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Looking for an internal soundcard replacement, win7 x64, stable drivers, no noise
ChronoSphere
post Jul 7 2013, 22:36
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I'm currently using my onboard realtek chip and it has annoying background noise - a typical shielding problem I assume.
The noise is always the same volume, so turning volume up drowns out the noise, which is why I set the volume to max and am feeding my stereo receiver with it.

I'm also using an old creative audigy soundcard for headphones, but the driver is not win7 x64 compatible - at least not stable. Every second time I wake my PC from standby, the card fails to work properly, producing heavy distortions, which won't go away until reboot. The microphone jack has heavy distortions all the time, so I'm forced to plug the mic into the realtek one, which brings back chirping noises....

So I guess it's time to look for a replacement. I'm not really ambitious, I will be using the roccat kave headphones with that card, so nothing high-end. All I want are stable drivers and no chirping noises.

I heard the Xonar series has driver problems, for example, is that true? Creative is also known for their buggy drivers, but I do like the bass/treble balance adjustments the have built-in. Any suggestions?
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dhromed
post Jul 7 2013, 23:02
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QUOTE (ChronoSphere @ Jul 7 2013, 23:36) *
I heard the Xonar series has driver problems, for example, is that true?


Nope.

Mine is a Xonar DG. Cheap. Good. Has a setting for boosting the volume for high-impedance headphones. Pick it up. Play music. Smile confidently.
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ChronoSphere
post Jul 7 2013, 23:53
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Hmm, is the headphone boost limited to stereo headphones? The Roccat Kave is a 5.1 one, 32Ohms according to the official site.

The card looks good though, is the only difference between DG and DGX the slot (PCI vs PCIe)? Any reason to go for the PCIe instead of PCI? I have both.
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extrabigmehdi
post Jul 8 2013, 01:06
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QUOTE (ChronoSphere @ Jul 7 2013, 23:53) *
The card looks good though, is the only difference between DG and DGX the slot (PCI vs PCIe)? Any reason to go for the PCIe instead of PCI? I have both.


Most recent motherboard have few, or no pci slot.
I'd get a pcie card, because you might upgrade your computer later and keep the soundcard.

This post has been edited by extrabigmehdi: Jul 8 2013, 01:06
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saratoga
post Jul 8 2013, 02:07
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QUOTE (ChronoSphere @ Jul 7 2013, 18:53) *
Hmm, is the headphone boost limited to stereo headphones? The Roccat Kave is a 5.1 one, 32Ohms according to the official site.


Probably the headphone output is stereo.
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Lear
post Jul 8 2013, 08:51
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QUOTE (dhromed @ Jul 8 2013, 00:02) *
QUOTE (ChronoSphere @ Jul 7 2013, 23:36) *
I heard the Xonar series has driver problems, for example, is that true?


Nope.

Mine is a Xonar DG. Cheap. Good. Has a setting for boosting the volume for high-impedance headphones. Pick it up. Play music. Smile confidently.

True for the Xonar DX at least. I encountered three different and annoying bugs. After a while I gave up trying newer drivers and switched to onboard audio instead.
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dhromed
post Jul 8 2013, 09:12
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QUOTE (Lear @ Jul 8 2013, 09:51) *
I encountered three different and annoying bugs.


You'll have to elaborate on that. I have no problems at all.
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dhromed
post Jul 8 2013, 09:14
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QUOTE (ChronoSphere @ Jul 8 2013, 00:53) *
Hmm, is the headphone boost limited to stereo headphones? The Roccat Kave is a 5.1 one, 32Ohms according to the official site.


Hmm, that might complicate things. Refer to the manual, I suppose.
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Glenn Gundlach
post Jul 8 2013, 09:34
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I have 4 Gigabyte mobos with Realtek chips and currently have no noise issues but I did for a while on two of the machines which turned out to be a ground loop (no surprise there). For test purposes only - NOT TO BE A FINAL CURE - try lifting the grounds using those 3 prong to 2 prong adapters from the hardware store and then one a a time remove the ground lifters. If all is quiet, remove the ground lift from the PC and keep removing lifters going until you find the culprit. Also, do you have any antenna / cable feeds connected for TV recording? If so, disconnect it for the test. In my case 2 of the machines had noise induced from the antenna grounds. If that is your problem the solution is a 'galvanic isolator' for the antenna feed and are available for $5-$10.

G
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skamp
post Jul 8 2013, 09:50
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QUOTE (ChronoSphere @ Jul 8 2013, 00:53) *
Hmm, is the headphone boost limited to stereo headphones? The Roccat Kave is a 5.1 one, 32Ohms according to the official site.


The Roccat Kave doesn't act like regular stereo headphones. It acts like a 5.1 system, with a 10kΩ input impedance according to the manual (I assume it's self-powered via the USB connector). It's meant to be connected to a 5.1 soundcard like any other 5.1 speaker system. You don't need (and don't want) a headphone out with those, only line-outs for Front, Surround and LFE (subwoofer), as well as a microphone input. Do NOT plug the green connector into a headphone out, and do not change the front line-out into a headphone out via the drivers or whatever.

