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Best soundcard for under $200 and under.

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#1
Hello everyone,

I am running a Creative XF-i Xtreme Gamer card with a modded oamp and power capacitor. I am looking for something a little more now and I was not really sure what is considered good these days.
I saw this card here:
Code:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16829271003
But I was wondering if the experts here at TPU could give me some advice :D
 
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#2
Come on dude help us out. What's is the sound playback for? Music, music production, gaming, movies.

Do you have it hooked upto a stereo receiver, 5.1 receiver, headphones?

Do you use a analogue or digital connection?
 
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#3
My bad, I use it mostly for music and gaming with analog 2.1 speakers and headphones.
 
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#4
My bad, I use it mostly for music and gaming with analog 2.1 speakers and headphones.
The HT Omega Claro is an amazing card, most of it's features will be wasted. It's selling point is DTS Connect and Dolby Digital Live over fibre, which doesn't appease analogue 2.1.

It's OAMPS are really good, not sure a $200 spent can be justified on a low end set up.

Think you'd be better off getting a cheap ASUS Xonar.

ASUS XONAR_DG 5.1 Channels PCI Interface Xonar DG ...
ASUS Xonar DS 7.1 Channels 24-bit 192KHz PCI Inter...

If you want to stick with Creative, the Creative Titanium is decent for it's price. Although I would go for the Xonar based on your audio setup.
Creative 70SB088000004 7.1 Channels 24-bit 96KHz P...
 
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#5
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#6
The HT Omega Claro is an amazing card, most of it's features will be wasted. It's selling point is DTS Connect and Dolby Digital Live over fibre, which doesn't appease analogue 2.1.

It's OAMPS are really good, not sure a $200 spent can be justified on a low end set up.

Think you'd be better off getting a cheap ASUS Xonar.

ASUS XONAR_DG 5.1 Channels PCI Interface Xonar DG ...
ASUS Xonar DS 7.1 Channels 24-bit 192KHz PCI Inter...

If you want to stick with Creative, the Creative Titanium is decent for it's price. Although I would go for the Xonar based on your audio setup.
Creative 70SB088000004 7.1 Channels 24-bit 96KHz P...
Thank you for the reply. I feel like the ASUS cards would actually be a downgrade from what I currently have, and the Creative one about the same. My speakers are Klipsch Promedia 2.1 at the moment although I may get something better in the future.
 
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#7
Thank you for the reply. I feel like the ASUS cards would actually be a downgrade from what I currently have, and the Creative one about the same.
That's where brand loyalty comes in and distorts people's choice. Both Asus' are far above your current XF-i Xtreme Gamer card arguably better than the Titantium too for almost half the price.

Edit:

Actually looking at the sample rate frequency, bit rate resolution price the Asus is a better option than the Titanium. People forget that Creative haven't been making good quality soundcards in comparsion to the competition for years (aside from the Auzentech X-Fi series)
 
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#8
Believe me I really have little or no respect left for Creative at this point. It just seemed logical that a card which cost 3 times as much would be better. If you say the ASUS cards are better, I will give one a try though.
 
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#9
The HT Omega Claro is an amazing card, most of it's features will be wasted. It's selling point is DTS Connect and Dolby Digital Live over fibre, which doesn't appease analogue 2.1.

It's OAMPS are really good, not sure a $200 spent can be justified on a low end set up.

Think you'd be better off getting a cheap ASUS Xonar.

ASUS XONAR_DG 5.1 Channels PCI Interface Xonar DG ...
ASUS Xonar DS 7.1 Channels 24-bit 192KHz PCI Inter...

If you want to stick with Creative, the Creative Titanium is decent for it's price. Although I would go for the Xonar based on your audio setup.
Creative 70SB088000004 7.1 Channels 24-bit 96KHz P...
I got the Xonar DS and it's great; but I only got it because I couldn't get an Auzentech here in the UK.
 
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#10
Believe me I really have little or no respect left for Creative at this point. It just seemed logical that a card which cost 3 times as much would be better. If you say the ASUS cards are better, I will give one a try though.
Don't go based on what I'm saying alone. Find a few reviews on all the cards in question and make up your own mind. One thing about sound quality, its subjective so what one person might think it sounds good and another might not like it, and another will not hear the difference.
 
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#11
ASUS cards aren't any better. Had one and apart from good sound i wasn't impressed with it in games. Crappy 3D positioning, EAX 5.0 emulation was crappy, games kept on crashing with that GX mode enabled, drivers were not the best either or even below Creative level.

Creative Labs technology, despite some quirks is still by far the best. So either X-Fi Forte or X-Fi Titanium HD if you ask me.
 
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#12
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#13
RejZoR,

This is what I'm saying, sound quality is subjective. You obviously don't like the sound of the superior product, whereas another person will disagree with you, because nobody has the same ears.

ASUS cards aren't any better.

Had one and apart from good sound i wasn't impressed with it in games. Crappy 3D positioning, EAX 5.0 emulation was crappy, games kept on crashing with that GX mode enabled, drivers were not the best either or even below Creative level.

