Best $100&under PCI-e 1x or USB Soundcard for stereo only

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Best $100&under PCI-e 1x or USB Soundcard for stereo only

Postposted on Mon Aug 19, 2013 3:07 pm

Hiya fella..and a few ladies,

I Have my Bedroom I have a Gateway 4860 series mid tower HTPC powered by a I3-2120 8gb ram, 2x 1tb HDD. Graphics is powered by a HIS HD 7750 iCooler video card that uses no PCI-e power connector "overclocks like a monster for gaming, buts that's another story" the motherboard is a H-67 based gateway/acer OEM board. It has Intel Gigabit lan "go figure", but the onboard sound is a Realtek 600 series and it is not very good. It is hooked up to my Panasonic 55" VT-30 3d plasma TV.

The speakers i will be using are the very very good and very old Advent POWERED PARTNERS AV750. Each weigh's around 10lb's and both have there own built in amp's that are around 70 watts. I have them hooked up now and they lack good separation and punch. Thhey sounded much better on my gaming rig with the much better realtek 889 chip, with the 889 chi they sounded great. They are hooked to the CPU with a 1/8" jack the splits into analog red and white RCA jacks.

So I am looking for a good soundcard that is PCI-e and will work great for Analog stereo output. Some software effects to add depth or virtual surround could be handy...but the main thing is i want great separation.

Thanks ahead of time....I have not messed with a sound card in over 5 years.
Vargis
Last edited by vargis14 on Mon Aug 19, 2013 4:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Best Inexpensive PCI-e 1x Soundcard for stereo only

Postposted on Mon Aug 19, 2013 3:41 pm

Here are the AMP and other specs if it will help.
Power Requirements - AC Power Supply
120 volt version - 70 watts, 60 Hz; DC power supply:
9-25 volts, 14V nominal, 25V maximum.
Amplifier Performance
(AC Power Supply) 30 watts continuous per speaker,
<0.5% total harmonic distortion, 40Hz-20kHz, >85 dB
signal-to-noise ration (IHF A-network), 35 Watts
dynamic power.
Input Sensitivity
200mV for maximum output.
Input Impedance
20K ohms.
Frequency Response
-3 dB (half power) points at 40Hz and 20kHz.
(Performance depends on tone control settings.)
Crossover Frequency
5kHz.

Thank again for any suggestions :D
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Re: Best Inexpensive PCI-e 1x Soundcard for stereo only

Postposted on Mon Aug 19, 2013 3:51 pm

Any of the PCIe Xonar or X-Fi cards should be able to do what you're looking for.

Or you could even go with a USB solution like the Turtle Beach Audio Advantage Micro II, and save the PCIe slot.
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Re: Best Inexpensive PCI-e 1x Soundcard for stereo only

Postposted on Mon Aug 19, 2013 4:09 pm

Expanding on just brew it's suggestion, NwAGuy once did a review of a very inexpensive USB DAC:

Behringer UCA202

Sound quality from line output was surprisingly good, though the headphone output sucked hard (which is to be expected from something this cheap). If you only need something for stereo line output, you may want to give it a try. Its only $30 on Amazon so you wouldn't be risking much.

http://www.amazon.com/Behringer-UCA202- ... B000KW2YEI
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Re: Best Inexpensive PCI-e 1x Soundcard for stereo only

Postposted on Mon Aug 19, 2013 4:28 pm

Asus Xonar DGX or U3. I would probably get the DGX, but the U3 is a USB interface (since others have mentioned).
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Re: Best Inexpensive PCI-e 1x Soundcard for stereo only

Postposted on Mon Aug 19, 2013 4:38 pm

Thanks for the responses.....I will check them out.

