Free Realtec ALC650 vs $118 SB Audigy2

I'm purchasing the Giga-byte GA-7VAXP which comes with 6.1 sound and a digital out. I'm going to use the system to rip my CDs and create an MP3 library and connect it to my stereo (Denon AV-5800 with Bose 5.1). Would I be better served with the SBAudigy2 (THX, 6.1, digital, etc) or is it $118 overspent considering the built-in Realtec chipset? Any thoughts would be most appreciated...
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  1. For ripping to MP3 you don't pass the sound card so even if you have no sound card installed, it doesn't matter. Just use a precise audio extraction tool (e.g. EAC, CDeX) and a good quality encoder (LAME is the only one that comes to mind for MP3s; use the following cmdline setting: --preset extreme)

    For playback, if you're planning to digitally connect the sound card to the receiver, don't bother because the digital to analog conversion will be done entirely (and with much better results probably) in the Denon. If, however, you're connecting them via analog ports and cables, the Audigy2 will have orders of magnitude better sound quality.
  2. There are many MP3 encoders: Lame (the best), Fraunhofer (the only other good encoder), Blade (getting too old), and Xing (made by Real, is fast but turns even high bitrate tracks into AM-radio quality) are the main ones. Lame would be my pick because it is free, Fraunhofer my second because it is the first encoder and a little bit lower quality than Lame, but negligible. Go for Lame.

    Now, screw the Audigy2. Get either a Fortissimo III or Revolution 7.1. I hate Creative with a passion. They are overpriced pieces of junk.

    XP 2500+ Barton
    A7N8X Dlx
    2x512MB Corsair PC3200
    MSI GF3 Ti500 w/64MB DDR
    16x DVD-ROM
    2x80GB 7200RPM Maxtor
    Onboard audio

    My computer is bigger than your computer....
  3. 1. CD ripping and MP3 encoding need no sound card but a good DAE optical disk drive e.g. Lite-On and good soft codec e.g. Lame.
    2. You should connect your Denon AV-5800 to your PC via digital output in anyway you can. Dont' waste your Bose on a Creative crap, no matter how good Creative claim the card to be it'll never as good as a true external AV receiver/decoder. I have personal experience on comparing between Harman Kardon AVR 2500 receiver/decoder (which is the lowest end product in the line) and Audigy2 (which is the best product in the lilne) and you can't imagine how big the difference is.

    My PC has gone to hell... because it's a killing machine...
  4. Now, screw the Audigy2. Get either a Fortissimo III or Revolution 7.1. I hate Creative with a passion. They are overpriced pieces of junk.

    mmm, I tend to disagree with that statement. From previous experience,I copared the FortissimoII, FortissimoIII and the onboard ALC650 sound to the Soundblaster Live! through a set of Altec Lansing 621 speakers listening to jazz, dance and pop and the results I obtained are as follows:-

    1/ FortissimoII - weak ,layed back sound quality that lacked bass definition, but coupled with great software but not WHQL certified. (note:- card installed into another system using XP and driver corrupted his operating system!)

    2/ FortissimoIII - better card layout but still the same bottomless, weak sound as the FortissimoII.

    3/ Onboard ALC650 (Epox P4PEA+ mainboard) - Noticeable improvement in sound, better bass control but was a little poor in midrange area but I could live with that. Plenty of options in software to choose (eg. enviroments etc.)

    4/ Soundblaster Live! - [-peep-], huge improvement! The sound is how it should be with this setup, plenty of bass & midrange, smooth treble but [-peep-] software. At least the driver is WHQL certified! No IRQ issues with Windows XP.

    I wish I has a Santa Cruz & Audigy2 to try out, what a bummer.
    These are my unbiased thoughts, but seriously though, I expected a lot more from the Fortissimo cards but you can't help bad luck!
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