Which integrated audio is better Realtec or VIA?

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Which integrated audio is better Realtec or VIA?

Postposted on Sun May 06, 2012 5:24 pm

Hi guys,
I'm looking at a cheap Ivy build and am not too sure which integrated audio is preferable. Here's the motherboards I'm looking at, cheap m-ATX boards but should suffice for an i5-3750k. The ASUS has a Realtek ALC887, the Gigabyte has VIA VT2021.

ASUS P8Z77-M
Gigabyte GA-Z77M-D3H


ALC887
Output: 24-Bit, 192KHz, 97dB
Input: 24-Bit, 192KHz, 90dB

Via
VT2021
7.1+2 Channel
Output: 24-Bit, 192KHz, 110dB
Input: 24-Bit, 192KHz, 100dB

http://www.hardwaresecrets.com/printpag ... -Table/520


I think they are going to be roughly comparable, but I just wanted to check to see if anyone has any preference between the two? I think the deciding factor may be which ever has the most reliable and least annoying drivers. Would also possibly consider picking up an ASUS Xonar DG since they're dirt cheap, not sure if there'd be much benefit though.

Cheers for any feedback
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Re: Which integrated audio is better Realtec or VIA?

Postposted on Sun May 06, 2012 5:52 pm

It doesn't matter. They've both mediocre and will work in games and media players without major issues.

I would suggest you don't install the manufacturer's drivers, just let Windows update get the basic functionality working, and leave it at that - since the interfaces for IDT, Realtek, VIA are universally rubbish.

If you want more features than the microsoft minimal driver offers, then you should probably look at a real soundcard.
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Re: Which integrated audio is better Realtec or VIA?

Postposted on Sun May 06, 2012 6:08 pm

If you go through a receiver with digital output, do they still matter as much?
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Re: Which integrated audio is better Realtec or VIA?

Postposted on Sun May 06, 2012 6:52 pm

I have my computer connected to my HDTV through HDMI and that's all I use for audio. Sometimes I connect my headphones to the TV. I am just mainly checking in case people said "stay away from X brand they suck!". From what I can tell there's not a lot of difference between the two.
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Re: Which integrated audio is better Realtec or VIA?

Postposted on Sun May 06, 2012 7:57 pm

For a long time now, onboard sounds has been good enough for everything short of semi-professional audio recording.
And if you've ever built an amp before, you'll know that specs mean less than the process used to manufacture the ICs.
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Re: Which integrated audio is better Realtec or VIA?

Postposted on Sun May 06, 2012 8:24 pm

It depends more on the motherboard design and the quality of the other analog components in the signal path than on the audio codec used. That said, M-Audio uses VIA codecs on their semi-pro and pro audio cards...
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Re: Which integrated audio is better Realtec or VIA?

Postposted on Sun May 06, 2012 9:09 pm

There isn't much to say about onboard audio. It doesn't have a clean signal path, and the quality of the DAC can really crap things up as far as sound quality goes. But if your not looking for sound quality, the only thing that matters is stable drivers. I myself use an ASUS Xonar Essence ST. Some people say it's overkill, but the card is shielded, grounded, and has a decent Burr-Brown DAC. There is a difference, and switching back and forth between onboard and the seperate card is like night and day. The Xonar Essence uses a c-media chipset, but the quality is more in the DAC, not really in the chipset. I always try to push people to get a seperate high-quality sound card, but that is only because I know it is worth the investment, as long as the speakers are of decent quality as well.
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Re: Which integrated audio is better Realtec or VIA?

Postposted on Sun May 06, 2012 9:20 pm

moresmarterthanspock wrote:There isn't much to say about onboard audio. It doesn't have a clean signal path, and the quality of the DAC can really crap things up as far as sound quality goes. But if your not looking for sound quality, the only thing that matters is stable drivers. I myself use an ASUS Xonar Essence ST. Some people say it's overkill, but the card is shielded, grounded, and has a decent Burr-Brown DAC. There is a difference, and switching back and forth between onboard and the seperate card is like night and day. The Xonar Essence uses a c-media chipset, but the quality is more in the DAC, not really in the chipset. I always try to push people to get a seperate high-quality sound card, but that is only because I know it is worth the investment, as long as the speakers are of decent quality as well.

