dedicated audio card really needed?

Discussion in 'Hardware Discussion & Support' started by Neshi, Nov 19, 2009.

  1. Neshi

    Neshi HH's cuddly Blue Bear

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    Just got curious after reading on many fora that motherboards have such good on-board audio, that a dedicated audio card isn't really needed.

    Do you agree with this hypothesis, or is it utterly ridiculous what they are saying?

    As for myself I think it is a good thing to relieve the motherboard of as much as possible, so a dedicated card will only be a benefit. And I think it can do a better job then on-board audio. especially for 5.1 or 7.1 sets. Not really sure about 2.0 or 2.1 sets.

    Although the Z2300 I've got here are THX certified, and I doubt on-board audio will be able to handle this well, and a dedicated card is needed for this.
     
  2. Judas

    Judas Obvious Closet Brony Pony

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    Yes and no..

    Personally i'm still a realtek pusher.... the audio quality is great, and so is the capabilities.

    Specially considering vista/win7's use of sound.

    However i personally think Via's, ADI, etc and so forths solutions are total crap.... i've had issues with those all and they really don't provide any form of updates or anything for them. Realtek provides a reference driver and updates them frequently, even expanding their capabilities while doing so.

    When vista launched, Realtek and ATI were the first to have a driver not only before launch but @ launch they worked great...

    Same with Win7.

    So far the only reason i see anyone getting a better card is usually do to higher quality professional solutions such as audio mixing and mastering, Sampling, and mic/audio recording.

    Even then, some people in that area "don't" really need anything much better as if they go all digital... the sound card/onboard audio isn't doing much anyways.. just passthrough.
     
  3. Neshi

    Neshi HH's cuddly Blue Bear

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    so what are you saying? Yes to a dedicated sound card, or yes to onboard audio?
     
  4. DJ BIG T

    DJ BIG T DH FaN BoY

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    well it depends what your using it for...gaming or mixing and sampling it all depends what your going to use...
     
  5. Neshi

    Neshi HH's cuddly Blue Bear

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    me personally am using my computer to watch movies, listen to music, play games. And I like good audio, so I use dedicated. But I was asking, not for myself but to discuss this, as I read so much about it on forums.

    the conclusion I can make here is that those blatantly saying dedicated is as good as onboard are just wrong.
     
  6. Judas

    Judas Obvious Closet Brony Pony

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    I'd welcome any audio phile to come to one of my customers houses and with the ALC 1200 Realtek Onboard audio vs Azeuntech pci-ex decated audio, and tell the difference in anything.

    And i state once again, when it comes to digital audio, wouldn't matter what you have.
     
  7. dj_stick

    dj_stick Apple Fanboy?

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    The difference will be quite audible to anyone with slightly trained ears if the speaker system is decent (no computer/multimedia sets), the source material is good (commercial CD, DVD-A - no MP3s) and the room is suitably treated/laid out, and also that the cabling is decent
    pretty much, though a dedicated interface will tend to have better latency performance for professional purposes
     
  8. JRosenfeld

    JRosenfeld New Member

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    My Dell XPS 630i came with RealTek HD ALC888 chip. Sound quality was OK, but I found the control panel very limited, so installed my old Audigy 2 card from previous PC and its applications (EAX, mixer, equaliser, etc.) which give wider range of options. Sound quality, to my ears, is also somewhat better. I have Altec Lansing ADA995 5.1 speakers, old but good enough for music editing and casual listening. For serious listening I use my hi fi system (set up in a different room).

    (maybe the Realtek HD control panel has been improved in the past couple of years, don't know).
     
  9. Tipstaff

    Tipstaff Well-Known Member

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    I have to agree with Judas. If your onboard audio is a Realtek HD chip, then no, you "shouldn't" need a dedicated audio card.. or at least won't have a need to go rush out for one. Even then it's a matter of what "extra" stuff you need beyond what the onboard audio doesn't offer you. For instance some motherboards come with a Realtek HD audio chip, but have basic back panel audio headers (speaker, mic, line in/out). If you need coax/optical out, for instance, then you will want a dedicated card. Realtek is also the only company who puts an effort into their audio drivers. For instance when Crysis came out their drivers were causing stuttering, but 1 release later, and it was fixed. Can any of the other audio companies say that? Nope.

    Audio solutions from Sigmatel, ADI, VIA, Conexant... they are OK for everyday use, but suck at anything beyond that. Plus, take note of the order I listed them, because that is their ranking in my mind. As for gaming on them.. forget it. Slow downs, stuttering, improper Dolby overlaying, echoing, improper overlay of effects... I've seen, or rather heard it all with those cards. They are also the slowest companies to put out drivers, if at all (Sigmatel doesn't even publicly give out drivers, rather leaving it to manufacturers to release the drivers for them... if ever). When they do put drivers out, however, it is a significant improvement, but still nowhere as good as Realteks.
     
  10. Neshi

    Neshi HH's cuddly Blue Bear

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    thanks. I guess I can skip a soundcard on my next build :)
     
  11. xor_2

    xor_2 New Member

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    not so fast ;)

    Your Z2300 only have analog input so U will be going to connect it to sound cards analog output which is poor quality :x

    Yes, most people say sound is "OK" but they don't know what they are saying :bleh: How can someone say anything about sound cards having no possibility to compare their "OK" integrated codec to normal sound card? :confused:

    Cheap Audigy SE will have much better sound than any Realtek HD and in addition to that it have EAX4 :taste: But if U have funds go for some Audigy2ZS (preferably Platinum or better Audigy4PRO) and use KX drivers for utltimate sound quality and DSP possibilities :drool:

    Integrated codecs are for people that don't concern about sound quality a bit...
     