Also I should have said under $100 since I will pay up to and not above $100. Since it will be something that will be around for a while. Future build, swapped into another rig ...who knows.
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Re: Best $100&under PCI-e 1x or USB Soundcard for stereo onl

Postposted on Mon Aug 19, 2013 5:37 pm

After looking around I think i am going to go for this for $74

Creative Sound Blaster 70SB130000000 24-bit 48KHz USB Interface Recon3D THX 3D Surround Sound Processor

I was surfing around and I went on newegg and was looking at the USB solutions and came across this SB recon 3d USB soundcard. I am very glad I looked at the pictures of the product since this connects to the PC with a USB to micro USB cable and my computer is in the clost with the cables going through a small hole in the wall behind my 55" plasma tv that is wall mounted. Also while looking at the product pictures on New Egg i notice it has a OPTICAL input which is perfect since my TV has no Analog output whatsoever....it just has a optical output for sound. This way I can use the good speakers for my cable TV broadcasts and not just computer MKV, AVI ETC playback.

I just pray it will work for Both. If anyone has this and has any input it would be appreciated
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Re: Best $100&under PCI-e 1x or USB Soundcard for stereo onl

Postposted on Mon Aug 19, 2013 7:46 pm

Have you looked at the Sound Blaster Z for $92?
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Re: Best $100&under PCI-e 1x or USB Soundcard for stereo onl

Postposted on Mon Aug 19, 2013 9:08 pm

Sound Blaster Titanium HD.

Hands down the best sound card I've ever heard (unfortunately it's pretty much made for stereo). Sometimes you can find them on sale for under $100 (they do go on sale and prices vary a lot).

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6829102033

I made a huge thread on this topic when I was picking out my new sound card. I'd definitely recommend that one. Don't buy the Recond3D series, they're a downstep from Creatives X-Fi series.
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Re: Best $100&under PCI-e 1x or USB Soundcard for stereo onl

Postposted on Mon Aug 19, 2013 10:09 pm

JustAnEngineer wrote:Have you looked at the Sound Blaster Z for $92?

That's a good choice except that you can find the OEM version (same card, no useless microphone or shiny cosmetic cover) for slightly cheaper price :wink:


Bensam123 wrote:Sound Blaster Titanium HD.

Why would anyone buy this outdated and overpriced hardware, Ben? :wink: Soundblaster Z is cheaper, will be supported better by Creative (although you never know for how long it will be) and has just about the same subjective audio quality, especially for stereo sound. Plus it has better virtual surround sound mode which might be useful for watching movies with stereo speakers. I've used both of these. You should too.
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Re: Best $100&under PCI-e 1x or USB Soundcard for stereo onl

Postposted on Mon Aug 19, 2013 10:22 pm

Stick with a Xonar as the underlying audio chip is a C-Media which has sources of support other than ASUS, unlike a proprietary Creative (unless you like hand-crufted drivers of minimal provenance).
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Re: Best $100&under PCI-e 1x or USB Soundcard for stereo onl

Postposted on Tue Aug 20, 2013 2:30 am

I just might go for that sound blaster Z, it has optical In also so i can get the sound from my tv to come out of my speakers also. Dang TV has no analog out...still a nice TV though.
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Re: Best $100&under PCI-e 1x or USB Soundcard for stereo onl

Postposted on Tue Aug 20, 2013 5:08 am

JohnC wrote:You can find the OEM {Sound Blaster Z} version (same card, no useless microphone or shiny cosmetic cover) for slightly cheaper price.
Do you mean the Sound Blaster Z 70SB150200000 for $80?
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6829102054
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Re: Best $100&under PCI-e 1x or USB Soundcard for stereo onl

Postposted on Tue Aug 20, 2013 5:53 am

Yea. But it's not currently in stock, though and Amazon's price is a little bit high...
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Re: Best $100&under PCI-e 1x or USB Soundcard for stereo onl

Postposted on Tue Aug 20, 2013 6:08 am

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Re: Best $100&under PCI-e 1x or USB Soundcard for stereo onl

Postposted on Tue Aug 20, 2013 8:46 am

To ask a related question...
What Xonar is the best set of feature vs. price right now. Looking at my usual supplier it is really hard to decide and I've been thinking about one for a while.

