Sign in with
Sign up | Sign in
Your question

Help buy Soundcard

Last response: in Home Audio
Share
May 3, 2011 10:18:25 PM

I need help to buy a hi-end soundcard. I need to have a soundcard of high quality to my pc so I can use my $25 000+ High-end audio system to the full. What is most inportrant is to play music in stereo. Hope someone can give me some advise. :) 

More about : buy soundcard

May 4, 2011 5:19:23 AM

most people will want a soundcard that outputs high quality sound.. and that is always important when you want high quality results.
but
you should really have a look at features.
there might be things you need that you dont know you need.
just like there might be things you know you dont need and should avoid to possibly keep the cost of the soundcard at a price for what you need and nothing more.


if you already have or use an equalizer.. consider how flat the response is.
because adding another equalizer can help make the response flatter.
like.. if you use 5 or 6 equalizers, you might get a frequency response close to the results of some digital room correction (the high price stuff too!)
when you boost with an equalizer and it starts to distort, you need a second equalizer to continue boosting that frequency without distortion.
and when you are done with a 10 or 12 band equalizer(s) you should move on to another equalizer that uses different bands, such as a 31 band equalizer.
more bands means more frequencies to flatten out, giving a superior result.


some features that exist and you might not know you need them:
- time delay/alignment
- reverb

time delay allows you to adjust the speakers output time to make each speaker's soundwave reach your ears at the same time.
this is a tremendous improvement that is certainly important whenever you have a speaker closer or farther away from you.
maybe your front left and right speakers are the same distance, but the rear speakers are closer.. this is one reason to use the time delay.
another reason is when the front left or front right speaker is closer than the other one.
you can even use the time delay with a subwoofer connected to the LFE output.
the time delay adjustments can really make a casual system sound like something closer to a studio/professional setup.


reverb is also an improvement not many people know about.
you can make the two front speakers sound like they are behind you at an extreme level.
this means you can make the front two speakers fill the area in front of you, as well as fill the area behind you.
not only that, but, you can make the area in front of you sound better when you are sitting next to the wall with no room behind you.
reverb seperates the soundwaves that point directly at you from the soundwaves that move forward until they hit a wall.
again, you can use the reverb to fill a void of space behind you.. or it can clean up the sound in front of you by taking control of the reflections of soundwaves off the walls.

there doesnt appear to be any reason why i cant recommend the creative xfi elite pro.
the card has come down in price over the years, and if you dont plan on using the s/pdif input - you can grab one without the external box to try and save some money.
i just checked ebay and i see a used xfi elite pro soundcard with the external box for $150
that is a savings of $200 - $300 of the original price..!!

but be aware, if you want to use the time delay settings.. the outputs have to be analog for the THX setup console to function.
you can use time delay with a music player (or even a movie player) .. but you have to use the media player's plugin to do it.
i emailed creative and they said 'the THX setup console only works with analog output'

i just checked, and apparently you cant use the reverb in audio creation mode when using a digital output (s/pdif output)
but that doesnt mean you cant use a reverb plugin with the music player.

the digital to analog convertors on the xfi elite pro are pretty good.
they are from cirrus logic .. part number CS4398
the info sheet says:
• 120 dB dynamic range
• -107 dB THD+N
• Up to 192 kHz sample rates

there are four of these on the card.

a problem some people run into, the digital to analog convertor inside the receiver sounds better than the digital to analog convertor on the soundcard.
but this can be true for any soundcard.

ac3filter has the option to add time delay for each channel.. but doesnt work with s/pdif output from ac3filter.
you would have to use reclock's ac3 encoder OR use dolby digital live (or dts connect) encoder on the soundcard.

i have found reclock isnt needed when using the internal dts decoder and setting it to s/pdif output.
but
if the soundcard tries to decode the signal, then the media player crashes with a quartz.dll error.
when i set the soundcard to pass along the s/pdif signal to the receiver without touching the audio.. then the media player will play the movie.

i am about to try using ac3filter to add time delay to each channel.. then send that audio to reclock.. then use the soundcard to add equalizer adjustments.. and then use dolby digital live to encode the signal and pass it along to the receiver.

