Any point in geting a good soundcard?

Discussion in 'Hardware Discussion & Support' started by SeanPatrick, Jun 11, 2013.

  1. SeanPatrick

    SeanPatrick Member

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    I've been converting a lot of my mp3's into FLAC recently, since the purchase of some pretty high quality speakers ( PSB Image series, T5, B5's, C5 ) .. I've come to appreciate .WAV and FLAC recordings so much more at this point it's hard for me to go back and listen to MP3's, be it 128 or 320 bit.... Going further down this road, I know that there are some releases you can get in 24bit, 96khz .. Would I need a proper sound card to really take advantage of these? like a soundblaster Xfi or what have you? or will my GTX 680 do a decent enough job. I run HDMI not Analog so I'm not worried about DAC's at all. Under advanced properties of the Nvidia I've got it set to studio quality as is, 24bit, 192000hz - but I don't know if that setting actually allows for it, or if it doesn't really mean anything.
     
  2. Trusteft

    Trusteft HH's Asteroids' Dominator

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    All these numbers give me headaches.
    For a technical answer I will let someone else respond.

    For myself, I find the whole thing a bit too much elitism by some people. Modern onboard sound solutions are (most of them) very good. I find more important the selection of a good pair of headphones/speakers than sound card.
    But, that's me.
     
  3. SeanPatrick

    SeanPatrick Member

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    Well that's the thing, I've got the expensive speakers - now I'm just seeing if there's anything I can do to tweak the sound to make it even better. As I run all my movies / games / music off my HTPC, it would be worth investing a couple hundred if it made a difference. If it makes NO difference and is just a placebo then forget it. Also, I'm not actually running onboard sound atm, I'm using the 680 to carry both over HDMI.
     
  4. Trusteft

    Trusteft HH's Asteroids' Dominator

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    Short answer, I don't know. The last dedicated sound card I had was the very expensive for when it was released Soundblaster Fatal1ty something something something, with its own dedicated front panel connections etc.
    Was the sound coming out of it good? Yes, when there were no poping and crackling and driver issues. Was it better than onboard? Not sure since even before it I had only dedicated cards used but also the sound files used in games were of lower quality in the games released before it. Music too, in a way, since the mp3s I listened to before I got it rarely reached 128kbits when by the time I got the card I mostly used 256.

    I don't know how good the sound solution of the nvidia cards are. No idea. All I know is that my current motherboard (which is from 2008...), has from what I remember, better sound quality than my last SB card.

    Is it possible that modern dedicated soundcards are better, I guess so. To a level that matters/is noticeable to anyone not anal about it? Not sure.

    All I know is, I wouldn't buy one.
     
  5. niceguyrichy

    niceguyrichy c c c COFFEE

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    you primarily use speakers or headphones ?
     
  6. SeanPatrick

    SeanPatrick Member

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    Ok well I'll take that as a vote for not much point.
     
  7. SeanPatrick

    SeanPatrick Member

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    Speakers almost exclusively. Since I'm bitreaming to my AVR obviously I'm just sending the raw digital signal to it. I guess the question is whether the GPU is capable of bitstreaming 24/96 or not, or whether that's irrelevant as it's just sending the stream untouched anyways.
     
  8. Takaharu

    Takaharu Unus offa, unus iuguolo

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    If you can't hear that there is a distinct lack of quality, don't bother. Dedicated soundcards are more fitting for those who can already tell that they need to replace it.
    In a nutshell yes, soundcards (decent ones, anyway) make a noticeable difference to sound quality but only if you have the equipment for it and that you know that it's lacking.

    I have a dedicated soundcard in my PC because I heard a significant difference in sound quality between my old PC's onboard soundcard and my laptop's with the headphones that I had at the time. Otherwise I really wouldn't have bothered.

    In regards to converting your existing MP3s it won't do you any good, it's all ready in a compressed, lossy format. Think of it like putting stale bread in a vacuum-sealed container.
     
  9. SeanPatrick

    SeanPatrick Member

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    By converting I mean replacing. And as far as headphones go, I don't use them, so that's a non issue for me. What I HAVE found, is when I re - rip my cd's to FLAC ( as opposed to mp3 that I used to use ) of course the sound is much much better. Before I had these speakers I wouldn't have cared, and would have been hard pressed to tell the difference, but now that I DO and I CAN I can only surmise that if there is a difference to be had, IF being the operative word, then I'll hear them. I wouldn't have known how much better it sounded until I HEARD how much better it sounded, so why wouldn't there be a point " If I don't already know there's improvement to be had " ? That's me seeing your apple pie with ice cream, never having tried the pie WITH ice cream, and you saying well if you don't know what your missing you wont enjoy it anyways. Also I'm not using onboard sound, I'm using hdmi out from the 680 I have installed. Obviously if you are running analog from a soundcard, you will notice an immediate improvement as the DAC's from the soundcard are going to be way better then anything onboard. I'm not running analog though, I'm running HDMI, so there is nothing added to the sound when it's sent out to the AVR. I'm sending the pure version to the avr for digital processing. So again the question for me is whether or not the digital signal that's being sent without any processing from my 680 ( bitstream hdmi digital ) is being sent as well as it can for processing from my AVR. I'm more concerned about the highest quality - that being 24 / 96 - is being sent unmolested to the AVR.. if the 680 isn't capable of doing so then the soundcard is the better option. If it doesn't matter because there is no processing going on one way or the other - then I won't bother.

