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Music Hardware

$90 Asus Sound Card Whips Creative's Best 387

EconolineCrush writes "Sound card giant Creative caught plenty of flak for its recent driver debacle, and has long been criticized for bullying competitors and stifling innovation. But few have been willing to compete with Creative head-on, allowing the company to milk its X-Fi audio processor for more than two and a half years. Now the SoundBlaster has a new challenger in the form of Asus' $90 Xonar DX, which delivers much better sound quality than the X-Fi, PCI Express connectivity, and support for real-time Dolby Digital Live encoding. The Xonar can even emulate the latest EAX positional audio effects, providing the most complete competition to the X-Fi available on the market."
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$90 Asus Sound Card Whips Creative's Best

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  • Sound Cards (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 08, 2008 @06:22PM (#23006196)
    I don't know why people spend tons of money on a computer only to throw in a cheap sound card, or even worse - rely on onboard sound.

    My sound card - a Turtle Beech Catalina cost about what this does and was worth every penny, especially when teamed up with Bose PC speakers and sub.
    • Re:Sound Cards (Score:5, Interesting)

      by SanityInAnarchy ( 655584 ) <> on Tuesday April 08, 2008 @06:28PM (#23006248) Journal
      Well, onboard sound is getting better, for what that's worth. And surround can be physically a pain to setup, assuming it's supported in the games you want to play.

      But I think the real problem here is that just about every sound you're going to be listening to is already compressed mp3, range-compressed to hell. It's kind of like suggesting upgrading your monitor or video card if you're only going to be watching YouTube. Hopefully at least a few developers are using high quality sounds in their games...
      • Re:Sound Cards (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Metasquares ( 555685 ) <slashdot@metasquared. c o m> on Tuesday April 08, 2008 @07:21PM (#23006716) Homepage

        I don't see any point in using it for pre-generated sound, because, as you said, the audio has already been mangled.

        What I find a high-end soundcard indispensable for, however, is recording audio.

        • Re:Sound Cards (Score:5, Informative)

          by dubbreak ( 623656 ) on Tuesday April 08, 2008 @08:33PM (#23007308)
          I completely agree. I don't understand why anyone would sped exorbitant amounts of money on a "gamer" sound card (that's what creative markets to pretty much exclusively) when you can buy a decent card for recording for the same or less.

          I have an M-Audio delta 44 and I love it. Sound q is excellent and the 1/4" analogue ins and outs work great for me (I have a pro-audio amp for my computer speakers). If I wanted something more basic for another computer build I'd buy the revolution 5.1 card. It supports Sensaura, EAX, DirectSound and A3D and I'd bet if you did measurements was lower noise than a Creative card.

          Creative is nothing more than a brand. They leverage their name to sell cheap crap to consumers at inflated prices. Any educated buyer would NOT buy a Creative product.
          • Re:Sound Cards (Score:5, Insightful)

            by kklein ( 900361 ) on Wednesday April 09, 2008 @12:27AM (#23008954)

            Preach it!

            I'll go one further. It's not just that they don't provide value for money, Creative actually makes the worst soundcards I have ever, ever used. They aren't as good as the onboard RealTeks that come with your mobo, and of course can't hold a candle to a proper M-Audio (I used to use a Delta 1010). Both of these options sound better and install with less fuss and operate with less trouble.

            To hell with Creative!

        • by melted ( 227442 ) on Tuesday April 08, 2008 @08:43PM (#23007376) Homepage
          There are better devices available for recording. They typically include a high quality preamp, which is not something you'll find on a sound card. I use Konnekt 8 from TC Electronic. It's less than 300 bucks, it provides multichannel recording, XLR inputs with phantom power and monitor out.
        • Re:Sound Cards (Score:5, Insightful)

          by modecx ( 130548 ) on Tuesday April 08, 2008 @09:10PM (#23007538)
          If you're really into recording useful things on a regular basis, you're probably using something like an external firewire (or USB, eek) audio interface... Because even with a good card, there's just too much electronic noise roaming around inside the average computer case, and most of it is caused by shitty power supplies--so the noise is conveniently often right in the audible range--and most internal sound cards are not very well insulated. It's not such a big deal for skype or voip or most anything else the average joe does with audio in, because those ranges often get compressed out, and due to the nature of the use, it's not a big deal in the first place. The external boxes also usually have the added bonus of microphone phantom power, amps, and make it pretty easy to use a quality mic or other pro-quality recording gear, at relatively little expense.
      • Re:Sound Cards (Score:5, Interesting)

        by IronChef ( 164482 ) on Tuesday April 08, 2008 @08:08PM (#23007112)
        And surround can be physically a pain to setup, assuming it's supported in the games you want to play.

