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Audio for under $150

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
Running onboard audio with comfortable (but apparently bad quality) Razer Carcharias. Feels like I'm missing out on a lot of audio action by reading a lot of sound card testimonials... been wanting to give it a shot for a while now.

My budget is $150. I can spend it all.. but it would be better if I didn't. It doesn't really matter to me if it does, but I would prefer if the things I get aren't on the 980x level.. rather the 920 level. Something nice I can get for my money.

Sound card and headphones. $150
I don't listen to music. At all. I only play games... BC2 in general, maybe a bunch of other mixed games.

Teach me, audiophile gods!
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post #2 of 13
since you play alot of BC2 i advice you to stay away from Xonar Cards

For a sound card get the X-Fi Titanium , and for headpnones get the AD700 with the stupid Zalman Clip-on mic (dont buy headset)

But i think that those will cost you a little bit extra $ , but i assure you it really worth , i say also anything down this set is pointless
    
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post #3 of 13
920 is still a high level, I'd say the budget of that will be around $300.

For $150, get the AD700, for sound card, get Xonar DX.
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post #4 of 13
BC2? Toss the Xonar idea out if you're extremely competitive (or at least attempt to be) and use headphones. Any Xonar would make it feel like you're half deaf most of the time. I run with Ultrasone PRO550 headphones and an X-Fi Titanium HD. I've tried the same headphone with the Xonar Essence STX and it was just...crap.

As one of my friends describes it with his Xonar D1 and Sennheiser HD202 headphones: "It all sounds like they're coming from the same area. How do you know where they are?" This was the same reaction when I had the Xonar D1 and whenever I attempt to play with the Essence STX. I felt like I could no longer be competitive with the Xonar cards because I could no longer flank as "wisely" as I was able to on the X-Fi.

My answer to that? Get an X-Fi and some decent headphones. If this is your primary game, then everything else is horrible in comparison.
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post #5 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by RallyMaster;14239383 
BC2? Toss the Xonar idea out if you're extremely competitive (or at least attempt to be) and use headphones. Any Xonar would make it feel like you're half deaf most of the time. I run with Ultrasone PRO550 headphones and an X-Fi Titanium HD. I've tried the same headphone with the Xonar Essence STX and it was just...crap.

As one of my friends describes it with his Xonar D1 and Sennheiser HD202 headphones: "It all sounds like they're coming from the same area. How do you know where they are?" This was the same reaction when I had the Xonar D1 and whenever I attempt to play with the Essence STX. I felt like I could no longer be competitive with the Xonar cards because I could no longer flank as "wisely" as I was able to on the X-Fi.

My answer to that? Get an X-Fi and some decent headphones. If this is your primary game, then everything else is horrible in comparison.

Not sure if serious.jpg

Eax is dead so there is no reason to recommend an x-fi over a asus card Ive had both and the asus smokes it for sound quality and i have no problems with positional audio in bc2 which is not done by eax to begin with thats done by the sound api of the game so you might not have your sound system right, asus also emulates eax5 pretty well, in fact vista/7 emulates all eax whether asus/creative, unless your on xp u will not see hardware eax , on another note definitely get the audio technica ad700 great cans, xfi cards are overpriced junk imo especially when you have heard a proper asus xonar, if xfi is a must check out the x meridian if u can find one but probaly wont make your meager budget.

and just for reassurance this has been covered alot:
http://www.overclock.net/8675725-post10.html
Edited by Ironcobra - 7/16/11 at 5:00pm
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post #6 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ironcobra;14239466 
Not sure if serious.jpg

Eax is dead so there is no reason to recommend an x-fi over a asus card Ive had both and the asus smokes it for sound quality and i have no problems with positional audio in bc2, on another note definitely get the audio technica ad700 great cans, xfi cards are overpriced junk imo especially when you have heard a proper asus xonar, if xfi is a must check out the x meridian if u can find one but probaly wont make your meager budget.

Blah blah blah. I speak from experience. Your source is...oh wait, you don't have a source other than hearsay.

