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Best sound card for gaming

Discussion in 'Audio, Video & Home Theater' started by bamdaman14, Oct 16, 2012.

  1. j924 New Member

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    I really like my Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi Titanium HD. It's very overkill for just gaming but I got mine for about 1/3 of normal price from an amazing Newegg sale.
     
  2. Frag Maniac

    Frag Maniac

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    LOL, $250 for a Creative sound card? I would SO get a receiver instead at that price.
     
  3. bamdaman14 New Member

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    Hey guys so I decided to get the asus xonar dg card and so far
    It's working great.
     
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  4. eidairaman1

    eidairaman1

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    what drivers?
     
  5. BumbleBee

    BumbleBee

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    $250 doesn't get you a lot in a receiver. I never spend less than $500 on a receiver and it has to be a Marantz or Denon.
     
  6. mDee

    mDee

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    I used to have a Creative X-Fi Extreme Music. Worked well but I found the drivers and the plethora of software annoying. When ASUS started offering sound cards I gave them a try and bought the Xonar DX. Love it. Stable drivers, easy interface (I'm a bit software retarted :rolleyes:), competitive price, and it sounds great to me. I listen to a lot of movie scores and soundtracks and loved the Xonar more than the Creative.

    At the time the cheaper gamer-oriented Xonars (the DG, DGX, and the DS) weren't out yet, but based on what I know about my DX I'd say those gaming Xonars are good budget buys.
     
  7. Drone

    Drone

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    Actually I always wondered what difference does it really make for gaming? :confused:
    Expensive sound for professional audio engineering, some experiments or just for good old audiophiles and for people who just love to listen to some flacs makes sense but how it's for gaming with its drone monotonous music? Maybe it's just beyond my ken lol I dunno.
     
  8. Wile E

    Wile E Power User

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    Actually, a good sound card can be better than either coax or optical. spdif can only do 2 channel uncompressed or multichannel compressed. A good sound card will do 7.1 uncompressed, and has high enough quality analog outputs to actually sound better than compressed spdif. HDMI is the only digital connection that can match the analog output of a good sound card.

    No better than onboard if he's using the digital out.

    The Audigy2 on my kids' computer works fine in Win7. Worked fine in my rig as well, until I replaced it with the Forte.

    My Forte did that for a while too. I just had to clean the slot and reseat it. Your mileage may vary, of course.

    Or in a pinch, Yamaha or Onkyo. Although Onkyo has been slipping steadily in the last few years.

    I'm thinking my next receiver will be Marantz.

    As for $250 receviers, they're still better than computer-specific oriented audio products.
     
  9. BumbleBee

    BumbleBee

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    the DSP and DAC make it sound better?

    anything is better than computer audio products :p

    I don't like Yamaha proprietary technologies or the way Onkyo designs their receivers. it's a personal thing.
     
  10. KingPing

    KingPing

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    Games sound better (if the games has good sound), better surround effects than onboard for 5.1/7.1 speakers, voices sound clearer. In games like CS you can hear the footsteps very clearly and have a pretty good idea where the enemy is, it's almost like cheating if the other person isn't using a similar setup, the same applies for explosions, etc. The amount of sound effects you can hear in Arma 2 is amazing.

    I mostly use headphones (Audio Technica ATH A700 or a Razer Carcharias) using a Creative Titanium HD.
     
  11. Frag Maniac

    Frag Maniac

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    It does if you know when and where to make your purchase. At the right time of year with the right vendor you can get receivers for close to half the full price. It gets even better if you look for deals on last year's models. Receivers can be had at discount prices much easier than sound cards can because it's such a bigger market.

    It also depends quite a lot on what brands you shop for on anything that retails for $600 or less. In that price range Pioneer rules on sound quality. They're also 2nd best to Yamaha on reliability.

    As for Denon and Marantz, they're both owned and made by the same company and Denon has been in financial trouble since some of their higher end retail vendors dropped business with them.

    Denon went on a binge to offer low priced models and sell all their product at numerous vendors, including some online ones that were undercutting prices of retail stores drastically, which is what caused some retail vendors to stop doing biz with them.

    Another thing that is hurting Denon is they've made their product in such a way that it heats up too easily and causes parts to burn out. I've encountered numerous complaints about this and the support afterwards, esp now that Denon is hurting, is not so good.

    There are actually guys in the biz of buying used Denons for cheap, installing several fans inside them, and making a slight profit off them with no warranty because Denon has such a huge fanbase despite the problems they've had. IMO that just makes it obvious they're poorly designed.

    Onkyo used to have such problems, but they've redesigned their latest models to run much cooler, but then I've also noticed Onkyo no longer has any models under $850 with MultEQ like they used to. Likely a tradeoff of affording the retooling. I doubt Denon could even afford such a retooling at this point, and the sad thing is, they may bring Marantz down with them if things don't improve.

    The fact is if you pay upwards $600 or more, a lot of receivers sound good, esp if you buy $1000+ units on sale for that price. Even Best Buy Magnolia has closed out Yamaha RX-A1010s for $600. I don't think most gamers are going to want to spend $600 or more on a receiver though, and it's just not necessary. I've heard first hand what a drastic improvement even sub $300 receivers can yield over even decent sound cards.

