Recommend me a Sound Card

The place to sound off on all things related to audio, from sound cards to speakers.

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Re: Recommend me a Sound Card

Postposted on Thu Jul 05, 2012 7:25 pm

Jason181 wrote:I have these headphones, and they have a usb-powered amp built in. I only use them for gaming, and they sound very good for that; the difference between them and any 2.0 headphones in sound quality and especially spatialization is impressive.

Even so, that's only a function of good signal processing. You only have two ears, and in the rear world, your brain calculates distance and position using a mix of absolute information (time delay and phase shifts between what each ear hears) and relative information (sound volume relative to past experience with similar sounds). With intelligent signal processing, all of this can be created with just two speakers, especially when those two speakers are isolated over each ear at a a fixed distance from the ear canal.

The reason multi-speaker surround works in an open room is that the listener position in the room relative to the speaker locations, and the room dynamics, cannot be controlled by the audio source. Producing the sounds at different points in the room thus mimics the real-world sound stage and helps the listener's ears to obtain the necessary information for direction-finding. When each ear is completely isolated, most of that comparison information is lost, because each ear only hears what is played into it. Placing multiple speaker drivers next to each ear does practically nothing except compromise the size and quality of those drivers and/or raise the cost.
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Re: Recommend me a Sound Card

Postposted on Fri Jul 06, 2012 10:07 am

I think I have it narrowed down HT Striker or this Creative DAC. The eclaro is a little out of price right now as mobo may be on it's way out. Here are the specs of my current onboard audio. If i did go with the external DAC it seems as though the use of a mixer wouldn't be needed and more of an added hassle.
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Re: Recommend me a Sound Card

Postposted on Fri Jul 06, 2012 10:43 am

I'm probably too late to the party, but if you're going with a USB DAC I'd like to make two recommendations:

1). HRT Music Streamer II ($150) - Its well reviewed, appears to have a good reputation, and the price is just right. Its a straight DAC, which means no volume control or headphone output. I will concede that I don't have one myself (yet, I'll be purchasing one soon), so I'm going strictly by my own research. It also helps that the guy who designed my 2nd recommendation also recommends this one.

2). Objective DAC (???) - This one is a bit trickier since its not actually out yet and it wasn't designed by an established company like HRT. NwAvGuy, the person who designed it, has been making some waves with his criticisms regarding the "subjective" design methodologies that certain audio hardware design firms have adopted. His Objective2 Headphone Amp (O2) was designed using an "objective" philosophy (mainly involving lots of published measurements). The O2 has a good rep, so I can only guess the ODAC will as well.
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Re: Recommend me a Sound Card

Postposted on Fri Jul 06, 2012 10:50 am

Airmantharp wrote:USB gaming headsets are great, simple solutions to this problem...

Actually, they are analog headphones that use the USB port to power the headphone amp.

Airmantharp wrote:...each driver must therefore be smaller, and therefore put out lower quality sound.

Since the bass is output from a separate actual speaker, each speaker has to deal with less of the sound spectrum, and quality doesn't suffer. Do you say the same about your home speakers because they use two or three separate drivers?

JustAnEngineer wrote:I am saying that the so-called "5.1 surround" headphone positional stuff is a gimmick...

Have you ever tried a pair? Do you play first person shooters? I do, and have been for a little over 15 years on the internet, and I am telling you the difference is immediate and obvious. In case you also misunderstood, these are not a USB headset, which I do agree depends heavily on the quality of the 3d audio processing, but are connected to a Creative Titanium HD which has very good positional audio.

I realize we only have two ears, for those pointing this out, but why are we wasting all this money on 5.1 and 7.1 speaker systems? Because accurately simulating the subtle nuances of positional audio hasn't been perfected. I'm fairly certain that anyone posting here has never tried this setup, because you'd have to be practically deaf to not notice the difference. I've actually been accused of cheating because the positional audio is so good.

