About the PC Audio system

Knowledgebase collection for PC, as well as useful tools.

About the PC Audio system

Postby Blín D'ñero » 17 Feb 2009, 18:16

Soundcards

The first soundcard i ever bought (2001?) was the SoundBlaster Live! 5.1.
Vast
improvement over the onboard audio i had on the MSI board of my Pentium 3 PC. The range, powerful dynamic, the detail and clarity... noticeable even on the simple plastic 2.0 Philips speakerset.

In the years that followed i started assembling PC's, i used as soundcard Audigy 2 and later Audigy 2 ZS with frontbay, and i had the Klipsch Promedia 2.1 speakerset on one and the Logitech Z-2300 on the other PC. The Audigy's went together with the PC's that i later sold.

For the next Windows XP -PC's i built i used X-Fi soundcards, in chronological order:
  1. XtremeMusic PCI (EMU20K1)
  2. Platinum Fatal1ty Champion PCI - (EMU20K1) - 64 MB X-Ram - with the old Audigy2ZS frontbay,
  3. XtremeGamer Fatal1ty Pro PCI - (EMU20K1) - 64 MB X-Ram -
  4. Titanium Fatal1ty Professional PCIe - (EMU20K2) - 64MB X-Ram

Read all about the SoundBlaster X-Fi family at wikipedia
SoundBlaster X-fI Model SB0460 extensive datasheet with complete specifications, layout and usage.
Sound Blaster X-FI Titanium HD is not meant for gamers, it is for audiophiles. No 5.1 surround, just 2.0 / 2.1 and/or headphones, but top of the line quality in components and performance for hifi stereo music pleasure.
A fine user's review for the X-Fi Titanium Fatal1ty Pro Series PCIe (scroll down past the promo text).
Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi Titanium Fatal1ty Champion Series Sound Card w/ I/O] is the same as above and also with the front bay.



[Note] When aiming for a cheap card with a great name: Audigy SE and Audigy Value:
The Audigy SE and Audigy Value are stripped down models, with a less expensive CA-0106 audio-controller in place of the EMU10k2. With the CA-0106, the SE/Value are limited to software-based EAX 3.0 (upgraded to software-based EAX 4.0 with a driver update),
wikipedia
so you won't get real Audigy cards, and should not expect much of them.




Asio >2 ms
ASIO



Sound Blaster Z PCIe
Sound Blaster Zx PCIe
Sound Blaster ZxR PCIe
Interesting too: PowerColor Devil HDX Sound Card Review. (guru3d.com)

On my Windows 7 PC's i have SoundBlaster Z family cards. A Z on my everyday office and a ZxR on my gameing pc. Also on my music / enterntainment pc i still have a ZxR running but i'm thinking of replaceing it by a Xonar Essence STX II someday.


Now over to top quality:

ASUS Xonar Essence STX II Sound Card Reviews:
techpowerup wrote:The STX unfortunately had an inferior clock generator which made it slightly more susceptible to jitter than its PCI counterpart, the ST. ASUS remedied the issue with the STX II. There is a new and improved clock on board, and the outputs have multiplied since the STX II is a full 7.1-capable design due to an add-on board.

Asus Essence STX II 7.1 Sound Card / Headphone Amplifier Review (kitguru.net)
ASUS Essence STX II 7.1 soundcard review - PC's high-end audio (reviewstudio.net)
Asus Essence STX II – review (english version)
Review: ASUS Essence STX II 7.1 Sound Card (ocdrift.com)
ASUS Xonar Essence STX II 7.1 Sound Card (techpowerup.com)
Gaming PC: * Intel i7 4790K * Noctua NH-D15S * Asus Maximus VII Hero * 32 GB Corsair Dominator Platinum CMD32GX3M4A2133C9 * 2× Sapphire Radeon R9 290 Tri-X in crossfire * Dell U3010 @ 2560 x 1600 / 60Hz * Corsair AX 1200W * 7 x WD Black HDDs * Creative Soundblaster ZxR * Asus DRW F1ST * Corsair K95 RGB * Corsair M65 PRO RGB * Steelseries 9HD * Coolermaster STC T01 * Edifier S530 * Sennheiser HD598 * Windows 7 Ultimate x64 *

