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  1. Post
    #1

    Anyone using a sound card?

    My friend has an Asus Xonar Essence STX ii and raves about how good it is for music and gaming.

    I am using the Sennhesier Game ONE headset and my motherboard is the Z390m Gaming Edge AC from MSI. The audio is ok but nothing to write home about.

    Is anyone else using a solution other than onboard audio? What are peoples thoughts or recommendations?

  2. Post
    #2
    I am because I needed to add optical out, some ~$50 Xonar model. I noticed zero difference after the swap, and I have some decent enough (powered) bookshelf speakers running off it. For a gaming / youtube rig, I certainly wouldn't have bothered adding the card otherwise. Gaming I use a usb "gaming" headset 99% of the time, so that doesn't use the soundcard anyway. Each to their own though. Compare the same track on the PC using headset and a decent stereo with headset plugged in perhaps, to see if there is a noticable difference.

    Friend using the same headset?

  3. Post
    #3
    Fragluton wrote:
    I am because I needed to add optical out, some ~$50 Xonar model. I noticed zero difference after the swap, and I have some decent enough (powered) bookshelf speakers running off it. For a gaming / youtube rig, I certainly wouldn't have bothered adding the card otherwise. Gaming I use a usb "gaming" headset 99% of the time, so that doesn't use the soundcard anyway. Each to their own though. Compare the same track on the PC using headset and a decent stereo with headset plugged in perhaps, to see if there is a noticable difference.

    Friend using the same headset?
    Nah he uses a pair of Bose QC35s which are noise cancelling headphones used mostly for airline travel so it makes me wonder

  4. Post
    #4
    Needs to be an apples and apples comparison really. Might be possible to have both soundcards installed at once, for such a test. My gaming headset (Corsair 2100 or something) sounds totally different to my PXC550's and M50x's. Listening to music with the headset doesn't compare. Gaming, well footsteps and explosions all sound the same

  5. Post
    #5
    my experience with soundcards is that the drivers always suck. its just a massive pain in the arse.

  6. Post
    #6
    Markuchi wrote:
    my experience with soundcards is that the drivers always suck. its just a massive pain in the arse.
    Yeah I am staying clear from Asus for this exact reason. Right now leaning towards external solutions.

    The Sound BlasterX G6 has really good reviews and seems to be a good spot for price/performance.

  7. Post
    #7
    I run optical from the motherboard to a Yamaha receiver. Have previously tried USB to a Yamaha and also a Rotel DAC but it always just sucks in terms of drivers. I couldn't tell the difference between optical and USB to the Rotel, so I switched to optical and never went back.

    Don't even need the onboard audio drivers installed. Optical bypasses everything, and it's one way communication means no pissing around.

  8. Post
    #8
    onboard is pretty darn good these days. An STX will probably be better though especially driving high impedance cans

  9. Post
    #9
    BorgWarner wrote:
    I run optical from the motherboard to a Yamaha receiver. Have previously tried USB to a Yamaha and also a Rotel DAC but it always just sucks in terms of drivers. I couldn't tell the difference between optical and USB to the Rotel, so I switched to optical and never went back.

    Don't even need the onboard audio drivers installed. Optical bypasses everything, and it's one way communication means no pissing around.
    Optical cuts down the bandwidth
    Like you I can’t tell the difference between normal quality and high quality super high bitrate music
    However optical also cuts out channels, you can’t get more than base Dolby 5.1 over optical

    I’m using an external soundcard - usb from pc to the card - then that splits into two seperate speakers setups, one 2.1 setup and another 5.1 setup off the soundcard
    luckily haven’t had too many driver issues
    Last edited by SirGrim; 30th January 2019 at 5:45 pm.

  10. Post
    #10
    I run a Soundblaster X-Fi, but purely because I need Dolby Digital Live to encode normal 5.1 to a dolby bitsream on optical.

  11. Post
    #11
    Went out and purchased a Sound BlasterX G6 yesterday and what a HUGE difference it has made over onboard. Music is infinity better, PUBG sounds like a different game and MMOs are so much more immersive.

    Would highly recommend for anyone.

  12. Post
    #12
    SirGrim wrote:
    Optical cuts down the bandwidth
    Like you I can’t tell the difference between normal quality and high quality super high bitrate music
    However optical also cuts out channels, you can’t get more than base Dolby 5.1 over optical

    I’m using an external soundcard - usb from pc to the card - then that splits into two seperate speakers setups, one 2.1 setup and another 5.1 setup off the soundcard
    luckily haven’t had too many driver issues
    Yeah I probably should have mentioned that my main use is 2 channel music, mostly FLAC of CD quality or 24/96. Optical is capable of lossless at those resolutions.

    The PC is hooked up to 2 systems - the other is HDMI to an Onkyo / Q Acoustics 5.2.2 system. Every format seems to work ok but tbh if I'm watching something, I couldn't care less if it's old Dolby Digital+ or Dolby Atmos. The novelty of ceiling speakers wore off very quickly.

    Can't go HDMI to my 2 channel system because the receiver doesn't like 2560x1600 so I'd have to buy a new monitor.

  13. Post
    #13
    I've got a Focusrite 2i4 external USB audio interface. I bought it to record guitar/voice (it's brilliant for that - you simply plug the instruments directly into its XLR jacks, and it converts analogue to digital in realtime).