EAX is dead. I'll admit to that. That's fine with me. X-Fi having SUBSTANTIALLY better positioning in the one game that I actually play on a regular basis than the Xonar is great for me. Have fun getting wrecked in game.
Edited by RallyMaster - 7/16/11 at 4:54pm
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post #7 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by RallyMaster;14239486 
Blah blah blah. I speak from experience. Your source is...oh wait, you don't have a source other than hearsay.

EAX is dead. I'll admit to that. That's fine with me. X-Fi having SUBSTANTIALLY better positioning in the one game that I actually play on a regular basis than the Xonar is great for me. Have fun getting wrecked in game.

My source is owning a few xfi and now on an asus xonar d2 as stated....which is a mountain better for sound, the asus has a much better dac which equals better sound. You have both u should no better, there is no eax for bc2 so i dont see how a creative card could be better with inferior hardware? In xp would be the only benefit of having a creative card for gaming although alchemy is a touch better then gx for older games.

Here is the blog written by the bad company staff about the sound in bc2, the processing is done by the cpu and the audio card is just the carrier so im not sure about the sound differences between the d1 and d2 but it shouldnt matter when all processing for that game is done on the cpu
also make sure u are setting in game audio to hifi it seems to have much better positioning then headphones or war tapes
http://blogs.battlefield.ea.com/battlefield_bad_company/archive/2010/01/22/an-audiophile-s-guide-to-bf-bc2-full.aspx##
Edited by Ironcobra - 7/16/11 at 5:53pm
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post #8 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ironcobra;14239690 
My source is owning a few xfi and now on an asus xonar d2 as stated....which is a mountain better for sound, the asus has a much better dac which equals better sound. You have both u should no better, there is no eax for bc2 so i dont see how a creative card could be better with inferior hardware? In xp would be the only benefit of having a creative card for gaming although alchemy is a touch better then gx for older games.

Here is the blog written by the bad company staff about the sound in bc2, the processing is done by the cpu and the audio card is just the carrier so im not sure about the sound differences between the d1 and d2 but it shouldnt matter when all processing for that game is done on the cpu
also make sure u are setting in game audio to hifi it seems to have much better positioning then headphones or war tapes
http://blogs.battlefield.ea.com/battlefield_bad_company/archive/2010/01/22/an-audiophile-s-guide-to-bf-bc2-full.aspx##

I've read that article and I am also using HiFi in-game. While some digital processing is indeed done on the CPU, it is an undeniable FACT that the digital audio path feeds into the digital signal processor on both cards. I have also come to the conclusion, based on my testing with the XtremeMusic, D1, Titanium HD and Essence STX, that the X-Fi CA20K1/CA20K2 DSP is more optimized to take the audio cues from BC2 than the CMedia OxygenHD DSPs that are found on Xonar cards.

The OxygenHD is an inferior DSP for BC2 (notice I said for BC2 so don't pin "RallyMaster said the X-Fi is better for ALL gaming than Xonars" on me). It's not as powerful as the X-Fi because it can't seem to project the sound stage, positional cues and multiple audio sources accurately in BC2.

I will agree that for the most part (exception being the Titanium HD), the Xonar cards beat the X-Fi cards in sound quality. It was pretty clear as soon as I listened to the Xonar D1 that it was better than my modded XtremeMusic. I kept both cards, the XtremeMusic and Xonar D1, in my computer for comparison and it was clear the D1 won in just about everything except BC2. It was a handicap to play that game with the D1. A year later, I moved up to the Titanium HD which really filled in the holes that the XtremeMusic had as well as the BC2 hole that the Xonar D1 left. Two birds, one stone.

