I want a sound card, I don't think I need one...

Craig234

Lifer
May 1, 2006
38,265
282
126
I see Soundblaster come out with a sale on the 'AE-9' sound card (and others), and it's tempting, but I'm doubting I'd get much benefit at all. I'm not even clear what the benefit is supposed to be any more. Vague sound quality benefits. We'd all like 'quality' sound and 'quality' surround effects... I need to get my 'good' headphones hooked back up. That's what really helps.
 

snoopy7548

Diamond Member
Jan 1, 2005
5,275
2,202
136
Sound cards are obsolete. Your best bet would be something like this. I bought one many years ago (Matrix M-Stage) for my high-end headphones and it did a great job.

I think this is the newer version of the M-Stage...
 
Feb 4, 2009
25,490
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Isn’t there something weird about how windows 10 handles sound and that makes sound cards either not work or not work as expected?
 

VirtualLarry

Lifer
Aug 25, 2001
48,127
5,004
126
Isn’t there something weird about how windows 10 handles sound and that makes sound cards either not work or not work as expected?
They moved the kernel driver for sound cards out of ring0, so they can't directly access hardware (but, they can no longer hard-crash your system any more either). Basically, hardware-acceleration of sound under Windows 10 is basically dead. Kernel mixer software FTW.
 
Feb 4, 2009
25,490
6,162
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They moved the kernel driver for sound cards out of ring0, so they can't directly access hardware (but, they can no longer hard-crash your system any more either). Basically, hardware-acceleration of sound under Windows 10 is basically dead. Kernel mixer software FTW.
Thank you for the explanation.
I knew it was something to do with hardware acceleration but couldn’t figure out the words.
 

GrumpyMan

Diamond Member
May 14, 2001
5,520
62
91
Been using the AE-9 for a few months with my HD650 phones, works great, no problems at all and much better than the Maximus X onboard sound, to me at least since sound is very subjective of course.
 
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UsandThem

Elite Member
Super Moderator
May 4, 2000
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Been using the AE-9 for a few months with my HD650 phones, works great, no problems at all and much better than the Maximus X onboard sound, to me at least since sound is very subjective of course.
Same here with the exception my card is the AE-5. I bought and used it since March 2018. No problems with Windows 10 at all, and I enjoy the sound quality when using my headphones.

The best advice for this sort of thing is try it out for yourself and see what you think. At worse, it's not going to be worse than any onboard audio solution available.
 

aigomorla

Cases and Cooling Mod PC Gaming Mod Elite Member
Super Moderator
Sep 28, 2005
18,046
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what is the DAC chip on your on board?

If its ESS, i highly dont think you will need one, and instead invest in a THX 888 headphone amp if anything, to future proof yourself.

If you absolutely need a DAC, i would recommend a Audioengine D1 DAC.

I would not use "Gamer" and go straight to audiophile stuff if i had to get a dedicated sound card.
 
Mar 11, 2004
20,037
2,259
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OP, if you don't want to spend a lot of money, get the JDS Labs Atom Amp. Its got good features, and has tested exceptional performance (essentially only a few headphone amps have tested to outperform it, most of them now using the new THX technology, all of which are like 3x or more the price of the Atom). Its only ~$100. If you feel the need for a DAC, decide what features you really want/need, and then your budget and then see what's the best you can get on this list: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/master-sinad-distortion-comparison-graph-for-dacs.4814/

If I remember the Topping D50 was pretty high in the performance/price, plus it has some extra features (think it might have a built-in headphone amp too? Might be another Topping that performed slightly worse as a DAC and a headphone amp, but would be cheaper than buying better versions of each). If you like to tinker I think the Khadas Tone Board would be interesting for you. Think of it as a Raspberry Pi sort of situation.

Here's a good resource: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/master-index-of-measurement-comparison-charts-defunct.8246/

what is the DAC chip on your on board?

If its ESS, i highly dont think you will need one, and instead invest in a THX 888 headphone amp if anything, to future proof yourself.

If you absolutely need a DAC, i would recommend a Audioengine D1 DAC.

I would not use "Gamer" and go straight to audiophile stuff if i had to get a dedicated sound card.
DAC isn't the only thing, and I think the Realtek 1200 is equal or better than the cheaper ESS DAC chips that I've seen when they use one on a motherboard. Generally the biggest benefit would be from having an external DAC that was isolated from the PC noise.

I wouldn't recommend either gamer or audiophile unless you have a specific need for some feature. By that same token I wouldn't necessarily discount all features as worthless either, but definitely both have a lot of gimmicky buzzwords that can be not only meaningless but outright detrimental. Although that's not to say they'd be bad. I think Creative's cards are actually quite decent these days.

I don't think the AE-9 would be worth it. If I remember correctly one of the main features that you'd be buying it for it ended up not being very good (has some issue with the input or analog to digital quality, and I believe its something that can't be fixed through updates; think you can get similar performance out of the lower AE cards).
 

Craig234

Lifer
May 1, 2006
38,265
282
126
Thanks; I found a couple old Soundblaster X-fi Titanium cards I got a long time ago, so if I do want one I can try that.
 

VirtualLarry

Lifer
Aug 25, 2001
48,127
5,004
126
Oooh, "Titanium". It makes all product names better.

(I once owned a GTX 1070 ti "Titanium". It was a great card, for like, 3-4 months of mining. Practically paid for itself. Then I sold it for what I paid for it. Not too shabby.)
 

bigboxes

Lifer
Apr 6, 2002
31,072
11,088
146
Thanks; I found a couple old Soundblaster X-fi Titanium cards I got a long time ago, so if I do want one I can try that.
Yeah, I've got an old X-fi Titanium card and I'm sure I got another one that was before that. It was great back in the day. But time Marches on and my 6 year old PC just doesn't need it. The onboard sound is fantastic.
 

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