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Thread: The Future of Sound Cards

  1. #1
    The User DemonDragonJ's Avatar
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    Default The Future of Sound Cards

    I saw this article here earlier today, and I am very concerned about its message. I have noticed that not many new pre-built computers have sound cards, and most users seem to focus more on video than on audio.

    I find this to be very regrettable, as I like having an independent sound card in my computer; doing so frees the CPU of the task of generating sound (which is also what video cards do; they free the CPU of the task of generating video) and they usually produce sound of a quality far superior to that generated by the motherboard, from my experience; plus, they may have many fascinating additional features, such as a ten-band equalizer, which my sound card has and which I have found to be immensely useful for controlling the quality and level of my computer's sound. I intend to support the sound card industry for as long as I can, and if I must spend tens of dollars of money to both achieve superior sound and ensure that companies will; still manufacture sound cards, I shall do so eagerly.

    What does everyone else say? Do you believe that sound cards are unnecessary, or that companies will stop making them? Will you continue to purchase and use them, to ensure that they do not become relics of the past? I eagerly await your responses.
    "When the people fear the government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty." -Thomas Jefferson.

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    One Eye, Sixteen Cores. Kayin's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Future of Sound Cards

    Honestly, the best sound I ever heard was from onboard sound. AOpen tube amp motherboard for s478. I've played F horn since my freshman year of high school and I'll be 30 this year, and I would take that over my pile of Creative cards (includes a few X-Fis) any day.

    http://www.neoseeker.com/Articles/Ha...aopenax4btube/

    Read up, I'd pay money (and I mean motherboard level money) for another card (or board) like this.
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  3. #3
    Overclocked Beta-brain's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Future of Sound Cards

    Quote Originally Posted by Kayin View Post
    Honestly, the best sound I ever heard was from onboard sound. AOpen tube amp motherboard for s478. I've played F horn since my freshman year of high school and I'll be 30 this year, and I would take that over my pile of Creative cards (includes a few X-Fis) any day.

    http://www.neoseeker.com/Articles/Ha...aopenax4btube/

    Read up, I'd pay money (and I mean motherboard level money) for another card (or board) like this.
    OK, That's nuts I've never seen or heard of that mobo with a tube amp

    I guess it all depends on what you are using the PC sound for and how critical you ear is, not much point in buying an expensive sound card just to play mp3's on it and many people won't buy a sound card if they buy a PC with onboard sound and it does all they want so fitting cheap sound cards rather than onboard sound hardly seems worth it, the sound card market is therefore limited to those who want the higher quality and extra control sound card software often has, (although some onboard sound software is surprisingly comprehensive) like many other PC parts the sound card market is limited to "The PC enthusiast".

    Also with many of today's PC's having more than enough processing power for what your average user does I don't know if the amount of processing power the onboard sound uses is that noticeable?
    With most onboard audio these days having various versions of surround sound for gaming or home theatre when linked to even a cheap amp and speakers they can sound pretty good and although sound cards don't generate that much heat personally the less cards and parts in a PC case generating heat the better.

    I used sound cards for years until my last new PC build and thought I would just try the onboard sound on my new Asus mobo, I linked it to my Technics amp and old Wharfdale speakers I've used for years and it sounded fine so it stayed, companies like Creative are putting a lot of effort into onboard sound because they know the market for sound cards is diminishing I guess cards will be around for a while yet but you might want to stockpile a few if your that concerned and hope that some enthusiasts like yourself will keep coding drivers for them

  4. #4
    Stupidity feeds my children blueonblack's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Future of Sound Cards

    I've never used a sound card myself, always onboard audio, and with decent speakers I've always been more than happy with it.

    If I had a surround-sound speaker setup a dedicated sound card might be worth the cost, but I never have and doubt that I ever will.
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    Its not cool till its watercooled. Fuganater's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Future of Sound Cards

    Most mobos nowadays support 5.1 or 7.1 SS. I use onboard with a good $100 set of 5.1 speakers and life is good.

  6. #6
    Will YOU be ready when the zombies rise? x88x's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Future of Sound Cards

    Personally, I ran with onboard sound for years until the build before my current one when I got an entry-level Asus Xonar. It is, unfortunately, a bit charred at the moment, but once I pick up a quality sound system I'll be getting another dedicated card. The kicker for me is the sound quality, which was worlds better than any onboard card I've heard (disclaimer: I've never heard that tube-amp MBB ), even on my pretty crappy, cheap speakers.