You can believe what you want, but an uninformed decision is worth the research that was put into it.
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Re: Recommend me a Sound Card

Postposted on Fri Jul 06, 2012 4:14 pm

Jason, I'll have to apologize- I didn't directly look up your headset. And it does sound nice, being able to use quality DACs from a sound card and having a built-in amplifier; I am a little jealous!

That said, keeping the weight and size of the sets the same (or close), you're better off from a sound-quality perspective with a pair of decent cans over a headset that has discrete drivers for different sound ranges and positions. The surround headset may get close, and even surpass a stereo headset for some sources, but it cannot match the range or definition that larger high-quality drivers can produce.

I'm also an FPS gamer of ~15 years (when did Wolfenstein come out again?), and I count myself among those still saddened by Creative's corporate murder of Aureal. That said, running my HD555's off of an X-Fi Titanium in BF3 is just astonishing, and I've found myself looking for a better source for the set.

*Edit- looking closer at that headset, I feel that it does have one fundamental problem- it's only 5.1. 5.1, as defined by Dolby, has no rear channel(s), you have to move up to 6.1 (EX) or 7.1 (TrueHD) to get rear channel(s). I don't know if this is a problem in practice, as the Turtle Beach headset has three 30mm drivers for sound (plus the 40mm for bass), and I would expect them to be placed in a 'front, center (over ear), and rear' arrangement.
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Re: Recommend me a Sound Card

Postposted on Fri Jul 06, 2012 5:02 pm

In which case, I would say save the money for a new mobo as the Striker is really not worth it for me. I had a Striker prior which I used for a few months and quickly sold it.

GeForce6200 wrote:I think I have it narrowed down HT Striker or this Creative DAC. The eclaro is a little out of price right now as mobo may be on it's way out. Here are the specs of my current onboard audio. If i did go with the external DAC it seems as though the use of a mixer wouldn't be needed and more of an added hassle.
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Re: Recommend me a Sound Card

Postposted on Fri Jul 06, 2012 6:12 pm

Airmantharp wrote:Jason, I'll have to apologize- I didn't directly look up your headset...

No worries :P

Airmantharp wrote:...one fundamental problem- it's only 5.1. 5.1, as defined by Dolby, has no rear channel(s)...I don't know if this is a problem in practice...

Technically it doesn't have a (front) center channel either, but as you probably guessed, when something is directly in front of you the front two speakers in the headphones both play the sound, and the same is true of the rear speakers. It may have a subtle effect as far as the sound processing goes, but the physical design of headphones of course precludes a "center" channel in the front or the rear.

The weight/sound quality tradeoff I can understand, and they are considerably heavier than any other headphones I've ever had. Since I only play games with them, the sound quality is what I'd call very good to excellent, and it's completely worth the quality difference between a good pair of Sennheisers and these for the spatialization to me, since I almost exclusively game. If you don't play a lot of FPS, especially multiplayer, the better sound quality of the Sennheisers probably win the day.

Before I bought them (which was around 6 months ago), I did some research because I wanted to make sure that the extra cost was actually worth it. Pretty much every review I read said that they made a dramatic difference for FPS games, and they did not disappoint.

This is not directed at anyone in particular: It is a little frustrating that there's so much theory about why 2.0 is just as good, but most of it is just theory. Even a cursory google of reviews will show that most agree that the difference is pretty obvious. I realize that there's some psychology behind not wanting to think that you've been duped, but then there's some psychology behind having a ironclad opinion about something that you've never experienced, when others who review games and game gear for a living wholeheartedly disagree. This is endemic to the Internets, unfortunately. I tend to stick to topics I know, and it's frustrating that others don't. /end rant. Sorry, I had to get that off my chest, and it's the result of many interactions on the Internets!
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Re: Recommend me a Sound Card

Postposted on Fri Jul 06, 2012 8:01 pm

Jason181 wrote:
JustAnEngineer wrote:I am saying that the so-called "5.1 surround" headphone positional stuff is a gimmick...
Have you ever tried a pair? Do you play first person shooters?
Yes, and yes. They're definitely rubbish.