        The cool thing about Dolby Digital Live encoding is the game doesn't have to support Dolby Digital. The sound card and drivers magically remix positional DirectSound events into a Dolby Digital bitstream.

        In other words, I plug my computer into my AV receiver with 1 audio cable and surround sound Just Works in all my games.

        But I think the real problem here is that just about every sound you're going to be listening to is already compressed mp3, range-compressed to hell.

        Even if the sound quality was terrible I'd want to know if there was a level 3 sentry behind me. Surround sound makes games more enjoyable.
    • Re:Sound Cards (Score:5, Insightful)

      by nulldaemon ( 926551 ) on Tuesday April 08, 2008 @06:29PM (#23006264)

      I don't know why people spend tons of money on a computer only to throw in a cheap sound card
      because most people can't really hear the difference and get higher marginal returns putting that extra money in to a faster cpu/gpu.
      • Re:Sound Cards (Score:5, Interesting)

        by drgonzo59 ( 747139 ) on Tuesday April 08, 2008 @07:13PM (#23006650)
        Because for really good audio sound cards inside a computer case are not a good idea so might as well go with a crappy one for testing or just use the bundled one. In general D/A conversion needs to be performed outside the computer case, in a specialized box. So that is why people spend tons of money on a computer then spend a lot more money on a USB / Ethernet digital audio platform.
        • Re:Sound Cards (Score:4, Interesting)

          by jandrese ( 485 ) <> on Tuesday April 08, 2008 @07:52PM (#23006994) Homepage Journal
          I just wish USB soundcards weren't such a hack. It always seemed to me that firewire would be perfect for external sound cards, but nobody seems to do that, at least not at the consumer level.
          • Re:Sound Cards (Score:5, Informative)

            by element-o.p. ( 939033 ) on Tuesday April 08, 2008 @08:05PM (#23007078) Homepage
            Maybe not at the consumer level, but there are plenty of Firewire at the amateur/semi-pro musician level. Check out [], [] and [] for examples.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by dgatwood ( 11270 )

          USB or ethernet? Yikes. USB is frequently very unreliable for audio. The only place where Ethernet audio makes sense is if you're wiring up an arena or something. When you have to run 16 channels of audio to dozens of amplifiers and speakers all across an area that's a quarter mile wide, Ethernet is the perfect solution. For most recording purposes, though, the much higher cost of Ethernet-based gear just doesn't make much sense if you only need to run signals to the next room over.

          IMHO, FireWire is

        • S/PDIF and HDMI (Score:3, Informative)

          by Namarrgon ( 105036 )

          are the answer, and most motherboards have one or both of these built-in these days.

          Never output an analogue signal from a PC, if you've got a choice. Internal D/A sucks, so do it externally. Either use decent powered speakers or an inexpensive integrated receiver, and the PC is removed from the sound quality equation completely.

    • Re:Sound Cards (Score:5, Informative)

      by moderatorrater ( 1095745 ) on Tuesday April 08, 2008 @06:30PM (#23006282)

      I don't know why people spend tons of money on a computer only to throw in a cheap sound card, or even worse - rely on onboard sound
      Because its primary functions are gaming and programming, and neither of those would be seriously enhanced with a better sound card.
      • Re:Sound Cards (Score:5, Informative)

        by MrKevvy ( 85565 ) on Tuesday April 08, 2008 @06:41PM (#23006354)
        re: "Because its primary functions are gaming and programming, and neither of those would be seriously enhanced with a better sound card."

        Gaming is absolutely enhanced with a better (read: real) sound card. Onboard audio steals system RAM for its buffers rather than having its own memory, which can lead to sound dropouts with multiple simultaneous voices, and even cause stuttering and FPS loss. Not that these aren't effects I've also seen with Creative "real" soundcard products though especially from the Live family. Creative's quality seems to have taken a nosedive since the SB16 days.
        • Re:Sound Cards (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Shados ( 741919 ) on Tuesday April 08, 2008 @07:02PM (#23006554)
          Except that not all onboard audio steals RAM, not all onboard audio catches all the surrounding noise (you didn't say that, but everyone else does), and not all onboard audios cause stuttering. Most do come with a slight FPS loss (OH NOES! Crappy non-optimised games like Hellgates:London run at 97 fps on my machine, so they could do 100~! big freagin woohoo).