i am stuck with windows xp at the moment.. meaning the dts encoder doesnt work with windows xp.
therefore, i dont know if the dts encoder works any better than the dolby digital encoder.

wikipedia says dolby digital live encodes at 16bit 48khz @ 640 kbit/s
wikipedia also says dts connect encodes at 24bit 48khz @ 1.5 mbit/s

i dont know if the dolby 640 kbit/s is for each channel or for all channels.
the same can be said for dts connect, i dont know if 1.5 mbit/s is for one channel or all channels.. but the wording used implies all channels are converted into a 1.5 mbit/s data stream.
if dolby uses 640 kbit/s for each channel .. that equals 3.84 mbit/s

it's kinda strange because you might find yourself wondering if 640 kbit/s (or 3.84 mbit/s ) with 16 bit resolution is any better than 1.5 mbit/s at 24 bit resolution.

the real question is..
which encoder is removing/compressing the audio data.
some people simply wont care because the new dolby and dts high resolution formats are out on bluray.
but the rest of us who havent made the upgrade are still left wondering.


anyways.. why would you want to use the xfi elite pro when those features are disabled using s/pdif output?
well.. you could always wait for software decoders to decode the new dolby and dts surround sound formats, into large PCM files that the soundcard can play.
or
you could use the analog outputs and use all of the processing features of the soundcard.
the asio latency of my card goes down to 10ms without any problems.
when i ask for 7ms i start to get clicks and distortion.

if you do choose to get the xfi elite pro.. the dolby digital and dts encoders are a seperate purchase for a small price of $5

you could always try to find these features within the music player in the form of an additional plugin.. but the xfi elite pro makes it quick and easy thanks to the THX setup console and included reverb in audio creation mode.
the 24bit crystalizer also does a fine job of improving the audio.. but the feature also adjusts the equalizer response, meaning you have to enable the feature and calibrate the equalizers AFTER the crystalizer has been turned on.

another handy thing about the THX setup console, there is a bass boost that is fully adjustable from 200hz all the way down to 10hz
and this is specifically fantastic for those who really want to get low bass.
the boost is 1dB - 12dB

i think i'm going to get a calibrated microphone from cross-spectrum labs because my old microphone broke.
i'm going to need a microphone preamp with phantom power for the new microphone.
if you dont have such a microphone to calibrate your equalizer, i suggest you get one (unless that price tag includes having your system professionally calibrated already).

i havent tried many of the soundcards available.. i just wanted to post and tell you how important time delay and reverb can be.
the soundcard i spoke about certainly isnt bad.. the website says this:
- Total Harmonic Distortion + Noise at 1kHz (20kHz Low-pass filter) = 0.0008%

if you go to the websites for the new receivers on the market (denon, pioneer, onkyo, sony, ect) you will see their amplifiers have total harmonic distortion ratings of 0.05% or higher.

some of the soundcards are a real burden because you dont know what they sound like, and if the sound is bad.. sometimes they have the option to upgrade the 'opamp' to change the sound.
replacing an opamp might push the circuit into unsafe areas of operation, leading to premature failure of the soundcard.

so.. with all of that said, have a look at the features you want to avoid getting a soundcard that doesnt have the features needed.
the equalizer on the xfi elite pro is pretty darn good.
i have used other equalizers and quickly found them to be much less quality (they distort whenever you try to boost anything).

as a final note, maybe you want something that can work with asio faster than 10ms
i dont see audio and video synchronization problems when using a bunch of sound effects being processed into the audio.. if there are problems, it is the video player itself.

i had my hdtv connected to the cable box with component cables, and the digital audio going from the cable box to the soundcard without any latency problems.
but, my hdtv broke after flipping the circuit breaker to install a new electrical outlet (forgot to turn the television off before flipping the circuit breaker)
now i am using a smaller television with the old coaxial cable input, and i am starting to see audio and video synchronization problems.
the audio and video on the television is faster than the audio coming from the receiver.
i disconnected the digital output from the soundcard and plugged it into the receiver directly to see if it speeded things up any, but there was no difference.


