Which is better on board sound or older SB Audigy Platinum card

Hi all,

I have a quick question about which is better the On board sound on a new Motherboard (Gigabyte GA-EP45-UD3R) versus an older SoundBlaster Audigy Platinum Ex sound card.

It would make since to me that the sound on the MB would be better since it is newer by a number of years, but I have always read that on board sound is typically lousy in comparison to a dedicated sound card, (spec for both are listed below)

I like the Audigy because it has an external box which I can sit on my desk to connect other devices to, but I want the best sound. If you recommend going with the On board sound does anyone know of a good quality device that I can mount in a 5 inch drive bay to allow me to route the various sound ports from the MB to the front of the case?

Thanks

Gordon

On board sound specs for the Gigabyte GA-EP45-UD3R motherboard

  1. Realtek ALC889A codec
  2. High Definition Audio
  3. 2/4/5.1/7.1-channel
  4. Support for S/PDIF In/Out
  5. Support for CD In

That pretty much all the specs listed for the board.

SB Audigy Platinum eX specs

Sound Output Mode 5.1 channel surround
Sound Synthesis Method Wavetable , E-mu Systems
DAC Data Width 32-bit
Sample Rate 8 KHz (min) - 48 KHz (max)
Voice Polyphony Qty 128
MIDI Channels Qty 48
Response Bandwidth 10 - 22000 Hz
Max Speakers Qty 6
Features EAX , EAX ADVANCED HD , Dolby Digital ready
Compliant Standards AC '97 , A3D 1.0 , General MIDI , Sound Blaster , Dolby Digital 5.1
Expansion / Connectivity
Expansion Slots Total (Free) None
Interfaces 1 x Audio - Line-in - Mini-phone stereo 3.5 mm - 1 , 1 x Microphone - Input - Mini-phone mono 3.5 mm - 1 , 1 x Audio - Line-out/headphones - Mini-phone stereo 3.5 mm - 1 , 1 x Audio - Line-out (rear) - Mini-phone stereo 3.5 mm - 1 , 1 x Audio - SPDIF input - 2 pin digital audio - 1 , 1 x Audio - Auxiliary - 4 pin MPC - 1 , 1 x Audio - TAD - 4 pin MPC - 1 , 1 x IEEE 1394 (FireWire) - 4 pin FireWire - 1 , 2 x IEEE 1394 (FireWire) - 6 pin FireWire - 2 , 1 x Audio - 44 pin HD D-Sub (HD-44) - 1 , 1 x Audio - SPDIF input - RCA - 1 , 1 x Audio - SPDIF output - RCA - 1 , 1 x Audio - SPDIF input - Optical plug 3.5 mm - 1 , 1 x Audio - SPDIF output - Optical plug 3.5 mm - 1 , 1 x Headphones - Output - Phone stereo 6.25 mm - 1 , 1 x Microphone - Input - Phone mono 6.25 mm - 1 , 1 x Audio - Auxiliary - RCA - 2 , 1 x MIDI - Input - 5 pin mini-DIN - 1 , 1 x MIDI - Output - 5 pin mini-DIN - 1 , 1 x Audio - Input - 4 pin MPC - 1 , 1 x Daughterboard - 2

If you are going to connect your sound card to a good amp, and use the SPDIF (i think it’s the optical outpout) you want have any problems with sound quality, but overall i still think that the audigy is a better soundcard.

So i were you i would probably be using the Audigy, with a good set of headphones or speakers.

Absolutely. If you plan to use analog outputs, it’s the old Audigy. :iagree:

If you plan to use the SPDIF out (optical or electric) there’s nothing bad with the Audigy either, it’s just that then it doesn’t matter anymore whether you use the cheap onboard or the dedicated board.

There’s only one situation afaik when the onboard beats an old (only an old!) SB and that is playback of a 24bit/192kHz audio source. Your Audigy can only decode up to 24bit/96kHz. But when do you need 24bit/192kHz playback? I’m not even sure that the difference in quality between 24/96 and 24/192 is not lost again by the lower sound quality of the onboard soundchip. intel HD Audio is indeed “HD” sound level as it can do 24bit and the crazy 192kHz, but your Audigy is too. Afaik even DVD Audio is not a 192kHz but a 96kHz source. But I could be wrong on that last one.

And also: Don’t forget, the onboard sound is software audio. The decoding work has to be done by the CPU! OK, that’s nothing of a problem for the power level of a typical system built on a Socket775/P45 motherboard. But on the other hand if you already own a hardware decoding high-end sound card, which the Audigy Platinum Ex definitely is, why not offload 6 densly encoded 24bit/96kHz channels from the CPU for free?

