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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
So hello, it's been a long time since I've been around and needed some advice here.

I've been running a Xonar DX with Polk Audio Signature S15 monitors hooked up to my old Logitech Z2300 sub (replaced the default satellites) via RCA cables and from there to my Xonar DX via a 3.5mm jack.

The sound quality has been great although the internal amp from the sub handles the crossover so I feel like I'm not getting the full potential of low frequencies from my S15 monitors. My sound card also just broke recently so I'm looking to replace it and get the best out of my current setup.

First of all, should I continue using my monitors hooked to my sub and then to my soundcard or is an option with Left/Right + Sub jacks on the card will net me better sound quality, disregarding the crossover from the internal amp of the sub.

I'm torn between Asus Xonar AE, Strix Raid DLX, Essence STX II or Creative SB AE-5+, AE-7, and AE-9. I don't care about effects and all, just want the best sound I can with the least money spent.

The Essence STX II has Left/Right RCA jacks, the AE9 has that + a sub jack. The rest of the soundcards are normal line-outs, in which I'll have to depend on sub's amp for the crossover.
 

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I think your going to have to do a better job describing your current speaker configuration before anyone can help you.
 

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
It's a typical 2.1 setup with default satellites replaced with bookshelf speakers.

This one is directly connected to Xonar DX.
https://www.amazon.com/Logitech-Z-2300-THX-Certified-Speaker-Subwoofer/dp/B0002SQ2P2

These are connected to the sub above. Sub's internal amp handles the crossover atm.
https://www.amazon.com/Polk-Signature-S15-technology-Detachable/dp/B01LVWWZS0

If I plug my passsive monitors directly to a soundcard, then the soundcard will handle the crossover and I'm asking if that will provide me better quality. And if so, which card should I get?
 

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Why are your calling your stereo speakers "monitors"? That only serves to confuse the issue here.

If you configure the bass redirect properly from your sound card then the experience will be about the same. Probably better to just leaving it as is and let the sub manage the bass redirect. If you use your sound card instead you could end up with bass overlap which usually sounds pretty bad.
 

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Discussion Starter #6 (Edited)
Z2300's sub is pretty good actually but the crossover is at 120Hz which is pretty high. Therefore I'm not getting 100% from my passive bookshelves, and I plan to replace the sub down the line.

Which soundcard would you guys recommend me for my current setup, and would I experience any improvement in sound quality coming from the DX? I'm torn between the AE7 and the Strix Raid DLX atm because of the high quality DACs.
 

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Overclock the World
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Z2300's sub is pretty good actually but the crossover is at 120Hz which is pretty high. Therefore I'm not getting 100% from my passive bookshelves, and I plan to replace the sub down the line.

Which soundcard would you guys recommend me for my current setup, and would I experience any improvement in sound quality coming from the DX? I'm leaning towards the AE7 atm.
Can you explain to me why you keep focusing on 160-300$ PCIe soundcards ?
I struggle to understand their benefits

Each of the listed doesn't seem like comes with a good DAC, and even IF - then it's build in a noise environment (PCIe)
non of these seem to have any DSP integrated while i can read excepting crossover filters and different signal filtering (it doesn't matter of the type)
And at the end we do expect high but also clean current from a tiny card in an already noisy envoirement

I am confused,
All 3 points contradict as in to why you'd even want to consider anything PCIe related
Maybe because the 2.1 setup was more of a "passive" setup to begin with , soo considering amplification was never a thing needed to be
Else i really can't explain why you'd not consider that stronger drive current is more sensitive to noise, while PCIe is absolutely the opposite of a clean location for such such units

Might be just me who doesn't get it :thinking:
 

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Overclock the World
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EDIT: Double Post bug
 

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Z2300's sub is pretty good actually but the crossover is at 120Hz which is pretty high.

so it's a speaker, lol.

a sound card is a waste of money in your situation.
 

