bit-tech.net

Sub-£100 Gaming Sound Card Reviews

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SlowMotionSuicide 8th April 2010, 10:34 Quote
Great timing with the article, I'm just about to upgrate from on-board sound. Thanks B-T!

Edit:// Just found decent offer on Asus DX, getting me one of those.
okenobi 8th April 2010, 10:51 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by SlowMotionSuicide
Edit:// Just found decent offer on Asus DX, getting me one of those.

Do share!

Great article. I would've liked more coverage including music based cards, but nice to have something to read all the same. Thanks guys.
Claave 8th April 2010, 11:05 Quote
^^ The clue was in the article name, tbh, but if there's more demand for music-based sound cards, we can look into that later.
neonplanet40 8th April 2010, 11:11 Quote
Why no Auzentech cards? :s
SchizoFrog 8th April 2010, 11:20 Quote
I'm curious to know why the article uses pictures for an alternative (and previously deleted) product rather than the product commented on. That is not the X-Fi Titanium. The X-Fi Titanium does not have a game port on the back of it and is also a PCi-E x1 componant.

http://uk.store.creative.com/products/product.aspx?catid=1&pid=17927

It would also be nice to have the review linked to a section about speakers and at what level these cards become applicable. If you are using sub £50 2.1/5.1 speakers, would you notice the difference between the cards or even todays standard HD Audio found on current Motherboards?
bob 8th April 2010, 11:21 Quote
Anybody know how the xonar ds would compare to a sound blaster audigy se on a 2.1 setup? I fancy an upgrade :)
SchizoFrog 8th April 2010, 11:31 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by bob
Anybody know how the xonar ds would compare to a sound blaster audigy se on a 2.1 setup? I fancy an upgrade :)

Personally, as soundcards are about the only item to use PCi-E x1 sockets I would go for this, if you can't stretch for the more expensive cards:

Creative Labs SB X-Fi Xtreme Audio PCI-Express x1 (New Version)
http://www.scan.co.uk/Products/Creative-Labs-SB-X-Fi-Xtreme-Audio-PCI-Express-x1-%28New-Version%29

But depending on the quality of your speakers, you may not notice any difference from your onboard audio.
Flibblebot 8th April 2010, 11:39 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by SchizoFrog
It would also be nice to have the review linked to a section about speakers and at what level these cards become applicable. If you are using sub £50 2.1/5.1 speakers, would you notice the difference between the cards or even todays standard HD Audio found on current Motherboards?
That's exactly what I was going to say: are sound cards really needed when most (if not all) motherboards come with onboard audio? I'd love to see a comparison of onboard vs add-on audio cards, perhaps using an oscilloscope as well how it actually sounds.

More importantly, given the fact that an add-on soundcard is probably another £100 to a PC build, is it still a valid purchase (given the relative cheapness of most PC speakers) or would that £100 be better spent getting a better graphics card?
impar 8th April 2010, 11:43 Quote
Greetings!

Still remember when gaming sound cards used to give better FPS in games.
Now... it just seems a waste.
Xir 8th April 2010, 11:48 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Flibblebot
... or would that £100 be better spent getting a better graphics card?

If you've not reached a top-level graphics cards yet, I'd prefer to spend the money on the graphics, and go with onboard audio :D
bitesreality 8th April 2010, 11:56 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by SchizoFrog
I'm curious to know why the article uses pictures for an alternative (and previously deleted) product rather than the product commented on. That is not the X-Fi Titanium. The X-Fi Titanium does not have a game port on the back of it and is also a PCi-E x1 componant.

http://uk.store.creative.com/products/product.aspx?catid=1&pid=17927

It would also be nice to have the review linked to a section about speakers and at what level these cards become applicable. If you are using sub £50 2.1/5.1 speakers, would you notice the difference between the cards or even todays standard HD Audio found on current Motherboards?

Damn, I got excited about that game port, got on old joystick which I could start to use again, was thinking of firing up some x-wing vs tie fighter.

It would be good to know if its worth getting a sound card for the relatively cheap 5.1 speakers I have, not sure I would notice any difference from the onboard sound.

Also does this sentence in the article seems wrong?

If you're into films, you'll probably want surround sound support from your sound card – but your card still has to support the standard. If you're into films, you'll probably want surround sound support, which most sound cards (including the three we look at on these pages) support in either analogue or digital form.
smc8788 8th April 2010, 12:03 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by impar
Greetings!

Still remember when gaming sound cards used to give better FPS in games.
Now... it just seems a waste.

"Gaming" soundcards are a bit of a misnomer. I have a Xonar DX and it has dramatically improved the music quality over onboard sound, while I haven't really noticed the difference when it comes to gaming TBH. I would much rather spend an extra £50 on a sound card than say getting a 5850 over a GTX 275 (based on the prices when I built my system).

Personally, I think that sub-£100 sound cards are the only ones worth buying unless you want gimmicky features. If you're going to spend over £100 you might as well buy a dedicated DAC.
SlowMotionSuicide 8th April 2010, 12:11 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by okenobi
Do share!

it's on www.verkkokauppa.com, though i doubt it'll be much of use to UK guys ;)
Quote:
But depending on the quality of your speakers, you may not notice any difference from your onboard audio.

I'll be pairing the card with Grado SR60i headphones, those should be decent enough heaphones to notice difference over the on-board audio.
SchizoFrog 8th April 2010, 12:14 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by bitesreality
Also does this sentence in the article seems wrong?

