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Reply 60 of 80, by jwt27

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filipetolhuizen wrote:

I was using a X-Fi Titanium Fatality Professional, but the drivers for Win7 were terrible and I ended up getting a Recon3D Fatality Champion. The drivers are much better, but it sounds like sh*t.

In what way, exactly?

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Reply 62 of 80, by mirh

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Happily enjoying my Xonar DX.
If I had to mention the main advantages they would be: dolby headphones and 7.1 virtual shifter, EAX emulation (yeah, it's not just you creative) and sh*t free audio inputs (you won't believe me, but with onboard Realtek I had noises even when mic switch was off)

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Reply 63 of 80, by 386SX

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badmojo wrote:

My ‘modern’ machine recently rejected the X-Fi Extreme Music I’ve been using since forever. Windows 7 suffered a rare BSOD and then refused to boot, which I suspect was a Windows update that conflicted with the old Creative drivers. It’s not the first time it’s happened and a re-install of the Creative drivers usually fixes it, but not this time.

So I removed the X-Fi and fired up the onboard audio on my ga-h55m-d2h, which is no spring chicken itself, and it sounds fine to my ears using a 5.1 surround setup.

What are you guys using for sound in your modern machine? Is there any point in having a sound card these days?

In my actual retro-but-main-pc Barton 3200 Win98/ME machine I am using an ESS-Solo1 pci card disabling the better onboard one 😁. But if I had an isa port I would have used the ESS 1868 or the very old Soundblasters. I always hated the new pci cards cause when drivers begin to weight hundreds of megabytes and with too much apps they are not for me.
I appreciate so much when cards just needed kbytes of few files to install.

Reply 64 of 80, by m1so

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LunarG wrote:
It depends on your CPU of course, but in general, something like 1-2% or less. Go back to the days of SB Live! and such though, […]
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m1so wrote:

I never had any stuttering because of onboard audio and I never used dedicated sound cards. What CPU percentage does modern onboard sound eat up anyways?

It depends on your CPU of course, but in general, something like 1-2% or less.
Go back to the days of SB Live! and such though, and you could find that 32 channels with EAX-like effects could reduce fps in a game by about 10% easily. If you were always running a very fast system, or graphical settings that were within "safe limits", you'd probably never notice the games stuttering. If you were somebody who liked to max settings, getting those extra 10% fps, could make a difference.
Today though, the CPU load is so insignificant (and the onboard audio actually do more of the work than things like AC'97 did) that it doesn't really matter.

How much hardware processing does Realtek High Definition Audio do?

Reply 65 of 80, by swaaye

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There really isn't hardware processing on PC anymore. OpenAL is dead and that AMD Trueaudio looks to be going nowhere. This also means those XFi and SB Z* cards aren't doing any more processing than Realtek HD unless you run an old game with OpenAL or DS3D usage.

Realtek HD is essentially just a DAC+ADC.

Reply 66 of 80, by smeezekitty

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swaaye wrote:

There really isn't hardware processing on PC anymore. OpenAL is dead and that AMD Trueaudio looks to be going nowhere. This also means those XFi and SB Z* cards aren't doing any more processing than Realtek HD unless you run an old game with OpenAL or DS3D usage.

Realtek HD is essentially just a DAC+ADC.

But it doesn't make a lot of difference since CPUs are so fast now. There might be some hardware acceleration
on things such as sample rate and sample width conversion.

Reply 67 of 80, by PhilsComputerLab

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3D Audio has certainly made a step backwards and not developed as much as other technologies 🙁

The main reason I got a Sound Blaster Z was for it's fairly decent ability to take surround information and render it over headphones. The sound quality is also a bit better but it's certainly not night and day. Dedicated sound cards now offer other features to make a difference like a headphone amp, external volume controls and fine dynamic range controls.

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Reply 68 of 80, by alexanrs

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How does the surround headphones "emulation" compare to stuff like the freeware Razer software? I tried it for a while, and while it worked fine in my older C2D. my i7 didn't like it much (stuttering, both used onboard audio). Since games seem to have less than stellar surround sound support I ended up ditching it anyway.

Reply 69 of 80, by PhilsComputerLab

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It works quite good!

I used it with BLOPS2 and BF4 quite extensively.