Jason181 wrote:I am telling you the difference is immediate and obvious. I'm fairly certain that anyone posting here has never tried this setup, because you'd have to be practically deaf to not notice the difference.
You can believe what you want, but an uninformed decision is worth the research that was put into it.
I agree that you'd have to be daft not to notice the difference... and the difference is that the delay timings played back in the so-called "5.1-surround" headsets are wrong. The gimmicky "surround" headphones create a weirdly distorted and unnatural sound stage. When you set your sound card for 5.1-channel output, the delays are calculated for speakers scattered around the room. If the speaker is 5½ feet from your head, it takes 5 ms for the sound from that speaker to reach your ear. If your headphone driver is 1" from your ear, it takes the sound only 0.4 ms to arrive.
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Re: Recommend me a Sound Card

Postposted on Fri Jul 06, 2012 8:48 pm

JustAnEngineer wrote: If the speaker is 5½ feet from your head, it takes 5 ms for the sound from that speaker to reach your ear. If your headphone driver is 1" from your ear, it takes the sound only 0.4 ms to arrive.

1" = 2.54cm = 0.0254m
speed of sound = 340m/s
speed of light = 3e8m/s
0.0254/340 = 7.353e-5s = 0.00007353s = 0.07353ms for sound
0.0254/3e8 ~ <1e-10s
Sorry, had to do the calculation.
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Re: Recommend me a Sound Card

Postposted on Fri Jul 06, 2012 9:37 pm

JustAnEngineer wrote:Yes, and yes. They're definitely rubbish.

Well, I stand corrected; I'm glad to hear (pardon the pun) that you've tried them. You're entitled to your opinion.

JustAnEngineer wrote:..create a weirdly distorted and unnatural sound stage... the delays are calculated for speakers scattered around the room...

While I'm sure that's true, there's a lot more to spatialization than delays. The way the sound reaches your ears from a source behind you is much different than when directly next to or in front of you.

I would be surprised if there wasn't some variance in the way people localize audio cues; I suspect that some rely more heavily on the delays, while some rely more on the subtle differences in the perceived sound itself, much as 3d glasses are much more effective for some people than others.

The only problem I see is with generalizing your experience to all people when most reviewers clearly disagree. As a counterpoint, I probably should've qualified what I said as well, so I'll do it here: ymmv. :)
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Re: Recommend me a Sound Card

Postposted on Fri Jul 06, 2012 10:33 pm

How spatial audio cues are perceived is dependent on the shape of your pinnae (outer part of your ears), which varies from person to person. The pinnae cause subtle shifts in phase and frequency response depending on where the sound is coming from; your brain interprets these shifts (and the difference in these shifts between your two ears) to determine the direction of a sound. From birth, your brain learns how to perceive directional cues based on the shape of *your* pinnae.

When you pipe sound directly into your ears with headphones, you (mostly) take the pinnae out of the equation, since the sound is originating from a point that is more or less on-axis with your ear canal (or *in* your ear canal, if you are using earbuds). So the HRTF being used in the positional audio calculations is necessarily a compromise, which will work better for some people, worse for others.

To really do headphone-based positional audio right, you would need to have the shape of your pinnae mapped, and this data would need to be fed back into the positional audio algorithm. I don't know if anyone currently does this (and if they do, I'm sure it is a niche application... and very expensive).

And that, my friends, is why headphone-based positional audio works well for some people, and sucks for others.
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Re: Recommend me a Sound Card

Postposted on Fri Jul 06, 2012 11:16 pm

just brew it! wrote:How spatial audio cues are perceived is dependent on the shape of your pinnae (outer part of your ears), which varies from person to person. The pinnae cause subtle shifts in phase and frequency response depending on where the sound is coming from; your brain interprets these shifts (and the difference in these shifts between your two ears) to determine the direction of a sound. From birth, your brain learns how to perceive directional cues based on the shape of *your* pinnae.

