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  1. #1

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    Question sound card VS stereo

    Ok.

    I'm in the process of building a 2 ch. stereo music only which will be hooked up to my computers sound card.. so I can use the the CD burner or DVD player as a CD player.

    The sound card is hooked up to a Yamaha integrated amp i just got. I have a pair of RT1000i's hooked up to the amp.

    My question here is I am hearing things from my CD's I've never heard before. It's amazingly clear, defined, and very impressive. I"m hearing much more background vocals,... instruments sound slightly different.. but better... more accurate.

    Is all this new stuff i'm hearing coming from the new but used amp? Or is it coming from the sound card or the way a computer processes music from a CD instead of how a stereo component processes it?

    I can't stop listening to CD's now.. damn, something good is going on here. :p

    BTW the sound card is a MP3 Audigy 5.1, one of the first ones that came out.. two or three years ago.

    Maybe i need to check my settings on the sound card.. maybe i have some weird tweak going on.. the Creative sound cards have lots of software tweaks you can do to them.

    I"m stunned by the sounds i'm hearing.

    al

    FYI: the computer is a Dell P4 1.7gig, 512MB Rambus memory (RDRAM) Win XP.. nothing unusual about it.
    Last edited by danger boy; 02-04-2004 at 04:04 AM.
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  2. #2
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    What you are hearing is a source that has no jitter, pure digital until it hits the soundcard. Incredibly high sampling rates.

    The Audigy is a good economy sound-card. Its no tweak. Computer sources are THAT much better. Matthew once stated that he strongly believed that entertainment will be in one machine suited for strictly A/V applications. He recognized the potential. I am not sure if he has HEARD their capabilities, but regardless, the man was dead-on.

    Your experiencing the tip of the ice-burg Danger. Congrats. There is a truth beginning to emerge gentlemen, fasten your seatbelts.

  3. #3

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    Funny, but I thought the exact same thing. Similar equipment (DIY P4/1.5, 768 meg RAMBUS, Sound Blaster Live!, H/K AVR25, Polk M4 Series 2) and the sound quality is outstanding! It's not as loud as the "big rig" downstairs but is far better for low to medium listening levels.

  4. #4

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    Very interesting thread...somebody else chime in on this...

    Source: Squeezebox Touch/CIA Power Supply
    DAC: Benchmark DAC/PRE
    Linestage: Placette RVC Passive
    Power Amp: Parasound HCA-1500A
    Speakers: Harbeth Compact 7ES-3 Monitor
    Subwoofer: SVS PB12-NSD

  5. #5

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    Originally posted by ATCVenom
    What you are hearing is a source that has no jitter, pure digital until it hits the soundcard. Incredibly high sampling rates.

    Why would this have no jitter? Also, how could they sample more than what is on the disc? Sounds a little strange to me.

    madmax
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  6. #6
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    My apologies Madmax, I got a tad ahead of myself.

    No jitter can be achieved by burning the data off the CD unto the hard-drive. The harddrive then reads the data and sends the signal. It just doesnt get much better than that.

    The sampling all boils down to the soundcard really... Most economy cards *sound blaster definately included* cannot operate at the ratings they claim. Get something like the Lynx 2. Spendy stuff, but its got the goods.

  7. #7

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    My soundcard....

    I hear the following

    1) Harddrive noise (especially when loading a disk)
    2) Disc spinning
    3) Other various internal noises
    4) Static
    5) Headphones
    6) I hate it
    7) Why do they even have soundcards? Microsoft has all these stupid things.....they could have a real live 3 inch midgit living in a buble on the side of your monitor that screams everything at you! I mean bleh!

    Nah jk.........

    I would love to hear a good soundcard. I will NOT use a cd rom drive for ANYTHING in my stereo until they invent a 5 disc changer CD Rom drive. Sheeeeeez! I feel lazy!

    Nice findings Danger -- I already know Sean's side of the story!

