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So i'm planning for a new PC build soon and i realise i have to get rid of my old soundcard :(

nkarafo

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Yeah, my current PC still has a PCI slot and that allowed me to use my trusty old Audigy 2 Platinum with it. The same card i used in my previous builds, so that's 3 PCs in a 15 year period. And yes, it fully works on Windows 10 as long as you use community drivers, the official ones don't make full use of the card.

Sound cards is one area were most people don't give a shit for a long time now. Ever since CPUs were powerful enough to handle sound without a performance hit (that's what, 20 years ago?) sound cards became a niche. All motherboards have sound chips in them so why bother paying more to get something you already have for free? Even Graphics cards have sound now. But the sound quality (another thing people don't give a shit about) is night and day. Despite being so old, the Audigy 2 still sounds so much better than your average modern motherboard chip. And i mean MUCH better. I can immediately tell if you are using a sound card or a MB chip the moment i hear some sound coming from your PC.

The Audigy Platinum even sounds better than some cheaper modern sound cards. This isn't like graphics cards where a cheap modern card can be as powerful as an expensive one 4 years ago. Sound quality is something we perfected a long time ago so an expensive older sound card will still sound just as good as an expensive modern card. The only thing that changes is the different interfaces, slots and features. Which means, if you have a good sound card and you don't care about it having an HDMI slot, you shouldn't need to replace it, ever. But the problem with the Audigy is the PCI interface. Modern PCs don't have that slot anymore so i can't use it. Which means i have to find a card at least as good that i can connect in the new PC.

I was somewhat happy with the Soundblaster Z a friend lent me (which sounds good but still misses a few things the Audigy has like the extra tone slider in the Windows panel) but that card is also somewhat old and i hear a lot of issues with it on Windows 10. And i'm not aware of community drives similar to the ones i'm using for the Audigy. My next choice is an external card with good support, i tried the 5.1 Omni (again, by a friend) but that sounds worse than the Audigy. Remember, the Audigy 2 was a somewhat expensive card back in the day while the Onmi is a mid-tier. So now i have to try one of the more expensive cards that cost 100$+ just to have the same sound quality as i did for 15 years now. And i can't just buy something, i need to have a sample to test and sound cards are hard to find in the wild.

Anyway, that was a rant. Any recommendations would be appreciated.
 

nkarafo

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What about a PCI-Express to PCI adapter?
I have no idea, i never used such adapter. Will it use up the Graphics card slot? That means i will have to get a motherboard that has 2 slots?

Very interesting though.
 

Gameplaylover

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I have no idea, i never used such adapter. Will it use up the Graphics card slot? That means i will have to get a motherboard that has 2 slots?

Very interesting though.
It will use the small PCIe x1, not the PCIe x16 for graphic cards.
 
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M1chl

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Yeah just buy some PCIe x1 to PCI and...well you going to have to 3D print some enclosure probably, but it works. I have X-FI Elite Pro and I am still using it : )
 

nkarafo

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It will use the small PCIe x1, not the PCIe x16 for graphic cards.
I'm looking it up right now. I should be able to find something to test as my MB also has those small PCIe slots.

Looks a bit weird though. Hope i can hook the card in the case properly with it.

Thanks!

well you going to have to 3D print some enclosure probably
Yeah, i figured this will be a problem.
 
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BlackTron

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I feel you man, this happened way back when I upgraded to Windows 7 and my beloved Sound Blaster Live! was no longer supported. Creative intentionally did not release drivers so that you would have to buy a new sound card. Some guy made drivers, but didn't have all the features I wanted from the official package, I dealt with it anyway. Then they shut down the dude's website. Their tactics only ensured I would NEVER buy a Creative product again.
 
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nkarafo

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I feel you man, this happened way back when I upgraded to Windows 7 and my beloved Sound Blaster Live! was no longer supported. Creative intentionally did not release drivers so that you would have to buy a new sound card. Some guy made drivers, but didn't have all the features I wanted from the official package, I dealt with it anyway. Then they shut down the dude's website. Their tactics only ensured I would NEVER buy a Creative product again.
This sucks.

I'm using a pack from this guy's site:


His pack for the Audigy makes full use of my card and works perfectly. There are packs for other cards as well.
 

Gaelyon

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I used to have great sound cards, like the Audigy, but when i upgrade my PC 3 years ago i had the same problem with missing port and i resign to use the mainboard chip. It's serviceable but clearly not the same.
What SC did people recommend these days for modern PC ?
 
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ToTTenTranz

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Hint for the future: get a USB soundcard like the Soundblaster X3.
Audio doesn't need great bandwidth or low latency like graphics, so a PCIe bus is an overkill. And with new USB standards always requiring legacy compatibility, you're set to have a device tha lasts for decades.