i think the time delay and reverb information (as well as the equalizer and bass boost down to 10hz) is more valuable than pointing at which specific soundcard to buy.
i also know some people will look for something of high quality and stop searching when they find themselves happy.
this might lead to something better being available and you dont know any better.
i am in the situation, i have used an old creative live! soundcard that came with my mother's computer.. and i upgraded to the xfi elite pro .. but i dont know if there is anything else better.
i'm not going to trust anybody who says a soundcard is better, because there is a chance they never heard the card i have.
and there is also a chance the amplifier had lots of distortion (or the speakers were junk) when reviewing the soundcard i have.

variables..!
time delay and reverb arent of those same variables.
when they work, they help.

its better than getting rid of a soundcard because somebody said a different soundcard sounds better.. and then you get the new soundcard and find out it isnt actually any better.
maybe it was better for their speakers and not your speakers.
and maybe the difference is very small and not worth the repeated buying and returning soundcards.
May 4, 2011 3:39:07 PM

isntead of using a graphic equalizer, (hardware or software), u may jsut want ot use parametric equalizes, why spend so much money on equalizers, that will flatten the sound at the end, but add a lot of noise... each time the analogue sound goes into teh equalizer ur adding a little amount of noise, plus u are changing the speakers natural frequnecy response.... its all post processing, and too much of it, is never good.

changing so and so with your equalizer can result in poor performace playback espescially at loud volumes, plus most ppl dont care about flat frequncy reposne, for one they sound boring as hell, might as well invest in some studio monitors then.

...now if u were talking about software equalizes... well you should uses em anyway... a tone control (bass and treble) will probably be far much better. ud want to keep the spekaers output THD as minimal as possible, now this is not possible with many equaliers working in unity, but a parametric equaliser will defnitely do the job.


equaliers wasnt teh OPs questions so i will start t he answer.

OP: check the essesnce ST/X from ASUS.

you can also try the creative titanium HD.

since u say you have a home theatre, and well as im assuming u have numerous amount of speakers, would you rather not want to invest in CD players and blu-ray players. they will be better then a PC as well as you will be using ur system to the 'full'.

the soundcard will help you to hear most out of the source due to its processing, the QUALITY components in the soundcard help to keep the sound signals as clean as possible to the output.

this is why when u return to onboard sound there is a lot of sound 'missing'. background sounds seem a lot further away then they should be. voices dount soudn as natural, and overall representation can appear slightly cold as well as flat.
Related resources
May 4, 2011 4:22:06 PM

@MEgamer
I'm guessing that the OP has alot of media on the pc and they want to use it as sort of a media storage device.

@OP
If you already have a very high end home theater system you also must have a very high end receiver, correct? High end receivers normally have digital room correction built in, in fact maybe you already have used it. I know my pioneer vsx-30 did and its only mid-grade ($550).

what you will want to think about is what type of connection you will want to use to hook up to your existing system. the first choices would be s/pdif or hdmi. you could use 3.5mm but you might lose quality through all the splitters/connections required.

if you have an optical s/pdif in on your receiver (you should!) then take a look here..
http://reviews.cnet.com/sound-cards/?filter=500009_5005...
a few s/pdif sound cards are reviewed. not sure on the date of the reviews but take a look.
May 4, 2011 7:52:51 PM

a software equalizer uses math to increase or decrease the volume of each frequency.
the equalizer is only as good as the math used to adjust the frequency.

different math equations can also change the phase of the audio without changing the volume.

there are DOZENS of crappy software equalizers.
that is why VST plugins cost $100 or more..!!

you should be taking multiple equalizers one step at a time.
first, you would want to make the frequency response shaped flat so you arent missing any of the details because such and such frequency is much louder than a different frequency (you totally miss the details in their loud and beautiful form)
then.. you need to realize some equalizers adjust the phase of the frequency to help adjust amplitude.
if you are going for a flat frequency response and a perfect phase response.. multiple equalizers can make the perfect phase response extremely difficult.
you'd have to use equalizers that blend well with eachother (or some other dedicated phase adjuster)


'too much' is clearly a bad thing.
if there are no dynamic amplitude changes from one sound to the next, all of them will blend together and the details would be harder to hear.
but speakers are always being upgraded, and their dynamic capabilities help prevent the sheer amount of screeching tin that is to be avoided.
there is no difference between the loudest and softest piece of audio.. that is what makes it blend together and sound stupid.

