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So are there practical replacements for sound cards yet?

post #1 of 20
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So I like having a good sound source for my HD555's (I like how my sound card has those larger audio jacks so I don't need the adapter) but it seems like dedicated sound cards don't seem so hot anymore, as opposed to an external DAC which seems to be like a better solution, especially in the future, because:

-they don't use drivers (Asus still hasn't made Windows 8 drivers for their cards, and what if one day they stop making drivers? And what if a game is having an issue with your card and you don't even know it and neither do the devs since sound cards are so obscure and rare these days?)

-No chance of interference from other PC parts (not that is happens necessarily but still)

Yeah I lose EAX for old games but lots of people never liked it anyways, and maybe there is a software emulator by now? IDK

Thoughts on this?
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post #2 of 20
Not sure what you're asking or stating or what you want feedback on.

External DACs are the external option to soundcards. Yes. They have been for years. If you're asking are they good for gaming now? No, not particularly. If you're upset with sound card drivers look for custom drivers. Rarely ever a need to update a sound card driver unless you're having a problem. People are so used to updating drivers because of their graphics cards, but you don't need it for sound cards.
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post #3 of 20
For musical use, eventually you'll need an external DAC since there's a point where sound cards simply hit a wall. For gaming, I don't think there are any dedicated external DACs so sound cards are still an option.
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post #4 of 20
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Snowmen View Post

For musical use, eventually you'll need an external DAC since there's a point where sound cards simply hit a wall. For gaming, I don't think there are any dedicated external DACs so sound cards are still an option.

why would it make a difference if it was music or gaming? I don't care about gimmicky software if that's what you mean
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post #5 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Z Overlord View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by Snowmen View Post

For musical use, eventually you'll need an external DAC since there's a point where sound cards simply hit a wall. For gaming, I don't think there are any dedicated external DACs so sound cards are still an option.

why would it make a difference if it was music or gaming? I don't care about gimmicky software if that's what you mean

Soundcards are engineered to bring about certain sounds, especially in the mids, that tend to help gamers pick out footsteps easier. Not sure how it works really. I'm thinking it's less software related and more engineering/naturally equalized to be that way.

I really do wish I understood this phenomena better, but I don't. I'd love some Creative engineer to post why soundcards are great for gaming.

That's not to say external DACs are not usable for gaming. They're good and I know several games that, depending on the game and the soundcard, hear better directional cues than sound cards (like the DX).

The Xonar DX was just really bad for games like Left 4 Dead 2. Could barely pick out where things were coming from. With external DACs it was easier.
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post #6 of 20
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Simca View Post

Soundcards are engineered to bring about certain sounds, especially in the mids, that tend to help gamers pick out footsteps easier. Not sure how it works really. I'm thinking it's less software related and more engineering/naturally equalized to be that way.
I really do wish I understood this phenomena better, but I don't. I'd love some Creative engineer to post why soundcards are great for gaming.
That's not to say external DACs are not usable for gaming. They're good and I know several games that, depending on the game and the soundcard, hear better directional cues than sound cards (like the DX).
The Xonar DX was just really bad for games like Left 4 Dead 2. Could barely pick out where things were coming from. With external DACs it was easier.

I have a Xonar Essence STX, but I make sure I don't use any of those dumb profiles or weird settings (like the game profile) I hear footsteps fine

Also, do onboard sound still use some dumb control panel? I never understood why sound drivers needed some 3rd party sound control panel, like does MS not have those features in their control panels?

IDK 3rd party in things for system components and services just seems so wrong and out of place
Edited by Z Overlord - 8/24/12 at 7:45pm
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post #7 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Z Overlord View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by Simca View Post

Soundcards are engineered to bring about certain sounds, especially in the mids, that tend to help gamers pick out footsteps easier. Not sure how it works really. I'm thinking it's less software related and more engineering/naturally equalized to be that way.
I really do wish I understood this phenomena better, but I don't. I'd love some Creative engineer to post why soundcards are great for gaming.
That's not to say external DACs are not usable for gaming. They're good and I know several games that, depending on the game and the soundcard, hear better directional cues than sound cards (like the DX).
The Xonar DX was just really bad for games like Left 4 Dead 2. Could barely pick out where things were coming from. With external DACs it was easier.

