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Old Jun 12, 2008, 10:55 AM   #1
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Medion
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Default Comparison: X-Fi vs. Realtek

I went looking for these head to head comparisons a few weeks ago, but couldn't find any. So, I've decided to do one in case anyone else ends up in my situation. I was building a new PC, and the mobo came with Realtek's ALC885 HD Audio codec, which is currently their highest end codec (their numbering scheme is retarded). I still had the X-Fi XtremeMusic in my old system, which I was dismantling.

Anyway, I ran the system for a week with onboard, then installed the X-Fi, then went back to onboard. I'm no audiophile, and I'm using a cheap 2.1 speaker setup, the Logitech X-230. The only game tested was Need For Speed: Most Wanted, which uses DirectSound3D, so it's an Alchemy supported game.

Since I'm not an audiophile, an in-depth comparison from me would be laughable at best. So, I'm just going to highlight what I noticed from each audio solution.

Realtek ALC885:

The first time I did the setup, I was using the most recent driver available, 1.94. The sound quality sounded fine, however, there was one song on NFS:MW where I could occasionally hear crackling when I should hear a guitar. I falsely assumed this was my mobo, but when I heard the same exact noise from the X-Fi, I've decided it's either a partially blown speaker, or just a bug in the game.

On the positive side, the audio drivers are transparent, and you don't have to mess with the card any. Bass reproduction is decent, which was a knock I had on my wife's ALC850 setup. For those who want to mess with that kind of thing, it has some equalizer pre-sets. If they could make it so that you can have the pre-set load with a specific application (IE, Windows Media Player, Itunes, etc), and unload when you load anything else (like, a game), that would be perfect. Otherwise, it's useless to me.

Creative Labs Sound Blaster X-Fi XtremeMusic:

After roughly a week of using onboard, I installed the X-Fi, ran the latest official drivers, and the latest Alchemy. It's true what they say, that we have a short memory when it comes to audio. Still, I felt like the X-Fi was doing a better job of separating sounds. For instance, the police radios seemed to come in clearer over the game music. Like the onboard, I was getting that crackling noise, so it's not the cards, it's most likely the speakers.

On the downside, Creative's drivers are anything but transparent. I don't like changing modes between gaming/entertainment, and even if I did like it, it generally requires a reboot to do it, or you get that dreaded "close audio applications" message. Alchemy was simple to use if your game is detected, but if the game isn't detected (IE, the Witcher), you'll spend awhile on google. Rather then let you browse for the game's exe or root folder, you have to use the registry path. That was aggravating. There was no noticeable framerate gain, but then, I'm on a quad-core, so onboard sound isn't going to eat up too many resources. My PC liked to BSOD about 2-3 times daily as well, that was fun. This was separate from my nforce issue as well, as I had already taken care of that.

Realtek ALC885...again:

So I removed the X-Fi during my reformat and Vista re-install. Using driver 1.95 now. Guess the audio separation was in my head, because it sounds pretty much the same as the X-Fi. Again, transparent drivers as well. Oh, and not a single BSOD or crash so far.

Overall:

I'm not going to argue that onboard has become better than or even close to being equal to an X-Fi. However, I can make these statements:

-If you're using a multi-core system, the performance edge from a hardware audio solution is largely, if not outright negated.
-If you're on a 2.0 or 2.1 setup, and you're not an audiophile, you're not likely going to notice a difference between an X-Fi and onboard HD audio.
-Realtek's solution just "works" as theirs no messing with drivers. Creative's offers a greater degree of customization, but it annoys me more than it helps, and I still question the stability of their drivers.

So for a person like me (quad-core, 2.1 speakers, not an audiophile, like things simplistic), I'm sticking with the onboard.
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Old Jun 13, 2008, 07:11 AM   #2
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Realtek ALC889A HD Audio & Logitech Z-5500 Digital 5.1

I agree with you 100% Medion. My on-board setup doesn't give my any issues either. Actually, it sounds great.

Any more customization options would go to waste on my system. There are more than enough choices for me to get games, movies, and music sounding just right.

