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A7N8X Deluxe - onboard sound question.

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January 10, 2004 9:58:11 PM

On the advice of various folks I decided to give the onboard sound a try as opposed to my Turtle Beach Santa Cruz soundcard. My speakers are Klipsch 2.1. Unless there's something wrong, the sound is not even close to being as crisp as with my TBSC. With both Mp3 and Wma the sound is "fuzzy" at modest volume. Any tweaks or is this be best I can expect? Thought I'd post before taking the TBSC out of my other pc.
Thx for any info.
Gary
January 11, 2004 1:54:57 AM

did you get the latest NFORCE drivers?

i have that exact setup, and it sounds incredible... same speakers also..

Asus A7N8X Deluxe
80gb Maxtor
200gb WD 8mb cache..
Lian-Li PC-60
Lite-On 52X
AMD XP2800+
LeadTek GeForce 4 Ti4200 w/vivo 128mb 8x
Hitachi CML174
1 GB Corsair XMS PC3200 Cas2
January 11, 2004 4:59:14 AM

Honestly, there's so much hype these days over nForce's integrated audio and how good it is, how it can blow everything else out of the water (especially Creative sound cards because people want to avoid Creative and want to believe at all costs that nForce audio is their savior), etc. that people have started to believe that the Soundstorm is the best solution available period. But that's not the case and will never be.

First of all the normal nForce integrated audio (i.e. no APU, no digital output, including Soundstorm boards connected to speakers/receivers/etc. via analog ports) is just as good or as bad as the CoDec chip on your mainboard. Almost all nForce2 boards come with RealTek ALC650 Codec chips which is quite honestly a shitty digital to analog (and vice versa) converter and NOWHERE even remotely close to the quality of PCI solutions like TBSC, Fortissimo3 or Audigy. Audio processing tasks like applying 3D effects all rely upon the system CPU and you get NOTHING better than ordinary onboard audio that is on every other intel/AMD mainboard today.

If we're talking about Soundstorm certified mainboards (i.e. integrated APU which provides ample processign power for 3D audio effects and calculations and also the much-hyped real-time Dolby Digital encoding AND a digital output) things get much better. Games may run even faster than when you have a Creative Audigy card (although the differemce is not at all discernable by the user plus the fact that EAX AdvancedHD 3 and 4 effects are only available through the Audigy/2/2ZS line of cards). If you use the digital output (notice the 'if') you can enable the DD 5.1 encoding to get 5.1 sound from any audio source that can provide it e.g. 3D games without all the hassle of connecting the analog ports of your setup to your speakers, receiver, etc. There's another big benefit to this i.e. you're skipping that evil onboard Codec chip and will be getting way better quality with the one inside your digital speakers or receiver. Which gets me to my final point: If you don't have a speaker setup or a receiver with a digital input, you're back to analog and that means again using the onboard shitty converters like the ALC650 and the sound quality will be just like any other onboard sound out there. Remember that there's so much EMI going on inside the computer case and on your mainboard that even if you use a very high-quality DAC chip onboard, you won't get high-quality sound. That's exactly why high-end sound cards for the pro users come with external boxes that house the converter chips. They keep the chips out of the reach of the noisy PC environment to get decent quality.

So, there you go. If you're not concerned about the audio quality, nForce is just like any other onboard audio solution. The single benefit of Soundstorm certified boards is real-time DD5.1 encoding BUT that's only accessible when using digital output.

BTW as a final note, Turtle Beach Santa Cruz is considered by many to be the BEST sounding consumer solution of its time (even right until now, its main competitor of course being the original Audigy not the newer 24-bit cards). And you can be sure its performance will be just on par with the nForce APU for games. So, I think you better put it back where it was and enjoy that clear crisp sound again! The difference in quality will be quite noticable.
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January 11, 2004 6:18:40 AM

Creative's high end cards use good DAC's with problematic/crap/unrealiable sound processors. The nForce APU is a top quailty sound processor, people SHOULD use digital sound to get around the cheap DAC's.

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January 11, 2004 9:25:10 AM

They're not unreliable or crap or problematic. Aside from driver issues or PCI bus conflicts (which has nothing to do with the actual DSP/Sound processor) the big problem with Creative's EMU series of DSPs is the 44.1KHz to 48KHz conversion and the sound quality problems associated with this (mainly a higher level of intermodulation distortion). This is BTW what every consumer sound card does but there are differences in algorithms or the hardware implementation that makes one card sound better or worse. Let's wait to read some reviews from the new A2 ZS but from what I've read so far about the A2 Platinum eX and the few A2 ZS reviews available, it seems like this isn't that big of a problem any more and 44.1KHz resampling is much improved since the Live! and the Audigy. This is not to say we need this resampling crap go on though. Maybe Creative will finally kiss it good bye with their next gen processors/cards since they have now competition from VIA and people that are real picky about the audio quality may opt for a VIA Envy based solution (Envy24 line of processors don't resample audio data and that's why they sound cleaner and more open with fewer unwanted distortions).

And BTW, if someone doesn't have access to digital speakers or a receiver what shall he do with his onboard nForce APU? Because many opt for onboard sound to cut the costs and many others don't know that the nForce APU can only show its muscles only with digital output. And if someone wants and uses digital output, why go for nForce when some cheap sound cards can do it just as well (and you remain platform independent)? The only reason I can think of is DD 5.1 encoding which isn't everyone's cup of tea.

