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Best bang-for-the-buck PCI Sound card?

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  • Best bang-for-the-buck PCI Sound card?

    Hey all,

    I must have changed my mind on what sound card to get a thousand times, and am really hoping for some input here. The more I search, the less confident I become in what to choose. I have everything I need for my setup, and half of it is installed. I just need to get a sound card and some misc wiring. Here is my system diagram for reference:


  • #2
    well it looks like you're going for a high quality sound system, so why skimp on a sound card? get a creative soundblaster x-fi. http://www.newegg.com/product/produc...82E16829102188

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    • #3

      Final Touches

      Car: 2002 Mitsubishi Magna EI
      CarPC: SP13000, M2-ATX, 512 MB RAM, 120 GB 2.5" HD, X-Fi Sound Card, Xenarc 700TSV, Garmin 18 USB.
      Audio: 2X15" Rockford Punch Z, 1 Rockford Punch 2-ch Amp, 1 Soundstream Lil Wonder II 4-ch Amp

      Comment


      • #4
        hmm. You have a point at not skimping on the sound card. I have had my carputer installed and working for about 4 years now, but I was using the onboard sound which was garbage. Since then I have gutted my interior and am reinstalling everything with all the new components you see above. I did buy a Soundblaster Live! 5.1 and its sitting here, but I have heard mixed reviews on that card. Some say it works awesome, others say creative is garbage.

        I will only be using one of the output from which ever card I end up getting/using. My DQX takes one input and spits out 3 that are XO'ed and EQ'ed. My concern is that I would be potenitaly wasting money on a $100+ sound card when something like the Live! 5.1 could do everything I need since I have the DQX.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by WebGeek
          I will only be using one of the output from which ever card I end up getting/using. My DQX takes one input and spits out 3 that are XO'ed and EQ'ed. My concern is that I would be potenitaly wasting money on a $100+ sound card when something like the Live! 5.1 could do everything I need since I have the DQX.
          I think you're right to think this for the most part. Since you all ready have equipment doing the amplification, when it comes to the sound card it's all about the DAC. I don't know anything about the Soundblaster series with regards to DAC quality, but I have done a bit of reading on sound cards based on the VIA Envy24HT-S chip. It turns out that the Chaintech AV710 is a good, cheap Envy24HT-S card. Being a cheaper solution, 6 of the 8 channels are processed with VIA's basic VT1616 chip. The last two of the eight, however, utilize the higher quality Wolfson WM8728. Since you are only using one output, your results may be as good with this card as any.

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          • #6
            Does the DQX have S/PDIF input? If so I would go with your 5.1 card plus this. If the DQX decodes like the Alpine PEH-701 then I would go with this The later is what I will use when I can afford the alpine unit. The first link is to an upgrade moduale for a a sound blaster live card, but it too has S/PDIF so if your DQX thingy has a digital in that great otherwise I just wasted a bunch of time typing this. Good luck in your search.

            EDIT: BTW kick *** system!!
            42

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            • #7
              if you're serious about sound quality go with the emu line of cards and replace the opamps....if you're not that serious then you can stick with that emu line and have great results. another option is to go the route i'm going with and check out the echo gina3g. the card has external dacs (less noise introduced into the system) as well as a 5.75 vrms balanced outputs (can be simply converted to unbalanced to hook into your audio control unit.

              you gotta let me know how you like those horns, i was thinking about getting the slim versions for my car
              New System in progress:
              M10k
              Phaze TD1500 ~> Dynaudio MD130
              Phaze TD1500 ~> Seas g18rnx/p
              Zapco Ref 500.1 ~ 12" tc-9
              Behringer DCX2496 ~ Envision Electronics psu
              Transflective Xenarc

              My Car Pc Install
              My Boat Pc worklog

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by joego
                Does the DQX have S/PDIF input? If so I would go with your 5.1 card plus this. If the DQX decodes like the Alpine PEH-701 then I would go with this The later is what I will use when I can afford the alpine unit. The first link is to an upgrade moduale for a a sound blaster live card, but it too has S/PDIF so if your DQX thingy has a digital in that great otherwise I just wasted a bunch of time typing this. Good luck in your search.

                EDIT: BTW kick *** system!!
                the 1820 has better opamps and dacs:
                http://us.creative.com/products/prod...9&product=9870
                New System in progress:
                M10k
                Phaze TD1500 ~> Dynaudio MD130
                Phaze TD1500 ~> Seas g18rnx/p
                Zapco Ref 500.1 ~ 12" tc-9
                Behringer DCX2496 ~ Envision Electronics psu
                Transflective Xenarc

                My Car Pc Install
                My Boat Pc worklog

                Comment


                • #9
                  the 1820 has better opamps and dacs:
                  http://us.creative.com/products/prod...product=9 870
                  lol, yeah but 0404 is $100 and the 1820 is $400. WebGeek said s/he wanted bang for the buck not best money can buy.
                  EDIT: Not to mention if you're using Alpine's PXA-H700 or a similar product you will not use the sound cards DAC's.
                  42

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    wow, so many great responses!

                    Originally posted by RawsonDR
                    I think you're right to think this for the most part. Since you all ready have equipment doing the amplification, when it comes to the sound card it's all about the DAC. I don't know anything about the Soundblaster series with regards to DAC quality, but I have done a bit of reading on sound cards based on the VIA Envy24HT-S chip. It turns out that the Chaintech AV710 is a good, cheap Envy24HT-S card. Being a cheaper solution, 6 of the 8 channels are processed with VIA's basic VT1616 chip. The last two of the eight, however, utilize the higher quality Wolfson WM8728. Since you are only using one output, your results may be as good with this card as any.
                    I have read that before, but the thing I read wasnt as detailed. I actually had the AV-710 on my list of items to buy, but then removed it thinking I could just keep the SB Live! 5.1. I guess one way to do it is to just try the SB Live! 5.1 and then I could pick up a AV-710 for less than 30 bucks some day and compare the two. I suppose I could read up on it, but for those two channels that have WM8728, how would that work? Could I use only one of them to run my entire system via the DQX?

