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Help me decide once and for all - audio

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#26
No, actually ,the X-Fi cards, by my testing were far inferior by comparison. They could not real-time encode audio to another format(DTS to dolby, and vice versa), nor record @ 192 KHz(max 96 KHz, even playback was restricted to 96 KHz on X-Fi unless stereo, Xonar does 192 Khz, 5.1 no problem). The only thing that the X-Fi card excelled in was ASIO Latency(less than 4 ms vs 8 ms in Xonar).
I was under the impression that virtually all pc audio files don't use anything higher than 48Khz, so having that extra head-room is a waste and actually decreases sound quality in the form of up-sampling. Correct me if I am wrong, it has been a while since I have read up on this.
 

tribaljet

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#27
I was under the impression that virtually all pc audio files don't use anything higher than 48Khz, so having that extra head-room is a waste and actually decreases sound quality in the form of up-sampling. Correct me if I am wrong, it has been a while since I have read up on this.
For DAW usage, it's useful to have higher sampling rates and bit depths, despite most content being downsampled to lower formats.
 

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#28
Wait, cadaveca, are you using OEM drivers or UNi Xonar drivers? I'm asking because I find it curious that you're unable to get lower latency without issues, the card should be able to handle it without mush hassle.
 

cadaveca

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#29
I was under the impression that virtually all pc audio files don't use anything higher than 48Khz, so having that extra head-room is a waste and actually decreases sound quality in the form of up-sampling. Correct me if I am wrong, it has been a while since I have read up on this.
For DAW usage, it's useful to have higher sampling rates and bit depths, despite most content being downsampled to lower formats.
Yeah, exactly. Most stuff gets converted down to 24/96 or 16/48, but 24/192 is far less lossy, and best for mixing tracks, dependant on what you are looking for.

Anyway, my whole point in posting is that there is no "exclusive" good brand of audio card to use. It's more about specific uses, and what you want out of the card for those uses.

I spent the last week using a motherboard with built-in Creative Recon3Di audio, and it was very impressive, but the recording side was very much poopy. Playback, on the other hand, was nearly one of the best ever, so Creative has definitely upped their game with these new CODECs.

Wait, cadaveca, are you using OEM drivers or UNi Xonar drivers? I'm asking because I find it curious that you're unable to get lower latency without issues, the card should be able to handle it without mush hassle.
It doesn't matter. The card itself uses a PCIe bridge chip(with error correction) that adds the latency. THe PCI version of my D2X, in fact, becuase it doesn't have this chip, is better for ASIO, but audio is inferior on the PCI version versus the PCIe, as the bridge chip's error correction works amazingly well.
 

tribaljet

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#30
Anyway, my whole point in posting is that there is no "exclusive" good brand of audio card to use. It's more about specific uses, and what you want out of the card for those uses.

I spent the last week using a motherboard with built-in Creative Recon3Di audio, and it was very impressive, but the recording side was very much poopy. Playback, on the other hand, was nearly one of the best ever, so Creative has definitely upped their game with these new CODECs.


It doesn't matter. The card itself uses a PCIe bridge chip(with error correction) that adds the latency.
Most definitely agreed, different hardware for different usage.

Recon3D is quite awful. Specs and measurements have went down the drain, no hardware acceleration, no hardware MIDI synthesizer, no ASIO, bad base programming language used for the new software, with a bad DAC to boot. The best card Creative has is the X-Fi Titanium HD by a large margin.
 
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#31
http://www.guru3d.com/article/asus-xonar-essence-stx-review/15
http://www.guru3d.com/article/sound-blaster-xfi-titanium-hd-review/6

Where exactly do you arrive at the conclusion that the X-Fi Titanium HD is better than an STX?
I have had both and based on headphone out and the two channel performance the the STX is audibly better. And with reasonable performing headphones the gaming experience is better than the Titanium both in terms of positioning and details.

This is based on tests conducted in BF2, BF3, CS:S using many different headphones, and one set of studio monitors and a 2.1 set from Logitech.

There is a lot of marketing talk surrounding many of the Creative features like CMSS3D and others, for the most part these just sound like an EQ which can be replicated on all sound cards. For both cheap and expensive headphones and speakers sets a tweaked EQ can help to elevated the positional clues above the ambient noises, further tweaking via Dolby settings also yields some improvements depending on the game.
 

tribaljet

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#32
Anyway, my whole point in posting is that there is no "exclusive" good brand of audio card to use. It's more about specific uses, and what you want out of the card for those uses.