    One thing a lot of people seem fooled by is thinking that a $250+ sound card is going to give you the fullest quality of sound it's capable of, but the PC speakers most use with them bring the sound quality back down due to their cheaply made amps. There's also not even enough room on a sound card to use the components necessary to really give you full sound.
     
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  12. BumbleBee

    BumbleBee

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    Pioneer outsources a lot of their products to other companies. Pioneer does not make their own receivers. I don't like the Onkyo design period. I have never had a problem with Marantz or Denon receivers. I like the technologies they license and i'm familiar with their designs and interfaces.

    I spend no less than $500 because my receivers end up being nothing more than a surround sound processor, HDMI switch box and pre-amp. I always have separates connected to it like a power amplifier and video processor.
     
  13. m1dg3t

    m1dg3t

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    Whats wrong with YPAO? Works just as good as audyssey, if not better lol. Or is the "CinemaDSP" not up to par? Yamaha & Pioneer make some great units! Audio is very subjective but you definately can't go wrong with a quality unit from any of those mfg's. Denon/Marantz included...

    Edit: Regarding getting deals; usually around christmas/boxing day, end of the year you can get wicked deals! I have many times saved over half retail on items :)
     
  14. BumbleBee

    BumbleBee

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    Audyssey is more advanced. it has more filters and listening positions. I only use it after I measure and treat my rooms.
     
  15. Frag Maniac

    Frag Maniac

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    Outsourcing is required to offer the sound and build quality Pioneer does at the price you can get them for, and if it's done responsibly, all it results in is a more affordable product. Their huge dominance in market share of the under $600 price range is a strong indication they have what others lack in the mainstream (eg affordable) market niche. Even Rotel outsources. That's how they can afford to put high grade Japanese parts including toroidal transformers in their units. It's done well though with Rotel overseeing production. Funny you should mention outsourcing though when Yamaha and Pioneer choose to make their own calibration software vs merely paying royalties on someone else's

    I can understand why many hesitate where Pioneer is concerned though, because their display, navigation, remote and presets are terrible. Those whom are familiar with how to get good sound at a good price generally also know how much if not most of that can be avoided by merely avoiding presets and using the AV Navigator app though.

    I don't really like Onkyos either, I was just exampling them because they've had similar problems Denon has and also are another brand that uses Audyssey. The difference however is Onkyo realized they needed to resolve their problems with a much needed redesign. I know there are Denon diehards that have no problems, but it seems for every one of those there's 2 or 3 others that are sick of out of warranty expenses, and it's clear why as I stated above.

    I considered Marantz at one point, but I don't like that they're merged with the struggling Denon, they're affordable units are low power, and their latest non Slimline models have ridiculously tiny portal window displays that look like something you'd see on Capt Nemo's sub. I also don't feel Audyssey is as big a deal as the fanatics make it out to be. Sure it has more features you can tweak, that's the main thing people rave about with it. IMO though a software calibrator is not doing it's job properly if you HAVE to tweak it a lot after a calibration. Audyssey is probably the most over-hyped product in the receiver market.

    Your last paragraph makes it even less of a point to spend a lot on a receiver.
     
  16. BumbleBee

    BumbleBee

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    i'm not talking about outsourcing electronic components. i'm talking about a whole product and putting your name on it. Pioneer Elite brand is not what it used to be.

    i've been building home theaters for almost 13 years. 2 weeks ago you barely had a grasp on digital audio. now your an expert.
     
  17. Hood

    Hood

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    Back in 2001 when I was building my first computer room, I had a Yamaha amp and speakers that was one of the first ones made for PC audio. I forget the model number, but it was about $200 and sounded better than anything else made for PCs. Now I use a $300 Sony surround recieiver with 5 Boston Micro90X series and one of their 200w subs, sourcing from on board Realtek ALC892 Toslink SPDIF. I mostly listen to 24 bit 96 KHz audio now, hi-res vinyl rips, and the built-in mobo audio is surprisingly clean and detailed (using optical link); I have no need for fancy audio cards or USB DAC's, at least not until I buy amps and speakers capable of appreciating them.
     
  18. Wile E

    Wile E Power User

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    @BumbleBee, m1dg3t, Frag Maniac:

    Pioneer doesn't have nearly the same output and THD as the other 4 mentioned, even when rated the same, at the same price point.

    Onkyo, Denon, Marantz, Yamaha and even Harmon Kardon are all always underrated from the factory. Pioneer is usually exactly what they claim. They just don't have the bang for the buck as the others. Your money is much better spent on the other 5 brands.

    That's not to say Pioneer is terrible or anything, just that they simply aren't as good, period.

    As for heat, Pioneer doesn't put out as much because they simply don't have as much power. And Denons don't really heat up much. My Onkyos (SR606 and HT270) run way hotter than the ex's AVR-2312.

