Sound Card Search

Discussion in 'Soundcards, Speakers HiFI & File formats' started by davidarf, Mar 4, 2014.

  1. davidarf

    davidarf New Member

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    I run a Dell XPS8700 with Windows 8.1 and the on board sound card does not have the quality that I want. The control of sound is dominated by Windows 8.1 and is a complete mess, and has been since Windows 7.

    I have spent about 3 weeks hunting for a suitable sound card with no success and wondered if anyone out there knows of one that will fit my needs. I should add that I have no interest in games and do not need 7 speaker or 5 speaker output, or Dolby whatever number. My needs are simple:
    1. Headset connection so that I can listen to sound files on my PC, sound tracks on internet sites, make Skype calls and monitor sound coming into the PC.
    2. Analogue stereo line in for recording from my mixing desk, preferably using ASIO drivers
    3. Analogue stereo line out to feed sound to my mixing desk
    4. The ability to use any of the 4 sound connections without having to unplug devices
    5. Control software to set, in a single screen, the relative volume levels or mute as required
    6. PCIe or external connection
    Every card that I have checked out fails in at least one of these requirements, and thanks to some very helpful reviews I have been able to spot these deficiencies before wasting money on products that do not fit my needs. Many manufacturer web site fail to make these functions clear.

    I would not have thought that my requirements are unique, but the lack of suitable products seems to indicate this. Any help available on this would be much appreciated.
     
  2. Nono06

    Nono06 Master Guru

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  3. eclap

    eclap Banned

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    Sound blaster Z does all of that. In fact, so do Asus cards.
     
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2014
  4. Tat3

    Tat3 Ancient Guru

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  5. davidarf

    davidarf New Member

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    I have indeed checked the Soundblaster Z and it does not fit my requirements because the microphone in and line in share a single socket - therefore can only be used by swapping devices in and out. I have been in touch with Soundblaster and they confirm that none of their cards have the 4 separate workable ins and outs. They say that any card that has a designated line out socket is built so that the socket is cut off by having the headphone plug inserted.

    I have also checked many of the Asus units and so far all have fallen down on shared function sockets or lack of analogue ports.
     
  6. -Tj-

    -Tj- Ancient Guru

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    What about XFI Titanium HD, but idk if it can use all those channels at the same time, never tested it.

    Latest windows8.1 drivers fixed the rest and it remembers any audio mode/volume setting after reboot., this is a big + for me.

    Headphone jack and mic jack are separate, actually windows detects 2 separate mic outputs (guess one from the front) and one aux.

    If you have front case headphones output you can connect that to side of the card (via ac97 or hd audio), works perfect and with high volume output (10-14% is max or its to loud).
     
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2014
  7. Nono06

    Nono06 Master Guru

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    If you connect your microphone on the front panel (PC case using HD Audio cable), you can have the line-in in the back used for other purpose.
    I do not know what creative support said but it is wrong, just look at the user manual, and you can see that in the volume properties you can select the 3 "in" sources (HD Audio FP, back micro, back line-in). Your case is almost explained in the manual. But it is true that you have to configure the SW to select the "input" port you want to use/record

    For line-out turned off, I would be really surprised that there is no option that let you have the FP audio out working at the same time as line-out on the back. I have this option on my X-Fi sound card.

    Moreover, if this does not fit your needs, you can use both the new card and the integrated one at the same time. Therefore, you will have one extra microphone “in” port for example.
     
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2014
  8. elkosith

    elkosith Maha Guru

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    Maybe you could search USB Audio Interface instead of sound card?
    Most USB Audio interface will do what you listed above.
    However, most of them use studio recording input connections like XLR or 1/4' jack, therefore for you'll need adapters for your headset's microphone
     
  9. davidarf

    davidarf New Member

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    Tj, Thanks for your thoughts. The Titanium HD was my front runner option until I found a review that criticised it for the headphones muting the line out. This prompted me to check it out with Creative and they confirmed that it is true. I also asked specifically whether this applies to all of their cards and they said it was the case. I had not asked them about the front headphone socket connection and as my PC currently has both front and rear sockets this might be the answer. I do wish that the manufacturers would make their web site specification pages clear on these points.

