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highend soundcard

Discussion in 'General Hardware' started by department76, Jan 24, 2008.

  1. department76

    department76 New Member

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    i'm looking to put a good card in my rig, now that i have money again after building it. i have looked around a lot and have basically decided that anything below $130 can't get the job done that i want (i.e. b-enspirer, ht omega striker, fatal1ty pro, auzentech x-plosion, m-audio offerings). i am looking for the best possible quality that also supports DTSC and DDL (rules out most x-fi cards). as for DACs, nothing more than a single stereo DAC for the fronts needs to be super high quality as i will use that for headphones. i will game in surround via the DTS-C or DD-L, if i ever do analog surround (doubtful) it'd be some cheap 7.1 for gaming only. EAX is favored, but not 100% necessary. Same with front panel I/O, favored but not a must.

    all of that in mind, i'm thinking about the following (all have great D/A conversion, i don't care about A/D as i'll never be recording anything):
    Auzentech X-Fi Prelude - 120dB SNR, EAX 5.0, DDL/DTSC, front panel I/O, swappable op-amps (X-Fi)
    HT Omega Claro+ - 115dB SNR, EAX 2.0, excellent analog, DDL/DTSC, front panel I/O (CMI8788)
    ASUS Xonar D2 - 118dB SNR, EAX 2.0, DTSI/DDL, shielded, NO front panel I/O (AV200)
    Creative X-Fi fatal1ty pro or champion?

    all of those are ~$180 range, i am currently leaning towards the auzentech.
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2008
  2. Franklinwallbrown

    Franklinwallbrown New Member

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    I want an AuzenTech & I've also been talking with many people about the same thing. So...
  3. department76

    department76 New Member

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    ya it really seems to take the cake in terms of performacne and features in about every category. unless i hear some good arguments or see a huge price drop on one of the other cards (doubtful!) then i'll probably get myself a prelude.
  4. Franklinwallbrown

    Franklinwallbrown New Member

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    Gg
  5. imperialreign

    imperialreign New Member

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    The Auzen Prelude isn't the fastest audio card on the market - but it's audio quality is unmatched. If you're looking for the absolute best sounding audio card, don't even consider any other offering.

    If you're looking for the fastest card with great audio quality, the Creative X-Fi Xtreme Gamer Fatal1ty Pro (116dB SNR) takes that title - although it supports DTSC, it doesn't support DDL.

    Another card, that looks to be a great contender (and which I just learned about within the last week or so) is the Razer Barracuda AC-1 Razer AC-1 utilizing a C-Media APU, speced at 117dB SNR, supporting DDL and DTSC. EAX 2.0 DSP only, though. From what I've researched on this card, it looks to be a fast contender also, but still not as fast as the Fatal1ty Pro.

    Although, if you can still find one somewhere, the Auzentech X-Meridian was the coup d'etat of the audio quality realm. Ran off a C-Media APU, though, which rules out newer EAX DSPs
  6. Franklinwallbrown

    Franklinwallbrown New Member

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    What he said!
  7. department76

    department76 New Member

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    i didn't realize the fatal1ty pro was supposed to be the fastest, but i suppose that doesn't sway me much. that is a good option to consider though, it's a lot cheaper than the prelude and i didn't realize it had DTSC (only really need DDL or DTSC). thanks for bringing that up.

    i've looked at a couple reviews for the razer barracuda card, which didn't rate it as anything special. it's plenty capable but really nothing extraordinary. besides, call me crazy but i kinda want something with solid caps.

    i looked into the meridian actually, seems as though it's impossible to find though.

    at this point it's either the prelude at ~$180, or the fatal1ty pro at ~$130. i suppose EAX 5.0 is worth an x-fi based card, i just want DDL/DTSC to send to my HT, and good DAC + opamps for a cushy pair of denon ah-d2000s someday. kinda sucks the fatal1ty pro doesn't have a front panel, i might consider looking at the champion.

    are there any other major differences between the professional and the champion besides the I/O and remote?
  8. Franklinwallbrown

    Franklinwallbrown New Member

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    If you want best sound for music then the Auzen, but if you want extra FPS in-game w/ good sound, then fatal1ty. Final offer!
  9. niko084

    niko084

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    Auzen or one of the new Asus cards...

    Personally I like the Asus a bit more, but it doesn't offer as much in the way of gaming performance, but the sound quality is superior.
  10. Franklinwallbrown

    Franklinwallbrown New Member

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    Asus cards? No one even talked about them to me, if I recall correctly?
  11. niko084

    niko084

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  12. btarunr

    btarunr Editor & Senior Moderator Staff Member

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    Best sounding sound card on the planet: Auzentech Auzen X-Fi Prelude 7.1
    Best performing sound card on the planet: Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi Xtreme Gamer Fatal1ty Professional

    'nuff said.
  13. niko084

    niko084

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    That one can be HIGHLY argued...