    A real plus is no driver hassles under Win/Mac or linux. I run that into a pair of JBL 305p Mk II's, and a dedicated headphone amp, as well as an FM transmitter. Good tunes.

    EDIT: in reply to KL, 1) how are you, bud? 2) the Focurite is a USB DAC.
    Last edited by sultanoswing; 9th February 2019 at 12:08 pm.

  14. Post
    #14
    I use my headset which comes with its own sound chip anyway. Dedicated sound cards seem excessive but obviously some audiofiles love them.

  15. Post
    #15
    In the past onboard suffered from interference, but I think manufacturers are usually mindful of this now.

    If you want a better DAC then a sound card is the tidiest way to achieve this on a computer. A cheap DAC can sound synthetic and harsh, like listening to music on a cellphone. Obviously the headset must support proper analog connection (ie 3.5mm) or the sound can't be fixed.

  16. Post
    #16
    USB DAC isn't a bad option either eh

  17. Smile
    #17
    My motherboard has crystal sound 2 but i have it disabled and use a Creative Audigy Rx,

    Game wise, I hear effects that i didn't before.
    Game and music wise, Things seem slightly louder and have a little more bass in them.

    Was the upgrade worth it? Yes.
    The card boasts a good headphone amp but i don't use headphones, however with my Logitech Z333 speakers my sound has improved enough for me to notice.

    As for my coffee lake computer, I'm unsure to risk the same upgrade as the onboard should be better than the crystal sound 2 on my haswel.

  18. Post
    #18
    Using a Sound Blaster X AE-5 (Upgraded from Soundblaster Z) night and day for gaming over the onboard. Purchased the Siberia 800's a few years ago and it's a totally different headphone when used with a soundcard over the built in USB DAC.

  19. Smile
    #19
    Kidona wrote:
    Using a Sound Blaster X AE-5 (Upgraded from Soundblaster Z)
    I read a review that the drivers were really bad for that card, Do you notice any gaming problems?

  20. Post
    #20
    Magic Robertson wrote:
    I read a review that the drivers were really bad for that card, Do you notice any gaming problems?
    No haven't come across any issues with the drivers. Been pretty solid thus far.

    They released some updates to fix original driver issues. Let me know what problems were documented and i'll do some tests.

  21. Smile
    #21
    It was this review from a user on mightyape,

    wrote:
    Got the card last night, not overly impressed.

    The software suite for this card sucks, the voice morpher software also sucks, and the card has none of the usual creative features seemingly. No Dolby encoding, no CMSS headphone, and the 7.1 headphone effect sucks.

    This card is leagues above onboard sound, but is nowhere near as good in my opinion as the Soundblaster Z or even an earlier X-Fi card.

    I am still tuning this card, but from what I see so far, this card for lack of a better word, is TRASH.

    The sound card is paired to a set of Logitech Z906 speakers, or output to an AV receiver in the rumpus room with real speakers. Not overly impressed, a bit let down.

    This card is no better or worse than the ASUS Xonar seemingly which is a huge shame. Creative has a better headphone amp, but that's about all.

    Also, the AE lets you play back at 32 bit and 96000hz which is a bit of a farce. There is no 24 bit 192000hz mode like previous cards offer.

    I think what they did with this card was remove a few features to cut costs and replace those features with crappy RGB lighting.

    So, in my opinion this card is not as good as the soundblaster Z, and the extra cost is for the RGB lighting not the sound quality.

    Overall I rate this card a 7/10.

    Beware the fake reviews all over the internet claiming this card is the greatest Creative card of all time because it isn't.
    https://www.mightyape.co.nz/product/...-ae-5/27385436
    (the link has the writing bigger, Made it small so it wont clog up the thread)

  22. Post
    #22
    [QUOTE=Magic Robertson;11264914]It was this review from a user on mightyape,

    He's got some valid points though. I only moved to the AE-5 to drive some high OHM headphones which it does well. I don't use it for the Dolby Decoding and you do lose a lot of extra ports like Optical IN port etc. No issue with the 7.1 effects for gaming as I've tried all the current AAA games with it.

    Not worth an upgrade over the Z or your RX though. I'd still have my Z if I didn't have the high impedance headphones.

  23. Post
    #23
    Kidona wrote:
    Not worth an upgrade over the Z or your RX though. I'd still have my Z if I didn't have the high impedance headphones.
    I also own the AE-5 and find found SBX Surround to be much better than CMSS-3D that I had on my Titanium HD or the inbuilt HRTF in CS:GO. Was worth it for that alone, for me.

    Also, no issues with drivers either. Probably the first sound card I've owned where I can say that, so far.

  24. Smile
    #24
    Sorry for the dig but i ended up getting a new sound card for my coffee lake, Got another Audigy Rx because it was half the price of the AE-5 and the reason was the plastic green connector on my motherboard wasn't up to the task, The Rx has metal connectors.

    The sound quality is also slightly better than the onboard.
    Last edited by Magic Robertson; 21st March 2019 at 10:34 am.

  25. Post
    #25
    Greetings, buddy. Yes, even the built-in sound card is pretty good. I was not so lucky and I had to look for an alternative, the review on https://technogeekknows.com/reviews/...al-sound-card/ helped me in the search - you can read, compare it with what you have. The sound on these external sound cards is simply amazing.