I'm just saying the nForce onboard sound is way overrated for what it is. FYI, the APU does apply the same resampling tricks (44.1 to 48KHz) to audio and that means it isn't any better than any other sound processor out there quality-wise (not mentioning the fact that it sits right beside other south bridge components which can potentially degrade its quality even more). It may be very powerful but top quality? I don't think so.
January 11, 2004 12:36:40 PM

Thanks for all the info guys. I'm going to put the TBSC in there and see if I can tell a significant difference. If so ....it stays! Thanks again.
Gary
January 11, 2004 6:34:16 PM

r2k how the F^ck are you helping this guy? your fu*king complaing about the Nforce [-peep-].......no one gives a sh!t Take your creative card and shove it up your ass, the kid has something wrong with his setup and isn't looking on an explanation on a creative alternative........ Dude who posted... just update your drives and see from there, i have that same exact setup and it runs mint... and the NfoRce A7N8X Deluxe onboard Sound Rocks... so shove your creative card up your as$

Asus A7N8X Deluxe
80gb Maxtor
200gb WD 8mb cache..
Lian-Li PC-60
Lite-On 52X
AMD XP2800+
LeadTek GeForce 4 Ti4200 w/vivo 128mb 8x
Hitachi CML174
1 GB Corsair XMS PC3200 Cas2
January 11, 2004 6:35:18 PM

im suprised you didn't say klipsch speakers suck and tell him to get z680s or some [-peep-]

Asus A7N8X Deluxe
80gb Maxtor
200gb WD 8mb cache..
Lian-Li PC-60
Lite-On 52X
AMD XP2800+
LeadTek GeForce 4 Ti4200 w/vivo 128mb 8x
Hitachi CML174
1 GB Corsair XMS PC3200 Cas2
January 11, 2004 8:00:03 PM

I'm sorry but IMO this forum is becoming helpless. About the only poster that had enough technical knowledge and knew what he was talking about was umheint0 and he's gone too (sorry all you knowledgable guys if I'm not mentioning your name, I just haven't noticed you/haven't checked your posts).

Rob423:
1. I didn't recommend any Creative sound cards to him; I just described the hype and the reality about the nForce/2 audio to him and then recomended he put his TBSC back in place to get the best quality.

2. Sound quality doesn't improve with drivers that much. Driver revisions may help to remove a glitch or bug but they don't have that much of an effect on sound quality. Sound quality is primarily related to the sound processor and the DAC used and the environment where they're placed.

3. I don't recommend PC speakers to anyone. I don't mean to gloat but just so you know, I've got my Denon PMA-655R stereo amplifier and my B&W DM-303 stereo loudspeakers connected to my Audigy and I'm quite satisfied with the sound quality I get (I primarily listen to high-quality music through this setup). The sound card will be upgraded to something better in a few months but right now (and at the price I paid) it's just as good as it gets.

4. IMHO blindly defending something as low and as unimportant as a PC sound solution or the companies making it is about as useless as it comes. I'd rather learn a few things about audio, read the spec sheets and the reviews and only then hit reply. And grow up kiddie, we don't need another 'blah'; Why use so many F words?
January 12, 2004 2:49:06 AM

Sorry about all the "BAD WORDS" but people like you get on my nerves...the guy has a problem with his setup and you start talking about all the hype or whatever, fine whatever you say about the onboard sound, i have it and so do many others and if 9 outta 10 like it then its good, DO you have an A7N8X? and try the Onboard sound? He obvioulsy has a problem with the DRIVERS or Hardware/defect of some sort if it's not sounding good because it does sound good. Turtle Beach is an awesome card but A7N8X should perform just as good or better. i have the oboard setup and like i said above it' sounds mad good.

Just cause you read the SPEC sheets doesn't mean crap, ok so you no specific #'s or whatever, but you don't have the cards........... Do you Both of the cards he has? if you do then sorry, But unless you have both of the cards he is using then you can't obviously help this guy..... writing a post to the guy about oh there's just too much hype on the asus onboard sound isn't helping him that was just my point.


Asus A7N8X Deluxe
80gb Maxtor
200gb WD 8mb cache..
Lian-Li PC-60
Lite-On 52X
AMD XP2800+
LeadTek GeForce 4 Ti4200 w/vivo 128mb 8x
Hitachi CML174
1 GB Corsair XMS PC3200 Cas2
January 12, 2004 6:55:12 AM

He was fine with his TBSC. He changed to another sound card (in this case the nForce onboard) and he found out his music sounds fuzzy (probably lacking mid-range and high frequency detail and definition). This is almost always a hardware related problem and in this case probably due to the quality of the DAC onboard his mainboard. He may have something set up totally wrong (e.g. clipping the audio by raising the volume levels all to 0; some cards cannot handle this without clipping and distortion or something stupid going on with his speaker wires; I don't know, it could be a butterfly in Brazil for that sake :wink: ) but from the look of it, it's the obvious thing he changed that's affected the quality i.e. the sound card i.e. the audio processor or the digital to analog converter. As I said before, drivers DON'T affect the sound quality that much i.e. the sound doesn't suddenly become clearer, brighter, more detailed, etc. (unless the manufacturer or driver programmer had originally done something very very very wrong).

I don't want to say nForce is bad and I don't want to nitpick but if 9 out of 10 like something it doesn't make that thing 'good'. This is 'ad populum', a fallacy that says if a majority say something is right then it 'should be' right. Maybe those 9 people never heard better quality sound so their judgement cannot be of any importance. That's why one should use a reference system for testing high-end audio equipment. 9 out of 10 'may' have only listened to the onboard sound and the hype surrounding it and have no point of comparison or reference thus they cannot be fair judges.

If anyone here has actually compared his nForce audio to another sound card, please, share your experiences and views. Finally, for a fair and very detailed review of the nForce audio check out this article:

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

Just remember that this is a best-case scenario because the Codec chips onboard what they tested (the 9721 and the 9708 chips by Sigmatel) are of a better quality than the usual Realtek on everyday mainboards sold to you and me. The fifth page of that review describes it all:

http://www.3dsoundsurge.com/reviews/nForce/nForce-p5.ht...
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