If you're into films, you'll probably want surround sound support from your sound card – but your card still has to support the standard. If you're into films, you'll probably want surround sound support, which most sound cards (including the three we look at on these pages) support in either analogue or digital form.

What I think Bit-Tech are getting at is that when it comes to movies there are various standards used when it come to digital audio. THX, DTS, and Dolby Digital. If you want the best sound from your PC then you need to make sure that your soundcard (as well as your speakers) are certified to support these formats, or at least have an ability to emulate them.
tonyd223 8th April 2010, 12:39 Quote
bought my X-FI xtrememusic to play BF2 - the sound positioning with headphones was brilliant and certainly helped me rack up the points... but that was a long time ago, and my X-fi is currently sat on a shelf... until I thought I could put it into my media pc; but that sends all it's audio via HDMI...

Maybe I'll ebay it - can't be bothered to but the adapter to give me front panel audio
SchizoFrog 8th April 2010, 12:47 Quote
tonyd223 reminds me of a good point in regards to graphics cards. When I first bought my Palit 9600GT 'Sonic' GPU I was a little baffled by it having an optical in included in the back panel. Then I realised that I could run my optical out from the soundcard, loop it straight in to the back of the GPU and then out again via HDMI... While this may not be suitable for everyone, it was definately an unexpected bonus of my GPU purchase and something I'll be looking for in future GPU products.
Evildead666 8th April 2010, 13:41 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by SchizoFrog
Quote:
Originally Posted by bitesreality
Also does this sentence in the article seems wrong?

If you're into films, you'll probably want surround sound support from your sound card – but your card still has to support the standard. If you're into films, you'll probably want surround sound support, which most sound cards (including the three we look at on these pages) support in either analogue or digital form.

What I think Bit-Tech are getting at is that when it comes to movies there are various standards used when it come to digital audio. THX, DTS, and Dolby Digital. If you want the best sound from your PC then you need to make sure that your soundcard (as well as your speakers) are certified to support these formats, or at least have an ability to emulate them.

THX isn't an audio standard.
Its an audio experience grade. You get THX certified speakers and stuff......it just means it qualifies to Lucasfilm (or something) standards for playback.
Evildead666 8th April 2010, 13:44 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by SchizoFrog
tonyd223 reminds me of a good point in regards to graphics cards. When I first bought my Palit 9600GT 'Sonic' GPU I was a little baffled by it having an optical in included in the back panel. Then I realised that I could run my optical out from the soundcard, loop it straight in to the back of the GPU and then out again via HDMI... While this may not be suitable for everyone, it was definately an unexpected bonus of my GPU purchase and something I'll be looking for in future GPU products.

All the ATi 4x and 5x series have UVD which allows the playback of audio and video straight from the HDMI output of the card.

Something I'll be looking into soon, since I plan to migrate to a uATX baord and case, but with two dual slot graphics cards.
That won't leave any room for expansion, and its either the onbaord sound, or the full HDMI from the 5850, and a new HDMI capable amp....they're pretty cheap really, and do DTS-HD and TrueHD decoding for the most part....
WildThing 8th April 2010, 13:53 Quote
Nice article. I liked the bit about the anatomy of the sound card, some useful info there. Cheers.
Psy-UK 8th April 2010, 14:13 Quote
I've used X-FI soundcards before but the drivers are absolute rubbish. Sounds randomnly cut out, high pitched noises start playing, and this is across multiple OSes and systems! So I finally got myself an Asus DS in February and it's worked perfectly. No hiccups, and it sounds fantastic.
HandMadeAndroid 8th April 2010, 14:51 Quote
I've got an Asus Xoner D2 and the sound quality is fantastic, mind blowing with headphones and the surround sound settings activated!
Gonzalo-Gonads 8th April 2010, 15:31 Quote
I'd love an article about music centred soundcards, like the asus essence ST/STX and the xonar D2/D2X, maybe mentioning sound from both speakers (high end I hope) and headphones, as the high end soundcards have in built headphone amps. Pretttttyyy please ;-)
TheLostSwede 8th April 2010, 16:16 Quote
The port on the X-Fi card is not for a joystick, is for an external breakout box that comes with the high-end model...
TheLostSwede 8th April 2010, 16:17 Quote
Oh, and Creative fixed the X-Fi drivers ages ago, not had any problems for well over a year.
SchizoFrog 8th April 2010, 16:28 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheLostSwede
The port on the X-Fi card is not for a joystick, is for an external breakout box that comes with the high-end model...

The port is a Midi/Game socket so we are both right... about the port anyway. However, the card featured is not the X-Fi Titanium. The card featured is the X-Fi Elite, I believe and seems to be discontinued (the Elite Pro comes with the XRAM, external X-Fi Console and Remote as shown in the link below).

http://www.scan.co.uk/Products/Creative-Sound-Blaster-X-Fi-Elite-Pro-with-X-Fi-Console-with-A-D

Quote:
Originally Posted by TheLostSwede
Oh, and Creative fixed the X-Fi drivers ages ago, not had any problems for well over a year.

I agree about the Drivers. I had major issues with Drivers for my Audigy 2ZS in Vista 32bit and 64bit and that was one of the reasons (among many) that I stayed with XP for so long. However, since the advent of Windows 7 I have had no such issues and recently upgraded to 64bit and have still had no issues what so ever.
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