Recommend me a Sound Card

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Recommend me a Sound Card

Postposted on Fri Jun 29, 2012 11:25 pm

After an RMA with Corsair I have my desktop back and would like to upgrade to a dedicated sound card. My hardware setup currently is: Onboard 790FX audio-Behringer XENYX802 Mixer- which splits it to Monoprice 8323 headphones(Not amazing but GREAT for price) and M-Audio BX8a Deluxe(Ok for monitors but too much bass is at the lowend. I guess I should expect that from 8" drivers. Use the mixer to cut lows out if need be) The mobo offers a digital out and SPIDF out however I have never used either. So far I am favoring towards the cheaper ASUS Xonar DSX however I pretty novice to sound cards. I plan on running stereo not any surround sound cards will be a must. Thanks!
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Re: Recommend me a Sound Card

Postposted on Fri Jun 29, 2012 11:45 pm

Your audio system is better than mine - but the Asus Xonar's are fine cards. I run Grado 325's off the more expensive Essence card directly using a Grado 1/4 extension. No separate amps and no speakers.

The essence has more features but the sound is very nearly the same for most purposes. I use the $40 US Xonar at work with Koss PortaPros - good enough.

You many wish to buy the Essence if it fits your budget.
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Re: Recommend me a Sound Card

Postposted on Sat Jun 30, 2012 8:01 am

Creative's X-Fi Titanium HD is good quality if you don't like Asus.

New reviews on recent Asus cards should be coming here soon.
Last edited by DeadOfKnight on Sat Jun 30, 2012 8:15 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Recommend me a Sound Card

Postposted on Sat Jun 30, 2012 8:05 am

This is an interesting conundrum. Creative's drivers have historically been horrible (plus advertising non-as-expected features). However, my personal experience with the Asus Xonar D2 I'm using left me an equally sour taste. So, yeah, what are people recommending nowadays?
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Re: Recommend me a Sound Card

Postposted on Sat Jun 30, 2012 8:12 am

I have the HT Omega Claro Halo and the eClaro cards, both with swappable opamps. Using these with Denon 5000 and Denon 2000 headphones. Sounds absolutely amazing! Highly recommended! If you don't mind using PCI, you can get the Claro Halo, otherwise the eClaro is PCIE. There is significant difference between the two hardware wise, but they both sound amazing.

Driver wise, they use the stock CMedia drivers. No complaints here from me as the control software is simple, it is out of the way, and they just work.

I've never used the Asus cards so I can't comment, but i'll never touch Creative's sounds cards as everyone will agree their bloated drivers / software sucks.
Last edited by vandy on Sat Jun 30, 2012 8:17 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Recommend me a Sound Card

Postposted on Sat Jun 30, 2012 8:16 am

morphine wrote:This is an interesting conundrum. Creative's drivers have historically been horrible (plus advertising non-as-expected features). However, my personal experience with the Asus Xonar D2 I'm using left me an equally sour taste. So, yeah, what are people recommending nowadays?

Personally I don't ever see myself buying discrete audio again unless they improve their drivers. Creative's come with a bunch of bloated software and seem to be updated annually to semi-annually at best even when they receive reports for bugs and rarely do these address the issues. Asus drivers are much the same way but rather than being bloated the bundled software is just crappy in general.

I haven't tried HT Omega, Auzentech, or any others but those are mainly expensive, high-end offerings and most of them still sport the old PCI interface that is being phased out.
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Re: Recommend me a Sound Card

Postposted on Sat Jun 30, 2012 8:36 am

So what was so bad about the Xonar? Prior threads have been overwhelmingly positive on TR.

I had creative cards for years and found them adequate but with many driver hastles.

