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Nforce 2 integrated sound. How good is it?

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February 22, 2003 11:13:09 PM

I'm looking to possiby upgrade my system to an Nforce 2 motherboard. How good is the integrated sound that the Nforce 2 comes with. Is it comparable to a SoundBlaster Live!? Audigy? If anyone has or knows about this, any advice would be really useful. Thanks!

<Brendini>
February 23, 2003 12:02:37 AM

Well, I just stepped up from an Sb Live, and i'll say the quality is much better, as well as less CPU required for the Nforce sound. Audigy, i'm not sure, but I do think it's the best sound i've heard in my life for computers systems

Instead of Rdram, why not just merge 4 Sdram channels...
February 23, 2003 1:13:11 AM

It is much more powerful than SB Live! NForce APU can playback 64 channels of 3d sound at one time, compared to 32 for Live! The CPU utilization is far less on the nForce (meaning less drain on your processor.) The nForce also supports EAX 2.0 (Creative's 3D standard) and has excellent sound quality, including support for five speaker surround (5.1). In all the reviews I've read it compares very favorably with Audigy, to the point where they're essentially equal, but is a step down from the Audigy 2. You will need some decent-quality powered speakers though. Unpowered speakers are barely audible on nForce.



I want to move to space, so I can overclock processors cooled to absolute zero.
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February 23, 2003 1:37:00 AM

I take it you're referring to the SoundStorm feature on certain Nforce2 boards.I just got the ABIT NF7-S and tried the SoundStorm since i heard its great.I don't like it.The sound is hollow and empty.Put the santa cruz back in and its like night and day.Its good for intergrated sound,but nowhere near the sound quality of the santa cruz.
February 23, 2003 4:33:42 AM

There was a recent thread about comparing nForce/2 and the Audigy series. Check that out.

Also check this detailed article about nForce:

http://www.3dsoundsurge.com/reviews/nForce/nForce.html

It tells you all you want to know...<P ID="edit"><FONT SIZE=-1><EM>Edited by r2k on 02/23/03 10:31 AM.</EM></FONT></P>
February 23, 2003 6:20:45 AM

Sound quality is very subjective to individual's perception. There are people saying SoundStorm is far more better than Audigy and head to head with Audigy2 but some say it's not that great. So, I can only say that in terms of technical specs, SoundStorm is the best integrated sound and better than Audigy.

My PC has gone to hell... because it's a killing machine...
February 23, 2003 8:15:38 AM

You need to test the system, not the card. Some cards sound 'better' with different speakers. Try using a set of high quality speakers if you want to test the difference. There aren't too many exceptable speakers built for computers that I have heard. Send it to a home theatre/audio system, there you will find the true sound of the card.

For speakers less than 50 bucks, I would recommend the Logitech Z-340 speakers for sterio sound gaming. I got mine for 24.99 on sale, normally 49.99. They have good quality for the price, as long as you don't set the bass knob on the back higher than half-way, otherwise it starts to distort.

Another way to test you card is to get a set of HIGH QUALITY headphones (if your not spending 70 buck or more, they are not high quality). That can help your desision too. And like I said in another post, be sure the equalizing is setup on your card for the room you are in, it changes with speaker positioning and room size/shape.

My Duron 1300 eats P4's for dinner. Oh, the Celerons make a nice snack too.<P ID="edit"><FONT SIZE=-1><EM>Edited by Skligmund on 02/23/03 05:47 AM.</EM></FONT></P>
February 23, 2003 9:40:58 PM

Considering that most people can't hear the difference between sound sources when the frequency response is 40hz to 15khz (or better) and distortion is under 1% --a spec. easily met by all modern sound cards-- it's unlikely that any sound system is going to actually sound much better than any other.

I tested this many times, back in my stereo sales days, by setting a blindfolded customer in front of two different high quality stereos, setting the volume and tone controls identically and swithcing them back and forth into the same speakers. The test subjects got it wrong more than 50% of the time, most wisely ended up deciding their amplifier and receiver purchases on features and price instead of trying to judge sound.

The real differences between sound cards are in drivers, features and midi players.

Good soundcard drivers are totally transparent to the sound. They simply pass whatever sound is being produced along to the sound chip. (with special effects turned off)

There is little doubt that the MS GS synthesizer is the worst thing to happen to midi music in a long long time. The distortion guitar sounds like a freaking duck call and the rest of it ain't much better! Sound Blaster products, beginning with the pci16 have always had the best midi players I've heard. (short of sending midi playback through an external keyboard, that is)

So long as the drivers are stable and transparent to the sound, Stereo CD, Wave and MP3 playback are going to sound about the same no matter what soundcard you are using.

The really big differences are in speakers. Most of the rinky dink little plastic speakers they sell for computers sound best when they hit the floor. Hook up to a home theatre or stereo setup and be ready to be amazed. Even a medium priced boom box (with an aux input) is going to sound better than those silly little speakers.

On a final note... I notice a number of motherboards coming out with TUBES (holy regression, Batman!). These are being used to <i>deliberately</i> alter the pure sound reproduction from your system. Aside from introducing even more heat into your case, like all tube amps, the frequency response is non-linear and the distortion will be in the order of 3 to 5%... Not a wise choice.


Hmmm... this turned into a bit of a rant... but I hope it's helpful in some way.



<b>(</b>It ain't better if it don't work.<b>)</b>
February 23, 2003 11:05:16 PM

Well, I agree with you on some of your points, but not others. I agree that it really is the speakers that count. But here's where I don't really agree. If you have really good speakers or headphones, you can definatley notice the quality of a soundcard. If you have bad headphones or speakers, then it will sound bad no matter what. But hooking up an Audigy 2 or M-Audio audiophile digitally to an amp will be much different than hooking up some crap integrated card.

<Brendini>
February 23, 2003 11:11:53 PM

If you are hearing qualitive differences between soundcards, on the same (good) listening device and in the same computer it seems likely you are hearing the drivers.

Sadly, most sound card makers (and audio manufacturers in general) no longer talk much about frequency response, harmonic distortion or intermodulation distortion so it's really hard to make fair comparisons. We are forced to assume that frequency response and distortion curves are flat throughout the audible range... but with bad drivers it may not be.

The chips themselves have reached a point of audible transparency where I seriously doubt you are hearing hardware differences... but without the specs you just never know...



<b>(</b>It ain't better if it don't work.<b>)</b>
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