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Please guys, desperately need some help with finding a new soundcard!

Discussion in 'Soundcards, Speakers HiFI & File formats' started by POOTERMAN, Dec 17, 2018.

  1. POOTERMAN

    POOTERMAN Member

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    Hi guys,

    Been reading a few posts on these forums and can tell that you guys know what you're talking about so thought I'd ask here to see if anyone can please help me!

    My beloved Creative X-Fi XtremeMusic soundcard is suffering from distortion/crackle/static, it's well over 10 years old now and I've had 3 in a row and I'm struggling to find any more for sale on eBay and I guess that like everything else there comes a time where the internal components on a card just fail due to age and it's time to move on.

    The problem is I'm really struggling to find anything that sounds remotely as good as my old X-Fi!

    I appreciate that sound is subjective and everything sounds different to everyone else, I'm just trying to get a soundcard that offers me a clean bright sound with high-end treble but everything I've tried to date just sounds really dull and flat :(

    I appreciate my taste might not fit with everyone else's and that options on the Creative software like the 'Crystalizer' might be deemed as some folks as being just a software equalizer that is an aquired taste but I love the difference this thing makes to my music. I'm running a set of Logitech 5.1 Z906 speakers and trying to find a soundcard that can give me 5.1 surround and able to playback the many '.dts' encoded audio files I have stored on my PC.

    I'm not much of a gamer and don't use a headset. I just want a greT quality soundcard for audio playback of all the music files that I have stored on my PC. The 'gamer' software is of no interest nor is the headphone options or the 'case lighting' options but I don't mind having to pay more even if these things are part of the package so to speak.

    So far I've purchased a Soundblaster Z and a Soundblaster Audigy RX but have returned both due to not being impressed with the sound and not being able to get them to sound as nice as my old X-Fi. I've even had lengthy conversations via email back and fourth to Creative Labs asking for advice but I guess I just have to keep trying soundcards until I hopefully find one I like. Ideally I need an internal soundcard due to desk space limitations but I'm tempted to try the OMNI 5.1 External USB just to see if it sounds anything like my old X-Fi. It has a 'Crystalizer' option and a 'Surround' option too. Then there's the SoundblasterX AE-5 which I've read offers a better sound than the 'Z' series but after that card I'm lost for ideas and alternatives. I really don't want to go down the external dac route if I can find an internal solution.

    So just reaching out to you guys to see if any of you have replaced an old X-Fi card and found something that you truly believe sounds just as good if not better?

    Thanks for reading my lengthy post, I really appreciate your time and hopefully some of you can spare a minute or two to post some suggestions and some much needed words of wisdom. Seasons greetings to you all :)
     
    Last edited: Dec 17, 2018
  2. JonasBeckman

    JonasBeckman Ancient Guru

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    I'm a fan of Asus myself but I don't know if they still even make their sound cards anymore as I haven't heard anything new on that for a while and well while the cards themselves aren't bad the software is quite the opposite and new driver releases can be slow or downright dead shortly after launch or even remove features at worst.

    How the sound is perceived is also very personal and that might also differ from what you expect so picking one up only to be disappointed with the results and having to send it back and find a replacement isn't fun either.
    I think the new Creative card has gotten some pretty good feedback and reviews for what it offers and the price range and target group but that probably isn't going to say much. :)

    Not really sure what to suggest unless you can go to a local hardware store and they have some test system where you actually hear the device in action for music or movies or other media, just saying it has these or those components doesn't seem like it would help or overall reviews and user feedback though it can help with issues such as from the driver side and what to avoid.