Xonar has been excellent, no hastles?
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Re: Recommend me a Sound Card

Postposted on Sat Jun 30, 2012 9:44 am

Well, this is my personal experience and not necessarily anyone else's (though I have come across reports of similar issues). Also this is about the D2, more recent stuff may be better. Having said that, keep in mind this card was sold as good for music creation, having come with a million feature stickers, MIDI cables, and DAW/MIDI software. I kept the card anyway because at the time I got it for about 1/3 of the list price, and as merely an output device, it does work (with UniXonar) and has insanely good analog output quality, along with a multitude of nice options for EQ/ing, bass redirection, output formats, etc. Here's the laundry list though, and I'm sure I forgot something:

- High DPC latency issues. This is a technical problem with the drivers that causes audio/video dropouts for no reason. Main reason why the UniXonar hacked drivers appeared.
- Automatically upmixes stereo sources to 4.0/5.1/7.1 and you can't tell it not to. Ugh. UniXonar to the rescue.
- Can only monitor/record one input at a time.
- ASIO is iffy and sometimes doesn't work at all. Recent drivers have improved this, but in the past selecting a target sample rate and latency did nothing, or required major fiddling to work. Made the card pretty much useless for audio creation.
- Input monitoring had a good deal of latency in it, once again, making it useless for audio creation. Can't really monitor something I'm playing when there's delay.
- ASIO input does not work over SPDIF. Having an SPDIF for recording in was one of the major reasons why I bought it.
- Rear channels have a built-in delay to them, which makes things sound really strange when going to headphones. Hacked drivers fixed this. Technically this would be a good thing, but not if it's not configurable.
- Drivers have a built-in non-configurable limiter that brings the volume down without telling you. Not a big issue but severely misleading since what me and everyone did was pump all outputs to max. Should have had better "markers" on the mixer.
- SPDIF input often clips/distorts/jitters to an insane amount (can't tell which, it just sounds crackly).
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Re: Recommend me a Sound Card

Postposted on Sat Jun 30, 2012 12:23 pm

Creative's professional line, EMU, is highly rated on headfi.
http://www.head-fi.org/t/289459/emu-040 ... y-the-best
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Re: Recommend me a Sound Card

Postposted on Sat Jun 30, 2012 1:20 pm

I used to use a basic X-Fi with minimal creative drivers loaded.

Getting the damn thing running with just the drivers rather than a hundred megs of Creative malware was a complete pain in the arse but once running the card did what I expected of it; basic multichannel IO without jitter, delay, pops, stutter or sync issues.

I agree that nobody seems to make a simple, cheap, soundcard with basic functional drivers that can be used for a bit of fun. If you make music prepare to arse about with software issues these days.
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Re: Recommend me a Sound Card

Postposted on Sat Jun 30, 2012 1:21 pm

I'm rocking a Xonar DX and can't say enough good things about it. High quality, excellent driver support (including non-Windows operating systems), real hardware mixing, and a PCIe interface. This card & my optical drive will be about the only components from my current PC that go into the next one I build.
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Re: Recommend me a Sound Card

Postposted on Sat Jun 30, 2012 1:47 pm

Never ever buy anything from Creative. I thought that was common knowledge.

If you really care buy a stand alone DAC and just use the onboard digital out.
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Re: Recommend me a Sound Card

Postposted on Sat Jun 30, 2012 1:56 pm

If someone would hack a Win7 driver for the Turtle Beach Santa Cruz my Xonar D1 would be in the parts bin in 2 minutes.
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Re: Recommend me a Sound Card

Postposted on Sat Jun 30, 2012 2:05 pm

Captain Ned wrote:If someone would hack a Win7 driver for the Turtle Beach Santa Cruz my Xonar D1 would be in the parts bin in 2 minutes.


I have TB pieces going back the ISA bus. My Pinacle was very fine.
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Re: Recommend me a Sound Card

Postposted on Sat Jun 30, 2012 2:55 pm

I have the HT Omega Striker and it sounds great. It has optical out as well as coax digital. The drivers work fine with Win7-64. I had read that the Xonar 64 bit drivers were flaky.
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Re: Recommend me a Sound Card

Postposted on Sat Jun 30, 2012 3:16 pm

The Swamp wrote:I had read that the Xonar 64 bit drivers were flaky.

