. I read a lot of reviews and the DX is really good. The only other alternative that I can think of is the Creative Sound Blaster Z. This is a new sound card that just came out about a month ago.

Unboxing video
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QxLBSqMPrSE&feature=g-al...

Website
http://us.store.creative.com/Creative-Sound-Blaster-Z-P...

Creative has been known for making bad drivers, so beware. This card is new so there really isn't any reviews for it yet. If you don't need a sound card right away then I suggest you hold out for more reviews.
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November 26, 2012 11:03:23 PM

Yepp thanks. I was chatting with an employee at Microcenter, I bought the DX there. He has a Sound Blaster. I asked, has the software changed or still bloated and the drivers? He smiled and grunted...."still bloated and the drivers usually are hit or miss, when it's miss, they get better after the second time but if he could go back, he would get a non Creative card.
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November 26, 2012 11:05:22 PM

mikeny said:
Yepp thanks. I was chatting with an employee at Microcenter, I bought the DX there. He has a Sound Blaster. I asked, has the software changed or still bloated and the drivers? He smiled and grunted...."still bloated and the drivers usually are hit or miss, when it's miss, they get better after the second time but if he could go back, he would get a non Creative card.


Did you notice any differences when using the DX?
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November 27, 2012 12:00:15 AM

I haven't hooked it up yet....daughter is teething so I'll see if I can do it tomorrow.
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November 27, 2012 7:06:21 AM

so with all of this sound card talk , does anyone have suggestions for headphones as ive asked?
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December 18, 2012 4:54:23 AM

So from what ive read the CM Storm Sonuz is better than the Asus Vulcan ANC and both has 3.5m jacks.
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December 18, 2012 6:32:41 AM

Sennheiser HD 558 Headphones with a Zalman Zm-Mic1 High Sensitivity Headphone Microphone
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December 28, 2012 5:16:15 AM

dsventimiglia said:
Sennheiser HD 558 Headphones with a Zalman Zm-Mic1 High Sensitivity Headphone Microphone


Thanks, but my list of available brands are above. Please let me know cause my cans are falling apart.
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December 29, 2012 12:55:54 AM

may i suggest a audio tech m50? They are great and 120 on amazon. Excellent reviews and for a mic you can get a creative z or zr and they have really cool mics. \
If anything im really looking forward to Asus Orions, look promising, theyre coming out in jan, so check them out :D 
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