Share Your Thoughts about Onboard Audio

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Re: Share Your Thoughts about Onboard Audio

Postposted on Fri Jun 07, 2013 10:56 pm

just brew it! wrote:
rephlex wrote:
Captain Ned wrote:And then we get into the "order" of the distortion, even or odd. Tubes distort in even-order, which sounds good to the ear (and is why really good guitar amps still use tubes) while sold-state distorts in odd-order, which sounds discordant to the ear.

Out of all the myths which exist about vacuum tubes and transistors this is by far the biggest. IIRC it dates back to a poorly written article published in a magazine in the mid-1970s.

Mmm... I wouldn't be quite so dismissive. There are a lot of factors involved.

Yes, and that's the problem. The statement "tubes distort in even-order while sold-state distorts in odd-order" oversimplifies to the point of falsehood.
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Re: Share Your Thoughts about Onboard Audio

Postposted on Fri Jun 07, 2013 11:04 pm

Captain Ned wrote:My today persona agrees completely. My 1979 persona wanted nothing more than to slot the cassette into the player, crank it up, and roll down the road at high volume and crappy sound. The '70's were a great time.


Yeah, I don't let the quality of the playback equipment interfere with my actual enjoyment of the songs. Some people do, though.
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Re: Share Your Thoughts about Onboard Audio

Postposted on Fri Jun 07, 2013 11:07 pm

Closer to the original topic... a couple years ago I picked up a Xonar DS for $27, then got a Swan M10 setup for $89. Really wonderful for near-field listening.
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Re: Share Your Thoughts about Onboard Audio

Postposted on Fri Jun 07, 2013 11:21 pm

rephlex wrote:Yes, and that's the problem. The statement "tubes distort in even-order while sold-state distorts in odd-order" oversimplifies to the point of falsehood.

Like most things in life, it's a generalization. When does that cross the line into oversimplification? The characteristics of tubes tend to favor certain types of amplifier designs, and the characteristics of transistors tend to favor certain (other) types of designs. The generalization may have been more true in the past, but many of those designs are still in use today.
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Re: Share Your Thoughts about Onboard Audio

Postposted on Fri Jun 07, 2013 11:59 pm

Tubes are awesome, mid '90's Mesa Boogie Dual Rectifier owner here 8)
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Re: Share Your Thoughts about Onboard Audio

Postposted on Sat Jun 08, 2013 12:27 am

just brew it! wrote:
rephlex wrote:Yes, and that's the problem. The statement "tubes distort in even-order while sold-state distorts in odd-order" oversimplifies to the point of falsehood.

Like most things in life, it's a generalization. When does that cross the line into oversimplification?


When it is more likely to mislead than to inform someone.
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Re: Share Your Thoughts about Onboard Audio

Postposted on Sat Jun 08, 2013 3:55 am

I bashfully admit that as a computer techie I am excellent; however with regard to anything artistic, music, painting, sculpture etc I can best explain my talents - and therefore my ability to appreciate - thus:

If one were to give me a block of granite and tell me to chip away from that block of granite everything that did not resemble an elephant then that is what you would get - a huge pile of granite chips and nothing resembling an elephant whatsoever.

So no matter how much I would invest to make my system better with regard to sound quality it would be throwing pearls in front of swine as far as my ability to appreciate that sound is concerned.

OK when my friend wrote the program to make my PC speaker Ad-Lib compatible I noticed that the sound was not exactly what one would call "hi-fidelity", but I was overjoyed at having at least something.
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Re: Share Your Thoughts about Onboard Audio

Postposted on Sat Jun 08, 2013 5:08 am

Er... this thread is entitled, 'Share Your Thoughts about Onboard Audio". :)

Cassette decks and vinyl records are fine for their respective eras. But today is the era of even better technology when you can practically get a lowly Realtek HD Audio codec that blows any cassette deck or vinyl record (or even CDs) out of the water. That's why I love it despite better options being available, at much higher cost, of course.

