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Thread: Onboard Sound VS Sound Card

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    Onboard Sound VS Sound Card

    Ok well when it comes to sound cards ive never had one, ive always used on board sound to run my 5.1 surround, using all the ports on there. However ive read that cards can improve sound quality and enhance game performance, but to be honest i was wondering how much difference they would make?

    Im tempted to order one with my new system, when i eventually make my mind up on the bits! But i was looking at this card Creative's Sound BlasterĀ® X-Fi XtremeMusic to go with these speakers Logitech Z-5500

    I play lots of different games and watch hundreds of DVD's so would the extra 50quid be worth it? Or is it only a slight difference?

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    A shadowy flight. MSIC's Avatar
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    I am highly dubious about the extent that 'improving game performance' gets mentioned - the only circumstance would be when the game needs 100% CPU power but the CPU is spending some time doing audio stuff. Although this can be measured in tests, i do not believe it's a reason to buy a discrete card.

    The reason why discrete cards are good is for the sound quality - if you want better quality (and as you mention also will have better speakers to be able to hear the benefit) then it is worth it.
    To my ears, the difference between my on-board (Realtek non-HD something) and my Soundblaster Audigy 2, as heard through my seperates system, is like the difference between audio cassette and CD. Sure, you get used to what you have, but if you compare then you notice.
    I'm commenting on an internet forum. Your facts hold no sway over me.
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    Yea sorry, ment improve game performance through the sound quality.

    So is the card i mentioned any good? Or would you recommend other cards?

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    A shadowy flight. MSIC's Avatar
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    The Creatives are highly regarded although I dont have experience to state if the X-Fi is worth much more than an Audigy.
    I have heard of some driver probs, but then that can happen with anything.

    The following sites all rate the X-Fi highly:
    http://www.extremetech.com/article2/...1850395,00.asp
    http://tomshardware.co.uk/2005/08/18..._x/page24.html
    http://uk.gear.ign.com/articles/644/644186p1.html
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    I've had every incarnation of the creative cards from the Live, to the Audigy to the Audigy2 and now the X-Fi.

    I love the xtrememusic sound card I have now as the 24-bit crystalisation onboard the card makes my mp3's sound a lot better than the original normal source file.

    I've demonstrated this to my friends a few times as they asked what it was etc and even they could tell the different between the settings being "off", "50%" and "100%".

    I was a bit dubious about the differences, but when I got the card and heard them for myself I was actually a bit shocked.

    Gaming - it does make a nice difference in BF2 and other games like Counterstrike source and guild wars.

    If you plan to upgrade to vista, then the X-Fi would be a good choice as well

    If you need any further information - let me know and I'll see what I can aquire for you.

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    Nods - X-Fi was noticeably different (quality wise) from my Audigy (2 I think) and it's head an shoulders above the onboard sound (nVidia). With the latter it's so distinct a difference that even cheap headphones reveal it.
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    A shadowy flight. MSIC's Avatar
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    You know, reading about this makes me want one now.
    Why did I just spend a load of cash on a new CPU?
    I'm commenting on an internet forum. Your facts hold no sway over me.
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    glaciation appreciation frazered's Avatar
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    depends on the type of onboard sound you have, if it is realtek then you will probably notice the difference

    I have live 24 bit onboard and I can't notice the difference

    also you may have a problem noticing the difference if your speakers or headphones are pants!

    I would look to ensuring that if you do decide spend your money you can actually use it properly

    let the spending begin!

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    There is a large caveat you need to be aware of; the X-Fi cannot internally mix multi channel sound to the digital output: aka Dolby Digital Live.

    If you are playing a game with surround, the digital out will only carry 2 channels L + R.

    If you are playing a DVD the card can passthough the AC3 or DTS stream.

    If you want surround from games you have to use the analog outputs.

    I thought this would be important as the Z-5500 have a built in decoder and so they do support a digital input.

    Plenty of info on this if you Google

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    Quote Originally Posted by frazered View Post
    I have live 24 bit onboard and I can't notice the difference
    I have the same board as you and used the Live! onboard sound for a few months, before going out and buying an Audigy 4 and I can say (I am no audiophile) that there is definately a noticeable difference.

    Come to think of it. There really should be a space for soundcard under the 'My System' section.

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    maybe my ears are shot to hell?

    i am using some beyer dt770 pros paired with a pa2v2 amp, so would have thought the difference would be there...

    was it a '50 quid spent worthwhile' improvement?

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    Banned Smokey21's Avatar
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    Yes much better, even more so with good speakers like the one you linked.

    Ive been well happy with my X-Fi Plat. People complain of crackling issues but mine has been 100% fine.

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    toolsong,yeah you're right. I did a lot of reading before I bought some Logitech Z-5500 speakers, so I need the coax digital and the analog cables from my X-fi. (and the optical input from my Xbox 360)

    BTW there is a 'fix' so that the digital output from the x-fi doesn't need a reboot every time, because it keeps disable it?
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