Creative Labs technology, despite some quirks is still by far the best. So either X-Fi Forte or X-Fi Titanium HD if you ask me.
If you pull up the specification the Asus side-by-side with creative it's better or near as good and damn well cheaper. EAX 5.0 emulation is a flimsy argument because EAX has been a dead technology for years (4-5 years?). You honestly going to pay more for a Titanium for EAX 5.0 when you can't use it.

Maybe the 3D Positioning was rubbish, could be your setup. Crashing, blue screens of deaths, all of that jazz is common on Creative's too.
 
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#14
Creative driver issues should be non existent for power users. You just install what you need, the driver and control panel for instance, and you grab a mod driver pack like daniel k's. There's no need to go asus if you consider yourself computer-competent. I haven't had a creative driver issue in years.
 
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#15
I'm running a Creative Auzen X-Fi Forte, very high end soundcard. Most of the times it runs fine, no issue with the audio quality as such but minior driver bugs I experience occasionally are:

1.) Driver installation sometimes doesnt find the PCI board.
2.) Sometimes seperate Dolby Digital Live or DTS connect drivers refuse to install
3.) Takes a good 5 long seconds for the Creative Audio Panel to open
4.) Switching too often between Entertainment, Game and Audio mode can cause the card to stop working until I restart the system
5.) Dolby Digital Live encoding has to be manually disabled to use Digital out for decoding pre-encoded DVD material, rather than an auto detect.

Again, i'm very happy with my "high end" X-Fi Forte, but lets not pretend creative is god. The OP has good reason to explore Asus not only due to drivers, but because the spec is better or almost the same for half the price.
 

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#16
I only got it because I couldn't get an Auzentech here in the UK.
QFT

Why is it that Auzentech cards are next to non existent in the UK but shops in germany can have as many as 30units ready to be sent out. I guessing the same thing applies in the U.S. they are more popular and readily available across the counter.
 
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#17
I haven't encountered any of those first 3 issues through numerous installs. I'd say ask yourself if you really need to use game mode, as it's only benefit is separate settings, not performance. That said, have you tried mod drivers? I haven't had a mode switching issue in ages and I've been using the forte pack.
 
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#18
I would to say creative x-fi titanum or i if u like front pannel take the titanum pro
 
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#19
i would try to get yourself a digital receiver, which can upcode 5.1 from stereo... Yamaha makes a few nice Models since quite a time, that can do that.
That way you get uncompressed 5.1 digital goodness... and if you go digital, onboard is nearly no difference from using an expensive dedicated card, as the Signal will always only know 1 and 0 and no inbetween states:D
 
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#20
That is an interesting idea. I only have 2.1 analog speakers at the moment though. I am a bit confused honestly though, all my (short) life I have been told that analog audio is better than digital (which is why some people still love vinyl).
 
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#21
That is an interesting idea. I only have 2.1 analog speakers at the moment though. I am a bit confused honestly though, all my (short) life I have been told that analog audio is better than digital (which is why some people still love vinyl).
if you love muddy sounds, and the crackling of old vinyl plates, then, these people are probably right... but if you love clarity,juicyness and range, 5.1 Digital, is the way to go...;)
Me, for example, will never go back to a 2.1 system,after having used 5.1 digital uncompressed... if you have a high quality track or video, the sound can be nearly like real.. movies are great fun with that :p
 
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#22
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#23
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Audio Device(s) Onkyo Wavio SE-200PCI LTD
Power Supply Coolermaster V700
Mouse Steel-series Sensei Raw
Keyboard Ducky with Cherry MX Brown
#24
I am not really sure it can upscale, I just hooked it up this morning for a minute with a regular audio CD and it was only coming out of 2 of the 5 speakers, I think it's possible a software setting was set to do this though.
 
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System Name Desktop|| Virtual Host 0
Processor Intel Core i5 2500-K @ 4.3ghz || 2x Xeon L5630 (total 8 cores, 16 threads)
Motherboard ASUS P8Z68-V || Dell PowerEdge R710 (Intel 5520 chipset)
Cooling Corsair Hydro H100 || Stock hotplug fans and passive heatsinks
Memory 4x4gb Corsair Vengeance DDR3 1600 || 12x4gb Hynix DDR3 1066 FB-DIMMs
Video Card(s) MSI GTX 760 Gaming Twin Frozr 4GB OC || Don't know, don't care
Storage Hitachi 7K3000 2TB || 6x300gb 15k rpm SAS internal hotswap, 12x3tb Seagate NAS drives in enclosure
Display(s) ViewSonic VA2349S || remote iDRAC KVM console
Case Antec P280 || Dell PowerEdge R710
Audio Device(s) HRT MusicStreamer II+ and Focusrite Scarlett 18i8 || Don't know, don't care
Power Supply SeaSonic X650 Gold || 2x870w hot-swappable
Mouse Logitech G500 || remote iDRAC KVM console
Keyboard Logitech G510 || remote iDRAC KVM console
Software Win7 Ultimate x64 || VMware vSphere 6.0 with vCenter Server 6.0
Benchmark Scores Over 9000 on the scouter
#25
I'm gonna have to vote for digital audio to a receiver. You don't even need a sound-card, just do HDMI from your video card. Buy a receiver with pre-outs and you can still use your current speakers with it.