But if you maintain fully digital until after the signal leaves the chassis, do you really still need good DAC's on the sound card? I believe the answer is no.
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Re: Which integrated audio is better Realtec or VIA?

Postposted on Sun May 06, 2012 9:24 pm

blitzy wrote:I have my computer connected to my HDTV through HDMI and that's all I use for audio. Sometimes I connect my headphones to the TV. I am just mainly checking in case people said "stay away from X brand they suck!". From what I can tell there's not a lot of difference between the two.


Then sound card is not used, HDMI audio bypasses it. Your TV's DAC is sound card as it translates digital signal carried through HDMI to analogue.
Don't buy sound card. If nothing wrong with onboard, use it! Sound card is snake oil. waste of money.
Do not use default windows driver for onboard sound, it will give you terrible noisy sound.
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Re: Which integrated audio is better Realtec or VIA?

Postposted on Sun May 06, 2012 9:38 pm

Flying Fox wrote:
moresmarterthanspock wrote:There isn't much to say about onboard audio. It doesn't have a clean signal path, and the quality of the DAC can really crap things up as far as sound quality goes. But if your not looking for sound quality, the only thing that matters is stable drivers. I myself use an ASUS Xonar Essence ST. Some people say it's overkill, but the card is shielded, grounded, and has a decent Burr-Brown DAC. There is a difference, and switching back and forth between onboard and the seperate card is like night and day. The Xonar Essence uses a c-media chipset, but the quality is more in the DAC, not really in the chipset. I always try to push people to get a seperate high-quality sound card, but that is only because I know it is worth the investment, as long as the speakers are of decent quality as well.

But if you maintain fully digital until after the signal leaves the chassis, do you really still need good DAC's on the sound card? I believe the answer is no.



The DAC is what makes the most difference. That is where the digital signal is converted to analog. It then needs to be amplified somewhat before it leaves the 1/8" jack on the back of the computer, where it can pick up interference. The DAC is the most crucial point for sound quality.
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Re: Which integrated audio is better Realtec or VIA?

Postposted on Sun May 06, 2012 9:40 pm

Coulda wrote:
blitzy wrote:I have my computer connected to my HDTV through HDMI and that's all I use for audio. Sometimes I connect my headphones to the TV. I am just mainly checking in case people said "stay away from X brand they suck!". From what I can tell there's not a lot of difference between the two.


Then sound card is not used, HDMI audio bypasses it. Your TV's DAC is sound card as it translates digital signal carried through HDMI to analogue.
Don't buy sound card. If nothing wrong with onboard, use it! Sound card is snake oil. waste of money.
Do not use default windows driver for onboard sound, it will give you terrible noisy sound.


The DAC in a high-quality sound card is going to sound much better than your TV's built-in DAC. Unless your using a high-quality external receiver, which has a good DAC, then you don't need the seperate sound card.
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Re: Which integrated audio is better Realtec or VIA?

Postposted on Mon May 07, 2012 12:07 am

Like most here, the general advise is to only get a sound card if you're really into recording audio or making music, as the quality and features are important. If your mostly into playback (movies, games, music/itunes, web surfing play back) the integrated stuff on modern mobos is good enough. IMO, if you have the money and want to upgrade your audio, the component to upgrade is your speakers.
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Re: Which integrated audio is better Realtec or VIA?