The DGX seems to be quite cheap right now ($40 and a $10 mail in rebate)
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Re: Best $100&under PCI-e 1x or USB Soundcard for stereo onl

Postposted on Tue Aug 20, 2013 9:17 am

The Recon3D isn't a quality piece of hardware and is quite similar to Realtek or C-Media implementations. It's budget oriented and intended more for integration rather then being something solely on a sound card. Read the reviews on Newegg and around the web. Almost all the stuff that was done on the X-Fi is now emulated through software, it's really nothing special. You definitely get the bling details (like SnR and what not), but nothing more then that. It's a step back rather then forward designed to compete with cheap chips that are all the rage (since hardware acceleration no longer exists).

As I said, you can find it on sale for under $100, the price fluctuates. As far as being outdated goes, a 'sound' card released in 2010 is hardly outdated. There has been nothing productive that's happened in pc audio sound for years. The X-Fi chip is still extremely relevant and a great solution. If anything, sound has digressed in the PC scene (at least as far as games go).
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Re: Best $100&under PCI-e 1x or USB Soundcard for stereo onl

Postposted on Tue Aug 20, 2013 12:15 pm

ODAC is unfortunately too much ($149). http://www.jdslabs.com/storecat.php?fetchcat=5

Schitt Magni ($99) is supposedly good but I have only seen ancedotes, I have not seen any actual measurements: http://schiit.com/cart/index.php?main_p ... ucts_id=14
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Re: Best $100&under PCI-e 1x or USB Soundcard for stereo onl

Postposted on Tue Aug 20, 2013 12:25 pm

Arvald wrote:To ask a related question...
What Xonar is the best set of feature vs. price right now. Looking at my usual supplier it is really hard to decide and I've been thinking about one for a while.

The DGX seems to be quite cheap right now ($40 and a $10 mail in rebate)

For 2-channel they're pretty much the same, though spending more to get the metal EMI/RFI shield will likely pay off in listening satisfaction.
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Re: Best $100&under PCI-e 1x or USB Soundcard for stereo onl

Postposted on Tue Aug 20, 2013 12:38 pm

May I suggest a proper USB audio interface (as in, made by an audio company)? The basic models are cheap, and you don't need the recording functionality, but I'm guessing that for the purpose you need it for, you'll probably end up with higher quality audio.
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Re: Best $100&under PCI-e 1x or USB Soundcard for stereo onl

Postposted on Tue Aug 20, 2013 2:01 pm

Captain Ned wrote:
Arvald wrote:To ask a related question...
What Xonar is the best set of feature vs. price right now. Looking at my usual supplier it is really hard to decide and I've been thinking about one for a while.

The DGX seems to be quite cheap right now ($40 and a $10 mail in rebate)

For 2-channel they're pretty much the same, though spending more to get the metal EMI/RFI shield will likely pay off in listening satisfaction.


I'm a 3.1 set up for this... I'd be 5.1 but my cat chews wires...
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Re: Best $100&under PCI-e 1x or USB Soundcard for stereo onl

Postposted on Tue Aug 20, 2013 2:52 pm

Bensam123 wrote:The Recon3D isn't a quality piece of hardware and is quite similar to Realtek or C-Media implementations. It's budget oriented and intended more for integration rather then being something solely on a sound card. Read the reviews on Newegg and around the web. Almost all the stuff that was done on the X-Fi is now emulated through software, it's really nothing special. You definitely get the bling details (like SnR and what not), but nothing more then that. It's a step back rather then forward designed to compete with cheap chips that are all the rage (since hardware acceleration no longer exists).

As I said, you can find it on sale for under $100, the price fluctuates. As far as being outdated goes, a 'sound' card released in 2010 is hardly outdated. There has been nothing productive that's happened in pc audio sound for years. The X-Fi chip is still extremely relevant and a great solution. If anything, sound has digressed in the PC scene (at least as far as games go).


