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Audio Digest thread

Discussion in 'Soundcards, Speakers HiFI & File formats' started by ROBSCIX, Aug 11, 2012.

  1. ROBSCIX

    ROBSCIX Ancient Guru

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    This thread is sort of a conversation with no set topics, well provided it is about audio it is acceptable but the conversation can evolve and change as we go.

    People can just discuss audio in here without a set question or topic as needed in other threads. I hope I am explaining the purpose of this thread.

    So, if you have anything to say or questions that don't really need their own thread post them in here.
     
  2. ROBSCIX

    ROBSCIX Ancient Guru

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    I have been noticing more and more of our members are moving away from the PC speakers and on to the high end HT gear.

    Do you think our members are becoming more descerning when it comes to their PC audio?
     
  3. sykozis

    sykozis Ancient Guru

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    A lot are, yes. Some are looking at the price of sound cards and questioning whether or not it's really worth it. Most "budget" sound cards provide great value but the value diminishes as the price increases.
     
  4. Rebel975

    Rebel975 Maha Guru

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    I think I've become more discerning with audio in general as I've gotten older. 5 years ago (only 23 years old atm, lol) I would of thought that a boombox sounded great. Today, I have $900 headphones. IDK if that's a blessing or a curse, but anyway:

    I had a Logitech Z-5500 at one point, and several other sets of cheapo speakers. Also tons of crappy headphones.

    I went from Tritton AX Pro's, to Turtle Beach HPX's, to Ultrasone PRO 2900's, to Hifiman HE-500's. Then one day I just woke up and decided that I'd had enough of the crappy desktop speakers. If I was going to have HE-500 headphones I was going to have speakers to match it. Here I am today, with the beginnings of a real HT speaker setup and certainly more to come in the near future. I even talked my GF in to helping me build a system for the living room.

    The thing that gets me is the difference in clarity between 'real' speakers and one way plastic speakers.
     
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2012

  5. sykozis

    sykozis Ancient Guru

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    Everyone has a different opinion on what sounds good. I've got a pair of Arctic P301 headphones. To me, they sound great. I paid all of $25 for them. I can't justify $900 for a set of headphones....nor will anyone ever convince me that any pair of headphones will ever be worth that much.

    A lot of people are moving away from PC speakers because most sound like crap and high-end HT gear allows you to tailor your audio experience to your liking. The price is the only drawback for a lot of people.
     
  6. ROBSCIX

    ROBSCIX Ancient Guru

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    Budget is relative. Truth is, if you want the best sound qulaity, you have to pay for the gear that offers it. You can buy an entry level card but it will not compare to a flagship model.

    Some use onboards and think that is the best their system can sound because they don't know any better. Once they add in a new soundcard/DAC..etc, suddenly they hear new aspects of their movies, music and games that was previously not available.

    It is a similar situation for speakers. The PC speakers are very limited and just cheap. Modern audio sources require good amps and speakers or headphones to sound their best.

    I figure a PC has two means of feedback and that is video and audio. You see people putting in Sli or X-Fire arrays costinga great deal of money and yet they run onboards with cheap plastic speakers. Ignoring one in favor of the other is a waste of a great system IMO.

    Most of it is ignorance to what is available or how to use what is out there.
    I am noticing more poeple are coming around though and figuring out that their sound is very important. Nothing like a great PC gaming system that offers both excellent graphics and amazing sound quality.
     
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2012
  7. Rebel975

    Rebel975 Maha Guru

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    Another issue is that people won't buy something unless they know that it will be better than what they have. A GTX680 will give you more FPS than a GTX280. However, a Xonar ST vs a Xonar DG basically comes down to "it sounds better because I say it sounds better" to most people, and that's just not acceptable. For $200 people need something more tangible. SNR, THD, etc. are meaningless to most people too.

    Then you get in to the fact that sound is so subjective, and objective differences can largely be claimed to be inaudible. (115 dB SNR vs 120 dB SNR, .001% THD vs .00001% THD, etc.) The whole "can you DBT the difference?" angle. I don't really have an opinion on the matter, but you can understand why people would rather drop the money on a GPU instead of a sound card. At least with the GPU they know exactly what they're getting.