    Nono06, again thankyou for your thoughts. I will investigate the front connection situation.

    elkosith and Tat3, I have considered external USB units, but could not find confirmation anywhere as to whether their headphone and microphone connections work with PC functions like Skype and Youtube. The Roland unit suggested will need further investigation. I will see if I can download the manual.

    Thankyou everyone for taking time out to make helpful suggestions. They have given me food for further thought and ideas to investigate.
     
  10. Darkest

    Darkest Ancient Guru

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    What about running two sound cards? I don't know for sure if this will work, but I'm using an external device for output, with my MIC leading into a Xonar DG. The DG is pretty cheap, and could be worth using for MIC, while the other card handles line in. This should also be possible with onboard. It would be dependent on the software in use, but I see no reason why it couldn't work. Another option would be to get yourself a USB MIC, of which there is a range from the low end right up to studio quality. That should free up the line in for the sound card.
     

  11. Nono06

    Nono06 Master Guru

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    I just made the trial, with my headset connected to the front panel (analog out + analog mic-in) plus my 5.1 amp + one source connected to the flexi-jack configured in "line-in" mode and everything can work at the same time.
    Once configuration is done, I do not have change anything afterward since the microphone FP and line-in are 2 different record peripherals.

    To sum-up:
    If I un-tick the option that turns off line-out when I plug the headphone on the FP, I have the sound on my Amp and on the headphone.
    If I configure flexi-jack to use "line-in", I can still use the FP microphone input for my headset and have "line-in" port on the back for capturing a stereo analog source at the same time.

    I'm using win7 64b, with latest creative drivers. The sound card is the one specified on the left.
    I guess other PCIE X-FI sound cards will behave the same way except maybe the titanium HD which is really different from connection point of view.
    Maybe -Tj- can confirm that :)
     
  12. -Tj-

    -Tj- Ancient Guru

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    Well if I plugin headphones in front headphones output it will mute my main speakers plugged in the back of the card.

    Idk where to do this

     
  13. Nono06

    Nono06 Master Guru

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    On my system it is there:

    [​IMG]

    Sorry it is in French, but if I translate the second option it says:
    "Automatically turn off speakers"

    The two options on that page are considered when a headphone is plugged-in
    But if you never found that option, I'm afraid that it does not exist on titanium HD driver :/

    EDIT: I'm in "Audio Creation Mode" but I think that option is accessible in every modes.
     
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2014
  14. -Tj-

    -Tj- Ancient Guru

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    Yeah its missing here..

    I have only headphones, think I had the same on my old XFI fatality pro gamer PCI.
    [​IMG]

    Maybe it works separate via digital? Im using analog 2.1 speakers.



    Although I mixing it with PAX suite for latest volume panel, Alchemy, DTS, etc. Except its driver, I used creative one.. Dunno if that makes any difference.
     
  15. Nono06

    Nono06 Master Guru

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    I did not find where the option state is saved in Windows registry :/

    I also have that option in the "Creative Console launcher":

    [​IMG]

    When looking at the HD audio specification, it seems easy to remove the detection of headphone connection (pin 10 should be removed) but I'm not sure if the audio output is always send to the FP.
    http://www.intel.com/support/motherboards/desktop/sb/cs-015851.htm

    I tried on my side to insert the headphone jack slowly, to check if at some point I can have some sound in the headphone (left speaker should normally be the first to be active) before the audio is cut off on the line output.
    Unfortunately my chassis connector detects the headphone before any audio can be hear. (So I end-up with no sound at all if I only insert the jack a little)
    Maybe you can try on your side :)
    Removing pin 10 from the HD audio connector is also easy to do and it is reversible
     
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2014

  16. DirkHardpeck

    DirkHardpeck Master Guru

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    I use a Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 for music recording. It will play any sound source from Windows and provide input for Skype and such as well, as it simple shows up as input/output sources in Audio Devices. I have used it in a pinch while gaming online for the superior audio as well as recording quality while I awaited a new soundcard, and found its use there to be exceptional, so Youtube should not be an issue.
     
  17. Tat3

    Tat3 Ancient Guru

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    Aye. I cant see how the Roland I suggested would be different from that. I used it to have guitar connected to it and was listenning that with headphones.

    I was looking at that Focusrite before I bought that Roland (a bit more expensive). Bought it cause Roland sounded way cooler than some Focusrite and it had positive comments about it's drivers, cant remember if there was some problems with Focusrite or not.
     

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