          Seems like getting a decent motherboard may matter in this case. Investing in better speakers is probably more important than the sound card... unless you have a top notch 5/7.1 system, the soundcard will not be the bottleneck.
        • by Trogre ( 513942 )
          I still swear by my trusty 1999 SBLive. No pissing about with which process has /dev/snd/pcm* locked, nice hardware mixing and lovely sound.

        • Gaming is absolutely enhanced with a better (read: real) sound card. Onboard audio steals system RAM for its buffers rather than having its own memory

          You are correct most of the time; however, there are a few onboard sound chipsets that provide their own buffers and hardware and interface to the mainboard via a PCI interface just like a real sound card, because they are real sound cards.

          The usual implementation of the AC97 specification would be an example of what you are talking about, where older onboard
        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward
          I agree that a real sound card is needed for gaming. But most people are surprisingly deaf and can't hear the difference, and so most game companies don't want to spend the time and money on proper audio.

          One of the best games to demonstrate the difference between onboard and hardware-accelerated audio is Bioshock. Using my onboard Realtek HD with 5.1 speakers, I get a muddy mess of sounds. I couldn't stand it and decided to get an X-Fi and the difference is amazing. I can hear the difference between sounds
    • Re:Sound Cards (Score:5, Insightful)

      by schnikies79 ( 788746 ) on Tuesday April 08, 2008 @06:32PM (#23006290)
      Because I would rather the computer be fast than sound like a home theater.

      I have a desktop speaker pair and thats all I want and need. On board sound is just fine for me.
      • Many people have asked why I have a moderately expensive sound system, and yet my TV is old enough to drink (seriously, it's a 15" 1986 panasonic with fake wood sides, pre-coax antenna connectors, and a slot underneath to store the remote). The answer I usually give is that ,"I wear glasses, not hearing aids. I'm going to favor the senses that still work properly."

        So yeah, there are people like me out there that would upgrade the sound card before upgrading the CPU (or video card).
        • With the glasses, your vision should still work properly, though - assuming it's just a visual acuity problem, at least.

          I have an old TV because I just don't watch much TV :)
      • I have a desktop speaker pair and thats all I want and need.

        Ouch. I'm not an audiophile by any means, but that would drive me to drink. I have a nice set of Aura Aspect 20/40 speakers (with under-the-desk subwoofer). They sound better than most home theaters I've been around, but only cost about $100 or so when I bought them. I like to code to music - for some reason, The Crystal Method's "Vegas" just makes the LOC flow - and they're the difference between hearing a symphony live versus over the phone.

        They're also plugged into the speaker outs of whatever an

        • by CharlieG ( 34950 )
          Why? The ONLY sound my computer is setup for is "Beep" - Don't want any more than that - just enough to get my attention. I don't game on it - or listen to music - I surf, and I write software - silence is golden
    • by McGiraf ( 196030 )
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anne Honime ( 828246 )
      Because most computers have noisy fans, that's why. Why would you buy an expensive card just to have the sound overlaid by a persistent "whizzzz" ?
    • by Sique ( 173459 )
      As a matter of fact I ordered one computer to be without any soundcard at all, and in the most games I play I turn the sound off. And I never use the computer to play music. So what's the point in spending money on a sound card?
    • My sound card - a Turtle Beech Catalina cost about what this does and was worth every penny, especially when teamed up with Bose PC speakers and sub.

      No highs, no lows--must be Bose!
    • Re:Sound Cards (Score:5, Interesting)

      by billcopc ( 196330 ) <> on Tuesday April 08, 2008 @07:39PM (#23006876) Homepage
      You almost sound like a troll, but i'll bite.

      Turtle beach = YES. I don't know why they bother, but this tiny company makes great little sound cards. Simple, but clean. Their sound quality puts many "pro" cards to shame.

      Bose = GOD NO! I mean, if you like the Bose sound, that's your preference and that's fine, but the term "playback quality" refers to reproducing the original sound as accurately as possible, something Bose speakers don't even try to accomplish.

