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Need some recommendations for a new sound card

queuewindowqueuewindow Registered User
I've had a soundblaster audigy for a while now but I don't like how it sounds at all, and I've tried several different kinds of speakers/headphones. I mainly need it for music listening, but I'd like to play the occasional game as well without running into driver issues.

Any ideas?

queuewindow on
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Posts

  • Pajama_ManPajama_Man Registered User
    edited December 2008
    Id love to recommend a dedicated sound card (Audigy, Asus Xonar, X-Fi, etc) but now a days game developers don't really include support for EAX in games and such anymore.

    So in my opinion, unless you don't have on-board already and don't do any serious audio editing, any cheap < $50 sound card will do just fine.

    BTW how many channels will you be running (5.1, 2.1, headphone etc)?

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  • queuewindowqueuewindow Registered User
    edited December 2008
    I should have made it clear that I don't really care about audio performance in games. I don't even know what EAX is! All I want is a sound card with excellent sound quality that won't have driver issues with games.

    And I'll be running 2.1 and headphones.

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  • Rigor MortisRigor Mortis Registered User
    edited December 2008
    If you want the best sound quality, forget the gamer cards and grab somthing like this. I own one and haven't had any driver issues.
    http://pro-audio.musiciansfriend.com/product/EMu-1212M-v2-PCI-Digital-Audio-System?sku=241213

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  • queuewindowqueuewindow Registered User
    edited December 2008
    That looks pretty great, thanks. Do you have any other suggestions? Not that I don't like that one but I'd like to have some options.

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  • Dark ShroudDark Shroud Registered User regular
    edited December 2008
    You can get a Audigy SE for cheap now.

    Or you can get a basic OEM X-Fi card. These are the best on the market right now. They have some good quality & power. I have an older discontinued model but I still love it.

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  • Rigor MortisRigor Mortis Registered User
    edited December 2008
    That looks pretty great, thanks. Do you have any other suggestions? Not that I don't like that one but I'd like to have some options.

    M-audio has some popular options available, although the E-MU card is nicer IMO
    http://pro-audio.musiciansfriend.com/product/MAudio-Audiophile-2496-PCI-Digital-Audio-Card?sku=701341
    That one is what they used in the student music labs at UofT, whereas the E-MU one I showed you was used (with the optional external expansion*) in the main recording studio and the teacher's personal lab ;) - like I said, it's also the one I use

    *this is what the studio used - the same internal PCI card as the 1212m, but with the external I/O box instead of the internal I/O card that I linked to before.
    http://www.emu.com/products/product.asp?category=505&subcategory=491&product=15189
    If you're mega intense, you can have the internal I/O from the 1212m and the external I/O from the 1616m - and even add a internal wordclock I/O card as well for quadruple hardcore audio goodness.


    I don't have any experience with this one, but it looks worth checking out...
    http://pro-audio.musiciansfriend.com/product/Echo-MIA-MIDI-Digital-Audio-and-MIDI-Card?sku=247016


    I do have some musician friends who use external sound cards in their setup... options start quite cheaply here, and external sound cards are a good option because then the electron soup inside your case doesn't contaminate the audio :P
    http://pro-audio.musiciansfriend.com/product/Behringer-UCONTROL-UCA202-USBAudio-Interface?sku=702540
    Or a step up...
    http://pro-audio.musiciansfriend.com/product/Behringer-FCA202-F-Control-FireWire-Audio-Interface?sku=240108
    http://pro-audio.musiciansfriend.com/product/Tapco-Link.USB-USB-Audio-Interface?sku=241524


    Or if your onboard has spdif out you can always get an external DAC. This is a simple way to upgrade the sound quality and get the DAC outside the case without worrying about compatability issues... problem is, external DACs can get real pricey. This is one of the few ones in the realm of affordability.
    http://pro-audio.musiciansfriend.com/product/Behringer-SRC2496-ULTRAMATCH-PRO-Converter?sku=182480

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  • queuewindowqueuewindow Registered User
    edited December 2008
    Yeah a DAC is way out of my price range. I leave all of my expensive purchases for my portable rig anyway, since that's what I listen to 6-7 hours a day.

    I've never thought about an external sound card before. That's an interesting point about internal interference but I don't think the environment I'll be listening in is quiet enough to tell the difference!

    Thanks for your help, I think I'm gonna go read some reviews on those cards now

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  • SpiralStairsSpiralStairs Registered User
    edited December 2008
    i'd like to ask a couple of questions while we're on the subject of soundcards and onboard.

    1. does onboard sound use noticeably more resources than a PCI card, being that the motherboard/cpu is dealing with it more directly ?

    2. is onboard sound the reason i get quiet 'hums' and 'buzzes' when i move my usb mouse around or scroll with the mouse wheel ?

    3. are there any cheap soundboards with 0 latency recording inputs ? even plugging my guitar directly into the line-in of my current setup results in something like a half second delay between playing and recording - this makes multi tracking incredibly annoying.

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  • Rigor MortisRigor Mortis Registered User
    edited December 2008
    i'd like to ask a couple of questions while we're on the subject of soundcards and onboard.

    1. does onboard sound use noticeably more resources than a PCI card, being that the motherboard/cpu is dealing with it more directly ?

    2. is onboard sound the reason i get quiet 'hums' and 'buzzes' when i move my usb mouse around or scroll with the mouse wheel ?

    3. are there any cheap soundboards with 0 latency recording inputs ? even plugging my guitar directly into the line-in of my current setup results in something like a half second delay between playing and recording - this makes multi tracking incredibly annoying.

    1. Some PCI cards have onboard acceleration, some do not. The answer is maybe.

    2. Possibly. I don't know for sure.

    3. I doubt you can get 0 latency on a computer. If you're using proper drivers (ASIO) you should be able to reduce it to about 2 milliseconds. What I would suggest trying before you spend any money is ASIO4ALL - it's a WDM wrapper compatible with (theoretically) all sound cards http://www.asio4all.com/

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