I spent the last week using a motherboard with built-in Creative Recon3Di audio, and it was very impressive, but the recording side was very much poopy. Playback, on the other hand, was nearly one of the best ever, so Creative has definitely upped their game with these new CODECs.


It doesn't matter. The card itself uses a PCIe bridge chip(with error correction) that adds the latency. THe PCI version of my D2X, in fact, becuase it doesn't have this chip, is better for ASIO, but audio is inferior on the PCI version versus the PCIe, as the bridge chip's error correction works amazingly well.
Most definitely agreed, different hardware for different usage.

Recon3D is quite awful. Specs and measurements have went down the drain, no hardware acceleration, no hardware MIDI synthesizer, no ASIO, bad base programming language used for the new software, with a bad DAC to boot. The best card Creative has is the X-Fi Titanium HD by a large margin.

And it's quite curious that D2X SQ is lower on the PCI version, because it's the exact opposite with the Essence ST (the PCI version of the STX) due to the crystal clock used.
 

tribaljet

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#33
http://www.guru3d.com/article/asus-xonar-essence-stx-review/15
http://www.guru3d.com/article/sound-blaster-xfi-titanium-hd-review/6

Where exactly do you arrive at the conclusion that the X-Fi Titanium HD is better than an STX?
I have had both and based on headphone out and the two channel performance the the STX is audibly better. And with reasonable performing headphones the gaming experience is better than the Titanium both in terms of positioning and details.

This is based on tests conducted in BF2, BF3, CS:S using many different headphones, and one set of studio monitors and a 2.1 set from Logitech.

There is a lot of marketing talk surrounding many of the Creative features like CMSS3D and others, for the most part these just sound like an EQ which can be replicated on all sound cards. For both cheap and expensive headphones and speakers sets a tweaked EQ can help to elevated the positional clues above the ambient noises, further tweaking via Dolby settings also yields some improvements depending on the game.
Again, I already stated previously that I didn't bring any of the surround virtualization techs Creative (CMSS3D) and Asus have (DH), because they give sound a very articial coating. And both techs alter sound in opposite ways, CMSS3D bringing up treble, while DH brings up bass.

The Titanium HD is better than the Essence STX in gaming, by far (as in, doesn't even come close), and is on the same level in terms of SQ in general, the only thing changing being the signature.

I've used quite extensively cards from either manufacturer, and there isn't any need to get a Creative flagship to blow out of the water the Essence STX (flagship, out of comparison's sake) in terms of gaming audio performance. The X-Fi DSP simply does positional cues better, even more so when Elevation Filter and MacroFX algorithms are enabled. The difference is very significant on DS3D and OpenAL games, but even on software only renderers, there is still a smaller but yet noticeable improvement.

What's your point about most settings being able to be replicated through 3rd party hardware and/or software? The fact is that Asus cards don't offer the same gaming audio feature set and Creative does. Music and movies, on the other hand, do have similar performance on both flagships, it's just that gaming has always been an afterthought by Asus' engineers.

EDIT: It's also worth noting that objective and subjective reviewing don't always match, although ABX testing tends to produce rather interesting results.
 
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#34
Thank you cadaveva and fredrick for the alternate opinions. It is nice to hear.

I did purchase yesturday the asus xonar dg and, jvc rx700. For $55 not bad, and the xonar dg has a $10 rebate I hope to use. I am thinking of this like baby steps, if I like it, I will bump myself up in the future to a better soundcard. I will then put the dg to use elsewhere.

Please keep going with your discussion, I still don't know which way I will go in the future soundcards.
 
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#35
http://www.guru3d.com/article/asus-xonar-essence-stx-review/15
http://www.guru3d.com/article/sound-blaster-xfi-titanium-hd-review/6

Where exactly do you arrive at the conclusion that the X-Fi Titanium HD is better than an STX?
I have had both and based on headphone out and the two channel performance the the STX is audibly better. And with reasonable performing headphones the gaming experience is better than the Titanium both in terms of positioning and details.

This is based on tests conducted in BF2, BF3, CS:S using many different headphones, and one set of studio monitors and a 2.1 set from Logitech.

