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Good soundcard for music only
fewtch
post May 9 2002, 10:47
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My understanding also is that things went downhill for Creative with the "Live!" cards. I would guess my SB PCI128 is probably better than the Live! both in S/N ratio and resampling... the card is essentially designed by Ensoniq which is (was) a sound company, and not a "marketing company" like Creative.

Actually this will be my last Creative Labs product. They suck. And BTW (no flames please) in the area of video cards I'm dropping ATI like a red-hot coal & going to Matrox for my next card (2-D speed/IQ is really all I care about).


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David Nordin
post May 9 2002, 15:22
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I must add this:
Buy the Audiophile, or get the EWS 9624 or 6-pack.
they are all good.
Don't get any Creative card - they are bad for studio / audio purposes - PERIOD.
If you want to game - buy an EAX/A3D compatible soundcard - from many 6-pach has proven to be excellent.

Cheers,
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Frank Klemm
post May 9 2002, 15:31
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QUOTE
Originally posted by fewtch

And BTW (no flames please) in the area of video cards I'm dropping ATI like a red-hot coal & going to Matrox for my next card (2-D speed/IQ is really all I care about).


It is a myth that Matrox produces fast 2D cards.
Even 2D is very time consumpting. Rendering
technical graphs an blitting them to the video
card is a pain for the G450/550 cards. A
ATI Radeon 8500LE takes 4% of the time
(CPU load 3% vs. 76%). Even a i815 based graphic
is much faster.


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JonPike
post May 9 2002, 17:42
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QUOTE
Originally posted by KikeG


Aghh... Again ;-) , the Live! cards resample quite badly all 44.1 KHz data sent at them, even if you use the digital outputs!!! No matter what external DAC you use, the data feeding it is altered by the Live! card.


Hmmm.. Ok.. I stand corrected.

So, does most S/PDIF accept 48Khz.. and if one runs the card at 48, will you avoid resampling altogether? I know you can't do that with everything..

And is the Audigy any better at this?

A while ago there was a hearing test thread on here (can't hunt the link now) and it was noticed by a few, that aliasing was generated in the 10-20Khz range.. possibly resampling errors? I also noticed that creating the wav at 48Khz rather than 41.1Khz, caused it to dissapear.

Whether it was due to lack of resampling, or just a larger difference between the recorded freqency and sampling frequency.. I'm not sure.

Jon
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b-j
post May 9 2002, 20:28
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For a decent sound on a budget go to a comp. fair or auction site (www.ebay.com) and get an Aureal Vortex I or II. I've tried newer consumer cards and they just can't compete with my old Vortex.
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fewtch
post May 10 2002, 02:41
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QUOTE
Originally posted by Frank Klemm


It is a myth that Matrox produces fast 2D cards.
Even 2D is very time consumpting. Rendering
technical graphs an blitting them to the video
card is a pain for the G450/550 cards. A
ATI Radeon 8500LE takes 4% of the time
(CPU load 3% vs. 76%). Even a i815 based graphic 
is much faster.

Do you have some benchmarks/data to back this up? I would be curious, since I'm interested in 2-D speed equally as much as IQ... thanks.

P.S... sorry for carrying on an off=topic posting...


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KikeG
post May 10 2002, 09:00
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QUOTE
Originally posted by JonPike


So, does most S/PDIF accept 48Khz..  and if one runs the card at 48,  will you avoid resampling altogether?  I know you can't do that with everything..

...generated in the 10-20Khz range..  possibly resampling errors?  I also noticed that creating the wav at 48Khz rather than 41.1Khz,  caused it to dissapear.   


If you feed the card with a native 48 KHz sampled signal, you avoid the resampling, so the quality is better. But most music is at 44.1 KHz format (CD music), so in order to achieve that you should resample the data to 48 KHz with a good resampling software (such as Naoki Shibata's SSRC) before playing it with the Live card.

The problem is that this is quite time-consuming, and not realtime. I guess that using SSRC source code, somebody could write a WinAmp plugin to do this in realtime, it should't be so difficult.

QUOTE
And is the Audigy any better at this?
Jon


According to what I've read, yes, quite better. But this is also true for cheaper cards like the Turtle Beach Santa Cruz.
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MaTTeR
post May 10 2002, 15:01
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QUOTE
Originally posted by KikeG

But this is also true for cheaper cards like the Turtle Beach Santa Cruz.


I would certainly avoid Creative cards for any use. The biggest reason I've seen is the incompatability they have always displayed with sub-standard drivers.

I'll take a TB Santa Cruz, GFII or GFXP over an Audigy card any day. Not to mention I'd be saving quite a bit of money. Mentioning a Creative Sound Blaster product as a viable solution in the Hydrogen forums just seems a little strange in my mind:D
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fewtch
post May 10 2002, 19:03
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QUOTE
Originally posted by MaTTeR


I would certainly avoid Creative cards for any use. The biggest reason I've seen is the incompatability they have always displayed with sub-standard drivers.

