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SoundBlaster Audigy 2ZS or 1616M for S/PDIF *ONLY*?

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  • SoundBlaster Audigy 2ZS or 1616M for S/PDIF *ONLY*?

    Hi. I am trying to decide which soundcard to use in my car. I have a mini PC in the trunk and right now I'm using Creative's SoundBlaster Audigy 2ZS card. The card is connected to an Alpine PXA-H701 dsp processor. It sounds very good. But I can't help but wonder if the 1616M would yield even BETTER SQ, even through an all digital S/PDIF TosLink connection?

    OK....let's say they'd both be about the same, since they'd both output an digital toslink signal....what about their respective software? That's right, I'm talking about Creative Sound Mixer vs Patchmix software. Which of these two software applications would you say gives better sound quality?

    Creative's Sound Mixer gives you the following:

    1)Main volume
    2)A single Bass slider
    3)A single Treble slider
    4)EAX
    5)An EQ
    6)A few other funky things like pitch control, THX settings, CMSS, etc

    Patchmix gives you:

    1)A main volume slider
    2)A separate strip you can create strictly for ASIO or Wav output
    3)A ****LOAD of effects and processors ranging from different EQs to reverb effects to peak meters and so on
    4)You can mix and match several of these "effects" to create your own "sound" per'se....something Creative's Mixer doesn't do.


    The one BIG advantage of using the SB Audigy 2ZS, is the fact that the cardbus itself already contains a lineout jack that also doubles as an S/PDIF digital out connector. All one needs is a Toslink to mini-male adapter and you can enjoy an all digital s/pdif signal directly from the card.

    The E-MU 1616M however, requires that you connect the cardbus daughter card to an external Microdock via an RJ45-like cable. This Microdock contains a "true" Toslink S/PDIF output, as well as about a dozen line-in/line-outs. Not to mention requires an external power source. I would need to power it through the cigarette lighter.

    So my main question is, if I'm running *ONLY* a digital S/PDIF output to my Alpine processor, which card should I go with if I want the absolute best sound quality in my car? Should I continue to use the SoundBlaster Audigy card or should I connect the E-MU 1616M and couple it with the external Microdock? And is Patchmix better than Creative SoundMixer as far as SQ goes?

  • #2
    are you running your Audigy 2 ZS in bit perfect mode?

    also, if you're so concerned with SQ why are you trying to use the built in tuning features on the card and not the Alpine 701?

    If you want the absolute best SQ, you should get away from the 701 and go toa 900 or a DBX drive rack...
    Jan Bennett
    FS: VW MKIV Bezel for 8" Lilliput - 95% Finished

    Please post on the forums! Chances are, someone else has or will have the same questions as you!

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by RedGTiVR6 View Post
      are you running your Audigy 2 ZS in bit perfect mode?
      Yes.

      also, if you're so concerned with SQ why are you trying to use the built in tuning features on the card and not the Alpine 701?
      Good question. It's cuz I don't know how

      The guy at Traffic Jamz said he didn't really mess with the EQ on the 701 but that all the X-Overs or whatever are tuned up.....whatever that means.

      I really do wanna learn how to use the 701. I peaked at the manual but it doesn't make any sense to me. Is the thread that explicitly discusses how to use the 701's features even for beginners? I'm currently too afraid to even touch the damn thing

      If you want the absolute best SQ, you should get away from the 701 and go toa 900 or a DBX drive rack...
      If only I had that kinda money at my disposal

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by isamu View Post
        Yes.
        If you are then you're already getting the bit stream as best you can. Changing sound cards isn't going to change a thing.



        Good question. It's cuz I don't know how

        The guy at Traffic Jamz said he didn't really mess with the EQ on the 701 but that all the X-Overs or whatever are tuned up.....whatever that means.

        I really do wanna learn how to use the 701. I peaked at the manual but it doesn't make any sense to me. Is the thread that explicitly discusses how to use the 701's features even for beginners? I'm currently too afraid to even touch the damn thing
        So why did you spend all that money on it then? There are much cheaper options out there to get audio from your PC to your amps...

        Essentially what you're saying is that you're too scared to mess with the 701 and the EQ settings on it, but that you're more than willing to mess with it o the computer? What in the world is the difference then? Seems like a super waste of a 701 to me.

        BTW - Jason spent a LOT of time writing up this FAQ specifically to help out people like yourself.

        If you're not willing to do it yourself, I'd recomend taking it to someone to have them tune the car. You will get MUCH more out of it than you currently have, especially if the guy that messed with it the first time didn't do any EQ work...
        Jan Bennett
        FS: VW MKIV Bezel for 8" Lilliput - 95% Finished

        Please post on the forums! Chances are, someone else has or will have the same questions as you!

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by RedGTiVR6 View Post
          So why did you spend all that money on it then? There are much cheaper options out there to get audio from your PC to your amps...

