Jump to content

Sound Cards


Cantousent

Recommended Posts

Okay, I've recently purchased a new rig. Altogether, I came way over budget, but not for the rig itself. I needed a new monitor and speakers since what I currently use is around six years old. I also wanted another copy of Office for my gaming rig. Call me stupid, and some of you will, but I like to have registered versions of my software for each machine. I don't do a lot of work on my gaming system, but I find that the times I simply cannot use it for work are frustrating.

 

So, I've got a new rig with a new speakers and I'm thinking to myself, will the built in sound work? Should I get a separate sound card?

 

I listen to music. A lot. I listen to more music than most folks watch television. Granted, I'm not a difficult consumer. I'll listen to music however I can get it, so I often listen to music on my laptop while I work. Sure, the speakers sound like something I've attached to a tin can at the end of a long string, but I can hear the music.

 

Okay, that's music. I'd like more, but it's not a huge deal. My hearing isn't the best anyhow, so it's not like I'm particular.

 

However, that brings me to the next point. My hearing isn't all that great. If I can hum to a song, I can get by without hearing every detail. I'll probably remember all the details anyhow. ... BUT, games are different. For some games, it's important to hear all those details.

 

Finally, what about performance? I mean, if the performance is the same, no biggie. Unfortunately, and this is the reason sound cards have suddenly become an issue for me, I've recently seen some info that leads me to believe that sound cards can have a significant impact on performance in games.

 

Okay, that's the background novel. What do you brainiacs think?

 

My new motherboard has a Realtek ALC850.

Fionavar's Holliday Wishes to all members of our online community:  Happy Holidays

 

Join the revelry at the Obsidian Plays channel:
Obsidian Plays


 
Remembering tarna, Phosphor, Metadigital, and Visceris.  Drink mead heartily in the halls of Valhalla, my friends!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sound cards can have an impact on performance in games. Many motherboards with built in sound offload most of the sound processing work onto the CPU. Depending on the game, this can impact performance quite a bit. However, some motherboards have their own seperate processor for proccessing the sounds and shouldn't negatively affect the performance much. But a word of warning, some motherboards have chips to process the sounds, but to cut back on costs they still offload a lot onto the CPU.

 

Many soundcards are overkill, I'm still using an old SB Live card and it works well. If I had a nice speaker setup I'd consider getting a new one, but since I use headphones, any sort of fancy 6.1 "extreme accelerated surround sound" would be more then pointless. But a decent soundcard wont cost you much money if you decide to buy one.

Edited by LostStraw
Link to comment
Share on other sites

You know, I've always been of the mind that on-board sound was more than adequate, though recently I've had a revelation that made me not so sure. I've noticed that for several of the albums I've been listening to lately, there are certain sounds that are very faint in comparison to how they sound in my car, stereo, or mp3 player - usually vocals, and it drives me insane. I've tried messing with every software sound option available, but came to the conclusion something with the hardware just sucks and I've just failed to notice before.

 

Which got me wondering: Have I been hearing sound in games messed up or quite inferior to how they should sound in the time I've owned this computer?

 

Anyway Eldar, if you can shell out the cash for two copies of Office, might as well get yourself a decent sound card.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well, one thing you guys managed to convince me to do is disable the onboard sound on my wife's computer. I mean, she has a soundcard and onboard sound. Now I'm starting to worry that the onboard sound is still eating away performance even though the speakers are plugged into the actual card.

Fionavar's Holliday Wishes to all members of our online community:  Happy Holidays

 

Join the revelry at the Obsidian Plays channel:
Obsidian Plays


 
Remembering tarna, Phosphor, Metadigital, and Visceris.  Drink mead heartily in the halls of Valhalla, my friends!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Nah, if you are hearing sound from speakers that are connected to your add-on card, it means your add-on card is doing all the processing.

 

I have an MSI motherboard with an on-board Creative SB Live chipset, and tests have shown that it is better than Realtek solutions both in terms of CPU utilization (measured) and audio quality (subjective of course). An add-on Audigy2 would be even better, I assume. If you listen to music a lot, and you have a decent set of speakers, you should probably think about an Audigy2.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I bought an Audigy2ZS not too long ago, I really like it, sounds even better than the SBLive I had for years. I don't really notice a performance hit in games, but guess that depends on your rig and how observant you are, heh.