equalizers can make a $1,000 system sound like $10,000 when compared to a system that doesnt use an equalizer.
the quality of the speakers and amplifier and soundcard are important.. but, the quality of the software audio effect is equally important.

hell.. a crappy soundcard can be forced to sound decent when the right software plugin is used to grab a tight hold and manipulate the soundcard to squeeze and shape every last bit of performance out of it.
kinda like when overclockers remove PCI bus information to make their overclocks stable.
sure, the overclock is high.. and the benchmark works.. but that doesnt mean the processor and motherboard will process all of the software like it is supposed to.
for christ sakes, the calculator might not even work anymore when they are done.
that is how they get up to 5ghz without crazy amounts of cooling.
those things are usually toys that are ment to run a benchmark, not to be used as a daily-use computer.


today i switched to my motherboards onboard realtek HD soundcard ... the sound was like cardboard and lost clarity.
sometimes a soundcard might sound really clear and detailed.. but the amplifier emphasizes some frequencies more than others.
that could lead to a range of frequencies screaming and shouting at you while you are simply sitting there thinking everything is okay.
you could go deaf if the frequencies are around 3khz
i would use an equalizer to flatten it back out and hope it doesnt change the detail/clarity.
and i would also have to hope the equalizer doesnt cause the soundcard to fail prematurely.


**edit**
the audio industry is cruel to us, despite upgrades coming onto the market.
May 4, 2011 8:37:48 PM

Thanks for any help. Have made my desision. How do I give best answer to one.
May 4, 2011 9:01:11 PM

Ahh equalizers, dislike using them. If he really does have a $25k setup, he most likely already has 1 equalizer (assuming he even needs it) in the mix to correct some of the coloration/shortcomings that his setup or room adds to the sound and therefore does not need another anywhere else unless he's dealing with an analog device for input. Reverb, time delay, etc? My guess is none of those things are needed unless he didn't do his homework when he purchased his system.
The computer will simply be one more input to his system which should already be optimized for the room it's in.

OP: What is the computer going to be used for? And how do you plan to connect it?

If it's for gaming and you absolutely need the lastest EAX support, then you have to go with Creative.

If it's going to be analog input, I'd suggest HT Omega's Claro Halo XT regardless of what you are going to use it for. HT Omega pretty much has the best sound as far as analog out goes.

But really, the interconnect should be digital if you have a choice. At that point, you have options, I'd go with something from ASUS, HT Omega, Auzentech, maybe Creative, which supports your needs.

Hehe, guess I was alittle late in posting :whistle:  ah well.
May 4, 2011 9:48:49 PM

*sigh* anwaypasible why use 'many' graphic equalizer when u can use a single parametric one...

also, amplifiers dont really emphazise ones frequency over the other, if u check its response over RMAA test it is INCREDIBLY flat... its the processsing that changes all this. creative and asus have nearly the same quite so indistinquishable.. but why is there a lot more bass from creative x-fis compared to asus's xonar, that my friend is due to the processor.

ud want to avoid softwares at all times, in the real audio world, softwares are only used to 'make' and not reproduce,

using an equalizer will always lose clarity, it may be not be noticeable but it does.. cos everytime an analogue signal has been post processed, little bits of noise will be added in.
May 5, 2011 12:00:26 AM

I use Audyssey MultiEQ Pro Calibration Kit, and NAD M15HD Preamp, NAD M25 Amp.
The Computer is going to be used to play my music collection I have on my computer. I think digital interconnected is the best choice.
May 5, 2011 12:14:53 AM

its not fair to use RMAA to say the frequency response is flat when soundcards can inflate the harmonics.
a simple sine wave is totally different than anything with an echo of some sort.

if you have the knowledge and power, try those frequency sweeps with any reverb effect like 'cave' or 'auditorium' and watch those frequency responses alter.

also, despite the voltage being the same level throughout the frequency sweep.. that doesnt mean the timing is the same.
anybody with basic electric circuit building know-how can build an amplifier to clamp tight for a frequency response sweep.
it's all about how you excite the amplifier that can change the results.
different release timings for different frequency ranges can cause the sound to be warm or cold.
the voltage can stay the same and be registered as flat, but that doesnt mean things like attack or sustain are being recorded to showoff the quality of the soundcard.