When you pipe sound directly into your ears with headphones, you (mostly) take the pinnae out of the equation, since the sound is originating from a point that is more or less on-axis with your ear canal (or *in* your ear canal, if you are using earbuds). So the HRTF being used in the positional audio calculations is necessarily a compromise, which will work better for some people, worse for others.

To really do headphone-based positional audio right, you would need to have the shape of your pinnae mapped, and this data would need to be fed back into the positional audio algorithm. I don't know if anyone currently does this (and if they do, I'm sure it is a niche application... and very expensive).


Ultrasone's S-Logic and angled drivers in various headphones try to work with the fact that the ears are shaped so that naturally occurring sound "sounds" best.
If you look at some of the best headphones available, you'll noticed that they all have angled drivers. Sennheiser HD800/HD700, Sony Qualia, AKG 701, etc.

You can actually have your ears molded and have custom IEM shells made. It's not that expensive either, maybe $60 for the mold I think. You supply the IEM drivers/cables though.
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Re: Recommend me a Sound Card

Postposted on Fri Jul 06, 2012 11:59 pm

chµck wrote:Ultrasone's S-Logic and angled drivers in various headphones try to work with the fact that the ears are shaped so that naturally occurring sound "sounds" best.
If you look at some of the best headphones available, you'll noticed that they all have angled drivers. Sennheiser HD800/HD700, Sony Qualia, AKG 701, etc.

You still can't simulate sounds coming from *all* angles with a driver at a single fixed angle though. Multi-driver headphones don't help much either, since they can't properly model the phase/frequency differences between what your two ears hear.
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Re: Recommend me a Sound Card

Postposted on Mon Jul 09, 2012 11:53 am

Since the bass is output from a separate actual speaker, each speaker has to deal with less of the sound spectrum, and quality doesn't suffer. Do you say the same about your home speakers because they use two or three separate drivers?

Home speakers are attempting to disperse sound into a room, and the soundfield's volume decreases exponentially over distance. Low frequency signals are the least directional but also dissipate most rapidly, so a 25Hz signal produced a couple meters from your couch needs a good quality 12" driver and maybe a peak input of 150W of electrical power to ensure that you can hear a fractional watt of acoustic power output. That 12" driver has a lot of mass and simply cannot produce high frequencies. But even a $20 pair of headphones can produce 25Hz and 25kHz from the same membrane using only a fractional watt of electrical power because it is located right next to your ear, and can be made of very light materials. Pull the headphones even an inch away from your ears and the bass portion disappears immediately.

You only have one tympanic membrane in each ear, and what it senses is a summed waveform. A good headphone membrane merely does the same thing in reverse, while discrete drivers from a home speaker system have to produce a narrower range of frequencies per driver, with unavoidable compromises in terms of phasing alignment and lobing at the overlap points, and room position. Fortunately, the human brain is not an absolute reference detector and tends to habituate to a soundfield based on preferences more than absolute fidelity.

You can believe what you want, but an uninformed decision is worth the research that was put into it.

My interest is more personal because I was born with partial nerve deafness in my left ear. Remarkably, and vividly illustrating how much the brain relies on comparison data, I have normal stereo perception and positional detection in an open room, which is reduced dramatically when I use headphones. My brain is somehow able to make comparison judgments between the partial soundfield heard by both ears, and the remainder of the soundfield heard by one ear only, and still reconstruct a normal ambient environment.