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Old Jun 13, 2008, 07:37 AM   #3
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I have been saying this for some time now, a Realtek 888 or 889a will provide such a great sound experience there is zero reason for a discrete audio card. Realtek is also a 100 years ahead of Creative when it comes to driver support.

I have found this to be true however on expensive speakers as well. I have BOSE 2.0 at that office and Klipsch 2.1 at home and both sound just as good on the onboard as they have on any discrete.
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Old Jun 13, 2008, 10:49 AM   #4
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In my experience, sound quality depends a lot on the speakers, I would dare to say that it's set by them. If you have some money and you look for good sound, better buy speakers first. And I mean just 2 ones, but 2 worth it, not even 2.1 let it alone 5.1 or more unless you like that kind of setup.

When looking for a pair of cheap decent ones, I found these:

http://www.genius-europe.com/en/prod...&ID=29&ID3=307

- frequency response: 20Hz~20KHz

You'll hardly hear anything at 20 kHz supposing that this spec is fair. But "20 Hz" is awesome for speakers of this class and price. Most specs talk about "100 Hz" or "200 Hz" here. The problem: cheap spk => small spk => bad bass response => crackling noise, specially with the drums (pggghh-pggghh-pggghh-... instead of pooom-pooom-pooom-...). Not a fair spec? Maybe, but if they claim 20 Hz when others say 100...

I bought them to give speakers with a 2nd hand computer. They costed 10-15€. I would spend quite a bit more for me, as I actually did (about 60-70€ for my current ones, bought in 1996; 50 Hz, 14W RMS/channel). But they gave me a great impression... provided that you don't set them too loud, lol.

I think that a high-end audio card can never go beyond the speakers quality, but a good set of speakers guarantees you a very good minimum with nearly any discrete or onboard chip.
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Old Jun 13, 2008, 11:43 AM   #5
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I use XP x64 and have never had to deal with Creative's modes or more than 30MB or so of actual driver. That keeps the drivers fairly transparent to me, and I haven't had any such BSOD errors either.



I think with better quality speakers there may be more of a sound quality difference, but I wouldn't expect anything huge as Creative isn't known for it's great DACs. I would also expect to see marginal (5% or so) performance improvements on games using higher EAX levels, though with alchemy any benefit could be completely gone.
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Old Jun 13, 2008, 02:25 PM   #6
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I find in games, even with a stereo setup, Realtek's position and EAX engine is far inferior to Creative's. Maybe my speakers have better stereo separation than your average pc speakers, but for me non Creative cards do not provide a realistic game audio environment.
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Old Jun 13, 2008, 03:15 PM   #7
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You should add Auzentech X-fi Prelude in to that comparison. I'm not having any of the problems mentioned in your summary and am enjoying this card a lot. Though i'm still on XP.

Brilliant sound quality too, but I agree you need the right speakers/headphones to appreciate the difference between onboard and a standalone soundcard.
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Old Jun 13, 2008, 03:29 PM   #8
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really speakers are an expensive crap shoot the make real audio comparison a *****. If you want to test audio quality a good pair of headphones that you know are good.
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Old Jun 13, 2008, 03:55 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by {WOR}lock View Post
You should add Auzentech X-fi Prelude in to that comparison. I'm not having any of the problems mentioned in your summary and am enjoying this card a lot. Though i'm still on XP.

Brilliant sound quality too, but I agree you need the right speakers/headphones to appreciate the difference between onboard and a standalone soundcard.
Eh, I'd rather stick with what I have, as opposed to buying a card for the sake of comparing. Now, if someone wants to mail it to me...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gandalfthewhite View Post
really speakers are an expensive crap shoot the make real audio comparison a *****. If you want to test audio quality a good pair of headphones that you know are good.
I like my X-230s, but I suppose I could try my headphones sometime for my late night gaming.
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Old Jun 13, 2008, 06:34 PM   #10
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Speakers

With my on-board chip & speakers supporting a combination of the following hardware & software decoding features, I'd be hard pressed to find a sound card which totally blows them out of the water.

