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Old 03-31-2009, 11:49 PM   #1
SizeableSSonic
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Sound Card - Is it worth it?

I was walking through Staples the other day, and I saw some really cheap sound cards in stock. While I would never buy any sort of expansion card from Staples, it did get me thinking: is a sound card worth the investment?

I want to know two things:

Will there be a noticeable difference in sound quality from my onboard RealTek?

Will the load taken off my CPU, etc. be significant enough to get a FPS increase in games?

I have been looking around on NewEgg, but the problem I'm facing is whereas I know a ton about video cards, I know next to nothing about sound cards. If it is worth it, I might get a decent one.
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Old 04-01-2009, 12:26 AM   #2
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not really. the only real advancement in sound cards was with Aureal A3D. company went bust following a lawsuit against creative, then creative bought them out, and have since stifled any innovation. EAX is the biggest waste of time since the conception of procrastination.

upwards of creative it gets a bit different. the A/D/A process improves due to less jitter/quantisation noise, resulting from a more stable sample clock. however, you pay through your nose for it, and most people probably won't hear the difference considering the shitty satellite speakers most PCs use.
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Old 04-01-2009, 12:55 AM   #3
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Alright then, thanks, I guess I'll stick to my onboard.
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Old 04-01-2009, 04:12 PM   #4
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Games can take advantage to offload sound processing to the card. Is it worth the effort to free cpu cycles? Don't know, it's all relative to what you have. On an older pc a creative live card used about 25 percent less cpu. On my newish system it doesn't seem to make a difference. Although it may stabalize FPS a bit. Also have you ever noticed that some large explosions cause a little jitter in game... that can be the slow ass sound processing. And NEVER get a USB sound card for gaming. Too slow and cpu intensive if you ask me.

But really it all depends on what processor you have on your mobo. If it's cheap with poor drivers then even a 20 dollar soundblaster will help.
Like I said, it's all relative so do this. Disable sound in your game. Notice any difference in game play fps etc? No.. save your money. Yes then you have more research to do.
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Old 04-01-2009, 08:07 PM   #5
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that pause is the source engine not caching audio until it actually needs to be played. very conservative coding if you ask me.
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Old 04-02-2009, 07:03 AM   #6
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Do you have major sound issues?
Do you want higher quality sound or notice it being of low quality?

Mostly it will improve sound.
Much like other hardware changes, it just takes stress off the motherboard and processor. If you suffer from a weak processor or other hardware, it might be worth your wild.
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Old 04-02-2009, 12:25 PM   #7
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onbaord audio can be susceptable to electric interference from the motherboard. also, onboard audio has a history of poor 3d sounds reproduction. if you play ff and rely on sounds like explosions, footsteps, gunfire etc to tell where an enemy is coming from, then you may want to invest in a decent card. If you have a core2 motherboard, with the realtek onboard audio then you will probably experience all the above, im not really sure about the onboard sound from earlier motherboards.
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Old 04-02-2009, 02:22 PM   #8
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I have a msi 680i board with onboard Creative audio hooked up to a Harmon Kardon AV reciecer going into 2 channels to a set of 8 inch Cerwin Vegas floorstanding speakers and I must say the sound is simply superb...On board sounds thin and tinny after listening to this, also the creative software samples out mp3 hiss and noise. I wouldnt have a rig without dedicated audio
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Old 04-02-2009, 03:55 PM   #9
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My sound is great IMO. I've got on board sound with Bose speakers.
But I'm not a huge audiophile :-\
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Old 04-02-2009, 05:40 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zatoichi View Post
onbaord audio can be susceptable to electric interference from the motherboard. also, onboard audio has a history of poor 3d sounds reproduction. if you play ff and rely on sounds like explosions, footsteps, gunfire etc to tell where an enemy is coming from, then you may want to invest in a decent card. If you have a core2 motherboard, with the realtek onboard audio then you will probably experience all the above, im not really sure about the onboard sound from earlier motherboards.
I have this for my motherboard and a decent cpu(2.8GHz dual core), and the realtek onboard audio, and I haven't had any problems with 3D sound, it's amazing really.
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Old 04-02-2009, 06:46 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zatoichi View Post
onbaord audio can be susceptable to electric interference from the motherboard. also, onboard audio has a history of poor 3d sounds reproduction. if you play ff and rely on sounds like explosions, footsteps, gunfire etc to tell where an enemy is coming from, then you may want to invest in a decent card. If you have a core2 motherboard, with the realtek onboard audio then you will probably experience all the above, im not really sure about the onboard sound from earlier motherboards.
where do you think the PCI and USB buses are powered from? my firewire interface gets a certain level of leakage noise. you really have to pay through the nose to alleviate that problem totally.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ronzui View Post
I have a msi 680i board with onboard Creative audio hooked up to a Harmon Kardon AV reciecer going into 2 channels to a set of 8 inch Cerwin Vegas floorstanding speakers and I must say the sound is simply superb...On board sounds thin and tinny after listening to this, also the creative software samples out mp3 hiss and noise. I wouldnt have a rig without dedicated audio
how does one "sample out"? :s
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Old 04-06-2009, 03:27 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mervaka View Post
that pause is the source engine not caching audio until it actually needs to be played. very conservative coding if you ask me.