    Sean - I agree with the uploading to the computer. Much cleaner and nothing with a disc. You aint gotta hear all that mess. I still say the best route is an external soundcard. My opinion - I don't listen to enough computer (music on the computer, etc) to care. I have headphones connected to this thing, I do NOT want to hear noises when I operate my computer.
    Last edited by VR3; 02-04-2004 at 05:04 PM.
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  8. #8

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    So digital data read from a CD going to a DAC has jitter but digital data read from a hard drive going to the sound card DAC does not? Is that because a hard drive is more time stable or what?
    madmax
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    I don't agree with the no jitter idea, its not the same application, but whatever. I have an SB Audigy 5.1 and the computer rig is fantastic, no complaints here.

  10. #10
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    MadMax,

    First off, never forget that the reading with a laser is still an analog operation. Reading from a Harddrive is true digital. Theres no rotational variation, no reflectivity. Ive been told *though I cannot confirm* that the harddrive is a more stable source in terms of jitter. Im on shakey grounds there, but feel it is worth mentioning.

  11. #11

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    all i can say is that most of the music i'm listening off the computer is music that was ripped off of CD's.. not MP3's or that type of thing.

    I have to agree with Sean here.. i guess off the HD you will not get any jitter. but when it was ripped off the CD.. there surely must have been some jitter present, right? that jitter would probably have been recorded onto the hard drive with what little jitter was there, right?

    Trey,

    My cd burner whirls too. it's annoying.. so i rip the music to the hard drive. it sounds much better. Do you have your sound card hooked up to your preamp? try it out.. see if you hear a difference too. It's worth trying out in my opinion.

    I got a Monster cable with a mini jack on one end to hook up to the sound card, then it splits to a "Y" with RCA connector ends for your pre/amp/receiver. Use a AUX input on your preamp. Cost of cable around $15. there are less expensive ones out there too.

    I agree it must be the higher sampling rates from the computer sound card. I'm really impressed as hell here. :D
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  12. #12
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    Dangerboy!!

    Download this software:

    FooBar2000 (you can just get the light as is, with no updates)

    After thats done, go to

    : preferences: playback : DSP MANAGER

    and enable Resampler (SSRC).
    Go down *while still under playback folder* to resampler: select
    88200 hz.

    Enjoy..

    Sean
    Last edited by Zero; 02-05-2004 at 12:04 AM.

  13. #13
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    Hey... I've got an Audigy 5.1 in my computer. And, its sitting maybe 10 feet away from my Denon 3801. Tell me, how does one exactly go about connecting one unit to the other? How many cables need to be run? HELP? I wanna try.

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    check my most recent post. it tells you there. good luck. worth doing.. the monster cable i got is 8ft long.
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  15. #15

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    Originally posted by ATCVenom
    MadMax,

    First off, never forget that the reading with a laser is still an analog operation. Reading from a Harddrive is true digital. Theres no rotational variation, no reflectivity. Ive been told *though I cannot confirm* that the harddrive is a more stable source in terms of jitter. Im on shakey grounds there, but feel it is worth mentioning.

    Very valid point....also consider that HDDs don't have to use oversampling to get the signal right, they spin at much higher RPM (10-15X) and have much more rotational mass that yields, in my book, much more stability than spinning a flimsy piece of plastic at a measly 500 RPM.

  16. #16

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    speaking of spinning a piece of plastic, has anyone ever seen those videos where a guy attached a CD to his dremel and got it going 10,000 rpms or something of that nature? The disks just fly apart, awesome.

    (naturally someone will mention the cd in the microwave thing, so consider this me making fun of you before you even post)

  17. #17

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    For a premo sound card delivery system, get yourselves a Audigy2 ZS Platinum or Platinum Pro. 24-bit, 192kHz/108db SNR, DD-EX, dts-ES, 5.1, 6.1, 7.1, EAX4 AdvancedHD, Digital Coax and Gold Plated Analog outputs. Heh, what can I say, awesome card guys. And yes, hearing is believeing. This is what I use for 2 channel sound as well as hardcore gaming, mated to a Marantz 7300OSE receiver and Klipsch CF1's. nuff'said!:D
    Last edited by Terrax; 02-05-2004 at 05:18 AM.

  18. #18

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    nice but how do you hook up sound from that sound card for DD, etc? 5.1, 6.1, etc?
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    digital coax.

