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Author Topic: What Makes an Excellent Sound Card?  (Read 32970 times)

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Offline Spanky

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Re: What Makes an Excellent Sound Card?
« Reply #15 on: Monday, April 09, 2012, 21:42:51 PM »
Yea, and they made it easier to get exclusive control of the sound card, WASAPI so the Windows Mixer doesn't mess with your audio either.
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Offline guily6669

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Re: What Makes an Excellent Sound Card?
« Reply #16 on: Tuesday, April 10, 2012, 18:31:23 PM »
Meh, these days motherboard sound is enough for anything. If your a pro and play with big boy speakers, and pro audio equipment, you're going to have a usb or fireware DAC if you use the computer for audio. If you're a gamer and feel like those PCI-E soundcards do something for you, that's cool maybe it does I dunno.

If you don't use the computer for audio, then you're on vinyl or cd's which then is a completely different story and all of this discussion about sound cards doesn't matter :)

In the end, for me as long as I don't hear clipped waveforms and bad response then I don't really care how the sound is being processed.
Well I have add lots and lots of motherboards, and seen lots, and couldn't activate Hardware 3D or EAX in anyone I tested... Also When I had my creative, on 3 bars of volume in the Z5500, the house was already shaking and cd's were always falling down. Now on the motherboard sound, I have to use a lot more volume to obtain the same volume, but it sounds pretty bad (Kinda like if there was not really high frequencies, it sound kinda death).

Also Creative has technologies like "combat mod" that make you hear any enemy before they hear you. I never heard that, cause I never had a newer sound card from them, but I bet is all about their processor trying to detect the minimum sounds and making them louder (it might be something like that).

And you are wrong about the onboard sound cards being good.

I have this motherboard:

It's pretty recent, and the first board ever made of it's kind. BUT STAY MILES AWAY FROM IT'S REALSHIT SOUNDCARD... Unless you love playing games at half volume only where you can't hear almost anyone at all...

ps: But nowadays there's a few rare top of the line motherboards that bring Xf-i and EAX onboard soundcards.
« Last Edit: Tuesday, April 10, 2012, 18:36:38 PM by guily6669 »

Offline Spanky

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Re: What Makes an Excellent Sound Card?
« Reply #17 on: Tuesday, April 10, 2012, 18:34:58 PM »
Z5500

*facepalm* Even Skrewy knows better than to get Logitech speakers... No wonder you think X-Fi cards sound good. You probably care more about multi-channel than speaker placement or accurate sound reproduction.
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Offline guily6669

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Re: What Makes an Excellent Sound Card?
« Reply #18 on: Tuesday, April 10, 2012, 18:46:03 PM »
*facepalm* Even Skrewy knows better than to get Logitech speakers... No wonder you think X-Fi cards sound good. You probably care more about multi-channel than speaker placement or accurate sound reproduction.
Well... I'm very sound enthusiastic...

On my creative sound card, I had 9.3 speakers all connected together...

Z5500 digital 5.1 + 2.1 creative special edition speaker (satelites have a very high frequency) + 2.1 from creative (Good mid to mid-high).

Well It made a very awesome sound, I preferred my setup than the sound on any disco\club that I have been with thousand dollars special equipment.

Specially because I had a lot of different frequencies to play with. Logitech is more for low and mid low, then I had high frequency and also a good mid and mid-high frequency and 3 different reaction subwoofer, being the one of the Z5500 enough to almost break the windows.



ps: I also have the Creative fatality headphones, which are just 40mm drivers with neodymnium magnets (Nothing special and not expensive, but not that bad too).
Keep Cool
« Last Edit: Tuesday, April 10, 2012, 18:55:38 PM by guily6669 »

Offline BlueBlaster

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Re: What Makes an Excellent Sound Card?
« Reply #19 on: Tuesday, April 10, 2012, 18:48:12 PM »
Also Creative has technologies like "combat mod" that make you hear any enemy before they hear you. I never heard that, cause I never had a newer sound card from them, but I bet is all about their processor trying to detect the minimum sounds and making them louder (it might be something like that).

Compression. Or heavy limiting. Same idea.

And you are wrong about the onboard sound cards being good.

