What's the status of onboard audio? (versus Creative X-Fi)

Discussion in 'Computer Audio' started by jmk396, Apr 8, 2011.

  1. jmk396

    jmk396 Gawd

    Messages:
    783
    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2004
    I've been using a Creative X-Fi XtremeMusic card for a while because I had a relatively old motherboard with poor onboard audio.

    Yesterday I purchased an ASUS Sabertooth P67 motherboard that has a Realtek ALC892 chip. It lists the following features:

    - Absolute Pitch 192khz/24bit True BD Lossless Sound
    - BD Audio Layer Content Protection
    - Supports Jack-Detection, Multi-streaming, and Front Panel Jack-Retasking
    - Optical S/PDIF out port at back I/O

    Is it worth it to still use the X-Fi card in my new system? I've always read that Realtek is "junk" but I'm wondering what I should do.

    I'm not an audiophile and I am a fan of a more integrated system (ie. less cards, etc), but I already have the X-Fi card so money isn't the issue.
     
  2. Rossi~

    Rossi~ 2[H]4U

    Messages:
    3,479
    Joined:
    Dec 8, 2008
    What's important to you in regards to sound on your PC?
    -- Do you use headphones?
    -- Do you game a lot and is game sound important to you?
    -- What's the rest of your audio setup like (e.g. speakers, amp, room)
    -- Listen to lossless audio (e.g. FLAC) or high compression mp3's?

    Onboard audio has come a long way in the past 5 years, so it's beginning to make sound cards redundant unless you really care about audio quality or are an audiophile. Answering the above questions would help point you in the right direction but you will have both options right in front of you so you yourself can test and try for yourself. Only you can truly answer the question "which is better" as you'll be the one listening (i assume), people have different tastes and hearing in general. Don't let numbers and marketing decide, let your ears do the test.
    But like i said, post the requested information and we can help you along.
     
  3. jmk396

    jmk396 Gawd

    Messages:
    783
    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2004
    -- Do you use headphones?

    Yes, I have a pretty nice set... (Beyer DT770 Pro)

    -- Do you game a lot and is game sound important to you?

    90% of my PC time is spent playing games.

    -- What's the rest of your audio setup like (e.g. speakers, amp, room)

    Speakers are Creative Z-5500 (5.1 with subwoofer). It's a small office room...

    -- Listen to lossless audio (e.g. FLAC) or high compression mp3's?

    I don't have any FLAC or other lossless audio files.


    One feature that I would like is multiple audio output. I'd like to have my 5.1 audio sent to my speakers (via three mini-jack cables) and to my front room via S/PDIF or HDMI (in PCM format). The reason is that I have an HDMI switch that I use to switch output from my PC to my living room TV so I can play games on the big screen, etc.
     
  4. Zerikin Loukbel

    Zerikin Loukbel Limp Gawd

    Messages:
    294
    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2007
    For my Logitech Z-5500 I find on-board sound to be fine. On-board chips are sufficient these days.
     
  5. MaZa

    MaZa 2[H]4U

    Messages:
    2,734
    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2008

    That headphone alone makes an actual soundcard more preferable. I cannot say for sure, but I am certain that the amplifier circuit (doesnt matter if you use external amplifier) is better than integrated soundcards.

    Also DAC circuit can be better on soundcard technically (this matters unless you use digital connection to device with its own DAC), but is it better in your X-Fi vs modern integrated soundcard I really cant say. Personally I do not have much faith in intergrated soundcards DAC quality. This propably doesnt matter on your speaker set, but with headphones you might hear soundquality difference.



    Nowadays games do not make much use of soundcards special capabilities like EAX and so on, its all software now.
     
  6. Rossi~

    Rossi~ 2[H]4U

    Messages:
    3,479
    Joined:
    Dec 8, 2008
    If i were you i would stick with onboard for speakers and get an external headphone DAC/amp for those Beyer DT770 Pro if you're interested in getting the most out of them.
    To be completely honest if you're into gaming (hence the 5.1) and do not listen to lossless music then having a bog standard creative XFi soundcard will do next to nothing especially pair with Z-5500, you'll most probably not hear any benefits but like i said, they're your ears not mine so test for yourself when you can :)
     
  7. 7andabit

    7andabit n00b

    Messages:
    30
    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2011
    OP how about lossless sound via hdmi?
     
  8. 7andabit

    7andabit n00b

    Messages:
    30
    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2011
    You are 100 percent correct. Seen my side of forum arguments over that issue. People getting advised soundcards just for gaming effects
     
  9. Zero82z

    Zero82z [H]ard as it Gets

    Messages:
    27,897
    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2004
    Onboard audio still sucks compared to discrete sound cards. Even a $20 ASUS Xonar DG will be miles ahead of the fanciest onboard solution. Since you have a good pair of headphones, you will benefit especially from a good sound card. Integrated sound can't provide enough amplification for headphones to sound good.
     
