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Sound Card Advice

Discussion in 'General Hardware' started by randomperson21, Oct 1, 2006.

  1. randomperson21

    randomperson21 New Member

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    Hey ya all.

    I'm getting a new Logitech Z-5500 5.1 500w surround system in a few days, and i wanted to know if my soundcard is up to snuff. Its some realtec AC97 deal, intergrated into my ECS NForce4-A939 mobo. It supports 5.1 audio through direct output, and it also has a rca-type plug. I was wondering if that would be ok to drive the speakers, or if i'd see a difference using a nicer pci soundcard. I'm no audiophile, but the x-5500 is a pretty high end system, and i don't konw if you need a better sound card to drive one of these.

    thanks!
     
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  2. Casheti

    Casheti New Member

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    Running high end speakers from integrated audio is not the way to go...I suggest maybe an Audigy 4 or higher.

    Or if you're on a budget, Audigy 2ZS.
     
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  3. Batou1986

    Batou1986

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    i have those speakers and i use them on a sb live 5.1 or a realtek ac97 5.1 and both of them suck ass the sb live don't have hardware 5.1 support and the ac97 sound quality and overall bump is terrible due to low power output on the other hand my roommate has the older 5500's that where gray and had paper woofers has a audiology zs2 and the speakers sound 10x better
    As mine do through a digital optical connection to my x360 so if u don't have a decent sound card there gona sound like poo so get something good pref a digital connection and :rockout:

    as a side note u will also notice crapy 5.1 support through the ac97 in most games ie BF2: radio messages are garbled and sound like there breaking up coming through the center speaker
    and in fear the center channel seems to fade in and out this happens in most games that use hardware sound but games based on the half life 2 engine sound perfect because they have a software sound renderer so in short Yes it will make a big difference like comparing a boom box to a home theater even if just listing to music
     
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  4. Jimmy 2004

    Jimmy 2004 New Member

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    My Audigy 4 works nice with my Creative speakers, the 2ZS is a similar price and the two are more or less the same in reality. Try to get an OEM card, it comes without all the special extras but the card itself does its job and costs quite a bit less.
     
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  5. Casheti

    Casheti New Member

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    Um...CREATIVE FTW!
     
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  6. AshenSugar

    AshenSugar New Member

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    this is subjective, some ac97 chips sound better then others, also it depends on the board makers use of the ac97codec and last but not least DRIVERS USED, nvidia audio drivers SUCK BALLZ PERIOD, use the latest ones from realtek and it makes a huge diffrance!

    i have 4 listening devices, 1 set of high end 2.1 logitech speekers, 5.1 cambrige soundworks speeker(very good set, few years old but it ran me over 200 when i got it new and on disscount), 260$ sony headphones, honestly i have tryed audigy2,sblive,cmedia hdaudio(bluegears mystic card very high end) and my onboard sound on 2 of my systems, onboard on my 2 a64 systems with driver updates is excelent, easly the level of the audigy cards, moving closer to the cmedia hd audio card(audio phyle level cards)
    now for games it dosnt got all the latest creative fetures like eax3/4/5/6 but who cares? most game devs are moving away from using them to using openal and softmixing because its more versitile.
    my mains system has nf5 hdaudio based on a realtek chip, orignal drivers where so/so but updated to latest versions=sweet
    my backup system(old main) has cmedia 5.1 audio, this is easly quility wise comparable with the audigy2, not as many in game fetures but when they update openal a bit more we should see eax3+ support on them.

    This is true only for older or cheaper/low end sblive cards, i have 3 of the xgamer/plat cards and all have 5.1 surround hardware support, i have a cheapo sblive out of a compaq pc that isnt
    again this depends on the board maker, how they emplemented the ac97 chip, what ac97chip version was used, and driver version used, onboard can eather be total crap , good or great depending on the hardware and software(drivers) used.

    my advice TRY the ac97 with latest drivers, if it dosnt live up to your expectations/dosnt make you happy grab a cmedia based addin card that 7.1 rated or higher.

    http://www.auzentech.com/index.html
    some of the best quility addin cards you can get, sorry but this isnt spam as you cant buy from there site last i checked, but if you think its spam go ahead and report it.

    its no x-fi but its got fetures the x-fi dosnt have, and ofcorse the x-fi has fetures this lacks as well, but nothing you will miss :D
     
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  7. AshenSugar

    AshenSugar New Member

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    oh forgot to note that CREATIVE DRIVER SUPPORT SUCKS ASSSSSSS!
     
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  8. Tatty_One

    Tatty_One Decrepit Senior Moderator Staff Member

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    I just bought an Audigy 4 OEM in the UK and got it for £30 which I suppose is about $52US the Audigy 2ZS was only available in the retail version and was actually slightly more exspensive but as mentioned here there is really little difference especially as far as gaming and DVD's etc are concerned, the main improvements from 2ZS to 4 are aimed towards proffesional capabilities for musicians and the like so my advice would be to go for either, whichever is the cheapest.

    I have the older Videologic ZXR550's 5.1 kit but they are still awesome and a must for first person shooters!
     
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  9. Jimmy 2004

    Jimmy 2004 New Member

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    Actually the Audigy 4 drivers have no problems for me with Windows XP, which is what most people will be using. A lot of people have had problems with the X-Fi drivers but that isn't a card that has been suggested. I always used the latest drivers with my Realtek onboard sound and it wasn't as good as my Audigy is. Plus, as was being shown in another news topic the Audigy needs less system resources to work compared to onboard because it processes the sound itself.
     
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  10. AshenSugar

    AshenSugar New Member

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    less then 1% cpu use has little to no real effect on games/apps these days.

    and many people have problems with creatives drivers, most just give up and move to a nother makers cards because creative is horridly slow to fix problems or admit they excist and updates if they do happen take months if ur lucky, years if ur not.
     