    By the book, the Asus Xonar is a better "sounding card".
    To the individual person it may go the other way...

    Either way both cards are extremely high quality and the top of the top for internal sound cards.

    *Distortion ratings*
    Auzentech Prelude .001%
    Asus Xonar .0004%
    *SNR*
    Auzentech Prelude 120db
    Asus Xonar 118db

    The Asus uses a Burr-Brown D/A converter, this is known as one of the best D/A converters by audiophiles.

    These little differences are not something that can really be depicted to the everyday listener, especially on some cheap crappy self amplified computer speakers, where the amplifier in the speakers is probably 1% THD alone.
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2008
  14. btarunr

    btarunr Editor & Senior Moderator Staff Member

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    With dedicated 2 channel Asahi Kasei (AKM Semiconductor) DSPs per two channels, the Xonar holds no sway. Besides, the ASUS chipset used on the Xonar is rebadged C-Media CMI8788. The X-Fi Prelude uses the same DSPs that its dead sister the X-Meridean used.
  15. Franklinwallbrown

    Franklinwallbrown New Member

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    'Nuff said!
  16. niko084

    niko084

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    Well now we are talking about audio processing, not pure SQ... Now your getting DRM's involved, which is what really brings it into what does the person prefer.

    See where I'm going with this?

    Some ultra high end $80,000 per pair speakers claim to be the best, but yet the most picky audiophile in the world will pick a set that cost a mere $10,000 per pair because they have a warmer midrange or something to that effect.

    Once you get into the top end offered, its really personal taste.

    I do wish though that the Prelude would have had a emi shield, its a nice bonus for a $200 sound card, difference may be nill but.
  17. btarunr

    btarunr Editor & Senior Moderator Staff Member

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    Its specs, see for yourself. The AKM AK-4396 is the 'Maybach' of high-performance DAC's, it's the best the industry has, so far. The Xonar has weaker OPAMP units, though it comes very close with digital IO where the audio stacks are simply bypassed to the SPDIF while being processed by the system CPU. The X-Fi Prelude uses the expansive power of the CA-20K1 processor.
  18. niko084

    niko084

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    Here is a little proof of the very thing we are talking about-
    http://techreport.com/articles.x/13874

    They say dead out... If gaming performance is not what you are looking for the Xonar is the card you want.

    Take a peak.

    Also note* The Preludes slightly higher SNR rating is NOT even a TESTED rating, its a rating based on used components, so in fact its probably lower than what is stated.

    I have nothing against Auzentech by any and all means, they make a wonderful product and in turn these cards land hand and hand.

    Yes though the Xonar does most definitely eat up a good chunk more cpu power.
  19. btarunr

    btarunr Editor & Senior Moderator Staff Member

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    LOL, the X-Fi Prelude and the Xonar D2X carry the same price-tags as of 22-01-08, USD 199. :roll:. You get more out of the Auzen card in the end. The EMI shield isn't needed for issues pertaining to the extreme heat generated by the components, it's just that the 1337 use these cards on systems with CrossFire / SLI setups where the video-cards cause an EMI mess. In setups such as mine, there are no issues.

    This page of the X-Fi Support thread is of good academic importance: http://forums.techpowerup.com/showthread.php?t=40613&page=4
  20. niko084

    niko084

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    As I said the EMI shield is a nill difference.
    Not going to argue that the Prelude doesn't have more to offer, especially under XP where it gets full EAX.

    But if you are simply looking for sound, then there can be a question. I looked at these two cards for months before deciding myself to get the Xonar, my reasoning is that it will play games *I'm far from worried about a bit of processor usage*, and that it works very well with programs like Cakewalk, Reason, Sonar etc for production, also has midi ports.

    This card will replace my EMU 1212M when I re-build my workstation.
  21. Franklinwallbrown

    Franklinwallbrown New Member

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    I'm confused again, but yet, it's late, so...
  22. candle_86 New Member

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    I dunno why sounds are such big things to have, my live still sounds great.
  23. niko084

    niko084

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    All depends on who you are and how picky your ear is... To some people the stock stereo in a Toyota Tercel is AWESOME. To some people you cannot buy equipment good enough in a retail store.

    Personally my Audigy 2zs in this computer that I'm stuck with, I can barely stand, and it is still considered by audiophiles to be one of "Creative's" best SQ cards ever built.
    *Directly by Creative that is*
  24. candle_86 New Member

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    well i count myself blessed with bad hearing means i only need soundcards when the current dies, i got a Live because my Soundblaster AWE64 wouldnt work on an Nforce 2
  25. btarunr

    btarunr Editor & Senior Moderator Staff Member

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    The NVidia Soundstorm that came with the NForce2 (MCP-T southbridge) was superb. The farthest we saw onboard audio come.

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