I built my friend a system with an Asus A7N8X Deluxe mobo. The onboard sound is the best I've heard ever!! Sure it's only 5.1 but the 7.1 surround is still in it's infancy and the Audigy 2 really isn't worth the money right now. Try the onboard first and if you don't like it then spend the extra cash.
<font color=red>My computer is like a woman, once a month I have to spend money on it.</font color=red>
1. Remember that while nForce/nForce2 Soundstorm does the DSP on-chip (in the MPU or MCP-T as nVidia likes to call them, essentially the south bridge) it needs a DAC/ADC (A CoDec chip) that's external and chosen by the mainboard manufacturer itself (IIRC generally Realtek AC650 or something like that). Now, the final sound reproduction is going to be as much dependent on this chip as it is on the nForce DSP. The Audigy2 fares much better here with its 24/192 and 24/96 codec chips.
2. The Soundstorm has the ability to do real-time DD 5.1 encoding. This means that you can connect the digital out of your mainboard to a DD capable receiver or speaker set and play your favourite games with their sound being digitally sent to the receiver, etc. This would help to reduce cable clutter and also use the receiver DAC that should generally do a better job than the Realtek chip. If anyone can add something or can correct me on this I'd be very happy to know more.
3. nForce2 DSP (and most probably CoDec chips on the mainboards) DOESN'T support 24-bit/96KHz quality record or playback. Audigy2 does. And probably besides M-Audio Revolution 7.1 that should be even better in this regard (I'm only comparing the ~$100-120 price point here) it's the best sounding solution for a consumer level card.
4. No other cards or onboard solutions support EAX AdvancedHD (EAX 3.0) besides Audigy and Audigy2. This may or may not be important to you. The Creative demo of these effects is impressive IMHO. There are also a couple of newer games that support it.
5. nForce2 is 5.1 and Audigy2 a 6.1 solution.
February 15, 2003 12:52:41 AM
R2K, I hope you don't mind if I just ask questions.
I'm wondering why this real time DD 5.1 encoding is so special. What is the difference between for example the data passed from a DD 5.1 enabled game software to sound card during gameplay, and the DD 5.1 data format? What needs to be done to the sound data that is so hard to do?
Actually, I think it's an overrated point for most of us! I just wanted to point it out comparing with the Audigy/2...
This is how I understand this matter: If you've connected your PC to your home theatre receiver, you can go either with digital output from the sound card or analog output. For a 5.1 analog connection you need 3 cables to go from your sound cards' three outputs (Front, Rear, Center+LFE) to the receiver and you can be all set. But if you in some way need a digital connection between the two (e.g. you want your music to be played at a higher quality due to the higher quality of the receiver DAC, or you mainly watch DVDs that play on your PC DVD drive and their sound go through the digital out of your sound card to the receiver again for supposedly higher quality sound) you use a single digital cable (optical or electrical). This way, you'd have no problem with DVDs because they already contain DD 5.1 tracks that are transported digitally via the digital cable to the receiver. But what if you're playing games that don't have DD 5.1 tracks, sound effects, etc. BUT do have positional 5.1 surround sound? As your receiver cannot support anything besides DD 5.1 or DTS input from the digital input, you won't be able to play your game with the digital cable this way and you have to have both digital (for DVDs) and analog connections (for e.g. games) from the computer to the receiver and have to switch between the two on the receiver too. nForce DD 5.1 encoding solves this. It can encode ANY audio signal that it's sending out on its digital output in real-time to a DD 5.1 signal so you will never need the extra analog connection this way. Less hassle with cables, switching to different sources on the receiver, always the better sound quality of the receiver, etc. are the main big points for this.
It's you yourself that have to consider if this scenario is applicable to you or not.
February 15, 2003 2:04:54 PM
ahh yes, that makes sense to me now. Thanks for the excellent explanation.
R2K, I have the setup you refer to, using the digital connection from my SB Live 5.1 sound card to my Home theater receiver. Watching DVD's I get 5.1, but music and games are just Dolby surround. So I understand now that I need to be connected via analog not digital if I want games to be in 5.1 but I have a few questions.....
1. I've played UT2003 on my Dads PC connected to creative inspire 5300 5.1 speakers/Turtle Beach 5.1 sound card, and the center channel doesnt function. Do I need to have EAX 3.0 sound card since I dont have an Nforce MB?
2.My speakers on my reciever are not RCA jack connected. They are connected via speaker wire. Is it possible to connect to sound card via analog some other way, i.e. converter/adapter?
Is there a sound card that does encoding like the Nforce chip so I can enjoy Dolby Digital with games like UT2003?
I didn't quite understand your questions but anyway, here goes:
1. EAX 3.0 (the better name for it is EAX AdvancedHD) doesn't have anything to do with surround sound playback. EAX in general is an API or set of instructions that you use to create (simulate is better) a real environment's accoustic characteristics as close as you can in a game, etc. In the real world for instance, when you're underwater, you normally hear a muted sound with very little or no reflection off objects. In a cave, you have your sound echoed several times by the cave walls. Also, standing and listening to live music in an open stadium differs from an opera house. They are built differently and interact with and affect the sound differently. EAX and other APIs like it (A3D is another example) try to make you feel you're in the real place by adjusting how the sounds are produced, reflected, changed, etc (by choosing and applying special effects to your sounds like reverb). IIRC while all recent cards support EAX 1 and 2 at least via software, only Creative's Audigy and Audigy2 support EAX AdvancedHD effects. This recent version of EAX has better multi-environment handling, better transitions when you gradually pass from one environment to the other (e.g. whren you walk slowly into a cave from an open environment), etc. Creative has a demo of these new effects on Audigy's driver CD and the whole thing feels smoother and more fine-grained than EAX 2.0. But it has jack to do with surround gaming and the fact that one of your speakers doesn't work. Check your settings to see if you have chosen the correct number of speakers, if you haven't by accident muted the center channel, etc. Or maybe your speakers are broken?
2. Speakers are NOT connected via RCA jacks or cables. And remember that you have two kinds of speakers: Those that are self-powered (like computer speakers that you connect to your AC outlet) and those that need external power/current to drive them (via an amplifier). Your speakers that are connected to your receiver are not self-powered and need the driving strength of the amplifier in your receiver. In short you need the receiver to power your speakers and your sound card can't directly provide the necessary power for them to connect them directly. Some sound cards have an additional tiny amplifier but their small amount of power is nowhere near enough to do this direct connection. Is this what you had in mind?
3. No. nForce 1 and 2's soundstorm chip is the only one at the moment that does this. And not all nForce motherboards support soundstorm and digital output. E.g. Epox 8RDA has ordinary nForce sound (MCP if I recall correctly, someone confirm this) and 8RDA+ has soundstorm (MCP-T, again someone check this). Once again, no other discrete solution ATM supports real-time dolby digital encoding.