Edit: if you want to use the headphones as a surround system, as intended, that is.

This post has been edited by skamp: Jul 8 2013, 09:52


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NEMO7538
post Jul 8 2013, 10:14
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QUOTE (dhromed @ Jul 8 2013, 00:02) *
QUOTE (ChronoSphere @ Jul 7 2013, 23:36) *
I heard the Xonar series has driver problems, for example, is that true?


Nope.

Mine is a Xonar DG. Cheap. Good. Has a setting for boosting the volume for high-impedance headphones. Pick it up. Play music. Smile confidently.
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+1 see Rightmark AA results 16/44, 24/44, 24/48 bits/kHz.
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Lear
post Jul 8 2013, 11:54
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QUOTE (dhromed @ Jul 8 2013, 10:12) *
You'll have to elaborate on that. I have no problems at all.


Sometimes one channel became almost silent. A reboot, or sometimes disabling and enabling the hardware, would fix that (several other people complained about it on an ASUS support forum).

Sometimes when playing a video clip (Youtube or similar), loud noise would play instead.

One media player would sometimes crash under certain circumstances, causing a very short piece of audio to loop continuously, forcing a reboot to get rid of it (didn't try the disable/enable fix).

Oh, and there was some issue with Foobar as well, but that one was easy to avoid (make sure a particular Xonar setting was disabled).

All problems disappeared when I changed to on-board audio, and whatever drivers Windows found.
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ChronoSphere
post Jul 8 2013, 12:02
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QUOTE (Lear @ Jul 8 2013, 09:51) *
True for the Xonar DX at least. I encountered three different and annoying bugs. After a while I gave up trying newer drivers and switched to onboard audio instead.

I also heard that it tends to switch back from 5.1 to stereo fill now and then, which would be very annoying.

QUOTE (skamp @ Jul 8 2013, 10:50) *
The Roccat Kave doesn't act like regular stereo headphones. It acts like a 5.1 system, with a 10kΩ input impedance according to the manual (I assume it's self-powered via the USB connector).

Yes, it is powered over USB. I guess that makes it not fall under "high ohm" scenario...

QUOTE
It's meant to be connected to a 5.1 soundcard like any other 5.1 speaker system. You don't need (and don't want) a headphone out with those, only line-outs for Front, Surround and LFE (subwoofer), as well as a microphone input. Do NOT plug the green connector into a headphone out, and do not change the front line-out into a headphone out via the drivers or whatever.

Edit: if you want to use the headphones as a surround system, as intended, that is.

Just making sure, does it damage the headphone if I tell the driver to treat it as >64Ohm?

QUOTE (Glenn Gundlach @ Jul 8 2013, 10:34) *
I have 4 Gigabyte mobos with Realtek chips and currently have no noise issues but I did for a while on two of the machines which turned out to be a ground loop (no surprise there). For test purposes only - NOT TO BE A FINAL CURE - try lifting the grounds using those 3 prong to 2 prong adapters from the hardware store and then one a a time remove the ground lifters. If all is quiet, remove the ground lift from the PC and keep removing lifters going until you find the culprit. Also, do you have any antenna / cable feeds connected for TV recording? If so, disconnect it for the test. In my case 2 of the machines had noise induced from the antenna grounds. If that is your problem the solution is a 'galvanic isolator' for the antenna feed and are available for $5-$10.

G

I don't have any antennae, and am using the rear output. Surprisingly, the front output is silent, while the rear one is not, even when testing stereo only. The noise is present in high GPU usage scenarios and when I use the mouse. It is present in both the Kave and my receiver, so it shouldn't be the fault of the headset. I'm not sure what you mean by lifting the ground wires, or rather, which ones you mean. It's a gigabyte mainboard btw, 990FXA-UD3

This post has been edited by ChronoSphere: Jul 8 2013, 12:07
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dhromed
post Jul 8 2013, 12:06
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QUOTE (Lear @ Jul 8 2013, 12:54) *
QUOTE (dhromed @ Jul 8 2013, 10:12) *
You'll have to elaborate on that. I have no problems at all.


[things]


To be honest, those sound like a single bad card, rather than bad-by-design or crap drivers. But I understand how it feels to be burnt by bad hardware.

I also understand how it feels to burn hardware, since that's why I had to get the DG in the first place. emot-science.gif
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Robertina
post Jul 8 2013, 14:17
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Quote from foobar2000's FAQ, section Troubleshooting:

QUOTE
Asus Xonar cards are infamous for their buggy drivers. We recommend getting a soundcard from another manufacturer instead.
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dhromed
post Jul 8 2013, 14:29
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Welp, all I got is my trouble-free use case as a lone data point.
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Robertina
post Jul 8 2013, 14:44
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Welp, note that your personal experience cannot be generalized and doesn't justify to deny driver problems as you did:

QUOTE (dhromed @ Jul 7 2013, 11:02) *
QUOTE (ChronoSphere @ Jul 7 2013, 23:36) *
I heard the Xonar series has driver problems, for example, is that true?


