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Best 5.1 Surround Sound Card?


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The drivers for Windows 7 64bit are still not as good as they should be, some people can't get it even installed, but they say that when you use the older Vista 64bit drivers it just should work fine. That card has nice specs, it's PCI-E but still needs 3.5" power connector (yes, the floppydrive one :P). It's also one of the better cards for under 100CAD as I presume no one really likes Creative any more...

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Make sure to at least give Daniel_K's Vista x64 drivers a shot before dropping cash down on new hardware. Most people find those drivers work fine in Win7 and have the features of the card enabled. If those don't work, I would say the Asus card is probably a good deal, but there's nothing wrong with the Creative card you have other than the vendor behind it is money-grubbing and p***-poor at driver development. Thankfully Daniel_K is neither and his drivers do usually work very well, even if unofficial.

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Would I notice the audible difference between this sound card and the sound produced by a $200 card? A $50 card will give me my surround sound and TV hook-up, right?
Yes you will hear it with the headphones but not much on TV speakers.
Bottom line - is a high-end card worth it?
A 100USD card compared with your old SB Live! 5.1 is worth it, but leave PCI for what it is and get your self a PCI-E, I'm sure you will use it for the next 8 years and PCI will be gone by then I would say. (100USD over 8 years will give you a good soundcard for 12.5USD a year :P, 1.04USD a month)
The ASUS Xonar DX is the only one with its own audio processor. The others use "20K1" but I have no idea what that means. Does the fact that the Xonar DX has its own make it the better choice or the "outsider"?
ASUS also doesn't produce that audio chip, it's uses on more soundcards as well, even in instruments (keyboards / synthesizer), samplers and more I would presume, but it's a great audio chip most people say. The 20k1 is a Creative product again that is licensed to be used on other brand products with their own drivers, those chips are great, even the one you have now is great for it's time (that's the 10k1 I think, not sure). I won't call teh ASUS card an outsider but you are a bit hooked to there support yes.
The ASUS Xonar DX has a Max. Recording/Sampling Rate of 24-bit/192kHz. Is this for people to make their own music? I do not.
No, your current card does the same by the way, so it's nothing special, just a standard.
You guys see what I am getting at?
Yes you can get a cheap card, but even a onboard sound chip will slap a 40USD card in most cases, hell, even a Realtek 888/889 or so will slap that SB of yours, just to bad that motherboard makers don't put much attention to a good sound, it's mostly sounds a bit cold and a bit to snappy, but specs wise they are good...
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I've been OK with my onboard for a 5.1 setup for HTPC, but again it's hard to hear the difference to me, even on good speakers, versus the SB Live I had previously. I ditched it when I went to Vista (driver issues), and honestly I'm just as satisfied with the onboard sound on my P5Q Deluxe (ADI AD2000B, an Asus-specific custom version of the ADI 1989B chipset that supports things like EAX 4.0 in emulation - very, very good onboard sound). If you're an audiophile, a PCI-E card would probably provide better results, but for those of us just watching some movies or listening to music, a good onboard chip like the Realtek 88x or the ADI 19xx or 2xxx chips will save you $100 and not really give you any real sound differences over a discrete PCI-E card.

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