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Creative SB Audigy 2 vs Realtek ALC889 (Onboard)
fake1337
post Sep 13 2012, 23:56
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Hello.

So I have an old Creative Sound Blaster Audigy 2 laying around and I'm currently using my onboard Realtek ALC889. Now people in general seem to think that a dedicated sound card is always better than onboard sound, but the Audigy 2 is much older than the onboard sound. Which one of these would give the best sound?

My speakers are the Corsair SP2500, in other words rather decent (I guess?).
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DVDdoug
post Sep 14 2012, 00:31
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QUOTE
Now people in general seem to think that a dedicated sound card is always better than onboard sound,
Not always... If the on-board soundchip sounds OK (especially if you are not hearing any noise) I'd go ahead and use it. If there is any audible difference, it most-likely will be noise.

Distortion and frequency response for most soundcards are generally very good (probably better than human hearing). So if you are not hearing noise or some other defect, a "better" soundcard may not sound better. (There are much better ways to improve/change your sound., such as using an equalizer or changing your speakers.)

Speaking of changing the sound... Many soundcards come with a utility that includes an eqalizer andother "enhancements". If you like using those effects, you might prefer one soundcard over another if it has better effects, or a better configuration utility.

And if you are doing any recording, you might want to compare the input/recording noise also.

If you are recording with microphones and you want high-quality, it's best to get an external "audio interface" with proper XLR microphone inputs, rather than a regular soundcard. (The line input on many soundcards is acceptable, but the mic preamp is often low quality and it's simply the wrong interface for a good recording/performance microphone with a balanced low-impedence connection.)

P.S.
You can also perform RMAA Tests, or search to see if someone else has already done them. Just remember that a measured difference isn't always an audible difference. wink.gif

This post has been edited by DVDdoug: Sep 14 2012, 00:47
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punkrockdude
post Sep 14 2012, 00:34
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First of all, using these built-in converters I always oversample in Windows and Linux. In Windows I set audio sample rate in playback settings to 96kHz or 192kHz. I do the same in Linux using Pulseaudio in the file /etc/pulse/daemon.conf. Try this and report back what you think. Consider the hard rules in TOS #8 which is often mentioned when describing what you hear.
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Arnold B. Kruege...
post Sep 14 2012, 07:43
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QUOTE (punkrockdude @ Sep 13 2012, 19:34) *
First of all, using these built-in converters I always oversample in Windows and Linux. In Windows I set audio sample rate in playback settings to 96kHz or 192kHz. I do the same in Linux using Pulseaudio in the file /etc/pulse/daemon.conf. Try this and report back what you think. Consider the hard rules in TOS #8 which is often mentioned when describing what you hear.


Physician, cure thyself! All that high-sample rate processing likely has no audible consequences.
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dhromed
post Sep 14 2012, 08:43
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When I destroyed my onboard and got a separate card, the only thing I noticed was the reduced base noise. But that may be because it's a better card, not because it's separate. It's a little difficult to do comparative tests now. smile.gif
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hlloyge
post Sep 14 2012, 11:03
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Only thing I noticed is louder output form dedicated sound card vs. onboard. I guess that is because so-called line out isn't very specific about the output levels, at least when it comes to consumer audio.
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zima
post Sep 14 2012, 12:35
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Almost a decade ago I did have a setup where hearing the difference between on-board (probably worse back then, on average, than now) and dedicated (not even a very remarkable one - just an Aureal Vortex SQ2500) was fairly straightforward - and that on some inexpensive Creative 2.1 speakers, or cheap all-in-one Sony system.

Curious effect, generally - not really about all-around sound quality: it's just that, with dedicated, ~bass was clearly more tolerable up to a much higher loudness levels. With on-board, the speakers were just starting to... vibrate in a bad way & "crackle" (as in - also/particularly their cases) much sooner. Which was rather easy to hear tongue.gif
(what would be the technical description of what was likely happening? Some weird distortions with on-board? Or maybe the other way around, the dedicated sound card distorted the sound but in a way which was easier on the speakers - say, a sort of filter "smoothing" the signal a bit?)

This post has been edited by zima: Sep 14 2012, 12:37


--------------------
http://last.fm/user/zima
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Arnold B. Kruege...
post Sep 14 2012, 15:38
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QUOTE (hlloyge @ Sep 14 2012, 06:03) *
Only thing I noticed is louder output form dedicated sound card vs. onboard. I guess that is because so-called line out isn't very specific about the output levels, at least when it comes to consumer audio.