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So the sub doesn't have any adjustment to it's cross over? Better to use the sound card then if you have the option but your sound setup is totally whack and needs to be redone anyway.
 

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I'd rather not have an external dac/amp, but I'm open to suggestions.
But that's exactly it's work, no ?
A dac, how good it might end up - it's weakest link remains the setup around it, and so also it's enclosure to filter EMI
An AMP, as much stress as you want from it, depends on it's EMI filtering and clean current to begin with
(where PCIe and USB are more of an issue than DC/AC powering)
A DSP for any type of signal processing should get a clean signal and also runs of DC or AC power. Many exotic setups use standalone DSPs for their type of requirements so also is cross-splitting a signal for surround systems or even entry level dolby atmos systems.

About the crossover issue
It's a user step and mostly only used in cars, to manually split and filter the signal range to specific frequencies for the speakers.
BUT - this is not the case on home theaters or desktops (well it depends)
Passive speakers to what i see these Polk Audio units are - need splitting , you are correct
But active speakers don't ~ as they only replicate what they can replicate

What likely will be your main issue, is the sub talking into your passive speakers freq range, which if not Phase tuned correctly will either muddy or at worst cancel or echo'ish the sound
Borrowing a sub from a tuned system is mostly the issue,
it's not that you will need specific filtering ~ is what initially wanted to say
As these are not active speakers it's good to have it - but if the sub overtakes the filtering, there is not much you can do except replace the sub for a non tuned standalone unit

The only benefit we can get from a soundcard, is cleaner driving for your Passive Speakers and maaybe if you go with exotic units (down bellow) also specific filtering by DSP chips ~ XMOS chips for example, also used on CHORD audio gear
(although CHORDs end result is a stack of many tiny improvements, starting wrong the world clock)

Normally you want to do 3 steps in one unit, you'd have to consider spending money ~ where ideally PowerAMPs for the Passive Speakers are external AMP units - which take over 2-3 working steps
(Amplification, DSP, maaybe room & phase filtering ~ up to priceclass)
But on a one chain solution, you have to look for 3-4 workflows without cheaping on one of them
(Dig->An, AMP, DSP)
Gladly phase correction on digital devices is easy, while on standalone HW units not so easy and pricy

First of all, should I continue using my monitors hooked to my sub and then to my soundcard or is an option with Left/Right + Sub jacks on the card will net me better sound quality, disregarding the crossover from the internal amp of the sub.
There is something you didn't mention
Z2300 Sub
Passive Speakers
Where is your "converter" controller card for the SUB and how did you get any type of audio in there ?

The SUB has a crossover filter and so do your speakers internally @ 2500Hz , between the mid-rage & tweeter
~ if their specs is to believe
While i can't find any indication of the drive voltage they require to function, except for 8Ω @ around 20W , while they where not clear again
Edit. Decided to go with the Creative SB AE7.
That's some quite fast conclusion considering the thread was up for ~2hours
Don't you want help at the end ?
I feel like the main post lacked of information :eek:
 

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Discussion Starter #15 (Edited)
No one was posting helpful comments, hence I had to cut to the chase with AE7 comment. Sorry about that. Also need to order something soon because my PC can't process sound atm.

By replacing the Xonar DX I'll probably have clearer sound from the passive speakers but the bass will stay muddy, just like you said. I'm open to any suggestions. I'm willing to do anything/buy anything at this point if it's the best solution below 300$. If there's a decent DAC + standalone sub I can use with my current monitors point me in the right direction.


Ps. Would these solve my crossover problem?
https://www.parts-express.com/harrison-labs-fmod-inline-crossover-pair-50-hz-low-pass-rca--266-250
 

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No one was posting helpful comments, hence I had to cut to the chase with AE7 comment. Sorry about that. Also need to order something soon because my PC can't process sound atm.