Nope.
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skamp
post Jul 8 2013, 14:59
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QUOTE (ChronoSphere @ Jul 8 2013, 13:02) *
Just making sure, does it damage the headphone if I tell the driver to treat it as >64Ohm?


You need to tell the driver that you have connected a 5.1 speaker set (i.e. make the outputs line-outs).


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ChronoSphere
post Jul 8 2013, 16:17
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That's not really what I asked, skamp. The headset supports stereo input as well (only green jack plugged in), so if I was to test it in stereo mode, would accidentally setting the driver to >64Ohm damage the headset?

I will probably give the soundcard a try, because amazon gives me 30 days to get a refund, but I'd also be interested in an alternative. Are those Terratec cards any good?
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Rotareneg
post Jul 8 2013, 16:33
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The headphones could only be damaged if you had the volume up so high that you blew the drivers out or melted the coils, which is rather unlikely to happen.
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Mach-X
post Sep 12 2013, 03:29
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SoundBlaster Z. I promise you will never look at another card again. I was hesitant myself, due to all the driver issues/problems of the past (also my onboard is quite capable). The Z drivers installed easily and first try in windows 8, alchemy installed automatically and detected my older EAX compatible games without a hitch (Steam installed games need a little extra tweaking because they don't install into a standard directory).

It's half the price of the old X-fi cards and does everything they did and more. Not to mention the dedicated headphone circuit is a BEAST. You know how in lesser solutions if you try and say crank an eq band in the 30-60hz range, all you get is compression and distortion? With the Z's built in eq if you crank the 30hz band up 24 db all you get is more bottom end than you will know what to do with, no noise/compression at all. Creative claims it's 600ohm capable and I believe every bit of that as I rarely go over the '15' mark in windows volume control with my 32 ohm headphones.
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ChronoSphere
post Sep 12 2013, 13:02
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I'm very w(e)ary of creative products to be honest, not only are the drivers pretty unstable, but creative also tends to drop support pretty fast. For example my old sound card doesn't even have win7 drivers. A 3rd party patched winXP drivers to work with win7 and win8, but they don't work for win8.1 anymore. Installation was never a problem, everything installs well, and the sound works - but then you get weird behavior like the distortions (win7,8) or missing sound (win8.1)

And it's not only soundcards. I used to be a fan of their portable players until they forced me to run winXP in a VM to be able to access my music files on it because their software didn't support vista64+ and the player didn't have a MSC mode.

I didn't go with the xonar yet either, mainly because of no spare funds and the fact that my CPU overclock wasn't as stable as I thought and going back to default clock somehow got rid off the background noise in the audio card (voltage didn't change). So for now I'm sticking with my realtek, but still taking suggestions.
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mkuhl2000
post Sep 17 2013, 08:42
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QUOTE (ChronoSphere @ Sep 12 2013, 07:02) *
I'm very w(e)ary of creative products to be honest, not only are the drivers pretty unstable, but creative also tends to drop support pretty fast. For example my old sound card doesn't even have win7 drivers. A 3rd party patched winXP drivers to work with win7 and win8, but they don't work for win8.1 anymore. Installation was never a problem, everything installs well, and the sound works - but then you get weird behavior like the distortions (win7,8) or missing sound (win8.1)

And it's not only soundcards. I used to be a fan of their portable players until they forced me to run winXP in a VM to be able to access my music files on it because their software didn't support vista64+ and the player didn't have a MSC mode.

I didn't go with the xonar yet either, mainly because of no spare funds and the fact that my CPU overclock wasn't as stable as I thought and going back to default clock somehow got rid off the background noise in the audio card (voltage didn't change). So for now I'm sticking with my realtek, but still taking suggestions.


I got a Xonar DG from Amazon for around $30 and don't regret it. I wanted a low cost card that would record at 24/96 and it does it without any problems. The PC I have it installed in is primarily used for just recording vinyl needledrops. As far as I am concerned...$30 well spent and no driver issues for what I use it for.
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Kohlrabi
post Sep 17 2013, 09:19
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I really hope people would stop recommending ASUS devices, when there is a well documented history of bugs and driver issues, e.g.:
http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index....showtopic=96974
http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index....showtopic=76543
http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index....showtopic=87345

Peter also recommends to avoid their devices: http://www.foobar2000.org/FAQ#troubleshooting

I didn't hear of any major issues with the latest generation of Creative cards. I'm still using an Audigy 4 myself, though.

This post has been edited by Kohlrabi: Sep 17 2013, 09:23


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john33
post Sep 17 2013, 09:37
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Well, I've used a DX for years and an Essence ST over the last few months and never had any issue with either. In fact, the output from the Essence ST is sensational. If you don't want to use the Asus drivers you can always use the Uni Xonar drivers.


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