I know this has been asked before and have read earlier threads on this subject. I have decided my best two choices in my sub-$100 price range would be the OEM versions of either the Hercules GTXP or the TB Santa Cruz, but my concern is mainly headphone amplification through these cards. I will be using a Senn 497 headphone, which won't require much in the way of amplification, but having a good stong headphone jack would be really nice.
From what I have been able to garner, it seems the Santa Cruz has some amplification built in and the GTXP does not. The thing about the GTXP is it uses Dolby Headphone technology which people are saying is the best available now. I know DH is downloadable for music, but not for game use and I will be mainly playing games on my setup.
I don't want to spend extra money on an additional headphone amp or speakers just for a built in amp, so what I want to know is if anyone who has heard these cards thru headphones know if one is superior to the other in this regard? Also, how is the NVIDIA Nforce sound thru headphones and how does an SB augity compare thru headphones? I probably want to avoid the tru audiophile quality sound cards that people mention because I heard the game support on this is not very good.
I am not so much concerned with volume as sound quality. Even a cheap boom box can put out enough volume from a poorly amplified headphone jack to make your ears bleed. From what I understand, more headphone amplification adds to the quality and more perfect reproduction of sound through high quality headphones. I know for most games this won't matter too much, and might even be worse on a lot of games with poor sound quality to begin with, since this would only further highlight the defects.
My main question is if the TB Santa Cruz has noticably better sound quality because some people have said it was amplified and the Hercules was not. Since both OEMs cost pretty much the same, I will be mainly be making my final decision on that, since both seem equal in regards to driver support(?) and technology.
The main reason I want the best card possible now is because I think as technology improves, so will game sound quality, to the point where it will begin to rival some movies. Lucas Studios game department is a good example of what may become common place and I do not want to have to upgrade my card for at least 4 years. Plus, I do listen to music sometimes online.
By the way, are the new Game Theater drivers as good as a few people have claimed? I have been reading on other forums a few people saying that now Game Theater with the new driver has fixed most of the game support issues and beats Santa Cruz through headphones. I have also been reading the complete opposite too.
Take a wallpaper meant for 800x600, and stretch it on a 1024x768 desktop. Then stretch it on a 1600x1200 desktop. See the huge loss of quality? It's the same idea, more amplification (if not well done), will make the quality worse, not better.
<font color=orange>Quarter</font color=orange> <font color=blue>Pounder</font color=blue> <font color=orange>Inside</font color=orange>
Don't step in the sarcasm!
Amplification simply means to make it louder. I have the Fortissimo 2 soundcard and it has a dedicated headphone jack and if you ask me, I don't see anything special about it. I could just as well connect my headphones to where I connect my speakers.