Introduction, and sound question!

Hi there,

I'm new here. My name is Matthew, I'm 19 years old, and from New Zealand. Anything else you want to know about me, you are welcome to ask, but I do have the URL of my MSN Messenger profile in my details.

I've had a computer for 8 years, (probably not nearly as long as most of the people here!), so I'd like to think I have some knowledge and may be able to help people here in the future, but I do have one quick question.

At my part time job, a Xbox was set up a few weeks ago, and I must say, wow! Anyway, the sound was said to have 256 channels, a huge increase on the 4 channels in my embedded VIA sound card! I've never heard some amazing sound.

Anyway, I was just wondering if any PC sound cards exist that have 256 audio channels, (I'd hate to think a console has a better sound card than is available for the PC!), and if so, what are some names you can give me?

I have seen a Creative Sound Blaster Audigy advertised here in New Zealand for $55.00 US, and a Creative Sound Blaster Live! for $50.00 US. Can these produce the awesome sound quality of the Xbox?

On an off topic, I just purchased a Powercolor Radeon 9100. The ATI Radeon 9000, 9000 Pro and 9200 are mentioned on the ATI website, but not the 9100. Is this because the 9100 is the only card listed above that isn't "built by ATI", and is only available through third parties?

I was actually tossing up between the ATI Radeon 9000 Pro, ATI Radeon 9200, Powercolor Radeon 9100, and MSI Geforce FX 5200, - all the same price range. Did I make the right choice in terms of image quality, speed, and value for money?

Apologies for all of the questions, comments, and babbling! I won't make a habit of it, it's just great to finally come across such a great computing website and community.



For people who like peace and quiet - a phoneless cord.
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  1. 256 channels? They must be talking about something other than audio outputs. I can see maybe virtual channels. Most recording studios don't even have that much. Plus, even if it was, it's getting mixed down to at least 7.1 audio, otherwise you's need a room just to house the amplifiers, nevermind the speakers.


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  2. audigy should be a bit cheaper. You ould get audigy 2 for $20-$25 more. IMO, 9000 pro is best option in that price range.
  3. The XBox shares the nForce/2 sound system and as such that's 256 simultaneous hardware DirectSound/DirectSound3D sound samples i.e. the audio device can process, mix and output 256 sounds simultaneously all by itself to not put a burden on the CPU. It's not the number of actual output speakers and it doesn't relate to the quality of the sound being output at all. Sound cards and other surround audio systems can currently drive up to 7.1 speakers and even that is more of a joke because quite frankly, very few have the room to properly set up a 7.1 speaker system. The quality of the sound is more related to the DAC or the Digital to Analog converter, the audio processor itself, a clean layout and use of good quality components on the sound board and finally good drivers. Nothing to do with how many hardware sound channels a sound solution can process at the same time. You can be sure that the Audigy2 will sound better than the XBox.

    The FX5200 is probably faster but among the other choices the 9100 is the best choice. 9100 cards are just rebadged 8500s [that are faster than both 9000 and 9200 cards].
  4. Thanks for your help guys. I was actually told the MSI Geforce FX 5200 is the same speed as a Nvidia Geforce 4 MX 440 - 460. At least it's what I was told. I also though a Powercolor Radeon 9100 was faster than an ATI Radeon 9000 Pro and the other cards I mentioned, but hey, I guess you learn something new every day! Thanks again for your help!

    For people who like peace and quiet - a phoneless cord.
  5. I'll answer both of your questions.

    What the different channels relates to is the number of distinct "voices" the program has. Imagine every single sound in a game as a voice. If you're playing, say, Max Payne, then each footstep, gunshot, shell hitting the ground, round contacting a wall, enemy voice, soundtrack, etc. is a distinct voice, and has various 3D location properties (giving you that surround sound effect).

    The sound card needs to process each distinct voice. Having multiple voice processing channels means that more voices can be calculated at the same time. In this case, the XBox can handle 256 distinct voices at the exact same time. That means you can have 256 gunshots, footsteps, etc... at the exact same time come out of your speakers, instead of say 1, like your old PC speaker gave you.

    It just lets the game give a more immersive feel, as you are being bombarded with more and more information (because your brain takes that single audio signal and transforms it back into separate voices that you can differentiate and recognize. Like in a crowded room, how you can hear the music in the background, and your voice being called when talking to a friend).

    Okay, listen to me prattle on. It's all too inconsequential. The more voices, the richer the sound experience.

    For your second question, the 5200 is in fact <b>SLOWER</b> than the MX series. The only advantage is DX9 compliance, but what good is that if it play current generation games <b>SLOWER</b> than previous generation video cards? I'd say the 9200 or 9000. Just the other day I saw someone buy and Asus 5200. It took all my will power to not jump up like Dogbert and call him a thundering moron.

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