      The thing with sound is there are two main schools of thought: those who seek accurate reproduction, and those who seek "pleasant" reproduction. Studio monitors, high-end headphones and some brands of tower speakers shoot for accurate sound, which many people find cold and dry. Bose speakers typically produce "happy" sound, by using a gazillion drivers and psychoacoustic sound processing (think SRS).

      Creative's X-Fi also specializes in this "happy" sound through the use of the so-called Crystallizer. It takes normal, clean audio, and adds the sonic equivalent of glitter dust to appeal to the aural magpies of this world. A few people dislike it (like me), but many people enjoy the effect it has on popular recordings.

      So then, what do non-Bose non-Creative users lack ? Happy sound. I personally don't miss any of that stuff, and I have zero issues with my featureless onboard 8-channel sound and my cold-sounding high-end speakers. Even the Asus sound card doesn't tempt me one bit, because the features it offers, I don't want. It would be nice if a sound card could be just that: a sound processing accelerator, but in 2008 the CPU is more than capable of handling the cheap bandpass filters and flanging effects Creative calls "environmental audio". The fact that even Creative uses software EAX emulation for its cheaper products is proof of this, and the only reason it doesn't work on other cards is because of licensing/IP issues.
  • Am I paranoid to think that these hardware companies who are stingy with their drivers are mostly on Microsoft's tit, being subsidized to keep drivers out of the hands of free software developers?
  • Linux (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 08, 2008 @06:24PM (#23006218)
    Does it work in Linux? X-Fi on Linux is terrible at best and doesn't exist at normal. Can someone some insight as to whether it works in Linux or not?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Lisandro ( 799651 )
      Does it work in Linux? X-Fi on Linux is terrible at best and doesn't exist at normal. Can someone some insight as to whether it works in Linux or not?

      I was just checking it myself and seems like ALSA supports the card allright []. I've been interested on a high quality, cheap soundcard because of my main gripe with onboard audio: noise levels. I can hear hiss through my nVidia onboard audio adapter (which otherwise sounds damn fine), and even faint pop and crackles when the HDD is doing heavy work.
  • Moot with Vista? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Since EAX doesn't work in Vista [] anymore, does this really matter anymore?
  • i will buy one as soon as i see it in the alsa-driver source package...
  • by Daniel Phillips ( 238627 ) on Tuesday April 08, 2008 @06:27PM (#23006244)
    Can anybody clue me in on the state of ALSA support for this card?
  • by timmarhy ( 659436 ) on Tuesday April 08, 2008 @06:30PM (#23006284)
    personally i think most of the audio improvments have been a load of wank.

    i haven't been able to tell the difference between my old live and my brandnew supposed "HD" soundcard. maybe on some seriously expensive speakers and a full THX system i could, but who needs to spend $300 on one of these cards creative put out?

    • by TheMeuge ( 645043 ) on Tuesday April 08, 2008 @06:39PM (#23006338)
      "who needs to spend $300 on one of these cards creative put out?" Hopefully nobody. One may, however, need to spend money of a good sound card, in order to output to a decent audio system. For me, the absolutely deal-breaker is Creative's insistence of resampling all 44.1kHz content to 48kHz. I don't rely on my sound card to do any of the work - I just want it to take the data, and faithfully stream it via SPDIF into my external DAC. That's why for many years now, I've been enjoying the services of the M-Audio Revolution.
    • barring HRS-type features and EAX, soundcards are generally soundcards. most any discrete soundcard sounds better than an onboard sound simply by virtue of getting it away from the electrical cacophony on the motherboard surface.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 08, 2008 @06:48PM (#23006410)
      If you want good audio quality, you are much better off looking into semi-pro music production cards.

      M-Audio, Terratec, ESI, Ego Sys. (Not EMU though. ;)

      Aside from better A/D and D/A and so forth, Creative's cards tend to screw with the dynamics and frequency responses. Don't ask me why.

      Get a used M-Audio AP 2496, a standard starter card for home studio musicians, and you will be amazed at the difference.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by ThePhilips ( 752041 )

      The sound card parameters are floating far above human capability to hear.

      At 120db signal-to-noise ratio, to hear the difference you need hi-fi components starting from $600, loudspeakers starting at $400 for piece and cables for $300. And even then you (as most others) probably wouldn't be able to tell difference.