technology is getting upgraded often.. and these things wont necessarily change.
the experts dropped out of the game too soon, and the masters of today will do the right thing to keep people constantly wanting to upgrade.
their wanting to upgrade will translate to other people wanting to buy their first piece of hardware.
the better it looks, the more likely someone is going to buy it even if they dont use it much.

i cant argue much about software touching the audio and adding noise.. because that may be true down to 0.00000005 %
the shape is what is important, if you raise the amplitude.. they can take a picture of what the piece of audio looks like before it was boosted.. then make the piece of audio look exactly like it did before it was touched.
just think about it.. have you seen the digital art created on computers from scratch?
the pictures (and video) can totally fool the person to have absolutely no idea if it was taken with a camera or made on the computer.
construction quickly brings upon re-construction.
if you can see it before you alter it, you can shape and mold it back to what it was.

have a look on youtube and watch artists sketch a 3d model of a persons face.
you can watch it come together from a round blob, up until they are tapping paint onto the cheeks to make it look perfect.

the better we can see the audio signal in its digital form.. the better it can be boosted or cut without any damage.
yes, some of the pieces might be fake when you are done.. but when it plays across the digital to analog convertor.. that chip isnt going to know any different.

math is a gift from nature, and it stems into the high degrees of complexity that can make a grown make collapse without warning.
that means a $10,000 microphone isnt sensitive enough to capture the difference a software equalizer makes.

as i said, there are different qualities.
have you ever watched a cartoon where a farmer feeds a pig?
the audio industry is feeding us the same scrap with these audio plugins.
(empty bones and apple cores)
only the most expensive stuff has meat on the bone and some actual apple left to eat.
but those pieces of software cost thousands of dollars.

we are still at the very lowest point of digital audio.
they continue to lie to us about sample rates.
it is impossible to record 20khz when the sample rate is only 44.1khz
you have TWO chances per second to capture the 20khz signal.
each of those chances only last 1.360544218 milliseconds

go here and see how fast you can click on the mouse button when the screen changes:
http://www.humanbenchmark.com/tests/reactiontime/index....

most people score 215 milliseconds.
i just scored a 189ms

to try and capture some treble, you only get 1.3ms
that is super fast !!
ONE chirp of 20khz lasts 3ms
two chances @ 1.3ms each = 2.6 ms NOT 3ms
that is what they mean by Nyquist–Shannon sampling theorem.
2.6ms does not fit exactly (or with extra) when compared to 3ms

i've learned...
each sample has a shape like this ^v
and it actually looks something like this .......... '
that shape can have 65,536 different variations.
now, this might not be absolutely perfect.. but it is easier than thinking each shape has it's own address in a compiler somewhere.

some soundwaves have an echo.. and that means the shape is more complex than a solid '
it looks smeared as if you scribble with a pencil and wipe your thumb across it.
that is how you realize the number 65,536 can potentially get used up really quick.
because you have to respect the dots per inch when you are looking at that shape.
you can have a large grid or a grid that has absolutely no gaps (ray tracing)
the smaller the grid.. the more those numbers get used up faster.
same thing with dots per inch with an optical or laser mouse.

now, when you are looking at the audio with that kind of magnifying scope.. you can then use math to boost the amplitude and keep its shape by going in there and manually re-shaping it.. just like a 3d modeler shapes a persons head or body.

it is bloody perfect.. and electronic components that go onto a circuit board are also right behind in perfection.
computers run on ultra low sonic when they want to build one like that.
the smaller the voltage changes, the smaller the entire voltage requirement.

you might see a computer running exactly like your computer (or some brand new super fast gaming computer) running on only .0002 millivolts
static is a severe concern and you might have to wear an anti-static body suit to even get close to it.

software plugins are not the enemy.. the cheap effort put into creating the software plugin is why they dont work very good.
i mean, when a plugin costs more than your soundcard.. some time and effort went into creating it.
when audio software costs more than the entire computer.. some serious time and effort went into it.
i've seen computer software that costs more than my car..!!!

there are probably people programming computer software that costs more than the price of a house.
if you give up re-creating the sound sample.. then yes, it would then have some noise in it.
May 5, 2011 12:56:13 AM

For your setup and just playing music, if the audio on your motherboard supports s/pdif you don't even need to get a sound card because at that point, it's just a pass through. Otherwise if it doesn't, the sound card doesn't matter too much as it still is just a pass through, I'd personally go with the HT Omega Claro (basic version) as it uses good solid parts, flexible in use, and doesn't cost too much.