Workhorse PC: * Intel i7 2700K @ 4.8 Ghz * Noctua NH-D15 * Asus Maximus IV Extreme-Z * 32 GB Corsair Vengeance Pro CMY32GX3M4A1866C9 * Sapphire HD7970 crossfire * 3 x Dell U2410 @ Eyefinity 5760 x 1200 / 60Hz * Corsair HX 1000i * 7 x WD Black HDDs * Creative Soundblaster ZxR * Optiarc AD 5240S * Steelseries 7G * Razer Imperator 2012 * Steelseries 9HD * Coolermaster STC T01 * Edifier S730D * Windows 7 Ultimate x64 *

Workhorse PC 2: * Intel i7 920 @ 3.8 Ghz * Zalman CNPS9900A LED * Asus Sabertooth x58 * 24 GB Corsair Vengeance LP 1600MHz CL9 DDR3 * Sapphire R9 280X Vapor-X * 2 x Dell U2412M @ Eyefinity 2400 x 1920 / 60Hz * Corsair HX 850W * 7 x WDC WD1002FAEX * Creative Soundblaster Z * Optiarc AD 5240S * Steelseries 7G * Razer Mamba TE * Steelseries 9HD * Coolermaster STC T01 * Logitech Z-2300 * Windows 7 Ultimate x64 *
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Re: About the PC Audio system

Postby Blín D'ñero » 23 Dec 2011, 13:19

Speaker sets

Just my recommendation, from my own setup.


[/EDIT:
Update, i have Edifier S530, Edifier S730D, and on my oldest workhorse pc a Logitech Z-2300.

Gaming PC: * Intel i7 4790K * Noctua NH-D15S * Asus Maximus VII Hero * 32 GB Corsair Dominator Platinum CMD32GX3M4A2133C9 * 2× Sapphire Radeon R9 290 Tri-X in crossfire * Dell U3010 @ 2560 x 1600 / 60Hz * Corsair AX 1200W * 7 x WD Black HDDs * Creative Soundblaster ZxR * Asus DRW F1ST * Corsair K95 RGB * Corsair M65 PRO RGB * Steelseries 9HD * Coolermaster STC T01 * Edifier S530 * Sennheiser HD598 * Windows 7 Ultimate x64 *

Workhorse PC: * Intel i7 2700K @ 4.8 Ghz * Noctua NH-D15 * Asus Maximus IV Extreme-Z * 32 GB Corsair Vengeance Pro CMY32GX3M4A1866C9 * Sapphire HD7970 crossfire * 3 x Dell U2410 @ Eyefinity 5760 x 1200 / 60Hz * Corsair HX 1000i * 7 x WD Black HDDs * Creative Soundblaster ZxR * Optiarc AD 5240S * Steelseries 7G * Razer Imperator 2012 * Steelseries 9HD * Coolermaster STC T01 * Edifier S730D * Windows 7 Ultimate x64 *

Workhorse PC 2: * Intel i7 920 @ 3.8 Ghz * Zalman CNPS9900A LED * Asus Sabertooth x58 * 24 GB Corsair Vengeance LP 1600MHz CL9 DDR3 * Sapphire R9 280X Vapor-X * 2 x Dell U2412M @ Eyefinity 2400 x 1920 / 60Hz * Corsair HX 850W * 7 x WDC WD1002FAEX * Creative Soundblaster Z * Optiarc AD 5240S * Steelseries 7G * Razer Mamba TE * Steelseries 9HD * Coolermaster STC T01 * Logitech Z-2300 * Windows 7 Ultimate x64 *
/EDIT]
My older systems below the line:



  • My Klipsch Promedia 2.1 set is superb.
    Superficial Review (tomshardware)
    The Klipsch sounds better (more powerful neutral and detailed) than both the Logitech 2.1's.
    After years of useage, oxidation or dust clutter may occur. The symptom is crackling or no sound anymore at all in the lower volume region. Crackling via the headphones plug too.
    What you can do about it: you can clean the headphones plug with compressed air. Apply Dry Oil-Free Contact Spray (i have PRF 6-68) in that, and alongside the knob of the potentiometer aiming to make it flow inwards (larger potmeters may have a tiny hole for just that goal), repeating many (i did 20) times interspersed with rotating of the knob back and forth.
    And do NOT what is suggested here: Klipsch Promedia Repair (with Pictures) (erodov.com) because WD-40 contains oil; it reduces contact and it WILL ensure that dust is going to clutter.

