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Sound cards

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Anyone got any thoughts on sound cards for a PC?

My new Motherboard Realtek 7.1 inbuilt sound is next to useless. Its noisy, won't talk to the USB headset; in fact it won't even play nice with itself.

I kind of fancy the top of the line Creative X-Fi Pro, but it is pricey and wonder if anyone has any ideas.

I mainly want to record voice (without noise) and if it plays back the CDs, DVDs and vinyl as well I'd be ecstatic.

All your thoughts most welcome. :shock:

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Thanks Camy, If sound blaster has provided you with the results you are getting for your songs, then it should be fine for me.

The Creative X-Fi Pro is the latest high quality design superseding the sound blaster cards.

:shock:

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So I lashed out and got a good price on a Creative SoundBlaster X-Fi Elite Pro with the separate In-out Console.

After three days of emails between Creative support and myself I finally have it working.

This was not unexpected. SoundBlaster cards have always had difficulty in playing nicely with the rest of the computer, in my experience.

It took 2 uninstalls (A very complicated process) and 3 installs to finally get it all working.

Well not quite all working. There are still a couple of things that don't seem to be operational.

Like the 9 pin Din connection between the I/O console and the Creative THX 550 5.1 speaker system.

Creative support is trying to find out why. Their own forums claim that the driver doesn't work with the 9 Pin Din connection which is what it is supposed to do. :wav:

Also the very polite person on support (I wonder if that is "life support") says that the the card should not be listed in device manager as using WDM (Windows detects it as a generic device.)

Hmm I have my doubts. :wav:

Anyway what does it sound like?

I am really pleased with it. Camy/Codeys' Song Broken Heart is much cleaner and clearer.

Camy's wonderful voice is evident in all its glory and you can hear the mix adding subtleties that were only hinted at by the old Realtek Audio on the motherboard and the background is silent, silent, silent.

No hiss or hum.

So is it worth it?

For an audio nut like me, yes.

As I can't afford the $8,000 card I would like, (whose name I didn't even bother to find out) I think this one will do very nicely.

Wonder what that thing does? ....click!

:stare:

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Jeez that's a lot of bullshit to get a sound card working. The onboard audio (Realtek 'HD') that came with my new mobo is pretty lame. It's not even 24-bit. I'm not really pressed to get a separate card atm but I'll probably go for an Audigy when I do.

Depending where you live you may be able to get an M-Audio card. These are quite a lot cheaper than the soundblasters and many people seem to think they are better according to some forums I visited.

Unfortunately the only supplier I could find was some distance away (1000 miles) so I decided to stick with the SoundBlaster whose difficulties I was at least aware of.

Yes it can be a lot of trouble to get the soundblaster working right. I had to shift the card to the other PCI slot in the motherboard to avoid IRQ conflicts.

My new motherboard came with a Realtek 7.1 HD Audio and I couldn't turn down the noise on the input microphone even using a USB headset. Also the various mixer inputs and outputs were constantly driving me insane to configure for various things I wanted to do.

I just saw a forum today which said the Soundblaster drops out and carries on in its own way, but so far so good with my set up.

The general opinion seems to be that the Soundblasters, despite having the best specifications around the place, are not good enough for professional recording, being mainly intended for gamers, which I am not by the way.

Still the X-Fi Elite has a creation (record) mode as well as an Entertainment (playback) mode and a games mode.

It also has revealed a couple of MP3s I thought were distorted, are really very acceptable recordings, so I am pretty pleased.

I also found a site that was into pulling out capacitors and replacing ICs in the X-Fi boards with more up market ones for an increase in quality.

Reminds me of my 1970s Hi-Fi days, somethings never change. :wav:

I guess I am saying that you should look around before deciding and be aware of what you want to do with your sound card. Also search around to see how others have found those on your short list. It might save you some money or at least help you get something you want.

On a final note I would say it was a lot simple to record on to an open reel tape recorder circa 1965, but the computer does offer many lovely ways to manipulate the sound with ease, if you live long enough to understand the software. :stare:

As for digital versus analogue, hey, I hear analogue, I decode digital. :wav:

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Very nice Camy, When you become famous :stare: and make your millions, will you buy me one too? :wav:

Until then I will just have to make do. :wav:

Damn, now you have me drooling too.

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For what it's worth, I checked out various high end sound cards some time ago, including the Creative ones, which I rejected because they were geared towards multi-channel surround sound which I wasn't interested in, and didn't have the right professional-standard recording inputs for my purpose.

Of the various units I did try, I was disappointed with their flaky drivers, and eventually bought a Tascam US122

external interface which has proved to be totally reliable and superb quality. It's powered from the USB2 interface and can record and playback at 96KHz/24bit and is full duplex and it does everything I want - it even has phantom powering on the XLR mic inputs.

I suspect my Tascam is not what you want, though....

Bruin

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I suspect my Tascam is not what you want, though....

Bruin

I think you are right. As a cinema man, I do like to be able to hear the effect of multiple channels.

However I am an audio purist at heart. By that I mean it is better to have a single channel of highest fidelity than it is to have many channels which can mask there own inadequacies by virtue of the sound field they produce.

Of course many channels of highest quality would be the ideal, but with the current short comings in compression techniques (even the better ones such as MP3), there is little hope of that being realised effectively or economically.

Tascam being the professional arm of the Teac corporation produced some staggeringly good analogue tape recorders back in the pre-digital days. Teac were one of the first to produce affordable multi-channel tape recorders oh high quality. So I am not surprised you are happy with your Tascam US 122.

The soundblaster's flakiness seems to stem from their quirkily written drivers and their need to be installed in a clean boot environment.

(I am wondering just how many other programs and drivers would be more stable if installed from a clean boot? Clean boot

The trouble I experienced in installation was eventually overcome with help from Creative's technical support. However the first technical help person was replaced by a second who did not seem to comprehend their own manual. ?

My X-Fi card does seem to be stable and provide me with the quality and facilities I need for the moment, which the on-motherboard Realtek audio certainly did not provide at all.

It is always strange to me that we have allotted sound a Cinderella role in the arts as well as life; second to our visual sense.

This is even more surprising when we consider just how much of our communication is really dependant on hearing each other as well as in life generally. (Of course both seeing and hearing need to accompanied by that other elusive quality of understanding. But that is another subject.)

Thanks for the link Bruin, Tascam have some really nice stuff and I will make sure to consider them when Camy makes his millions. :icon1:

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