There is a lot of marketing talk surrounding many of the Creative features like CMSS3D and others, for the most part these just sound like an EQ which can be replicated on all sound cards. For both cheap and expensive headphones and speakers sets a tweaked EQ can help to elevated the positional clues above the ambient noises, further tweaking via Dolby settings also yields some improvements depending on the game.
I am with Frederik here. I used to have many X-Fi cards and in game, both my STAX SR-404LE and Audio Technica AD1000PRM perform noticeablly better on the Essence without any virtual surround enabled. I do note that the CMSS3D is sometimes less over the top than some Dolby Surround settings, but at a cost of not being customizable.

In general virtual surround used on good open back headphones can often sound hollow, in game it can create a easier to pick up sound field for general direction picking. But without virtual surround sound, I can nearly aim just by sound as it is no where as defused.
 

tribaljet

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#36
I am with Frederik here. I used to have many X-Fi cards and in game, both my STAX SR-404LE and Audio Technica AD1000PRM perform noticeablly better on the Essence without any virtual surround enabled. I do note that the CMSS3D is sometimes less over the top than some Dolby Surround settings, but at a cost of not being customizable.

In general virtual surround used on good open back headphones can often sound hollow, in game it can create a easier to pick up sound field for general direction picking. But without virtual surround sound, I can nearly aim just by sound as it is no where as defused.
Usually, STAX wearing people do prefer neutral/brighter signatures, so it's no surprise you prefer the Essence ST/STX.

I'm a bit puzzled at how you find CMSS3D not customizable, considering DH only has an on-off switch with simple static presets, while CMSS3D can be enabled and disabled, as well as having adjustment strength up to 0.1dB sensitivity.

It's quite curious how some people find virtual surround techs essential for better positional cue accuracy. I honestly find that if the source, end gear and content all perform properly, that will be enough to give the player a 3D sound map, rather than a flat 2D map by default or a twisted 3D map due to virtual surround.
 
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#37
You two are saying the exact same thing. With proper gear CMSS3D and other vitual surround algorithms distort more than they help.
 

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#38
You two are saying the exact same thing. With proper gear CMSS3D and other vitual surround algorithms distort more than they help.
I had already made that clearly on my first post. Although, I do respect people's preferences in that some opt to sacrifice audio fidelity for an artificially (read, degraded) altered soundstage.
 
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#39
You won't be disappointed with the setup. Just don't raise expectations too much, as untrained ears + entry level gear don't translate into mindblown aural experiences (at least in the first listening sessions).
So I got the asus dg with jvc rx700's. I would have to say my mind is near blown. I am surprised things sound A LOT better. This is low end audio, I can't imagine high end audio. I am hearing things I didn't know were there in my games and music. I hope there is very little pseudo effect happening as I have only played with this for an hour. I am sold on pc audio from this point on.

The headphones with onboard audio did sound better some. When I put the soundcard in and the head, and started listening everything sounded ok but worse. Then I started playing with the drivers settings. I told it 8 channel audio, from 2, and boom. Things only got better as I changed the sample rate up.

So can I get some help with audio settings?

I currently have it set to:
8 channels
Sample rate to pcm 96 khz
HP advanced settings(amplifier) to 32~64OHMS
Dolby headphone on
7.1 Virtual speaker on
 

tribaljet

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#40
The whole "hearing things I didn't know were there" is quite common, always amusing to see as people do listen to higher fidelity sound when compared to their previous gear :)

For music, you should set the output to 2 channels, and sample rate set at a setting that matches the content format, as in music at 44.1KHz should be played back at 44.1KHz, not higher to prevent resampling, which usually isn't something desirable.

You have to understand that higher sampling rates don't translate into higher quality when playing back content with a lower sampling rate than what you have set on your output device, and on some cases can actually lower the overall sound quality.

I personally recommend you to disable all that virtual surround fluff, like Dolby Headphone (DH) and 7.1 Virtual Speaker, and set 2 channel output if you're using your soundcard with headphones. But like it was discussed previously, virtual surround processing can be a matter of taste, but the fact is that such features lower the sound quality in exchange for an altered soundstage.

In terms of games, it gets more complicated, as there are different setups for different game audio engines, as well as config combinations. You should first research on whether a game supports 2.0, 4.0, 5.1 or 7.1 output. For instance, on a game that supports 5.1, can either set 2 channels with both DH and Virtual Speaker disabled, or set it to 6 channels with both DH and Virtual Speaker enabled. You really have to experiment. And more importantly, there isn't a single set of configs that works for everything in an optimal way.