It would actually take an expert to perceive the difference in or between sound quality.

Hardware decoding:
  • Dolby® Digital, DTS®, and DTS®, 96/24 soundtracks
  • Dolby Pro Logic II (Movie and Music modes)
  • THX certified
  • 6 Channel Direct
  • Stereo x2
  • Stereo
Supported digital formats:
  • Dolby Digital
  • DTS and DTS 96/24
  • PCM (uncompressed stereo): 44.1 kHz / 16 bit through 96 kHz / 24 bit
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Old Jun 13, 2008, 08:34 PM   #11
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I just love the Crystalizer too much to part from it
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Old Jun 13, 2008, 08:36 PM   #12
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I haven't had BSOD's with a Creative card since the SB Live. I've tried various onboard sound chips and find that either the analog output is unbearable or the sound isn't as good in games as with the Creative cards (as seeker mentioned), or both. I haven't tried anything as new as the ALC888 or 889 though, but I'd imagine the X-Fi would still give a better gaming experience.
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Old Jun 13, 2008, 08:53 PM   #13
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I have had experience with 3 ALC888 boards (after moving 3 pc's from nforce2's with SoundStorm) and the ALC888 is fantastic. Definitely great and the 889A is even better. Realtek has consistently fixed driver bugs and thus far it's been pretty flawless for me using stereo headphones.
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Old Jun 14, 2008, 02:09 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gandalfthewhite View Post
really speakers are an expensive crap shoot the make real audio comparison a *****. If you want to test audio quality a good pair of headphones that you know are good.
and in my experience the ALC888 is not even close to x-fi extremegamer. The difference in sound quality is huge.

Realtek sound through headphones is washed out. The hissing explosions were killing my ears. Also the SVM volume leveling and X-fi crystalizer are two things i can't live without. Volume leveling is amazing for games.

Before i had it turned on, my ears would hurt... i had to have higher volume to hear silent sounds, but then loud sounds would be too loud.
And crystalizer is a true gem, both music and games benefit so much from it.. i'ts hard to describe, but it really makes the sound richer, i can feel as if im in the studio with the band

I have had both installed last week, since i wanted to see if its really true that onboard sound isn't that bad. Well, for me it is bad, and I wouldn't wanna trade the x-fi for any onboard sound solution.

If someone is satisfied with onboard, thats fine, i was too, before i had the x-fi for a while. It spoiled my ears

I can only imagine how good the sound is in cards that have better specs then x-fi

Last edited by GanjaStar : Jun 14, 2008 at 02:14 AM.
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Old Jun 14, 2008, 09:20 AM   #15
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Quote:
and in my experience the ALC888 is not even close to x-fi extremegamer. The difference in sound quality is huge.
ALC885 is a bit better, though probably still not going to touch an X-Fi. Especially with Crystalizer use.
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Old Jun 15, 2008, 07:06 AM   #16
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For gaming, nothing touches X-Fi CA20K DSP chips, its far superior than anything else in the market (maybe the ASUS software EAX 5 on par, but I never try it so I can't make comparison) Realtek EAX support is a major bullpoop, its positional audio is all wrong and it just won't work in games. I've tried another HD audio codec, Analog Device AD1988B, it sounded better than Realtek one and its EAX is better too (some effects is lost, but the positional is there)

For music, stock X-Fi sounds rather good, because of the uses of CS4382 DAC (or even better CS4398 on Elite Pro). I really surprise how it turns up against my external DAC, I ditched it and started to mod the card and never uses my DAC anymore. The onboard Realtek and Analog Device can't even compete with X-Fi in pure music listening, even at stock without any modification. Forgot to say I never use any 'enhancement' when listening to music, no equalizer, crystalllizer crap, I just use Audio Creation mode and enable Bit Perfect playback

Also, I never have any problem regarding Creative drivers, uses SB Live! 5.1 before with no problem whatsoever, so does this new X-Fi
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Old Jun 15, 2008, 12:33 PM   #17
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I mean no offense Apocalypse, but it's hard to take you as credible when you're confusing a few things.