Postposted on Mon May 07, 2012 1:48 am

moresmarterthanspock wrote:
Flying Fox wrote:
moresmarterthanspock wrote:There isn't much to say about onboard audio. It doesn't have a clean signal path, and the quality of the DAC can really crap things up as far as sound quality goes. But if your not looking for sound quality, the only thing that matters is stable drivers. I myself use an ASUS Xonar Essence ST. Some people say it's overkill, but the card is shielded, grounded, and has a decent Burr-Brown DAC. There is a difference, and switching back and forth between onboard and the seperate card is like night and day. The Xonar Essence uses a c-media chipset, but the quality is more in the DAC, not really in the chipset. I always try to push people to get a seperate high-quality sound card, but that is only because I know it is worth the investment, as long as the speakers are of decent quality as well.

But if you maintain fully digital until after the signal leaves the chassis, do you really still need good DAC's on the sound card? I believe the answer is no.



The DAC is what makes the most difference. That is where the digital signal is converted to analog. It then needs to be amplified somewhat before it leaves the 1/8" jack on the back of the computer, where it can pick up interference. The DAC is the most crucial point for sound quality.

I was talking about remaining digital throughout, that means not leaving the computer chassis in the 1/8" jack, but either as S/PDIF coax/optical or HDMI. The DAC will exist somewhere else. I think I trust my $400+ receiver more than a $100 sound card.
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Re: Which integrated audio is better Realtec or VIA?

Postposted on Mon May 07, 2012 3:11 am

ShadowEyez wrote:Like most here, the general advise is to only get a sound card if you're really into recording audio or making music, as the quality and features are important. If your mostly into playback (movies, games, music/itunes, web surfing play back) the integrated stuff on modern mobos is good enough. IMO, if you have the money and want to upgrade your audio, the component to upgrade is your speakers.

Tell that to the people that accuse you of hacking for having so much better sound that you can hear them coming.
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Re: Which integrated audio is better Realtec or VIA?

Postposted on Mon May 07, 2012 5:05 am

blitzy wrote:Hi guys,
I'm looking at a cheap Ivy build and am not too sure which integrated audio is preferable. Here's the motherboards I'm looking at, cheap m-ATX boards but should suffice for an i5-3750k. The ASUS has a Realtek ALC887, the Gigabyte has VIA VT2021.
<SNIP>
Cheers for any feedback



SPEAKERS
SPEAKERS
SPEAKERS
SPEAKERS
SPEAKERS

There's my feedback - this is THE NUMBER 1 PRIORITY before anything else if you give a damn about audio.
The soundcard is virtually irrelivant nowadays unless you have absoloute decent gear.

I 'only' have 4 of these at precisely the same distance from my head.
https://www.google.com/search?q=Tannoy+ ... 4&bih=1233
Hooked up to a Yamaha RX-540 home threatre receiver.

That's a cheap, simple system - your sound card is utterly irrelivant as long as you're using headphones or "PC speakers" (ugh)

EDIT: and you frontpagers can't bloody downvote me here, with your bodgy 300$ Logitech setups thinking you need a 200$ soundcard and accusing me of being wrong.
The laws of diminishing returns says you need to throw money at speakers WELL WELL before a soundcard.
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Re: Which integrated audio is better Realtec or VIA?

Postposted on Mon May 07, 2012 5:32 am

AbRASiON wrote:
blitzy wrote:Hi guys,
I'm looking at a cheap Ivy build and am not too sure which integrated audio is preferable. Here's the motherboards I'm looking at, cheap m-ATX boards but should suffice for an i5-3750k. The ASUS has a Realtek ALC887, the Gigabyte has VIA VT2021.
<SNIP>
Cheers for any feedback



SPEAKERS
SPEAKERS
SPEAKERS
SPEAKERS
SPEAKERS

There's my feedback - this is THE NUMBER 1 PRIORITY before anything else if you give a damn about audio.
The soundcard is virtually irrelivant nowadays unless you have absoloute decent gear.

I 'only' have 4 of these at precisely the same distance from my head.
https://www.google.com/search?q=Tannoy+ ... 4&bih=1233
Hooked up to a Yamaha RX-540 home threatre receiver.