                    Originally posted by joego
                    if your DQX thingy has a digital in that great otherwise I just wasted a bunch of time typing this. Good luck in your search.
                    EDIT: BTW kick *** system!!
                    it doesnt, but I appreciate you responding, and thanks for the comment!

                    Originally posted by scott_fx
                    if you're serious about sound quality go with the emu line of cards and replace the opamps....if you're not that serious then you can stick with that emu line and have great results. another option is to go the route i'm going with and check out the echo gina3g. the card has external dacs (less noise introduced into the system) as well as a 5.75 vrms balanced outputs (can be simply converted to unbalanced to hook into your audio control unit.

                    you gotta let me know how you like those horns, i was thinking about getting the slim versions for my car
                    hmm, how much is that card? I already have the linedriver in the DQX to bump me upto 5V out but the external DACS has me interested if only because you say less noise is introduced. I honestly have no idea what DACS are, and I guess I have mis directred my searching to which brand oif sound card to get, and not the inner workings of them. That prolly explains why I am getting nowhere!

                    Ill letcha know on the horns. I have been told by many people that the CD1E's are not the best at all comparitively speaking. However they are half the price of true compression drivers (the cd1e isnt a true compression driver) and the CD1E V2 horn bodies are said to be the best design when paired with some true drivers from say the CD1Pro's. Teh MH bodys (the slims) are said to be not as good as the classics (v2's)

                    Originally posted by joego
                    lol, yeah but 0404 is $100 and the 1820 is $400. WebGeek said s/he wanted bang for the buck not best money can buy.
                    EDIT: Not to mention if you're using Alpine's PXA-H700 or a similar product you will not use the sound cards DAC's.
                    Good lord! That card is that much? Nevermind then! Im not really interested in spending several hundred bucks on some crazy insane video card to be honest. I am really into SQ, but not to the point where I would drop that much on a card. My DQX is a digital EQ/XO/Linedriver, but it doesnt have a digital input unlike the alpine unit. I know, it kinda seems silly. Anywho, I will be using the standard adaptor to get RCA leads out of my card, so I only need the one clean clear channel to work with.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I'm watching this thread with interest since I might go this route some day. BTW, DAC stands for Digital-Analog-Converter, sometimes seen as DA Converter or D/A Converter.

                      -psyrex
                      Gen 1: Pentium 3 1GHz - ATX - 2005
                      Gen 2: Pentium M 1.6GHz - ITX - 2006
                      Gen 3: Pentium M 2.0GHz - 5.25" SBC - 2007
                      Gen 4: (coming soon: Core2 Duo - 3.5" SBC - 2009)
                      ...it never ends

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                      • #12
                        know what i just realized...you have that dqx and all you need is 2 chans. go with a usb dac. wont be that expensive and better quality then most of the soundcards.
                        read through the last few pages of this thread:
                        http://www.mp3car.com/vbulletin/showthread.php?t=72613
                        we've posted a ton of info on getting great audio out from the computer, trying to bypass the alpine pxa-h700


                        i have a few links and some info on the usb-dacs. all of them are external and are the best way to go. i think you'll be spending about 150 or so.

                        oh.. and still look for the higher voltage outputs. it will mask more noise that will get introduced from the usb-dac or soundcard to the dqx

                        edit:

                        so i was bored...here is the post that i primarily wanted you to read:
                        http://www.mp3car.com/vbulletin/show...5&postcount=86

                        but you should read through the other posts as well.... oh, and did i mention, these boards will have rca outs? so no worries about sharing a signal on that skinny little shared mini jack.


                        BUT before you go and buy anything, since you have a soundblaster live 5.1 card, i highly suggest loading the kxproject driver and playing with them for a couple weeks. when i had the sb live card and my 24xs installed, i was shocked at the sound quality. sometimes i liked it better then the pxa-h700 (may be because i am not that great at tuning) but it did do wonders over the regular sb drivers and you can practically rewire the card internally. and you can set up time delays and what not.
                        New System in progress:
                        M10k
                        Phaze TD1500 ~> Dynaudio MD130
                        Phaze TD1500 ~> Seas g18rnx/p
                        Zapco Ref 500.1 ~ 12" tc-9
                        Behringer DCX2496 ~ Envision Electronics psu
                        Transflective Xenarc

                        My Car Pc Install
                        My Boat Pc worklog

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by WebGeek
                          I have read that before, but the thing I read wasnt as detailed. I actually had the AV-710 on my list of items to buy, but then removed it thinking I could just keep the SB Live! 5.1. I guess one way to do it is to just try the SB Live! 5.1 and then I could pick up a AV-710 for less than 30 bucks some day and compare the two. I suppose I could read up on it, but for those two channels that have WM8728, how would that work? Could I use only one of them to run my entire system via the DQX?
                          You just have to plug your system into the last port on the card, and check the right setting in the drivers. Like I said though, I don't know much about the soundblaster series - it could have similar DACs. I know one big advantage of the Envy cards is enabling bit perfect sound through ASIO (with an ASIO->kernel streaming wrapper). I think all SB cards resample but maybe that can be modded, based off scott_fx's mention of the kxproject drivers.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            It's a little off-topic, but great choice on the amps. I have been using a PC4100 and PC2100 for several years, and they are awesome.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              X-Fi Music Extreme. Best bang for the buck period
                              Take my advice: Do not try to build a system that includes EVERY feature. Start with the basics, build it to a bug free state, and THEN add on.

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