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Jan 4, 2013
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Sound Card Suggestions

I have a older Dell PC (vostro 470) that came with a Sound blaster X-fi sound card and some junk onboard sound (realtek HD audio)

Anyhow, Jumped on the Edifier deal and decided to give surround sound a try after all these years. Pair of Edifier 1850's up front, moved my audio engine A2's to the rear. Front 1850's are also connected to a 12" dayton sub.

Now the problem, with windows 10, the current sound blaster card is end of life (long time ago)... and with windows 10, there seems to be no way to make it run in surround (5.1). Switched on the onboard audio and all is working...... but compared to the (not very expensive) Sound blaster, it sounds like a tin can.

99% of this computer use is going to be for watching Youtube and netflix shows. I want a 5.1 setup that will work with the existing power speakers.

Any suggestions on a good sound card (or external DAC) that would work......thinking approx $100 but slightly flexible. A quick google search points me to a few sound cards.... but their release dates scares me....... I mean... the "current' card is 7 years old?

The existing card is a PCIe
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sickcars wrote: There are a few here - https://www.newegg.ca/p/pl?N=100009292%20600011982

I'm currently running this one - https://www.newegg.ca/creative-sound-bl ... 6829102104 and its been pretty good, its recent so it works with win10
Thx for sharing. Also looking to add a Sound card. That Sound Blaster one is nice, but $189.99. Are those common prices?
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I belive I have seen the one I bought for under $150 during a special. But usually they tend to be around this price normally.
djemzine wrote: Thx for sharing. Also looking to add a Sound card. That Sound Blaster one is nice, but $189.99. Are those common prices?
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Not sure which Soundblaster X-Fi you have. But there is a "Sound blaster X-fi series Software Pack for Windows 10 " for download on the Creative Support site. It does not show up if you select plain vanilla " X-fi" but if you select the others, it'll show up. For a lot of them it seems to be the same software/driver package. Choose the software for the closest X-fi series. Not sure if it'll change things but give that a shot if you havent yet ! :) Might be some setting in there that'll make it work.
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What kind of sound do you want? If you want to pay money, Asus Xonar Essence STX (card has doubled in price since launch close to or more than 10 years ago). I had to buy them used. Use them for my higher-end stereo. Has a really low SNR DAC. Can process 192 KHZ/24 bit and with various drivers (that Asus has people use) DSD a.k.a. SACD. Can support multi-channel in the v.2 models but I only use it for stereo. Have one each of the ST (PCI) and STX (PCIe) in old Core 2 Duo PCs.

https://www.stereophile.com/computeraud ... index.html
Last edited by thriftshopper on Apr 29th, 2020 12:59 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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sickcars wrote: I belive I have seen the one I bought for under $150 during a special. But usually they tend to be around this price normally.
I see. I currently have onboard audio from 2012 and figured I could benefit from a dedicated sound card. The Onboard one is Realktek
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djemzine wrote: I see. I currently have onboard audio from 2012 and figured I could benefit from a dedicated sound card. The Onboard one is Realktek
Realtek does pretty much all onboard sound on motherboards these days. Depending on the motherboard and your use case, the onboard sound might actually be all you need. If its a higher end motherboard with higher end onboard sound, it will already have a good internal DAC and amp in it. ALC 892(which my old motherboard used) and ALC 1150 are actually still decent today for the casual person, the sound card upgrade is only going to benefit if your headphones/speakers are high end stuff. However I will say onboard audio has improved even further today, a Realtek 1220A is very capable these days to the point you really need to be an audiophile before you decide to spend on a high end sound card or high end external DAC and amp combo.
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the x-fi cards were pretty awesome but windows 10 1803 broke the drivers after that trying to install the official drivers would blue screen. the the Microsoft driver sucked ass after windows was running for a bit ud start to get crackling sounds. not sure if they ever got it fixed. i complained a bunch to creative they eventually offer to send me an AE-5 card to get me to go away pretty much. The ae-5 is a pretty nice card.
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JeganV wrote: Realtek does pretty much all onboard sound on motherboards these days. Depending on the motherboard and your use case, the onboard sound might actually be all you need. If its a higher end motherboard with higher end onboard sound, it will already have a good internal DAC and amp in it. ALC 892(which my old motherboard used) and ALC 1150 are actually still decent today for the casual person, the sound card upgrade is only going to benefit if your headphones/speakers are high end stuff. However I will say onboard audio has improved even further today, a Realtek 1220A is very capable these days to the point you really need to be an audiophile before you decide to spend on a high end sound card or high end external DAC and amp combo.
Hmmm my motherboard is the Asus P8Z77 V-LX.

Last driver update:

Version 6.0.1.7503 2015/06/30 257.35 MBytes

Realtek Audio Win10 32bit&64bit V6.0.1.7503-WHQL

Realtek® ALC887 8-Channel High Definition Audio CODEC *4
- Supports : Jack-detection, Multi-streaming, Front Panel Jack-retasking
Audio Feature :
- Optical S/PDIF out port(s) at back panel
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djemzine wrote: Hmmm my motherboard is the Asus P8Z77 V-LX.

