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Thread: m10000 on-board -> audigy 2 nx -> m10000 on-board

  1. #1
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    m10000 on-board -> audigy 2 nx -> m10000 on-board

    I finally have found some time to play around with my audigy 2 nx, so I was able to compare it to the m10000 on-board audio. The results are contained in this post. All of this stuff has been discussed before, but usually in fragments, and not in detail with my type of setup.

    As for context, at this time I am not interested in using any digital output since my amp does not support this, and I do not want more crap in my trunk. Also, I want to be able to use the PC for volume control, since this is hooked up to my steering wheel controls.


    INITIAL SET-UP

    Layout:
    For my initial install, I used the M10000 on-board audio to output analog 5.1, which then went directly into my amp. My amp has front, rear, and sub inputs, each with various gain and crossover controls. I have a 12" sub in my trunk.

    Problems:
    1. During windows boot-up, I got a nice big THUMP, like someone slamming my trunk shut. Annoying.
    2. The voltage level of the bass output was very low compared to the levels of the front and rear outputs. To compensate, I had to significantly increase the gain of the sub and decrease the gain on the fronts and rears. This made for a bad signal-to-noise ratio on the sub channel.
    3. Noise. If my engine was not running, for example, I could hear harddrive noise through my speakers, etc...
    4. Fronts and rears sounded flat. I believe this was due to the audio drivers diverting the bass from the stereo signal to the sub. Therefore all of my bass bas going to the sub, none to the fronts/rears. Sounds really bad at low volumes.

    Conclusion:
    Using the M10000 on-board audio for analog 5.1 is not a good idea. Time to try the audigy.


    AUDIGY 2 NX

    Layout:
    Creative Labs Audigy 2 NX is plugged into a USB2.0 hub, which is plugged into one of the rear USB2.0 ports of my Casetronic C134 case. I mounted the audigy right next to my amp, to minimize any interference. Here's a pic:


    Improvements over initial set-up:
    1. THUMP is gone.
    2. Noise is gone.

    Problems:
    1. Sub volume is still low compared to fronts/rears.
    2. Fronts and rears still sounded flat, since the 'bass redirect' does exactly that. It redirects the bass to the sub, which means that the other speakers aren't getting any bass. This sounds like crap at low volumes.
    3. There's now an occasional stuttering that I hear (roughly 25hz or so). I've been reading that this may be due to a XP SP2 usb2.0 problem, but I got all the newest drivers, etc, and it still happens. I also heard some stuttering when using an external USB harddrive... I read somewhere that the M10000 USB does not play nice with the audigy. This may in fact be true.
    4. The audigy uses an amazing amount of CPU power. It does not seem to matter if it's set to 5.1 or desktop speakers... it consistently uses more than 30% of the M10000 CPU power. This basically breaks any wmv or divx playing. Mpeg 2 still does ok, since it's hardware accelerated, but even it now had the occasional freeze.

    Conclusion:
    The audigy 2 nx and M10000 don't play nice with each other. Even if the stuttering could be solved, it simply uses too much CPU, and does not have the kind of 5.1 quality that I'm looking for. (not enough control of how stereo sound is manipulated into 5.1)


    CURRENT SET-UP

    Layout:
    I went back to using the M10000 on-board audio, but this time simply to output an analog stereo signal. No more 5.1. Switched my amp to take front/rear/sub signals from just one set of stereo inputs.

    Improvements over initial set-up:
    1. THUMP is still gone... yay! I guess it was caused by some sort of 5.1 initialization during windows boot-up.
    2. Sub is getting a good signal now, since my amp is just grabbing the low freqs from the single stereo signal.
    3. Even though there is some noise (more than audigy, which had no noise), it is much improved over the initial installation. Seems that the simple stereo output from the M10000 has a much better signal-to-noise ratio than the 5.1 output. There are also fewer cables now.
    4. Fronts and rears no longer sound flat... obviously, they are getting bass now.

    Problems:
    1. Of course, I don't have 5.1 anymore, and I had to make my front/rear/sub relative gain adjustments directly on my amp with a screwdriver (no nice software interface). Oh well... at least I just had to do this once. I also still have a little bass boost knob sitting in the front of my car that I use to adjust the sub-level on the amp remotely, when switching between various types of music.


    CONCLUSIONS:

    1. I've decided that using pc hardware to output a 5.1 analog signal is not a good idea, at least not with the M10000 in a C134 case, which limits me to a USB soundcard. If I do try 5.1 some day, I will install an automotive 5.1 decoder, which takes the SPDIF signal from the M10000.
    2. Using the M10000 for stereo output is not perfect, but decent, and a good compromise.
    3. BestBuy has an awesome 30 day return policy.

    I hope these ramblings can help someone some day

  2. #2
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    Good read.. found it very interesting - was expecting a more complementary review of the audigy NX, but I guess not!

  3. #3
    Raw Wave rando's Avatar
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    I've been using the AudigyNX and M10k together for more than 6 months now and have never observed the stuttering you mentioned. I never watch video so I can't comment about that. I use only 4 channel sound (no sub) so I also didn't notice the bass management issues.

