How good is the intergrated sound on todays MB's?

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nageltass
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How good is the intergrated sound on todays MB's?

Post by nageltass » Wed Apr 09, 2008 4:38 am

Would it beat my 5 year old Turtle Beach Santa cruz soundcard?

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Post by nutball » Wed Apr 09, 2008 6:22 am

Are you set against digital outputs?

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Post by jhhoffma » Wed Apr 09, 2008 7:27 am

If you plan on running Vista, onboard is good enough and better than dealing with getting drivers for H/W acceleration on most soundcards.

Since M$ reworked the sound scheme for Vista, there really aren't any cards that support H/W accleration, except for the ones that support OpenAL (X-Fi cards) and even then it's pretty crappy.

My onboard sound quality (MSI P35 Neo2-FR) is good enough where I can't tell the difference on my 5.1 Altec Lansing setup at my desk. It still does positional audio well (Bioshock is very good with the sounds). It won't win awards for SNR, but when you're using non-audiophile grade speakers, it won't matter.

IMO, using onboard, even if the sound isn't quite as good, is worth it to not have to find the right drivers and have another card screwing up the airflow in my case.
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Post by juamez » Wed Apr 09, 2008 7:34 am

Nothing compared to SoundStorm from those nForce2 chipsets, no? Which in that case is a darn shame.

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Post by CA_Steve » Wed Apr 09, 2008 7:36 am

I agree. Unless there is a specific reason/thing you want to do that on-board sound can't do (like to complement a high quality speaker system), I'd stick with the simplest solution.
- hopefully, less driver issues.
- 10W less power consumption


A recent comparison of onboard vs sound cards on The Tech Report.

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Post by nutball » Wed Apr 09, 2008 7:40 am

juamez wrote:Nothing compared to SoundStorm from those nForce2 chipsets, no? Which in that case is a darn shame.
Which bit of SoundStorm?

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Post by Scoop » Wed Apr 09, 2008 8:06 am

The chip on my Abit IP35-E is miles ahead of Sound Blaster Live! Value which I had in my previous system. Couldn't be happier about leaving that out.

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Post by Sizzle » Wed Apr 09, 2008 8:16 am

As far as SoundStorm goes, if you are talking DDL, I don't think if there are any current onboard chipsets that doe it. However, DS4 level and up Gigabyte boards onboard sound all do DTS Connect.

Some people complain about Realtek and their EAX problems. But they have the best driver support and release schedule of any of the sound makers by far.
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Post by wayner » Wed Apr 09, 2008 11:02 am

If you are using the digital out from your sound card is there really any difference? I plug the spdif from my mobo into my stereo receiver. Would there be any difference in a 5.1 channel setup with just using the onboard audio or buying a very high end sound card? Isn't it just a case of sending 1s and 0s to the receiver in this instance?

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Post by nageltass » Wed Apr 09, 2008 12:29 pm

I plan on running linux on the new system I'm going to buy, XP is already too bloated for me so I wouldn't even want to touch vista :lol:

jhhoffma wrote:If you plan on running Vista, onboard is good enough and better than dealing with getting drivers for H/W acceleration on most soundcards.

Since M$ reworked the sound scheme for Vista, there really aren't any cards that support H/W accleration, except for the ones that support OpenAL (X-Fi cards) and even then it's pretty crappy.

My onboard sound quality (MSI P35 Neo2-FR) is good enough where I can't tell the difference on my 5.1 Altec Lansing setup at my desk. It still does positional audio well (Bioshock is very good with the sounds). It won't win awards for SNR, but when you're using non-audiophile grade speakers, it won't matter.

IMO, using onboard, even if the sound isn't quite as good, is worth it to not have to find the right drivers and have another card screwing up the airflow in my case.

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Post by frostedflakes » Wed Apr 09, 2008 12:57 pm

I'm happy enough with the Realtek ALC888 on my board. Then again I'm no audiophile, so take my opinion with a grain of salt. :)

I suspect *good* modern onboard audio would be adequate for most users except audiophiles and gamers (who want certain features that only discrete cards typically offer, such as EAX).
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Post by jhhoffma » Wed Apr 09, 2008 4:12 pm

wayner wrote:If you are using the digital out from your sound card is there really any difference? I plug the spdif from my mobo into my stereo receiver. Would there be any difference in a 5.1 channel setup with just using the onboard audio or buying a very high end sound card? Isn't it just a case of sending 1s and 0s to the receiver in this instance?
Yes, unless you have DDL or AC3-encoded media, you will only get PCM stereo through SPDIF connections. This applies to windows sounds, games, and just about anything else that isn't on a DVD or HQ DVD-RIP.