May 5, 2011 6:40:13 AM

most of the time u talk about software equalizer cos u always mention digital... the readon why NO ONE agrees with a software equalizer, is becuase its DIGITAL... resolution is limited... analogue is infinite, sure it has limits at being unclean, but at least honest...

i answers ur essay with one line, get a parametric equalizer.


they arent that gd at 3d modelling...
a software equlizer that costs more thenan average car???... wat eq is this?
May 6, 2011 4:28:01 AM

i agree whole-heartedly.. analog doesnt have to be bothered with samples and any chunks between samples becoming missing.
from source to speakers the signal is as constant as what the microphone voice coil allows.

eventually we will see higher sample rates with less gaps inbetween them, and until the.. analog is a solid alternative.
it is when designers have the option to build something, without going all the way, that leads to results that dont go all the way.
if you had to compare building electronics to being a cook.. its pretty quick and clear, how many ingrediants can you put onto some food before the taste is unpleasant?

things like input to output ratio is one thing.
how clean is the output.
how dirty does the signal become once it goes through the input.
how to keep the entire resistance of the circuit low.
how much difference is there to the signal from the output pin compared to the signal that was sent to the input pin.
what does the different phases do to how the input pin alters the signal.
what does the different phases do to the input to output ratio.
what does the different phases do to the output.
what does the different phases do to the resistance of the entire piece.

the same questions for phase also need to be applied to voltages.
does a change in voltage create a change anywhere of the listed questions?
does a change in voltage or phase change how fast the piece does the job it is supposed to do?

there are 360 degrees of phase?
i'd say you have chopped up the movement into 360 degrees of change, and that number can be increased.
there are also many different voltages.
if your circuit is only going to be working from 1v to 2v
how do you check for voltage changes?
it could be 1.1 - 1.2 - 1.3 - up to 2 volts
or it could be 1.0001 - 1.0002 - 1.0003 - up to 2 volts.

see.. it is really hard to design electronics when you consider these different combinations.
the only hope is that these questions have already been answered, so you can choose what pieces you need without bumping into a problem.

one would think each price category represents how far the piece will go to answer one of the above questions before there is any change.
to maximize profit, these pieces are taken from the corresponding price category.
when an electronics engineer is designing something to work perfectly, they choose the high quality parts with a higher price tag.
they might build something that costs $2,000 in parts.
if a company was to build the same thing and sell it to the public, they would obviously sell it for whatever profit they want to make.
but
sometimes that is why you see some piece of electronics with a $20,000 price tag (or is it $200,000 price tag?)

this happens many many times.
if you go to a place like dell or hewlett packard.. they will sell you a computer for $2,000
but
you could have built one yourself piece by piece for $1,200 (or less) AND some of the pieces would have a longer warranty.

companies will come to the conclusion that they are helping society, rather than helping a specific person.. and the price tag will reflect that view.
there is a difference between helping the industry by having products available, compared to helping a specific person who is trying to help the industry.
i wouldnt necessarily call it favoritism, because there is more than one way to help the industry.
a piece of hardware can be productive, and a person can also be productive.
there are a whole lot of stores selling new high definition televisions, but there arent a whole lot of people going in to calibrate the colors for higher accuracy.
sure, a company has the right to calibrate the colors perfectly at the factory.. but what about the brightness and contrast levels?
some people have white walls and dont need all the brightness ... other people have black walls and need the brightness.
(part of the 'going blind' or 'giving me a headache' problem)

so what does the industry do?
they make video calibrators that can improve the color accuracy.
but
that doesnt mean people hunt down the piece of hardware and use it.

i remember there was a commercial on television (i think it was about going green and living green to help the economy).
there was more than one commercial.. but it showed the same thing.
there was a water faucet that wasnt shut off all the way and it had water coming out (not a lot, but some).
three or four people would walk past the faucet and ignore it, and then one person finally comes along and turns off the faucet all the way.
many people dont take the 'initiative' to get higher quality results.