EAX is NOT positional audio. Positional audio is done via sofware, DS3D, OpenAL, and A3D. EAX is simply a layer over that ,and all it does is apply "environmental" sounds to it, IE, making a noise sound as if it's coming from a hallway. It's basically a bunch of reverbs, just really well done. In fact, there are some games, such as WC3, where EAX turned on is just aggravating, even on an X-Fi.

Quote:
Realtek EAX support is a major bullpoop, its positional audio is all wrong and it just won't work in games.
Positional audio sounds roughly the same on Realtek as an X-Fi. However, there are differences. First is that obstruction/occlusion does not work on Realtek. So if a sound is coming from behind a wall, the X-Fi will properly muffle it, while the Realtek won't. Also, in games that support EAX effects from 3.0 or higher, the Realtek gets left behind. Realtek (HD and AC97) support EAX 1.0 and 2.0, with the exception of obstruction/occlusion.

With that said, the "physical" placement of audio sounds the same on both platforms, since again, EAX has absolutely nothing do with positional audio.

Quote:
For music, stock X-Fi sounds rather good, because of the uses of CS4382 DAC (or even better CS4398 on Elite Pro). I really surprise how it turns up against my external DAC, I ditched it and started to mod the card and never uses my DAC anymore. The onboard Realtek and Analog Device can't even compete with X-Fi in pure music listening, even at stock without any modification. Forgot to say I never use any 'enhancement' when listening to music, no equalizer, crystalllizer crap, I just use Audio Creation mode and enable Bit Perfect playback
I'm going to disagree here. Using no effects, X-Fi sounds about the same as Realtek (ALC885). I can't tell a difference, but then, they both support up to 192khz, with the Realtek at 106 snr, and the X-Fi XtremeMusic at 109. Marginal difference at best.

The X-Fi's Crystalizer is nice, but I found the Realtek's EQ pre-sets to be better, in terms of audio quality. For transparency, I'll take X-Fi's Crystalizer

Quote:
Also, I never have any problem regarding Creative drivers, uses SB Live! 5.1 before with no problem whatsoever, so does this new X-Fi
Creative's drivers are known for massive conflicts, instability, and omitting/removing features that were in a previous release. Maybe you've had better luck, but reading any forums, even Creative's own forums, will open your eyes.
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Old Jun 15, 2008, 12:44 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Medion View Post
I mean no offense Apocalypse, but it's hard to take you as credible when you're confusing a few things.

EAX is NOT positional audio. Positional audio is done via sofware, DS3D, OpenAL, and A3D. EAX is simply a layer over that ,and all it does is apply "environmental" sounds to it, IE, making a noise sound as if it's coming from a hallway. It's basically a bunch of reverbs, just really well done. In fact, there are some games, such as WC3, where EAX turned on is just aggravating, even on an X-Fi.

Positional audio sounds roughly the same on Realtek as an X-Fi. However, there are differences. First is that obstruction/occlusion does not work on Realtek. So if a sound is coming from behind a wall, the X-Fi will properly muffle it, while the Realtek won't. Also, in games that support EAX effects from 3.0 or higher, the Realtek gets left behind. Realtek (HD and AC97) support EAX 1.0 and 2.0, with the exception of obstruction/occlusion.

With that said, the "physical" placement of audio sounds the same on both platforms, since again, EAX has absolutely nothing do with positional audio.
You may be right, when I think about it I think its CMSS 3D is the reason for that. But still for gaming Realtek is as bad as a soundcard could get



Quote:
I'm going to disagree here. Using no effects, X-Fi sounds about the same as Realtek (ALC885). I can't tell a difference, but then, they both support up to 192khz, with the Realtek at 106 snr, and the X-Fi XtremeMusic at 109. Marginal difference at best.

