Dedicated sound card or onboard sound

Dedicated sound card or onboard sound

  • Dedicated sound card

    Votes: 24 42.9%
  • onboard sound

    Votes: 13 23.2%
  • something else

    Votes: 19 33.9%

  • Total voters
    56

killroy67

[H]ard|Gawd
Joined
Oct 16, 2006
Messages
1,257
Im just curious what people use these days, myself Im from the days of the early SoundBlaster cards. My first computer was a 486/66 with a dedicated SoundBlaster card, and ever since I have used SoundBlaster which is currently a AE-5.
 

Zepher

[H]ipster Replacement
Joined
Sep 29, 2001
Messages
18,768
I've got a Soundblaster ZxR in my main rig and onboard on my others.
 

GotNoRice

[H]F Junkie
Joined
Jul 11, 2001
Messages
10,430
I've switched to using an external DAC on my main gaming PC. I still use my X-Fi Titanium soundcard, connected to the external DAC via optical digital. I could just connect the DAC to the computer directly via USB, and not use the soundcard at all, but the USB sound interface is way too spartan for my tastes. I like the functions that my soundcard can provide such as CMSS-3D for fantastic positional audio when using headphones. Being able to run the soundcard AND the DAC together is really a best-of-both-worlds scenario. I've also had the best results with optical in terms of it being a bulletproof way to eliminate any ground-loop or other electrical background noise. Even USB still creates an electrical path from your computer to the DAC that can cause issues, but optical doesn't.
 

killroy67

[H]ard|Gawd
Joined
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Messages
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I've got a Soundblaster ZxR in my main rig and onboard on my others.
I was using the ZxR for awhile, but had driver issues with it when Windows 10 first came out.


I've switched to using an external DAC on my main gaming PC. I still use my X-Fi Titanium soundcard, connected to the external DAC via optical digital. I could just connect the DAC to the computer directly via USB, and not use the soundcard at all, but the USB sound interface is way too spartan for my tastes. I like the functions that my soundcard can provide such as CMSS-3D for fantastic positional audio when using headphones. Being able to run the soundcard AND the DAC together is really a best-of-both-worlds scenario. I've also had the best results with optical in terms of it being a bulletproof way to eliminate any ground-loop or other electrical background noise. Even USB still creates an electrical path from your computer to the DAC that can cause issues, but optical doesn't.

I also have the X-FI Titanium, great card, I used it for a long while until I got the AE5.
 

Zepher

[H]ipster Replacement
Joined
Sep 29, 2001
Messages
18,768
I was using the ZxR for awhile, but had driver issues with it when Windows 10 first came out.




I also have the X-FI Titanium, great card, I used it for a long while until I got the AE5.
I was using the ZX when I got Windows 10 and I guess the driver issues were fixed when I finally got the ZxR from a member here a few years ago.
 

ashmelev75

[H]ard|Gawd
Joined
Nov 29, 2007
Messages
1,796
HDMI audio, i've been using for over 5 years. 0 driver issues or any other nonsense.
 

sharknice

2[H]4U
Joined
Nov 12, 2012
Messages
2,629
I use an av receiver connected via HDMI.
Then I use headphones or speakers connected to the receiver.

Highest quality you can get, but more expensive than other options.
 

daglesj

Supreme [H]ardness
Joined
May 7, 2005
Messages
5,437
I like a USB DAC/headphone combo now. It's not like audio takes up more than 1% of CPU effort nowadays. All sorted technology now.
 

Darunion

Supreme [H]ardness
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Oct 6, 2010
Messages
4,145
Using a Schiit Hel currently connected to mackie cr3s or my dt-880 headphones with a modmic installed. I like it.
 

B00nie

[H]F Junkie
Joined
Nov 1, 2012
Messages
9,222
I use the computer only for gaming so el-cheapo USB headset is all I need for it
 

Nenu

[H]ardened
Joined
Apr 28, 2007
Messages
19,860
HDMI out to an AVR for 5.1, 7.1 and Atmos.
A high end USB DAC for stereo.
 

Ebernanut

[H]ard|Gawd
Joined
Dec 15, 2010
Messages
1,541
HDMI out to a receiver here as well. I think that's the ideal setup for speakers but it can quickly get expensive.

With most PC speakers I think good onboard audio is plenty good but if it uses a low end audio chip or isn't properly isolated from everything else on the MB it's probably worth adding a soundcard and if you end up looking at high end soundcards you might be better off making the next jump up to a receiver with regular speakers.

