Big difference in upgrading sound cards?

Discussion in 'OT Technology' started by big 1, Oct 1, 2006.

  1. big 1

    big 1 New Member

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    I was thinking of upgrading from a live to an audigy. Would i hear a big improvement?
     
  2. 5Gen_Prelude

    5Gen_Prelude There might not be an "I" in the word "Team", but

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  3. Goonigoogoo

    Goonigoogoo Active Member

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    Highly doubt it. I personally would never invest in a sound card. Total waste of money. Onboard audio has come a long ways.
     
  4. thisgsx

    thisgsx New Member

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    No, before you even think about upgrading your sound card, make sure you upgrade the speakers.
     
  5. big 1

    big 1 New Member

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    Is it possible to get a home theatre reciever and hook it up to the soundcard?
     
  6. EvilSS

    EvilSS New Member

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    No, most computers use metric sound while most HT receivers use english sound.

    j/k

    Yes you can, but it won't gain you much unless you just want to use it to push "real" speakers with. To get 5.1 into it, you will need a 5.1 (digital or direct) out, and if your sound card has that, it can probably do the decoding by itself anyway.
     
  7. big 1

    big 1 New Member

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    Ok awesome! I don't want to get computer speakers because imo they aren't worth a dime
     
  8. EvilSS

    EvilSS New Member

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    Well, some are (I loooove my Klipsch 4.1 setup) but the good ones aren't cheap.
     
  9. Xyroquell

    Xyroquell New Member

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    Onboard sound is often using the AC97 standard. What means that the CPU is performing all the calculations. If you play music or something like that, there isn't much to calculate so in that case you're right.

    But imagine playing an 3D game with EAX. If you walk thru a cave you can hear your footsteps echoing on the walls around you. If you walk thru water you hear the splashes more realistic. And this is were the true power of the soundcard comes into play. Offcourse your CPU can make the calculations on it's own, but then your CPU can also render 3D graphics so you only need an onboard S3 card.

    The problems are that sound and graphic-calculations can become very complex. So why bother your CPU with it when you can have dedicated hardware to do it.

    Offcourse you'll have to pay more for a seperate soundcard than using the onboard card. But I cannot tell if you are able or willing to spend the extra money. That's a choise everyone has to make for himself. But fact is, an onboard soundcard takes much more CPU power than a descent seperate card, unless you only play music.
     
  10. Xyroquell

    Xyroquell New Member

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    Depends on what you're doing with it. For music and playing DVD's I'd say no.

    True, technically speaking an Audigy is better for playing DVD's (because of the 192 Kbps bitrate) and the Live is better for playing CD's (because it's bitrate of 44.1 Khz matches the bitrate on a normal audio-cd). But you probably won't hear the difference.

    However, if you play loads of 3D games, you might want to check the EAX version of the game and compare those to the drivers EAX version. Offcourse you can play an game with a newer EAX version with older EAX drivers, but you won't hear everything the way it is meant to. But the effect would be minimal and I doubt if you notice the difference.

    And yes, you can hookup your soundcard to a seperate amplifier, but there are some issues. If you play DVD's or CD's your soundcard forwards the music untouched to the SPDIF out so your amplifier can do with it whatever it wants. However if you're playing games with more than 2 channel audio, you can run into trouble:
    - As the SPDIF is limited to a bitrate of 192 Kbps, it is limited to 4 channel raw audio with a 48 Kbps bitrate. Not every soundcard and receiver understands this format. (Usually it's 2.0 RAW or 5.1 Dolby Digital)
    - To ensure that your receiver understands the audio correctly, most soundcards send a 2.0 downmix to the SPDIF, meaning that you loose your rear-channels, center and subwoofer channels.
    - In some rare cases the soundcard is powerfull enough to encode the audio to Dolby Digital 5.1 format in realtime and you won't have any trouble with playing games. Except maybe that the encoding could take some extra CPU power.

    If you take a look at the several dedicated PC-speakers with build-in decoders (For example some Logitech models), you'll notice that they have to be connected to the PC using both SPDIF (for DVD) and 5.1 or 7.1 analog (for games).
     
  11. vudoodoodoo

    vudoodoodoo New Member

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    Good soundcard + good headphones = win.
    But $$$.
     
  12. deusexaethera

    deusexaethera OT Supporter

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    To connect a sound card to home theater speakers, you have to have a good amplifier and you have to have some ability to compensate for the different electrical resistance that bigger speakers have. Why? Because it's the electrical resistance of the wire coils inside the speakers that determines whether quiet sounds come out quiet enough, and loud sounds come out loud enough. Most people don't notice the difference because most music these days is volume-compressed so the quietest sounds are only slightly quieter than the loudest sounds anyway, but there's no reason to make the problem worse if you can help it.
     
  13. EvilSS

    EvilSS New Member

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    Uh, he asked about a home theater receiver, not speakers. There is no need to worry about any of that since the receiver would treat it like any other unamped sound source.
     
  14. deusexaethera

    deusexaethera OT Supporter

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    No. Not all unamped and preamped inputs are the same. You have to find out whether the input is expecting a signal intended to be used drectly by 2ohm computer speakers, or 8ohm home theater speakers, or 1/10ohm earbuds. All of these will have different amplification requirements, and if you supply a signal with a high dynamic range to an amplifier expecting to recieve (for example) a signal from a 1/10ohm condenser mic, then the loud sounds will be so much louder than the quiet sounds that a loud drum hit in the middle of a song could blow a woofer.
     
  15. EvilSS

    EvilSS New Member

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    The only inputs on a HT Receiver that would cause a problem are the phono or mic in's. Anything else can be taken care of by that complicated volume control.
     

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