You want to see substandard drivers, take a look at the Win9x drivers for the Santa Cruz. Sorry to say it, but they really suck.
QUOTE
I'll take a TB Santa Cruz, GFII or GFXP over an Audigy card any day. Not to mention I'd be saving quite a bit of money. Mentioning a Creative Sound Blaster product as a viable solution in the Hydrogen forums just seems a little strange in my mind:D

Viable solution to *what*? Certainly a Live! or Audigy (or even PCI128) is fine for casual music or movie listening with sub-$100 PC speakers.

For stereo system use, something better is probably called for... still, you wouldn't want an M-Audio Omni Studio 66 to play the occasional game of Quake or MS flight simulator, would you?

Cheers...


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Tes
post May 10 2002, 20:17
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QUOTE
Originally posted by KikeG
If you feed the card with a native 48 KHz sampled signal, you avoid the resampling, so the quality is better. But most music is at 44.1 KHz format (CD music), so in order to achieve that you should resample the data to 48 KHz with a good resampling software (such as Naoki Shibata's SSRC) before playing it with the Live card.

The problem is that this is quite time-consuming, and not realtime. I guess that using SSRC source code, somebody could write a WinAmp plugin to do this in realtime, it should't be so difficult.


An SSRC Winamp plugin sounds like a cool idea. Is anyone willing to give this a try?

I would try to do it myself but by the time I finished I would probably already have upgraded to a better soundcard.
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MaTTeR
post May 10 2002, 21:53
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QUOTE
Originally posted by fewtch

You want to see substandard drivers, take a look at the Win9x drivers for the Santa Cruz.  Sorry to say it, but they really suck.
That very well could be but I wouldn't know since I've yet to see a Win9x system in a few years. I can vouch that the Win2k/XP M$ v4161 certified drivers are rock solid. In fact they are more solid than my GFII 1.50 drivers.

QUOTE
[b]Viable solution to *what*?  Certainly a Live! or Audigy (or even PCI128) is fine for casual music or movie listening with sub-0 PC speakers. 
I would beg to differ on this for the reasons I've already mentioned. It comes down to Creative having too many driver issues and compatability problems. Dont take my word for it though. A quick Google search or a search at www.2cpu.com will turn up endless threads, especially for the Audigy. So IMO I'd still rather a GFII, TBSC or possibly an early PCI128 for casual music listening.
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rjamorim
post May 10 2002, 23:10
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QUOTE
Originally posted by Tes
An SSRC Winamp plugin sounds like a cool idea. Is anyone willing to give this a try?

I would try to do it myself but by the time I finished I would probably already have upgraded to a better soundcard.


Naoki plans to implement a official library next version. (1.30?)

Then, it should be easier to make a Winamp plugin too.

Regards;

Roberto.


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fewtch
post May 11 2002, 03:49
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QUOTE
Originally posted by MaTTeR
That very well could be but I wouldn't know since I've yet to see a Win9x system in a few years. I can vouch that the Win2k/XP M$ v4161 certified drivers are rock solid. In fact they are more solid than my GFII 1.50 drivers.

That could be, but the still-large installed base of Win9x machines is well documented. So why did Turtle Beach last release drivers in January of 2001... and unfortunately those old drivers don't get along with DirectX 8.x. That effectively excludes gamers who keep Win9x for compatibility reasons, and others who would prefer not to beta-test XP for Microsoft (i.e. are still waiting).

I agree about an "older" PCI128 (I put 'older' in quotes because afaik, Creative is still making a "digital" version of the card with S/PDIF... or if not still making it, discontinued very recently). Some people say the PCI128 is a crappy card, but I know for a fact the drivers are rock solid (and my past experience with the card has been surprisingly good).

You may be right about the Live! card, I've never owned one... you're right, I've seen the rumors of compatibility issues, especially with VIA chipsets.


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tonderai
post May 14 2002, 14:22
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... just going back to the Stereo-Link 1200 ...

this seems like just what i'm looking for - to say my laptop's chip is noisy is a big understatement: i can't really use replaygain above K14 sad.gif

BUT, does anyone know if this is resold in the uk? i certainly can't find it. the c$70 shipping from stereo-link's site makes it a little expensive ($240 all in) sad.gif

also, does anyone have any experience with any other external usb cards in this price range (~$200)? for example, the Extigy: which is made by creative, i know, but does have an impressive range of inputs and outputs which could prove useful (and claims to be 24bit, but is it really?). Or the Roland UA30, which was one of the first usb cards methinks.

cheers guys

ps interesting thread smile.gif
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Kim_C
post May 27 2002, 20:46
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QUOTE
Originally posted by fewtch

That could be, but the still-large installed base of Win9x machines is well documented.  So why did Turtle Beach last release drivers in January of 2001... and unfortunately those old drivers don't get along with DirectX 8.x.  That effectively excludes gamers who keep Win9x for compatibility reasons, and others who would prefer not to beta-test XP for Microsoft (i.e. are still waiting).


There are new beta drivers available for Windows 98 SE, if anybody's interested.