Plus: by being away from the PC the card gets higher protection from eletromagnetic interference in the motherboard, and the USB cards also double as convenient volume knobs.
 

TurnOneYeti

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Roses Funeral GIF by Un si grand soleil
 

VN1X

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I still use my Asus Xonar Essence STX 124dB SNR which is paired with a Beyerdynamic DT 990 PRO. I can't imagine going without this combo, well... ever. It's the best for music listening and gaming to boot as it's far more accurate and clear than any "Gaming" headsets out today, especially the "7.1 surround sound" ones lol.


I've also put it in my last three builds, without issue so far. I have no idea how I'll manage for an eventual next PC though. *shudders*
 
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BlackTron

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This sucks.

I'm using a pack from this guy's site:


His pack for the Audigy makes full use of my card and works perfectly. There are packs for other cards as well.

My memory is really fuzzy but I think this is the same guy who released the drivers back when I had my problem 10 years ago. Maybe the legal issues with Creative blew over. Back then I did use the drivers though I was sour that I lost some of the options.

Hint for the future: get a USB soundcard like the Soundblaster X3.
Audio doesn't need great bandwidth or low latency like graphics, so a PCIe bus is an overkill. And with new USB standards always requiring legacy compatibility, you're set to have a device tha lasts for decades.

Plus: by being away from the PC the card gets higher protection from eletromagnetic interference in the motherboard, and the USB cards also double as convenient volume knobs.

This is excellent advice. When I finally moved on from from my old mobo that had an Athlon 64 in it for an MSI gaming board/i5, I resigned myself and used the on-board audio for a while, but was unable to eliminate a huge problem with EMF as you mention. The solution was under my nose as I had in a box of random cables a USB sound device from Creative that my dad had bought for his laptop millenia ago and just forgot about. I plugged it in and presto, superior sound and no more EMF problems. The only downside is using up a USB port. I don't think I would ever have come upon the solution if it wasn't right in front of me to try it. This USB thing must be 15 years old at this point and is still my go-to sound solution. It has line in/out, digital optical, and red/white composite ports too. I don't need anything else.

I still have my old Sound Blaster 5.1 card with the original freaking driver CD though just in case I can ever find it useful again somehow, IT WAS TOO GOOD.

Edit: So yes while I vowed never to buy Creative again, I'm still using one of their devices, I just didn't have to buy it and cheated 😉
 
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Celcius

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I’m still using an old Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi Titanium HD sound card. I first had windows 7 with it, then windows 10, and now I’m on windows 11. Thankfully the windows 10 drivers work flawlessly on windows 11 as I thought I was going to have to finally ditch it. It still sounds amazing to me and I don’t plan to upgrade if I never have to.
 
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small_law

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I was going to ask what was wrong with using a USB DAC? It's true that you're going to have to do some digging to figure out which one would be best for you. There are a metric ton of USB DACs and quite a few of them are very very good.

It would seem to me that you would want anything that has to do with sound outside of the case just for the sake of interference. I don't know, you tell me. What's wrong with external?
 
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rofif

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Why a sound card...
I was using fiio e10k dac for past years and honestly... switched to onboard audio on my x570 and it's ... the same. Onboard audio is perfectly fine and there is no problem with drivers or crap.
Or if you play on a tv, then nvidia takes care of audio anyway
 

saintjules

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No more soundcards for me. All about the audio interfaces now. I'm currently using Apollo Twin and before that Focusrite, which I'd recommend people new to interfaces.

What is your budget?
 

Celcius

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At this point I’d have a look at the Schiit Audio products and their DACs & Amps
 

daveonezero

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This thread is fascinating.
I remember specifically when I built a PC years ago that I would get an audigy card.

I didn’t know anything at 16 but knew I needed that thing.
 
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A.Romero

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I feel your pain. I went through that almost 10 years ago. Since I play through a receiver and the audio goes through hdmi, I got over it pretty quick.

When I play at the desk I use the onboard card which is pretty serviceable.

I loved the audigy 2. I used the front panel a lot to record podcasts like 15 years ago. It also allowed me to have a gheto setup for my PS2 with Dolby sound back in my college days. Amazing product and very well built. I bet mine still works.
 

DonJuanSchlong

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Usb DAC >>> PCI by a long shot. Look at the newer ones from SB or even EVGA.... There's a reason PCI sound cards aren't suddenly coming back in stock. It's operating within your PC case, powered by the same power supply that feeds all of the other components. This introduces higher noise floor. SNR. Signal to noise ratio.