Of course they suck hard, but I know how to compensate for bad onboard sound. I can measure/listen for signal clipping so I don't send square waves to my big boy speakers. Then I turn down the gain for the onboard sound and just raise the amplifier power. I've got enough amp power so it's no big deal. I'd rather buy better speakers before I buy a big boy sound card.

Here's a fun fact; on my laptop the volume has to be set to 70% for optimum quality. This is the level where there is no signal clipping.
On my computer, which has a 90s creative soundblaster, the volume must be 85% for optimum quality.



Offline guily6669

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Re: What Makes an Excellent Sound Card?
« Reply #20 on: Tuesday, April 10, 2012, 18:55:53 PM »
Also XF-i and crystalization restore the quality of the songs, so those compressed music (.mp3, .wav, wma...) get their quality restored by an extensive use of the creative CPU which inverts the compressed enconded music into something way better than that and playing the music at same time. It kinda reminds me of the reverse engineer on the coding world... make a compressed .mp 128kbs 4 example into uncompressed quality of the music...
I heard spankys facepalm from all the way over here in Australia, quality > quantity according to spanky, my 7.3 is both
Actually they aren't that bad, and are pretty loud too with a good SNR. They were the best for their price. I paid like 250€ and even a single 100w hi-fi amp alone can cost around 500€ here, and still wouldn't have the technologies built in the Z5500 amp which is full of technologies for movies and gaming...

They just need a very little tweak on the equalizer to increase a little the higher frequencies, and they actually sound pretty good. They would actually sound like those very expensive speakers, if they used 2 way speakers (All they needed to do was to have a little tweeter for the high frequency, but that would also make the price to increase a lot)...
Compression. Or heavy limiting. Same idea.

Of course they suck hard, but I know how to compensate for bad onboard sound. I can measure/listen for signal clipping so I don't send square waves to my big boy speakers. Then I turn down the gain for the onboard sound and just raise the amplifier power. I've got enough amp power so it's no big deal. I'd rather buy better speakers before I buy a big boy sound card.

Here's a fun fact; on my laptop the volume has to be set to 70% for optimum quality. This is the level where there is no signal clipping.
On my computer, which has a 90s creative soundblaster, the volume must be 85% for optimum quality.
Well I never had any kind of problem using my old Creative sound card on 100%, never noted anything with the headphones, and also 50% volume in them is like what 80% volume sounds like on my current onboard soundcard (but at like 60% it starts the big huge scratches specially on AA gun sounds)...

And then, most of those high quality and even studio quality like soundcards are meant to be used with very high quality huge drivers headphones, there's not much point to this sound cards if you don't have headphones or don't want hardware 3D sound 5.1\7.1. But using speakers, the soundcard amplifying components aren't much important as the amplifier that will be amplifying will be external, but technologies like CMSS, X-fi and crystalizer always matter, no matter what kind of amplifier or headphones you have.
Keep Cool
« Last Edit: Tuesday, April 10, 2012, 19:05:56 PM by guily6669 »

Offline Spanky

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Re: What Makes an Excellent Sound Card?
« Reply #21 on: Tuesday, April 10, 2012, 19:13:07 PM »
Also XF-i and crystalization restore the quality of the songs, so those compressed music (.mp3, .wav, wma...) get their quality restored by an extensive use of the creative CPU which inverts the compressed enconded music into something way better than that and playing the music at same time.

Nope. Once it's gone, it's gone. You can't re-add detail.

I don't know what else to say. Creative sucks, Logitech sucks. It's fact, not a matter of opinion. Spend some time on Head-Fi.org in the computer section and the veil of Creative and Logitechs bloatware lies will be lifted.
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Offline guily6669

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Re: What Makes an Excellent Sound Card?
« Reply #22 on: Tuesday, April 10, 2012, 19:24:14 PM »
Nope. Once it's gone, it's gone. You can't re-add detail.

I don't know what else to say. Creative sucks, Logitech sucks. It's fact, not a matter of opinion. Spend some time on Head-Fi.org in the computer section and the veil of Creative and Logitechs bloatware lies will be lifted.
Yeah, they are not the best, but in almost every review, when like the Z5500 came out, it had like 9\10, 4\5....

And there are tons and tons of ppl who actually like them, I'm one of them...

