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Need advice on a discrete sound card...

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
Hi, I'm new here and I've read about a thousand threads trying to make a decision. Still being undecided, I am looking for some advice directly

I have a motherboard with Realtek ACL892, and a set of Creative T7700 speakers. For their cost level, the T7700 have served me well and I don't have the budget to replace them at the moment with something significantly better (I'm thinking $500 level when I do).

However, that said, I have an old Audigy 2 ZS is a PCI card and my new motherboard has no PCI slots. Therefore, the old card is sitting in the old rig (and it still works!). I have attempted to get used to Realtek audio for almost a year now and I don't think I can stand it anymore. On a scale of one to ten, I'd put it around 5 and that is being generous. It suffices its purpose, but I know there is much better.

My ratio is about 50/50 music/gaming (sometimes listening to music while gaming!). I've read all about how Xonar's drivers and support can be terrible (save the 3rd party Unified drivers), but the DX does offer 7.1 channels and supposedly better music quality. Although people often talk about Creative's drivers, I used my Audigy card for ~10 years and never hiccuped on me once. It has survived three builds as a matter of fact, and never once did I have trouble with it at any time. The new Z/ZX/ZXR cards do not offer 7.1 channels, but my subwoofer claims, via a switch, to upmix from a 5.1 signal to 7.1 sound... whether that's true remains to be seen. That is to say: whether I have 7.1 or 5.1 channels isn't a deal breaker honestly. EAX isn't a deal breaker either since less and less games are using it these days as I understand it.

So with all that said, let me postulate a few questions. If I'm willing to lay down up to $250 (think ZXR level) on a card right now, how would you spend it? Upgrade my system with a Creative ZXR now and get the better speakers next year? Vice versa? Spend $80 on the Xonar DX and bank the rest for better speakers down the road?

Another option could be to save the money, buy a receiver and go digital out, in which case, kind of negates having a premium sound card doesn't it? (Granted, I've never done that before through a PC.)

Thanks so much for reading and any advice. I can give more information if required. I hope I covered everything.

Note: I never watch movies on the PC, and will sometimes watch a TV show on rare occasion. If I'm watching anything it's usually on YouTube. I rarely use headphones, but I have been eyeing the beyerdynamics DT 990 600 Ohm variety. I may splurge someday on them, but I'm dominantly using the 7.1 speakers right now. Thanks again.

Edit: Clarified post.
Edited by vandigeth - 2/2/13 at 8:05pm
post #2 of 11
I wont jump on your speaker problem as I am a 2.0 only kinda guy but I would like to recommend that you take a look at claro's cards it you are willing to put that kind of cash on the table they are not as talked about as some of the other guys but I have yet to play around with a better card. Please note these are just my opinions and when it comes to audio its only your ears that matter. thumb.gif
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post #3 of 11
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the reply, I had looked at the Claro series but they mostly appear to be PCI based with the exception of the eClaro. That said, the specs are good and I've seen generally good things from forum postings regarding the cards. Perhaps I should researched the eClaro further.

Correct me if I'm wrong about their PCIe offerings.
post #4 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by vandigeth View Post

Thanks for the reply, I had looked at the Claro series but they mostly appear to be PCI based with the exception of the eClaro. That said, the specs are good and I've seen generally good things from forum postings regarding the cards. Perhaps I should researched the eClaro further.

Correct me if I'm wrong about their PCIe offerings.

No you are correct that is the only one that they make for pcie atm.
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post #5 of 11
Hmmmmmmm

If you absolutely HAVE to have 5.1/7.1 then I would get a cheap sound card with optical out and a 5.1 receiver.
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post #6 of 11
Thread Starter 
I could be talked out of a 5.1/7.1 system. However, I do enjoy having the side and rear speakers for whatever they're worth. Thanks for the input. From everything I've read, most people tend to suggest the receiver. I've been looking at Denon receivers in particular. The last time I used 2.1 was in college and I didn't like it... however, they weren't great speakers admittedly.

If I were to convert to a 2.1/2.0 system, do you have a suggestion for under $500?
post #7 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by vandigeth View Post

I could be talked out of a 5.1/7.1 system. However, I do enjoy having the side and rear speakers for whatever they're worth. Thanks for the input. From everything I've read, most people tend to suggest the receiver. I've been looking at Denon receivers in particular. The last time I used 2.1 was in college and I didn't like it... however, they weren't great speakers admittedly.

If I were to convert to a 2.1/2.0 system, do you have a suggestion for under $500?

what would be your size limits if you went 2.0-2.1?
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post #8 of 11
Thread Starter 
I suppose this is where I really show my amateur knowledge of these things. If you mean physical size of the units, I'm completely flexible on that. I can rig it all to make it look nice in the room. The room is 15' x 12.5', so nothing monstrously big would be necessary. I can work with positioning the speakers and mounting them appropriately/running wire. I own my house so none of that is a concern.

If we're talking tweeter sizes etc, then I'm afraid I'm outside my field of expertise here. However, the same still applies that within reason I can make anything work.

Edit: By monstrously big I mean like live band speakers. Bookshelf speakers and those sizes are fine, possibly even slightly larger.
Edited by vandigeth - 2/2/13 at 8:46pm
post #9 of 11
Thread Starter 
My father used these in his band for several years, and would be crazy to use in a room this size: http://images03.olx.com/ui/1/75/57/f_376857_1.jpg

When I say monstrously big, that's what I'm referring to... sorry for the ambiguity.
post #10 of 11
I don't know the going rate on these http://www.m-audio.com/products/en_us/MAudioBX8D2New.html anymore (they were reasonable when I was looking a while back) but they are powered so you would not need to get into amps and such (very pricy in a short order). It has been a while since I have looked at powered speakers so I am a bit rusty on who is who but if this is what you are looking for I can brush up and see if I can come up with some good ones.
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