Is a Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi supposed to be an improvement over the in-built sound card?

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thaicook

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I just bought a Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi Surround 5.1 Pro sound card, I assumed it would improve the sound and possibly the volume of my music/movies on my Creative Gigaworks T40 II speakers, but it doesn't seem to be working effectively.

I tried connecting the sound card to the PC with a USB & an audio cable from the Sound card(Left & Right speaker sockets, using a Y-splitter) to the audio input on the speakers but no sound came out, so I unplugged the audio cable and I got sound, this was just with the USB from the SC to my PC, but the sound quality was no better than without the SC.

I'm wondering if the built-in sound card on my PC is just as good as the Creative sound card, and that I should seriously consider sending it back.

Any ideas?
 

Cristi72

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Jun 25, 2014
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Oh well, I failed to observe that you said in the first post about your speakers, sorry about that...

For movies it is highly recommended a surround speakers system (4.1, 5.1, 7.1 home cinema or receiver).

For music, the default is using a good 2.0 or 2.1 system (most audio is still in stereo format).

You have a 2.0 system, which you said is lacking on power; what music do you listen? For powerful bass, I recommend an 2.1 system or an 5.1 system:

http://www.amazon.com/Edifier-USA-M3300SF-Multimedia-Speakers/dp/B004N360NG/ref=sr_1_11?ie=UTF8&qid=1408514192&sr=8-11&keywords=edifier

http://www.amazon.com/Yamaha-NS-SP1800BL-5-1-Channel-Theater-Speaker/dp/B001AVRD62/ref=sr_1_1?s=aht&ie=UTF8&qid=1408514469&sr=1-1&keywords=onkyo

If you listen a large spectre of music (rock, jazz, opera, disco and so on), then the way to go is an amplifier and some stand-alone speakers; the audio quality and the power will blow you away (but also your budget will blow away, unless going for the second-hand market...):

http://www.amazon.com/Onkyo-TX-8050-Network-Stereo-Receiver/dp/B004UR486G/ref=dp_ob_title_ce

http://www.amazon.com/Sony-SSF-5000-Floor-Standing-Speaker/dp/B000OG4E1G/ref=sr_1_33?s=aht&ie=UTF8&qid=1408514924&sr=1-33

The best way is to go in showroom and listen to some audio systems using your kind of music.
 

Cristi72

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Hello,

If you have a very good motherboard, the chances are that you already have a very capable onboard audio chip (or in some cases even the same Creative chip as in the Audigy or X-FI audio cards). Are you having a laptop or a desktop PC?

Unfortunately, you picked the wrong card (it shouldn't bear the name X-Fi, because it has lower quality than the original X-Fi PCI cards). There are much better solutions for USB sound cards, but also a bit more expensive (an Asus Xonar U7 for example: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16829132067&cm_re=asus_xonar_u7-_-29-132-067-_-Product).

The USB audio cards relies only on USB connection with the PC, so no supplementary audio cable from the PC to the USB card is needed. Also, for best performance and compatibility, you must uninstall the old audio drivers and disable the old audio card (you should be using only the USB audio card only).
 

thaicook

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Aug 19, 2014
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Thanks for your suggestions, my mobo is an asus P8H61-M Rev.3.0 from about 4 years ago, I'm not very knowledgeable with these things and it was recommended to me on another forum for my needs, so what sort of audio chip does that have? And is it comparable to the Creative card I have now?

The reason for me buying the card was because I wanted louder, higher quality sound. I have to pump the volume up to almost maximum to get it properly loud, is that normal?

The speakers I have are nice enough quality but I thought my audio chip was holding them back a bit.

I'm thinking about sending the Creative card back now :(
 

thaicook

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Aug 19, 2014
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I just found the info for the audio chip on my mobo and it's an 8 channel HD, could that mean that my speakers are the thing holding me back?
 

Cristi72

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Jun 25, 2014
155
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4,710
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Your onboard audio is a Realtek ALC887; from the specs alone it is on par with the Creative X-Fi USB:

Realtek: SNR=97dB, max. sample rate 24bit/192kHz (higher fidelity);

X-Fi USB: SNR=100dB; max. sample rate: 24bit/96kHz (lower noise).

What speaker system do you have? The main problem is that USB cards do not have enough power to amplify the 5.1 audio signal to the proper levels for any PC speaker system or amplifier, so you would be better served by an add-on card (PCI or PCI-E):

http://www.amazon.com/ASUS-XONAR-DG-CMI-8786-profile/dp/B008C4JTJY/ref=sr_1_15?s=pc&ie=UTF8&qid=1408470325&sr=1-15&keywords=xonar

Or, much better cards overall:

http://www.amazon.com/PCI-Express-Channel-XONAR_DX-XD-90-YAA060-1UAN00Z/dp/B00198DM2K/ref=sr_1_11?s=pc&ie=UTF8&qid=1408470452&sr=1-11&keywords=xonar (for this card you also must have a decent quality power supply unit -PSU- because it needs an auxiliary power connection from a floppy connector);

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16829102048
 

thaicook

Estimable
Aug 19, 2014
4
0
4,510
0
I'm using Creative Gigaworks T40 II speakers, that's why I asked if it was my speakers holding me back, perhaps I'm using them at their limit already?
 

Cristi72

Estimable
Jun 25, 2014
155
0
4,710
40


Oh well, I failed to observe that you said in the first post about your speakers, sorry about that...

For movies it is highly recommended a surround speakers system (4.1, 5.1, 7.1 home cinema or receiver).

For music, the default is using a good 2.0 or 2.1 system (most audio is still in stereo format).

You have a 2.0 system, which you said is lacking on power; what music do you listen? For powerful bass, I recommend an 2.1 system or an 5.1 system:

http://www.amazon.com/Edifier-USA-M3300SF-Multimedia-Speakers/dp/B004N360NG/ref=sr_1_11?ie=UTF8&qid=1408514192&sr=8-11&keywords=edifier

http://www.amazon.com/Yamaha-NS-SP1800BL-5-1-Channel-Theater-Speaker/dp/B001AVRD62/ref=sr_1_1?s=aht&ie=UTF8&qid=1408514469&sr=1-1&keywords=onkyo

If you listen a large spectre of music (rock, jazz, opera, disco and so on), then the way to go is an amplifier and some stand-alone speakers; the audio quality and the power will blow you away (but also your budget will blow away, unless going for the second-hand market...):

http://www.amazon.com/Onkyo-TX-8050-Network-Stereo-Receiver/dp/B004UR486G/ref=dp_ob_title_ce

http://www.amazon.com/Sony-SSF-5000-Floor-Standing-Speaker/dp/B000OG4E1G/ref=sr_1_33?s=aht&ie=UTF8&qid=1408514924&sr=1-33

The best way is to go in showroom and listen to some audio systems using your kind of music.
 
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