for example.. the original poster didnt say anything about buying a soundcard and trying it out, then return it for a refund if it wasnt what they wanted in terms of audio quality.
(maybe they wanted to avoid doing that very thing.. or maybe they wanted a list of soundcards to choose from and start the process)

i dont think it is a perfect example though.
look at people who buy a new car.. if there is something wrong with the car, they dont look at performance upgrades.. they test drive a different vehicle.
and that really hurts the market.. because the company will want to build a car that has everything and does everything.
that would make the car cost more, and the company doesnt want the car to be out of the customer's price range, so they lower the cost to sell more of them.
that means all the other companies have to lower their cost, because they cant have a car that has less and does less for the same price and expect people to buy the car.

some more real world examples..
people who choose a different car because the car they 'want' doesnt have a GPS radio inside.
instead of going out and buying a GPS radio.. they sacrifice the name brand and vehicle model that they wanted.

what about old cars?
how many people go out and buy an old car, because they love the look of it, and put a new 'crate engine' inside because the old engine was known to be a piece of junk ?

i live in the midwest and we get lots of snow in the winter.
i see hundreds of cars that never go to a paint shop to get some high quality clear coat sprayed onto the car to make the vehicle immune to the salt on the roads so it wont begin to rust.

i see people with a brand new $20,000 vehicle at a carwash, and these people are spraying the clear coat right off of the paint job.
in 5 - 10 years, there is going to be rust where they sprayed too much or too close.
i'm not saying the soap is causing the clear coat to be sprayed off, i'm saying the high amounts of pressure is what is spraying the clear coat off.
i've done the same mistakes myself.. if there was some bird droppings or a piece of mud that refused to spray off easily.. what do most people do?
they move in with the gun and try to remove the gunk with the pressure.. usually ensuring the spot will rust in the future.


i dont know ANYBODY that buys a bunch of different soundcards to try them out.
sure, some 'review' websites have tried more than one different soundcard.. but their review is usually without any elaborate details.
and when a person does try a bunch of different soundcards.. that doesnt mean they tried them all.
it also doesnt mean the card they decided was the best is going to be the best for everybody.
i have a klipsch 2.1 promedia set of speakers, and i think the old creative live! 5.1 soundcard (dell version) sounds better than the creative x-fi elite pro paired with the speakers.
i think the klipsch 2.1 promedia speakers are already warm sounding, and the creative live! soundcard made the speakers sound less artificial than the x-fi elite pro did.

stubborn speakers can make good use of a soundcard that sounds like tin or aluminum.
because 'hot sounding' mixed with 'cool sounding' = 'neutral sounding'

many options = confusion
lots of people dont realize how hard it is to create a 'best' this and match it with a 'best' this.
there are many products out there that are not perfect.
and they fail to realize how one not perfect thing steered to the left, can be paired with another not perfect thing steered to the right.. and together they are right in the middle.

one more quick example..
if you have a television with extra red colors, you could buy an adapter with very weak red colors.. then when they are used together, the red is perfect.

it is hard to say DUH sometimes.
most people are giving up too early when it comes time to saying WHAT
(i know there are many many subjects that i fall short with, i dont have a master's degree in anything and will eventually always find somebody bigger and more competant)
some people simply want to live and enjoy.
some companies simply want to do everything for the person.
but both the customer and the company fail to communicate all of the hard work (or how easy it was) to justify the price tag.

i think time has everything to do with it.
if you move out from your parents house too early, you will have to pay your own bills and you'll have no time for college.
people get stuck being forced to work when they really want to be in school to get a job they really enjoy.
sometimes people go to college while living with their parents, but they were rushed into deciding a degree.. after they graduate, they become unhappy and want to go back to school.. but now they have bills to pay and cant stop working to sit down and get some really good grades in college.
- lack of time
- having to spend time with a husband or wife
- having to care for a baby
- having to spend time with a dieing parent

these things really make freedom feel impossible.