Getting surround speakers is the other option 😀

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Reply 70 of 80, by bushwack

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I was forced to use onboard audio when I started using the Windows 7 beta, no drivers for my current card.
I was pleasantly surprised that the onboard actually sounded better. After that I've never looked back.
I use headphones 99% of the time.

I do use dedicated cards in my retro rigs though.

Reply 71 of 80, by obobskivich

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alexanrs wrote:

How does the surround headphones "emulation" compare to stuff like the freeware Razer software? I tried it for a while, and while it worked fine in my older C2D. my i7 didn't like it much (stuttering, both used onboard audio). Since games seem to have less than stellar surround sound support I ended up ditching it anyway.

No idea about the Razer freeware, but maybe this will help you: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=04yEtZJVpyY.

As far as headphone post-processing, on my Recon3D it "lies" to the game and tells it that it's hooked up to 5.1 output, and then performs a downmix. If the game does a good job with 5.1, it sounds pretty good. If the game does not do a good job (or support) 5.1, it's generally no different than straight stereo. I've noticed no performance hit either. On my Audigy 2 ZS it does things a little differently, and seems like it's just applying DSP effects on top of a stereo input. It still sounds nice, and has the advantage of working with all applications, but it doesn't seem as "surround-y" as with the Recon's downmix processing. I have the Razer soundcard (the AC-1) in a pending build, and it's supposed to do headphone processing as well - once I actually get that machine finished and get games on it, I can comment on that too. 😊

Reply 72 of 80, by alexanrs

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This is the Razer software I'm talking about. It works (theoretically) on any sound card and is freeware.

It looks quite similar to what you are describing. It creates a virtual sound device that informs windows it is connected to a 7.1 output. It then downmixes it using their surround emulation algorithm and send the now-stereo stream to the actual sound card. It does everything in software, though.

Reply 73 of 80, by swaaye

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smeezekitty wrote:

But it doesn't make a lot of difference since CPUs are so fast now. There might be some hardware acceleration
on things such as sample rate and sample width conversion.

You won't get much argument from me. Might as well use those idle cores for software audio processing and avoid getting locked into buggy proprietary driver junk like the old days.

Windows has been doing SRC since Win9x. Pre Vista is a little bit mysterious though in that the OS might do SRC or it might send the original sample rate direct to the audio driver. This can cause problems though because mixing sample rates from multiple programs doesn't work with all drivers and it might drop sounds. I remember this mainly with some 9x drivers and probably non-AC97 cards (no onboard SRC). Vista and onward moved everything except final output of channels to software. The audio output format (ie SRC) can be set in playback options (I'm sure you've seen it). Drivers can add superset functions of their own and I'm sure the Creative cards do some of their own unique processing on hardware (think that SBX, CMSS, Crystalizer, EQ and compression stuff).

Reply 74 of 80, by filipetolhuizen

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jwt27 wrote:
filipetolhuizen wrote:

I was using a X-Fi Titanium Fatality Professional, but the drivers for Win7 were terrible and I ended up getting a Recon3D Fatality Champion. The drivers are much better, but it sounds like sh*t.

In what way, exactly?

It keeps controling the dBs, even if this setting is off.

Reply 75 of 80, by jwt27

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You mean the "smart volume management" stuff stays on? I have the same problem with CMSS-3D on my X-fi, in Windows 7. Disabling it in the x-fi settings is not enough, and even enabling "bit-matched playback" in audio creation mode won't switch it off. I have to go to the speakers properties every time before and after playing a game, and toggle "Disable Sound Blaster enhancements" to switch it on/off properly.

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Reply 78 of 80, by jwt27

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philscomputerlab wrote:

Forcing you to upgrade? Creative loves doing that.

Wouldn't surprise me much... but on Windows XP I didn't have such issues, even with the same driver version.

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Reply 79 of 80, by PhilsComputerLab

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Creative has cards for certain periods / OS. As soon as hardware accelerated audio was out the Window with Vista we got the Recon 3D. I use one in my media centre PC. But reviewers weren't that impressed so out came the Z range which is actually a very decent range.

One exception is the X-Fi Titanium HD. I bought it for plans of building a dedicated XP box and it would have been the "best" X-Fi card and then when I insert the CD it told me the OS isn't supported. I honestly didn't know and why would I think otherwise when all other X-Fi cards work under XP...

Now the drivers under W 8.1 are great. I don't game on it though, it's in my capture box with Game Broadcaster HD in my Computer lab and records all the audio for my YT videos. It works very well.

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