By replacing the Xonar DX I'll probably have clearer sound from the passive speakers but the bass will stay muddy, just like you said. I'm open to any suggestions. I don't know much about audio, signals etc. I'm willing to do anything/buy anything at this point if it's the best solution below 300$. If there's a decent DAC + standalone sub I can use with my current monitors point me in the right direction.
I can offer you 4 good dacs, but i don't know anything about your setup :eek:

I have no idea how you even input audio to the sub - what did you build or use, as audio passes through the "remote" VGA looking port
Passive Speakers need a Matching AMP and so impedance and voltage plays a big role
I couldn't find anything that mentiones drive voltage on your speakers, only by spec rec impedance while also without hard limits

See, taking for example something from iFI Audio by ARM
Even they have many specific products for specific usecases
When you want to do everything from one device it either is low quality or you overspend ~ likely the first part when you want too much from one unit
Aka , we need to know exactly how you drive them, to give good resolves ~ we lack of information

Passive speakers you can drive with strong DAC/AMP units - while often only an AMP with crossfilters will do you better
As boards internal dacs aren't thaat horrible
A pcie card which doesn't make a big difference (both are inside the EMI creating PC) won't give you the change you want to have for 300$ , not even for 100$ unless it's away from the PC
And then for 100$ bucks you get a decent DAC, without an AMP and stay back to your old resolve = no resolve

Soo please let us know how you actually input sound, the steps - as neither the passive speakers nor the sub has any Line IN

Again, you can drive the speakers from DAC/AMPs like iFi Audio (specific with XMOS filter chips) or S.M.S.L DACs which are also amazing and cheap
But yet a dac is a dac, and not the resolve - you need to either drive the passive speakers or let the sub drive them
And if you move away from the sub aka get a good desktop audio solution, you will need to add a middle splitting unit to filter crosstalk and work with phase soo they aren't canceling each out

At the end, give us more information and we can recommend specific stuff
Non of the mentioned PCIe devices will improve anything - or in a subtle difference of 2-5% , which is not worth anything 3 digit $
 

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This are 50Hz low pass filters
If i understand how you handle this is - that you drive your passive speakers from the Speaker AMP
Which may or may not be weak
If you put them before your speakers, you will kill everything that comes after 50Hz


This is what you are looking for , but rather on a 75Hz unit
A High-Pass , will pass only the "high" signal and filter the low
A Low-Pass will only let the "low" pass :)

Unless your audio setup works different, i think this is what you DON'T want
You might only want this thing, if your subwoofer doesn'T have a good filter and you want only frequency under 50hz
Just reality shows, close to every sub has a Low Pass filter ~ soo useless right now
 

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Discussion Starter #18 (Edited)
I want anything below 50Hz to come from the sub, rest from the passive speakers. By the way they are powered by the internal amp of the sub that is present. 25 Watt per channel, 8 ohm impedance.
Thanks for the PCIe input tho.
 

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I want anything below 50Hz to come from the sub, rest from the passive speakers. By the way they are powered by the internal amp of the sub that is present. 25 Watt per channel, 8 ohm impedence.
Oke yes, but you have 3 individual line INs ?
you can get one balanced or even two balanced outs for the speakers from the dac if you want
But what about the sub
You could technically even setup windows to use a 3.0 setup and just put a filter to allow only <75Hz
if you go with a balanced out on the speakers, you won't have awkwardness
But yet, how do you intent to make that happen
if you power the speakers only from the sub , they only get the signal after it's 125hz filtered
How ever the signal goes to the sub in the first place ~ didn't gen an answer here :)

You'd likely want to power the passive speakers individually or as a balanced chain, and later work on a sub ~ no ?
EDIT:
Oh you could also by instruction, crack-open the sub and unsolder the crossover filtering , or change it's amount with a resistor
This would also fix it technically - although people on the forums mentioned that these advertised 150W RMS power are a pure marketing lie, soo idk how well your speakers are really powered :thinking:
 

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Discussion Starter #20 (Edited)
If eliminating the sub and powering the speakers individually would mean better sound quality, I'm all for it. I plan to add a decent sub later on like I previously mentioned.
 
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