    Granted, I do have to fix the HDMI daughter board on the 606, thus my comment about their products going downhill for a while there. That's also the reason I run analog out from my Forte to it. Once I fix it, I'll be using the HDMI audio off of my 580.

    Good DSPs are essential to properly tuning for the nuances of a room. I am satisfied working with any of the 5 brands I mentioned. They get the job done for me. I also don't have true high-fi speakers. I have mid-fi speakers (Polk TSi series all around, Infinity subs), so that may play into why they all work fine for me.

    That's fine for 2 channel audio. Go surround, and you'll start to see where the on-board is lacking.
     
  19. Frag Maniac

    Frag Maniac

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    Outsourcing is outsourcing whether it's parts or entire builds. What matters is who designs them and oversees production. You really think outsourcing isn't common in this day and age, really?

    You can say almost any brand "isn't what it used to be", after all that's "progress". Check most any reputable AV forum like AVS though and you will see Yamaha and Pioneer consistently being mentioned as THE most reliable brands.

    Your experience in HT seems to have done little more than send you down the almighty path of self righteousness and bias. I've met far too many HT installers that bias themselves towards the gear that makes integration and setup the easiest for themselves short term, like LG displays for instance. Doesn't mean they're the best.

    And WTF are you talking about with the barely having a grasp on HD audio bull crap smack talk? You sound like one of the all too many digital is best fanatics. Digital is what ruined audio, get a clue.

    @Wile,
    Odd you should imply the DSP is the most important part because in the price range I mentioned, that is where Pioneer clearly leads in opening up the midrange, while others sound rather flat and lifeless.

    All those competing brands mentioned lean more toward digital HT sound. Pioneer is the only one that in affordable price ranges can play music as well without sounding too digital. They're also the only ones putting out D class amps that don't sound as artificial with music as others do.
     
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  20. BumbleBee

    BumbleBee

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    I'm a home theater enthusiast. I always upgrade my separates. I don't keep them for 5-10 years like average consumers so reliability is not an issue and none of them are outsourced.
     
  21. Frag Maniac

    Frag Maniac

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    I've come to know the word "enthusiast" as meaning anything from trial and error tinkerer to the equivalent of a free sample tester, and in and of itself the word means little more than hobbyist really.

    I also fail to see any weight in your insults aimed at my level of HD audio knowledge when you don't even acknowledge the well known problems with your beloved Denon brand. The mention of you're seeing a $250 Creative card as "interesting" kinda tells it all really.

    Denon is struggling and for the very reasons I exampled. I've had a Magnolia Hi Fi salesman try to hard sell me a demo Denon without remote by adding a yr on the warranty. He even tried to make is sound like Denon's warranty was 3 yrs.

    It's clear that Denon has even some of their higher end vendors stooping to unethical business just to get some of their product out the door, because by now many have heard of their problems and don't trust them like they used to.

    Thus it's really hard to swallow this outsourced talk as if it's been a big problem, because Pioneer isn't the brand at the bottom of the reliability barrel. There's such a thing as paying too much attention to the hype and not enough to the common sense things.
     
  22. BumbleBee

    BumbleBee

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    I have $4500 in HiFi on my desktop. I got 2", 4" 703 and 705 traps in my office and a 6" 705 cloud above my head. I assure you i'm committed to the cause. a lot of people in my family are audiophiles and home theater enthusiast. it goes back to the Victrola. i'm going to school to take audio production and technology and electronic engineering in hopes of starting my own company one day.

    yes I think the Creative Sound Blaster ZxR is interesting. don't shop at Best Buy.
     
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2012
  23. LAN_deRf_HA

    LAN_deRf_HA

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    I'd be curious to know if they really do nothing. The shield on the HD actually works and only a portion of that is metal. The window is plastic and that's right over the core. Even if it's mostly plastic it could have some sort of additive.
     
  24. BumbleBee

    BumbleBee

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    try removing the shield on your sound card and tell me if you hear a difference.
     
  25. Wile E

    Wile E Power User

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    I didn't imply Pioneer had poor DSP or the DSP was the most important aspect. I said it's an important tool for home theater setup. I was making a general statement, and saying that I have no preference over whose I use. I didn't mention Pioneer, because it never made it past the music tests for me, so I never used their DSPs. More on that below.

    And I'm sorry, but Pioneer being the only one to play music without sounding "too digital" is a complete crock of shit. I listen to music flac through mine constantly, and used to listen to vinyl through it all the time too (need a new turntable), and trust me, no Pioneer out there does any better. Pioneers color the sound. If I wanted to color the sound of my music, I'd add the color myself. I don't. I want accuracy. I want to hear it the way it was intended to be heard. Pioneer does not deliver. It gives the music "life" by making it inaccurate.

    In the same price range, the other 5 brands outshine Pioneer in almost every way, including music reproduction. Pioneer may have great DSPs, but their amplifiers are lacking, plain and simple. I got this by sampling these receivers on my speakers personally, not by some third party reviews. I went with the Onkyos both times, because they matched the other 4 I mentioned in clarity and accuracy, but were on sale and cheaper at the time. Your output is only as good as the weakest link in the signal chain.
     

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