Totally. But if you experience that pause a sound card might help.
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Old 04-10-2009, 11:00 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mooga View Post
Do you have major sound issues?
Do you want higher quality sound or notice it being of low quality?

Mostly it will improve sound.
Much like other hardware changes, it just takes stress off the motherboard and processor. If you suffer from a weak processor or other hardware, it might be worth your while.
fixed
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Old 04-10-2009, 03:39 PM   #14
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If you want to improve sound experience on your PC - buy passive speakers and a decent sound amplifier. Nothing else will help. Period.
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Old 04-10-2009, 05:48 PM   #15
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If you want to improve sound experience on your PC - buy passive speakers and a decent sound amplifier. Nothing else will help. Period.
Hot strippers help. But that is off topic...
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Old 04-10-2009, 06:32 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OneManArmy View Post
If you want to improve sound experience on your PC - buy passive speakers and a decent sound amplifier. Nothing else will help. Period.
why passive speakers? assuming you're following the misconception that active=powered/passive=unpowered, there's no reason to tar all powered systems with a tarnished brush. my system is an active, powered, biamped system, and it's hardly shit

my pedantic crap aside, you're definitely on the money here. some shitty set of logitech satellites won't do any sound card justice. i cannot believe how overlooked this part of the equation is. the biggest difference any one part of a sound system can make is the transducers - ie what turns electricity into sound, and vice versa. i use the onboard realtek chipset while in linux, and i have to say it isn't far behind my maudio sound device.

Quote:
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Hot strippers help. But that is off topic...
no its not. it's a more correct diagnosis of the "i have shit sound" problem.
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Old 04-11-2009, 10:06 AM   #17
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why passive speakers? assuming you're following the misconception that active=powered/passive=unpowered, there's no reason to tar all powered systems with a tarnished brush. my system is an active, powered, biamped system, and it's hardly shit
Dedicated ( especially if it's vacuum tube) amplifier is much better than integrated shit in active speakers. I hope you're not going to deny that? :> Without such an equipment you won't even feel a difference between lossless audio and MP3.

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Old 04-11-2009, 03:09 PM   #18
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i am indeed going to deny that. where you put the amplifier has no bearing on how good it is. valve amps certainly aren't the holy grail of amps, either. modern solid state equivalents at this price point sound just as good, are easier to maintain, and use much less power.

http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/apr0...s/adamp11a.htm

these are the monitors i use in my room at home. yes they are a little more expensive than what i'm talking about, but they could just as easily be a 200 pair of monitors for arguments sake.
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Old 04-12-2009, 05:03 AM   #19
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I never had any decent luck with onboard sound cards, though most of the times my motherboards were nothing to brag about. I have a Soundblaster X-Fi Xtreme Gamer Fatality, which I got for $50 bucks off, and love the dang thing. Sure the x-ram may be useless in all but a few games, but the sound from it, especially with my plantronics headset (yes I am somewhat ballin for being a college student whos married, has a kid, and another on the way). It's just awesome. My opinion, get a pci card. Take that small insignifigant burden off the processor, and enjoy better sound.
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