You obviously haven't head the Soundblaster Z yet. I sat on an Audigy 2 ZS for nearly 10 years, due to nothing really being much better....even the X-Fi wasnt much better. You are spot on with the recon 3D being a mess and not even worth getting, but the SB Z is what the recon should have been and wasnt. The SB Z pretty much blows almost everything out of the water now, and you can run it with a very minimal driver package. Have to say a night and day improvement over what I had and nearly every review I read of it online says the same thing. Even creative can come up with a good card once in a while.
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Re: Best $100&under PCI-e 1x or USB Soundcard for stereo onl

Postposted on Tue Aug 20, 2013 4:20 pm

Bensam123 wrote:Sound Blaster Titanium HD.

Hands down the best sound card I've ever heard (unfortunately it's pretty much made for stereo). Sometimes you can find them on sale for under $100 (they do go on sale and prices vary a lot).

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6829102033

I made a huge thread on this topic when I was picking out my new sound card. I'd definitely recommend that one. Don't buy the Recond3D series, they're a downstep from Creatives X-Fi series.


As I mentioned this is for my very good self powered montiors speakers at 70 watt each, Advent AV750 Powered Partners"serial #'s 7145407406 and 7145407407,so they came off the same line at the same time" and my TV has only optical output so the titanium HD is out. The Sound Blaster X is looking great at around 90$
Thank everyone for helping me out...But I have one more question.

When i Hook My Panasonics Plasma TV's optical out to the optical in one the Sound Blaster Z what do I have to do to get the sound from my TV broadcast to play over the speakers...Note that I am almost positive I have a optical out port on my Verizon HDTV box also that could be used. But I imagine I may be able to control the volume with the TV volume setting. If not i can use the volume controls on my K400 keyboard. It had been 5+ years since i messed with any soundcards...I just have been using HDMI. These speaker monitors are too dang awesome to not use. I have read customer reviews where people say they blow away Bose"no big deal" bit when a guitar player says stuff like One speaker sounds so much better then a quality guitar amp 10 times the size. you just cannot let them collect dust when they fit perfectly laying on there side's on the shelf above my wall mounted TV on either side of my 3d bluray player and HDTV box. Plus with them on their sides they can be pointed in any direction. Which is great since they are only 43" apart and to add to the separation the tweeter's are on the outside so they are as far apart as possible since treble is the most directional sound and base is non directional. Anything to get then as far apart as possible for the best stereo sound and possible simulated surround.
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Re: Best $100&under PCI-e 1x or USB Soundcard for stereo onl

Postposted on Tue Aug 20, 2013 5:34 pm

Arvald wrote:
Captain Ned wrote:
Arvald wrote:To ask a related question...
What Xonar is the best set of feature vs. price right now. Looking at my usual supplier it is really hard to decide and I've been thinking about one for a while.

The DGX seems to be quite cheap right now ($40 and a $10 mail in rebate)

For 2-channel they're pretty much the same, though spending more to get the metal EMI/RFI shield will likely pay off in listening satisfaction.


I'm a 3.1 set up for this... I'd be 5.1 but my cat chews wires...

Coat your wires with some yucky stuff (not poisonous but something unpleasant) :wink: Or use extra Mylar sleeving for them.
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Re: Best $100&under PCI-e 1x or USB Soundcard for stereo onl

Postposted on Wed Aug 21, 2013 8:46 am

JohnC wrote:Coat your wires with some yucky stuff (not poisonous but something unpleasant) :wink: Or use extra Mylar sleeving for them.

I use split loom (split plastic cover you see protecting wires in engines) but it increases the size of the wires quite a bit. I just made the choice to give up 5.1 for a few more years.
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Re: Best $100&under PCI-e 1x or USB Soundcard for stereo onl

Postposted on Thu Aug 22, 2013 8:23 am

The THD supports optical in and out, it uses a mini-optical plug that fits inside the RCA jack.
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Re: Best $100&under PCI-e 1x or USB Soundcard for stereo onl

Postposted on Thu Aug 22, 2013 9:19 am

Bensam123 wrote:The THD supports optical in and out, it uses a mini-optical plug that fits inside the RCA jack.

He said his limit is $100. The THD costs substantially more than that.
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