    Although if you like Creative then yeah looking into their more recent offers and products might not be a bad idea if the older hardware is slowly disappearing, might be possible to find comparisons but then that would also be subjective from the person having compared the two devices. :)
     
  3. JonasBeckman

    JonasBeckman Ancient Guru

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    And then software wise you also have these enhancements and extras, Creative has a fair amount of options here even if I personally prefer most of it off but that can also differ or change results depending on what it has for earlier sound cards and what the software offers for their newer models. This isn't a area I'm really very good with at all either just to mention that and again personal preferences and such like the Crystalizer and other effects that you can utilize to alter the sound in numerous ways. :)
     
  4. POOTERMAN

    POOTERMAN Member

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    Thanks for your reply Jonas, appreciate it :) I've struggled to find Asus soundcards ( I don't even know if they make them anymore or supply them to Europe?) and after spending a long time reading reviews there seems to be a lot of problems getting their drivers working in Windows 10 and you have to rely on user customised versions. Haven't found any stores locally that even sell a range of soundcards anymore as we all know it's a dying concern and as you say it's a personal thing. I'm happier buying and having to return them and trying them out in my own room and on my speaker system if you get what I mean. I guess I just wanted to reach out to see if anyone had found a soundcard that they were REALLY happy with and if any old X-Fi owners had found a soundcard no matter what brand that they deemed to be an improvement etc. If anyone has any recommendations I'm very open to suggestions :)
     
    Last edited: Dec 17, 2018

  5. BOYDIE-NI

    BOYDIE-NI Master Guru

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  6. BOYDIE-NI

    BOYDIE-NI Master Guru

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    I have the DGX, pcie card with a great headphone amp and front panel connectors.
     
  7. KissSh0t

    KissSh0t Ancient Guru

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    I'm still using the X-Fi XtremeMusic myself and have a spare one if it dies, but if I was to be getting a new card I'd be looking at these, the first two are priced pretty good, the last one is quite expensive.

    ASUS Xonar AE 7.1 PCI-E Sound Card

    ASUS Strix Soar 7.1 PCI-E Gaming Sound Card

    ASUS Xonar Essence STX II 7.1 Sound Card
     
  8. mbk1969

    mbk1969 Ancient Guru

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    Since I play games and view movies only in headphones I don't care about whistles and bells, I care only about good quality stereo external DAC with HP amp. Recently I bought new one - Yulong U200, and I really impressed how good it sounds with Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro 80 Ohm. Also I know and like Aune T1, Audiotrack Dr.Dac 2 (or 3), NuForce Icon HDP, and FIIO E17 Alpen for IEMs.
     
  9. Tacoboy

    Tacoboy Master Guru

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    The Creative SB-Z can be connect with optical digital or analog, to the Z906, which connection did you use?
    Did you try both types of connections?
    Using (S/PDIF) optical digtal connection, with both the XtremeMusic and SB-Z cards, the sound quality should have been equal.
    Using S/PDIF optical or coaxial connection (and DDL or DTS-Connect), with just about any sound card, would (should) sound equal, with the Z906
    Using analog connection, the SB-Z should have sounded better then the XtremeMusic card.
    As the SB-Z comes with a better DAC chip.
     
  10. POOTERMAN

    POOTERMAN Member

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    @Tacoboy - I've always used analogue connection as I understood the point of optical was to have a 'pure' sound output to the speakers that bypassed all the onboard effects and wizardry of the Creative software. As mentioned before I really love the difference that the 'Crystalizer' and 'CMSS Surround' features make to the sound even if it is just elaborate customised equalizer software. I tried for days to get my Soundblaster Z to sound similar to my old X-Fi but no matter what settings and fx software I tried I always felt that the sound was flat and muddy and lacked any real presence. I'm so used to the clean bright high treble sound from 10+ years of my old X-Fi card and I jsut can't seem to replicate it. I'm going to try the AE-5 next and if that fails to impress I can only try the ASUS cards but as I'd read that most don't work under Windows 10 I'd kinda ruled them out. Do the ASUS cards work okay under Windows 10 and their drivers are ok now? If they do 5.1 and support DTS and comeone can recommend them then I'll check them out if you can tell me the card to go for. Thanks again guys, appreciate all your input and look forward to more if anyone can share their opinions :)
     

  11. POOTERMAN

    POOTERMAN Member

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    Last edited: Dec 19, 2018
  12. Mufflore

    Mufflore Ancient Guru

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    Get the AE-5 it is the answer to your prayers, you wont be needing the Crystaliser.
    Its the best sound quality multi channel PC soundcard due to the Sabre32 DACs.
    This is where your journey to high end sound starts.
     
    eGGroLLiO and POOTERMAN like this.
  13. nhlkoho

    nhlkoho Ancient Guru

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    How long did you have the SBZ? I think you're just so used to hearing music a certain way and you need some time to adjust. I was the same way with a set of Logitech speakers I had for 10+ years and when I finally upgraded to some high end equipment I was kind of underwhelmed at first. After a few weeks I plugged the old stuff back in and was amazed at the difference.
     