The only thing I don’t know is if the use of a PCI device slows down a modern PCIE, SATA etc. system or not. That could make the performance win from the offload useless again. Maybe someone who knows that better could give you a note. But as long as that is not cleared up, and especially since I need perfect audio quality, I would use the Audigy.

I hope this helps a little. :slight_smile:

In theory, I agree, that the SB with the dedicated chip for analogue<->digital conversions will be a better choice. But, I really think that if you have the chance to test them both, even in HQ equipment, you won’t notice any defference at all. I was wondering exactly the same thing as you. I connected the line out to an external amplifier connected with really good speakers, and all audio CDs I tested sounded exactly the same to me. Maybe I don’t have very “trained” ears :slight_smile:

Also, about the CPU load: In my P-duo@1.6GHz, an indication of 1-3% CPU load when playing my mp3s is fine for me!!!

1%-3% for an MP3 file is a lot! Imagine a 6 channel DD decoding. Maybe you end-up at 5%-10%. The intel HD Audio onboard chip is without a question a very very good solution, especially compared to the very noisy AC’97 design. But the Audigy Platinum is a dedicated and in addition to that a high-end dedicated audio solution.

Everything speaks for the Audigy, except the missing of 192kHz decoding, which I have never needed so far, and the activation of the PCI bus with a PCI board. The latter still has to be cleared up. Is it a bigger loss in performance than the gain of performance that the hardware accelerated audio decoding delivers or is it not? Maybe somebody who knows this for sure can help the OP out and give a short note.

My advice sounds cards of High quality ie X-Fi or similiar are way better then onboard sounds. I played games and you hear sounds and effect you wouldn’t hear on onboard that’s just the limitation of onboard there is sacrifice that a dedicate sounds card will have built in. Just for regular everyday use onboard will suffice but if your into sound quality and options I would choose a dedicate sound card not a cheap sound card though something like X-Fi. That is going to be my next purchase X-Fi Plat card and drive.

The score at this point is:

Audigy: 6

On Board: 0

Looks like the Audigy takes it. Thanks for all the responses, that was exactly what I needed to know. :slight_smile:

Regards,

Gordon

As some said earlier, using SPDIF it wont matter at all. Using analogue on the other hand will give the Audigy the upperhand, keep in mind though that Creative makes very bad (crappy) drivers so I would stay away from their products nowdays. If I were you I’d go for the kX Drivers which are excellent compared to Creative’s. I do doubt though that you’ll notice a difference in general as someone else said earlier…

[B]http://www.driverheaven.net/general-discussion/166535-3545-released-beta-revision-3545b.html[/B]

//Danne

[QUOTE=DiiZzY;2299623]As some said earlier, using SPDIF it wont matter at all. Using analogue on the other hand will give the Audigy the upperhand, keep in mind though that Creative makes very bad (crappy) drivers so I would stay away from their products nowdays. If I were you I’d go for the kX Drivers which are excellent compared to Creative’s. I do doubt though that you’ll notice a difference in general as someone else said earlier…

[B]http://www.driverheaven.net/general-discussion/166535-3545-released-beta-revision-3545b.html[/B]

//Danne[/QUOTE]

You do know that their audigy is a way old product they are now X-Fi??? What issues you had that the drivers where that bad??? If you did you should’ve taken up it with creative support. Also OP should take into note that without knowing what the responders specific setup it is just a opinion unless there is concrete evidence to support it.

http://www.xbitlabs.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=15074
http://www.tomshardware.co.uk/forum/page-249566_10_0.html
…and the list goes on if you google :slight_smile:

If you still want to buy crap, go with Creative otherwise go with Auzentech, Asus, Terratec (some models). If I’m not mistaken VIA just released some new interesting audio codecs.
//Danne

[QUOTE=DiiZzY;2300258]http://www.xbitlabs.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=15074
http://www.tomshardware.co.uk/forum/page-249566_10_0.html
…and the list goes on if you google :slight_smile:

If you still want to buy crap, go with Creative otherwise go with Auzentech, Asus, Terratec (some models). If I’m not mistaken VIA just released some new interesting audio codecs.
//Danne[/QUOTE]

lol you do know one of those cards uses creative technology…release doesn’t mean good…until they been tested for all range of users and O/S. Sounds the problem you had was with vista right?? Those blogs are just that blogs…no real supportive testing firm…