I've never seen a PC whose on-board sound didn't follow the AC97 spec which is 1 volt RMS max.

OTOH a lot of add-ons run to a higher standard - namely 2 volts. That is 6 dB louder which can really bring out the detail and warmth if 1 volt is kinda marginal in your situation.
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SoNic67
post Sep 15 2012, 00:31
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QUOTE (fake1337 @ Sep 13 2012, 18:56) *
Hello.

So I have an old Creative Sound Blaster Audigy 2 laying around and I'm currently using my onboard Realtek ALC889. Now people in general seem to think that a dedicated sound card is always better than onboard sound, but the Audigy 2 is much older than the onboard sound. Which one of these would give the best sound?

My speakers are the Corsair SP2500, in other words rather decent (I guess?).


The Audigy 2 card has better DAC's than on-board sound. That means lower noise, lower distortion. Now... in order to HEAR that difference you will need good sound sources (FLAC files at minimum, no mp3's) and good speakers/headphones.
Sadly your speakers are dedicated for gaming, they have no musical qualities, their internal amplifiers add so much distortion and noise that you will not hear any difference.
Try to borrow a good pair of headphones (not in-ear, not beats audio) and you will hear a difference.
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punkrockdude
post Sep 15 2012, 16:23
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QUOTE (Arnold B. Krueger @ Sep 14 2012, 08:43) *
QUOTE (punkrockdude @ Sep 13 2012, 19:34) *
First of all, using these built-in converters I always oversample in Windows and Linux. In Windows I set audio sample rate in playback settings to 96kHz or 192kHz. I do the same in Linux using Pulseaudio in the file /etc/pulse/daemon.conf. Try this and report back what you think. Consider the hard rules in TOS #8 which is often mentioned when describing what you hear.


Physician, cure thyself! All that high-sample rate processing likely has no audible consequences.

Know-it-all, silent yourself. When you are me you can subliminably call me an idiot. Regards.
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_if
post Sep 15 2012, 22:03
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The way I got around this question is by using my onboard S/PDIF output into my receiver. I don't have the fancy software that comes with, say, a Creative X-Fi card, which could certainly be of value to some people (like I sometimes wish I had a customizable equalizer), but when it comes to getting the signal through as purely as possible, the only way to do any better would be to bypass Windows' mixing, which I don't really want to do.
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nagual
post Sep 15 2012, 23:21
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QUOTE (fake1337 @ Sep 13 2012, 23:56) *
Hello.

So I have an old Creative Sound Blaster Audigy 2 laying around and I'm currently using my onboard Realtek ALC889. Now people in general seem to think that a dedicated sound card is always better than onboard sound, but the Audigy 2 is much older than the onboard sound. Which one of these would give the best sound?

My speakers are the Corsair SP2500, in other words rather decent (I guess?).


Why not check by yourself ? (But first download the drivers from the Kxproject, http://kxproject.lugosoft.com/down.php?language=en, to enhance the Audigy)
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saratoga
post Sep 16 2012, 00:24
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QUOTE (punkrockdude @ Sep 15 2012, 11:23) *
QUOTE (Arnold B. Krueger @ Sep 14 2012, 08:43) *
QUOTE (punkrockdude @ Sep 13 2012, 19:34) *
First of all, using these built-in converters I always oversample in Windows and Linux. In Windows I set audio sample rate in playback settings to 96kHz or 192kHz. I do the same in Linux using Pulseaudio in the file /etc/pulse/daemon.conf. Try this and report back what you think. Consider the hard rules in TOS #8 which is often mentioned when describing what you hear.


Physician, cure thyself! All that high-sample rate processing likely has no audible consequences.

Know-it-all, silent yourself. When you are me you can subliminably call me an idiot. Regards.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Physician,_heal_thyself

I suspect that you misunderstand what the phrase means. Basically, Arnold is pointing out that you shouldn't remind other people about TOS#8 while also violating it.
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krafty
post Sep 16 2012, 02:17
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I had to employ an ALC889 chip, which is considered the BEST Realtek onboard chip because of its 104dB in analog inputs so it's on par with professional cards in terms of capturing audio. None of the Audigy off-board ones I looked at were worthy cost-benefit.