And you'd be correct. Everyone knew it was a C-Media chip running the Xonar but Asus tried to make everyone believe it was a chip of its own design. To do so, they had to write a complete driver suite, and they didn't get it right. Enter UniXonar, which is based on the original C-Media drivers.
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Re: Recommend me a Sound Card

Postposted on Sat Jun 30, 2012 4:06 pm

And you'd be correct. Everyone knew it was a C-Media chip running the Xonar but Asus tried to make everyone believe it was a chip of its own design. To do so, they had to write a complete driver suite, and they didn't get it right. Enter UniXonar, which is based on the original C-Media drivers.


That's very interesting... Asus should have left good enough alone. It's not too hard to find out what chip is really running on the device:
lspci: 06:04.0 Multimedia audio controller: C-Media Electronics Inc CMI8788 [Oxygen HD Audio]
Subsystem: ASUSTeK Computer Inc. Virtuoso 100 (Xonar DX)
Control: I/O+ Mem- BusMaster+ SpecCycle- MemWINV- VGASnoop- ParErr- Stepping- SERR- FastB2B- DisINTx-
Status: Cap+ 66MHz- UDF- FastB2B- ParErr- DEVSEL=medium >TAbort- <TAbort- <MAbort- >SERR- <PERR- INTx-
Latency: 64 (500ns min, 6000ns max)
Interrupt: pin A routed to IRQ 16
Region 0: I/O ports at e800 [size=256]
Capabilities: <access denied>
Kernel driver in use: snd_virtuoso
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Re: Recommend me a Sound Card

Postposted on Sat Jun 30, 2012 8:30 pm

The SoundBlaster X-Fi Titanium HD isn't a bad card.
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Re: Recommend me a Sound Card

Postposted on Sat Jun 30, 2012 9:10 pm

It's very easy:

1) For best quality - Creative
2) For card that actually works more than 50% of the time - anything aside from Creative

This has been true for 5 or so Sound Blaster generations. Creative is a constant source of BSODs, driver glitches, application glitches, sound stuttering, and many more bugs I'm too lazy to type out. Lets just say from 5 or so Creative cards defect free were 0, and the current one is a total PITA. I don't have to reinstall drivers EVERY boot, if I boot first in Linux, and then reboot in Windows. It's still faster than reinstalling the bloatware and restarting settings on every boot, which I was already used to. And no, no driver cleaners help.
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Re: Recommend me a Sound Card

Postposted on Sat Jun 30, 2012 10:08 pm

if you do go the creative route, you can find modded drivers that work a lot better. Google: pax drivers
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Re: Recommend me a Sound Card

Postposted on Sat Jun 30, 2012 10:26 pm

I use the stripped-down "driver only" package from Creative with mine. There's no need to install all of the additional utilities if you don't want to. It's also been completely trouble-free under Windows Vista and Windows 7 64-bit.
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Re: Recommend me a Sound Card

Postposted on Sun Jul 01, 2012 12:26 am

I'm using a couple Xonar DG cards on Win7-64 machines (one Home, one Pro) and they're both working fine, although it's worth noting that I'm not doing any audio production work on either machine. One is my personal desktop and does music, occasional movies, and gaming; that feeds to either a homebrew headphone amp or a Klipsche ProMedia 2.1 kit, depending on whether the roomates are home. The other is an HTPC using XBMC as the frontend and feeds into a 5.1 receiver.
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Re: Recommend me a Sound Card

Postposted on Sun Jul 01, 2012 9:10 am

The Swamp wrote:I have the HT Omega Striker and it sounds great. It has optical out as well as coax digital. The drivers work fine with Win7-64.

Different strokes, for different folks.
I had that card and didn't realize it was a 16/48 card until I installed it.
I saw no documentation saying as much before I bought it.

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Coming from a 24/96 Terratec dmx 6 fire it just wasn't doing it for me.