The X-Fi's Crystalizer is nice, but I found the Realtek's EQ pre-sets to be better, in terms of audio quality. For transparency, I'll take X-Fi's Crystalizer
No offence, but you use Logitech X-230, don't make me laugh, that speaker is as crap as it can get, I used it before. I don't use mp3 either. Lossless, WAV or high bitrate mp3 (v0 or v2) is what I use. Using ASIO with foobar2000



Quote:
Creative's drivers are known for massive conflicts, instability, and omitting/removing features that were in a previous release. Maybe you've had better luck, but reading any forums, even Creative's own forums, will open your eyes.
I fully aware of that, I' not blind or idiot, I do major research before buying things
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Old Jun 15, 2008, 12:56 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Medion View Post
I mean no offense Apocalypse, but it's hard to take you as credible when you're confusing a few things.

EAX is NOT positional audio. Positional audio is done via sofware, DS3D, OpenAL, and A3D. EAX is simply a layer over that ,and all it does is apply "environmental" sounds to it, IE, making a noise sound as if it's coming from a hallway. It's basically a bunch of reverbs, just really well done. In fact, there are some games, such as WC3, where EAX turned on is just aggravating, even on an X-Fi.



Positional audio sounds roughly the same on Realtek as an X-Fi. However, there are differences. First is that obstruction/occlusion does not work on Realtek. So if a sound is coming from behind a wall, the X-Fi will properly muffle it, while the Realtek won't. Also, in games that support EAX effects from 3.0 or higher, the Realtek gets left behind. Realtek (HD and AC97) support EAX 1.0 and 2.0, with the exception of obstruction/occlusion.

With that said, the "physical" placement of audio sounds the same on both platforms, since again, EAX has absolutely nothing do with positional audio.
not quite, because reflections, occlusions, and obstructions alter the perceived position of the sound. While the calculation of the sound source in 3D space is done by a separate API, EAX alters the perceived sound source in 3D space. Since Realtek is unable to properly do EAX 2 effects, the perceived position is wrong.


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Originally Posted by Medion View Post
I'm going to disagree here. Using no effects, X-Fi sounds about the same as Realtek (ALC885). I can't tell a difference, but then, they both support up to 192khz, with the Realtek at 106 snr, and the X-Fi XtremeMusic at 109. Marginal difference at best.

The X-Fi's Crystalizer is nice, but I found the Realtek's EQ pre-sets to be better, in terms of audio quality. For transparency, I'll take X-Fi's Crystalizer
192kHz is useless for most sound at 44.1 or 48 kHz. SNR is a meaningless measure for almost all modern sound sources. Crystalizer and EQ are horrible for transparency, I have no idea why anyone would claim that either modification to the sound source makes it "transparent" when they clearly color the sound. Most people would be unable to hear the difference between onboard sound and a discrete card; heck even those that claim they can often will get it wrong in a double blind test.


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Originally Posted by Medion View Post
Creative's drivers are known for massive conflicts, instability, and omitting/removing features that were in a previous release. Maybe you've had better luck, but reading any forums, even Creative's own forums, will open your eyes.
People who have problems will post in forums. people who don't won't. So what you are claiming is no surprise.
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Old Jun 15, 2008, 01:24 PM   #20
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After going through all the hassles of trying to get my X-Fi XtremeMusic to properly work in Vista x64, I've packed up the card in its box and gave onboard audio a go. For a couple of months, I didn't notice any difference in audio quality on the HTPC which is hooked up to the AVR via SPDIF. But I recently noticed that the sound quality coming from some of my CDs aren't as good as when I had the X-Fi in the HTPC which was running XP Pro at that time. My guess is that it's probably due to the Crystalizer. I'm now considering getting the X-Fi Titanium Fatal1ty Pro Series for both the Gaming Rig and HTPC but I think that I'm going mad because (i) I'm actually considering another product from Creative and (ii) I'm actually considering a product which has the Fatal1ty name on it. Perhaps I should just get the Asus Xonar D2X for the HTPC and call it a day.
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Old Jun 15, 2008, 01:56 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by junglist1996 View Post
After going through all the hassles of trying to get my X-Fi XtremeMusic to properly work in Vista x64, I've packed up the card in its box and gave onboard audio a go. For a couple of months, I didn't notice any difference in audio quality on the HTPC which is hooked up to the AVR via SPDIF. But I recently noticed that the sound quality coming from some of my CDs aren't as good as when I had the X-Fi in the HTPC which was running XP Pro at that time. My guess is that it's probably due to the Crystalizer. I'm now considering getting the X-Fi Titanium Fatal1ty Pro Series for both the Gaming Rig and HTPC but I think that I'm going mad because (i) I'm actually considering another product from Creative and (ii) I'm actually considering a product which has the Fatal1ty name on it. Perhaps I should just get the Asus Xonar D2X for the HTPC and call it a day.
try with the june 2 beta drivers. they work flawless for me.
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Old Jun 15, 2008, 01:58 PM   #22
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Yes I have to agree with a few people who've posted about the Crystalizer. For cheaper speakers it aides in boosting certain elements that they probably wouldn't be able to reproduce very well, but anyone who's investing in their audio will probably realise it completely ruins all the natural dynamic range especially in lossless recordings.

