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Sound card recommendation, best sound...
ElephantTLK
post Apr 16 2008, 15:14
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Hi!

I am looking for high quality sound card. I want pure good sound. Nothing else. Support for games is in last place. I will use it mainly for listening to music and a little of watching movies. And maybe for occasional recording use... I have made a list of cards that i am looking:

- E-MU 0404
- E-MU 1212M
- Auzentech X-Fi Prelude 7.1
- M-Audio Audiophile 24/96
- M-Audio Audiophile 192
- ESI Juli@
- Audiotrak Prodigy HD2
- Audiotrak Prodigy 7.1 HiFi

And card must have full Vista support. What to choose?

Thanks smile.gif
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skamp
post Apr 16 2008, 15:17
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The Asus sound cards are reportedly excellent. My onboard audio suits me fine for now, but if I were to buy a new soundcard for music listening, I'd go for the Asus Xonar DX.


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ElephantTLK
post Apr 16 2008, 15:42
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I forgot Asus Xonar D2X. But is any card above better in terms of sound quality? What is best on this list?
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Slipstreem
post Apr 16 2008, 15:55
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I'd recommend buying the cheapest soundcard you can find with an optical digital output and then outputting it to a standalone Dolby Digital Hi-Fi amplifier. This places the DACs at a sensible distance (and with no direct electrical connection) from the electrical storm of interference that lives inside every PC and gives you the option of using proper Dolby Digital Pro-Logic II for films/music.

I took this approach when setting up my PC media centre/home cinema and always receive compliments on the sound quality from everybody who hears it. smile.gif

Cheers, Slipstreem. cool.gif
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j7n
post Apr 16 2008, 16:04
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I believe these semi-pro soundcards differ by number and kind of I/O ports. Sound quality is top notch on all of them.

If stereo* is enough for you, I can recommend E-MU 0404. I got a couple of those. EMU seem to have added Vista support in v2.0 drivers.

E-MU Digital Audio Systemss is the best example of Sound Blaster. I find it surprising that these pieces of hardware are not yet broken by Creative.

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* Quad is possible also utilizing digital S/PDIF output


This post has been edited by j7n: Apr 16 2008, 16:15
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ElephantTLK
post Apr 16 2008, 17:12
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So E-MU 0404 or E-MU 1212M are good choice? What about ESI, Audiotrack, Auzentech... Which card uses best DAC & opamps? I must say that i cannot deicide what to buy. But for now i am more on E-MU 0404 & ESI, Audiotrack side.
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2tec
post Apr 16 2008, 17:41
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QUOTE (ElephantTLK @ Apr 16 2008, 08:14) *
I am looking for high quality sound card. I want pure good sound. Nothing else. Support for games is in last place. I will use it mainly for listening to music and a little of watching movies. And maybe for occasional recording use... And card must have full Vista support. What to choose?

I normally would recommend one of the M-Audio Audiophile series, however, since you expressed a desire to run Vista and watch video, I'd instead recommend the Asus Xonar DX2.

However, imho, currently the best card for PC audio playback is the Audiophile 192.

This post has been edited by 2tec: Apr 16 2008, 17:45


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Sound of Perseve...
post Apr 23 2008, 21:09
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What about the E-MU 0202 USB? I would like stereo playback (and connect to either powered speakers or receiver), possible analog input (needledropping), and headphone listening, as well as portability option, so this "card" seems like the ideal solution for me, and the price is right.

Any thoughts on the 0202 USB?
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ethanw
post Apr 23 2008, 23:00
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QUOTE (Slipstreem @ Apr 16 2008, 10:55) *
I'd recommend buying the cheapest soundcard you can find with an optical digital output and then outputting it to a standalone Dolby Digital Hi-Fi amplifier. This places the DACs at a sensible distance (and with no direct electrical connection) from the electrical storm of interference that lives inside every PC and gives you the option of using proper Dolby Digital Pro-Logic II for films/music.

I took this approach when setting up my PC media centre/home cinema and always receive compliments on the sound quality from everybody who hears it. smile.gif

Cheers, Slipstreem. cool.gif


I'm looking to do just that. My current card converts everything to 48Khz though. I'll need one that will pass 2 channel 44.1Khz and not mess with it.
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Martel
post Apr 24 2008, 08:34
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QUOTE (ethanw @ Apr 23 2008, 14:00) *
I'm looking to do just that. My current card converts everything to 48Khz though. I'll need one that will pass 2 channel 44.1Khz and not mess with it.