  12. RoyBatty

    RoyBatty Well-Known Member

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    When I bought the Xonar DX card after using the P5Q Deluxe integrated AD2000B for a while I could hear the sound quality difference. Less static noise and the music is more clear and distinctive - the AD2000B sounded was like the instruments were melted together into one... noise :) That is with M-Audio StudioPro3 speakers, playing some orchestral music from original CDs or lossless files.
     
  13. Neshi

    Neshi HH's cuddly Blue Bear

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    I guess it's really a personal thing then.
    Like I said, at the moment I'm using the Z2300 together with an Audigy 2 ZS, and I really love the sound. I couldn't imagine having something worse sound quality wise.

    I guess I can try it with my setup. Take the soundcard out and try the onboard with these speakers. I will do that tomorrow and report back here ^^
     
  14. xor_2

    xor_2 New Member

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    well said :rolleyes:
    Integrated codecs and low quality dedicated sound cards make a lot of "mistakes" reproducing sound so depth and details are lost :uhoh:

    Even drivers does sometimes worsen quality like oryginal Creative drivers for Vista (and Mojave 7 :lol:) which does sound worse than oryginal drivers on XP and much worse than KX...

    edit:// (19:05)
    so U do have normal and decent sound card you litthe devil... :evil:
    from A2ZS there would be little improvement if U go for A2ZS Platinum Pro or better Audigy4PRO but doubt it would be audible on those speakers anyway, only on high quality headphones od hi-fi audiophile setup :rolleyes:
    A2ZS have great support so changing it wouldn't be smart move :duh:
     
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2009
  15. Neshi

    Neshi HH's cuddly Blue Bear

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    I've tried those KX drivers, but somehow they didn't work for me..
     
  16. xor_2

    xor_2 New Member

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    hmmm, what OS are U using?
    I tried it with XP Home, Vista Home Basic x86, Windows 7 7264 x64 and Windows 7 RTM x86 and only in Win7 x86 and worked quite fine :)

    Olny on XP I had to manually install driver cause setup didn't ...
     
  17. Neshi

    Neshi HH's cuddly Blue Bear

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    win 7 x64
    right now I use the official drivers of Creative, and it works quite fine. Although when I build a new pc I will use the ones of PAX.
     
  18. Zelig

    Zelig Well-Known Member

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    Pretty much. The best PC speakers are discontinued (Creative S750, Klipsch Ultra), and they were borderline for needing anything above onboard sound.

    I'm not so picky on source material, I'm something of an audiophile, and can just barely pick out the lack of transparency at ~192 kbps. At about that bitrate and above, if you're trying to differentiate between the source material and the compressed material it's not above general audio quality anymore, it's about determining where the particular encoder tends to make mistakes, and trying to pick up those sounds is songs.

    Yeah, except the DACs in consumer 5.1 sound cards are much better than the DACs in consumer 5.1 speakers.

    This is a common myth.

    Any PC speaker marketed as "digital" is in fact analog, driven by an analog amplifier, with analog data going from the amp to the speakers. The only difference is that the DACs are in the amp box instead of on the soundcard, and tend to be of worse quality than DACs on consumer soundcards.

    Also, THX certification for multimedia speakers is something of a joke. Not that THX certified speakers are necessarily bad, but it doesn't guarantee any actual quality, like THX certification for real speakers.
     
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2009
  19. dj_stick

    dj_stick Apple Fanboy?

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    yeah, I'm using a pair of studio monitors (Alesise M! Active 620), and I can clearly tell the difference between the onboard interface on my mac (A realtek chip) and my Digi MBox 2 Pro interface, however I can't running both through my Logitech X-530s, they just lack the definition

    so basically what I'm saying is it doesn't matter what interface you use if you're only using multimedia speakers, or a quality digital receiver (think high-end home-theatre), but if you're using a semi-decent home theatre rig, you're going to want to use a decent analogue soundcard, like the Auzentech range, and keep the audio in the analogue domain
     
  20. Tipstaff

    Tipstaff Well-Known Member

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    As I said, anything that includes Sigmatel, ADI, VIA, or Conexant are "ok" for everyday use. That means basic sound. Anything beyond that, such as listening to music, watching movies, or playing games... they ALL suck. High CPU overhead, crappy sound processing.. you name it. Realteks HD chips, on the other hand, are actually a very decent, and it does a good job for all the above mentioned scenarios. Plus their audio get better as new drivers are put out. They aren't perfect, but neither are dedicated cards either, especially the cheap ones.

    Also, if you have a board that has the connectors you want, such as optical/coax out, and it's running a Realtek HD chip, then you don't really need to go out, and purchase a dedicated sound card, but you pay extra for a board that has those connectors on it. If, however, you need those connectors, and are running a board with any of those crappy sound chips I mentioned, then yes, get yourself a good dedicated card. As you can already attest to with your ADI AD2000b onboard audio, they suck.

    @Neshi - Older Audigy cards, to me, get a bum rap. Creatives latest drivers for the Audigy cards are very good, even the Windows 7 ones, and to be honest I prefer my Audigy and Audigy 2 over my X-Fi Xtreme Gamer. I just can't tell the difference between them when running on their latest drivers. Do yourself a favor, stick with your Audigy 2 ZS, and hold off buying a new card, because what you have is still a decent card.
     

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