Budget sound card suggestions

Discussion in 'Computer Audio' started by paco, Dec 12, 2013.

  1. paco

    paco Gawd

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    Fed up with my onboard sound. It has never worked properly. I'm running Logitech Z-640 speakers on them. Sure they are old, but have always sounded great for me.
    http://www.amazon.com/Logitech-Z-640-Speaker-Surround-System/dp/B00006HYPD

    Requirements...
    *5.1 capable for the Z-640's
    *Windows 8.1 x64 compatible
    *at or under $30
    *PCI or USB (not pci-e)

    Any help would be appreciated. Sorry for not being an audiophile.
     
  2. IdiotInCharge

    IdiotInCharge [H]ardForum Junkie

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    What's on your motherboard?
     
  3. cortexodus

    cortexodus [H]ard|Gawd

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  4. MattyC

    MattyC Gawd

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    ^ This. A receiver may not be budget at the outset, but it can last you for MANY rigs. And you never have to worry about it issues with drivers etc. I think mine is about 11 years old now and it has given me great sound over the years. Hardly the obvious choice (may not interest you), but it is something to think about.
     
  5. paco

    paco Gawd

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    My motherboard has some generic realtek audio. But the problem is it doesn't work properly. I've never gotten sound out of every speaker. I've updated drivers, etc, etc. Been that way since I got it. I know my speakers are good since they work in another machine.

    Plus, I'm hoping another card fixes my Battlefield 3 lockup issues. I haven't been able to get around those at all.
     
  6. dandragonrage

    dandragonrage [H]ardForum Junkie

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    Your onboard sound would have to be extremely bad to make buying a sound card a better idea than buying some speakers that aren't junk.

    You wouldn't happen to be expecting surround sound while listening to 2.0 sources, would you?
     
  7. King of Heroes

    King of Heroes [H]ard|Gawd

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    I don't believe you can get real 5.1 output over USB. The USB audio 1.1 standard that most of them follow only allows for 2 channels, so any you see that claims 5.1/7.1 is using virtualization of some sort (at least I think this is the case, someone will correct me if I'm wrong).

    So that leaves PCI as your only option. Newegg has an open box deal on an ASUS Xonar DG:

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16829132020R

    Techreport did a review of it: http://techreport.com/review/19997/asus-xonar-dg-and-xense-sound-cards

    So did HardOCP (well, the PCI-E version technically): http://www.hardocp.com/article/2012/07/09/asus_dgx_dsx_xonar_rog_phoebus_sound_cards/#.UqsiMPRDuv0

    Other than that, the Creative Audigy SE that got linked above would work too. Though honestly I would try and see if a receiver could fit into your setup. If your graphics card has an HDMI out then integrating a receiver should be pretty easy (and you could get lossless surround).
     
  8. paco

    paco Gawd

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    The speakers are not junk. The speakers work fine. The onboard sound doesn't work. And no, I'm not expecting that.

    I'm not looking for outstanding performance here. I'm looking to get sound out of 5 speakers and a subwoofer. Something my current onboard sound isn't allowing. That's it. Down the road, maybe I'll be in the market for an upgrade all around. But for now, I need decent cheap functionality.
     
  9. paco

    paco Gawd

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    Thanks, I'll check that and that Creative one out. No, my graphics card doesn't have HDMI out.

    Yes, my system is out of date, but works for what I need now.
     
  10. dandragonrage

    dandragonrage [H]ardForum Junkie

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    Well, what happens if you swap the speaker plugs around? Can you get sound out of all of them individually that way?

    When I say junk, I mean Logitech speakers in general. They've never made a good set.
     
  11. paco

    paco Gawd

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    Yeah, I've tried swapping stuff around. no dice. Works fine on another system.

    I've actually always liked these speakers. Had them for years. I don't exactly have a keen ear, but they've always been good for me.

    In the future though, I'll probably just go for a good set of 2 speakers. The room I have now doesn't lend well to the 5.1 layout. 2 or 3 and a sub is fine for me. But since I have the 5.1 now, I want to make use of it.
     
  12. ::cRim::

    ::cRim:: [H]Lite

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    They made one good set as far I'm aware. The Logitech Z5500 were one of the best sets they made back then and still consistently go for around $200+ on ebay even after all this time. I'd rather spend money on good headphones but that's my preference.

    Just a heads up. If you go with the newest Soundblaster Z cards, there is NO option to upmix 2.0 stereo to fake 5.1 surround. I don't know why they took away this basic feature. Hell even crappy windows drivers have a speaker fill option.

    The weird thing is their newest (old?) card the Audigy RX which has the same old chip as an Audigy 4 DOES have this option.

    If you are gaming its no problem since you will get directional sound. It just sucks for stereo music playback. SBX surround is not the same thing. It adds some really crappy effects and sounds terrible. Someone correct me if I'm wrong.
     
  13. GotNoRice

    GotNoRice [H]ardForum Junkie

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    Look for an older PCI X-Fi, they are still well supported by drivers and should do everything you need.
     
  14. 450

    450 [H]ard as it Gets

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    No.

    OP, just get this: http://www.amazon.com/Creative-Soun...0044DEDCA/ref=pd_sxp_f_pt/176-0814247-3188203

    A receiver makes no sense in this situation.
     
  15. PGHammer

    PGHammer 2[H]4U

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    Actually, Creative's PCI-E (and even USB) SoundCore-based audio solutions (including the one linked above) all support genuine 5.1/7.1 via three-cable output to 5.1/7.1 speaker setups (such as Logitech's Z series or Creative's own Inspire T5xxx/6xxx/7xxx) as does the PCI-based X-Fi XtremeMusic/Gamer (but NOT the XtremeAudio - which does not include the DSP); the same is true of the Sound Blaster Z (all variations). USB headphones upmix to 5.1 or 7.1 simulated - it's not true 5.1/7.1 as you can't fit a proper driver setup into headphones.

    Who told you that the Creative PCI Express cards don't support 5.1/7.1? The only Creative sound cards that haven't supported 7.1 are the Audigy SE and X-Fi XtremeAudio - and both of them DO support 5.1; that is going all the way back to the first Creative sound card that supported 5.1 - the original Sound Blaster Live (which gained 7.1 support via a driver update).

    A link to the quick-start for all Creative PCI Express sound cards is found here: http://support.creative.com/kb/ShowArticle.aspx?sid=96286