If your endpoint device uses 48/96/192 kHz DACs then it will convert the 44kHz data to its native samplerate and bit depth as well. Or do you think that those devices have multiple DACs, one for each sampling rate/bit depth? The quality of resamplers used is a different story, though...


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ethanw
post Apr 24 2008, 14:21
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QUOTE (Martel @ Apr 24 2008, 03:34) *
QUOTE (ethanw @ Apr 23 2008, 14:00) *

I'm looking to do just that. My current card converts everything to 48Khz though. I'll need one that will pass 2 channel 44.1Khz and not mess with it.

If your endpoint device uses 48/96/192 kHz DACs then it will convert the 44kHz data to its native samplerate and bit depth as well. Or do you think that those devices have multiple DACs, one for each sampling rate/bit depth? The quality of resamplers used is a different story, though...


I could be wrong, but it's my understanding that my sound blaster live card will convert to it's native format at some point regardless of whether I use it's DAC or not. I'm pretty sure my Marantz SR5002 will accept and play 44.1, so I want to make sure it isn't converted anywhere in the stream.
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B.Fink
post Apr 24 2008, 18:17
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QUOTE (skamp @ Apr 16 2008, 16:17) *
The Asus sound cards are reportedly excellent. My onboard audio suits me fine for now, but if I were to buy a new soundcard for music listening, I'd go for the Asus Xonar DX.


I personally would not trust any reviews for ASUS products at present.
Their whole marketing is shady, just two recent examples:
-they claimed EAX 5.0 support and hardware mixing but this was reported as false
http://www.xbitlabs.com/news/multimedia/di...AX_Support.html
-they supply reviewers with test units that are different from those meant for sale (Eee900)
http://gizmodo.com/382474/asus-gives-revie...rs-free-upgrade

As for Vista support, research each product before buying, some - if not all - have issues with nForce motherboards.

This post has been edited by B.Fink: Apr 24 2008, 18:21
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ElephantTLK
post May 9 2008, 16:05
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Still donīt know what to buy. I am still searching for best soundcard for music. In price range of 100~240$. And with support for Vista and good support in future.

New list:

- Audiotrak Prodigy HD2, Prodigy 7.1 HiFi difference???
- E-MU 0404, E-MU 1212M
- ESI Juli@

Maybe something from M-Audio?
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Slipstreem
post May 9 2008, 17:43
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If you're planning on using the S/PDIF output to drive a separate AV amplifier, just pick up a $30 C-Media CM8738/8768-based sound card and run dOgbert's bit-perfect drivers. You can't get better than bit-perfect, to the best of my knowledge. smile.gif

Cheers, Slipstreem. cool.gif
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ElephantTLK
post May 9 2008, 18:07
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QUOTE (Slipstreem @ May 9 2008, 18:43) *
If you're planning on using the S/PDIF output to drive a separate AV amplifier, just pick up a $30 C-Media CM8738/8768-based sound card and run dOgbert's bit-perfect drivers. You can't get better than bit-perfect, to the best of my knowledge. smile.gif

Cheers, Slipstreem. cool.gif


Not for now. I donīt have any AV amplifier for now. Soundcard will be used for Darkvoice 336i headphone amp and Beyerdynamic DT880 headphones. I need analog outputs from soundcard. So i need quality soundcard. Later (maybe this year) i am planning to buy DAC. But for now i really need good soundcard.

This post has been edited by ElephantTLK: May 9 2008, 18:08
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Slipstreem
post May 9 2008, 18:15
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OK. I see where you're coming from, but does it really make sense to spend up to $240 now to cover the intervening period when you could save up to $210 by buying the C-Media and put that $210 towards buying an AV amplifier much sooner? The additional features and quality that you pay for on the analogue side with the expensive option will totally go to waste when you buy the AV amplifier and go S/PDIF.