I only turn it on when I know audio is already of bad quality, like when watching a video on youtube.
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Old Jun 15, 2008, 04:07 PM   #23
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You may be right, when I think about it I think its CMSS 3D is the reason for that.
CMSS 3D was hit or miss on speakers, but I do miss it for headphones.

Quote:
But still for gaming Realtek is as bad as a soundcard could get
I don't think you've heard any of their recent codecs (specially ALC885/888). They're not an X-Fi, but they're still excellent.

Quote:
No offence, but you use Logitech X-230
And I stated as much in the original post.

Quote:
that speaker is as crap as it can get
Once again, exaggerating, and thus, losing credibility. They're excellent baseline 2.1 speakers. Buy a $10/$20 set, and then tell me "this is as crap as it can get."

Quote:
I fully aware of that, I' not blind or idiot, I do major research before buying things
You're original statement made it sound as if, since you had run into no issues, there were no issues for anyone. I was simply clarifying.

Quote:
not quite, because reflections, occlusions, and obstructions alter the perceived position of the sound.
Not quite. The perceived direction of the sound remains unchanged, only difference is whether or not you can hear the wall in between. If EAX made a sound to the left behind a wall sound as if it wasn't come from the left, I sure as hell wouldn't use it.

Quote:
While the calculation of the sound source in 3D space is done by a separate API, EAX alters the perceived sound source in 3D space.
No, it does not. EAX does not modify the perceived location in any way, only the environmental effect of the sound (IE, made from under water, or in an auditorium, etc.). I repeat, EAX does not affect positional audio.

Quote:
Crystalizer and EQ are horrible for transparency, I have no idea why anyone would claim that either modification to the sound source makes it "transparent" when they clearly color the sound.
Let me clarify my original statement. With Crystalizer, I turn it on and leave it on. With EQ pre-sets, I have to change it for different types of music, and for gaming. As such, the Crystalizer is "transparent" to me, as I don't have to fiddle with it between applications.

Quote:
Most people would be unable to hear the difference between onboard sound and a discrete card; heck even those that claim they can often will get it wrong in a double blind test.
So you're arguing with me for the sake of agreeing with me? Thanks... I guess. (this has been the crux of my entire argument)

Quote:
People who have problems will post in forums. people who don't won't. So what you are claiming is no surprise.
I'm well aware of this. However, there are widespread issues with Creative's drivers, and the posts on the forums validate this. Right now, the drivers are a tradeoff. Use the latest official if you want CMSS3D, or the latest betas if you want Dolby/DTS. Right now, you can't have both, unless you use an older XP driver.

