Speaker and soundcard setup - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 16 Old 04-16-2013, 05:41 AM - Thread Starter
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Hi

I have recently invested in the Logitech Z906 speakers
Own their own, they are a proper set of speakers, and I'm glad I spent the money on it

I use them on my PC at the moment, where I watch movies, play games and listen to music. I'm still using the onboard sound from my Asus P7H55m-Pro motherboard, which I know will not use my speakers to their full potential

Now my question - which of the following 3 sound cards will work best for my setup. The speakers support digital decoding, and I need to know which sound card will work best in combination with it


1 - Entry level Asus Xonar DG

No specifics for Digital output (other than the Optical support) specified, so I'm thinking this one's out

2 - Mid level Asus Xonar DS

Via a S/PDIF adapter, it does appear to support digital output, I'd guess this one would be a definite competitor

3 - High end Asus Xonar D2/PM

Dedicated S/PDIF coax output, best support for digital encoding



Price wise, the DS is twice that of the DG, and the D2 twice that of the DS

I'm a little confused with the digital output offered by the DS and the D2. Obviously the D2 would be the best option, but I don't want to pay twice as much for it, if the DS (or even the DG) will give me the same effective quality of sound. So, basically I'd like to know if I should go full out and buy the D2, or will one of the other two go well enough with my speakers

Hope my question makes sense...smile.gif
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post #2 of 16 Old 04-16-2013, 05:44 AM
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You dont need a new card.
The onboard is fine for this setup.
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post #3 of 16 Old 04-16-2013, 05:59 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jayceelourens View Post

Hi

I have recently invested in the Logitech Z906 speakers
Own their own, they are a proper set of speakers, and I'm glad I spent the money on it

I use them on my PC at the moment, where I watch movies, play games and listen to music. I'm still using the onboard sound from my Asus P7H55m-Pro motherboard, which I know will not use my speakers to their full potential

How do you know that your PC's onboard audio interface will not use your speakers to their full potential?
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post #4 of 16 Old 04-16-2013, 01:31 PM - Thread Starter
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well..is that not the entire point of having a sound card? to get rid of the onboard interference? confused.gif

my main need is just to get the cleanest signal through to my speakers
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post #5 of 16 Old 04-16-2013, 02:27 PM
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Originally Posted by jayceelourens View Post

well..is that not the entire point of having a sound card? to get rid of the onboard interference? confused.gif

I don't doubt for a second that some system boards have onboard interference, but a lot don't.

Do you hear noises that are unrelated to the music?
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post #6 of 16 Old 04-16-2013, 03:00 PM - Thread Starter
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nah, none at all. But with the onboard as it is now, I'm not getting digital output that can be decoded by the speakers...you see my point? it's this I want when it comes to HD movies and what not..
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post #7 of 16 Old 04-16-2013, 07:25 PM
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I'd recommend talking to the guys at HardForum. They have a computer audio section: http://hardforum.com/forumdisplay.php?f=33

Your questions are answered: Speaker FAQ
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post #8 of 16 Old 04-17-2013, 12:02 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks cel, I'll have a look at that forum
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post #9 of 16 Old 04-17-2013, 04:21 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jayceelourens View Post

nah, none at all. But with the onboard as it is now, I'm not getting digital output that can be decoded by the speakers...you see my point? it's this I want when it comes to HD movies and what not..

Most motherboards have digital outputs, but they are terminated with some tiny pins out in the middle or along the edge of the motherboard. Check your motherboard's installation guide.

This kind of device which is fairly standard moves the termination of such a digital output to the back panel where you can easily access it:



http://www.amazon.com/SPDIF-Optical-Plate-Cable-Bracket/dp/B003AV944Y
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post #10 of 16 Old 04-17-2013, 06:49 AM
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Your motherboard supports both HDMI and S/PDIF, your speakers can take both digital or analog source. Check the back of your computer, I'm betting you have all you need. I'd go to monoprice.com and buy a toslink cable (once you've confirmed the computer output) and give the digital connection a try. I'm betting there will be no audible difference (with 2 channel music) .

Where you can improve, at least in playing your music collection, is use a music manager like foobar2000 or XBMC that supports WASAPI, which will bypass any internal manipulation from the Windows OS.

Of course, your source material matters more than your collection. No sound card, cable or speakers can help 128k mp3. smile.gif

Bottom line, no need to waste money on a new sound card.