  10. BurntToast

    BurntToast 2[H]4U

    Messages:
    3,672
    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2003
    On-board sucks. Unless your ears are garbage, you can tell the difference (side by side).

    OP what is stopping you from comparing on-board to dedicated since you have them both in front of you?
     
  11. 7andabit

    7andabit n00b

    Messages:
    30
    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2011
    Its funny the headsets comes with their own amps

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produ...1&cm_re=gaming_headset-_-26-705-001-_-Product
     
  12. E4g1e

    E4g1e [H]ardness Supreme

    Messages:
    7,057
    Joined:
    May 21, 2002
    I really cannot recommend using that X-Fi Extreme Music soundcard in any modern system. Here's why:

    1) The Extreme Music is a PCI-Legacy card, first of all. As such, it might have compatibility issues with some PCIe to PCI bridge controllers.

    2) The early X-Fi PCI-Legacy cards have issues with most newer motherboards: Sometimes, when I start Windows, I hear no sound at all from the soundcard. When that occurs, I had to restart the system to get the card working again - and the card produces a very loud pop in the process. That could potentially cause expensive damage to the headphones or loudspeakers.

    3) The issue in point 2) is caused in part by all of the recent Windows 7 x86-64 drivers available for that card.

    So in other words, if you are going to run any x86-64 version of Windows, especially on a system based on a Sandy Bridge CPU, ditch that Extreme Music PCI in favor of a PCI-e sound card -- preferably one from any company besides Creative.
     
  13. MaZa

    MaZa 2[H]4U

    Messages:
    2,734
    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2008


    Good to know. If what you say is correct, then I have to be careful with my Elite Pro when I move to Sandy Bridge. I like that card, even though I only use it as a source to my Stello DA100 DAC. Its EAX and CMSS3D capabilities still get plenty of use from me.
     
  14. E4g1e

    E4g1e [H]ardness Supreme

    Messages:
    7,057
    Joined:
    May 21, 2002
    In fact, my particular Extreme Music suffered from this very problem even in my previous i7-920 system on an X58 motherboard running Windows 7 64-bit.
     
  15. Porter_

    Porter_ [H]ardness Supreme

    Messages:
    7,922
    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2007
    Rossi~ hit the nail on the head; everyone can give their opinion but you won't know until you try them both out. i can offer up my experience: i went from on-board Realtek ALC892 to my current X-Fi Titanium HD and the sound quality improvement is undeniable. well worth it to purchase a discrete sound card, in my opinion.
     
  16. timestretch

    timestretch Limp Gawd

    Messages:
    200
    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2011
    I say use onboard digital out to a receiver for your speakers, and plug those headphones into some sort of USB dac/amp like a Nuforce Icon HD.
     
  17. Archaea

    Archaea [H]ardForum Junkie

    Messages:
    9,477
    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2004
    +1

    I had a very similar experience. Night and day difference for high end headphone use. More volume and much better sound on the high end creative card over onboard.
     
  18. Westernesse

    Westernesse Limp Gawd

    Messages:
    209
    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2010
    Care to expand on how the sound improved?

    My onboard is Realtek ALC888 and I'd looked at a card before, but decided against it due to the onboard quality being good. From what I can anyone I've asked can tell onboard seems to put out clear, sound without static to my Sein HD 555s. The sound quality is noticeably worse on my cheap laptop or roommate's DSlite (still beats speakers), but I just can't find a lot of those faults with the onboard sound.
     
  19. Porter_

    Porter_ [H]ardness Supreme

    Messages:
    7,922
    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2007
    using Sennheiser HD280 headphones, everything sounds much more clear and vibrant with the Titanium HD. i'm an FPS gamer mostly; weapon fire has more impact, footsteps are crisp, and explosions are deep but still very clear. the difference was most heavily pronounced in BC2, though i didn't test a range of games in a before/after scenario. my ALC892 just sounded muted and lacking vibrancy...for lack of better words.
     
  20. Westernesse

    Westernesse Limp Gawd

    Messages:
    209
    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2010
    Thanks for the info.
     
  21. ThinJ

    ThinJ Gawd

    Messages:
    733
    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2007
    As someone who recently picked up a Titanium HD after going from onboard to an old X-Fi Xtrememusic, I say it's very worth it to get a modern soundcard.

    There's even a big difference between my old X-Fi and the Titanium HD.
     