To both of the posters I've quoted, my argument was this;

For people with low end speakers, such as myself, there is virtually no difference in audio quality between today's onboard codecs, and an X-Fi. The subtle differences aren't worth the hassle with Creative's drivers. If you're going to go for an expensive sound card, first, get yourself some speakers that can do it justice. Why you guys are arguing against this, I cannot fathom. I have not attacked your precious sound cards in anyway, I simply stated that they don't make sense on a setup such as mine. And for the record, I did a direct comparison between Realtek's ALC885, and my own X-Fi XtremeMusic, so when you say "Realtek sux", you lose all credibility with me. This codec has shocked me, and is a huge upgrade over my old ALC850.
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Old Jun 15, 2008, 05:44 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Medion View Post
Let me clarify my original statement. With Crystalizer, I turn it on and leave it on. With EQ pre-sets, I have to change it for different types of music, and for gaming. As such, the Crystalizer is "transparent" to me, as I don't have to fiddle with it between applications.
He doesn't mean transparency in that context. The transparency is how true to the original sound or recording something is. Using the EQ and turning on the Crystalizer changes and manipulates the sound, making it not true to the original mastering.

Achieving transparency is something people who encode mp3's talk about a lot. Trying to find a bitrate that produces a transparent sounding mp3 from the source material.

Last edited by {WOR}lock : Jun 15, 2008 at 08:55 PM. Reason: typos
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Old Jun 15, 2008, 06:49 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by Medion View Post
Not quite. The perceived direction of the sound remains unchanged, only difference is whether or not you can hear the wall in between. If EAX made a sound to the left behind a wall sound as if it wasn't come from the left, I sure as hell wouldn't use it.



No, it does not. EAX does not modify the perceived location in any way, only the environmental effect of the sound (IE, made from under water, or in an auditorium, etc.). I repeat, EAX does not affect positional audio.
You have no idea how the brain perceives sound direction do you? If you muffle the sound, the position in 3D space automatically changes; ie if you reflect it, occlude it, or obstruct it, your brain automatically believes the sound came from somewhere else compared to straight audio. eg if the sound source is mapped to -2,-2,-1, but there's a wall, the difference between between proper EAX and not is that the former sounds further back while the latter sounds immediately behind you. another example, if you stand near a corner and there's a refraction, the sound position is changed to your perception. that is what eax does, and that mirrors real life.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Medion View Post
So you're arguing with me for the sake of agreeing with me? Thanks... I guess. (this has been the crux of my entire argument)
I'm not arguing with that. saying which soundcard is better in terms of music playback is a moot point at this point. most people don't have the output device capable of showing a difference, and those who do probably don't have the ears to do so. even if you have the ears, your speakers are far too inferior to show any regularly perceptible difference (I'm not trying to knock your speakers; even the best PC speakers such as a Klipsch Promedia Ultra, Gigaworks S7xx, or Logitech z5500 would be hard pressed to indicate a difference between modern sound sources)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Medion View Post
For people with low end speakers, such as myself, there is virtually no difference in audio quality between today's onboard codecs, and an X-Fi. The subtle differences aren't worth the hassle with Creative's drivers. If you're going to go for an expensive sound card, first, get yourself some speakers that can do it justice. Why you guys are arguing against this, I cannot fathom. I have not attacked your precious sound cards in anyway, I simply stated that they don't make sense on a setup such as mine. And for the record, I did a direct comparison between Realtek's ALC885, and my own X-Fi XtremeMusic, so when you say "Realtek sux", you lose all credibility with me. This codec has shocked me, and is a huge upgrade over my old ALC850
because for games with good EAX implementation, Realtek sounds lifeless
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Old Jun 15, 2008, 08:06 PM   #26
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Originally Posted by {WOR}lock View Post
He doesn't mean transparency in that content. The transparency is how true to the original sound or recording something is. Using the EQ and turning on the Crystalizer changes and manipulates the sound, making it not true to the original mastering.

Achieving transparency is something people who encode mp3's talk about a lot. Trying to find a bitrate produces a transparent sounding mp3 from the source material.
I'm aware of that. He misunderstood my original post, which is why I clarified. We both used a different meaning of transparency. He thought I meant one meaning, when I meant the other.
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Old Jun 15, 2008, 08:23 PM   #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Medion View Post
Once again, exaggerating, and thus, losing credibility. They're excellent baseline 2.1 speakers. Buy a $10/$20 set, and then tell me "this is as crap as it can get."
Excellent baseline? Come on, you wanted to test how soundcard compares but you limiting on speaker end. Garbage in, garbage out, no matter how good the soundcard is, even if you use Lynx 2 you will say it sounds the same as onboard