In practice, this makes sense, because we aren't born wearing headphones. The human brain develops all of its critical direction-finding capabilities based on comparison data from an open environment. I don't doubt your headphone investment is working for you, but I expect that's because the Creative 5.1 processing is merely reproducing the higher-quality soundfield separation from the 5.1 source than what Creative's own drivers are capable of producing in a 2.0 processing simulation (which is why old-timers still lament the demise of Aureal). If they work for you, great, keep using them. But that doesn't mean they are necessarily the best thing for everybody.
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Re: Recommend me a Sound Card

Postposted on Tue Jul 10, 2012 2:01 pm

ludi wrote:...the Creative 5.1 processing is merely reproducing the higher-quality soundfield separation from the 5.1 source than what Creative's own drivers are capable of producing in a 2.0 processing simulation...

First, I agree that it's not necessarily the best for everyone, and I've said as much in prior posts, but making blanket statements that they're basically a scam isn't at all correct. While you could be right about the Creative processing, my point is that's about the best you're going to get for gaming processing (currently). Since the best source is better with 5.1 than with 2.0, then why wouldn't 5.1 headphones be an improvement? I guess what I'm trying to say is that your comments tend to actually support my conclusions, even if we arrive at the conclusion from slightly different positions.

I had an Aureal sound card, and it was vastly superior to the Creative cards at the time with respect to 3d audio processing, but they don't hold a candle to today's sound cards in my own experience. Don't get me wrong, they were awesome for their time.

I'm not so much defending my purchase as trying to make sure others that might be considering 5.1s not dismiss them out of hand because they didn't make an appreciable difference for a few people who then blanket statements based on that.

It seems a shame that someone who may really benefit from them would pass them up when they work extremely well for me, and I'm not alone if you read the reviews on my particular set (I of course can't speak for other models, and have always been a little suspect of USB sound solutions for gaming).

While I don't necessarily agree that the 5.1 processing is the only advantage, that would likely affect the degree to which 5.1s improve spatialization rather than their efficacy as a whole.
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Re: Recommend me a Sound Card

Postposted on Tue Jul 10, 2012 2:31 pm

Comparing 5.1 headphones to 5.1 speakers is an apples-to-oranges comparison. It's not even remotely the same thing.
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Re: Recommend me a Sound Card

Postposted on Tue Jul 10, 2012 8:54 pm

just brew it! wrote:Comparing 5.1 headphones to 5.1 speakers is an apples-to-oranges comparison. It's not even remotely the same thing.


You can't seriously believe that, can you? They're both speakers with the same basic design with the same purpose and relative locations. To call them "not even remotely the same thing" is hyperbole at best.
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Re: Recommend me a Sound Card

Postposted on Tue Jul 10, 2012 9:47 pm

Jason181 wrote:
just brew it! wrote:Comparing 5.1 headphones to 5.1 speakers is an apples-to-oranges comparison. It's not even remotely the same thing.

You can't seriously believe that, can you? They're both speakers with the same basic design with the same purpose and relative locations. To call them "not even remotely the same thing" is hyperbole at best.

Yes, I *can* seriously believe that, and here's why:

Our perception of the direction of a sound is very dependent on subtle shifts in phase and frequency response between our two ears. The nature of these shifts depends on the individual, since these shifts depend on the size and shape of your pinnae (outer ear), which vary from person to person like fingerprints. Your brain adapts to your unique ear shape when you are an infant.

With 5.1 speakers, you're at least making a crude attempt to simulate the real environment, with sounds coming from somewhere in the general vicinity of where they're supposed to be. A sound to your left doesn't just stimulate your left year; the sound also reaches your right ear, after going around your head and getting modified (phase and frequency response) by the shape of your ears, and even the shape of your head (which also varies somewhat from person to person). All of these effects factor into the realism of the directional effect.

5.1 headphones can simulate this to a degree, by modeling an average head and pair of pinnae. But it will always be a bigger compromise than multi-channel speakers out in a room, because the sound waves won't interact with the acoustic properties of your head and ears in a natural way unless you happen to be close to the "average" person they used to determine the DSP algorithms. And those interactions are a big part of how we perceive the direction of a sound.
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Re: Recommend me a Sound Card

Postposted on Tue Jul 10, 2012 9:58 pm

I have a HT Omega Claro + and I am happy with it.