I have a Xonar Essence STX, but I make sure I don't use any of those dumb profiles or weird settings (like the game profile) I hear footsteps fine

I agree. When I used a sound card, I hated the effects as I was absolutely sure they did nothing but create a crappy echoey effect and distort sound in an unpleasurable manner, but Creative was better than Asus as far as gaming went even with no software enhancements/disenhancements.
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post #8 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Z Overlord View Post

why would it make a difference if it was music or gaming? I don't care about gimmicky software if that's what you mean

"Gaming" sound cards are equalized to put the mids forward since that's where directional cues are. Most "audiophile" sound cards and most external DACs aim at a balanced sound (ie: Not putting a particular sound group forward). Most of the time, a dedicated "gaming" sound card will do great for gaming because of that but will be awful for music for the exact same reason. I meant that there weren't any "gaming" external DACs because well... Audiophiles use DACs (at least in the high-end, no sound card will come close to a 500$+ DAC) and gamers use sound cards since there isn't a market for "gaming" DACs and therefore no such products. That doesn't mean that an external DAC will be bad for gaming though. They're actually just as good or just a bit worst than a sound card because of their aim for a balanced sound. For that reason, the mids aren't covered by the bass nor are the highs put way forward, therefore taking all the place and putting the mids in the ditch.
Edited by Snowmen - 8/25/12 at 8:05am
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post #9 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Simca View Post

Soundcards are engineered to bring about certain sounds, especially in the mids, that tend to help gamers pick out footsteps easier. Not sure how it works really. I'm thinking it's less software related and more engineering/naturally equalized to be that way.
I really do wish I understood this phenomena better, but I don't. I'd love some Creative engineer to post why soundcards are great for gaming.

Just so we're clear, we're all talking about with all kinds of the effects like CMSS-3D, etc. off, right?

I'm really skeptical that anything of the sort like you're describing actually happens, even though it seems to be accepted by some as the reality. If that were true, wouldn't there be some effect on music or benchmarks (none of which have indicated anything like that happening)? I mean, if there were a difference in EQ, that would clearly be evidenced elsewhere, and it's not. Creative has some software hooks that detect whether sounds originate from a game or not? Yeah right. All of this is giving them way too much credit, especially considering the state of driver support over the years. Anyway, how would you even implement an algorithm or hardware to do as you suggest? You could do it in the steps relating to sounds being synthesized and mixed together, but do sound card drivers operate at that level? (not to mention, you think it's in hardware)

It doesn't add up. If somebody could demonstrate otherwise, then I'm all ears.
post #10 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by mikeaj View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by Simca View Post

Soundcards are engineered to bring about certain sounds, especially in the mids, that tend to help gamers pick out footsteps easier. Not sure how it works really. I'm thinking it's less software related and more engineering/naturally equalized to be that way.
I really do wish I understood this phenomena better, but I don't. I'd love some Creative engineer to post why soundcards are great for gaming.

Just so we're clear, we're all talking about with all kinds of the effects like CMSS-3D, etc. off, right?

I'm really skeptical that anything of the sort like you're describing actually happens, even though it seems to be accepted by some as the reality. If that were true, wouldn't there be some effect on music or benchmarks (none of which have indicated anything like that happening)? I mean, if there were a difference in EQ, that would clearly be evidenced elsewhere, and it's not. Creative has some software hooks that detect whether sounds originate from a game or not? Yeah right. All of this is giving them way too much credit, especially considering the state of driver support over the years. Anyway, how would you even implement an algorithm or hardware to do as you suggest? You could do it in the steps relating to sounds being synthesized and mixed together, but do sound card drivers operate at that level? (not to mention, you think it's in hardware)

It doesn't add up. If somebody could demonstrate otherwise, then I'm all ears.

That's fine and dandy, but still doesn't solve why certain cards are better than others for gaming.
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