TLDR: Ditch the old way of thinking, go USB or even optical, over PCI sound cards.
At this point I’d have a look at the Schiit Audio products and their DACs & Amps
Ehhh I think they are way overpriced for what you get. Better and cheaper options out there. But still a much better option.
 

DonJuanSchlong

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Why a sound card...
I was using fiio e10k dac for past years and honestly... switched to onboard audio on my x570 and it's ... the same. Onboard audio is perfectly fine and there is no problem with drivers or crap.
Or if you play on a tv, then nvidia takes care of audio anyway
Noooo. Big no. You can play the same audio quality song, over the same amp, fed to the same pair of cans or speakers. And I can with %100 certainty, get it right, every time with A/B testing.

If onboard audio was perfectly fine, this conversation wouldn't even be a thing, and we would all be using stock onboard audio.... Ugh. My vision ain't the best, but my ears make up for it by miles.
 

rofif

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Noooo. Big no. You can play the same audio quality song, over the same amp, fed to the same pair of cans or speakers. And I can with %100 certainty, get it right, every time with A/B testing.

If onboard audio was perfectly fine, this conversation wouldn't even be a thing, and we would all be using stock onboard audio.... Ugh. My vision ain't the best, but my ears make up for it by miles.
So then my fico e10k was not good enough because I could not spot a difference.
Headphone amplification is a different topic but some onboards have amps.

Anyway... Now all of fiio and audiophiles headphones are gone on my PC and I enjoy the bliss of not caring.
Speakers audio goes through HDMI from nvidia to LG C1 and sounds 90% as good as my presonis e3.5 did and headphones audio is Sony pulse 3d... So the wireless dongle is a sound card. Sounds perfect. No hiss, lag and generally I cannot spot the difference compared to e10k and koss porta pro... And that is a very high bar for me lol.

So in my current setup, sound card would not be used. I have on board disabled as it's not needed.
Now I only recommend fiio if you want listen to Beyer or hd600.... But the sound quality nowadays is not worth it over Sony pulse or few similar remodels imo.
 
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marquimvfs

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So then my fico e10k was not good enough because I could not spot a difference.
Headphone amplification is a different topic but some onboards have amps.

Anyway... Now all of fiio and audiophiles headphones are gone on my PC and I enjoy the bliss of not caring.
Speakers audio goes through HDMI from nvidia to LG C1 and sounds 90% as good as my presonis e3.5 did and headphones audio is Sony pulse 3d... So the wireless dongle is a sound card. Sounds perfect. No hiss, lag and generally I cannot spot the difference compared to e10k and koss porta pro... And that is a very high bar for me lol.

So in my current setup, sound card would not be used. I have on board disabled as it's not needed.
Now I only recommend fiio if you want listen to Beyer or hd600.... But the sound quality nowadays is not worth it over Sony pulse or few similar remodels imo.
Well, to be fair, the Sony pulse isn't a very good headphone either. Pretty much everything wireless isn't good to begin with.
 
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rofif

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Well, to be fair, the Sony pulse isn't a very good headphone either. Pretty much everything wireless isn't good to begin with.
I can't agree. I really did a b and I could not detect any signs of wireless usage. And the sound profile is great. It sounds somehow wide and open with fantastic separation.
I would argue it is not as bassy as most gamer headphones and some people might mistake it for worse sound.

And cmon. It's wireless! The comfort of convince is worth it even if the sound was tiny bit worse. I was always ocd with my cables and now I am free.

It's not hd600 but nothing is.
 
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nkarafo

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TLDR: Ditch the old way of thinking, go USB or even optical, over PCI sound cards.
I want to. I just don't know what to get so i can have the same audio quality as the Audigy 2. I know the external SB Omni 5.1 is not as good so i need to get something more expensive. But which one?

Also, this is going to sound strange but... Is there a USB to PCI adapter? I wouldn't mind turning my old Audigy to external.


And cmon. It's wireless! The comfort of convince is worth it even if the sound was tiny bit worse. I was always ocd with my cables and now I am free.
Quality > Comfort

I would only prefer comfort if i need something to listen while i'm running. But even if i'm just walking, i would still prefer quality.
 
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nkarafo

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Here's another issue i have...

With the Audigy and the fully working driver, i get this option in the speaker settings:



My speakers are pretty solid, an older Logitech 5.1 z5400 set, but they do need a small push with the higher frequencies. And that particular Treble Balance setting you see in the pic, makes the sound crystal clear.

I can't have the same result with anything else like player equalizers, for instance. Plus, this panel fixes the sound across every program, media player or game.

I couldn't find this option with the Omni. Not sure if it exists with the SoundBlaster Z.

Does anyone else use a device that gives them this particular panel?
 