      But there are some people (especially musicians) who can tell the difference, appreciate the better quality and actually willing to pay for it. (And note that price is generally high not be

      • by immcintosh ( 1089551 ) <slashdot.ianmcintosh@org> on Tuesday April 08, 2008 @07:42PM (#23006918) Homepage

        At 120db signal-to-noise ratio, to hear the difference you need hi-fi components starting from $600, loudspeakers starting at $400 for piece and cables for $300. And even then you (as most others) probably wouldn't be able to tell difference.
        There is no reason you should ever spend this much on cables. Ever. In fact, go ahead and do a blind test between Monster Cable and a coat hanger, and I defy you to be able to tell which is which. It's even extra-funny when people spend these kind of prices for digital cabling.
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by maxume ( 22995 )
          Damn it, I wanted to crack wise about digital cables.

          I was going to go for something like "If a good cable costs $300, how much does a good DIGITAL cable cost?".
          • by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 ) on Tuesday April 08, 2008 @10:27PM (#23008026)
            Well, actually with digital cables you do need to get a proper one, if you are doing a sufficient length. Now I say proper, not good, because what matters is impedance. Digital audio is pretty high frequency (as much as 25MHz for 192kHz stuff) and as such the cable acts like a wave guide as it does for video. Well, like with video it is a 75-ohm coax cable that you need. So while you don't need anything pricey, you do need to make sure you don't just use any old cable for digital audio.
      • by turing_m ( 1030530 ) on Tuesday April 08, 2008 @08:00PM (#23007044)
        Don't forget the $480 wooden knobs, for that rich, warm sound.
    • I once plugged my studio monitors (aka really nice headphones) into my computer while gaming. You can tell the difference between good and bad audio if you have good speakers or monitors. Unfortunately, the audio became so clear that it was obvious the sound was synthesized or using looped samples. It actually detracted from my enjoyment of the game, so I went back to the $20 no-name speakers.

      It's kinda like how the switch from CRTs to LCDs made text razor-sharp, but it exaggerated the "jaggies" in gra

  • by 2TecTom ( 311314 ) on Tuesday April 08, 2008 @06:40PM (#23006348) Homepage Journal
    since we seem to be slashvertising, I vote for M-Audio:

    Audiophile, or []

    Gamer/Home Theatre []
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by VGPowerlord ( 621254 )
      I don't do audio work, but everyone I know who does serious audio work on a PC seems to have an M-Audio Audiophile card of some sort.
  • by Kenrod ( 188428 ) on Tuesday April 08, 2008 @06:43PM (#23006364)
    It must be press release Tuesday at Slashdot.
  • It's a PCI device that requires a bridge chip to work on PCI Express ... but there's no PCI version to be found, unlike its more expensive D2X cousin (which lacks front-panel connectors). Bah. One of the reasons for me to buy a nicer soundcard is to take the load off my aging CPU.
  • So, the current list of half-decent cards to choose from is:

    Creative X-Fi (PCI, $60+)
    Auzentech Prelude (PCI, uses the X-Fi chip, but should be better, but $180+)
    Asus Xonar DX (PCIExpress 1x, $90)
    Asus Xonar D2X (PCI, $200)

    The X-Fi cards are nice, but not worth the price. I'm looking for some Linux support. I'm looking to hook it up to a digital 5.1 set of speakers and a headset on the front-audio of my case. I play 1st-person shooter games, so good DirectX support is required.

    I currently have an X-Fi, with
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by enoz ( 1181117 )
      The Auzentech cards do not support "Dolby Dolby Live" or "DTS Interactive" under Linux. Source: Auzentech FAQ [].

      That means if you are using multichannel audio from a non-DVD source, such as a game, you will be stuck with using the ol' spaghetti mess of analogue cables.

      AFAICT the Creative X-Fi doesn't do realtime digital encoding at all.

