Windows 10: High definition sound card

  1.    29 Apr 2016 #1

    High definition sound card


    Hello Everyone,

    I do a lot of music composition, and I feel I could be getting a better sound quality out of my computer if I bought a high definition sound card, or am I kidding myself?

    Here's my system,

    Processor: Intel i7-3770 @3.4 Ghz
    Ram: 16 GB
    System: 64-bit
    Soundcard: Via HD Audio
    Speakers: Bose Companion 2
    DAW: Mixcraft 7

    If I was to add something like a Sound Blaster X-Fi soundcard, would there be a noticeable difference in sound quality?

    Or, should I just get better quality speakers?

    Any thoughts?

    Cheers

    Rob
      My ComputerSystem Spec


  2. Posts : 3,034
    Windows 10 Pro 64 bit
       29 Apr 2016 #2

    I have this card and like it very much, great sound and enough connections for what i feel you may need for music composition.
    http://us.creative.com/p/sound-blast...nd-blaster-zxr

    As far as speakers i also like what i use (in system specs here) but there are many choices besides PC speakers for sound quality you can use with a amp or receiver to.
      My ComputerSystem Spec

  3.    29 Apr 2016 #3

    I don't know whether adding a discrete soundcard would audibly improve the sound from your system. The X-Fi is a fairly old (2005). The Z series (as in post #2) is the latest from Creative Labs, from 2012. (There are much cheaper ZX solutions than that, if you don't need all the features in the highest end package.)

    There are other options, including no soundcard at all:

    Digital Hi-Fi Speakers - X300A - EGG - KEF United States

    The KEF Egg can use a USB connection for up to 24 bit / 96 kHz digital audio. (This is a powered speaker pair with a built-in DAC.) There are other speaker pairs that can accept USB or other digital inputs, if you'd like to go that way.
      My ComputerSystem Spec

  4.    30 Apr 2016 #4

    The Xi-Fi doesn't have a windows 10 driver and is marked as 'end of life' , I have one but have never managed to get it working on my Windows 10 PC...always issues with drivers.

    Have you looked at 'Soundblaster Xi-Fi MB3?' software, sits between your motherboard on-board chip and your speakers , tweaks the sound...I get decent quality sound from it , as good as my old hardware Xi-Fi card gave at least.

    OEM - Software Solutions - Sound Blaster X-Fi MB3
      My ComputerSystem Spec


  5. Posts : 3,034
    Windows 10 Pro 64 bit
       30 Apr 2016 #5

    Yes there are 2 other Z series Sound Blaster Sound cards like mine.
    http://us.creative.com/p/sound-blaster/sound-blaster-zx
    http://us.creative.com/p/sound-blaster/sound-blaster-z

    Not much difference in specs in these 2 other models. Mine was mentioned as an example because of the amount of hookups and quality for what the thread starter may want as i am not sure what kind of music composition.
    Software drivers updated for Windows 10.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    http://ccftp.creative.com/manualdn/M...%20UG%20EN.pdf
      My ComputerSystem Spec

  6.    01 May 2016 #6

    Thanks for all the information everyone. I am looking at a more modern sound card other than the Sound Blaster X-Fi. But from what I have learned, the sound quality has more to do with amplification and speakers.

    Obviously sound quality on computers is pretty poor compared to even an average sound system, but as a musician, I play directly into my computer to record and manipulate my music in a DAW. It's not until I mixdown to WAV and throw it on a USB or CD and plug into a quality system can I hear the real sound quality.

    Wish I could record into my PC and play it on my sound system, because it's a beauty. They are in different rooms.

    Thanks again everyone.

    Cheers

    Rob


      My ComputerSystem Spec


  7. Posts : 3,034
    Windows 10 Pro 64 bit
       02 May 2016 #7

    kenrob2037 said: View Post
    Thanks for all the information everyone. I am looking at a more modern sound card other than the Sound Blaster X-Fi. But from what I have learned, the sound quality has more to do with amplification and speakers.

    Obviously sound quality on computers is pretty poor compared to even an average sound system, but as a musician, I play directly into my computer to record and manipulate my music in a DAW. It's not until I mixdown to WAV and throw it on a USB or CD and plug into a quality system can I hear the real sound quality.

    Wish I could record into my PC and play it on my sound system, because it's a beauty. They are in different rooms.

    Thanks again everyone.

    Cheers

    Rob


    The one i mentioned is more modern then the Sound Blaster X-Fi and a good quality sound card. Sound quality is not due to amplification but quality of the components parts that is being amplified and yes a good pair of speakers makes that quality sound like quality.

    True i might not ever compare a good home or studio amplifier with quality speakers to a sound card on a PC, but you can be surprised by some sound cards outputted to other devices or inputting devices. As said about DAW, i am sure there must be plenty of other types of software for musicians used by professionals and non-professional through PC's. Is WAV only way it can be mixed ?

    Usually Music store online show software for this.
      My ComputerSystem Spec

  8.    02 May 2016 #8

    I neglected to mention the JBL LSR305 monitors. I don't own them, but they are highly regarded studio monitors. They're readily available (amazon.com). Monitors are intended for music production. Many people use them as powered speakers, though.
      My ComputerSystem Spec

  9.    02 May 2016 #9

    Yes, time to look at better monitors I feel. Thanks again.
      My ComputerSystem Spec

  10.    02 May 2016 #10

    This is just my opinion, but getting studio monitors will easily expose your sound card's limitations unless it's one of those special edition motherboard with emphasis on high quality audio.

    I use a high quality external sound card (more appropriate term is "DAC" with USB, Optical and Digital Coax inputs) along with a dedicated preamplifier/headphone amplifier to listen to my headphones. I don't listen to speakers at home since it will disturb our neighbor though. BTW, my external DAC is Analog Devices AD5547CRUZ with Schiit USB Audio Gen 2 as the USB drivers.

    See my High Definition headphone listening setup here:

    Click image for larger version. 

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    The external Sound Card (DAC) is on the top left while the preamplifier/headphone amplifier is on the right. the "iFi" in the middle is a externally powered audio grade USB hub to isolate motherboard EMI/RFI from entering the sound card.


    But first, definitely get a high fidelity speakers or studio monitors before even spending money on DACs and amplifiers since it will provide 85 % sound improvement IMO. Getting the most out of your speakers (the latter 15% is where DAC and amplifiers come to play. If you feel that your high end studio monitors sound flat and lifeless, it might not be getting a clean/proper analog signal from the sound card in your computer. Also, keep in mind that almost all serious studio monitors are balanced while consumer speakers are single ended so you must have a preamplifier or a power amplfier with balanced outputs.

    IMO HiFi speakers will always sound more pleasing than studio monitors since studio monitors exposes the imperfections in the recording while HiFi speakers can still make poor recordings sound decent.
      My ComputerSystem Spec


 

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