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How good is onboard audio now?

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  • How good is onboard audio now?

    Basically, do I need a soundcard just for video content, mostly h.264?

    My system is high SQ for music with a headunit and sound processing, but I will add a CarPC for everything else. (Down the road I may push the CarPC for a complete media solution, but not for now.)

    I will probably use the Gigabyte H55N-USB3 mobo, which has the Realtek ALC892 codec, but does have one PCI Express x16 slot. I would use optical out from either the mobo or the soundcard to reach my processor.

    In my prior install, I used a Turtle Beach Audio Advantage SRM with satisfaction and still have that available.

  • #2
    you should be fine using onboard.

    at the very least, try it out, and if onboard isn't good enough, then get a sound card..
    My OLD 2001 Mitsubishi Eclipse GT:
    "The Project That Never Ended, until it did"


    next project? subaru brz
    carpc undecided

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    • #3
      Most onboard HD Audio implementations are pretty good, much better than most AC'97 implementations, according to online reviews I've read, and with my own personal experience.

      However, since you will be using optical out from the computer to your processor, I think one advantage HD Audio has over AC'97 is that HD Audio is supposed to have a more stable clock than AC'97 for S/PDIF, which should theoretically result in better sound over S/PDIF.

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      • #4
        the alc 892 is pretty damn good, its what i use thats on my motherboard. there is more definition when you go with a real soundcard, but the difference is unnoticeable unless youre familiar with the two.

        if you have a higher end sound system though, with sound processors and such, you might as well get a pcie soundcard. no reason to have all that special gear if you arent going to feed it with the cleanest signal possible.

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        • #5
          I used onboard for the longest time (first AC97, then whatever HD audio is on the socket 775 ION boards), but then installed a PCI-E Asus Xonar DX and never looked back. To me, the difference was night and day. Maybe it's just my ears, but the highs were crisper and lows were lower.

          Try the onboard at first, if you're not happy with it then try a discrete card.

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          • #6
            Two questions:

            In those cases where the card made a difference, were you folks using SPDIF/Opt only? I will not be using any RCA's.

            I have no problem getting a great card, but I may not be using its sound processing features. Since I read over at headfi.org that the board choice doesn't make much difference if only using SPDIF/Opt, am I doing overkill for looking at something like the Xonar Essence ST or the soon to be released Auzen X-Meridian 7.1 2G?

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            • #7
              In my case - no SPDIF/Optical connection was used. Standard analogue out to amp. For optical, I can't imagine there being a big difference since the output will either be PCM or an encoded stream that the amp decodes on it's end.

              In the analog outputs, the card made a huge difference. With my experience on my mediapc connected to an Onkyo 706 I've used both onboard as well as add-in. No noticeable difference between the optical connections since the output was either encoded in DD/DTS or was FLAC transmitted as multi-channel PCM.

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              • #8
                The Xonar that would fit the easiest is a PCI_E low profile designed for home theater. But the PCI_E soundcards are expensive. Personally I would never bother for car video, and probably not for car music either.

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                • #9
                  i think it would be best to try to locate a card you can return and try it out yourself.

                  audio is so subjective, i don't know if any of us can reliably predict--to your standards-- what good audio sounds like..(and this is really what it comes down to)

                  i run a external card in the car primarily because onboard was a little unreliable for audio processing..

                  at home, i use onboard for all 3 pc's that i have there, and they all work great-- one i constantly use for watching movies--connected to my 32" lcd, and a decent home theater(marantz reciever, 6.5" in-ceiling speakers, and a bazooka bass tube for a sub ) i think it sounds good at least...
                  My OLD 2001 Mitsubishi Eclipse GT:
                  "The Project That Never Ended, until it did"


                  next project? subaru brz
                  carpc undecided

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by soundman98 View Post
                    audio is so subjective, i don't know if any of us can reliably predict--to your standards-- what good audio sounds like..(and this is really what it comes down to)
                    so true. It also depends on what speakers you have. If you have stock speakers that came with the car...chances are you're not going to notice a huge difference. Slight probably...but with better speakers comes better audio reproduction.

                    With my car I replaced the stock speakers with decent Infinity's...the difference was literally night and day. Onboard sound didn't sound that great. With the Xonar, the music just "came alive". I went with the lower end Xonar also. The Xonar DX. it's a low-profile capable card that works great in a mini-itx case that supports an add-on card. It was also not very expensive. I believe I picked it up for right around $80 - which turned out to be a steal for the difference it made in my car.

                    But Soundman is right...it's subjective. You really won't know unless you try it for yourself. We can all share what our feelings are, but they're most likely different than your own

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                    • #11
                      Let me drill a little deeper here.

                      Regarding the SPDIF, how does its output differ between that of the mobo and the sound card?

                      I understand the sound card's quality will be reflected in its DAC to send signal out of the analog RCA's, but how much of the card's character is output via the SPDIF?

                      Again, I read a post on headfi.org that there is not much difference in SPDIF output between the mobo and the card.

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                      • #12
                        correct. there are small differences in the signal due to the tolerances of the components, but because there is no d/a conversion, most of the signal remains in it's original form (from what i understand, there are some issues with jitter on lower end optical outputs..)
                        My OLD 2001 Mitsubishi Eclipse GT:
                        "The Project That Never Ended, until it did"


                        next project? subaru brz
                        carpc undecided

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Well that pretty much answers my question. No sound card needed since I have processing for that already. Thanks all.

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