 

During one computer build, it came with onboard sound (some kind of realtek) and tried it for a while. While ok for general usage, I thought it sounded muffled, like there was 10 feet of foam rubber around the speakers, and went back to the SBLive. I definitely notice a difference in games. Footsteps, echoes, effects, all sound better/richer and at lower volumes, treble is less screechy, monsters sound scarier, all that.

 

As mentioned, if you have the speakers (or even a good pair of headphones) I'd get a seperate card. I'll agree that many cards are overkill for the average person tho - doesn't cost much for a basic one these days. Just my 2cents.

“Things are as they are. Looking out into the universe at night, we make no comparisons between right and wrong stars, nor between well and badly arranged constellations.” – Alan Watts
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think since you've commited to a gaming rig and busted your budget you might as well chip in that extra bit on a decent/medium end sound card. It doesn't need to be top end, but at least your spanking new speaker system won't be performing below its full potential.

Spreading beauty with my katana.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Onboard sound is completely fine for gaming and general stuff. The only time you need to upgrade would be if you had one of the really bad onboard ones.

My one is good. (Intel HD/C-Media 9880)

sigpic0yb.jpg

Pure Pazaak - The Stand-alone Multiplayer Pazaak Game (link to Obsidian board thread)

Pure Pazaak website (big thank you to fingolfin)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sound cards can have an impact on performance in games.  Many motherboards with built in sound offload most of the sound processing work onto the CPU.  Depending on the game, this can impact performance quite a bit.

 

 

Id say its negligible. The load on the CPU is very small and as all modern games rely more on the GFX, you wont gain anything by having a separate soundcard.

 

 

Unless you have specific needs such as a DTS decoder or if your planning to record music, you dont need anything extra.

DISCLAIMER: Do not take what I write seriously unless it is clearly and in no uncertain terms, declared by me to be meant in a serious and non-humoristic manner. If there is no clear indication, asume the post is written in jest. This notification is meant very seriously and its purpouse is to avoid misunderstandings and the consequences thereof. Furthermore; I can not be held accountable for anything I write on these forums since the idea of taking serious responsability for my unserious actions, is an oxymoron in itself.

 

Important: as the following sentence contains many naughty words I warn you not to read it under any circumstances; botty, knickers, wee, erogenous zone, psychiatrist, clitoris, stockings, bosom, poetry reading, dentist, fellatio and the department of agriculture.

 

"I suppose outright stupidity and complete lack of taste could also be considered points of view. "

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ah, well I don't know what a DTS decoder is and I don't make recordings at all.

Fionavar's Holliday Wishes to all members of our online community:  Happy Holidays

 

Join the revelry at the Obsidian Plays channel:
Obsidian Plays


 
Remembering tarna, Phosphor, Metadigital, and Visceris.  Drink mead heartily in the halls of Valhalla, my friends!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

While it's not exactly state of the art, my old SB Audigy2 with a 5.1 speaker set is sort of nice. But then, I also occasionally use my computer for watching DVD movies, TV, playing CD's besides playing the odd game with good sound/music, so I couldn't really imagine having a computer without at least "good" audio capabilities :)

“He who joyfully marches to music in rank and file has already earned my contempt. He has been given a large brain by mistake, since for him the spinal cord would surely suffice.” - Albert Einstein

Link to comment
Share on other sites

To really say the truth, Realtek's onboard sound chips are the worst. There are MUCH better onboard sound chips coming from C-Media, SigmaTel or Analog Devices (SoundMAX).

 

I'm currently using an onboard AC'97 SoundMAX AD1980, and it sounds as good as, if not better than, my SBLive! 24-bit in all things that do not require 24-bit audio or EAX 3.0. SoundMAX is easily THE best onboard audio across the industry, be it for AC'97 or for HD audio. HD audio has further raised the bar for audio quality in onboard chips, so they now have competitive features with separate sound cards.

