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Ricsim's guide to computer audio - Page 3

post #21 of 40
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by -iceblade^ View Post
thanks so much for this very helpful info.

what kind of headphones would you say would go well with the Xonar DX? for general use (movies, music, and gaming)
Grado SR60i's or SR80i's
Sennheiser HD280pro

I have not heard these personally, but reviews say these are excellent sounding. I don't really use headphones much but have heard that those are awesome for any type of listening.

A good but cheap headphone I would recommend is the 2XXL headphones, for $10.00 they are impressive little things.

Unfortunately, that is one area I am not very versed on. I would say better quality headphones would be superior to any gaming headphones.
Edited by ricsim78 - 2/4/10 at 4:19pm
     
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post #22 of 40
Thread Starter 
Receivers:

For any serious music listening, computer or not, a good receiver is needed. That is, unless you have deep pockets and want to get a component system with a DAC, amps, etc. Hope you have a few grand laying around for that!

Here are the top 4 recommendations for receivers.
Denon, Pioneer, Onkyo, Yamaha. All are good and have their pluses and minuses.

Onkyo: Good all around sound, features, price. Uses Audessey for auto setup. Not as tweakable as other brands. I would say best all around, I love mine! Onkyo is usually rated closer to the reported watts per channel than other brands when tested using equipment. Known to have a lively but neutral sound, so will work better with the widest amount of speaker choices.
(I currently own and use an Onkyo SR-706 and it is amazing)

Denon: Some prefer Denon sound to other brands. Pricier per comparative unit. More tweak-able but much more difficult user interface to navigate and figure out. Controller is usually the biggest complaint. Very close to Onkyo as far as specs compared to actual output. Also uses Audessey for auto setup.

Pioneer: Good but more front-orientated sound (usually, the front channels are cleaner than the surrounds) , pricier for the Elite line, lower lines usually do not compare to other brands in features or sound quality. Notorious for exaggerated specs for watts per channels. Uses custom MCACC auto setup.
(I own and used a VSX-1019 for these tests.)

Yamaha: Most amount of DSP (surround modes), known to produce a bright sound (Klipsch speakers plus Yamaha is usually a big no-no. Bright speakers plus bright sound = too bright, listening fatigue possible). YPAO auto setup (custom, not as standardized as Audessey.) Again, notorious exaggerated watts per channel specs.

A good unit from any of the above will serve you for a long time, go with the brand that has the features you want in the price range you want. All have strengths and minuses.

Other choices:

Sony, Aiwa, Kenwood, Marantz, Sherwood, Technics, Teac, Panasonic, etc.

These are also choices available.

Marantz is also made by Denon, but the Denon will be better in almost every way and cost slightly more.

Sherwood is hit or miss, sound is reportedly good on some units, but will pale when compared to The "BIG 4" in the above post.

Sony: Great feature set and good prices for amount of features, nothing else. Unless you buy the extreme high end units, it will pale when compared to the BIG 4.

Harmon Karden: Great sound, the sound quality will compare to BIG 4 (sometimes even beat them, subjectively) but units cost more, are rated lower wattage (not much of a difference, few decibels at most) and usually will not have as many features for comparative units from the BIG 4. Preferable to any other brand listed below though. That is why it is not part of a BIG 5. I would rather have one from Onkyo, Pioneer, or Denon though (personally I am not a fan of Yamaha).

These units may have good features and can be had for dirt cheap, but you are not going to have the reliability, sound quality, and features of the BIG 4.

Technics: Devision of Panasonic. My dad has a "higher" (read: more expensive) Technics than my older Pioneer VSX-516K. The sound quality is absolutely horrible compared to the Pioneer! I gave him my old receiver, it sounded like he got a speaker upgrade.

These receivers work, they can have nice features. But Denon, Pioneer, Yamaha, and Onkyo are better bets and considered the high end units. These may even sound excellent, but I would prefer one of the Big 4.