I have been checking out the eclaro since it is pcie would give it more future proofing than the typical pci slot sound card.
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Re: Recommend me a Sound Card

Postposted on Wed Jul 11, 2012 1:34 pm

just brew it! wrote:..It's not even remotely the same thing...5.1 headphones can simulate this to a degree

Those two statements are contradictory.

You are making this way too complicated; the rear speakers in the headphones are located behind the ears, and I can tell that they're behind my ears just as I can tell that rear 5.1 speakers are behind my ears. DSP has absolutely nothing to do with the difference between these 5.1 headphones and 5.1 speakers because they are using exactly the same processing. If you can't tell that a sound is coming from behind you, I'm sorry to hear that (pun intended). I can, as can most people. We're talking physical location here.
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Re: Recommend me a Sound Card

Postposted on Wed Jul 11, 2012 1:43 pm

Jason181 wrote:
just brew it! wrote:..It's not even remotely the same thing...5.1 headphones can simulate this to a degree

Those two statements are contradictory.

No, they're not. The meaning of the phrase "a degree" will range from "fairly well" to "quite poorly", depending on how well the HRTF matches your head.

Edit: I guess I owe you a bit of an apology. It seems that this discussion may have flip-flopped back and forth a bit between simulating directional audio from a normal (2 driver) headphone, and multi-driver headphones. The former is (IMO) firmly in the "gimmick" category, and does not work for many people. The latter does work better, but (again IMO) is still no substitute for real surround speakers.
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Re: Recommend me a Sound Card

Postposted on Wed Jul 11, 2012 2:39 pm

just brew it! wrote:
Jason181 wrote:
just brew it! wrote:Comparing 5.1 headphones to 5.1 speakers is an apples-to-oranges comparison. It's not even remotely the same thing.

You can't seriously believe that, can you? They're both speakers with the same basic design with the same purpose and relative locations. To call them "not even remotely the same thing" is hyperbole at best.

Yes, I *can* seriously believe that, and here's why:

Our perception of the direction of a sound is very dependent on subtle shifts in phase and frequency response between our two ears. The nature of these shifts depends on the individual, since these shifts depend on the size and shape of your pinnae (outer ear), which vary from person to person like fingerprints. Your brain adapts to your unique ear shape when you are an infant.

With 5.1 speakers, you're at least making a crude attempt to simulate the real environment, with sounds coming from somewhere in the general vicinity of where they're supposed to be. A sound to your left doesn't just stimulate your left year; the sound also reaches your right ear, after going around your head and getting modified (phase and frequency response) by the shape of your ears, and even the shape of your head (which also varies somewhat from person to person). All of these effects factor into the realism of the directional effect.

5.1 headphones can simulate this to a degree, by modeling an average head and pair of pinnae. But it will always be a bigger compromise than multi-channel speakers out in a room, because the sound waves won't interact with the acoustic properties of your head and ears in a natural way unless you happen to be close to the "average" person they used to determine the DSP algorithms. And those interactions are a big part of how we perceive the direction of a sound.


Yeap, and also 5.1 speakers provide the "static" sound sources which do NOT change their "location" as your head moves - just like it works with natural sound sources. With all the cheap, junky 5.1 headphones your sound sources always "move" together with your head, which is pretty unnatural and can be very immersion-breaking for many people, even during very slight head movements. There are some solutions to solve that issue (such as using head-tracking sensors, like Beyerdynamic does for a certain model), but the resulting models are pretty expensive (compared to many inexpensive 5.1 speaker setups) and pretty large in size (which together results in a very low consumer demand for such products) and still (as you've said above) do not account for physical differences in the shape of person's heads and ears.
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Re: Recommend me a Sound Card

Postposted on Wed Jul 11, 2012 7:33 pm

JBI, no sweat :) I tend to agree with your assessment of 2.0 headphones simulating 5.1 sound.