          Essentially what you're saying is that you're too scared to mess with the 701 and the EQ settings on it, but that you're more than willing to mess with it o the computer? What in the world is the difference then? Seems like a super waste of a 701 to me.

          BTW - Jason spent a LOT of time writing up this FAQ specifically to help out people like yourself.

          If you're not willing to do it yourself, I'd recomend taking it to someone to have them tune the car. You will get MUCH more out of it than you currently have, especially if the guy that messed with it the first time didn't do any EQ work...

          Hi Red. You have a good point. But I certainly don't regret buying the unit. The more I listen to my installation, the more I like it. What I mentioned about what the installer said wasn't verbatim. He said something along those lines, but I can't remember the specifics. I will talk to him again tomorrow. Please don't get the impression that i am unsatisfied with the sound of my installation. Far from it. I took a drive around town today and honestly, at times, my jaw was on the floor! The remastered version of Depeche Mode's Violator, for example, sounds UN-FREAKIN-BELIEVABLE!!!!!!!!!! As does Once Upon a Time by Simple Minds. And trust me, after fiddling around, I will get to know the H701 over time. But I will post my other H701 questions in the appropriate thread.

          Anyway let's get back on topic. RedGTiVR6, I would like to pick your brain for a little bit and ask you a few questions regarding the SoundBlaster if you don't mind:


          1)Could you do me a favor and try to think back to when you were using the SB Audigy 2Z? When you were using it, can you tell me where, approximately, you kept the main volume slider most of the time? My installer was adamant about keeping it right at or just below the 90% mark. He said it's best to keep it there, and then use the H701 to control the volume to where I'm comfortable listening to the music. I haven't been keeping the SoundBlaster card up THAT high, but somewhere around the 70%-85% mark, and have been fiddling around with DFX and Foobar's own volume slider see how I like it.


          2)Can you tell me approximately where you used to keep your bass and treble sliders in the Sound Blaster sound mixer menu? Did you have them both fairly high? Right now I am finding that they sound good at about 48% Bass and 65%-75% Treble. What do you think?


          3)Which software player do you personally prefer? Foobar or Winamp?

          4)With whichever one you run, do you run ASIO out or Kernal Stream? Do you resample? Up to what? 48Mhz? 96Mhz?

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by isamu View Post
            Hi Red. You have a good point. But I certainly don't regret buying the unit. The more I listen to my installation, the more I like it.
            considering you've done nothing but set xo points you can get the same sound using a much cheaper product and running the speakers passive instead of active.

            What I mentioned about what the installer said wasn't verbatim. He said something along those lines, but I can't remember the specifics. I will talk to him again tomorrow. Please don't get the impression that i am unsatisfied with the sound of my installation. Far from it. I took a drive around town today and honestly, at times, my jaw was on the floor! The remastered version of Depeche Mode's Violator, for example, sounds UN-FREAKIN-BELIEVABLE!!!!!!!!!! As does Once Upon a Time by Simple Minds. And trust me, after fiddling around, I will get to know the H701 over time. But I will post my other H701 questions in the appropriate thread.
            I don't doubt that you think it sounds incredible, what I'm getting at is that ignorance is bliss. If you don't even have any EQing done you're really flying blind. Only once you have a proper FULL tune on the car will you really appreciate it. To spend all of that money on only utilize one of the six functions on that thing is completely asinine IMHO.


            1)Could you do me a favor and try to think back to when you were using the SB Audigy 2Z? When you were using it, can you tell me where, approximately, you kept the main volume slider most of the time? My installer was adamant about keeping it right at or just below the 90% mark. He said it's best to keep it there, and then use the H701 to control the volume to where I'm comfortable listening to the music. I haven't been keeping the SoundBlaster card up THAT high, but somewhere around the 70%-85% mark, and have been fiddling around with DFX and Foobar's own volume slider see how I like it.
            http://www.mp3car.com/vbulletin/car-...-properly.html


            2)Can you tell me approximately where you used to keep your bass and treble sliders in the Sound Blaster sound mixer menu? Did you have them both fairly high? Right now I am finding that they sound good at about 48% Bass and 65%-75% Treble. What do you think?
            I had them disabled because I was and am using the full processing abilities of the 701. I wouldn't dare do otherwise when competing unless I were doing ALL tuning on the computer.

            3)Which software player do you personally prefer? Foobar or Winamp?
            Winamp in the car because it's easier to use on a TS.

            4)With whichever one you run, do you run ASIO out or Kernal Stream? Do you resample? Up to what? 48Mhz? 96Mhz?
            I run bit perfect...if you're asking about re-sampling then you're probably not running bit perfect in your car...if you were truly concerned with getting the absolute best quality audio possible, you would NOT re-sample.

            I think you're just a bit confused on all of this SQ stuff, which is rather easy to be since there's so much information out there.

