Soundcard recommendation: from Audigy to non-creative card


Limp Gawd
Nov 2, 2005
Hi guys,

I'm having some issues with my old Audigy 2 ZS soundcard, being crackling sound & pops when gaming under heavy load under windows 7 64 bit.
This issue is intermittent & can be resolved by a reboot but I'm getting tired of the situation.
I've so far tried the 3 latest creative drivers & the latest Daniel k modified drivers without success, as well as moving the soundcard to another PCI slot.
Other fixes on the CL forums like resetting my BIOS to default etc seem to work until I put my overclock back, alas I am unwilling to run this system stock.

My onboard sound does not have this issue, the onboard is a realtek ALC-1200 chip, but I find the sound quality lacking: less definition & clarity compared to the Audigy.

The system is used for gaming & music listening about 40/60 and is connected as follows:
-rear stereo out to a Technics SA-EX100 tuner/amp & JB Systems M10 speakers
-front out to Steelseries Siberia 2 cans when using the rig late at night (a minority of the time)

I'm mainly looking for suggestions that do not include a creative chip so I would veer to ASUS, but I don't know if with the above setup the difference between an ASUS Xonar and the ACL-1200 chip would be noticable. Nor do I have any experiences with ASUS soundcards or know someone who has one (so I could drop in for a listen).

My maximum budget would be about $125.

Any experiences with the difference in sound quality between Xonar cards and the ACL-1200 chip be very welcome.

Edit: a little backstory to this issue
I encountered this around 2 years ago with my previous CPU/mobo combo as well after installing Vista, the same system was fine in XP.
Back then on the Creative forums it was suggested that it was an issue with my motherboard chipset as it supposedly only happened on Nforce chipsets and I gave up after a while.
The issue was more easily reproduced back then tho, just had to start a large fily copy to get the HDD nice and busy and then try to play some music in Winamp: instant cracking and popping in my sound.

Since then I've on and off tried to get this working, as my sig shows I now have another CPU, motherboard and HDD and I get the same issues. Now they are also throwing around the blame on overclocking.
The card has worked fine for a few months after my last attempt to get this working, which took me 2 weeks and god knows what I tried back then but it seems I got lucky. I had to reformat a few weeks ago and now have been struggling with this same issue again.

Some further testing today and eveything works fine, no issues when playing music while copying large files around nor in games such as Crysis after a few hours where before it'd last 30 minutes at max.
Sigh, the randomness of this is driving me crazy.

Anyway I think you can understand why I've had it with Creative and their idea of 'support'.
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Limp Gawd
Jan 8, 2005
I would get the Nuforce uDAC-2 at $130. Has RCA outs to your amp and a headphone amp in the front for your cans. Soundstage is a lot better than what you'll get on ASUS cards for that price range.

Blackbeard Ben

Limp Gawd
Mar 3, 2010
I would get the Nuforce uDAC-2 at $130. Has RCA outs to your amp and a headphone amp in the front for your cans. Soundstage is a lot better than what you'll get on ASUS cards for that price range.

Seconded! I was going to make the exact same recommendation. Or one of the last refurbished original uDACs for half the price (that's what I have).

The DAC and headphone amp both far outperform what you'd expect for the price. It's portable and needs no drivers - great for on-the-go use (or at work); it even plays nice with both Linux and OS X. In fact, the original uDAC will work out of an iPad (not that I ever plan on getting one)...

The finishing touch is that the RCA line-out automatically turns off with headphones plugged in, and the volume pot controls the line-out volume (so you can use a power amp instead of a receiver/integrated amp if you'd like).

In short, I got mine to use exactly like you want to - with an amp/speakers out of the RCAs and headphones out the front - so I think you'd be well served by it.