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Audio Cards 
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Post Audio Cards
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d1rXcJu ... DP5bGrOYzg

For all you audio people, what do you think of this? I recently got my old extreme gamer card working again and noticed a big difference between on board and sound card. But according to this, it doesn't matter. I'm so confused!!

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Wed Dec 18, 2013 3:29 pm
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Post Re: Audio Cards
the problem with what they talked about in the video is that they're lumping all soundcard together as BAD. but all in reality, whether it's soundcard, or external setup, it's all about the implementation. if the implementation is done right, it doesn't matter if it's a soundcard or a soundcard inside a box that lives outside of your computer, it'll sound the way it's intended.

scientifically, they're correct that you should choose a source that has as low of output impedance as possible. generally speaking, the rule of thumb is when choosing a source to use with a headphone, you want the output impedance no higher than 1/5th of the headphone's total impedance. so a headphone that has 32ohm, you want your source (soundcard, DAC/AMP) to have output impedance of no higher than 6.4ohm. or if a headphone is 50ohm, you want the output impedance of the source to be no higher than 10ohm. the reason for that is, once you cross that 1/5th threshold, the resistance can have a negative effect on controlling the diaphrgam. that's what they were talking about with the dampening factor. the output impedance of your source needs to be low enough to control the dampening of the diaphragm. if it's too high, it won't dampen it the way it's suppose to.

the problem with today's onboard audio is that not only they all live directly on the mobtherboard, which introduce the most amount of interference, and noise, but they also have poor implementation (low quality dac and amp), despite the marketing of THX, EAX etc whatever you name it, they're just DSP software emulations that's tossed into the mix after audio signal passes through the DAC and before the AMP.

if you have a soudcard that also has poor implementation with poor spec dac and poor amp, the only thing you'll notice that's better than onboard is the noise and interference level will be lower. but other than that, it's not much better.

what they failed to mentioned is that there're companies out there, very few, that actually go extra miles in their implementation with quality DAC and AMP that does make huge difference in sound quality with low output impedance and quality parts. those are what set itself apart from the onboard. i can't speak to how much difference the EMI shield it has compare to soundcards without EMI, but what i can say is my soundcard, Essence STX sounds significantly better than most soundcards, and most definintely onboard.

the issue with most onboard, and most soundcards also is that the DAC and AMP as i mentioned are poor quality, so you not only have noise, interference issue, but you also have low dynamic range, and harmonic distortion. a good implementation will give you good dynamic range, and low harmonic distortion with flat frequency response.

of course there's no other way to get rid of the interference and noise completely unless the source lives outside of the computer. hence having an external setup. but that's not to be confused with low quality external setup vs a high quality internal PC soundcard. you can have a poorly implemented external setup that have no interference or noise issue, and yet dynamic range sounds as flat as a pancake, and has distortions pass certain decibel. the O2 External Dac they mentioned is a decent external solution that's popular, but i wouldn't call it high end.

at the end of the day, it's all about implementation. and equipment harmonic. you can have the best equipment, and best source, but if you're listening through a pair of $20 headphone, your listening experience is going to suck no matter what.

when it comes to audio, diaphragm is 75% of the equation. so having a good set of headphone, or good speakers is the foremost important factor. from there on, you need to have the equipment that can produce the least amount of noise, interference, with a frequency response that doesn't introduce any color, and is able to produce every signal from the lowest end to the highest without dropout (dynamic range).

i've had people from my work who tried out my headphone and external dac/amp and thinking they're listening to surround sound. even the fact that there's no added DSP in the mix (EAX, DOLBY HEADPHONE etc). it's purely the fact that a good setup will give you good audio positioning and sense of space and attenuation without any added processing DSP.

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Wed Dec 18, 2013 4:54 pm
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Post Re: Audio Cards
Good reading Howard.

and thanks for the video dog....

Once I got on Youtube and watched it and after about 20 mins of clicking on the videos on the right I find myself watching a video of 2 girls fist fighting.
It never fails :shifty:


Wed Dec 18, 2013 6:05 pm
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Post Re: Audio Cards
i should also point out that implementation doesn't just mean better DAC and AMP. you see tons of equipment with high end dac and amp and still doesn't sound as good as they should. that's because a lot has to do with the implementation of the signal path, and power supply. but that's another in depth topic for another day. just remember that you can have the highest spec Dac and Amp, and poorly implement the path and sound very blah. that's why there're countless equipments out there all with the same spec and they all sound different. it's all up to how the author design the audio path. you can give all 5 different audio engineers all the same equipment and components, but their different approach to audio path will have vastly different results.

i do have one problem with what the dude said in the video in regard to EMI shielding. i don't agree that "if air can passthrough, so can interference". again, i am no EMI scientist. but that just doesn't make sense. you don't see audio equipment with air/water tight seal. in fact they're just inside an enclosure with screwed over it. external equipments are by no means SEALED air/water tight. air still passe through them. although soundwave does travel through air. i believe having a layer of material between the component and the rest of the environment does reduce interference and noise. just think if you cover your head with a wooden box while listening to music through your home speakers, the sound is going to be diffused and muffled. your head is not sealed by any means. but the amount of noise and sound is reduced dramatically depending on the material of the structure and how tight it's sealed.

i think these guys have a point, but i think they went too far and over simplified the issue at hand.

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Wed Dec 18, 2013 11:01 pm
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