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    nice but how do you hook up sound from that sound card for DD, etc? 5.1, 6.1, etc?
    The Audigy2 ZS can decode all these formats itself and output the signal through the analog outputs, or the card can output the formats to your receiver of choice by using the passthrough option, whereby the card uses the SPDIF or Digital Coax connector to output the coded signal to your receiver. New drivers were released that now include dts Neo 6.1 Music and Movie sound formats. And at $99.99 for the ZS Platnium and $199.99 for the ZS Platnium Pro, its a very nice setup. Just an FYI for those that may not be aware of the quality of new sound cards now available.

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    I work on computers for a living for DoD and in the private sector, so this subject is close to my heart, and something I am intimately familiar with.

    The absolute top consumer sound card on the market right now is the M-Audio Revolution 7.1. It puts the smack down on the Sound Blaster stuff in every way. One thing to point out is that the Sound Blaster Audigy 2's 106db S/N ratio is on the front 3 channels only. The sub and surrounds have only a 90db S/N ratio. The Rev. 7.1 is 107db all the way around. It also uses much better DAC's. Yes, even sound cards have DAC's. To most of us, the quality of the DAC's is irrelevant because we would use the SPDIF output thereby using the DAC's in our receiver/processor. The Rev. 7.1 actually has a digital coax output, so the need for an adapter is eliminated. Another notable feature is it's ability to output 6.1 DD, and DTS through the SPDIF. Audigy 1 and 2's are limited to 5.1 via the SPDIF, even though they may be 6.1/7.1 cards.

    Don't just take my word for it, read about it yourself.....
    http://www.firingsquad.com/hardware/...ew/default.asp

    An important thing to realize is the DAC's in any consumer level sound-card will never be as good as those in top notch pre/pro's or receivers. Don't expect something magical when you plug one of these things in.

    52x CD-ROM drives spin the CD at 10,500rpm, the structural limit of a CD. Most new CD-ROM drives come with a warning not to insert cracked or damaged disks because of an explosion hazard. Obviously, with the media spinning that fast, there is time to do many re-samples before it is time to actually output the signal, that can be a double edged sword. If you get the signal right the first time, there is no need to re-sample it. If there are errors sneaking in, in the decoding process (there always are), they will only be magnified by the number of times it is re-sampled. One very nice thing about this technology is dealing with scratched CD's. If you have a disk scratched beyond hope, a computer with a good CD-ROM drive can usually still read it, given enough time (thousands of re-samples, the law of averages). If you have a buffer-underrun protected burner, you can usually make a copy of your destroyed CD and bring it back to life!

    HDD's spin at 5,400rpm up to 15,000rpm, depending on the type, and can be exceedingly sensitive to vibration. That's why laptop drives spin so much slower (4,200rpm), so they can cope with the jolts and jars of being mobile.

    Playing DVD movies in your computer, and watching them on your TV, will never look as good as they do with a good stand-alone player. The reason is simply that a computer was built to be a computer, a DVD player was built to be a DVD player. Requiring anything to do double-duty usually results in a compromise in both areas. Although, if you have a really poor quality stand-alone player (I dunno, Apex or something), you would get a better picture from the computer.

    With all of that being said, a computer is part of my home theater system. I have a P4 3.2 with a gig of ram, 2 200gig HDD's, a Radeon 9600XT VIVO video card, and the M-Audio Revolution sound card. It is connected to my network (4 other machines and DSL) for internet radio, streamed content, and sharing MP3's with other computers. The purpose of this machine is only to play MP3's and saved movies, internet radio, upload content from my camcorder, display digital photos, and control some really sweet features on the Yamaha RX-V2400 via the serial port. It is definitely not better at playing DVD's or CD's than my stand alone players, but it serves its purpose, and serves it well.

    If you have questions or comments, I'd be glad to hear them!

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    Sowen - I think that is some excellent information that you have provided. Are you Mr. Friendly Pants now?

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    sowen,

    i'm sure you know your stuff when it comes to computers and soundcards.. etc.

    I'd have to say that my entry level SB Audigy card sounds pretty damn good to me. Much better than I can get with a receiver IMHO.

    How much did your sound card run? i'm just curious.. i have no desire to upgrade anything on my computer.. just wondering what a TOL sound card goes for.

    thanks, AL
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    I agree DB, the Audigy has produced no complaints for me either...and I run an older series. The first 3 channels of a computer setup would be extremely near-field dynamic, so why would it even matter that it is a higher SN%?