I would not consider these junk or low quality, they are just not as high quality as the top 4.
Edited by ricsim78 - 2/5/10 at 10:55am
     
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post #23 of 40
A lot of work there,,, excellent guide! +rep

I vote STICKY!
post #24 of 40
Thread Starter 
Sound card purchasing tips:

Here are the things to look for:

Budget: How much do you have to spend? If you have $200.00, that does not mean you need to buy a $200.00 card. On the other hand, while that $230.00 Xonar Essence STX may be perfect for your needs, can you afford it? Budget is our limit, either static or artificial. If you cannot afford what you want, sit on it. You may or not be happy with the cheaper card you buy instead and it will constantly bother you that you did not get what you wanted. Save up, in the long run it will be worth it!

Available slots: You need to look inside your computer and determine what slots are available. It does no good to buy a sound card when you do not have the right slot to put it in, or no room to do so. It simply won't work! Will it interfere with other cards inside? This is just as important as the budget.

Your needs: What will you be doing with your sound card? If you are a professional musician, you will have different needs than someone who just wants to make their games sound better. You need to look at cards that match the type of uses you want out of your card.

Connectivity: Will you be using analog or digital? Do you need HDMI to your receiver or TV? This is also very important, because you need the correct hookup for your setup.

Operating system: You using Linux? Windows XP, Windows 98? Some sound cards work better in Vista and 7, some in XP. The Xfi works much better in XP and even sounds better than it does in Vista or 7. Some cards will not work in Linux, others will. Do your research, it is always best to use a card designed for your OS. This helps to eliminate the amount of grief you have to go through to run a sound card.

Features: Do you want to tailor the sound, do you need ASIO for low latency recording, do you need 24 Bit, EAX 5.0? Make sure the sound card has the features you want, yet still stays in your budget and has the connectivity you need for your setup.

Sound output device: Some have built in headphone amps, this is a non issue unless you are a headphone user. Do you think you need the most expensive, best sounding sound card for cheesy Dell speakers? Let me answer that: NO! If you are using digital hookups, would it be good to use the Xfi? Let me answer that too, NO!

Final thoughts: Do your research, see what others are saying, note problems, do your homework. The more you research before you buy, the better the sound card will be for you.
Edited by ricsim78 - 2/5/10 at 11:04am
     
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post #25 of 40
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bahlzeron View Post
Should retest the B-enspirer with the HT-OMEGA CLARO drivers... they work the best.

Unless that's what ya already did.
I would have done that, but a lot of people would have no idea you could even do that and does not always work for everyone. Vast majority of people probably use the drivers on the installation CD's.

I wanted to use the latest driver for each sound card with the idea to report of any shortcomings or problems you would come across. The HT Omega Claro drivers would likely work best and sound better, but a lot more would be using the drivers made for the card. You can use Daniel K drivers for the Audigy and Xfi, etc. But, I wanted to test the cards as they were intended.

Good idea though for sure and thanks for your input. That Bluegears is a great little card.
     
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post #26 of 40
from what i reading....

about asus stx, and d2 the there is a different in dts connect thing(dts interactive, dts neopc)
wich d2 can do, stx can't

if i may ask....

about dts neo pc > is it can be enjoyed via analog 2.1 pc/multimedia speaker or headset that plugged into soundcard ?



this thing makes me consider about, stx or d2 that i'm gonna choose to use....
(i love more movies, than music tough)
(from what i read stx, d2 about movies or movie, so i tough maybe these feature makes them differ)

in my country stx more cheaper then d2x...

if its must use receiver to enjoy dts, ddl feature, so i'm going for stx

i use 2.1 multimeda speaker and headphone...(don't use receiver << it's poisonous thing, can cost 1 or maybe mor pc rig >.<)
Edited by sugiik - 2/4/10 at 7:03pm
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post #27 of 40
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by sugiik View Post
from what i reading....

about asus stx, and d2 the there is a different in dts connect thing(dts interactive, dts neopc)
wich d2 can do, stx can't

if i may ask....