That's a cheap, simple system - your sound card is utterly irrelivant as long as you're using headphones or "PC speakers" (ugh)

EDIT: and you frontpagers can't bloody downvote me here, with your bodgy 300$ Logitech setups thinking you need a 200$ soundcard and accusing me of being wrong.
The laws of diminishing returns says you need to throw money at speakers WELL WELL before a soundcard.


This + good headphones
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Re: Which integrated audio is better Realtec or VIA?

Postposted on Mon May 07, 2012 7:56 am

Flying Fox wrote:But if you maintain fully digital until after the signal leaves the chassis, do you really still need good DAC's on the sound card? I believe the answer is no.

If.

Someone who's only considering a $30 sound card at the most is probably not going to have a digital receiver.
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Re: Which integrated audio is better Realtec or VIA?

Postposted on Mon May 07, 2012 7:59 am

AbRASiON wrote:EDIT: and you frontpagers can't bloody downvote me here, with your bodgy 300$ Logitech setups thinking you need a 200$ soundcard and accusing me of being wrong.


I suspect you'll find that you get downvoted because of your assburgers and other personality defects, not for being "wrong", which in the scenario you give you're not.

It's not what you say, it's how you say it.
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Re: Which integrated audio is better Realtec or VIA?

Postposted on Mon May 07, 2012 8:32 am

bthylafh wrote:
AbRASiON wrote:EDIT: and you frontpagers can't bloody downvote me here, with your bodgy 300$ Logitech setups thinking you need a 200$ soundcard and accusing me of being wrong.


I suspect you'll find that you get downvoted because of your assburgers and other personality defects, not for being "wrong", which in the scenario you give you're not.

It's not what you say, it's how you say it.


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Re: Which integrated audio is better Realtec or VIA?

Postposted on Mon May 07, 2012 11:31 am

bthylafh wrote:Someone who's only considering a $30 sound card at the most is probably not going to have a digital receiver.


blitzy wrote:I have my computer connected to my HDTV through HDMI and that's all I use for audio.


Try again?
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Re: Which integrated audio is better Realtec or VIA?

Postposted on Mon May 07, 2012 11:37 am

/sigh

I fail at reading followups.
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Re: Which integrated audio is better Realtec or VIA?

Postposted on Mon May 07, 2012 2:57 pm

I'm trying to figure out why this is still a question.

If the OP is using HDMI, the onboard audio will not get used. Period. If he/she does need to use the onboard, then it will be an issue- personally I like Realtek, as I find their driver interfaces at least useful, but I haven't seen what's been coming with VIA chipsets these days.
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Re: Which integrated audio is better Realtec or VIA?

Postposted on Mon May 07, 2012 4:17 pm

ShadowEyez wrote:Like most here, the general advise is to only get a sound card if you're really into recording audio or making music, as the quality and features are important. If your mostly into playback (movies, games, music/itunes, web surfing play back) the integrated stuff on modern mobos is good enough. IMO, if you have the money and want to upgrade your audio, the component to upgrade is your speakers.


I agree with the last part. It generally does pay off best to ugrade components in your signal path in reverse order, speakers or headphones being the most noticeable. Your system will only be as good as the weakest link - which as it happens with most people is speakers, then amplifiers.

However, I would strongly disagree that investing in a discrete audio card (say something around $200 or slightly less) is only of benefit to those who are recording hobbyists, etc. IF you own a decent speaker or headphone setup and IF you appreciate good fidelity sound (why would you have a half decent system otherwise?), you owe it too yourself to get a half decent source IF you plan on listening to music - and even for movies - from the PC (ie, the higher end Asus Zonar or HT Omega cards and the like).

Over the years, I myself have had the opportunity to go from integrated audio --> $200 discrete sound card --> external stand alone DAC/headphone amp combo for headphone listening. Each progression came with stark improvements. Sure there's a lot of snake oil being peddled at "audiophiles", but within reason, better components do equal better sound.