Last driver update:

Version 6.0.1.7503 2015/06/30 257.35 MBytes

Realtek Audio Win10 32bit&64bit V6.0.1.7503-WHQL

Realtek® ALC887 8-Channel High Definition Audio CODEC *4
- Supports : Jack-detection, Multi-streaming, Front Panel Jack-retasking
Audio Feature :
- Optical S/PDIF out port(s) at back panel
The ALC887 is very similar at least as a chipset to ALC892, the 892 just has a few more features. So it should still be decent, yes not as good as the modern ALC1200 or 1220 but its quite a few years old already and that was the time when onboard sound was decent. IMO I'd probably just hold onto it until your next computer upgrade, the onboard sound comes free anyways with the motherboard and their performance today puts into question whether you want to invest in additional sound equipment if you're not an audiophile. If we were in the era where onboard sound was only tolerable, then the portability of a good sound card from machine to machine is a decent investment.
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So it depends, as mentioned above on-board sound now is actually not bad. However unless you have some high end speakers then you likely wont hear a difference anyways. I'm running some Logitech Z-5500 speakers which are pretty good & I noticed a little bit of a difference in sound quality. But if you have some basic speakers then probably no point in upgrading.
djemzine wrote: I see. I currently have onboard audio from 2012 and figured I could benefit from a dedicated sound card. The Onboard one is Realktek
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sickcars wrote: So it depends, as mentioned above on-board sound now is actually not bad. However unless you have some high end speakers then you likely wont hear a difference anyways. I'm running some Logitech Z-5500 speakers which are pretty good & I noticed a little bit of a difference in sound quality. But if you have some basic speakers then probably no point in upgrading.
with the z5500 u can also use the optical audio and if u select to use spdif u can can bypass the sound cards processing and use the processing within the z5500s i use to do that back in the day when i had z5500s.
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Oh really? Interesting.

I am using an optical cable currently.
aaron158 wrote: with the z5500 u can also use the optical audio and if u select to use spdif u can can bypass the sound cards processing and use the processing within the z5500s i use to do that back in the day when i had z5500s.
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sickcars wrote: Oh really? Interesting.

I am using an optical cable currently.
ya u had to choices one to let the sound card process it or if u set it for spdif then it would send an uncompressed and unprocessed signal to the z5500 or a receiver and then it would be processed on the other end instead of the sound card.
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Hmmm where would this setting be? On the video card?
aaron158 wrote: ya u had to choices one to let the sound card process it or if u set it for spdif then it would send an uncompressed and unprocessed signal to the z5500 or a receiver and then it would be processed on the other end instead of the sound card.
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sickcars wrote: Hmmm where would this setting be? On the video card?
Sound output on the settings. RIght click ont he speaker/sound icon on the taskbar. Choose output device.
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Jonney wrote: I have a older Dell PC (vostro 470) that came with a Sound blaster X-fi sound card and some junk onboard sound (realtek HD audio)

Anyhow, Jumped on the Edifier deal and decided to give surround sound a try after all these years. Pair of Edifier 1850's up front, moved my audio engine A2's to the rear. Front 1850's are also connected to a 12" dayton sub.

Now the problem, with windows 10, the current sound blaster card is end of life (long time ago)... and with windows 10, there seems to be no way to make it run in surround (5.1). Switched on the onboard audio and all is working...... but compared to the (not very expensive) Sound blaster, it sounds like a tin can.

99% of this computer use is going to be for watching Youtube and netflix shows. I want a 5.1 setup that will work with the existing power speakers.

Any suggestions on a good sound card (or external DAC) that would work......thinking approx $100 but slightly flexible. A quick google search points me to a few sound cards.... but their release dates scares me....... I mean... the "current' card is 7 years old?

The existing card is a PCIe
One of the things that most people tend to ignore when it comes to analog audio is the OPAMPs, you can have the best sound chipset but shitty OPAMPs.

Unfortunately, ever since Auzentech went under, there haven't been any sound cards with swappable OPAMPs. However, if you want a budget card, the Soundblaster Audigy FX card is pretty decent. This is what I got for my latest build. I wanted to move my Auzentech card but new boards don't have PCI slots, only PCIe so I had to get a new card. Was quite impressed with the Audigy FX, especially since it's a budget card with a Realtek chipset, it still sounds very crisp. It pairs rather well with my pair of Klipsch speakers. It's much better than the onboard audio that came with my motherboard that also has a Realtek chipset, my onboard sound fuzzier/muddied compared to the Audigy FX.

Would I get better sound going with an ASUS Xonar SE or a more expensive SoundBlaster card like the X-FI? Likely, but the Audigy FX surprised me especially that I only paid $45+HST for it.
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deltatux wrote: One of the things that most people tend to ignore when it comes to analog audio is the OPAMPs, you can have the best sound chipset but shitty OPAMPs.

Unfortunately, ever since Auzentech went under, there haven't been any sound cards with swappable OPAMPs. However, if you want a budget card, the Soundblaster Audigy FX card is pretty decent. This is what I got for my latest build. I wanted to move my Auzentech card but new boards don't have PCI slots, only PCIe so I had to get a new card. Was quite impressed with the Audigy FX, especially since it's a budget card with a Realtek chipset, it still sounds very crisp. It pairs rather well with my pair of Klipsch speakers. It's much better than the onboard audio that came with my motherboard that also has a Realtek chipset, my onboard sound fuzzier/muddied compared to the Audigy FX.

Would I get better sound going with an ASUS Xonar SE or a more expensive SoundBlaster card like the X-FI? Likely, but the Audigy FX surprised me especially that I only paid $45+HST for it.
the sound blaster ae-9 has swap able op amps its also comes with a dedicated headphone amp. they also put those fancy Nichicon gold audio grade caps on it. cost over 400 bucks cad though. i think the EVGA NU Audio Pro does to
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aaron158 wrote: the sound blaster ae-9 has swap able op amps its also comes with a dedicated headphone amp. they also put those fancy Nichicon gold audio grade caps on it. cost over 400 bucks cad though. i think the EVGA NU Audio Pro does to
ah good to know, didn't know the SoundBlaster AE-9 & the EVGA card had those too!

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