  14. Tacoboy

    Tacoboy Master Guru

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    Analog 5.1 from a sound card, can easily pass 24-bit/96K, 24-bit/192K or I guess the newer cards, 32-bit/384K analog audio.
    Where as S/PDIF (optical/coaxial), as 2-channel, can be 24-bit/96K or 24/192K.
    But S/PDIF 5.1 (which needs compression) is limited to 24-bit/48K which is about DVD movie level audio (or maybe gaming level audio)?
    DDL (Dolby Digital Live) is what Dolby uses for compression and DTS uses DTS-Connect for compression
    I've listened to Blu-ray movies, using S/PDIF
    If you wanted to try S/PDIF (optical)
    Get an Asus Xonar DS or newer DSX sound card, is comes with DTS-Connect, which i heard, 2nd hand, is some how better, then Dolby's DDL.
    Try using Unified Xonar drivers, for Asus cards, I use them for Windows 10 64-Bit.
    http://maxedtech.com/asus-xonar-unified-drivers/
     
  15. Tacoboy

    Tacoboy Master Guru

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    DGX comes with, or use to come with Dolby DDL, DSX comes with DTS-Connect.
    For analog, go with Xonar DX, better DAC chip, then DGX or DSX
    Also is comes with DDL.
    The older Asus D2 and D2X come with some really nice DAC chips (and DDL).
     

  16. BOYDIE-NI

    BOYDIE-NI Master Guru

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    POOTERMAN, I use the DGX primarily for the headphone amp to drive my Creative headset or Sennheiser headphones. Its a great amp especially on exciter mode, I only use a 2.0 setup for general use day to day but headphones for gaming etc. I also use the UniXonar driver I choose the low latency mode when installing the driver, and use a little program called Xonar switch to change things quite a useful app. I have never had any problems with the drivers under win 10 using either the official Asus driver or the Xonar Uni driver.
     
  17. POOTERMAN

    POOTERMAN Member

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    Thanks again for all the info guys. My Logitech Z906 5.1 speakers actually do DTS & Dolby Digital decoding so I guess I don't need to worry about the soundcard being able to do that (as far as I'm aware) when I want to listen back to my .dts audio files. I've just ordered the SoundblasterX AE-5 and it will be here tomorrow so I'll give it a good try out and report back. If I'm really underwhelmed I'll snag the Asus Xonar DSX 7.1 as they stock that in my local PC World store and it seems the better buy than the DGX as I'm not a headset user. I can test it out and use it as an excuse & comparisson as I've not heard an Asus sound card before so I'm also curious to see if it's vastly different from the sound you get from Creative cards. Maybe I might find it closer to the type of sound that I'm looking for that I used to get from my old X-fi card! :)
     
  18. mbk1969

    mbk1969 Ancient Guru

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    I am struggling to understand this sentence, because both "XX-bit" and "YY KHz" are about digital audio signal.
     
  19. IAmGhostDog

    IAmGhostDog Maha Guru

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    Nobody talks about these:
    https://www.newegg.com/HT-Omega/BrandStore/ID-11613

    It's always Creative/Asus.
    I have a 1st generation HT|Omega Claro that has been solid for 3+ years.
    It does everything I want it to
    Games/music/movies
    And the thing I like about HT|Omega is they get their drivers right the 1st time.
    I haven't put new drivers in in years.
    The only thing I've done is, I'm running the Claro ll drivers on my 1st gen card.
     
  20. -Tj-

    -Tj- Ancient Guru

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