I remember my car back in 2000 having a cassette slot. Never used it once. Not once. I cleared out my cassette collection a long time ago. They just don't make sense when I can simply burn my MP3s to a CD and enjoy consistent sound quality without the cassette tape's inherent wear and tear (and hence degrading sound quality) through continuous use, not to mention being able to easily and quickly jump to the track I want to listen to. You guys remember what a chore it was to rewind or forward a cassette tape is to find your music? There were models that can search the track for you automatically but everytime you wanna jump tracks it just seemed like forever until your track was found. CDs changed all that (vinyl could too, but WTH). I can't think of a better revolution in the history of home audio.

And I can't think of a better piece of PC audio technology than Intel's onboard audio specs, AC'97 and now HD Audio. Suddenly, everyone has access to quality, digital, high definition PC audio.
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Re: Share Your Thoughts about Onboard Audio

Postposted on Sat Jun 08, 2013 5:29 am

Er... Ronch, I think what I described was the original "Onboard Audio". A program my friend created that listened for and intercepted signals designed to be sent to an Ad-Lib card to then be played on an attached speaker and decoded it on the fly to be sent directly to the internal PC speaker.

So I think I was sharing my thoughts with regard to "Onboard Audio".
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Re: Share Your Thoughts about Onboard Audio

Postposted on Sat Jun 08, 2013 7:12 am

ronch wrote:And I can't think of a better piece of PC audio technology than Intel's onboard audio specs, AC'97 and now HD Audio. Suddenly, everyone has access to quality, digital, high definition PC audio.


Which they then listen to on terrible $10 computer speakers.
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Re: Share Your Thoughts about Onboard Audio

Postposted on Sat Jun 08, 2013 7:49 am

Nec_V20 wrote:Er... Ronch, I think what I described was the original "Onboard Audio". A program my friend created that listened for and intercepted signals designed to be sent to an Ad-Lib card to then be played on an attached speaker and decoded it on the fly to be sent directly to the internal PC speaker.

So I think I was sharing my thoughts with regard to "Onboard Audio".


Oh, I wasn't referring to what you said, NEC_V20. I was talking about how this thread was already veering away from the original topic. What you said about your friend's software is interesting though. It reminds me of the old DOS game called Budokan, which used the PC speaker to simulate something similar to what you said instead of the ' straight' beeps so common back then when owning a sound card was more of a luxury than the norm.
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Re: Share Your Thoughts about Onboard Audio

Postposted on Sat Jun 08, 2013 8:29 am

Gigabyte seems to be using the VIA Vinyl VT2021 on some boards (like the GA-H77M-D3H).
Anyone knows if the VIA are better than the realtek? In terms of driver support, Gigabyte webpage got way newer drivers than the VIA webpage.
I saw some Intel and Asus boards with VIA chips as well.
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Re: Share Your Thoughts about Onboard Audio

Postposted on Sat Jun 08, 2013 8:37 am

rephlex wrote:
just brew it! wrote:
rephlex wrote:Yes, and that's the problem. The statement "tubes distort in even-order while sold-state distorts in odd-order" oversimplifies to the point of falsehood.

Like most things in life, it's a generalization. When does that cross the line into oversimplification?

When it is more likely to mislead than to inform someone.

I'm not convinced we've reached that point yet. But I do agree it is a less accurate generalization now than it was 40 years ago.

hakron wrote:Gigabyte seems to be using the VIA Vinyl VT2021 on some boards (like the GA-H77M-D3H).
Anyone knows if the VIA are better than the realtek?

AFAICT, on paper its specs are better than all but that new Realtek 1150 which was mentioned a while back. In practice, variations in implementation on the motherboard will probably make a bigger difference.
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Re: Share Your Thoughts about Onboard Audio

Postposted on Sat Jun 08, 2013 9:22 am

In my previous XP build I has creative X-Fi extreme. I love the positioning and clarity. With my current Win 7 64-bit pro I tried to reuse the board, but the driver nightmares made me pull the card, and use the on board. My Gigabyte GA-Z68X-UD7-B3 is not bad. It has Realtek ALC889 codec, supports 2/4/5.1/7.1-channel, Dolby® Home Theater, and I use the S/PDIF Out to my Onkyo 7.1 receiver to Polk Monitors, and Definitive Supercube sub. I have Wennheiser P-360 headphones. However, I miss the clarity and positioning I had with a dedicated card. I'm torn between letting Creative drivers bite me again and go for the Sound Blaster ZxR, or go with the Asus ROG Xonar Phoebus, or possibly the Xonar Essence One. I use my system for gaming, and sometimes for work. I'm open to your suggestions and recommendations.
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Re: Share Your Thoughts about Onboard Audio