    I doubt that I would start touching myself over a few db of SN% If I start worrying about whether I can produce 7.1 from my computer, please shoot me.

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    Originally posted by dorokusai
    Sowen - I think that is some excellent information that you have provided. Are you Mr. Friendly Pants now?
    I hope you didn't get the wrong impression of me, it's just that hi-jacking and quibbling really irk me. lol Sorry :P I only want to help out and be helped out on occasion, that's all. No more, no less.

    Originally posted by danger boy
    sowen,

    i'm sure you know your stuff when it comes to computers and soundcards.. etc.

    I'd have to say that my entry level SB Audigy card sounds pretty damn good to me. Much better than I can get with a receiver IMHO.

    How much did your sound card run? i'm just curious.. i have no desire to upgrade anything on my computer.. just wondering what a TOL sound card goes for.

    thanks, AL
    The Audigy is a damn fine card. If you already have one, keep it. It really is good. I have a couple myself. It's just that, if you are in the market for a new one, the M-Audio can't be beat. It'll set you back a buck and a quarter give or take, depending on where you find it. It is available dealer direct for $119.95 here http://m-audio.rjmg.com/index.cfm?pid=3351 Oddly enough, that's a good deal cheaper that the higher end Platinum Audigy's, especially considering the M-Audio is a better performer. There are a couple better ones out there, geared more for commercial use, but they are $500.00+. Even with that, they are no better performers for playing media, they just usually offer multi-channel recording and multiple SPDIF in/outs.

    Originally posted by dorokusai
    I agree DB, the Audigy has produced no complaints for me either...and I run an older series. The first 3 channels of a computer setup would be extremely near-field dynamic, so why would it even matter that it is a higher SN%?

    I doubt that I would start touching myself over a few db of SN% If I start worrying about whether I can produce 7.1 from my computer, please shoot me.
    It doesn't matter when you use a cheez-ball computer speaker setup. However, when you integrate it into your "theater", it does matter. If it didn't, why in the world would we be spending mega-bucks on our equipment? What I am really talking about is the integration of a computer into the rest of your system, not just the computer by itself with its own speakers.
    The Audigy (all of them, first gen. and up) is a good card, a really good card, but if you are serious about using a computer as part of your rig, you could do a little better. That's all. There is one aspect in which the Audigy line out-does the M-Audios, and that is "direct sound". What I mean is a simple concept really, with an Audigy (any model), all of the decoding/processing, is done on the card itself. With the M-Audio, all of the decoding/processing is done through the computer's main processor. In and of itself, it is neither good or bad. It simply creates a larger drain on system resources and processor time. If you have and older, slower computer, the M-Audio could slow down your system a good deal when playing high-bit-rate MP3's, but since the Audigy handles it all on-board, the rest of the system in not affected. However, this matters less and less with the increasing speed of today's processors. 7.1 output is rather useless but for those of us set up to use 6.1, it is nice to at least be able to use it if we want to.
    Last edited by sowen010599; 02-10-2004 at 01:34 AM.

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    Sowen - I got ya', just making sure you are still enjoying the forum. There were some valid points made. It was a thread and nothing more. Anyways, good info period.

    What would be your top 5 recommendations for sound cards?

    I really became a SB supporter because of the support that I found, from their forum and driver database. Nvidia has been my favorite thus far in the video format arena.

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    The M-Audio revelation soundcard is by far one of the best mass market economy cards that can be had for a reasonable price. It goes without saying that this card was produced for audio conscious minded individuals. The only drawback to this card is its unfortunately tendancy not to easily orchestrate with some software.

    While most "compatibility" issues are none other than the calibration between the card and the piece of software, it can become tiresome and menacing to the not-so-savvy consumer...

    These are still, just economy cards. Audiophile cards is a whole other realm, and price-range.

    The Lynx cards - the version 2 in particular:

    http://www.lynxstudio.com/lynxtwo.html

    Terra Tech Phase 28 (German), Lynx 2,

    *will find the url later* heh

    My boy has the Lynx2 card hooked up to a Plinius 8200 Mk2 integrated amplifier running Piega C 3 LTD's. This is one picky bastard who has owned units ranging from modified Sony transports to multi thousand dollar LP sources. Never seen him this happy about a source.