    If there was an easier way for people to test things out then I think sound cards/higher end sound equipment would be more prevalent. As it is they basically just have to take someone's word for it. That also gets in to the fact that most audio reviews are laughable. And I may as well mention the audiophile market... cables, magic stones, and pseudo science.
     
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2012
  8. ROBSCIX

    ROBSCIX Ancient Guru

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    There is quite alot of difference between a Xonar DG and a Xonar ST. Not just "it sounds better because I say it sounds better!" If you can't compare the two directly you can compare the measurments. In the same way you would compare measurments for a graphics card etc.

    I agree though that the audio world is much different over other markets.
    The PC audio world doesn't move quite so fast as say the GFX market. You do require some research and background into the technology and components, if you want to have an idea of where you want to go. Come to think of it though, that is true for most of the components we deal with.

    Measurments are the same for any market, they are valuable to some and meaningless to others. Some people have no idea about GFX either, they buy it beause a person says it will make their games better. Which is also an opinion.

    Such as shame that you see people around from time to time that think their onboard and cheap speakers is where it is at!
    I guess for some they have to figure out, if they want better sound quality or not.
     
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2012
  9. sykozis

    sykozis Ancient Guru

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    It was easier when "mom and pop" computer shops would setup systems for customers to "test drive" with different specs and features. If done properly, it gave consumers a chance to hear the difference between different sound cards, and see the difference between different processors and graphics cards. Now with all the review sites most shops have stopped this practice. Since most pre-built systems use integrated audio and graphics, it's hard to judge the difference at major retailers like BestBuy....especially since they don't provide speakers or headphones with the displays.

    I don't have any issue with improving sound quality. Where I have issue is that prices are so inflated, they deter most consumers. The prices give no real indication of product or audio quality. I used to build computers for everything from multimedia to hardcore gaming.

    I've been in auditoriums where the owner has spent tens of thousands of dollars on "high-end" audio equipment just to have it sound like garbage. I've also been in auditoriums where the owner pinched pennies, cutting costs everywhere possible and had them sound amazing. Prices in the audio market are more about greed and exclusivity than anything else. Not everyone can afford to spend several hundred or even thousands of dollars on audio equipment so, by virtue of greed driven prices....they're excluded.
     
  10. F1refly

    F1refly Ancient Guru

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    when i built my new rig, i sold the xfi titanium card and went with onboard. I didn't notice any difference in games, then again, like most people, i just flat out don't really care. Audio was just never something that dazzled me.
    i don't even have a HT system anymore, When i got my flat screen, i just use the built in speakers. I think many people on average are like that, its not that their ignorant, anyone who has been to a decent theater knows what a nice system sounds like, its more likely they just don't care enough to bother.
    To some, visuals are top priority, to others it may be the story or characters and to some its the sound. either way i'll never understand why audiophiles have this need to make everyone like audio the way they do. its kinda weird really.
     

  11. Rebel975

    Rebel975 Maha Guru

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    I know there is, but when it comes down to it I think you'd have a hard time trying to get a random person on the street to explain what distortion is, or what 'DAC' stands for... you get my point. It's hard to have perspective on audio measurements, while 15fps vs 60fps is very easy to see. Even I would say my knowledge is pretty lacking, and I'm the 'audio guy' in my circle of friends. It's crazy.

    So, in the end it does come down to Reviewer XYZ said that a Xonar ST sounds better than a Xonar DG. Is that review worth the $175 premium to most people?


    Anyway, we probably shouldn't let this thread become another onboard vs sound card debate.


    What is the best system you've ever heard? How much did it cost?

    Anyone currently building, or planning on building something in the future? I'll be putting together a subwoofer soon. Any thoughts on ported vs sealed? How about the size of the driver? 10" vs 12"... etc.


    Here's something that happened to me recently:

    An old pair of Genius SP-HF1800A speakers that I had laying around.


    [​IMG]


    The top woofer in both speakers never seemed to be doing anything, so before I threw them out I decided to crack one open. Turns out they used the worlds smallest capacitor, and somehow managed to cross the wires. If I twisted the capacitor a little bit the top woofer would make noise. I can only assume the other speaker has the same defect.

    How could something like that pass QC?