Quote:
Let me clarify my original statement. With Crystalizer, I turn it on and leave it on. With EQ pre-sets, I have to change it for different types of music, and for gaming. As such, the Crystalizer is "transparent" to me, as I don't have to fiddle with it between applications.
Anything alters the original sound won't make it transparent. Period. Most multimedia soundcard and speaker adds color to the sound, makes it fun to listen to, so does equalizer. If you want transparency try to listen from a proper HiFi setup

Quote:
For people with low end speakers, such as myself, there is virtually no difference in audio quality between today's onboard codecs, and an X-Fi. The subtle differences aren't worth the hassle with Creative's drivers. If you're going to go for an expensive sound card, first, get yourself some speakers that can do it justice. Why you guys are arguing against this, I cannot fathom. I have not attacked your precious sound cards in anyway, I simply stated that they don't make sense on a setup such as mine. And for the record, I did a direct comparison between Realtek's ALC885, and my own X-Fi XtremeMusic, so when you say "Realtek sux", you lose all credibility with me. This codec has shocked me, and is a huge upgrade over my old ALC850.
I'm not arguing, just stated the obvious. Yes modern HD audio surprises even me, it sounded a lot better than the old AC97 and most consumer don't even need to upgrade to soundcard when they have this, unless they focus on gaming, music or movies. But you got a point there, you need a good speaker to accompany a good soundcard
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Old Jun 15, 2008, 09:05 PM   #28
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Originally Posted by seeker010 View Post
even the best PC speakers such as a Klipsch Promedia Ultra, Gigaworks S7xx, or Logitech z5500 would be hard pressed to indicate a difference between modern sound sources
Technically high end computer speakers are the equivalent to low end Hi-Fi speakers.

I think most of Medion's points are solid in regards to speaker quality, transparency etc. as he said, he's not an audiophile. So the point is moot there. The only thing you really loose is Creative's 3d sound processing effects, and things like CMSS-3D. But there is immersion lost in not having these things.
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Old Jun 15, 2008, 09:52 PM   #29
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Originally Posted by {WOR}lock View Post
Technically high end computer speakers are the equivalent to low end Hi-Fi speakers.

I think most of Medion's points are solid in regards to speaker quality, transparency etc. as he said, he's not an audiophile. So the point is moot there. The only thing you really loose is Creative's 3d sound processing effects, and things like CMSS-3D. But there is immersion lost in not having these things.
And if you were a true hardcore audiophile, you'd most likely wouldn't be caught dead using a card from creative
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Old Jun 15, 2008, 11:50 PM   #30
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Alright Apocalypse, let me see if I can set us straight here.

Quote:
Excellent baseline? Come on, you wanted to test how soundcard compares but you limiting on speaker end. Garbage in, garbage out, no matter how good the soundcard is, even if you use Lynx 2 you will say it sounds the same as onboard
Then do your own comparison. The X-230 is an excellent baseline, whether you like them or not. An expensive system is not a "baseline." Not everyone wants to blow $200+ on a speaker setup for a desktop PC. you'd be hard pressed to find a better 2.1 setup for under $50, so it's a baseline.

Quote:
Anything alters the original sound won't make it transparent. Period. Most multimedia soundcard and speaker adds color to the sound, makes it fun to listen to, so does equalizer. If you want transparency try to listen from a proper HiFi setup
That's not what I meant by transparency, go re-read my last post. Poor reading comprehension on your part = no credibility with me.

Quote:
I'm not arguing, just stated the obvious. Yes modern HD audio surprises even me, it sounded a lot better than the old AC97 and most consumer don't even need to upgrade to soundcard when they have this, unless they focus on gaming, music or movies. But you got a point there, you need a good speaker to accompany a good soundcard
It's all about balance, IMO. You don't mix a $200 sound card with $10 speakers, as you're not going to get anything. And if you mix $500 speakers with onboard audio, you'll clearly hear all the imperfections from the hardware.
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