All I can think off is 4 their price, they have the best quality ever. I also have a Class-A Thecnics amplifier (hi-fi type), but well, the technologies in it are.....0 and the price..... like almost 10 times what I paid for the Z5500, and it's just the price of the amp, it came with no speakers... (the amplifier is from my father not mine).

Also I connected the 100W professional 2-way huge speaker to the center of the Z5500 60w RMS output, and it actually even performed better than in the Thecnincs super expensive amp (The amp was only good to melt headphones, as it had HUGE headphones output), also no distortions on 100% and only started a very very little distortion at over 100% volume (using volume boost), and medium distortion at full volume boost, which can also damage the amplifier (it's meant for very low outputs only since it amplifies way more than it's rated capabilities). And with only that single speaker inside my room I was already having my hears hurting...
Keep Cool
« Last Edit: Tuesday, April 10, 2012, 19:31:58 PM by guily6669 »

Offline BlueBlaster

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Re: What Makes an Excellent Sound Card?
« Reply #23 on: Tuesday, April 10, 2012, 19:27:54 PM »
Give me a picture of this Technics amp please.



Offline guily6669

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Re: What Makes an Excellent Sound Card?
« Reply #24 on: Tuesday, April 10, 2012, 19:36:56 PM »
Give me a picture of this Technics amp please.
I don't have it here, it's from my father, and it also broke the treble button, which sounded like an alien sound at the end of it  ;D.

All I can remember is it had an orange light saying "new Class A synchro Bass" (or some crap like that) and a sticker saying Made In Japan :), I don't even know how much W it had, but all I know is it didn't had any kind of technologies like Z5500 has. But all I know is that it was good to kill headphones (it uses the big input, but I used to use normal headphones with a converter from 3.5mm to the big input like the electric guitars use).

Also I know my brother has a around 500€ sound table or whatever u call it (amplify and has effects and equalizer for lot's of inputs), but I can't compare quality with the Z5500, because the sound table uses only professional type of speakers which have something like 4 or 5 pins can't even remember, and it's a huge input which  you connect and then rotate it to lock the speaker cable in the sound table...

Something like this crap or so:

ps: I would love to test my bro's speakers in the logitech amplifier, but I dont't know which pin is what, and don't wanna fry my amp :)
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« Last Edit: Tuesday, April 10, 2012, 19:53:43 PM by guily6669 »

Offline Spanky

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Re: What Makes an Excellent Sound Card?
« Reply #25 on: Tuesday, April 10, 2012, 21:40:54 PM »
If the amp killed headphones, it was likely malfunctioning, outputting DC offset which makes the driver coils work against themselves causing heat which will destroy the driver in time.

Those Logitech speakers were probably reviewed by computer sites or gaming sites. You won't find them reviewed on audio forums because they aren't even considered worthwhile by enthusiasts. Those computer or gaming sites that reviewed them probably compared them to other crappy 2.1 systems made by Logitech, Creative, Insignia or some other Walmart brand.

When you really start researching, no modern speakers/amps can be considered high quality unless you're talking several thousand dollar hand-built in the USA specialty units. Companies just don't make them like they used to. Vintage is where it's at. Japanese-made amplifiers made in the 60's, 70's, 80's and sometimes 90's have true quality built in them. Quality speakers were often made in the US with thick marine-grade plywood covered with a quality veneer.

Quality multi-channel systems are difficult to have. You generally have to find a good multi-channel receiver and do research on what speakers play well with each other. Speakers in a box or prebuilt systems like Logitech's are never the way to go.
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Offline BlueBlaster

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Re: What Makes an Excellent Sound Card?
« Reply #26 on: Tuesday, April 10, 2012, 23:29:50 PM »
But all I know is that it was good to kill headphones (it uses the big input, but I used to use normal headphones with a converter from 3.5mm to the big input like the electric guitars use).

1/4" TRS connector. Sometimes they use 1/4" TS connectors.


Also I know my brother has a around 500€ sound table or whatever u call it (amplify and has effects and equalizer for lot's of inputs), but I can't compare quality with the Z5500, because the sound table uses only professional type of speakers which have something like 4 or 5 pins can't even remember, and it's a huge input which  you connect and then rotate it to lock the speaker cable in the sound table...

Sound board, mixer console, or pre-amplifier. Line level input has XLR connectors. Speaker connectors is Neutrik Speakon. Used for pro sound where they need thick and rugged cables and connectors.