    Also, this taught me how important enclosures are. If I moved the back panel around I'd get wildly different amounts of bass. It was neat. :nerd:
     
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2012
  12. DerSchniffles

    DerSchniffles Ancient Guru

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    Well in my case, I moved to my home theater system because I hooked up my computer to my tv. Alot of people are doing that these days. Gaming on my entertainment system is bliss. As far as sound quality is concerned, I feel that its purely subjective. I care but im still on onboard sound. I would rather spend the money elsewhere for now....Like yesterday, instead of buying a soundcard that will do 5.1 over digital optical, I bought an 8 gig DDR3 kit. Seemed more worth it to me in the long run haha. But honestly, its just like video in the sense that some people just dont notice things. e.g. i HATE screen tearing and I notice the slightest bit and HAVE to have vsync on. Some people never even notice it and others do. Same with audio. Some people wouldnt know good audio if it punched their infant in the face.

    I will get a decent sound card in the very near future as I definetly notice the difference, especially on lower end systems (i know, kinda backwards) as it gives you all the system can give if that makes sense.

    I also think audio is one of those things that gives diminishing returns REALLY quickly. Sure, I could spend $1000 easy on a nice new receiver and speakers (easily more than $1000) but is it going to be that much better to me than a $500 system? I could build the Mrs her own desktop for that much or a tablet for the kitchen like she wants or whatever.

    Just my .02 cents.

    edit: I also thought I would throw this thought in as well because its always bothered me the way companies advertise so terribly. I think its hard for alot of people to pick the right parts because everything is so talked up and hyped that its almost impossible to get the right product with doing a ton of your own research. There is so much "lower" end stuff that its down right confusing. Kinda in the same way video cards are confusing. "Hey that nVidia card is a 6 series, it must be faster than any of the 5 series cards..." NOPE. Sound cards do it, everything does it. How does the average person know if the $60 sound blaster is better than the $30 Asus Xonar? Most people dont research like us forum gurus do. Most dont even care in the first place. If it costs more, it must be better right? You think best buy knows better? How many retards have you talked to there or have heard giving absolutely terrible advice to someone else.....its no wonder so many people just dont care.
     
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2012
  13. ROBSCIX

    ROBSCIX Ancient Guru

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    Well first off you are comparing apples to oranges anyway and your analogy if flawed. A GFX card running 15 FPS would be next to impossible to play games on and a GFX card running at 60FPS would be much better. So for a fair analogy we can compare a AM radio to a CD player?

    It is easy enough to let the person listen to a good speaker system running a DG and then the same system running and STX. Differences would be more then slight. MOst that come in here asking for advice and end up buying even an entry level card notice differences over their onboards. The audio forum is full of feedback on that subject.
    Depends on who you are talking to. All the guys I talk with running high end PC audio system, so to them it is worth the investment.
    The point is, IMO is that you don't need to spend high dollars to get reasonable sound that is much better then onboard and plastic speakers.
    It is the same as other components, some people want thigh end and others, not so much.

    You can try and make a debate out of it but the facts remain, you have varying grades of soundcards that produce varying levels of sound quality.
    You can hear the difference and measure them, so they are there. As to if the differences are worth the premium is up to the individual. Same as any other PC component.

    I have heard more systems then I can count..around 10K possibly maybe a bit more.

    Well you can justify anything and it depends on where your priorites are.
    BTW, if you are using a digital connection to your receiver, using a new soundcard through digital would give you no noticable upgrade in sound because you are not upgrading the right parts. There is a thread that explains it a bit better that the top.

    You are part of the way there anyway, atleast you are using a HT system instead of some cheap old PC speakers.:)
     
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2012
  14. DerSchniffles

    DerSchniffles Ancient Guru

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    I have read that thread, but the only viable way for me to go is getting a whole new system....and my priorites are not into that. Im not necessarily looking for a huge boost in sound quality persay, I am looking to get the correct soundstage from my system, ie 5.1 instead of prologic II.

    Unless there is a better way...this is what i have to work with:


    Connections
    Outputs Component x 1, HDMI x 1
    Rear Input Connectors RCA (2 Audio Channels) x 1
    Rear Output Connectors Component x 1, Composite (Video) x 1, HDMI x 1

    Ideas?
     