If you only have a 2-channel setup, then no big deal, but if you plunk down the change on a fancy 5.1 setup and plan on connecting it via SPDIF, you'll be sorely disappointed unless you're watching a movie.

Soundstorm was more than just DDL, however. While adding DDL was a great point and allowed one to use the system in a HTPC role easily, the quality of the onboard sound was as good, if not, better than the crappy Creative cards being sold at the time (M-audio and Turtle Beach made good cards too).
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Post by Michael Sandstrom » Wed Apr 09, 2008 7:15 pm

wayner wrote:If you are using the digital out from your sound card is there really any difference? I plug the spdif from my mobo into my stereo receiver. Would there be any difference in a 5.1 channel setup with just using the onboard audio or buying a very high end sound card? Isn't it just a case of sending 1s and 0s to the receiver in this instance?
No it is not just a case of sending 1s and 0s to the receiver in this instance. In most cases under Windows XP the 1s and 0s sent to the receiver are not the same 1s and 0s present on the source material. Windows XP uses a software called Kmixer to resample source material which alters the digital stream. For example, a DTS encoded digital stream sent through Kmixer and resampled will not be able to be decoded after the digital stream is sent to the receiver. Likewise, a simple stereo digital stream is degraded by resampling. Depending on drivers of the audio device, either ASIO or kernel streaming can be employed to bypass Kmixer and avoid resampling. Refer to AVSForum.com for very detailed discussion by people seeking to send bitperfect information to their receivers.
Last edited by Michael Sandstrom on Wed Apr 09, 2008 10:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by juamez » Wed Apr 09, 2008 10:09 pm

jhhoffma wrote:Soundstorm was more than just DDL, however. While adding DDL was a great point and allowed one to use the system in a HTPC role easily, the quality of the onboard sound was as good, if not, better than the crappy Creative cards being sold at the time (M-audio and Turtle Beach made good cards too).
I remember choosing the soundstorm onboard chip over my Audigy 1 Gamer Edition (the one with gold plated jacks and a SPDIF - with proprietary plug, damnit!) back in those days. Although with the earlier drivers EAX would be screwed up sometimes resulting in weird shrieking sounds. Also winamp suffered from that problem.

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Post by tutu » Thu Apr 10, 2008 3:24 am

These days both "Dolby Digital Live" and "DTS Connect" exist which let you encode a 5.1 stream into SPDIF. Not many sound chips support it yet.

So soon there will be something superior (finally) to SoundStorm.

My Realtek 889A (106db SNR) supports DTS Connect but it's not enabled as Gigabyte haven't paid the license fee for my motherboard model.
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Post by jhhoffma » Thu Apr 10, 2008 7:56 am

juamez wrote:
jhhoffma wrote:Soundstorm was more than just DDL, however. While adding DDL was a great point and allowed one to use the system in a HTPC role easily, the quality of the onboard sound was as good, if not, better than the crappy Creative cards being sold at the time (M-audio and Turtle Beach made good cards too).
I remember choosing the soundstorm onboard chip over my Audigy 1 Gamer Edition (the one with gold plated jacks and a SPDIF - with proprietary plug, damnit!) back in those days. Although with the earlier drivers EAX would be screwed up sometimes resulting in weird shrieking sounds. Also winamp suffered from that problem.
I have the same two pieces of hardware. I just ditch the Audigy gamer in my gaming machine for the onboard. My HTPC uses the soundstorm.
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Post by juamez » Thu Apr 10, 2008 9:14 am

jhhoffma wrote:
juamez wrote:
jhhoffma wrote:Soundstorm was more than just DDL, however. While adding DDL was a great point and allowed one to use the system in a HTPC role easily, the quality of the onboard sound was as good, if not, better than the crappy Creative cards being sold at the time (M-audio and Turtle Beach made good cards too).
I remember choosing the soundstorm onboard chip over my Audigy 1 Gamer Edition (the one with gold plated jacks and a SPDIF - with proprietary plug, damnit!) back in those days. Although with the earlier drivers EAX would be screwed up sometimes resulting in weird shrieking sounds. Also winamp suffered from that problem.
I have the same two pieces of hardware. I just ditch the Audigy gamer in my gaming machine for the onboard. My HTPC uses the soundstorm.
So you chose your non soundstorm onboard audiochip instead of an Audigy 1? Isn't that audigy-dissing? I mean, the Audigy had in my experience much better sound quality ("measured" with the same speakers) than my KT133A onboard AC97 audio chip. I don't know how much those onboard thingies have improved over time, but would rather think that all but Soundstorm would still crumble to bits when being compared to the Audigy.