Postposted on Sat Jun 08, 2013 11:16 am

Put the X-Fi Titanium PCIE back in. There's NO WAY IN HELL my Realtek ALC892 could ever sound like this! With the Realtek, I have to crank the volume up to give a sense of 'having an aural party', but the sound quality just feels...... I don't know.. kinda lifeless, kinda like it lacks substance. WIth the X-Fi, you REALLY WANT to crank the volume up because it's like your ears hunger for more! And that's considering the X-Fi isn't even a very expensive audio card to begin with. I wonder how the Asus Essence STx or Sound Blaster ZxR compare to this!

Edit - Years ago I read this issue of Car and Driver magazine (or was it Road & Track?) that featured Daewoo cars. It said there that 'a Daewoo is a good deal 'if you think it is'. I guess the same can be said of onboard audio: It's sounds good if you think it does.
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Re: Share Your Thoughts about Onboard Audio

Postposted on Sat Jun 08, 2013 1:08 pm

hakron wrote:Gigabyte seems to be using the VIA Vinyl VT2021 on some boards (like the GA-H77M-D3H).
Anyone knows if the VIA are better than the realtek? In terms of driver support, Gigabyte webpage got way newer drivers than the VIA webpage.
I saw some Intel and Asus boards with VIA chips as well.



I would guess the VIA Vinyl stuff would be superior to Realtek offerings. But in reality they might not be much different. There are likely more immediate issues that affect sound quality - especially when talking onboard audio. Like interference from magnetic fields from poor shielding from other components, crosstalk, and poorly regulated power to the onboard audio itself (eg, when you can here HDD seeking through the analog out) that will introduce noise beyond any subtlety that differentiates the quality of these codecs. In summary, it probably mostly depends on how either are implemented.

I'm using a VIA Vinyl 1731 USB audio controller (upgraded from an older Tenor version) in my stand alone DAC (which is fairly high end - but nothing crazy) and it performs very well.
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Re: Share Your Thoughts about Onboard Audio

Postposted on Sun Jun 09, 2013 3:02 am

I hope some well-known sound card maker takes one of VIA's Envy chips, builds a good sound card around it, and sells it for something like $50 - $70, something that undercuts the popular Sound Blaster models. Or maybe they can go after the likes of the Xonar Essence STX and build a $200 card with VIA's best audio controllers.

Speaking of VIA, sound cards that use their higher model Envy chips appear to be the ones only serious audiophiles would know about.
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Re: Share Your Thoughts about Onboard Audio

Postposted on Sun Jun 09, 2013 4:04 am

ronch wrote:I hope some well-known sound card maker takes one of VIA's Envy chips, builds a good sound card around it, and sells it for something like $50 - $70, something that undercuts the popular Sound Blaster models. Or maybe they can go after the likes of the Xonar Essence STX and build a $200 card with VIA's best audio controllers.

Speaking of VIA, sound cards that use their higher model Envy chips appear to be the ones only serious audiophiles would know about.

I don't think serious audiophiles would bother with any form of internal audio. It's pretty much the same situation with pro audio, virtually everything does conversion (A to D and/or D to A) in a separate external box.
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Re: Share Your Thoughts about Onboard Audio

Postposted on Sun Jun 09, 2013 6:47 am

I think people need to stop thinking about audio in terms of bottlenecks. A GTX Titan probably does you no good when you're outputting to a 60Hz 1080P screen, but a good DAC and/or AMP will improve sound whther you're outputting to cheap $35 Daytons or $35000 audiophile speaker system.

Unlike the CPU/GPU performance chain, every step along the audio path degrades the signal so it's important for every single step to be at least of decent enough quality. The DAC will introduce its own colorations to the sound, and after that the AMP has its own way with your audio, and after that again the speakers. Some will say even the interconnects and speaker cables will introduce their own distortions. There's no such thing as an audio bottleneck.
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Re: Share Your Thoughts about Onboard Audio

Postposted on Sun Jun 09, 2013 9:03 am

rephlex wrote:
ronch wrote:I hope some well-known sound card maker takes one of VIA's Envy chips, builds a good sound card around it, and sells it for something like $50 - $70, something that undercuts the popular Sound Blaster models. Or maybe they can go after the likes of the Xonar Essence STX and build a $200 card with VIA's best audio controllers.