  15. ROBSCIX

    ROBSCIX Ancient Guru

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    You are pretty limited by your input on that system.
    You only have a pair of stereo inputs?
    Does your system process HDMI based audio or only pass through or is it just an HDMI output?

    If you don't have any multichannel inputs, for analog, S/Pdif or HDMI you are stuck with stereo input. The best you can get is stereo or possibly stereoX2 or other upmix but that is no good for true 5.1. such as Dolby Digital 5.1 or above.

    Do you have a digital connection from your onboard to this system?
    If that is the case, grab a soudncard that has a digial encoder, for Dolby Digital Live and or DTS depending on what you receiver decodes.

    You said in the other thread you get DTS to work from VLC?
    That is good, you just need a card with an encoder, it will take the surround sound audio from your games and encode it realtime to DD/DTS and send it to your receiver where it will be decoded into discrete 5.1. Which will be much better over stereo!
     
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2012

  16. Rebel975

    Rebel975 Maha Guru

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    @Robscix: I'm probably not doing the best to get my point across. If there's any question, let me just start by saying that I was never advocating using onboard sound, nor was I trying to debate onboard vs sound cards.

    Anyway, I was just trying to think of reasons why a lot of people still use onboard sound, and I think my analogy was pretty good. My thought was that it's because people don't have perspective on the differences. It's hard to explain differences in sound, while it's very easy to explain differences that are gained through other components. Hence why we still see a lot of people using onboard.

    You can measure the differences between cards, but what does it mean to the average Joe? And I know one would be able to tell the difference through listening tests, but that's usually not an option.

    By the way, what all was in that $10,000 system? And if I may ask, what is your current setup?
     
  17. DerSchniffles

    DerSchniffles Ancient Guru

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    The HDMI is just for the output, the reciever is a DVD player as well. Its a HTiB system...The reciever does have spdif as well as digital coax. Right now I have it connected via digital optical from the onboard soundcard spdif (toshlink) to the reciever digital optical.
    Yes, I did say in the other thread that VLC will play DD and DTS from my reciever. Even in my sound options under windows it lists DD and DTS as supported formats. So it does recognize the reciever and its ability to play those formats, its just obviously (as you have informed me) not doing it to games due to the lack of decoders for that purpose.
    The card I linked in the other thread had DTS connect/interactive which is exactly what im looking for. So to me that is indeed a very welcome upgrade, even if the quality of sound isnt all that much better. I am willing to bet it will be a pretty noticable difference though ;)

    I tried to get it to work via hdmi from my video card but no dice. I honestly dont know what im doing either haha. I enabled the AMD audio device from HDMI (from the video card) and ran the digi optical from the tv to the reciever. It did put the sound through my reciever but it was the exact same thing: 2 ch stereo. So that didnt work. I also have a 3.5mm RGB/DVI jack in the back of my tv and tried going from that to the line in on my onboard and that didnt do anything. It was worth a shot haha.

    edit: the reason for trying that is because lg lists my tv as being able to decode DD 5.1 through the tv, so i was hoping i could make something work.
    My tv: http://www.lg.com/us/tvs/lg-42LE5400-led-lcd-tv

    Thanks for your help.
     
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2012
  18. elkosith

    elkosith Maha Guru

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    Same with me..

    When I was in secondary school I wanted this thing so much:

    [​IMG]

    I thought it was awesome with that' bazzoke' thing :D

    But my dad didn't buy it for me, so I built my own amplifier, tape player, and FM radio myself (with cheap PCB and components). Had a lot of fun making DIY audio kits back then.

    Now I will never buy anything like that
     
  19. RagDoll_Effect

    RagDoll_Effect Ancient Guru

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    Lol, cool 50 watts pmpo, that's like 10 watts rms :)

    regards,
    RagDoll.
     
  20. ROBSCIX

    ROBSCIX Ancient Guru

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    So you are basically good provided you get a card with a digital encoder such as Dolby Digital Live or DTS-Connect.
    That will give you the full 5.1 discrete soundstage for any 5.1 source on your system including games. You should notice a much better gaming experience with the new card. An entry level card will do for this task as you don't require all the analog muscle. Good luck with your purchase.
     

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