In the OPs case, as stated, it is irrelevant because they plan on using the video card to bitstream over HDMI.
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Re: Which integrated audio is better Realtec or VIA?

Postposted on Mon May 07, 2012 5:01 pm

thanks for the responses guys, I do have to admit that I am still a little unclear on what actual processing is even done by the integrated audio. I understand that since I'm using HDMI the signal doesn't go through the DACs on the I/O backplane, but isn't a driver still involved in applying the audio codec to the sound signal? e.g. even if I leave it up to windows update there will still be some manufacturer drivers installed (albeit without their UI management stuff). Or is the codec not invoked if the signal doesnt pass through the backplane?

How would the path of the signal look? e.g.
Game creates sounds > audio codec (driver) processes signal into 7.1 or whatever the output will be > signal passed out over HDMI and still digital > TV receives signal and DACs convert to analog > Outputs through the TV speaker / Headphones

Appreciate the responses so far, very good to know.
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Re: Which integrated audio is better Realtec or VIA?

Postposted on Mon May 07, 2012 5:18 pm

You'll be relying on the video card's sound drivers for the HDMI, not the motherboard's, and they will be provided by whomever makes the video chip (Nvidia, ATI, Intel).
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Re: Which integrated audio is better Realtec or VIA?

Postposted on Mon May 07, 2012 5:41 pm

I'm sorry, I just can't help myself, I need to rant about something. Audio does not belong on a video card. But then again, they've been doing this since the 80's. Joystick port on a sound card. Printer port on a video card(Hercules was guilty of this). My rant to the tech industry, keep components seperate, please. It's just a much cleaner way of doing things.
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Re: Which integrated audio is better Realtec or VIA?

Postposted on Mon May 07, 2012 6:29 pm

moresmarterthanspock wrote:I'm sorry, I just can't help myself, I need to rant about something. Audio does not belong on a video card. But then again, they've been doing this since the 80's. Joystick port on a sound card. Printer port on a video card(Hercules was guilty of this). My rant to the tech industry, keep components seperate, please. It's just a much cleaner way of doing things.


I really don't see the downside in integration if everything works the way it should- and it should bring prices down. WRT sound on a video card, it isn't! It's just an HD Audio compatible software interface designed to get sound digitally. There is no analog component.
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Re: Which integrated audio is better Realtec or VIA?

Postposted on Mon May 07, 2012 7:06 pm

Change sucks
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Re: Which integrated audio is better Realtec or VIA?

Postposted on Mon May 07, 2012 7:46 pm

moresmarterthanspock wrote:I'm sorry, I just can't help myself, I need to rant about something. Audio does not belong on a video card. But then again, they've been doing this since the 80's. Joystick port on a sound card. Printer port on a video card(Hercules was guilty of this). My rant to the tech industry, keep components seperate, please. It's just a much cleaner way of doing things.


It's more space- and heat-expensive your way. In general less integration is a losing proposition, and at some point you're going to hit the reductio ad absurdum of building everything out of discrete transistors or glowbottles.

A gameport on your Sound Blaster 16 might have been lower quality than buying e.g. a dedicated Thrustmaster card, but it was cheaper (in those days that mattered more than now), you could always recalibrate, and was usually good enough unless a game dev really screwed the pooch on writing his own drivers (as you had to in the DOS days) - the guy responsible for Wing Commander: Armada, I'm looking at you.
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Re: Which integrated audio is better Realtec or VIA?

Postposted on Mon May 07, 2012 8:42 pm

moresmarterthanspock wrote:I'm sorry, I just can't help myself, I need to rant about something. Audio does not belong on a video card.

We have been saying for over a page that we are talking about the digital signal that does not suffer from interference from other components. The OP's setup is to use HDMI and stay digital until the signal completely leaves the computer. The D->A process will happen at the receiver. Have you been reading?
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