      I can only hope that ASUS provides support by the way of linux drivers, but, considering their lacklustre driver support for all their other hardware I have purchased, I'm not
  • by Godji ( 957148 ) on Tuesday April 08, 2008 @07:00PM (#23006522) Homepage
    Please don't mod me funny, I'm asking quite seriously. If it runs with open source drivers, does 7.1 and has hardware mixing so that I don't have to bother with dmix, I'm buying it tomorrow morning.
  • by rsmith-mac ( 639075 ) on Tuesday April 08, 2008 @07:08PM (#23006610)

    The article's author has posted a short follow up piece [] after someone pointed out that some of the RightMark Audio Analyzer results don't make any sense. The X-Fi's frequency response is all over the place in the loopback (and only the loopback) tests, which causes most of the RMAA results to come in far lower than they should, or indeed where they did score when the card was initially reviewed a couple of years ago. The Xonar still does well regardless, but the RMAA results are effectively useless right now. I suspect the issue is that they used Vista; RMAA is a very peculiar program and has not been certified for use on Vista in all cases because of the UAA screwing with things.

    Also, for the sake of being pedantic, the X-Fi they used isn't Creative's best (hence the submission title is wrong); the Xtreme Music was the low-end model and was discontinued last year, to be replaced by the Xtreme Gamer. The Elite Pro is still Creative's highest-end X-Fi.

  • Why bother (Score:3, Funny)

    by hack slash ( 1064002 ) on Tuesday April 08, 2008 @07:09PM (#23006618)
    Improved sound quality? What for? I've got tinnitus you insensitive clod.
  • Works 99.999% awesome with ALSA (then again, I haven't experienced the rare problem that the cs46xx driver had in a very long time, so maybe I should say 100%), has hardware mixing (though I am using PulseAudio now; perhaps in the future soundcard manufacturers would be so nice as to have per-mixer-input volumes in hardware---not that it really matters), and generally Just Works.

    Of course, maybe if sound starts to recover from the crap Creative has done to it (maintaining OpenAL is the only halfway-decent t
  • by Marrow ( 195242 ) on Tuesday April 08, 2008 @07:17PM (#23006686)
    Why shouldn't all decoding be moved out to the speakers? Just send them binary data and let
    the analog rendering be done as far from the noisy elements of the computer as possible.

    • So move them from the noisy components of a computer, and build it right on top of the noisy components of a power amplifier?
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by enoz ( 1181117 )
        Last time I checked, amplifiers didn't have 100 million transistors operating up to Gigahertz pumping out EMF.

        Anyway I agree with the GP (is the Parent a troll?).

        If you have a digital source you may as well keep the signal digital for as long as possible because as soon as you go through a DAC you will start introducing noice into the equation.

        Digital Receivers (amps) take a digital input such as PCM or AC3, decode, and pump the output to speakers. And they sound great.
  • by guidryp ( 702488 ) on Tuesday April 08, 2008 @07:19PM (#23006698)
    I like good sound and I haven't bought a sound card in 6 years or so (Nforce came out with very good integrated sound). Since then I run a single optical cable from my motherboard to my AV receiver; PERFECT sound. Even the HP at work driving my headphones from analog sounds great.

    I really see zero need to get a soundcard these days.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Hackeron ( 704093 )
      If you have a good quality digital pre-amp that's all fine - but it's cheaper to buy a good analog sound card and quality powered speakers or an analog pre-amp.

      I wanted good quality stereo sound so I bought the Behringer B2031A speakers for around £200 and the M-Audio Revolution 5.1 for about £40 which together is cheaper than just the digital preamp capable of this kind of quality.

      What pre-amp and speakers do you have?
      • by guidryp ( 702488 ) on Tuesday April 08, 2008 @08:36PM (#23007328)
        I have a Denon AVR 1802 and Paradigm Monitor 3 speakers, nothing terrible expensive. It is not just quality but versatility that AV receiver gives you. Not only that, but I have guaranteed clean path to my reciever, the music stays digital over optical right to my receiver. I don't want to ever go back to analog sound coming out of a computer. Interference is a thing of the past.
  • It's been over 15 years of web advertizing for 16 bit soundcards. Didn't 24 bit 192khz sound cards already beat Creative at something?

  • Once you get around Creative's patents it is not hard to make a better card for less. Since Creative has a history of spectacularly bad sound cards.
  • As mac desktops don't come with PCI slots it is very difficult to find a better sound card than the onboard crap for Mac, only ones available are USB and Firewire and I haven't found an external one with sufficient sound quality.

