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Help choosing which sound card to buy

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
This is something that I have been postponing for the longest time and I decided to finally try using a sound card. Looking at the market place there's a Creative X-Fi Titanium http://www.overclock.net/t/1359364/creative-x-fi-titanium-pcie and a Creative Labs Recon3D http://www.overclock.net/t/1360522/creative-labs-recon3d-pcie-sound-card. Which is better of the two? Or if you have other suggestions, please post them too biggrin.gif
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post #2 of 10
Steer clear of the Recon3D, it's just total garbage.
The X-Fi Titanium is okay, though I'd personally suggest a Asus Xonar DX as for $80 on Amazon, it's quite the most balanced card you can get for under $100.

Creative's new Z series is also pretty good. Has a pretty decent on-board headphone amp, if you're into headphones that is.
post #3 of 10
I really liked my Asus Xonar D2X, got good reviews eg (http://www.guru3d.com/articles_pages/asus_xonar_d2x_sound_card_review,1.html)

One thing to consider though is that nVidia GPUs since the 200 series and presumably the last few generations of ATI cards can do full lossless 8 channel HDMI audio out. Since its a digital signal, the quality of the pass-through device is irrelevant.

If you had a capable card then you could put the money towards an AV amp and use the DACs in that instead of a sound card. You won't get analogue inputs this way though but an AV amp is more futureproof and useful than a sound card in my opinion as it can connect to your Blu-Ray, DVD player, Xbox, PS3, iPod etc and you need an amplifier to drive speakers from a sound card anyway so why not kill 2 birds with one stone!
 
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post #4 of 10
The Creative X-fi Titanium is a solid card got in my HTPC thumb.gif
 
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post #5 of 10
Thread Starter 
Thanks for your input everyone. I think I will go with the X-fi and try it just for kicks. I can discern some changes in audio quality but I don't have audiophile ears so I am not sure if I really want to splurge on more expensive cards. I think I will eventually try it out but for now this $40 card will suffice. My wallet agrees too lol.
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post #6 of 10
Ok, first things first i hate to burst your bubble but all sound cards are terrible. A off board dedicated dac will sound far better than the likes of any creative or asus soundcard. first of all because there is a lot less interference from other components when the dac is off board. and for some reason no soundcard designer has ever really been able to make one sound as good as a real dedicated dac ( you see a ton more off board dacs than soundcards in audiophile systems)
post #7 of 10
Really anything in the Asus Xonar range is very very good. The Xonar STX is pretty much as good as it gets well worth the money it sounds amazing.
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post #8 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by Spriggs View Post

Ok, first things first i hate to burst your bubble but all sound cards are terrible. A off board dedicated dac will sound far better than the likes of any creative or asus soundcard. first of all because there is a lot less interference from other components when the dac is off board. and for some reason no soundcard designer has ever really been able to make one sound as good as a real dedicated dac ( you see a ton more off board dacs than soundcards in audiophile systems)

Yep, one more reason to go straight to hdmi audio with an av amp IMO. Or if you've got money to burn something like (http://www.native-instruments.com/en/products/producer/komplete-audio-6/?type=99) but that's not you're typical sound card!

Ahh, $40 budget... You'll not get an an av amp for that, next time perhaps! The x-fi will be better than on-board and their EAX hardware is good for sound positioning in games but don't think it's as good for music as the xonars. Depends what you want it for I guess
 
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post #9 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by Spriggs View Post

Ok, first things first i hate to burst your bubble but all sound cards are terrible. A off board dedicated dac will sound far better than the likes of any creative or asus soundcard. first of all because there is a lot less interference from other components when the dac is off board. and for some reason no soundcard designer has ever really been able to make one sound as good as a real dedicated dac ( you see a ton more off board dacs than soundcards in audiophile systems)

This is true, but it also costs more.
Ever occured to you that not everyone (no offense) don't earn $500 a day, every single day for every single month of the year?

Schiit Magni + Modi = $200.

Better than a Xonar DX? Yes, no doubt. But for $120 more.
post #10 of 10
The one benefit of having a sound card are the DSP's such as Dolby Headphone or CMS3D or equivalent for surround in games/movies. I would only get an external DAC if you just listened to music most of the time. Now if you are looking for a decent budget sound card, the Asus DG or the Asus DGX are solid options. They both have Dolby Headphone and a decent headphone amp built in. The only difference between the two is that the DG is PCI and the DGX is PCIE.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16829132020 - Asus DG $29.99 Free shipping

http://www.amazon.com/Xonar-DGX-PCI-E-GX2-5-Engine/dp/B007TMZ1BK/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1361004499&sr=8-1&keywords=asus+dgx - Asus DGX 39.99

Hope this helps!
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