This post has been edited by krafty: Sep 16 2012, 02:18
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IgorC
post Sep 16 2012, 03:02
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104 dB is a theoretical maximum. Now the final perfomance will depend of a particular implementation on each motherboard.

Ideal ALC889 specificatioons: DAC 108dB, ADC 104dB of SNR.
So testing the chain ADC+DAC should be demostrative.

Now the real results for ADC+DAC:
ALC889 -90.4 dB

Audigy2 -97.7 dB

This post has been edited by IgorC: Sep 16 2012, 03:06
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bennetng
post Sep 16 2012, 08:04
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Creative's Audigy and X-Fi cards have higher output level than the onboard ones. The onboard interfaces I used cannot drive my $80 Sony earphones to desired level. Some of them also have audible noise floor even when everything are muted.

Creative cards with hardware DSPs (10k1, 10k2, X-Fi XtremeGamer or above) also support multi-client ASIO. Multiple ASIO applications can record and playback simultaneously. Even some semi-pro (especially USB and firewire) interfaces can't do that.

You can also install kX driver if you are using Audigy 2. Here is an interesting discussion about sound quality differences with different drivers:
http://www.hardwareheaven.com/general-disc...ty-1-0-why.html

Audigy 2 ZS measured with Lynx TWO
http://www.ixbt.com/multimedia/audiotrak/m...-pro-2496.shtml

This post has been edited by bennetng: Sep 16 2012, 08:27
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punkrockdude
post Sep 16 2012, 10:04
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QUOTE (saratoga @ Sep 16 2012, 01:24) *
QUOTE (punkrockdude @ Sep 15 2012, 11:23) *
QUOTE (Arnold B. Krueger @ Sep 14 2012, 08:43) *
QUOTE (punkrockdude @ Sep 13 2012, 19:34) *
First of all, using these built-in converters I always oversample in Windows and Linux. In Windows I set audio sample rate in playback settings to 96kHz or 192kHz. I do the same in Linux using Pulseaudio in the file /etc/pulse/daemon.conf. Try this and report back what you think. Consider the hard rules in TOS #8 which is often mentioned when describing what you hear.


Physician, cure thyself! All that high-sample rate processing likely has no audible consequences.

Know-it-all, silent yourself. When you are me you can subliminably call me an idiot. Regards.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Physician,_heal_thyself

I suspect that you misunderstand what the phrase means. Basically, Arnold is pointing out that you shouldn't remind other people about TOS#8 while also violating it.

Thanks for the wiki page. About the TOS #8, I don't know how I violated it. I only said what settings I use and I did not say anything about it being better. I only shared what settings I use. I did not share my opnions of it being better or worse. That must be like someone saying they use ogg and then we tell him he violated TOS #8?

I get the feeling that this forum is a place for those who always dreamed of being police but never for any reason became it. Therefore they throw TOS #8 around like crazy to make them feel like one. I might be wrong but it is the my general perception and I'll be glad if you describe TOS #8 more detailed than the Wiki. If I would have said "try 96kHz or 192 kHz because I think it is better" then I would have understood you. I would then have pointed out that it somehow is better. Now I only said what I use and told him to try it and report back what he thinks. I never said my opinion on what difference or similarity it would produce.

Regards.
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westgroveg
post Sep 16 2012, 10:13
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I have an X-Fi and ALWAYS end up with a mid/high end Creative card because my ears love the hardware post processing

I even mix it up with DFX software enhancements, most people here would I'm sure prefer *as close to original recording* sound however this is my preference and probably the main reason for a Creative card, the hardware enhancements
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westgroveg
post Sep 16 2012, 10:21
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QUOTE (punkrockdude @ Sep 16 2012, 22:04) *
I get the feeling that this forum is a place for those who always dreamed of being police but never for any reason became it. Therefore they throw TOS #8 around like crazy to make them feel like one. I might be wrong but it is the my general perception and I'll be glad if you describe TOS #8 more detailed than the Wiki. If I would have said "try 96kHz or 192 kHz because I think it is better" then I would have understood you. I would then have pointed out that it somehow is better. Now I only said what I use and told him to try it and report back what he thinks. I never said my opinion on what difference or similarity it would produce.
Regards.


The reason HA is Nazi like is because of its better educated member's long history dealing with misinformation going back before its inception
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