i know i havent tried many different soundcards to suggest something perfect to the original poster's question.. but not everybody can take the soundcard apart piece by piece to learn how good the circuit is and how long it is going to last.
that means we dont know if there is a cheap soundcard that could sound really really good if you only upgraded something.
we dont know if the speakers sound warm and need a cool sound to become neutral.
we also dont know if the person likes a warm or cool sound rather than a neutral sound.
it is safe to say we are in a trial and error period when we dont know what we have and/or dont know what we need.

when was the last time we seen an article that says 'this television has lots of colors available in the video processor AND the colors remain flawless when the brightness is turned down' ??

the world has a lot to give and our questions aren't specific enough.
May 6, 2011 9:32:26 AM

I'd say the thing is anwaypasible, is that you didn't didn't even ask what he needed it for, my first post at #6 was the first time it's asked. His answer made it extremely easy to help with.

MEgamer, this always erks me when people say digital is finite and analog is infinite. First off, analog recording hasn't, nor ever will be, infinite. Digital can very easily have better resolution, all you have to do is increase the sample rate for higher resolution. As it stands, only when you deal with high end reel to reel do you have an output that rivals the SACD format.

Didn't want to get into you're discussion between the two of you, but those 2 things just got to me.
May 6, 2011 11:26:59 AM

we still dont know the speakers.
sure, you might know the preamp and amplifier.. but are the speakers warm or cold or neutral?

i would still make an effort to use an equalizer with the audyssey calibration system.. if i had the mic to calibrate the EQ, i would also be able to know if the additional EQ helped the frequency response any.

additional time correction can still be wild out beneficial.
having one set of timing values setup for the listening position, and the other timing values setup from the speaker to the wall.
i did that myself and found lots of generic dolby prologic matrixes mixed into everyday music.
there was enough sound coming from behind me that i had to check if my receiver was in 2 channel mode or surround :bounce: 
i did use 'channel mixer' with the stereo wide set to full (2.00) and i dont know if that had anything to do with it.

i think giving an extra care helps receive extra care in return.
that is why i didnt go into a list of soundcards that people are giving praise to.
havent heard them myself and wouldnt want to embarass myself.

but i also believe there are people who know and those who dont.. so with that said, i want to help push the SACD statement.
the sample rate on SACD for cd players is 16bit 44.1khz
but yo..
the sample rate for SACD players is 2.8224 MHz (a.k.a. 2,822.4khz)

that is 2,778.3 more samples per second :sleep: 
May 6, 2011 12:22:45 PM

ien2222 said:
I'd say the thing is anwaypasible, is that you didn't didn't even ask what he needed it for, my first post at #6 was the first time it's asked. His answer made it extremely easy to help with.

MEgamer, this always erks me when people say digital is finite and analog is infinite. First off, analog recording hasn't, nor ever will be, infinite. Digital can very easily have better resolution, all you have to do is increase the sample rate for higher resolution. As it stands, only when you deal with high end reel to reel do you have an output that rivals the SACD format.

Didn't want to get into you're discussion between the two of you, but those 2 things just got to me.


no no analogue can be infinite... that was always the pro for the analogue... it can have inifinite resolution... of course the word inifnite is questionable as there are lots of theory of whether the quantity of inifite even exists... the only problem with reaching such a number is the processing, mathematically analogue signal is inifinite.

but for now, analogue is still preferred in the audio world, digital is only used as a tramission technique. recordgin are always analogue, its just the very moment u store it, for whatever reason (mixing, mastering, editing) it has to be sampled thats when it is FINITE, but that sound waves that goes into the mic, the very moment b4 it gets digitalized ( the latter analogue) is indeed an infinite resolution of an analogue wave. im sure anwaypasible also agrees.

the DSD they use in SACD isnt any mroe superior then the 16bit PCM in CDs... yet.
May 6, 2011 7:37:23 PM

Wrong, analog in a theoretical sense can be infinite, just like digital can be infinite as the sample rate goes to infinity. But in practical application, you are limited because you only have a certain amount of molecules to store information which for all intents and purposes means it's taking a sample every certain interval of time.

And yes, DSD is more superior than PCM(16bit), by quite a bit. If you're referring to the AES study in 2007 where it was 50/50, they were using 24bit PCM at 176kHz which is a far different beast.
!