Speaking of VIA, sound cards that use their higher model Envy chips appear to be the ones only serious audiophiles would know about.

I don't think serious audiophiles would bother with any form of internal audio. It's pretty much the same situation with pro audio, virtually everything does conversion (A to D and/or D to A) in a separate external box.


Ok, but my first impression of the likes of HT Omega and M-Audio (both of which are very small players compared to the other guys like Creative and Asus, both of which are the 'big' players in a very small sound card market) is that they cater to audiophiles, and I'm willing to bet most folks don't even know them. They're the sort of sound card makers that use chips from C-Media and VIA as well. If HT Omega and M-Audio cards are not appealing to serious audiophiles, who do they appeal to, then? The answer to that is that they cater to those semi-audiophiles who fall somewhere between people who buy Sound Blaster cards and those who spend tens of thousands on their audio equipment. I guess they're also audiophiles, being more discerning than those who would even bother to buy a sound card.

Going back, my point is that these small sound card makers who use VIA chips are very obscure. That's why I said a well-known sound card maker should be the one to make a sound card based on these VIA chips if VIA wants to reach a broader audience.

Just an additional thought: PC Audio seems to be getting a little bit more attention these days, at least on the part of motherboard makers who include more decent audio circuitry with their products. It's no secret that these board makers would only be too happy to dabble in new product lines, and indeed, this has already happened with Asus. What if the other board makers such as MSI and Gigabyte also enter the sound card market? C-Media and VIA are both in Taiwan and they can easily talk to one another.
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Re: Share Your Thoughts about Onboard Audio

Postposted on Sun Jun 09, 2013 9:14 am

Unlike the CPU/GPU performance chain, every step along the audio path degrades the signal so it's important for every single step to be at least of decent enough quality.


If the ALC892 datasheet is correct, it should be decent enough: THD+N is at approx. 0.006% (-84 dB), vs. 0.003 % (-90 dB) for the ALC889. The distortion introduced by any speaker outside of insane servo-controlled speakers will dwarf that.
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Re: Share Your Thoughts about Onboard Audio

Postposted on Sun Jun 09, 2013 9:16 am

UltimateImperative wrote:
Unlike the CPU/GPU performance chain, every step along the audio path degrades the signal so it's important for every single step to be at least of decent enough quality.


If the ALC892 datasheet is correct, it should be decent enough: THD+N is at approx. 0.006% (-84 dB), vs. 0.003 % (-90 dB) for the ALC889. The distortion introduced by any speaker outside of insane servo-controlled speakers will dwarf that.


I used to use an ALC889 and I think it's better than my current ALC892, which prompted me to re-install my X-Fi. Then again, it depends on board implementation.
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Re: Share Your Thoughts about Onboard Audio

Postposted on Sun Jun 09, 2013 9:39 am

ronch wrote:I hope some well-known sound card maker takes one of VIA's Envy chips, builds a good sound card around it, and sells it for something like $50 - $70, something that undercuts the popular Sound Blaster models.

I would like this as well. :D

And another thing I would like to see is that mobo makers make the on-board audio off-board. Some mobos makers in the past did this on the "Elite" mobo models. Asus did this on the recent mITX RoG Z87.

BTW, M-Audio is aimed at professional users, the audio creation people.
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Re: Share Your Thoughts about Onboard Audio

Postposted on Sun Jun 09, 2013 11:19 am

ronch wrote:Speaking of VIA, sound cards that use their higher model Envy chips appear to be the ones only serious audiophiles would know about.

hakron wrote:
ronch wrote:I hope some well-known sound card maker takes one of VIA's Envy chips, builds a good sound card around it, and sells it for something like $50 - $70, something that undercuts the popular Sound Blaster models.

I would like this as well. :D

And another thing I would like to see is that mobo makers make the on-board audio off-board. Some mobos makers in the past did this on the "Elite" mobo models. Asus did this on the recent mITX RoG Z87.