Just my 2 cents. smile.gif

Cheers, Slipstreem. cool.gif
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ElephantTLK
post May 12 2008, 20:26
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@Slipstreem

Thanks for all help but as i said for now i need just the best sound card for money. AV amplifier is for now out of my range.
So if i go and buy one of these what is best buy in terms of sound quality? And will i be able to fully playback DVD VIDEO (concerts) and ripped video? Stereo in all i need. No surround because i dont have surround system.

Emu 0404 USB 2.0
Asus Xonar D2X
M-Audio Audiophile 192
Audiotrak Prodigy HD2
Prodigy 7.1 HiFi
ESI Juli@

Again. For now sound card is only option. What to buy?
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darin
post May 12 2008, 20:41
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How come you don't have the HT Omega+ in there? I think it's neck and neck with the Auzentech Prelude. I've ordered both and will be doing a direct comparison test. But, I am most likely going to go with the Prelude because it has bit-match play as I will be channeling this through my reciever.


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ddrawley
post May 13 2008, 01:18
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If I understand your requirement, for PC playback, I suggest you consider the ASUS Xonar DX 7.1.
It has the same CMedia 8788 chip as the DX2, and HT OMEGA cards. It does not have the TI Burr Brown PCM1796 codec of the DX2.
It does have these:
24-bit D-A Converter of Digital Sources:
Cirrus-Logic CS4398*1 for Front-Out (120dB SNR, Max. 192kHz/24bit)
Cirrus-Logic CS4362A*1 for other 6 channels (114dB SNR, Max. 192kHz/24bit)

It is reported to have very good Vista compatibility.

This post has been edited by ddrawley: May 13 2008, 02:11
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darin
post May 13 2008, 02:57
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The Asus card looks like a good card indeed. But the hardware isn't as good as the HT Omega+.


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mattdm11
post May 13 2008, 05:11
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QUOTE (ElephantTLK @ May 12 2008, 13:26) *
@Slipstreem

Thanks for all help but as i said for now i need just the best sound card for money. AV amplifier is for now out of my range.
So if i go and buy one of these what is best buy in terms of sound quality? And will i be able to fully playback DVD VIDEO (concerts) and ripped video? Stereo in all i need. No surround because i dont have surround system.

Emu 0404 USB 2.0
Asus Xonar D2X
M-Audio Audiophile 192
Audiotrak Prodigy HD2
Prodigy 7.1 HiFi
ESI Juli@

Again. For now sound card is only option. What to buy?


I have the Asus Xonar D2....I like it, but to be honest, I cant really remember what my old card sounded like, so it's hard to compare. I do know this - if you buy the D2, make sure to update the drivers....the software that you install for the card takes over your audio controls, and at least on my equipment, compresses the sound even more. I was helping my GF move a few weeks ago and was pretty pissed that her $100 speakers sounded better than mine.....well, I went and looked, updated the drivers, and with the update, you're allowed to turn off the "acoustic echo".....and things sound a lot better.

I'd love to hear if other Asus users turn this off as well, or if they think it enhances their card....
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ElephantTLK
post May 13 2008, 14:31
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Asus Xonar seems a very decent card. But is there difference beetwen PCI & PCIe 1x versions? Which is better?
Now i have to choose between this:

- Asus Xonar D?
- E-MU 0404
- Audiotrak Prodigy HD2
- Prodigy 7.1 HiFi

HT Omega Claro+ sounds very interesting and it seems like a very very good buy. But there is problem. Itīs not available in my country. And it seems very difficult to find in Europe.

And one more question... I have Abit IP35 board and this board have only one PCIE 1 slot above graphic card. So if i go & buy Xonar this is probably not the best place for it?
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darin
post May 13 2008, 15:12
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Why not buy it in America or ebay? You probably save a ton of money since the dollar is so much weaker compared to the euro or pound.


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ElephantTLK
post May 13 2008, 18:21
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QUOTE (darin @ May 13 2008, 16:12) *
Why not buy it in America or ebay? You probably save a ton of money since the dollar is so much weaker compared to the euro or pound.


Main reason is because i have to pay taxes, customs... Too expensive right now.
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WmAx
post May 14 2008, 12:56
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The E-MU 0404 USB is a transparent unit(just as probably all of the units you listed are), but it's super versatile; it has I/Os for virtually any analog or digital device, and can be used stand alone for most functions, even. It's like a Swiss Army Pocket Audio Box. smile.gif

-Chris
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