    Since this is PCI Express, does anyone know if Asus will be releasing Mac drivers?
  • High quality 'Chocolate Rain' at a price that won't make me turn my head the other way!
  • by dontmakemethink ( 1186169 ) on Tuesday April 08, 2008 @07:44PM (#23006938)
    I'm familiar with Cirrus and Burr-Brown (Texas Instruments) converter chips as being among the best in professional audio devices, in fact the best Protools interfaces (HD192) use Cirrus chips. But having an S/N ratio of 123dB is moot when the analog circuitry is unshielded and housed inside a computer, which is EMI and RFI hell.

    The noise floor is going to be at least -66dB, so 57dB of dynamic range is lost to noise. That means the noise level is at least 724 times higher than the lowest discernable sound the card can process. If you're going to spend a penny to improve your computer's sound, it should go towards an external USB or Firewire device.

    And don't get me started on "computer speakers". Try this: knock on the sides of your speakers. That resonance is added to every sound emitted from your speakers. Think a better sound card is gonna help?

  • EAX emulation... (Score:3, Informative)

    by antdude ( 79039 ) on Tuesday April 08, 2008 @08:07PM (#23007098) Homepage Journal
    How much CPU does it use up like on an old Athlon 64 X2 4600+ 939 system with Windows XP Pro. SP2 (IE6.0 SP2; all updates)? The reason I bought an Audigy 2 ZS card was because of games that use EAX, especially v4.0.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Slashcrap ( 869349 )

      How much CPU does it use up like on an old Athlon 64 X2 4600+ 939 system with Windows XP Pro. SP2 (IE6.0 SP2; all updates)?
      Sorry, no idea. I have figures for an Athlon 64 X2 4600+ 939 system with Windows XP Pro. SP2 (IE6.0 SP2), but it's missing a few updates, so they wouldn't be of much use to you.
  • by Coolhand2120 ( 1001761 ) on Tuesday April 08, 2008 @09:37PM (#23007720)
    I've followed Creative Labs and the PC sound card evolution since the early 80's, before there was an ADLIB and I was trying to get my PC speaker to produce music. My first sound card was a Sound Blaster like a lot of people at the time. The card worked great, replaced ADLIB as the de facto standard, of which I never owned, and brought PC games into realistic sound reproduction.

    Fast forward 5 years, creative still dominates the market with their sound blaster offering and now there are a few competitors that claim 'sound blaster compatible' to work with existing games, still DOS games mind you. Most of these cards were fine replacements for the creative offering at the time, an ISA slot Sound Blaster 16 (which was stereo!), some were garbage, but most worked just like the creative card.

    Along comes windows95 and DirectX API to unify sound programming in games for windows! Yay, no more need for 'sound blaster compatible' any card with a functioning windows driver will work for any game. During over a decade of existence creative thus far has done nothing to make their sound card better than offer 'stereo' and a 16 bit ISA adapter to replace their original 8bit adapter. Now at this point the only 16bit card you've got in your system is the stupid creative SB LIVE!, or another competitor's card that might be PCI but otherwise the same.

    Everything is about to change though, a new company enters the scenes, Aurel. Right off the bat the Aureal sound card is obviously superior to every sound card on the market. They only have PCI cards and they boast something that no other card has had thus far, real time effect processor! Now you can have reverb and parametric EQ's and time delays and any sort of crazy effect you can dream up! AND IT REAL TIME! All the processing is done on the card, so no extra CPU overhead, multichannel in/multichannel out, multichannel SPDIF out, the friggin works, and this is going up against the sound blaster live which boasts ..... STEREO, minor multi out functionality and a 16 bit slot.

    This is where the story gets juicy and I'm sure quite a few people recall it. Creative backwards engineered or maybe just ripped off the processor design of the Audigy card, got sued for doing so, bought Aureal, stuck the almost EXACT same chip in their emuX series (Audigy) cards and haven't done a god damn thing since then and that was almost 10 years ago! All they seem to be able to do is make continuous copies of the chip Audigy designed almost a decade ago and sit on their asses while another company surpasses them in whatever the next PC sound evolution will be, then I guess they will buy them out and stop the innovation!
  • by Wolfier ( 94144 ) on Tuesday April 08, 2008 @11:54PM (#23008724)
    Neat! I look forward to the day when the electrolyte capacitors go the way of the Dodo.

"Conversion, fastidious Goddess, loves blood better than brick, and feasts most subtly on the human will." -- Virginia Woolf, "Mrs. Dalloway"