    There are a few more knocks on the Audigy also.
    1) It comes out of hibernation with the master volume at 100%
    2) It requires external power -- lots of it
    3) It doesn't always play nicely when hooked to a hub.
    4) The line-in and mic inputs are shared
    5) EAX settings are not restored at boot time. Your settings are preserved though. To get them to go into effect, you have to load the EAX console and make any change (and then change it back).

  4. #4
    Variable Bitrate silencery's Avatar
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    Good observations fellas... I tried out the audigy NX for a while on my m10000 and got more or less the same results.

    The cpu utilization was far too much for me to cope with, especially with centrafuse and bluetooth, so I dumped the idea.

    Instead, to cope with the low voltage on the m10000's onboard sound, I just put in a hardware EQ, and I'm happy with the results.

    BTW, good seeing ya today rando. Wish we'd had more time to talk, but hopefully the next time around I can see your setup. I think you might be able to fix the 100% volume issue w/ the new firmware on creative's site. The new firmware fixed the problem for me, but I was using standby.

  5. #5
    Who am I? HiJackZX1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rando View Post
    I've been using the AudigyNX and M10k together for more than 6 months now and have never observed the stuttering you mentioned. I never watch video so I can't comment about that. I use only 4 channel sound (no sub) so I also didn't notice the bass management issues.

    There are a few more knocks on the Audigy also.
    1) It comes out of hibernation with the master volume at 100%
    2) It requires external power -- lots of it
    3) It doesn't always play nicely when hooked to a hub.
    4) The line-in and mic inputs are shared
    5) EAX settings are not restored at boot time. Your settings are preserved though. To get them to go into effect, you have to load the EAX console and make any change (and then change it back).
    I dont think its the AudigyNX, I think its the M10000 board, it is so picky. With my Soundblaster Live, I did not have that flat sound.... I did have to adjust gain for sub, but not for the other speakers. It says somewhere to not hook it to a hub... or maybe I read that here.... its processing sound the hub will only slow down signal, etc. That is one thing I hate, is that you have that EAX stuff and so many consoles to do things...... Which is it, is the Audigy before the Live USB or after it? The Live doesnt need external power..... line in and mic are seperate...... never had that hibernation issue.... maybe you should pick up a Soundblaster Live!?!?!?!?!
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  6. #6
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    Source of Thump

    Have you tried just muting or reducing volume bars for microphone, inputs, aux etc channels in windows volume controls? You can also adjust bass/treble through main volume.

  7. #7
    Variable Bitrate Bimmerstyle's Avatar
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    I had pretty much the same problems with my M10000 onboard sound. I never used 5.1 since it seems obvious that these won't provide a good sound quality. It was simply hooked up in stereo. The main disasvantage was the background noice. It was horrible.

    So I installed an older Creative Extigy that I bought second hand for les then 35$. It uses much less processor power on the Epia. I don't really know how much anymore but I never had any problems with it. I could play any sound and video format without any problems. Also there was no noice and no thumbs of anykind. The only thing that I experienced was an occasional "tack" sound. Like a small rock hitting the windshield. But this happened only once in a few days. I think it was due to USB latency problems. Mine was connected directly to an USB port of the PC without a hub.

    I wanted to get rid of the Extigy when I installed my new system because I thought the onboard sound of my new Biostar MB would be a lot better but it turned out it's even worse then the Epia. So the Extigy goes back in. For now it's still not connected but this I will do in the next couple of days.

    I think for Epia users an Extigy instead of an Audigy isn't a bad choice. They're very cheap second hand and since they are old and therefor have lower system requirements they seem perfect to me to use on an slower system like an Epia based system. And they sound very good.

    Only problem in my opinion is the low voltage outputs. I have to turn the gain of my amp completely open to get a decent volume output. This is about the same as an onboard soundcard but when I bought it I thought it would have a higher voltage output then the onboard sound but it doesn't. But not many soundcards have a decent output since most of them are made for home use and a higher voltage isn't necessary there.
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  8. #8
    Maximum Bitrate customaudioman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rando View Post
    I've been using the AudigyNX and M10k together for more than 6 months now and have never observed the stuttering you mentioned. I never watch video so I can't comment about that. I use only 4 channel sound (no sub) so I also didn't notice the bass management issues.

    There are a few more knocks on the Audigy also.
    1) It comes out of hibernation with the master volume at 100%
    2) It requires external power -- lots of it
    3) It doesn't always play nicely when hooked to a hub.
    4) The line-in and mic inputs are shared
    5) EAX settings are not restored at boot time. Your settings are preserved though. To get them to go into effect, you have to load the EAX console and make any change (and then change it back).
    I use the audigy nx. the only problem I have is during boot time, it takes almost a minute to boot up to windows. But if I unhook it, my carputer boots up in 20-25sec. It just weird. It worked fine when I used the intel d865glc motherboard. But now I use a new intel dg965ss board. it just seems the driver are taking longer to load. both are micro-atx boards. Also the pop sound when I turn on the carpuer. I use a opus 150 ps, it doesnt have the anti-thump. but other then that, I like it. Just wished it boot faster. I use one gb of ddr-2 memory 667mhz. make no since to me

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