John, I could see sound sources not moving with your head being a problem with some applications, but I'm stationary at a monitor. My movement is pretty much limited to my "perceived" in-game actions. It actually would seem wonky to me to have the sound change based on head movement and in-game movement. I have before (in this very thread) mentioned that just as 3d television works very well for some and not that great for others, so is the situation with 5.1 headphones.

However, ear shape has basically nothing to do with it because a speaker source that's behind your ear is behind your ear. You've learned to locate sound behind you using that ear shape all of your life, and the fact that it's closer to your ear doesn't change the fact that it's still behind your ear.
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Re: Recommend me a Sound Card

Postposted on Fri Jan 11, 2013 1:19 am

Update: Well I decided to take a more inexpensive route on the soundcard front and while I wanted an HT card, I opted for an Intel 335, Windows 8, and finally the Creative Soundblaster Z. What follows is my review part 1 of the sound card and the Soundblaster Control panel software. I do not record or mix any music. Also I am pretty novice when it comes to audio equipment and terms, so please excuse any mistakes I make. I highly suggest that readers will click on manufacturer link if I type any errors, and Sam Chen's much more in depth review of the card.

My hardware setup: Creative SoundBlaster Z -----> SM Pro Nano Patch+ -----> M Audio BX8a Deluxe studio monitors.

Software: Playback: Foobar2000 w/AMIP, Winamp, sometimes WMP.

Packaging is done in a Creative box with flashy gold lettering on front and three topics on the back displaying features.
1: Audio Realism-" Your personal audio dashboard allows you to control powerful audio technologies for a sonic edge against opponents"
2: Crystal Clear Communication-" Express yourself and be heard crystal clear in video conferencing, multiplayer games, and online chats"
3: Advanced Home Entertainment Audio- " Connect to your decoder or HTS through a single digital cable for intense 5.1 surround from any source."
Also is picture of a their 600Ω AMP which "Supports 192kHz direct pass-through to analog out, a 6000 ohm headphone amplifier, and gold plated I/O connectivity."
On the side flap are four more feature giving panels that outline the benefits of SBX Pro Studio. Crstallizer, Better Bass, Surround, and dialog plus
In the box we find the card, secured by simple wires tires, to a plastic velvet lined interior. Why a simple electrostatic bag could not be used I have no idea, however the fuzzy velvet did end up coming off and fine strands were over the sound card. Nothing a quick shot of compressed air couldn't fix, but that shouldn't have been needed. In the box is the included microphone, with a cord length of almost 6ft. I have no plans to use said microphone though. There is also a driver CD, support pamphlet, and a quick installation guide.
The card: (Photo used from Sam Chen's review on custompcreview.com) My HTC is brutal at taking photos, as you will see....sorry
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The card is protected by the metal shroud and I must say, it has a strong feel to it, good finish. Overall I like the look of the card, even if it won't be seen in my case. Thats ok...they like red a little to much that you will know it's there, by placing to bright red LEDs inside the card. Like so...
Image
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Case is dirty and my cable management is an abomination, I know. Hopefully by the weekend it will get cleaned up. But overall it looks nice, albeit dwarfed by the old behemoth 4870X2.
Installation was simple, taking up only a PCIE X4 slot. I couldn't put into last slot though, as it would have blocked airflow to the PSU. Now that you know what the card looks like I'll run down the specs of the SoundCore 3D processor. Here is the rundown given by Creative's announcement/press release.
"Designed by Creative's in-house team of audio scientists and engineers, Sound Core3D is Creative's first sound and voice processor to integrate an array of high-performance digital signal processor (DSP) cores and a high-quality HD audio codec on one chip, giving it tremendous versatility. Sound Core3D is engineered for low power consumption and high performance audio. It incorporates Creative's innovative Quartet DSP with four independent processor cores, 6-channel 24-bit 102dB digital-to-analog converters, 4-channel 24-bits 101dB analog-to-digital converters, integrated headphone amplifier-out, digital microphone interface, S/PDIF inputs and outputs and general purpose inputs and outputs (GPIO) all in a compact 56-pin QFP package."
Pretty potent chip they have developed, hopefully their drivers can match...and they have. While SBX Pro studio is not the most amazing piece of audio software I have seen, it serves its purpose well and hasn't given me any trouble. (Win 8 Pro)
First given in the options is the ability to turn on SBX Pro Studio, essentially their software enhancements. These being surround, crystalizer, bass (slider bar for crossover frequency too, nice), smart volume that keeps audio levels in line with multiple sources, and dialog plus for speech. In the different menu options are tabs for Crystal voice, Scout Mode, Speaker/headphone (which can be changed at anytime with a simple click), cinematic for Dolby Digital Live/ DTS connect, mixer, equalizer and advanced features which is play stereo mix to digital out. There is the option to create different sound profiles, depending on the atmosphere. The only settings I use are to turn SBX on, and crystalizer slider barely. Bass and surround are off. The crystalizer and SBX adds a little punch to the speakers and clearer mids. It was not a night and day difference between this and Realtek, but worth the upgrade. I will report specific changes with the card and my review of its gaming/music capabilities this weekend. If anyone has any questions or requests for myself to do, I'd be more than happy. I'll be back with more product review soon.
AMD Phenom II X4 840|Foxconn 780V|EVGA GTX660|4GB DDR2 800|Intel X-25M|NZXT 210|Corsair CX400|M-Audio BX8a Deluxe
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Re: Recommend me a Sound Card