    Update june 2015: but it died and turned out not too well built either.
    Edifier S530 is better. Build and sound quality. That's my upgrade now.
  • I also had (and sold): Logitech Z-5500 which is a cheaply built but (for its price) nicely sounding (well enough for PC) set.

    • A detailed, well written Z-5500 review with user's experience and valuable tips, like this one that surprised me ( :thup: ) :
      2. Enabling volume offset for Analog sources

      Okay so you noticed Direct 6 Channel analog mode is lower in volume compared to Optical and Coaxial digital. If you want to "normalize" the level here is how you do it:

      While in 6 Channel Direct mode, hold down the Mute button and start rotating the volume knob while keeping the Mute button down. Note that the display now shows "offset" values.

      Read full user's review at Source epinions.com
    Replaced by Edifier S730 which is way better (though not 5.1 only 2.1 but much better built) and i prefer it for my "media/entertainment/audio editing" PC.
  • I also have: Logitech Z-2300 (on my office / entertainment pc)
    User's Reviews
  • I also have: Logitech Z-623 (not in use / just for quick pc-testing purposes when building/repairing)
    Superficial Review (tomshardware)
Gaming PC: * Intel i7 4790K * Noctua NH-D15S * Asus Maximus VII Hero * 32 GB Corsair Dominator Platinum CMD32GX3M4A2133C9 * 2× Sapphire Radeon R9 290 Tri-X in crossfire * Dell U3010 @ 2560 x 1600 / 60Hz * Corsair AX 1200W * 7 x WD Black HDDs * Creative Soundblaster ZxR * Asus DRW F1ST * Corsair K95 RGB * Corsair M65 PRO RGB * Steelseries 9HD * Coolermaster STC T01 * Edifier S530 * Sennheiser HD598 * Windows 7 Ultimate x64 *

Workhorse PC: * Intel i7 2700K @ 4.8 Ghz * Noctua NH-D15 * Asus Maximus IV Extreme-Z * 32 GB Corsair Vengeance Pro CMY32GX3M4A1866C9 * Sapphire HD7970 crossfire * 3 x Dell U2410 @ Eyefinity 5760 x 1200 / 60Hz * Corsair HX 1000i * 7 x WD Black HDDs * Creative Soundblaster ZxR * Optiarc AD 5240S * Steelseries 7G * Razer Imperator 2012 * Steelseries 9HD * Coolermaster STC T01 * Edifier S730D * Windows 7 Ultimate x64 *

Workhorse PC 2: * Intel i7 920 @ 3.8 Ghz * Zalman CNPS9900A LED * Asus Sabertooth x58 * 24 GB Corsair Vengeance LP 1600MHz CL9 DDR3 * Sapphire R9 280X Vapor-X * 2 x Dell U2412M @ Eyefinity 2400 x 1920 / 60Hz * Corsair HX 850W * 7 x WDC WD1002FAEX * Creative Soundblaster Z * Optiarc AD 5240S * Steelseries 7G * Razer Mamba TE * Steelseries 9HD * Coolermaster STC T01 * Logitech Z-2300 * Windows 7 Ultimate x64 *
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Re: About the PC Audio system

Postby Blín D'ñero » 06 May 2014, 05:49

Headphones

For PC usage i'm happy with my Sennheiser HD595 (12 years old, a bit worn out but still sounding excellent) and HD598 (my 595 sounds better, i don't know why).

If you're looking for a site specialised in headgear, take a walk to http://www.head-fi.org/ :)

[On my PM7004, the old HD595 sounds way better than my newer HD598. I do not think the PM7004 has a good headphone amp built-in, but i don't have to 'color' the sound at all with my 595. With my 598 i have to turn Treble all the way to the right, and Mid half way, to get the same clarity.

On my Denon PMA 2000AE however both Sennheisers sound like cheap plastic toys, while my Denon AH-MM400 headphones sound very rich detailed and balanced.