Polelock

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You would do well to upgrade. I've got a Soundblaster x ae-5 and its fantastic, and its compatible with Windows 10/11.
 
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Polelock

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Get yourself a Schiit stack. ;)

Got one sitting on my desk, I love it. The soundcard I have has a pseudo 3d effect, I run the impot into the Magni when I want to get immersed and used the Modi when listening to music. Such a great little combo
 
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This only shows how little sound hardware has advanced. I always bought into the audiophile hype. I would buy the best of the best, with the most akward of setups. I expected an orgy in my ears.

Now I just buy Airpods Pro and some Sony Pulses. (Sony pulses does really suck though, I need to upgrade that. Still fuck wires)
 

DJ Shalad

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Sound cards is one area were most people don't give a shit for a long time now. Ever since CPUs were powerful enough to handle sound without a performance hit

F*ck onboard realtek codec sound chips. Never ending "hiss" ... never again. Using my good´ol asus xd7.1 (UNi-Xonar drivers), no more hiss or piss sounds.

GIF by Hyper RPG


What hiss? It's not 2004 anymore.
Onboard audio chips are shielded now unless you grab garbage board
asrock mitx socket 1200 asrock H"something" realtek ac888?
Asrock Z87 i think had it too
some Asrock matx for 4670k

... f*ck onboard sound chip. the difference between the asus card from 2007? and a board 2021 ... is day and night.
 
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TheAssist

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Dude, I'm still rocking my 2006 Creative X-Fi Xtreme Music

That card looks sick as fuck (black and gold).

But for convenience sake I am now running my Headphones over an external AMP that goes into the monitor. So the GPU is used as a soundcard, which sounds pretty much the same with no hissing or anything.
 

rofif

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F*ck onboard realtek codec sound chips. Never ending "hiss" ... never again. Using my good´ol asus xd7.1 (UNi-Xonar drivers), no more hiss or piss sounds.

GIF by Hyper RPG
What hiss? It's not 2004 anymore.
Onboard audio chips are shielded now unless you grab garbage board
 
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i used to have a soundblaster z and it was an upgrade over my motherboards. at first i was using a cheap (~£80) gigabyte board for haswell and then i got an MSI Z170A-G43 (~£100). when i bought a Gigabyte X570 Master (£380) i was really impressed with the audio on it so didn't bother keeping the sound card in it. the X570 i ended up returning because i had nothing but issues with Ryzen. got a Gigabyte Z390 Master (~£290) and it still sounded better without the soundblaster z. sold the soundcard on ebay :)

i wouldn't call myself an audiophile nor do i do any kind of music production. alright, i bought a soundcard (£60) which probably makes me care more about sound than most people. i do like good sounding music and would love a high end set up but i just wouldn't spend a lot of money trying to chase the best sound quality possible.

honestly, i would suggest giving onboard audio a shot. see how it goes without a card. obviously if you buy a low budget board it will not sound as good but if you get a mid/top range board you might be impressed. again, i don't consider myself an audiophile but i was lookng at external sound cards (out of curiosity) and if i had to get one i'd probably got for the Soundblaster X4
 

Kuranghi

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Here's another issue i have...

With the Audigy and the fully working driver, i get this option in the speaker settings:



My speakers are pretty solid, an older Logitech 5.1 z5400 set, but they do need a small push with the higher frequencies. And that particular Treble Balance setting you see in the pic, makes the sound crystal clear.

I can't have the same result with anything else like player equalizers, for instance. Plus, this panel fixes the sound across every program, media player or game.

I couldn't find this option with the Omni. Not sure if it exists with the SoundBlaster Z.

Does anyone else use a device that gives them this particular panel?

Do you mean Z5500? I was so sad when I had to retire my set of those, ended up my setup got so wide the cables couldn't reach over to the PC anymore, I could've extended the rear speaker wires but doing that with the other cables seemed like a hassle so I moved on to something else. This way I get proper uncompressed audio instead of just regular Dolby/DTS which sounds noticeably better on my new set.
 

nkarafo

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Do you mean Z5500? I was so sad when I had to retire my set of those, ended up my setup got so wide the cables couldn't reach over to the PC anymore, I could've extended the rear speaker wires but doing that with the other cables seemed like a hassle so I moved on to something else. This way I get proper uncompressed audio instead of just regular Dolby/DTS which sounds noticeably better on my new set.
Νο, i got the z5400


It's a tiny bit less powerful and cheaper than the z5500 and has a different control panel.
 
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kurisu_1974

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Using a SoundBlaster Z SE now on Windows 11 with a Bose Companion 3 speaker set, it's not amazing but better than on-board.