Need help/advice on PC sound hardware upgrade please

Jak_Sparra

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Hi,

I am currently using the onboard sound on a http://www.asrock.com/mb/intel/z97%20extreme6/

It seems a little bit 'soft' or 'not tight/sharp enough' compared to my old PC which had a riser sound card that came with a https://www.asus.com/Motherboards/RAMPAGE_II_EXTREME/
They called it SupremeFX X-Fi and it was not brilliant but certainly good enough for gaming and watching films.

Now please note, I'm no Audiophile or anything, and only occasionally listen to music, and even then it's often streamed from youtube (so you could possible call me an Audioheathen). My interests are mostly watching Bluray quality films, and gaming. Now for gaming it is very important for me to have good clarity and spacial awareness e.g, in ARMA 3, I might often be taking a breather and checking kit on the 2nd floor of an abandoned house, I need to be able to hear things such a footsteps near by and instantly have a good idea where they are coming from, as well as hear the noise of a vehicle in the distance and be able to tell what it is and give a rough position on it.

As for movies, I have also notices the sound is often slightly 'damp' (sorry I don't know the correct terms). So better quality sound in them would be a bonus.

Now here is the bit which might get confusing, My current sound card has the wires leaving it and going into a Creative Inspire T7900

http://support.creative.com/Products/ProductDetails.aspx?catID=4&prodID=10321&prodName=Inspire%20T7900&CatName=Speaker+Systems

Then the speakers are plugged into the large bass box


I have the switch set to 'direct', and have 2 front, 1 center and 2 rear and a bass, I do not use side speakers.

I was wondering what the best solution is, I don't have a great deal of money right now, maybe £200 tops to spend on sound. If it costs more I can wait another couple of months and spend more, but ideally I'd be wanting to use the existing speakers, or at least some of them, maybe just buying new front and centre and a sound card and stick the 2 current front speakers where the rear speakers go.

One other thing, I have a MASSIVE CPU can in the case


Would a sound card even fit on the motherboard?

(Quick edit, the image of the large CPU fan in a case is not my PC, it's just one I found when I googled my motherboard and that CPU fan)
 
given that it was the same speakers, i'm thinking you had some eq setting, or post processing effect turned on which made them sound better. you might be able to tune them a bit with your current onboard but if you want better options soundcards often have them. while its quite possible for the different dac chips to have a somewhat different sound, settings would change things more drastically.

which pcie slot are you using for the gpu. the top one?

if so it looks like you have two slots you can use for a pcie soundcard. the xonar dgx (budget option) or the xonar dx or creative z / creative z sbx are all options you might like for onboard. the creative has a very strong amp (sometimes too strong for lower end headphones) but better drivers. the dx has the same dac chip the $180 stx does but without the amp and a few features and is the same cost as the one z. given that you were happy with only supremefx, i'd say the dgx would likely be more than enough for you, unless of course you wanted to make the next jump up.

if you dont have any room (you should, but in case you dont) there are external soundcards available both from asus and creative.
 

Jak_Sparra

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Same speaks, with the old PC/soundcard.
 
given that it was the same speakers, i'm thinking you had some eq setting, or post processing effect turned on which made them sound better. you might be able to tune them a bit with your current onboard but if you want better options soundcards often have them. while its quite possible for the different dac chips to have a somewhat different sound, settings would change things more drastically.

which pcie slot are you using for the gpu. the top one?

if so it looks like you have two slots you can use for a pcie soundcard. the xonar dgx (budget option) or the xonar dx or creative z / creative z sbx are all options you might like for onboard. the creative has a very strong amp (sometimes too strong for lower end headphones) but better drivers. the dx has the same dac chip the $180 stx does but without the amp and a few features and is the same cost as the one z. given that you were happy with only supremefx, i'd say the dgx would likely be more than enough for you, unless of course you wanted to make the next jump up.

if you dont have any room (you should, but in case you dont) there are external soundcards available both from asus and creative.
 

Jak_Sparra

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Thank you for the reply and sorry for delay with my reply. I was waiting on some spare money and have gone ahead and ordered the Sound Blaster Zx. I've read some mixed reviews but at least one person with the same motherboard as me said it was a big improvement. I also should mention I was getting some sort of interference noise when running benchmarks, I think it was there before but the actual gaming audio drowned it out. I got a new graphics card and was running a couple of bench marks and got sick of the music, when there was no audio the interference noise was very noticeable. I've read a lot about the interference and apparently it could be anything from the RAM to any USB peripherals plugged in. I'm hoping the shielding on the new sound card helps negate the noise. I will report back when I have everything tested.
 

Jak_Sparra

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Got he Sound Blaster Zx today, turned off PC, put the card in the only PCIe slot avilable (above the graphics card) and started PC, ran latest install software (and tried the install disk previously) but it says 'setup is unable to detect a supported product'. Raised a thread but thought I would update this one as well just in case you were about. Any suggestions.

 
i would check that the card is seated properly in the pcie slot (with the pc off of course). pull it out and put it back in.

if that doesnt work, try disabling fastboot in bios.

check if you see the soundcard in device manager at all

are you using windows 10 (there are lots of issues with it right now)
 

Jak_Sparra

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I accidentally selected your answer as 'best solution', but it's not fixed yet and when I choose unselected as best answer it does nothing..

Anyway, The card was seated properly, I took it out and firmly slotted it back in and secured with screw. (I've build several PC's over the last 20 years or so and it's never been an issue).

Fast boot is already disabled.

Sound card not showing in device manager.

Using Windows 8.1 (up to date)

How do the PCIE lanes work, I have 16, the graphics card uses x8, the M.2 SSD uses x4, that should leave 4 free lanes as far as I know, is that correct?

In the UEFI (BIOS thing), there is an option to bring up a picture of the motherboard and it shows what slots are used. The PCIE1 slot is showing empty, so it's something to do with the motherboard not seeing the sound card. I need a way to force it to see the card. I looked through the motherboard settings and not sure if there is anything I need to change.

Here is a link to the manual:- http://www.asrock.com/mb/Intel/Z97%20Extreme6/?cat=Manual

and here is a picture of the motherboard:-



Can I try the sound card in the last slot maybe, at the bottom? Is it compatible as it is a different size slot? Or will that draw to much power and break the sound blaster?

 

Jak_Sparra

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Fixed it, just shoved it in the very bottom PICE slot and it's fine. loads better and certainly no more interference noise which was the main reason for getting it. Asrock need to work on their onboard sound shielding.
 
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