about dts neo pc > is it can be enjoyed via analog 2.1 pc/multimedia speaker or headset that plugged into soundcard ?



this thing makes me consider about, stx or d2 that i'm gonna choose to use....
(i love more movies, than music tough)
(from what i read stx, d2 about movies or movie, so i tough maybe these feature makes them differ)

in my country stx more cheaper then d2x...

if its must use receiver to enjoy dts, ddl feature, so i'm going for stx

i use 2.1 multimeda speaker and headphone...(don't use receiver << it's poisonous thing, can cost 1 or maybe mor pc rig >.<)
DTS and Dolby Digital Live can either be passed through (via HDMI, Analog, or Optical/Coax) to an encoder, or processed through the card itself. In other words, it is either decoded or encoded.

DTS is only encoded through the Optical (either Coax or Toslink). When you turn on the DTS (or Dolby Digital Live) encoding, a receiver hooked up via digital, coax, or HDMI will read that it is receiving a DTS (or Dolby Digital) signal.

If hooked up via analog, the receiver becomes the encoder. In other words the receiver will encode the 2 channel audio and convert it to whatever channel the DSP tells it to. For example, Dolby Prologic II turns stereo sources to 5.1 sound. It encodes a center, left front, right front, surround right, surround left, and sub output. Material already encoded in Prologic II will play correctly because it has the information needed by the DSP already in it, telling it what channel to use at what time.


Analog is still best for a few reasons. Without using Analog, you are bypassing the DAC (Digital to analog converter) that is on your sound card. This makes it pointless to have an expensive card with a good DAC because you are not even using it. It is also the only way to get true 7.1 sound (HDMI, Coax, and Toslink are all limited to 5.1 due to bandwidth limitations). Then again, if the DAC in your headphone amp, receiver, or external DAC is superior to the one inside of your soundcard, it might be optimal to use HDMI, Coax, or Toslink.

If you really need encoding, get that D2X. In my opinion, the Xonar Essence would be the better buy. For headphone usage, it is better than the D2X because it has an amplified headphone output.
Edited by ricsim78 - 2/4/10 at 8:01pm
     
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post #28 of 40
Thread Starter 
Oh, and here is a "trick" to get awesome sound if you do not want to get an external sound card.

You will need a receiver with HDMI inputs. Select your video card's audio as the default audio device (for example when i go to Windows 7 and go to start > control panel > sound, Realtek HDMI output is selected as my default device. A Nvidia card has similar drivers.

The beautiful thing is once I updated the driver (to the Realtek High Definition codec driver for ATI on the Realtek web site) it is capable of outputting 24 Bit, 48 Khz sound. All that, and it compatible with Dolby Digital, Master HD, True HD, etc. It basically uses whatever my receiver is capable of. Sounds awesome too.

You cannot tweak the sound too much, but it is driver free, works flawlessly, and sounds excellent. That and it is more compatible with surround formats than any sound card I have ever seen.
Edited by ricsim78 - 2/5/10 at 10:38am
     
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post #29 of 40
so stx more better for direct analog use....
(2.1 speaker/ headphone)

about ur trick, i've done it(but i don't really look about what it offers, just set my fr pc's so it can be heared trough his lcdtv's speaker)
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post #30 of 40
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by sugiik View Post
so stx more better for direct analog use....
(2.1 speaker/ headphone)

about ur trick, i've done it(but i don't really look about what it offers, just set my fr pc's so it can be heared trough his lcdtv's speaker)
It is better for headphone use, equal in direct analog.

Using your video card as a sound card has many advantages:
  • No driver control panel, will not slow down slower (or low memory) systems.
  • It can set itself to use all the surround formats and sampling rates compatible with your receiver.
  • Only 1 cable to run both audio and video.
  • Sounds awesome.
  • Eliminates the need to purchase a sound card.

I decided to post it because I am sure some people are not aware you can do that.

BTW: I updated the first post to have quicker access to all parts of my guide. More to come so stay tuned
     
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