I bought the Essence STX for comparison. It was a tough fight between the two best cards because they all have their redeeming qualities and in almost everything but BC2, the two are neck and neck. I listen to my Sennheiser HD600 via RCA output from the STX to my Little Dot MKII amplifier. I listen to my Ultrasone PRO 550 straight from the headphone jack on the back of the TiHD. I really do believe that at the TiHD and STX level, the difference in multimedia experience is negligible. Most people that buy either card will be happy with the sound quality. The differences ultimately lie in the driver experience and the feature requirements from the user.
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post #9 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by RallyMaster;14240342 
I've read that article and I am also using HiFi in-game. While some digital processing is indeed done on the CPU, it is an undeniable FACT that the digital audio path feeds into the digital signal processor on both cards. I have also come to the conclusion, based on my testing with the XtremeMusic, D1, Titanium HD and Essence STX, that the X-Fi CA20K1/CA20K2 DSP is more optimized to take the audio cues from BC2 than the CMedia OxygenHD DSPs that are found on Xonar cards.

The OxygenHD is an inferior DSP for BC2 (notice I said for BC2 so don't pin "RallyMaster said the X-Fi is better for ALL gaming than Xonars" on me). It's not as powerful as the X-Fi because it can't seem to project the sound stage, positional cues and multiple audio sources accurately in BC2.

I will agree that for the most part (exception being the Titanium HD), the Xonar cards beat the X-Fi cards in sound quality. It was pretty clear as soon as I listened to the Xonar D1 that it was better than my modded XtremeMusic. I kept both cards, the XtremeMusic and Xonar D1, in my computer for comparison and it was clear the D1 won in just about everything except BC2. It was a handicap to play that game with the D1. A year later, I moved up to the Titanium HD which really filled in the holes that the XtremeMusic had as well as the BC2 hole that the Xonar D1 left. Two birds, one stone.

I bought the Essence STX for comparison. It was a tough fight between the two best cards because they all have their redeeming qualities and in almost everything but BC2, the two are neck and neck. I listen to my Sennheiser HD600 via RCA output from the STX to my Little Dot MKII amplifier. I listen to my Ultrasone PRO 550 straight from the headphone jack on the back of the TiHD. I really do believe that at the TiHD and STX level, the difference in multimedia experience is negligible. Most people that buy either card will be happy with the sound quality. The differences ultimately lie in the driver experience and the feature requirements from the user.

Understandable, but i was reading that d1 owners were reporting alot lower quality for sound positioning than the d2, but as an owner of just the d2 i cannot speak for the d1 or stx(isnt the stx only good for music and can amp) so maybe the d2 is better for bc2 then d1/stx, what dsp modes are you using in game? I remember a guide for setting up headphones on bc2 for asus/creative cards a while ago that was really helpful, it takes some finagling to get the setup right for the asus cards, but imo the soundpositioning is great on my card, i can spin in place and it is correct, now stalker clear sky thats the only game ive had complete problems with:mad:
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post #10 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ironcobra;14240458 
Understandable, but i was reading that d1 owners were reporting alot lower quality for sound positioning than the d2, but as an owner of just the d2 i cannot speak for the d1 or stx(isnt the stx only good for music and can amp) so maybe the d2 is better for bc2 then d1/stx, what dsp modes are you using in game? I remember a guide for setting up headphones on bc2 for asus/creative cards a while ago that was really helpful, it takes some finagling to get the setup right for the asus cards, but imo the soundpositioning is great on my card, i can spin in place and it is correct, now stalker clear sky thats the only game ive had complete problems with:mad:

The D1, D2, STX, and essentially the entire Xonar line is using a somewhat modified or even the same DSP as the CMedia OxygenHD (CMI8788 or a lower model number). I have also tried a D2X and an HT Omega Claro Halo (owned by my friend), an original CMI8788 card, in BC2. The capabilities in positioning are the same in BC2, unfortunately. I generally don't use DSP effects in games or at all (no SVN, Dolby Headphone or otherwise) but that applies for both cards. The X-Fi is always in Audio Creation mode with Bit-Matched Playback turned on at 44.1 kHz. I tested both cards in game in their purest form without modifications of any kind to arrive at my conclusion.

I am only telling the truth. I've spent a lot of time playing BC2 and listening to music on the four cards I've mentioned in this thread.
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