BTW, M-Audio is aimed at professional users, the audio creation people.

M-Audio had a couple of consumer-oriented cards back in the day (their Revolution product line). They exited that market a few years back though. As I've mentioned previously, my old Revolution card is one of my go-to soundcards when I need good line in capability (the other one is my Turtle Beach Santa Cruz).

UltimateImperative wrote:If the ALC892 datasheet is correct, it should be decent enough: THD+N is at approx. 0.006% (-84 dB), vs. 0.003 % (-90 dB) for the ALC889. The distortion introduced by any speaker outside of insane servo-controlled speakers will dwarf that.

Yes, but THD+N numbers alone don't tell the whole story. The distortion and noise introduced by a sub-par DAC, improper shielding, or poor power supply filtering will (generally) be more objectionable than the kinds of distortion introduced by a speaker, unless the speaker is being over-driven so hard that it is being damaged mechanically.
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Re: Share Your Thoughts about Onboard Audio

Postposted on Sun Jun 09, 2013 11:39 am

just brew it! wrote:(the other one is my Turtle Beach Santa Cruz).

Still holding onto mine.
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Re: Share Your Thoughts about Onboard Audio

Postposted on Sun Jun 09, 2013 3:54 pm

Captain Ned wrote:
just brew it! wrote:(the other one is my Turtle Beach Santa Cruz).

Still holding onto mine.

Hey I still have a Pinnacle. It was all downhill from there.

Now where is my ISA - PCIe adapter?
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Re: Share Your Thoughts about Onboard Audio

Postposted on Sun Jun 09, 2013 5:17 pm

jihadjoe wrote:...but a good DAC and/or AMP will improve sound whther you're outputting to cheap $35 Daytons or $35000 audiophile speaker system.


You can build speakers for under a grand that will sound every bit as good as a $35k system if you're careful.

I firmly believe that the law of diminishing returns established itself well before you hit the $1000 per-speaker threshold. Once beyond that you're paying for name, style, and fancy technology that likely does nothing audible.
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Re: Share Your Thoughts about Onboard Audio

Postposted on Sun Jun 09, 2013 5:44 pm

Waco wrote:
jihadjoe wrote:...but a good DAC and/or AMP will improve sound whther you're outputting to cheap $35 Daytons or $35000 audiophile speaker system.


You can build speakers for under a grand that will sound every bit as good as a $35k system if you're careful.

No. Go listen to some Wilson Audio stuff if you can find it.

Still I am one who has little money so I need best bang/$. My B&W Matrix 1s, the original ones, were a little under a grand a piece and have served me very well for a long time now.

We have seen both sides of the arena here recently. The source nazis and the speaker nazis. I believe in a balanced approach myself. Once you have a good enough system that any change is audible then you face the real problem of figuring out whether that change was a good or bad idea. I can swap, say some cheap interconnects for my Kimber PJB cables, an amazing bang/$ BTW, and you will hear a difference. Will you be able to tell it's a degradation of the sound or not? It is but it's often not easy to tell right away.
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Re: Share Your Thoughts about Onboard Audio

Postposted on Sun Jun 09, 2013 7:26 pm

PenGun wrote: No. Go listen to some Wilson Audio stuff if you can find it.

I've heard plenty of "high-end" equipment. I still firmly believe that overall system design, room dynamics, and source material have a far greater influence on sound than the difference between a system that costs ~$2k and one that costs $20k.
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Re: Share Your Thoughts about Onboard Audio

Postposted on Sun Jun 09, 2013 7:40 pm

Waco wrote:
PenGun wrote: No. Go listen to some Wilson Audio stuff if you can find it.

I've heard plenty of "high-end" equipment. I still firmly believe that overall system design, room dynamics, and source material have a far greater influence on sound than the difference between a system that costs ~$2k and one that costs $20k.



I don't think you'll find anything Wilson makes anywhere near that cheap. ;)

Still there is a lot you can do. For instance my Matrix 1 speakers are strapped with metal straps and turnbuckles, on spikes, to 200lb Fir logs about 5' tall. They do not move ... at all. It does make a difference. The turntable sits on a 300Lb Fir log on spikes that sits on the floor that has quite massive bracing between it and the hardpan under my house. It does not move either.
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