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Good Sound Card for Stereo Speakers

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January 21, 2004 4:00:10 PM

Im looking out for a good sound card for stereo speakers. Im currently using my HIFI speakers with a 200watt amplifier on my onboard sound. It sounds alright, but I think the bass is a bit lackluster, and TBH I've never compared it to anything else. So, what would anyone reccomend for a decent soundcard, that will atleast give me better sound than the software onboard. I was looking at an audigy 2, but then I realised that the 6.1 might be slightly wasted :smile: . How about a hercules fortissimo 5.1? or a Muse LT? (does the muse have hardware sound processing?). Im not looking to spend a lot, and I dont think I will really be needing anything over 5.1 (although that might be a nice future upgrade).

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January 21, 2004 5:44:14 PM

Soundblaster live 5.1 is very cheap and IMO has excellent sound (much better than any onboard sound Ive ever heard). I don't know what you mean about the bass being 'lackluster' but if you need more bass just turn the bass knob on your amplifier :-)

<i><b>Engineering is the fine art of making what you want from things you can get</b></i>
January 21, 2004 6:15:51 PM

Yeah Ive done that but it just doesnt sound right. If possible I would prefer not to get a creative card, since I've had pretty bad experience with them in the past. Anything else like that would be great though.

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January 21, 2004 6:24:28 PM

Sorry to hear about your bad experience with creative. How long time ago did you have these?. Perhaps some of their older cards had problems, I wouldn't know. But I would think twice to rule out all creative cards due to old bad experiences.

I can only repeat that I think the Live 5.1 is an excellent card to the right price. I have never had any problems with any OS (98, 2k, XP) or any game using that card.

<i><b>Engineering is the fine art of making what you want from things you can get</b></i>
January 21, 2004 7:14:37 PM

ok, maybe your right. The problems I had were on and SB16 PCI card, which wouldnt wok in a lot of my games (the onboard sound of my mobo at the time would) even with all of the correct drivers installed and the onboard fully disabled/uninstalled.

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January 21, 2004 7:23:14 PM

How is the Audigy LS? I know its probably pointless in getting anything better than the card you suggested, but Its only a bit more than the live here. Ive heard about a few software issues, are these still going on today, or have they got the drivers fixed?


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January 21, 2004 8:01:06 PM

Ok, it looks like a toss-up between the fortissimo III, Audigy ES (OEM without firewire, most basic version), or a Bulk Audigy 2 with firewire (although i'll never use it). I'm most interested in gaming, and I dont intend to record (so the fact that I canr record in 24bits on the Audigy original doesnt matter to me). Im currently leaning towards the Audigy, although the fortissimo is only a little more.

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January 21, 2004 8:01:29 PM

The only quality cards by creative are the Live 5.1 and Audigy series, the rest is cheap junk for people who buy $15 dollar sound cards for use on $10 speakers.

The Sound Blaster 5.1 gives you the most for your money. It has good sound, the best game compatibility and can connect to a digital receiver.

The Audigy features better recording quality and far worse game compatibility. However many of the games that had trouble with this card are now patched.

The Audigy2 in my option is overkill. The upper limit on quality is determined by the EMI inside your computer case. It does have very good recording qualities, and if you are a gamer/musician its not a bad choice.

The only thing bad about the Live 5.1 is you need a special cable for accessing the sub woofer channel with analog 5.1, and it can only digitally encode to 4.1. This doesn't effect DVDs but it does have an impact on audio form games and DivX with AC3 audio.
<P ID="edit"><FONT SIZE=-1><EM>Edited by codesmith on 01/21/04 05:07 PM.</EM></FONT></P>
January 23, 2004 4:36:19 AM

Don't mess around with Creative.

They increase the sound quality of the Audigy 2 over the Audigy 1 through driver improvements and dont always pass those down to users of older cards.
I know because I have an audigy 1 have used the drivers for the ZS.
Thats not a fix though (it can be a long process) and not worth considering because the EMU101K boards have other issues that I wont go into.
Hardware acceleration is a thing of the past. Especially with the processors out today that are undertaxed to say the least.
Doom 3 will be the first in the coming days of no longer using hardware acceleration, a thing completely of the past believe me.
If the 2fps matter more to you than sound quality, so be it, the rest of the mindless mob believes so.
You wont lose ANY fps above 800x600 with a halfway modern system.

Get an M-Audio Revolution 7.1
Best high end card

----
Yeah, thats right. I support the NV/AMD/IBM axis of evil.
January 23, 2004 5:38:50 AM

First of all 7.1 has become almost a given for newer sound cards these days so it's not like having a 7.1 card is a waste.

Second, don't believe anyone telling you drivers can improve the sound that much. A new driver may fix problems but the major factor in overall sound quality is the DAC onboard the sound card and the DSP. Audigy and Audigy2 cards use different DACs (Audigy2's DAC is of a much higher quality) and anyone who thinks Audigy's sound quality can reach Audigy2's just by using the latter's driver is dreaming.

Finally, reviews say sound cards based on Envy24 line of chips sound better for music reproduction than other consumer cards (because the Envy24 based cards don't resample audio at 44.1KHz to 48KHz while all other consumer grade sound cards including Creative's Audigy2 ZS do this resampling which may degrade the sound a bit or a lot although it seems the ZS is an improvement over older cards in this regard. And BTW Audigy2 series don't do resampling at 24-bit mode). Anyway at ~$100 these are the best sounding cards out there: M-Audio Revolution 7.1, Audiotrak Prodigy 7.1, Terratec Aureon 5.1 Sky/7.1 Space and Creative Soundblaster Audigy2 ZS.
January 23, 2004 8:20:54 AM

Ok everyone, it looks like I wont be getting a new soundcard anyway, but if I had I would probably have got the Hercules Gamesurrond 5.1 DVD. Last night I decided to upgrade the drivers on my soundcard and now it seems to support both EAX and EAX2, which was one of the main features I was looking for. The difference between 2D Sound and EAX is remarkable, I can actually hear where abouts people are coming from in games now. I actually prefer EAX over EAX2 in CoD, and ofcourse I am now very happy that I dint buy a card, since this sounds very good, even though I guess the CPU is doing the sound processing (2600+ should be able to handle that :smile: ).

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January 27, 2004 7:19:26 AM

Noone asked this, so i'm going to have to do it myself:
Do you play anything else through that amplifier besides your computer's sound?

If you do and bass is much better then it just happens that you have a rare case of an onboard sound: you will be hardly pressed to find a chip that lacks bass (mind you, i'm not saying CORRECT low frequency reproduction, just presense). In that case, yes you need a new card.

If you don't, then try to. For the reasons mentioned above, i think it's because of your speakers and not your onboard sound. You said HIFI speakers, but i don't really know if they really are. Not all people use that term the same way :-)

There are just too many people that ignore the fact that the weakest and most important link in ANY system is the speakers...

Get back to me and let me know more info...
January 29, 2004 1:00:47 AM

I noticed the sound to get crisper and the positioning much better when using the A2 drivers with my Audigy.
Its hard to put into words but MP3s didnt sound any different but in 3D games it was very apparant.. so it might not have anything to do with the DACs but it did it other ways.
I swear!!

----
Yeah, thats right. I support the NV/AMD/IBM axis of evil.
January 29, 2004 4:06:21 AM

I replied to this part of your earlier post:
Quote:
They increase the sound quality of the Audigy 2 over the Audigy 1 through driver improvements and dont always pass those down to users of older cards.


But this part could very well be true although you can have all the benefits of it (along with EAX 4) with an Audigy1 with newer drivers because the DSP is the same:
Quote:
but in 3D games it was very apparant

!