[Soundcard] PCI vs. onboard using S/PDIF

Discussion in 'Soundcards, Speakers HiFI & File formats' started by mp_3, Sep 2, 2012.

  1. mp_3

    mp_3 Active Member

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    Hello,

    My Creative XtremeMusic has seen better days and it is time for a new solution.

    The question is, should I buy a new PCI soundcard or should I use my onboard S/PDIF? My speaker system is a Logitech Z-5500.
     
  2. GenClaymore

    GenClaymore Ancient Guru

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    The only reason to use a sound card if your gonna plug into speakers thru Digital is to use the features of the sound card. Or if your motherboard do not have the DDL and DTS Encoders which is needed to game in digital with 5.1 speakers.

    If your Onboard audio do not have any DD live or DTS encoders, then your games will output 2 channels over Digital until you use a Encoder. Creative does sell a DD live/DTS Encoder package for X-FI Xtreme Music and there other cards that do not have it by default for 4 dollars.

    Also when your using Digital the Dac inside the device that your connection to is used and not the sound card dac. So it doesn't matter what you use when using Spdif as long what you plug into has the features you want and feel you need.

    If your not having any issues with your X-FI Xtreme music just keep using it thru analog. Now you can always upgrade to a different sound card if your gonna keep using analog outputs. In this case Most sound card's dac depending on which card. Is better then the dac thats inside the Z-5500s. SO you would get most outta it if you use analog 5.1 from a good sound card.

    But if you don't care about that yea you can use Digital out As long the Device your using as a transport has Digital Encoders like I mention which is a must for gaming over Spdif with muiti speaker setups. Unless you wanna use the upmix function of your Z-5500 in digital which isn't perfect.
     
    Last edited: Sep 2, 2012
  3. mp_3

    mp_3 Active Member

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    I think I'm gonna go with a soundcard anyway. But should I stick to the jacks or should I go with S/PDIF?

    I've always been using the jacks, so I don't know if there is a big difference.
     
  4. ROBSCIX

    ROBSCIX Ancient Guru

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    If you are buying a new soundcard, I would use analog connections and avoid digital with that system.
     

  5. mp_3

    mp_3 Active Member

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    Why would you recommend doing that?
     
  6. sykozis

    sykozis Ancient Guru

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    Because it will sound better
     
  7. mp_3

    mp_3 Active Member

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    Isn't it a bit easy to say? As far as I know the S/PDIF is a digital connection and digital sound has a better quality than analog. Am I right?

    I need somekind of explanation here.
     
  8. ESlik

    ESlik Ancient Guru

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    Some would say digital sound is better and some say analog is the way to go. I much prefer analog. Analog is a truer sound and most gamers and audiophiles run analog. I don't know or understand the technical descriptions,but I know what I hear and analog is my choice. Digital is simulated sound. ROBSCIX or GenClaymore can better describe the technical differences. Dacs and opamps etc. On board sound is no where near the quality you get from a decent sound card be it analog OR digital. Get a good sound card. You can switch from analog to digital and determine the best for your ears. If you must have digital,get the Titanium HD. If you want to really rock,get the Xonar Phoebus and forget about on board sound.
     
    Last edited: Sep 2, 2012
  9. mp_3

    mp_3 Active Member

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    Well, it sounds sensible.

    Now the hard part: Choosing a new sound card! What would you guys prefer?
     
  10. ESlik

    ESlik Ancient Guru

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    I edited my post. Read it again.
     

  11. mp_3

    mp_3 Active Member

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    Why do you prefer Xonar Phoebus? I've always been using the Creative X-Fi which I think is very great sound. Is the Xonar Phoebus much different?

    EDIT: The Xonar Phoebus seems a bit pricy for me. I would like to keep a maximum price at approx. 100 USD.
     
    Last edited: Sep 2, 2012
  12. ESlik

    ESlik Ancient Guru

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    Nothing wrong with Creative cards. I owned quite a few of them. The Phoebus on the other hand,is a whole nuther beast. It took me a while to figure out how to configure the myriad setting options,but once you get to know this card,it's really hard to beat. Clean precise directional surround sound in both 5.1 and 7.1 analog. It also has some neat pre-set enhancements for gaming,movies and music. Of all the many sound cards I have had,the Phoebus turned out to be the best. For me that is. I game only on my PC,and there is no better sound card for gaming in my opinion. If you can find a Xonar Xense anywhere,and if you can find one without the headphones bundled with it,you will have a card that is as close to the Phoebus as **** is to swearing. The Phoebus ain't cheap,but you get what you pay for. It's good to buy "good". Know what I mean? Good luck,and let us know what you end up doing.
     
  13. mp_3

    mp_3 Active Member

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    I can't find the Xonar Xense in my country without the headphones.

    What is an alternative?
     
  14. GenClaymore

    GenClaymore Ancient Guru

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    They don't sell the Xense without the headphones, Unless you get the Xense used.
     
  15. ROBSCIX

    ROBSCIX Ancient Guru

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    No, not entirely, it is dependent on a few factors.

    If you were using a low end onboard chances are digital connection to the Z-5500's would sound better. However, with a newer soundcard that has higher end components, analog connection would be better. The DAC inside those speakers is lower end in comparison to what is available on modern soundcards.

    Hope that helps.
     

  16. Mufflore

    Mufflore Ancient Guru

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    As Robscix said, it is down to the DAC and analogue components.

    All audio is analogue.
    At some point the digital signals need converting to analogue using a DAC (Digital to Analogue Converter), you are only deciding where this conversion is done.
    If you use analogue out, you are using the DAC in your soundcard.
    If you use digital out, you are using the DAC in whatever you connect the digital output to (ie your z5500, an AV amp, an external DAC...).

    So it makes sense to use whatever has the best quality DAC (and analogue circuits).
    This isnt always straight forward to determine but there is a general rule that works much of the time.

    Unless you have a pretty expensive amp (with its own DAC), a 'good' soundcards DAC will sound better.
    The major deviation from this is if you use a quality external DAC, this is effectively a quality external soundcard and can be used with a cheaper amp to get surprisingly good results.
    (The quality of the amp can also make a big difference but you may not notice it if your other kit isnt up to the same standard)
    But you can buy external DACs that arent as good as a soundcards analogue out.
    You get what you pay for to some extent but you must also be very cautious to buy something that is well reviewed and bear in mind that older products with good older reviews may not be up to modern standards.

    Some mfrs make just 1 or 2 decent products and the rest are poor.
    Other mfrs make good products but do make some poor ones.
    Choose wisely.
     
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2012
  17. pokerapar88

    pokerapar88 Ancient Guru

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    X-fi titanium fatal1ty or any Asus board with DTS & DDL encoders.
    If going for analog then... any good brand low end card will do.
     
  18. ROBSCIX

    ROBSCIX Ancient Guru

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    What cards ARE available where you are?
     
  19. mp_3

    mp_3 Active Member

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    I guess there is a pretty wide market. I look up the prices at edbpriser.dk which is a Danish price site for various electronics.

    If you should choose a soundcard after the Xense, what would it be? Then I can look it up.
     
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2012
  20. GenClaymore

    GenClaymore Ancient Guru

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    Asus Phoebus is another one but I don't know how much it cost in your area.
     

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