  22. Spooony

    Spooony 2[H]4U

    Messages:
    2,073
    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2011
    Its simple. Audio is one of those things if you want to hear the difference you got to cough up. Buying a 50usd sound card you'll waste 50usd coz you won't hear much difference between a onboard and the card. X-fi is good but if your really looking for a real difference the STX or Forte, if you got a good set of cans it will make it come to life. Yes onboard with a good set of cans will be junk but it will be as junk as a cheap sound card. If you got a audigy card don't waste your money on a X-fi. They are X-fi versions where creative disabled features in the drivers. If you look around you might find your answer to turn your audigy into a X-fi with modded drivers.
    cans well Ad-800 can't really recommend anything else. Hook it up to a STX or a forte and you'll think god is speaking to ya
     
  23. Zero82z

    Zero82z [H]ard as it Gets

    Messages:
    27,897
    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2004
    That's not true at all. A $50 ASUS Xonar or used Auzentech card is miles ahead of any onboard audio in terms of sound quality. The audio industry is pretty notorious for diminishing returns. The more expensive the hardware, the less difference there will be between it and the next level up or down.
     
  24. Haiku214

    Haiku214 [H]ard|Gawd

    Messages:
    1,025
    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2010
    Do you like to add any digital enhancements (e.g. equalizer, EAX, etc.) to your music/movies on your PC? If so then you may want to get a dedicated sound card. If you just want a flat sound, then I believe you don't need a dedicated sound card.
     
  25. Spooony

    Spooony 2[H]4U

    Messages:
    2,073
    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2011
    onboard can do it aswell. you'll need the manufacturers program to intercept the D3D calls like alchemy do
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DirectSound

    Or you can get the DTS-610. Its a external solution converting everything to 5,1 digital in real time
     
  26. Spooony

    Spooony 2[H]4U

    Messages:
    2,073
    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2011
    Miles ahead. Your going to need a huge amplifier with a massive speaker setup to hear the difference. You won't hear a few db quality difference between them with a flimsy computer speaker setup. A soundcard can't make up for bad speaker quality. Unfortunately that is what many people try to do.
     
  27. amd7674

    amd7674 [H]ard|Gawd

    Messages:
    1,541
    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2007
    I'm not expert by any means, but my VIA HD Audio panel has equalizer built-in (using VIA 1708B onboard audio chipset)... Maybe you are talking about software vs. hardware equalizer... I don't have EAX and I'm sure my onboard is lucking punch power... I'm currently shopping for cans and I cannot decide between JVC RX700 and RX900. However down the road and if my mATX mobo w/6950 card allows me (free pci slot) I might pick up a cheap XONAR sound card...
     
  28. Zero82z

    Zero82z [H]ard as it Gets

    Messages:
    27,897
    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2004
    Yes, you need a decent set of headphones or speakers, but you sure as hell don't need a fancy amplifier or a huge speaker set to benefit from a dedicated sound card. If you really believe that, it just means that you're either a huge elitist or you've never actually used a budget sound card and have no idea what you're talking about.
     
  29. Mr. Wolf

    Mr. Wolf [H]ardness Supreme

    Messages:
    7,162
    Joined:
    Oct 8, 2006
    If you run digital out to a receiver or amp, a sound card is a waste of money. Anything else - analog surround, headphones, processing, etc. - yes, a sound card can make a big difference.
     
  30. Valshistixol

    Valshistixol [H]ard|Gawd

    Messages:
    1,809
    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2011
    My old X-Fi Platinum was way way better than any onboard. My HT Omega Claro Halo though... well it pretty much shits all over my X-Fi in every way, especially in the driver aspect. :D
     
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2011
  31. Gmok Bonecrusha

    Gmok Bonecrusha [H]ard|Gawd

    Messages:
    1,065
    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2004
    ????

    150 bucks will get you some nice cans and a nice sound card. And you WILL hear a big difference.
     
  32. Beezzer

    Beezzer Limp Gawd

    Messages:
    152
    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2009
    I built a second computer within the last month using an Asus P8P67 Pro motherboard and also wondered about getting a sound card, which I have in my original computer. I decided to first try without a sound card. I use headphones (Logitech G930) about half the time, 2.1 speakers the other half.

    I'm completely happy with no sound card, though I'm one of those that doesn't pay much attention to sound. It either works for me, or it doesn't, and "audio quality" is never in my vocabulary. Even my wife commented on the "great" sound coming from the speakers.

    That being said, if I overcome laziness, I should move the sound card to the new computer to actually compare the two.

    Good luck on making a decision.
     
  33. Valshistixol

    Valshistixol [H]ard|Gawd

    Messages:
    1,809
    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2011
    Your G930 are USB so having a sound card is kind of useless for them and unless your speakers are decent at all you won't really notice a soundcard.
     
  34. Beezzer

    Beezzer Limp Gawd

    Messages:
    152
    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2009
    I have to admit it never occurred to me that usb headphones didn't use the sound card, but you're right. And since my speakers are mid-quality, if that, I can remain lazy and not even bother with installing a sound card.