    A very exciting time in audio - to have so many choices. Seemingly endless alternatives.

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    Hmmm, top five? Well, if you are wanting to use this as part of your rig........

    1 M-Audio Revolution 7.1 - unmatched fidelity but lacks some of the features provided by the Sound Blaster line. Hardware and software driven.

    2 Sound Blaster Audigy 2 ZS - regular or Platinum. Platinum adds the "Live Drive" which gives you a remote, optical SPDIF's, etc. and adds $80.00 to the price. THX certified. All hardware driven.

    3 Sound Blaster Audigy (1) - A good 5.1 card. Great "bang for the buck". All hardware driven.

    4 Chaintech 7.1 - Super cheap, good quality, great card. Has optical SPDIF. It is all software driven, that explains the cheap cost. Makes the computer do all of the work.

    5 Turtle Beach 6.1 - A good all around card. Not nearly as clear sounding as the M-Audio, or the Audigy's. Hardware driven. Poor driver support.

    For use of the computer/sound card for gaming (not connected to your rig)....

    1 Sound Blaster Audigy 2 ZS

    2 Sound Blaster Audigy (1)

    3 M-Audio Revolution 7.1

    4 Chaintech 7.1

    5 Turtle Beach 6.1

    Obviously the lineup for gaming is different. The reason for this is every game supports EAX (spacializing effects in games) and the way Sound Blaster supports EAX (they developed it). Some other card don't do a great job dealing with EAX in games.

    Another thing you should know, THX certified sound cards, hmmmm well, just know it is nothing like the certification for home audio equipment. Basically, it only states the device has at least a 100db S/N ration on the front channels, and has a 20-20,000hz range with less than +/-3db deviation. Basically, THX certification on computer equipment means nothing, just look at the specs.

    Creative driver support? Well, when they sent out the first Audigy that was XP ready, the drivers pre-dated XP. Meaning the XP drivers were written before XP existed. No computer that had an Audigy and XP would run. They would crash on shutdown every flipping time. We had to download a Compaq driver for the Audigy. They were the only ones with a working driver for the Audigy's at the time. That was tough work for those with 56k connections because it was a 300+ meg download. Creative Labs learned from that and they have done pretty good for the most part since then. There are still some problems with their drivers from time to time but OK for the most part. There have been HUGE driver problems with the Extigy (USB external Audigy). It works with about half of the computers it's connected to. Turtle Beach has the worst driver support in the business, everybody else looks like a golden god in comparison.

    I am an Nvidia guy too. I love their stuff and I'm running the FX 5950 Ultra in the computer I am sitting in front of right now. The only reason the system connected to my rig is running an ATI is because of the VIVO (video in video out). I use it to capture video.

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    Sowen,

    Thanks for taking the time to write out such well developed responses. I know I appreciate being able to read what you have written. For the most part, it seems all there is for "which is better" is a whole bunch of "nuh-uh, turtle beach is better." So, I know I appreciate what you have provided. Even the big mainstream computer hardware sites do an atrociously poor job when reviewing audio gear. All they do is spout off the specs, and review the cards through some lousy $100 speaker setup. Properly reviewing audio gear and the sound the reproduce seems to be a delicate craft for which these techies have no skill at.

    Thanks again!

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    For everything, there is always the "mine is better" crowd. Those who have the Turtle-Beach card will swear up and down it is the best. Those with Sound Blaster would tell you the same. It all goes back to "If it sounds good to you, it is good." I have 3 Audigy's, 2 M-Audio's, and the Turtle-Beach is in a bag on the shelf, if that tells you anything. You want it?

    Being in the business, I have had the opportunity to own, use, install, etc. most everything available in the IT sector, from servers to PDA's and everything in between. Your tax dollars at work!

    Reading reviews is helpful but they are usually biased for some reason. Ever wonder how everybody makes great equipment and nobody makes crap? Well, it's called advertising dollars my friend. They're not gonna say it's crap and loose money. Trust me, there is plenty of crap out there! They really do have to review sound cards with crap speakers though. Remember, most people only have these crap speakers. Most are not going to be connected to a several thousand dollar setup for serious listening.

    I'm glad you appreciate the info. As far as time goes, I type really fast (120+wpm) so it's no problem.

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