Usually on pro level speakers with speakon connections, you can use a 1/4" TS as well.



Offline Spanky

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Re: What Makes an Excellent Sound Card?
« Reply #27 on: Tuesday, April 10, 2012, 23:56:48 PM »
If I am trying to find a speaker and amp set up what brands should I look out for?

For an amp, stay away from anything with a LCD display, the simpler the front and back is, the better. Generally ones Made in Japan pre-90's are good. Anything too old might need work. A lot of pre-80's stuff needs new capacitors, even some 90's stuff does. If you come across one, look the model number up on eBay, completed listings. Generally junker units never sell and you'll see one that was listed several times. Popular good quality units sell pretty frequently and you'll get an idea of the going rate. Higher end units will tend to have bridged mode, allowing you to hook 2 amps together, kind of like SLI or Crossfire, one amp per speaker. Real metal/aluminum fronts mean that they're older. Solid feeling knobs and switches are good too. The Sony ES series is very popular and has held it's value for quite a while.

For speakers, they're easier to tell. A serial number is a good start. Real wood veneer hints at higher end. The heavier they are, the better. It means they used thick plywood to assemble it and it's built well to eliminate resonance. If you see them in person, take a flathead and phillips screwdriver to remove the woofer. The size of magnet will tell you a lot about it. Bigger magnet is better, bigger ones will also be quite a bit heavy. Once that's out, take a look at the crossover circuit inside. Larger components on a dedicated circuit board or piece of MDF is a good sign. Low end speakers will have a capacitor or resistor stuck in the wire. If the woofer has "China", "Indonesia" or some other foreign location stamped on it, it's low end. Quality ones will have the manufacturer's logo on it and is likely to be made in the USA. While the woofer is still removed, feel how heavy the box is. If it's still ungodly heavy, that's good. See if there's foam inside to help reduce resonance and reflections. Cheaper speakers sometimes don't have foam or maybe they will have eggcrate style foam. My vintage speakers have a fiberglass kind of foam, like you would insulate your house with, real thick and soft. Finally, keep in mind that the woofers may need new foam surrounds. If they do, you can probably get the speakers for cheap as it takes $30 or so for a repair kit and some time/knowledge to fix them (I had to do it twice).

Here's some pictures of my speakers to kind of give you an idea of the features/looks that I'm talking about. Mine aren't high end, they're more middle of the road home style speakers, not super serious 3-way studio speakers with multiple woofers.
Deteroriated foam surround:

Cleaned woofer basket for new foam surround:

Cabinet after some sanding and a few coats of watco danish oil:

New foam surround in place:

Backside with high frequency adjust knob:

Stock crossover circuit:

Modded & upgraded crossover circuit:


Beautiful result:
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Offline BlueBlaster

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Re: What Makes an Excellent Sound Card?
« Reply #28 on: Wednesday, April 11, 2012, 00:33:45 AM »
If I am trying to find a speaker and amp set up what brands should I look out for?

If you think you're savvy and have some cash you can buy a class d amp kit off ebay and put it together yourself. Some are assembled, but it's much better to do it yourself if you have some soldering skill. However you'll also need to get yourself a power supply. You can build some speakers as well. A simple 2-way speaker design is easy to build and can sound very good. Building speakers is much easier than building an amplifier except getting everything you need can be more tedious.

Here's some links to get you started.
L15D amplifier is popular: http://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_from=R40&_trksid=p5197.m570.l1313&_nkw=l15d+amplifier&_sacat=See-All-Categories

Power supply: http://connexelectronic.com/product_info.php/cPath/25_46/products_id/117

Speakers, nuts, and crossover components: http://parts-express.com

More crossover components: http://www.mouser.com/

Design software: WinISD v0.7



Of course taking Spanky's suggestions is much easier. Building your own stuff is great once you've got the basics down. One of these days I'm going to build myself a nice 2-way, I've been forming the plans for a while.



Offline Archeh

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Re: What Makes an Excellent Sound Card?
« Reply #29 on: Wednesday, April 11, 2012, 00:52:13 AM »
Nate I may be interested in buying a final product off you come summer
Hi I'm Archeh I like too have fun online playing shoot-'em-up video games

 

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