Sound cards these days? Good one?

Phaetos

Senior member
Jan 27, 2005
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I just built a new PC with ya'll help a month back and it's been great. The Gigabyte board : http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16813128571 has a Realtek chipset for audio ... frankly it sucks, there is no low end to it, the highs are sharp and almost sound like a blown speaker(which it's not as I use the same set of earbuds at work and home).

I inherited a Dell T5500 workstation at work and it has a Soundblaster X-Fi Titanium in it. After getting the drivers sorted for it, it didn't like using the generic drivers from MS, this thing sounds incredible compared to that Realtek crap.

Creative used to be THE goto for sound cards. Now I see TurtleBeach, Asus, Rosewill, and other off brands. The biggest use it's gonna get is music and gaming with Diablo and PoE.

Any good recommendations? I see prices are all over the place, so best bang for the buck?

ETA: I will be using earbuds until I can get a decent set of headphones.
 
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crashtech

Lifer
Jan 4, 2013
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Your board has a PCI slot, so you can hunt down an older sound card, as long driver availability is checked first. That would definitely be the best bang for the buck. I'm sure there are many like me that have some formerly mid or high-end PCI sound cards laying in a drawer that could be had for cheap.
 

mnewsham

Lifer
Oct 2, 2010
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If you plan on getting high end headphones you can get an actual amp/DAC setup. I personally use a Schiit Magni amp with the Schiit Modi DAC. And I am pairing them with AKG K712s

If you're not as interested in spending that much money you can get any old $20-$40 sound card and get decent sound for ear buds and such.
 

ithehappy

Senior member
Oct 13, 2013
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DAC / AMP is an option. I have a FiiO E11. And there's a Asus DGX in my desktop. I find the latter better, while I paid less than half for it than the E11.
 

DSF

Diamond Member
Oct 6, 2007
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I agree with crashtech. If you're not looking to spend much money just buy something from the FS/FT forum. I don't know enough about sound cards to recommend anything in particular though.
 

mnewsham

Lifer
Oct 2, 2010
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I agree with crashtech. If you're not looking to spend much money just buy something from the FS/FT forum. I don't know enough about sound cards to recommend anything in particular though.

Unless he is spending a decent amount of money there isn't much difference, any sound card that has the appropriate outputs and he has the correct slot on his motherboard will work for his situation. Unless he has something specific feature or something he needs, any old card works.
 

DaveSimmons

Elite Member
Aug 12, 2001
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Before buying a sound card I'd make sure that really is the problem.

If you're using earbuds, you might have been using them before with something that boosted bass to compensate, and now the onboard sound has a flat EQ by default.

Do you have the EQ software installed?
 

MongGrel

Lifer
Dec 3, 2013
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I'd say for headphones the AMP DAC thing probably the way to go.

I'm still using my old Auzentech X-Fi Prelude I even bought an adapter for awhile back as I have no PCI slots on this MOBO and wanted to use it for the main rig.

But it's not headphones, these days might be harder to find one and overpriced for that.
 

BrightCandle

Diamond Member
Mar 15, 2007
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For music/movies etc I would say the Xonar range of cards are certainly better. They have a slightly better sound stage and the Dolby headphone support (simulated surround sound) for dolby based movies is beneficial.

For gaming however I prefer SBX-pro surround sound on the Soundblaster Z. Its far from an ideal card, it definitely does not sound as good as the Xonar in music, the mic input is quite noisy with my modmic on full boost and drivers for Windows 8.1 are still beta. But on the plus side the sound in BF4 is amazing, and it just generally does a lot better for surround sound.

Personally I think surround sound simulation and effects are the only real reason to get a sound card, otherwise the external solution is more portable and reusable and less hassle. But gamers will want to search out the sound card comparisons on youtube in Battlefield 3 and 4 because there is quite a difference for some people (depends on head, shoulder and ear shape and how average you are overall).
 

crashtech

Lifer
Jan 4, 2013
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I've always hated the contrived sound effects. They seemed to seriously degrade sound quality, imo. Maybe they've gotten better. Now that I have enough hearing damage, I don't generally have a problem with onboard sound chips, since I run them through integrated amps or A/V recievers anyway.
 

Phaetos

Senior member
Jan 27, 2005
391
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Before buying a sound card I'd make sure that really is the problem.

If you're using earbuds, you might have been using them before with something that boosted bass to compensate, and now the onboard sound has a flat EQ by default.

Do you have the EQ software installed?

I run music thru iTunes and the eq is set flat with the premap "On". It's just horrible.
 

crashtech

Lifer
Jan 4, 2013
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JMHO, but many MP3s sound like crap even to my damaged ears. I usually buy discs and rip them to a lossless format or high bitrate MP3, because to me, some purchased MP3s contain audible defects. All that said, lower quality MP3s generally seem to need some EQ to make them bearable, again just my opinion.
 

Mtt

Member
Apr 22, 2010
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My solution to this problem, buy a good speaker with SPDIF input and connect your headphone to the speaker. I prefer this way than buying a good sound card.
 

TeknoBug

Platinum Member
Oct 2, 2013
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Creative is still kind of the go-to, an older PCI-E X-Fi is plenty good and has 7.1 support, otherwise a Xonar DX or so.

Or get a SPIDF box (you can find USB powered ones to save electricity) such as the Turtle Beach DSS2.

As for mp3's, 192bit is probably the lowest I'd accept (128bit if it's old music from the 80's or earlier), and my EQ is set with a little bit of bass and a tiny bit of trebble.
 
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DaveSimmons

Elite Member
Aug 12, 2001
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My solution to this problem, buy a good speaker with SPDIF input and connect your headphone to the speaker. I prefer this way than buying a good sound card.

Receiver not speaker, right? That's a good idea.
 

shinta86

Junior Member
Aug 22, 2009
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I have heard great things from ASUS's Xonar series I just bought the DG for use with my headphones. I haven't gotten to try it yet though.