    I found this thread here: http://hardforum.com/showthread.php?t=1648732
    What they seem to be saying is what I was starting to lean towards, is that since I'm using digital out ( no processing on the part of my PC ) to my AVR which does all the processing, it doesn't make a difference. Analog - Yes soundcards make a huge difference, but digital, makes no difference at all - that's what I'm reading into it anyways.
     
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2013
  10. niceguyrichy

    niceguyrichy c c c COFFEE

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    majority still can't touch a quality dedicated sound card though, even on "good" mobo's


    if I understand the OP's most recent post correctly though, I don't think it makes any difference for the setup (I think) he's running :)
     
  11. Judas

    Judas Obvious Closet Brony Pony

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    If you are using a Digital connection, getting a sound card will make ZERO difference at all.. period.

    The only advantage a good quality sound card can give you over onboard digital or using HDMI from motherboard/Video card would be if you were stuck using ANALOG connections to connect things via RCA or 3.5mm jacks.

    If you stick to HDMI for example, it simply cannot be beat because the digital format remains 100% digital through the entire process of playing the digital audio, being transmitted to the receiver lossless and letting the DACs on the receivers do the work to transmit direct to the speakers.

    I've even see a pile of people pick up USB headphones and then figure if they buy a sound card it'd improve it.... (wacked logic there....)

    So in short:

    If you have ANALOG connection to headphones/speakers.. then a sound card could potentially make it worth while, PROVIDED you buy an expensive son of a bitch of a card. Otherwise it's totally pointless.
     
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  12. SeanPatrick

    SeanPatrick Member

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    This is the conclusion I pretty much reached as well. And since I'm not about to buy a new AVR with analog inputs to replace the AVR I just bought 6 months ago, That's That.
     
  13. rayagepj

    rayagepj New Member

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    if im not mistaken, it will enhance you audio quality.. especially if you are a gamer or else you love playing music etc.

    sound card + good motherboard would be a good = total =)

    i just set up main using Hi-Fi A55S3 biostar. so far so good!
     
  14. Judas

    Judas Obvious Closet Brony Pony

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    rayagepj... apparently you didn't read the content of this thread..

    Digital ~> Digital = DIGITALLY untouched.

    Unless you are using Analog... it's a complete waste. Specially if you are already using HDMI LPCM
     
  15. Takaharu

    Takaharu Unus offa, unus iuguolo

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    You should've stated "replacing" in the first place :p "Converting" implies that you are taking the MP3 and converting it.
    Using your analogy, if you have an apple pie and you think it's brilliant, why look for another brand of apple pie?

    I'd take Judas' answer.
     
  16. rayagepj

    rayagepj New Member

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    i guess you are right with that. For me it is always impossible to imagine how digital sound will get to your ears :p

    At the end its always analog, but in that case only on the last stage from the speakers. Thats why its also worth to use a good quality base system that is fair value like my recommendation. So you have more money to put on the speakers.

    THATs where you will really hear the difference (and feel it, if there is enough base) ;)
     
  17. Judas

    Judas Obvious Closet Brony Pony

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    the amp will be the only thing that actually will do any conversion of any time.

    So if it's like this

    Digital Bluray Disc ~> Digital HDMI Connection ~> Digital HDMI Receiver (using Receivers own DACS ~> Pure unconvertered, untouched and best possible signal and quality you can obtain and hear as only ONE analog conversation takes place.

    Most receivers and systems using any other system doesn't allow for that.

    If you go Digital blurays ~> DAC on Sound Card into Analog ~> Analog RCA/3.5mm (highly likely to experience anomalies injected into signal, exponentially increased the longer the cable is) ~> Into Receiver which will then DAC back into a Digital format (usually) at which point the Receiver will then ~> DAC back into analog output to speakers.

    Doesn't matter how high a quality your sound card and cables are short of working with isolated circuts and ultra highend equipment, the All digital path will destroy it.
     
  18. somran

    somran New Member

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    All the numbers and information are a little too much to read really :\ In my opinion, getting a good sound card would be a great idea!
     

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