For headphones if I wanted something decent but not too expensive I'd get one of the USB headsets which also offer some semblance of surround sound, if I wanted something nicer I would get an external DAC/headphone amp with a nice set of cans. I don't use headphones much but my good old sony headphones plugged into my receiver that has a decent headphone amp probably falls somewhere between those other two options.
 

Algrim

[H]ard|Gawd
Joined
Jun 1, 2016
Messages
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i just watch a $350 audiophile setup vid with a good recommended one, ill go find it...

edit, amp was 100, dac was $120....
I love how it takes him 13 minutes to give you essentially three pieces of information (plus an alternate here and there)...

The setup I use the most is my phone out to my headphones. Second-most-used system is a mini-tablet out to a first gen B&W Zeppelin that I picked up at an auction for 75 USD.

Soon-to-be system is computer audio (on-board chipset) out to an older Onkyo receiver to a pair of Philharmonic AA+ speakers.
 

criccio

Fully Equipped
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Mar 26, 2008
Messages
13,921
Depends on the audio device for me. I have to use my Schitt stack with my HD650's but truth be told, i don't use them much anymore. I'm just using onboard for my speakers and the included USB adapter for my Logitech Pro X headphone and its all fine.
 

Sycraft

Supreme [H]ardness
Joined
Nov 9, 2006
Messages
4,981
I use an outboard DAC, which is effectively just a USB soundcard. I moved to an apartment and had to ditch my nice 7.1 setup so I wanted something that had a good headphone amp, good controls, etc. The RME ADI-2 DAC FS did the trick nicely.
 

Mizzer

Limp Gawd
Joined
Jan 21, 2021
Messages
165
For headphones: usb external dac like the SoundblasterX G6 or Schiit hel
For external speakers: hdmi to receiver
 

killroy67

[H]ard|Gawd
Joined
Oct 16, 2006
Messages
1,257
The results in the voting were pretty even, it seems like people are using a range of options these day for sound.
 

Nenu

[H]ardened
Joined
Apr 28, 2007
Messages
19,860
onboard with optical out is good enough for me and my setup.
The soundcard is where digital is converted to analogue.
When using optical, your soundcard is what is plugged on the other end.
This fits the vote option 'something else'.
 
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MacLeod

Supreme [H]ardness
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Jul 28, 2009
Messages
8,005
It depends on your motherboard. Most of the higher end boards have pretty good on board audio.

For several years I've been using a Klipsch Promedia 2.1 system and I plug my headphones into that. Plenty of power to push any set of cans I've used with it so far. No it's not "audiophile" and has no special processing but it's a clean, powerful amp for headphones and the speakers themselves sound really good as well.
 

pendragon1

Fully [H]
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Oct 7, 2000
Messages
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My preference as well - very annoying to see that it's no longer included on some motherboards (Strix Z590-i).
yeah a bunch of itx and some m-atx have turfed even the header, which is what i use with a little asus add-on card.
 

gamerk2

[H]ard|Gawd
Joined
Jul 9, 2012
Messages
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As a dedicated headphone user, I'm currently using a Sound Blaster Z, which does "good enough" for what I'm currently using.
 

LaCuNa

Weaksauce
Joined
Jun 3, 2014
Messages
116
I too come from the days of the original Soundblaster.

Creative’s software is amazing IMO…I had a ZxR and I really do miss it. You could really fine tune your audio.

However with an AVR connected with HDMI it’s pretty much plug and play. I was using an Onkyo and the 5.1.2 setup was awesome, especially with Dolby atmos. The wattage and maximum sound was deafening… much more higher than any dedicated PC speakers could go.

Has anybody tried hooking up a high end creative card to a quality AVR via optical? IIRC optical audio bandwidth is limited, especially compared to HDMI.
 

Sycraft

Supreme [H]ardness
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Nov 9, 2006
Messages
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I too come from the days of the original Soundblaster.

Creative’s software is amazing IMO…I had a ZxR and I really do miss it. You could really fine tune your audio.

However with an AVR connected with HDMI it’s pretty much plug and play. I was using an Onkyo and the 5.1.2 setup was awesome, especially with Dolby atmos. The wattage and maximum sound was deafening… much more higher than any dedicated PC speakers could go.

Has anybody tried hooking up a high end creative card to a quality AVR via optical? IIRC optical audio bandwidth is limited, especially compared to HDMI.
Optical (or coax) S/PDIF only do 2 channels natively. So if you want surround, you have to get a card that supports Dolby Digital Live or DTS Interactive encoding. With that support, they can output 5.1 channels, compressed. They don't do 7.1, or height speakers.
 

xDiVolatilX

Limp Gawd
Joined
Jul 24, 2021
Messages
323
Im just curious what people use these days, myself Im from the days of the early SoundBlaster cards. My first computer was a 486/66 with a dedicated SoundBlaster card, and ever since I have used SoundBlaster which is currently a AE-5.

