Razer Barracuda AC-1 Problems (A bunch of em)

Discussion in 'Computer Audio' started by GCTonyHawk7, Jun 26, 2008.

  1. GCTonyHawk7

    GCTonyHawk7 Limp Gawd

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    I will start by explaining my previous audio setup. Before a few days ago, I was using my onboard soundcard. This had all the ports I needed and was working great. I had my great 5.1 speakers hooked up, my headphones and their amp hooked up, and all was fine. I got to thinking though, $600 worth of audio listening equipment and I was using the onboard soundcard? Kinda lame I would say.

    Come June 5th, Woot.com had a great sale of the Razer Barracuda AC-1. ($50, and $5 shipping) Through a long string of fiasco it finally showed up on my doorstep on June 24th. I completely disabled my onboard, plugged everything in, installed the drivers, was going good. Then the shortcomings began. We will put them into a great list for you.

    - Problem 1: Inputs on AC-1 are complete shit
    The Razer AC-1 (at least mine) seems to have completely shitty inputs. It has the S/PDIF input which I am unable to use, and then the Line-in and Mic jacks. I use my Wii with my computer and route the audio through the line-in port. So, naturally, this is where I plugged it in at first. I started up my Wii and noticed a speratic popping sound. This kind of faded in and out, and I got over it. I started to play Brawl and noticed it was completely clipping random parts of the audio. I talked to my friend which is in to this sort of stuff, and he said that might be the Wii's fault. So, since I don't use the microphone, I could use that as another input. I tried that and that distorting goes away, but the popping/clicking sound was still there. On top of that, a new distortion issue arose where it would randomly get really distorted about once a minute. After playing with this for about 2 hours, I straight up concluded that the input system on the Razer AC-1 is complete shit.

    - Problem 2: No ability to map ports to what you want (Mic is always a Mic, Rear Speakers are always Rear speakers)
    On my onboard card, I had my speakers hooked up using three analog connections, and then also was outputting my headphones over the Mic jack. (When plugging stuff in, I was able to map any port on the onboard card to any purpose.) This was great, and made me happy. The $200 retailing soundcard can not do this. It maps the ports to certain functions and that is that. Don't like it, too bad. To hell if I am going to plug in my headphones every time I use them.

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    It was at this point that I started to rethink all this. Thinking about solutions. Stuff that used to work on my probably $5 audio card suddenly didn't work on my new premium audio device. So, I figured, why not use the strengths of both cards. Windows surprisingly has no issue with this.

    After much time and effort, I did map out a working and functional dual soundcard setup. I used the onboard to handle all the inputs, I used the optical output on the Razer AC-1 to go to my speakers, and the analog output on he AC-1 to go to my headphones (which shockingly, do work at the same time if you don't mess with settings too much) It all sounds simple, but it really isn't. I actually mapped out a diagram of all of this in this chart:

    Click to see diagram

    This all works, but has a good number of cons. For one, unlike that diagram shows, splitters don't work the other way as combiners. Therefore, I have no way to use my Wii with my headphones; annoyance. Now we get into more flaws of the AC-1:
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    - Problem 3: Stereo S/PDIF and no Dolby/DTS when also using Analog output as well
    When outputting something over the S/PDIF, you have a number of ways to do this. You can output using Dolby, DTS, or just plain digital data. I found that using DTS or Dolby made it so the analog port just stopped working; no reason, it just doesn't work. (I am using this analog to go to my headphones) So, I am limited to using the Digital 96KHz audio, which is fine. Although, for some reason, the AC-1 wants that to always be stereo. no matter what I try, it is impossible to get 5.1 audio to go over that connection. And yes, I know a lot of the directsound output settings and configuring the media players, and so on. It just outputs over stereo.

    - Problem 4: Crappy Analog sound when in conjunction with optical

    This is a brand new one, but for some reason there is an odd faint buzz/chripy sound on the left side of the analog output of the AC-1. (My headphones) Not sure why, there just is. It gets louder and software with the hardware volume control. Annoying as shit.

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    So now I am sitting here and thinking to myself. The inputs of the AC-1 suck. The S/PDIF of the AC-1 suck. The analog outputs of the AC-1 suck. The driver software sucks. So, what is good about the card? One thing, sound quality. The sound is miles better than my onboard, and it is the only reason I have gone through all this. Music, movies, games, they all sound so amazing when routing through this sound card. All my music seems to have new definition.