Postposted on Fri Jan 11, 2013 2:33 am

chµck wrote: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.


There is actually a very good reason to output more than 16-bit. If you want to use the volume control in Windows, outputting a higher bitrate will maintain dynamic range. Now very little music has a 96dB (16-bit) dynamic range, but if you use 50% on Windows volume control you're down to 48dB. Outputting at 24-bit will allow the equivalent of 8 'free' bits before there is any effect on dynamic range. Using Windows volume control is fine nowadays, the audio stack in Vista and later doesn't have the issues XP did. If you're still using XP, god help you :P
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Re: Recommend me a Sound Card

Postposted on Fri Jan 11, 2013 5:45 am

MadManOriginal wrote:the audio stack in Vista and later doesn't have the issues XP did.

*cough* latency *cough* :)
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Re: Recommend me a Sound Card

Postposted on Thu Apr 04, 2013 2:10 am

I finally upgraded my 10 year old Audigy 2 ZS for a Sound blaster ZX and been very pleased with it so far. Sound quality over my old card is massively improved, I have been listening to a lot of my music collection on it and noticing the changes for the better. As for the drivers, it was a painless install for them too, you can pick and choose what you want...no massive bloatware driver pack this go around. Two thumbs up for this card.
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Re: Recommend me a Sound Card

Postposted on Thu Apr 04, 2013 2:20 am

morphine wrote:
MadManOriginal wrote:the audio stack in Vista and later doesn't have the issues XP did.

*cough* latency *cough* :)


Context...we're talking about playback.
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Re: Recommend me a Sound Card

Postposted on Thu Apr 04, 2013 11:10 am

MadManOriginal wrote:Context...we're talking about playback.

For direct output, yes :). Otherwise, go ahead and try to mix an input with your standard output (line in, SPDIF, etc), and listen to the latency. I found out about this the hard, disappointing way.
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Re: Recommend me a Sound Card

Postposted on Thu Apr 04, 2013 1:59 pm

morphine wrote:
MadManOriginal wrote:Context...we're talking about playback.

For direct output, yes :). Otherwise, go ahead and try to mix an input with your standard output (line in, SPDIF, etc), and listen to the latency. I found out about this the hard, disappointing way.


Great, and again that's not the context we're talking about. Plus, it's still better than Windows XP, right
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