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post #11 of 16 Old 04-17-2013, 06:52 AM
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Impressive specs on those speakers by the way, congrats on the choice.

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post #12 of 16 Old 04-17-2013, 01:12 PM - Thread Starter
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thanks for the info Nethawk

I actually keep forgetting about the optical output on my motherboard, good thing that you remind me. so, what I'm gonna do it this - tomorrow I'll go out and get an optical cable, and then hook it up to my speakers to see what's what...

A friend of mine also has a Xonar card, the Essence ST. I'm gonna take my speakers over to him and hear what the difference is. If there's a difference of "WOW", then I'm gonna have to take another look at the sound cards, and try and figure out how one will suit me

So - getting an optical cable tomorrow, then I'll see how it goes.

btw..the 165watt sub is brawley...on 2/3 of full volume, the doors and windows in my flat really rattle!biggrin.gif
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post #13 of 16 Old 04-17-2013, 01:18 PM
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^^^ Do your comparison testing with the same source content! Bring our burn your own CDs or put a few FLAC tunes on a USB drive. Also, if you have a SPL meter level match the volume. It will be impossible to rule out room acoustics or human psychology, but if going through the effort of comparing different setups try to eliminate as much potential for false positives as possible.

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post #14 of 16 Old 04-17-2013, 01:33 PM - Thread Starter
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upon googling what a SPL meter is, I now know I do not have one. so this test is going by ear only

tricky part is trying to "blind test" myslef. if i know i'm listing via optical output as opposed to analog, I might have some preconceived notion that it WILL be beter.

still, should be an interesting test

for now, onwards to the internet to find some more FLAC files (and mp3s to match)..
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post #15 of 16 Old 04-17-2013, 07:24 PM
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Meh, the SPL remark was just to impress Arny tongue.gif

Do you have CD's? Download dbpoweramp (free for 30 days I think?) and make your own FLAC files! If you're going digital it's the only way to fly. If you're seeking matched mp3s for comparison, dbpoweramp has the capability of creating both formats in one pass.

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post #16 of 16 Old 04-19-2013, 04:38 AM - Thread Starter
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I have news smile.gif

So, went and got an Optical cable yesterday... interesting couple of things I found out. Using the output from my computer to the speaker does seems to work fine, but a couple of things to note


1. using VLC to play HD content, by default the console on the speakers recognises the input as 2 channel, even if the file does have 5.1 channels. Because of this, the speakers go into "simulated surround sound". For content with only 2 channels, this works fine, but if you want real surround sound output, it's not gonna work. BUT, I noticed in VLC, under audio channels, a new output option named "A/52 over S/PDIF" came up... so I click on it, and BOOOM...I’m getting DTS output. I know this because the "decode" light on the speaker console lights up, meaning it recognises the digitally encoded signal from the HD content, and is therefore able to decode it properly (that, and the fact that it sounds way better!). Skipped trough Transformers, Avatar, Gamer and Starwars a bit and I'm hearing much clearer detail. Compared to analogue output, it's not more detail, but clearer detail. This is the most notable difference. Strange thing with it is once that is enabled, the only volume control I have is on the speakers, but I’m guessing this is a good thing

Windows media player does this audio encoding by default, so I hear the same quality from it. I tried with XBMC, but for some reason HD content in very choppy, but I’ll have another go at it,

So to wrap that up – digital output from onboard audio to optical input on speakers – DTS encoding with HD content working link a dream


2. When it came to music, I played around with Media Monkey, which I always use, and had a go with Foobar2000 (as you suggested Nethawk). Using a couple of FLAC files I had, I compared them between the two media players, as well as with 320kbps mp3 files. No noticible difference with that really. I went back to analogue output to hear if there is that much of a difference, but none really. With the digital output, I still get that weird thing I described earlier with the “simulated surround sound”, but this isn’t so much of an issue with music.
To wrap that up, no noticeable difference with FLAC files when using digital output, but I’ll still play around with that


3. When it comes to gaming, I have a bit of a problem. As I understand it, a game like Battlefield 3 has DTS audio. Due to the fact that my on-board audio cannot encode that signal through to my speakers, I’m not getting full surround sound when using the digital output. The speakers go into the simulated surround sound, so it’s not ideal at all. Now the only way around this problem, if I am not mistaken, would be to get a sound card that can get the correct audio signal through to the speakers. As it is now, when it comes to gaming, I’m better off with analogue…

confused.gif

So, good things and bad things. what do you guys think?
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