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  11. trog100

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    "I just bought an Audigy 4 OEM in the UK"

    i bought one of those tatty a while back.. there is half of it missing.. he he he

    the retail and oem are totally different.. the oem card genuinely is a couple of inches shorter and a cut down version of the real one.. never have found quite what the missing bits do or dont do..

    i am now useing a full size audigy 2 zf.. but to be honest the onboard sound isnt any different than either of em.. it makes just as good noises thru a decent amp and speakers..

    i was a bit dissapointed about the "fake" audigy 4 thow..

    and the dual core thing should totally knock on the head any saving in cpu usage not as i have noticed any real difference tween onboard and the creatives..

    sounds are a genuinely subjective thing.. folks hear what they hear or think they should hear most of the time.. he he he

    and most folks think they will hear "better" with a card so they do hear "better"..

    trog
     
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  12. Ketxxx

    Ketxxx Heedless Psychic

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    ill have to agree, onboard vs creative > you will be hard pressed to hear the difference if you find the very best driver for your onboard audio and set its equalizer up right.
     
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  13. Jimmy 2004

    Jimmy 2004 New Member

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    I'm guessing the missing parts must be linked to the remote that comes with the retail.
     
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  14. DaMulta

    DaMulta My stars went supernova

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    lol
     
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  15. b1lk1

    b1lk1 New Member

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    If anything, get one of the Auzentech cards since they have a true Digital output that your Z-5500's can use. Creative cards are not worth the money if you have good onboard sound. No Creative card outputs in true digital sound and they must use software to do it. Auzentech cards are hardware decoders for Dolby Digital sound and the more expensive one does DTS too. One of those cards would be a MAJOR improvement over ANY creative card. My motherboard has the AL888DD chip and it too outputs in true digital sound. It beats the Audigy 2ZS I just pulled out by a large margain.
     
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  16. randomperson21

    randomperson21 New Member

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    thanks for the advice guys.

    i think i'm going to try my onboard sound first, and if it sounds really cruddy, go with an audigy 4 or something similar. Also, i think i'm gonna dump the nvidia audio drivers i'm running and get the real realtek ones, should help.

    Hopefully the onboard soundcard will be good enough. Problem is, i don't think it will be. Unlike the integrated soundcards on some mobos, which have tons of ports, hookups, etc. mine's pretty basic. just 3 minijack ports that can autosense whats plugged into them and change their function approperately.Not the best thing in the world
     
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  17. Jimmy 2004

    Jimmy 2004 New Member

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    The Nvidia audio drivers didn't even work with my onboard, I had to use the ones from Realtek.
     
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  18. Ketxxx

    Ketxxx Heedless Psychic

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    as i tend to recall, you couldnt back up anything you said very well, where i could. so chris rock style, stfu boy lol.
     
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  19. DaMulta

    DaMulta My stars went supernova

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    I posted a review, 32 sounds vs 127 sounds. Gee I wonder which one will sound more real to life X-fi 127 or On-board 32 sounds. Hmmm or audigy 2, 64 sounds vs on-boards 32 sounds hmmmmm,
     
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  20. randomperson21

    randomperson21 New Member

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    what?
     
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  21. DaMulta

    DaMulta My stars went supernova

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    The X-Fi Music (100 card) can do 127 sounds at one time,the audigy 2 can do 64 sounds at one time, and the realtek(On-Board) can only do 32 sounds at once.

    Creative also has CMSS which can make 2.1 speakers or headphones sound like surround sound which works very well. The EQ works very well with the X-FI series and they give you 3 different modes for different sound setups with easy, Entertainment(Movies)Audio Creation(better for recording music or other sounds), and game mode which limits the use of resources in game play.
     
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  22. KennyT772

    KennyT772 New Member

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    i have a audigy 2zs oem and it is the identical card in retail save the extra frillies. i am running a set of x530's and they rock. no onboard has sounded better then even my live 4.1. im listening to music threw cmss2 right now and it is great. get the audigy2zs man i got mine for $70 shipped and i love it.
     
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  23. Tatty_One

    Tatty_One Decrepit Senior Moderator Staff Member

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    It is the remote link and circutry for the controller missing, I did check into that, its about an inch and a quarter of PCB, all other functions are the same, just actually checked mine again and its the pro version???which is supposed to be even better.
     
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  24. randomperson21

    randomperson21 New Member

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    i might get either the audigy4 or the 2zs. I have the money, but i figure i might as well try out my onboard sound first to see if its any good.
     
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  25. Tatty_One

    Tatty_One Decrepit Senior Moderator Staff Member

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    I am afraid you potentially COULD be far off the mark with your 1% only from the various reviews and tech reports I have read (sad I know!) Of course it does vary quite a lot from system to system so you may be surprised to know that in some systems depending on hardware you may lose up to 15%!!! and that translates into serious FPS in games, but I stress not in all cases. Bottom line is there are very few (if any at all) onboard sound setups that can hardware decode etc etc so the CPU/system has to do all the work, now in a very intensive game, lets say oblivion where at times you are using near 100% CPU where the hell is this extra coming from? couple that with loads of musical atmospherics and you start to get the stuttering music, even stuttering graphics because you may be having 5-10 FPS sliced off your system. Now those with onboard sound tend to say there is little or no difference, those with dedicated sound tend to say there is a difference......I wonder why? your guess is as good as mine, myself, I think it probably does make a difference but would guess closer to the 5% mark.

    Here is a few thoughts from a Toms Hardware reviewer on the subject which opened my eyes a bit, as I said earlier, this bottlenecking does not happen to all and would not effect those with dual cores but have a read anyways:

    http://forumz.tomshardware.com/hardware/-ftopict201952.html
     
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2006
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