My sound blaster ZxR is mind blowing. I can't turn up my headphones past 50% under any circumstance. I never stop being impressed by how good it is. I would buy it again. Love it. Also powers my Z5500 to chest pounding levels can't get past 50% on that either lol
 
Last edited:

LaCuNa

Weaksauce
Joined
Jun 3, 2014
Messages
116
Optical (or coax) S/PDIF only do 2 channels natively. So if you want surround, you have to get a card that supports Dolby Digital Live or DTS Interactive encoding. With that support, they can output 5.1 channels, compressed. They don't do 7.1, or height speakers.
No height, count me out then. Height is something I can’t go without now that I’ve tasted it.
 

Nenu

[H]ardened
Joined
Apr 28, 2007
Messages
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Has anybody tried hooking up a high end creative card to a quality AVR via optical? IIRC optical audio bandwidth is limited, especially compared to HDMI.
That wont serve any purpose.
A high end or low end card, or simply a stand alone optical interface will provide the same result to an AVR.
A soundcard isnt even needed for optical.
 

killroy67

[H]ard|Gawd
Joined
Oct 16, 2006
Messages
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My sound blaster ZxR is mind blowing. I can't turn up my headphones past 50% under any circumstance. I never stop being impressed by how good it is. I would buy it again. Love it. Also powers my Z5500 to chest pounding levels can't get past 50% on that either lol
I still have my ZxR, great card until Windows 10 hosed the drivers when it first came out. After constant fighting with Windows I gave up, took out the ZxR and put in my X-FI Titanium HD ( also a great card). Eventually Creative came out with new drivers and the problem was solved, so I went back to the ZxR for awhile until I got the AE-5.
 

xDiVolatilX

Limp Gawd
Joined
Jul 24, 2021
Messages
323
I still have my ZxR, great card until Windows 10 hosed the drivers when it first came out. After constant fighting with Windows I gave up, took out the ZxR and put in my X-FI Titanium HD ( also a great card). Eventually Creative came out with new drivers and the problem was solved, so I went back to the ZxR for awhile until I got the AE-5.
Really? I have always used the driver right off the creative website for win10 64 home & it worked fine every time. Now I don't even manually install it & a fresh reload of win10 64 automatically finds the correct driver & saves me a step lol
 

B00nie

[H]F Junkie
Joined
Nov 1, 2012
Messages
9,222
That wont serve any purpose.
A high end or low end card, or simply a stand alone optical interface will provide the same result to an AVR.
A soundcard isnt even needed for optical.
Many people don't realize this but S/PDIF interface that in most cases the optical connection uses is decades old and it was never designed for multi channel. It lacks the required bandwith to play anything uncompressed except plain stereo. That's why hdmi is a way superior method of transfer. Toslink is capable of 8 channels full bandwith if it uses the ADAT protocol but that is not the case in the majority of sound cards or AVR:s.
 

daglesj

Supreme [H]ardness
Joined
May 7, 2005
Messages
5,437
Really? I have always used the driver right off the creative website for win10 64 home & it worked fine every time. Now I don't even manually install it & a fresh reload of win10 64 automatically finds the correct driver & saves me a step lol

Yeah in nearly 30 years of using Creative Sound Cards on and off I've never once had a driver issue. Even cards that have been EOL for like a decade or more. I really don't get what people do with their systems to struggle so much.
 

killroy67

[H]ard|Gawd
Joined
Oct 16, 2006
Messages
1,257
Yeah in nearly 30 years of using Creative Sound Cards on and off I've never once had a driver issue. Even cards that have been EOL for like a decade or more. I really don't get what people do with their systems to struggle so much.
It's very simple, it was Windows 10 update that kept on installing the wrong driver after I installed the creative drivers. The problem wasn't with Creative, it was Windows 10 and their forced updates in the beginning, I don't know the percentage of people affected by this but I was one of them. Creative put out updated drivers that listed this problem in their list of fixes.

Capture.PNG
 

pendragon1

Fully [H]
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Oct 7, 2000
Messages
32,538
Yeah in nearly 30 years of using Creative Sound Cards on and off I've never once had a driver issue. Even cards that have been EOL for like a decade or more. I really don't get what people do with their systems to struggle so much.
only ever had issues trying asio for audio production. if your just gaming and normal use, they work just fine and id say my experience is the same.
 
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