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Windows 7: Sound cards really needed?

29 Mar 2009   #11

Windows 7 Beta (and others, multiboot)

my $83 gigabyte GA-EP43-UD3L came with the realtek azalia HD sound built in.

[email protected] bit...

The need for a discrete sound card even for audiophiles is getting smaller and smaller nowadays.

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29 Mar 2009   #12


My new Intel board came with 7.1 built on and it blows away any 200 dollar sound card I ever bought before. I see no reason to go buy a sound card unless your built on audio does NOT perform some certain feature you need.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
29 Mar 2009   #13

El Capitan / Windows 10

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by icoola77 View Post
Yes that would be true if it werent for built-in obsolescence
as demonstrated so well by Creative, who refuse to update the drivers for their older generation of audio cards,
or purposely crippling the drivers/features for older cards,
thus forcing consumers into buying newer models of cards.

And when some good and technically knowledgeable person like Daniel K discovers their underhanded tactics and decides to give people back the fully functional drivers by releasing the modded drivers, Creative threaten to sue
him for "stealing theirr goods".

Planned obsolescence - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Daniel_K, Who Fixed Creative's Broken Vista Drivers, Speaks Out | Gadget Lab from
I was similarly threatened by Creative some years ago over their acquisition of Ensoniq and prompt withdrawal of EAX support.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

30 Mar 2009   #14

Windows 7 7068 x64 (x2)
I agree,

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by icoola77 View Post
Yes that would be true if it werent for built-in obsolescence, as demonstrated so well by Creative, who refuse...
Admittedly Creative's tactics are completely underhand and all that really tells me is to never buy a creative product. There are many more companies out there that simply can't AFFORD to implement that kind of policy, since they would just go out of business when people moved to competitors products.

Take Asus for example - Their cards are pretty high priced, which means that they are likely to be selling a lot less of them than say creative with its Soundblaster LE series, which are cheap and cheerful. That means they are likely going to want to keep their customers happy with what they have bought - it's unlikely they are going to be able to sell them two cards, unless they prove that their cards + software are worth it for a second/third/fourth pc. Case in point - this card is actually pretty old now, having been released in September of 2007 (old in comparison to how often Creative "refreshes" its line of cards, anyway), and yet there was a driver update just a few days ago fixing bugs and enabling more functionality on it.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
31 Mar 2009   #15

Windows 7

Do you have a GOOD sound system, meaning something other than computer speakers (even better ones)? Do you use analog outputs or output everything digitally to an external DAC and amp? These are the important questions.

If you have a nice proper hifi setup and use analog outputs then a better soundcard will make a very noticeable difference in audio quality. I have a SB X-Fi in my system and it's obvious it doesn't hold a candle to my FireWire Echo AudioFire4 audio interface in sound quality and for audio recording the X-Fi is laughably bad.

If you're using digital output from the soundcard then even the onboard ones should be good enough since the digital to analog conversion is made on an external amp with its own DAC.

If you're using computer speakers then the onboard card will be good enough. You may notice some improvement by going to a better soundcard, especially when it comes to noise, but other than that the speakers will usually limit the quality.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
31 Mar 2009   #16

Windows 7 Beta (and others, multiboot)

I beg to differ, actually. Check my system specs to see what I have.

I use (and try) both TOSLINK S/PDIF and analog out with shielded cables and my onboard azalia out... I find TOSLINK is actually worse quality then the analog outs because of the limitations of TOSLINK (IIRC 96KHz but don't quote me on that).

IMO the problem with your comparison is comparing a creative product to a much higher end one - there's your problem... try something nice like an HT OMEGA card and then compare :) I find my onboard isn't quite as good as a decent HT OMEGA card (or the like) but it's way better then any other sound device I have access to nowadays (the HT omega was a loan)

I have everything from SB16 ISA jumpered to SB AWE32 jumpered to crystal audio built into my libretto 70CT to ALC850 (IIRC) that is in my nforce4 ultra a64 x2 system to a creative labs MP3+ (SB16 on a USB bus with TOSLINK out) to the SB16PCI I have stashed away... and on and on.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
31 Mar 2009   #17

Linux CENTOS 7 / various Windows OS'es and servers

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by z3r010 View Post
IMHO most onboard sound now is more than good enough.
True --especially with the HD audio codecs even built in to LAPTOP computers.

The weak links of computer sound systems are usually the "Boom Box" type of speakers -- they tend to be modelled on pumping out lots of "Boxy Bass" rather than decent Hi-Fi sound (aks Mission or Bose speakers at a nice wallet busting 1000- - 1500 USD "a pop").

For people used to listening to highly compressed mp3 sounds on bud earphones attached to an IPOD or similar device then the computer system will be OK. Also for movies and games then probably OK too.

High quality music listening requires a rather different type of speaker system for "the ultimate" experience.

However the answer to the question - do you need a dedicated sound card -- now not really any more.

OT - Consider using built in Video cards as well.

Unless you are a dedicated gamer most built in video cards are more than sufficient these days as well -- on one system I use with a 22 inch monitor the built in graphics handles 1680 X 1050 with no problems.

For really huge monitors or extreme gaming that's another issue bit for typical "Boring" normal applications an extra video card is also unnecessary in most cases.

My System SpecsSystem Spec
31 Mar 2009   #18

Windows 7 RTM x64

I have a razer barracuda soundcard, matched with the headphones, and yes im a gamer. However i have onboard 7.1 and when i actually compared the two i really noticed no difference in them. So basically i spent my money on something that glows blue lol. Wont do it again. And on the higher end mobo's the rampage 2 asus i think, they actuall give you a sound card with it now. But i wont buy another sound card again. Onboard is more then enough. lol lesson learned.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
31 Mar 2009   #19

Windows 8.1 Pro RTM x64

I use the on-board audio. I would rather have a slightly inferior sound quality (although the current range of onboard audio solutions is quite good, and to the vast majority of people indistinquishable from soundcards), and be able to obtain drivers easily. Some add-in cards, whilst their audio quality is better, suffer due to the lack of driver support. The chief reason for this is that they want you to buy a new card, as this generates revenue for them whereas developing a new driver (which they could, if they put their mind to it) doesn't.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
23 Feb 2010   #20

Windows 7 Ultimate Signature Edition

you know as im preparing to build a bunch of new PC's for my sister and her 2 kids i was just wondering this myself. i do remember a time when a sound card was a must have for gamers not only for the improved sound quality but because it improved performance. she will be happy knowing she is going to save about $800 from me not having to order those. if i do go with any it will only be for her htpc but i think the onboard sound should suffice for even that.
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