            I'd recommend researching Bit-perfect (I've written a WIKI article on it, written a FAQ in the nav-bar and written a FAQ in here about it).

            I'd recommend reading the thread I posted above in post 4. I'm not sure why you keep resisting actually using that $700 processor that you bought ($300-$400 if you went the cheap route and went eBay or the like). If you wanted to throw away money, I would have gladly taken a donation. If you really are as concerned with sound quality as you're pretending to be you would learn to tune on the 701. Make changes and write down your changes...you can't blow it up. Just about anyone who has done this for a decent amount of time and been really serious with it will tell you the same thing. You CANNOT have a great sounding car without tuning it....and messing with a bass and treble knob is NOT tuning...

            Look, if you absolutely don't want to use that 701 then I'm at a loss. I've been competing in car audio for over 9 years now, only 3+ years in SQ, but my husband and I have amassed 2 world titles and a NUMBER of other awards in competition. I absolutely am at a loss as to why you would want the best sound possible but wouldn't use the tools you're given. I've seen a TON of people use that 701 to it's full abilities and walk away with award after award after award...we've been running it in the car for 2 SQ seasons...both of which we walked away with at least one first place for the finals. If you wanted to do ALL tuning on the PC then we're in an entirely different ball game, but then you wouldn't have a 701 and you wouldn't be interested in bass and treble adjustments on the sound card.
            Jan Bennett
            FS: VW MKIV Bezel for 8" Lilliput - 95% Finished

            Please post on the forums! Chances are, someone else has or will have the same questions as you!

            Comment


            • #7


              If you have the H701-use it to it's full potential. Leave all your settings on computer to flat-no EQ, no bass/treble(defeat)-volume 100%. Use the Alpine for everything.

              The Soundbaster audigy cannot do bit perfect from my understanding because it resamples always to 48Khz due to the clock crystal they use on it for clock timing. If you want to do bit perfect, jasonww had posted a method for taking a cheapo Chaintech AV710 card ($20) using the digital optical out, and using different drivers to unlock the potential for bit-perfect.
              System always under construction


              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by durwood View Post
                The Soundbaster audigy cannot do bit perfect from my understanding because it resamples always to 48Khz due to the clock crystal they use on it for clock timing. If you want to do bit perfect, jasonww had posted a method for taking a cheapo Chaintech AV710 card ($20) using the digital optical out, and using different drivers to unlock the potential for bit-perfect.
                The Audigy can do bit-perfect. There's a specific setting for it in the control panel. It's how I used it before.

                The chaintech method is detailed on AVS forum as well (I believe that's where JasonWW pulled it from). All you have to do is download the latest drivers.

                The only draw back is that the line-in seems to have some quarks..at least it does in my car right now. I'm running it in my car to test with since I'm testing BT, HD Radio, XM Radio, etc. in StreetDeck.
                Jan Bennett
                FS: VW MKIV Bezel for 8" Lilliput - 95% Finished

                Please post on the forums! Chances are, someone else has or will have the same questions as you!

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by RedGTiVR6 View Post
                  The Audigy can do bit-perfect. There's a specific setting for it in the control panel. It's how I used it before.
                  Hmmm, didn't know that. I never it saw it with the drivers I was using. They must have updated it at some point unless I missed it all together.
                  System always under construction


                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I believe they call it bit-accurate. It's in a tab all on it's own I believe.
                    Jan Bennett
                    FS: VW MKIV Bezel for 8" Lilliput - 95% Finished

                    Please post on the forums! Chances are, someone else has or will have the same questions as you!

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by RedGTiVR6 View Post
                      considering you've done nothing but set xo points you can get the same sound using a much cheaper product and running the speakers passive instead of active.



                      I don't doubt that you think it sounds incredible, what I'm getting at is that ignorance is bliss. If you don't even have any EQing done you're really flying blind. Only once you have a proper FULL tune on the car will you really appreciate it. To spend all of that money on only utilize one of the six functions on that thing is completely asinine IMHO.




                      http://www.mp3car.com/vbulletin/car-...-properly.html




                      I had them disabled because I was and am using the full processing abilities of the 701. I wouldn't dare do otherwise when competing unless I were doing ALL tuning on the computer.



                      Winamp in the car because it's easier to use on a TS.



                      I run bit perfect...if you're asking about re-sampling then you're probably not running bit perfect in your car...if you were truly concerned with getting the absolute best quality audio possible, you would NOT re-sample.

                      I think you're just a bit confused on all of this SQ stuff, which is rather easy to be since there's so much information out there.

                      I'd recommend researching Bit-perfect (I've written a WIKI article on it, written a FAQ in the nav-bar and written a FAQ in here about it).