    As for why there isn't much of an industry push for dedicated sound cards, imo it's for two reasons:
    1) The affect on the CPU of driving sound is negligible these days, with our increasingly massively overpowered CPUs. The only time I ever had my system actually struggle with sound was when I was playing Crysis on my system of the time (Athlon 64 FX-55 w/ 2GB RAM). With most CPUs sold these days having at least 2 cores, if not 4 or more, and with overall CPU power currently increasing at a much faster rate than the needs of 99% of the computing population, there's just not much incentive for Joe Random computer owner to get a dedicated sound card.
    2) The segment of people who can a) tell the difference and b) care enough to pay the high cost premium is a relatively small segment of the market. Dedicated video cards became popular because of PC gaming and the ever increasing processing power that modern games require to render. For good or bad, it is a lot easier for most people to look at two screens and see the difference that high quality graphics make than to listen to two audio sources and hear the difference that high quality audio hardware makes. Another part of it is market hype. I can't even count how many people I've run into over the years who have been running a super high-end GPU to drive a tiny resolution monitor....or to run their massive, high-resolution monitor at a tiny resolution because the high resolution "makes things too small". So even though they're only using a tiny portion of the GPU's power, they still think they need it. The audio market hasn't had this hype (at least not in the area of computer sound cards), so as a result the only people who buy high-end sound cards are the people who know they want them to begin with. Limited market size + limited market growth does not a booming industry make.

    TLDNR:
    What it really comes down to, imo, is that the majority of people either can't really tell the difference or just don't care enough to spend another $100+ on their computer.
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    I mod everything I touch. Indybird's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Future of Sound Cards

    I've been running S/PDIF for nearly 4 years so sound quality-wise I have no reason not to just use onboard sound.

    The only reason I am still using my Razer Barracuda AC-1 however, is the fact that it actually has a useful control panel. It has an 11 band eq, subwoofer cutoff, processing settings, output modes and individual speaker adjustment. You don't get all that in the crappy integrated sound control panel.

    Who's with me there?

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    The User DemonDragonJ's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Future of Sound Cards

    Quote Originally Posted by Indybird View Post
    I've been running S/PDIF for nearly 4 years so sound quality-wise I have no reason not to just use onboard sound.

    The only reason I am still using my Razer Barracuda AC-1 however, is the fact that it actually has a useful control panel. It has an 11 band eq, subwoofer cutoff, processing settings, output modes and individual speaker adjustment. You don't get all that in the crappy integrated sound control panel.

    Who's with me there?

    -Nick
    I agree with you one-hundred percent; when I switched from using onboard audio to a sound card, I noticed a tremendous difference in the quality of the sound that my computer could produce, and then all the extra features that the sound card had, most notably the equalizer, made it a clear choice over the motherboard's integrated sound, for me. I am using a Creative Labs sound card currently, and I am very satisfied with it.
    "When the people fear the government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty." -Thomas Jefferson.

    "Those who would trade their freedoms for security will have neither." -Benjamin Franklin

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    The User DemonDragonJ's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Future of Sound Cards

    I had an idea recently: rather than condemning sound cards to oblivion, what if the components that are used in sound cards currently were moved to the speakers themselves, and then connected to the computer with a different type of connection?

    For example, a set of speakers would consist of a central unit, which may or may not contain a subwoofer and would contain an integrated circuit, similar to how monitors currently have their own circuitry. The device would connect to the computer via a hot-swappable (plug-and-play), digital, serial connection, similar to USB, DVI, or DisplayPort, which would convey information about the device (such as its name and model number) and its capabilities (such as its sound channels and maximum output wattage) through a method similar to Data Display Channel, thus allowing the computer automatically configure the settings of the speakers, just as they usually do for monitors currently. Any satellite speakers would then connect to the central device via the same type of hot-swappable, digital, serial connection, allowing the computer to automatically detect when they are attached and detached, and automatically the adjust the audio output accordingly.

    I know that some sets of computer speakers currently use digital connections in the form of either USB or optical cables, but I am not certain if those connections convey data from the speakers to the computer, as do monitors or as I suggested above. What does everyone else say about my idea? Has it been done already, or is it something new?
    "When the people fear the government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty." -Thomas Jefferson.

    "Those who would trade their freedoms for security will have neither." -Benjamin Franklin

  10. #10
    Measure once, curse twice nevermind1534's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Future of Sound Cards

    Quote Originally Posted by DemonDragonJ View Post
    I had an idea recently: rather than condemning sound cards to oblivion, what if the components that are used in sound cards currently were moved to the speakers themselves, and then connected to the computer with a different type of connection?
    ...
    I know that some sets of computer speakers currently use digital connections in the form of either USB or optical cables, but I am not certain if those connections convey data from the speakers to the computer, as do monitors or as I suggested above. What does everyone else say about my idea? Has it been done already, or is it something new?
    That's my headset (Creative Fatal1ty)

    It's far better than anything running off of my integrated audio, and I only got it because I needed a headset, and newegg had it as a $20 shell shocker deal. My next build will probably include a sound card (I'll get a non-USB headset then), but that probably won't be for a while. I haven't even had my logitech surround sound hooked up for a few years, partially because I'm lazy about that kind of stuff, and partially because I like the sound quality from the USB headset so much.
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