On my desktop PC's (X-Fi or ZxR on all of them) both Sennheisers sound the same (pretty good / good enough), in music the Denon AH-MM400 sounds more open and spaceous.]
Gaming PC: * Intel i7 4790K * Noctua NH-D15S * Asus Maximus VII Hero * 32 GB Corsair Dominator Platinum CMD32GX3M4A2133C9 * 2× Sapphire Radeon R9 290 Tri-X in crossfire * Dell U3010 @ 2560 x 1600 / 60Hz * Corsair AX 1200W * 7 x WD Black HDDs * Creative Soundblaster ZxR * Asus DRW F1ST * Corsair K95 RGB * Corsair M65 PRO RGB * Steelseries 9HD * Coolermaster STC T01 * Edifier S530 * Sennheiser HD598 * Windows 7 Ultimate x64 *

Workhorse PC: * Intel i7 2700K @ 4.8 Ghz * Noctua NH-D15 * Asus Maximus IV Extreme-Z * 32 GB Corsair Vengeance Pro CMY32GX3M4A1866C9 * Sapphire HD7970 crossfire * 3 x Dell U2410 @ Eyefinity 5760 x 1200 / 60Hz * Corsair HX 1000i * 7 x WD Black HDDs * Creative Soundblaster ZxR * Optiarc AD 5240S * Steelseries 7G * Razer Imperator 2012 * Steelseries 9HD * Coolermaster STC T01 * Edifier S730D * Windows 7 Ultimate x64 *

Workhorse PC 2: * Intel i7 920 @ 3.8 Ghz * Zalman CNPS9900A LED * Asus Sabertooth x58 * 24 GB Corsair Vengeance LP 1600MHz CL9 DDR3 * Sapphire R9 280X Vapor-X * 2 x Dell U2412M @ Eyefinity 2400 x 1920 / 60Hz * Corsair HX 850W * 7 x WDC WD1002FAEX * Creative Soundblaster Z * Optiarc AD 5240S * Steelseries 7G * Razer Mamba TE * Steelseries 9HD * Coolermaster STC T01 * Logitech Z-2300 * Windows 7 Ultimate x64 *
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Re: About the PC Audio system

Postby Blín D'ñero » 20 May 2014, 04:01

Visit what-we-hear (nwavguy) for a read.




The Well-Tempered Computer (thewelltemperedcomputer.com)

An introduction to computer audio...

Bit Perfect Jitter
Clock




Bass Test - 2000Hz - 1Hz. (Test your Subwoofer or Headphones, how low can you go :) ?)



Or:





Table of Musical Notes and Their Frequencies
and Wavelengths
(liutaiomottola.com)
Gaming PC: * Intel i7 4790K * Noctua NH-D15S * Asus Maximus VII Hero * 32 GB Corsair Dominator Platinum CMD32GX3M4A2133C9 * 2× Sapphire Radeon R9 290 Tri-X in crossfire * Dell U3010 @ 2560 x 1600 / 60Hz * Corsair AX 1200W * 7 x WD Black HDDs * Creative Soundblaster ZxR * Asus DRW F1ST * Corsair K95 RGB * Corsair M65 PRO RGB * Steelseries 9HD * Coolermaster STC T01 * Edifier S530 * Sennheiser HD598 * Windows 7 Ultimate x64 *

Workhorse PC: * Intel i7 2700K @ 4.8 Ghz * Noctua NH-D15 * Asus Maximus IV Extreme-Z * 32 GB Corsair Vengeance Pro CMY32GX3M4A1866C9 * Sapphire HD7970 crossfire * 3 x Dell U2410 @ Eyefinity 5760 x 1200 / 60Hz * Corsair HX 1000i * 7 x WD Black HDDs * Creative Soundblaster ZxR * Optiarc AD 5240S * Steelseries 7G * Razer Imperator 2012 * Steelseries 9HD * Coolermaster STC T01 * Edifier S730D * Windows 7 Ultimate x64 *

Workhorse PC 2: * Intel i7 920 @ 3.8 Ghz * Zalman CNPS9900A LED * Asus Sabertooth x58 * 24 GB Corsair Vengeance LP 1600MHz CL9 DDR3 * Sapphire R9 280X Vapor-X * 2 x Dell U2412M @ Eyefinity 2400 x 1920 / 60Hz * Corsair HX 850W * 7 x WDC WD1002FAEX * Creative Soundblaster Z * Optiarc AD 5240S * Steelseries 7G * Razer Mamba TE * Steelseries 9HD * Coolermaster STC T01 * Logitech Z-2300 * Windows 7 Ultimate x64 *
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