 

The only reason that anyone would want an additional soundcard (considering that CPU usage is no longer a problem now that we have very fast processors) are:

 

a) You want the best EAX Advanced HD effects in games

b) You have Dolby Digital EX/DTS ES compliant speakers and want to enjoy Dolby 7.1 in DVDs to the fullest extent.

 

Other than that, I don't see the point to get a separate sound card.

 

But since you have a Realtek sound chip, you should get a soundcard. It will make quite a difference for anyone with Realtek chips.

Edited by Accelerator
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I use the nVidia Soundstorm with an onboard Dolby Digital 5.1-encoder, connected to my 5.1 reciever through the S/PDIF (less wires!), it's nice to play all my movies, music and games in DD5.1 :)

 

Too bad that there hasn't been a soundcard since that does hardware Dolby Digital or DTS encoding :)

"Some men see things as they are and say why?"
"I dream things that never were and say why not?"
- George Bernard Shaw

"Hope in reality is the worst of all evils because it prolongs the torments of man."
- Friedrich Nietzsche

 

"The amount of energy necessary to refute bull**** is an order of magnitude bigger than to produce it."

- Some guy 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Good thing my homies have my back. I took your advice and picked up this little gem:

 

SOUND BLASTER|AUDIGY 2 ZS PCI OEM.

 

It should go well with my speakers:

 

Logitech Z-2300 200 watts RMS 2.1 Speaker.

 

I remember my old ISA audio cards of old. It was weird when the first PCI cards hit the shelves. Then it was a lot of onboard stuff. Now it's back to PCI cards for me. Next, they'll make the audio cards ISA again. Finally, we'll see the day when the internal speaker will give us a series of beeps. After that? Silence.

Fionavar's Holliday Wishes to all members of our online community:  Happy Holidays

 

Join the revelry at the Obsidian Plays channel:
Obsidian Plays


 
Remembering tarna, Phosphor, Metadigital, and Visceris.  Drink mead heartily in the halls of Valhalla, my friends!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well, I'm hoping the sound card is the end of the rig purchasing experience for me. The basic rig, sans sound-card, speakers, monitor, and Office, only came to $2,020. Those four items put me way the hell over, so I guess the $95 bucks I spent for the sound card shouldn't irritate me.

 

Hell, it cost the same amount, within a few dollars, for the speakers as it did for the sound card.

Fionavar's Holliday Wishes to all members of our online community:  Happy Holidays

 

Join the revelry at the Obsidian Plays channel:
Obsidian Plays


 
Remembering tarna, Phosphor, Metadigital, and Visceris.  Drink mead heartily in the halls of Valhalla, my friends!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Modern (made in the past 5 years or so) sound cards do take the sound processing weight off the CPU ... and depending on the application, this will sometimes improve performance (but probably not enough so that you would notice).

 

Some onboard sound solutions - some specific motherboards, not any one brand or chipset - will be subject to electromagnetic interference from the other components on the mobo ... if you're getting humming, hissing or popping from an otherwise high-quality set of speakers (and you've tried isolating them from interference outside the case - monitors, other electronic equipment, etc.) then you've probably got some interference from the mobo components.

 

Low quality speakers can cause similar problems.

 

It really all depends on how much you value sound in your games and HTPC experience ... not everyone needs it, but you can really improve the quality of your sound for about $150 ...

... on a decent sound card (I wouldn't buy anything older/cheaper than an Audigy2 - ~$70 last I checked) and decent speakers (I've seen "good enough" 5.1 sets for about $70 recently ... and honestly, the Altec Lansing stereo speakers I bought for my sister at Target for $30 are surprisingly awesome).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I was curious after I saw your post, Samarai. The card was 74.99. The speakers, however, were 98.99. So, that's a bit over the $150 you said, but I'm still happy with the setup. After the purchase, there's no point in finding fault with it.

Fionavar's Holliday Wishes to all members of our online community:  Happy Holidays

 

Join the revelry at the Obsidian Plays channel:
Obsidian Plays


 
Remembering tarna, Phosphor, Metadigital, and Visceris.  Drink mead heartily in the halls of Valhalla, my friends!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
×
×
  • Create New...