Help Choosing Sound Card

I am looking to upgrade to a sound card for my rig. I recently purchased a corsair vengeance 1300 headset. I would like to purchase a sound card that would maximize the performance this headset can offer. I'm looking for something that is fairly well rounded in terms of music, movies and gaming. However if a decision has to be made for a performance increase in one over the others I would prefer the best solution for gaming. I would be willing to pay $200~250 if the price is justified for my headset. Here are my system specs:

CORSAIR Obsidian Series 650D
CORSAIR Professional Series Gold AX850
i5 2500k + CORSAIR H100 (OC @ 4.5GHz)
Samsung 16 GB (4 x 4 GB) DDR3 1600 Mhz RAM (MV-3V4G3D/US)
EVGA GTX 680 2GB (1920 x 1080)
Western Digital Caviar Black 1 TB Sata (HDD)
Corsair Force Series 3 60GB (SSD)
Samsung 830 Series 256GB (SSD)
Windows 8 Professional 64 (start8 installed)

Thanks in advance :)
9 answers Last reply
More about help choosing sound card
  1. Have you tried your on-board sound options yet?
  2. Yes, my board comes with realtek audio drivers. They get the job done, but they lack in surround sound for gaming. I was hopping for a step up.

    Just realized I forgot to mention my speakers. Speaker use is mainly movies and songs, where headset will be for gaming.

    I'm using the Klipsch ProMedia 2.1
  3. Your board has a Realtek® ALC892 8-Channel High Definition Audio CODEC, but you need at elast 5.1 speakers for the surround sound. That's not going to change with a different sound card. Your analog headset with only two channels simple doesn't support that.
  4. Those headphones are analog and stereo. One way or another, the sound card has to 'trick' you into thinking there's more than left and right channels using a technology such as CMSS-3D or something else. Some technologies do this well.

    This functionality may exist in some capacity on your motherboard. So you might want to try that before you consider anything.

    On the other hand, and you might not want to hear this, but the other thing to consider is a surround headset that has sound processing built in like the logitech G35 (around $99) or the G930 (wireless around $110). These have proven to have great positional audio and run over USB.

    If your goal is to get good surround sound out of your headphones and you have $200-250 to blow, I wouldn't spend it on a sound card. I'd return the vengeance 1300s (if you still can or just sell them) and pick up a set of USB surround headphones (G35s or G930s) for around $100. I'd still use the Klipsch speakers for non-gaming purposes.

    That way, you'd solve the problem of the sound card, have better surround than if you'd gotten a sound card and continued to use the 1300s, and saved a nice amount of cash.
  5. I do own a G35, and in terms of surround performance, I absolutely aggree. The problem I have with the G35 is that it just doesn't "fit" me well. Whenever I am gaming for more than an hour it just becomes irritating to wear. The main reason I went with a 1300 is when I tried my friends on I forgot I was wearing it. Also I'm not 100% on this but I think he uses a Creative Titanium HD sound card. The difference in surround sound on that card from my motherboard is very noticeable.

    I'm assuming the software that card is utilizing to to emulate surround sound is far superior to my motherboards. Since I already have a USB solution I was hoping to branch out into an analog one.

    That being said, I'm not completely dismissing the idea of another USB headset, I suppose I could have bought the 1500 for that reason. I guess the bottom line is that I am looking for something that is comfortable for use in longer sessions, and provides a high level of sound quality.

    I've also read that the added benefits of a dedicated sound card is increased in game fps due to the lack of cpu usage needed for on board sound. (I suppose a USB headset provides this benefit as well).

    If you had to choose a USB headset for comfort and performance (knowing that the G35 is not a good option). What would it be?

    If you were going to choose a sound card that would provide the 1300 with the best possible quality, what would it be?
  6. There was a time when on-board sound ate up serious CPU clocks (circa 1990s-2005). That time has come and gone. On-board sound is hardly a burden on the processor these days.

    If you like the feel of the 1300, I'd try the 1500 then or the 2000 which would give you wireless and probably even more comfort.

    The Asus Xonar STX is top-rated using other tech to simulate surround (Xear 3D) for around $200. The Creative X-fi Titanium is around $120 and has the CMSS-3D tech mentioned on the Corsair web site.

    If it were me, I'd grab the Corsair 1500 or 2000s and skip the discrete sound card idea.
  7. Well, while the STX is king of the block, its really not meant for headphones like the 1300's. Totally overkill to go for a STX for that headset. The DGX and DX make more sense for a headset of that level of quality.
  8. Anything less than the top-end cards, and you may as well stick with the on-board sound.
  9. gamerk316 said:
    Well, while the STX is king of the block, its really not meant for headphones like the 1300's. Totally overkill to go for a STX for that headset. The DGX and DX make more sense for a headset of that level of quality.

    Could you list a few analog headsets that wouldn't be overkill for a card like that. Just curious.
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