Went with a HT|Omega Claro and couldn't be happier.

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Re: Recommend me a Sound Card

Postposted on Sun Jul 01, 2012 9:26 am

I bought the HT Omega Striker as well coming from a Turtle Beach Santa Cruz that lasted me for many years. I have to say I was disappointed by the Striker. The HT Omega Striker is an OK card, but not much difference from the onboard sound that I compared with.

Again, I highly recommend the eClaro (PCIE) or Claro Halo (PCI). Yes they are pricey but the sound quality is just amazing and it will last you for a long long time.

IAmGhostDog wrote:
The Swamp wrote:I have the HT Omega Striker and it sounds great. It has optical out as well as coax digital. The drivers work fine with Win7-64.
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Re: Recommend me a Sound Card

Postposted on Sun Jul 01, 2012 9:36 am

I really wanted the Striker for the digital outputs so I could connect it with a receiver. It's not as high end as the other offerings, but if you're looking for good sound, it's a good choice. The card seems to be high quality and it sounds much better than the onboard sound it's replacing.

I also have a Santa Cruz that I love and was disappointed I could not get it to work with Win7. That card is awesome.
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Re: Recommend me a Sound Card

Postposted on Sun Jul 01, 2012 10:19 am

I highly recommend HT Omega's cards as far as driver stability goes. I had it and a Creative X-Fi Titanium and while sound quality was basically the same, the Creative card was constantly dropping out and crashing. The HT Omega never budged. It just always worked.

My only complaint is that its PCI, so now I can't use it with the new M/B I got to replace my dead one.
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Re: Recommend me a Sound Card

Postposted on Sun Jul 01, 2012 3:11 pm

Thanks for the comments. So far it seems to me that I should stay away from Creative as far stability goes. I would like to have a software stable soundcard. My budget is around $100 but I am flexible, escpicially if it is worth it. I do not do any recording or mixing. Just enjoy decent sound when gaming and for music. Interface wise I have PCI or PCIE available so that shouldn't be a large issue. So far for your recomendations I have narrowed it to the Asus Xonar DX or the HT eClaro. However the $100 difference between the cards is startling. Would I really be able to tell the difference with the hardware I'm using? I have no current problems with the onboard audio and it sounds fine to my ears, however I have been told a good sound card will sound like night and day.
PenGun wrote:Never ever buy anything from Creative. I thought that was common knowledge.

If you really care buy a stand alone DAC and just use the onboard digital out.

Intriguing, are you currently using one, if so how does it sound compared to an internal card?
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Re: Recommend me a Sound Card

Postposted on Sun Jul 01, 2012 3:49 pm

It will sound night and day!

I say go for the eClaro as it is cheaper than the Claro Halo, sounds awesome, and it is PCIE. One thing I like about the eClaro is the dedicated headphone out jack, separate from the speaker connections. It'll be a soundcard that will follow you into future upgrades. And when the time comes to upgrade your headphones, you'll be even more amazed... :)

LOL i'll even send you an extra opamp I have laying around as the stock one is OK.

If you are willing to spend a little more, go for the Claro Halo but the downside; it's PCI and more expensive. Honestly, I can hardly tell the difference between the two. If there is a difference, it's most likely in my head. :) I use the eClaro for my HTPC setup connected to a Klipsch 5.1. The Claro Halo is in my workstation connected to a Klipsch 2.1 and Denon headphones.

eClaro
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16829271006

Claro Halo
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16829271005


PS I know I sound like a HT Omega fanboi but their soundcards are really amazing.
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Re: Recommend me a Sound Card

Postposted on Sun Jul 01, 2012 3:59 pm

Playback at anything more than 16/44.1k is a waste.
http://www.head-fi.org/t/415361/24bit-v ... h-exploded
Focus on getting a card that is well designed with a good DAC/AMP.
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Re: Recommend me a Sound Card

Postposted on Sun Jul 01, 2012 5:55 pm

anything with the words real and tek kicks ass!
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