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Soundcard / Audio Card under $100

kingmetalkingmetal Registered User regular
Hey all,

I've grown to distrust the onboard sound on my motherboard (it tends to pop and make weird noises when I use my computer while its playing sound) and instead of chasing down a way to possibly solve that problem, I'm going with the age-old "throw money at the problem" solution and looking for a sound card replacement. Here are my requirements:

Under $100 - I'm really looking at an $80 maximum, but I figure with tax / shipping and what-have-you.

Toslink (Optical) S/PDIF - I'm currently sending an optical signal to my MOTU 828 MK II which then happily converts the digital signal to nice clean analog. My MOTU supports up to 96khz at 24 bits, and while it's not a deal breaker, I wouldn't mind that capability, especially if the overhead isn't too high just to fool around with (I understand that most audio program is not sampled that high, so 96khz is fairly useless).

Not Made By Creative - I doubt I have to explain this requirement this forum, but in no way will I ever support Creative Labs again if I can help it. If there is some magical new Creative card that costs $10 and washes my car for me or something then by all means, I will consider it, but given the choice I will never choose a Creative product.

Compatible with Vista and XP - Currently running XP and will switch to Vista later. Basically, I don't want to buy anything from a manufacturer that will leave me out in the cold like Creative.

As an optional bonus feature I would absolutely ADORE a card that will allow me to slave the clock - I know this is a really rare feature with consumer audio products, but my MOTU's clock is probably a lot tighter than anything I'm going to find at this price point and it would be fantastic if it could be the clock master. This is a totally unrealistic feature and I recognize that.

So far I like this look the HT Omega Striker - and it's about at the limit of my price-point. Anyone have any experience with this card? Any other suggestions?

kingmetal on

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    Simon MoonSimon Moon Registered User regular
    edited August 2008
    kingmetal wrote: »
    So far I like this look the HT Omega Striker - and it's about at the limit of my price-point. Anyone have any experience with this card? Any other suggestions?

    I looked at that card when I was building my rig recently. It's pretty much the only card that fits all your criteria. ASUS Xonar cards get good reviews from ars, tech report, etc., but their high end card ($200) only has coax s/pdif. Their sub-$100 cards don't have it at all.

    The conclusion I came to on the matter was "wait and see." I'm hopeful that some time in the next couple months, something worthwhile will come out, or at least get its drivers fixed.

    If you do pick up that HT Omega card, let us know what you think.

    Simon Moon on
    Steam: simon moon
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    victor_c26victor_c26 Chicago, ILRegistered User regular
    edited August 2008
    Simon Moon wrote: »
    kingmetal wrote: »
    So far I like this look the HT Omega Striker - and it's about at the limit of my price-point. Anyone have any experience with this card? Any other suggestions?

    I looked at that card when I was building my rig recently. It's pretty much the only card that fits all your criteria. ASUS Xonar cards get good reviews from ars, tech report, etc., but their high end card ($200) only has coax s/pdif.

    Actually, the Coax S/PDIFs are both optical and electric pulse digital. The optical diode is actually at the very end of the female hole in the Coax input. All you need to do is plug the included adapter to turn them into a Tos-Link optical S/PDIF. (Two adapters included; one for the input and the other for the output connector)

    victor_c26 on
    It's been so long since I've posted here, I've removed my signature since most of what I had here were broken links. Shows over, you can carry on to the next post.
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    Rigor MortisRigor Mortis Registered User regular
    edited August 2008
    ....doesn't your MOTU interface function as a sound card via firewire connectivity?

    Rigor Mortis on
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    Dark ShroudDark Shroud Registered User regular
    edited August 2008
    You've pretty much found the card you're going to get. Non Creative cards that have Toslink (Optical) S/PDIF are not common and pricey.

    Otherwise: http://www.ewiz.com/detail.php?p=EN-M2328V&c=pw

    Dark Shroud on
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    kingmetalkingmetal Registered User regular
    edited August 2008
    ....doesn't your MOTU interface function as a sound card via firewire connectivity?

    Yes! Sort of.

    In my experience (especially when games are thrown into the mix) the MOTU gets a little wonky as a Windows sound card. I really appreciate that the feature is there, but I've had my 828 for the better part of 5 years now and I've never been consistently happy its performance as a Windows sound card.

    I spent several hours going through forums and researching the crap out of the Striker - I know $80 isn't a huge amount of money, but I just had a funny feeling about it so I tried to do my homework. The consensus, it seems, is that driver support for the HT Omega, and in fact nearly the entire current-generation of C-Media based sound cards gets really spotty when Vista and especially Vista 64 get introduced into the fray. I am simply not comfortable spending $80 on a card that will not work if I decide to switch to Vista 64 (which I debate with myself regularly).

    So I bought a Turtle Beach Riviera for $20. I figure, if I'm going to potentially throw away my sound card if/when I upgrade to Vista, I might as well make it a $20 purchase and not an $80 purchase. The Riviera will do 48khz @ 24bits, so it should be an upgrade from my current onboard setup - and since I'm just talking digital all the way until I hit my MOTU it's going to sound great. I'm sure the drivers will be wonky, and I'm probably SOL if I upgrade to Vista, but by then I hope SOMEBODY will come up with a decent sound card for under $100.

    Thanks for your input, everbody.

    kingmetal on
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