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Post by jhhoffma » Thu Apr 10, 2008 11:47 am

Can't compare AC97 onboard sound to Soundstorm. AC97 is completely CPU hosted. The real work is done in software (drivers) by the CPU. The Soundstorm chip (more accurately Nforce2 MCP-D) is a discrete sound chip that does it's own processing and is not CPU bound.

Being Dolby Digital certified, it also had exceptional signal quality (particularly for its time). The fact that people are still clamoring for nVidia to make it again, should tell you what you need to know.

To be clear, I don't have Soundstorm on the machine that I previously used the Audigy. I'm using the Realtek HD Audio onboard instead. That's what I think of the sound quality and crap driver/software from Creative. Never again!!!
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Post by cb95014 » Thu Apr 10, 2008 1:24 pm

There is a lot of great data in this recent comparison on the TechReport between ASUS's two Xonar cards, X-Fi & onboard (Realtek):
http://techreport.com/articles.x/14500

My next card will be the Asus Xonar DX :D

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Post by juamez » Fri Apr 11, 2008 4:42 am

CA_Steve wrote:I agree. Unless there is a specific reason/thing you want to do that on-board sound can't do (like to complement a high quality speaker system), I'd stick with the simplest solution.
- hopefully, less driver issues.
- 10W less power consumption


A recent comparison of onboard vs sound cards on The Tech Report.
cb95014 wrote:There is a lot of great data in this recent comparison on the TechReport between ASUS's two Xonar cards, X-Fi & onboard (Realtek):
http://techreport.com/articles.x/14500

My next card will be the Asus Xonar DX :D
Already been posted. ;)

But indeed, that Sonar DX seems to whoop every other discrete card's ass, including the X-Fi's. Yay at that. The lesser part is that I cannot find the Sonar DX in local shops. I've only found the DX2 in only ONE shop. :(

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Post by Kaleid » Sat Apr 12, 2008 6:24 am

Umh no, Soundstorm was nothing exceptional really. Review examples had better chips but what the consumer received was normal substandard D/A converters. It was really a budget thing..
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Post by Vicotnik » Sat Apr 12, 2008 7:10 am

Kaleid wrote:Umh no, Soundstorm was nothing exceptional really. Review examples had better chips but what the consumer received was normal substandard D/A converters. It was really a budget thing..
Do you have a source for that statement?

SoundStorm had no DAC at all iirc, usually a RealTek ALC650 was used for that.
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Post by Kaleid » Sat Apr 12, 2008 7:13 am

I'm of course talking about analog-out quality. Digitlife or xbitlabs or something similar had measurements of the cards. Didn't look very pretty.
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Post by jhhoffma » Mon Apr 14, 2008 5:40 am

Kaleid wrote:I'm of course talking about analog-out quality. Digitlife or xbitlabs or something similar had measurements of the cards. Didn't look very pretty.
Who used Soundstorm for analog??? The major selling point behind it was that it could do DDL encoding over SPDIF. That's where it was strongest. If you want analog out, either stick with whatever crappy onboard software codec-based crap you can or get a decent discrete card. There is no happy medium.
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Post by Sizzle » Mon Apr 14, 2008 8:07 am

cb95014 wrote:There is a lot of great data in this recent comparison on the TechReport between ASUS's two Xonar cards, X-Fi & onboard (Realtek):
http://techreport.com/articles.x/14500

My next card will be the Asus Xonar DX :D
Hope you are using xp. Vista drivers for the Xonar stink. DDL and DTS encoding simply don't work in the latest driver. That is why I ditched my D2X, it was the main reason I bought the card.

Even when DTS Connect did work. It encoded everything. So if I was watching HD TV, it would encode the Dolby audio on HD channels to DTS. It should leave those alone if working correctly.
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Post by Schlotkins » Mon Apr 14, 2008 9:42 am

Wow - I'm surprised a sound card eats up 14W at idle.

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