This is from their webpage:

| 05-20-02 BETA!!! WINDOWS 98 SE only! | WDM
| v.4164 BETA drivers | Not supported |
| Please report any issues (with the
| driver version) only to:
| [email=report@turtle-beach.com] | This email
| address is for reporting purposes only;
| all emails will be read but cannot be
| answered | As per all our BETA
| releases, this is NOT released
| software. If you feel uncomfortable
| working with BETA software, and the
| problems that occasionally happen while
| using it, please wait until we do a
| final release. Also, our technical
| support staff will not be able to
| support this or any other BETA
| software. WARNING! Turtle Beach is not
| responsible for any damage that may
| occur from your use of this BETA
| software |

You can download drivers from here:
ftp://ftp.voyetra.com/pub/tbs/santacru/sc_4164.zip[/email]

I just bought Videologic Sonic Fury/Turtle Beach Santa Cruz myself, but i haven't tested these drivers as i have only Windows 2K installed.
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fewtch
post May 27 2002, 22:50
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It may sound crazy, but those Win98 beta (WDM) drivers for the Santa Cruz could be due to a report I filed with Turtle Beach tech support.

Originally when I had the card (before returning it to the store) a month or two ago, I hacked the WinME drivers and got them working on Win98SE, but with some problems (for one thing, terrible latency issues). After which I contacted Turtle Beach tech support to let them know, and they wrote back asking how I did it. It was really easy, but unfortunately the WDM on Win98SE runs in a sort of emulated NT kernel. It would be interesting to see how well they overcome the latency & skipping issues (if in fact they have).

Anyway, it's too late... they lost me as a customer. I'm more interested in the Audiophile 24/96 now, and will probably be getting one in August.


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macdaddy
post May 27 2002, 23:25
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What is the difference between vxd and wdm drivers? Is there an advantage to using one over the other? (win98se user)...

As far as the ap 24/96 goes, the newest wdm drivers only work for win 2000/xp for some reason, and I would like to know why...

Also, has anybody ever used the ap 24/96 in a linux system? Since that is the way I am heading, I would like to know if anybody has done this, hopefully with success...
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macdaddy
post May 27 2002, 23:43
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more info on the ap 24/96 drivers ...

So I guess the question is why is win98se not compatible with WDM drivers..?
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MaTTeR
post May 28 2002, 00:19
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WDM is designed for Win2k and XP AFAIK.

The vxd drivers are for WinME and 98 and most likely not going to work in Windows2k or above. They are older technology for the most part.
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Trelane
post May 28 2002, 00:23
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WDM (Windows Driver Model) drivers can be used with Windows 98, ME, 2000, and XP. Will they work well in all those versions of Windows? Depends how well the manufacturers tests their drivers.
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fewtch
post May 28 2002, 00:24
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QUOTE
Originally posted by macdaddy
What is the difference between vxd and wdm drivers? Is there an advantage to using one over the other? (win98se user)...

In the case of the Santa Cruz, the advantages is that Turtle Beach are no longer updating the VxD drivers (since January of 2001). This makes for compatibility issues with the latest versions of DirectX & other system files. It also probably means bugs that will never get fixed.

In general though... VxD's work a lot better on Win98(SE) than WDM drivers. On 98SE, WDM drivers actually have to be run under a kind of emulated Windows NT kernel... as you can guess, this slows things down considerably & causes latency issues.


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Annuka
post May 28 2002, 19:02
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I have performed some simple listening tests on the Live! card. It does not suck, but it is not sublime either:

- Very good listening room, no external noise and exceptional accoustics.
- A pair of Snell E.5 speakers ($1400)
- Sony VA8ES (analog) amplifer ($1000)
- Sony EP90ES 16bit DAC ($1000)
- Sony XA20ES cd player ($550)
- Soundblaster Live! Value Edition (has digital out on card - no support for extra digital module). Card purchased Q4 1999.

Live! and CD player are connected to the DAC. CD player using optical out and Live! using coax. This should not make a difference in theory, but will probably make a slight difference in real life.

Test samples:
Belinda Carliale: Big Scary Animal
Alice Cooper: Cleansed by Fire

The samples were ripped with EAC and the cd inserted into the cd player. WinAMP and cd player started simultaneously. I then compared the Live! with the CD player by listening and switching back and forth on the DAC.

Note: Operating system used was Windows XP with native Microsoft drivers for the Live! card. The developers at Creative should be shot for their poor drivers!

The Live! card does indeed resample to 48kHz. The display on the DAC reveals this and I don't like it. However, the sound from the Live! card sounds almost identical to the sound from the cd player. It might have a slightly lower volume, but it is also possible that I am getting old.

It would be very interesting to compare the analog out of a nice $300 "2496" sound card with the "1648" from the Live!/Sony DAC. If the purpose is to play ordinary 16bit music, I am convinced the Sony DAC would win. It is afterall a high-end component. Unfortunately I do not have access to such a card.

My recommendation: If you already have an excellent external DAC or digital amp, go for a cheap Live!. But stay away from Creative's drivers.
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