                      I'd recommend reading the thread I posted above in post 4. I'm not sure why you keep resisting actually using that $700 processor that you bought ($300-$400 if you went the cheap route and went eBay or the like). If you wanted to throw away money, I would have gladly taken a donation. If you really are as concerned with sound quality as you're pretending to be you would learn to tune on the 701. Make changes and write down your changes...you can't blow it up. Just about anyone who has done this for a decent amount of time and been really serious with it will tell you the same thing. You CANNOT have a great sounding car without tuning it....and messing with a bass and treble knob is NOT tuning...

                      Look, if you absolutely don't want to use that 701 then I'm at a loss. I've been competing in car audio for over 9 years now, only 3+ years in SQ, but my husband and I have amassed 2 world titles and a NUMBER of other awards in competition. I absolutely am at a loss as to why you would want the best sound possible but wouldn't use the tools you're given. I've seen a TON of people use that 701 to it's full abilities and walk away with award after award after award...we've been running it in the car for 2 SQ seasons...both of which we walked away with at least one first place for the finals. If you wanted to do ALL tuning on the PC then we're in an entirely different ball game, but then you wouldn't have a 701 and you wouldn't be interested in bass and treble adjustments on the sound card.
                      Red, your post has given me the kick in the butt I needed to get myself in gear! I am no longer afraid to experiment on my own, and I WILL learn how to use the 701! I will read the manual and the threads here several times, and will take your advice about writing down any changes I've made in the EQs.

                      This is a very stupid question but what exactly is an "X-Over"? What does this mean in lamens terms? Helping me understand what this does to the sound/signal, will help me get an idea of how to approach altering that part of the unit. No WAY am I just gonna sit back and not try and learn it myself. The place where I bought it from(not the same installer shop) may also know a thing or two about tuning it as well.

                      Originally posted by RedGTiVR6 View Post
                      I believe they call it bit-accurate. It's in a tab all on it's own I believe.

                      That is absolutely correct. Messed around with it some more last night and ticked the bit-accurate box, then enabled kernal streaming in foobar. Disabled resampling as well. No software volume or EQ and guess what? Sounds even better! I will leave it this way while I try and get to know the 701 a bit more. This is the way to go right?

                      Anyway thanks for encouraging me to step up to the plate and get onto learning how to tune the 701.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        yeup. you want the computer to not affect the bit stream at all. By running truely bit-perfect you're not letting windows touch the bit stream other than sending it along it's way.

                        Then do all tuning through the Alpine.

                        This is a pretty good definition of a crossover: http://www.humanspeakers.com/whatis/xver.htm

                        Good luck!
                        Jan Bennett
                        FS: VW MKIV Bezel for 8" Lilliput - 95% Finished

                        Please post on the forums! Chances are, someone else has or will have the same questions as you!

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by RedGTiVR6 View Post
                          yeup. you want the computer to not affect the bit stream at all. By running truely bit-perfect you're not letting windows touch the bit stream other than sending it along it's way.

                          Then do all tuning through the Alpine.

                          This is a pretty good definition of a crossover: http://www.humanspeakers.com/whatis/xver.htm

                          Good luck!


                          Thanks! Quick Q....

                          While in the Creative Audio Console settings, why is it that I am not noticing any audible difference between "User internal speaker decoder" and "Use S/PDIF Passthru"? I switch back and forth while the music is playing and both foobar and winamp seem to ignore the switch. This is happenig with both bit-accurate on AND off. Is the S/PDIF pass-thru relevant only to 5.1 DD content?

                          Also, I haven't tried it yet, but did you have any problems playing 5.1 DVDs from your Sound Blaster card? Will my 701 automatically decode 5.1 dvds on the fly, as long as it sees the S/PDIF signal?

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by RedGTiVR6 View Post
                            yeup. you want the computer to not affect the bit stream at all. By running truely bit-perfect you're not letting windows touch the bit stream other than sending it along it's way.

                            Then do all tuning through the Alpine.
                            I have a H700 and would want to use my AC97 onboard SPDIF and hook up to the processor using optical cable.

                            Will bit-perfect help if i use my CarPC only for mp3 playback? If i need to playback CD, i will use a standalone CD player with optical out to connect to the H700.

                            I do have an Audigy 2 ZS, but it wont be easy to squeeze a PCI card into a small casing. What will be the advantage of using Audigy 2 over onboard SPDIF for MP3 playback only?

                            thanks

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              AC'97 cannot run bit-perfect.

                              Check out the wiki and search for bit-perfect, you'll find the article there.

                              The audigy 2 is capable of bit-perfect. Remember, just because it's optical doesn't mean it's capable of bit-perfect.

                              as to the questions regarding 5.1...I don't know, haven't really tried for 5.1 in the car as I don't care for it in the car.
                              Jan Bennett
                              FS: VW MKIV Bezel for 8" Lilliput - 95% Finished

                              Please post on the forums! Chances are, someone else has or will have the same questions as you!

                              Comment

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