Discussion in 'Techie Discussion' started by TheJkWhoSaysNi, Jan 10, 2004.

  1. TheJkWhoSaysNi

    TheJkWhoSaysNi One of Freddy's beloved

    I'm looking for a fairly decent 5.1 sound card. I'm getting annoyed with the echo of the onboard AC97. My limit is about £35. Any suggestions, I was thinking SB Live! but I wanted some opinions first.

  2. fatbusinessman

    fatbusinessman Fledgling Freddie

    Ah, the issues of 5.1 sound again:

    If you can use triple-output 5.1 sound (i.e. one stereo jack for the front speakers, one for the rear speakers, and one for the center/subwoofer) then you're fine with a SoundBlaster card. If, however, you need SPDIF-out encoding (not just pass-through, for DVDs etc) then the only consumer-level hardware to support this is the nForce motherboard line.

    It sounds weird, but it's true. Sound Blaster cards will not encode a SPDIF-out channel for you, although they will pass the digital signal from a DVD straight out to SPDIF.

  3. Big G

    Big G Has a sexy sister. I am also a Bodhi wannabee.

    Very true, shame for those who splashed out a fortune for an Audigy ZS only to find that they will be without true 5.1 dolby digital surround on the latest games (although i hear EAX2 can do some sort of botched version?).

    I currently use the optical SPDIF on the soundstorm on my Abit AN7 which will support a signal passthrough to my external decoder/amp which does the decoding of the AC3 signal. However, I can also use pairs of outputs like FBM said and have the decoding done internally. Additionally, I still have my old SB Live with coax digital out in my PC and I can use this to passthrough the digital signal to my decoder/amp as well, but it doesn't do any decoding itself.

    You can get away with a cheap SB Live ! 5.1 which will decode the dolby digital signal from DVDs and provide three pairs of outputs but it won't be any good for games. Cost ya about £25.

    I use my nforce2 for games, and believe me when i say the Doom3 techdemo sounds fooking phenomenol in 5.1 on the nforce2. You can pickup an Abit AN7 with soundstorm (it'll have SPDIF, the three pairs of outputs and dolby digital encoding/decoding) for about £70 and you get to upgrade your motherboard at the same time.

    Shame they don't do it on a seperate card yet :(

    • Like Like x 1
  4. lovedaddy

    lovedaddy Fledgling Freddie

    Putting it on a seperate card would take away half the advantage that the soundstorm/nForce audio has, its huge memory bandwidth.

    Even worse, the nForce3 150 motherboards for the AMD64s dont have the soundstorm chip, but instead have some crappy '97 standard garbage. The nForce3 250 hasn't been finalised, but it seems it will be without it too =(

    More bad news, some people reckon nVidia will be releasing it as a seperate soundcard.

    Evil, you get something good, only for them to snatch it away. (god I loved the nForce2 mb, and was gaggin for the nForce3).
  5. TheJkWhoSaysNi

    TheJkWhoSaysNi One of Freddy's beloved

    Wait, why won't a SB Live be good for games? Will it not play from all 6 speakers?

    I don't really want to upgrade my motherboard yet. Currently I have a GA-7N400-L which is great, other than the sound. Althouth it does play from all 6 speakers in games.... just everything has an echo. (Everything has an echo, games, movies, music, even the "Dong" sounds in windows.)

    There is a SPDIF addon for my motherboard... would it be a better choice than a new soundcard?

    I really wanted 5.1 sound in games :(

    p.s. My speakers are Hercules XPS 5.1 Classics. What are hercules soundcards like? I was looking at the Muse 5.1 DVD and Gamesurround Fortissimo III 7.1 cards. Would either of these give me 5.1 sound in games?

    The Muse 5.1 DVD card is rather cheap, i'm guessing it's not that good, but it does say "- D audio with Sensaura™ engine included for a realistic gaming experience on up to 5.1 speaker kits"
  6. lovedaddy

    lovedaddy Fledgling Freddie

    OK, you said yourself your getting all 5 speakers. Well thats what you'll get with the creative card (and the hurc card too). However, you'll not get 5 individual 3d space audio channels. The nForce is the ONLY sound solution that can create 5.1 audio streams. What your getting is 2 channel audio, played over 5 (or so) speakers.

    The live/audigy/audigy2 all support EAX2, now last time I checked this could produce 4 point 3d sound. Meaning that front l/r and rear l/r will be location specific.

    Now, both EAX and nForce have hardware accelerated 3d audio. You can still use your '97 on board to create directsound3d streams, but get ready to lose about 20% of your cpu if you take more than 16 3d voices. Audigy/nForce keep it about 5%.

    The digital output on your MB will be to support 5.1 pre-coded output. The audio streams you'd find on say a DVD film. (this is different to in game, where the position needs to be calc'd on the fly, get what I mean)

    Thats probably as clear as mud now =) Hope it helps.
  7. RandomBastard

    RandomBastard Can't get enough of FH

    i love my nforce 2 :)
  8. Ch3tan

    Ch3tan I aer teh win!!

    Hmm, I had an SB live 5.1 in my old tower, and will be transferring it to the shuttle eventually. Its an amazing card.

    What all this about it not supporting 5 channels for games? Play any FPS, I played CS on my sb live using 5.1 mode (with 3 outputs from the card) for years, and I got a surround sound experience. True it may not be real 5.1, but you do get sounds from behind you from behind, the bass is dedicated. What more do you want? For that price its a great card and EAX aint to shabby.
  9. Big G

    Big G Has a sexy sister. I am also a Bodhi wannabee.

    My SB Live only supported front left/right and rear left/right - not 5.1.

    I should also stress when i mean it's not good for games is the up and coming games that'll require dolby digital encoding for 5.1 - such as doom3.
  10. RandomBastard

    RandomBastard Can't get enough of FH

    If i remember correctly there are two vairents of the sb live card, the original sblive and the model up the sblive 5.1, dunno if that has anything to do with it. I had a sblive! platinum edition until my bro broke it and hence i use sandstorm onboard my mobo now.
  11. lovedaddy

    lovedaddy Fledgling Freddie

    The origional live didn't support 5.1 direct output for things like DVD films and other pre-encoded streams (some game intros have them, but I cannot think of any at the moment).

    The Live, Live5.1, Audigy and Audigy 2 do NOT create 5.1 DD streams. They use EAX to produce 4 point sound and then mix it to the number of channels. The same will go for all the 7.1 etc soundcards, they will use software directsound3d and mix to the number of channels connected.

    Soundstorm = amazing (anyone thats heard it will back me up on that)
  12. Ch3tan

    Ch3tan I aer teh win!!

    I welcome nvidia producing a soundstorm board then. All this harking on about it has made me want one :)
  13. Big G

    Big G Has a sexy sister. I am also a Bodhi wannabee.

    The SB Live ! 5.1 had a built in dolby digital decoder with support for three pairs of outputs or an SPDIF passthrough, unlike the original SB Live!

    My original SB Live has an SPDIF duaghtercard which passes through the digital stream for the external decoder, so there is no onboard decoding to provide the three pairs of outputs.

  14. RandomBastard

    RandomBastard Can't get enough of FH

    Just buy an nforce 2 mobo :p

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