    So I am now to a decision. Should I send it back on RMA and get another one to see if it is better? Should I just return it and move on? Should I get a different sound card? Are there solutions? Hopefully someone can give some input.

    Thanks for reading. :)
     
  2. spaceman

    spaceman [H]ardForum Junkie

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  3. GCTonyHawk7

    GCTonyHawk7 Limp Gawd

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    Heh, thanks for the input. I was looking around at other sound cards. I was looking a lot at the HT Omega Striker. It is only about $80, and seems to be top notch.

    Does anyone know if these cards can have mapped in/outputs? I need to be able to send my audio to my speakers and my headphones at the same time. (The AC-1 only has one analog output possible)
     
  4. Istealfrombums

    Istealfrombums [H]Lite

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    I love the sound quality of my AC-1.

    My headphones sound SOO much richer than before and it feels like I'm at a live performance. I also get no more annoying buzz that I had with my realtek onboard when there is no outbound sound.
     
  5. spaceman

    spaceman [H]ardForum Junkie

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    prelude. sorry the omega is cool too.

    If you want a really different option. Get a sherwood 6500 receiver for $120 and just use dac on it. Pretty decent sound and flexibility.
     
  6. GCTonyHawk7

    GCTonyHawk7 Limp Gawd

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    That is an interesting idea. My onboard does have an optical output, so it is easy to just outsource the sound to a receiver or something to distribute to speakers and such. Hmmm, maybe I'll look into one of those instead of a sound card?
     
  7. Istealfrombums

    Istealfrombums [H]Lite

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    Your Z-5500 has a dac ready in it so that is useless. Reason the sound card is important is for DDL which implements surround sound (5.1) in games and movies through SPDIF instead of using 3 analog plugs to get it.
     
  8. GCTonyHawk7

    GCTonyHawk7 Limp Gawd

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    Well, ya, but my speakers to control and record inputs, and they don't simultaneously output to my headphones. Sooo, a box that does all this isn't really out of the question. One thing that serves as to complicate things, my onboard audio can not output the analog inputs over the optical-out. So, I would have to route my inputs from said box to the sound card as well for recording purposes.

    Argh, so much to deal with. Is the quest for better quality really worth it? :rolleyes:
     
  9. spaceman

    spaceman [H]ardForum Junkie

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    Um the dac in the sherwood alone is worth the $$. The amps in the sherwood are worth $250 imo. It is a very powerful receiver which will give better dynamics and overall performance.

    I have one running my $1500 (i PAID $500 USED LOL) Rocket 550 MKII and it is a slamming amp. No complaints. PLUS it downmixes dolby 5.1 to 2 channel for headphones. A very cool feature. You can run straight from the onboard optical yes. Another upgrade is a usb to coax converter like my Trends Audio UD-10. It is the path to righteousness I promise. Visit av123 for their X-series sale and whoooohaaa. Ok, so it gets a bit pricey but DAMN does it sound better than 5500s sorry. I do not even have a sub and I will KILL the 5500s in the low end. Room response is actual 38hz. That is damn good for a small floorstander.
     
  10. GCTonyHawk7

    GCTonyHawk7 Limp Gawd

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    Heh, I don't have a budget like that man. :eek:

    And I have me doubts that you could out-rock the Z-5500's sub with some bookshelves. ;)
     
  11. Shady240

    Shady240 Limp Gawd

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    ive come across a problem with the AC-1 myself. ive tried every setting imaginable and i cant get COMPLETE sound from my 5.1 setup. its always just the front left and right speakers. no rear channels, no center channel... has anyone else had this problem and found a fix?
     
  12. spaceman

    spaceman [H]ardForum Junkie

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    Wow. I missed that one. You are so RIGHT off. lol

    I could "outrock" the z-5500 with $100, craigslist and a taco salad.

    Sorry. Just very offended by that old, and outright silly remark.
     
  13. GCTonyHawk7

    GCTonyHawk7 Limp Gawd

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    Well, by "outrock", I was under the impression that you meant the bass. I am certainly not under the impression that the Z-5500s are better in sound quality than any bookshelves, just that the bass can hit harder without a doubt. For someone that listens to a lot of Hiphop and techno, they are well suited.

    If you still want to argue that point, we can meet up and throw in a competition bass CD and see who comes out on top. ;)
     
  14. spaceman

    spaceman [H]ardForum Junkie

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