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Spec me a Good sound card that supports optical.

Discussion in 'Sound City' started by WatchTower, 8 Mar 2010.

  1. WatchTower


    Joined: 9 Jan 2005

    Posts: 4,433

    Location: Stoke-On-Trent

    I can use the traditional cables but if I want surround sound I have to use an optical cable to my SONY STRDH500 surround sound setup. I also seem to get better sound quality through Optical too. I need something that will make my games, movies and music sound fantastic. Any tips?

    Thanks for the help folks
  2. bilston

    Wise Guy

    Joined: 27 Dec 2003

    Posts: 1,984

    Location: Worthing

    I was under the impression that if youre sending the digital signal out over optical, it doesnt matter that much on the card anyway, seeing as it just passes the signal to your receiver.

    I could be wrong though
  3. Marsman


    Joined: 18 Oct 2009

    Posts: 11,178

    How much are you looking to spend? Does your AV amp support both Dolby and DTS?

    Bilston is right, where SPDIF is concerned, there will be no sound quality difference between a Trust sound card and a Xonar D2, for eg.

    You will need the card to support real time 5.1 encoding though, which you won't find on a lot of cheaper brands like Speedlink sound cards. Without 5.1 encoding, audio over SPDIF is going to be stereo, unless it is a DVD being played.
  4. WatchTower


    Joined: 9 Jan 2005

    Posts: 4,433

    Location: Stoke-On-Trent

    I was thinking of spending about £80. The SONY STRDH500 does support both DTS and Dolby. It's seems pretty good for a £139 AV amp. :)
  5. Uriel


    Joined: 15 Jan 2006

    Posts: 7,652

    There are some differences between a Xonar or X-Fi and a generic card such as Trust.

    1. Fixes for DirectSound3D games: Many older games run on DirectSound3d. This gives surround sound and allows EAX effects etc in those games. X-Fi's Alchemy is the most reliable solution and works (sometimes with a little tweaking) in almost all games. The next best thing is Xonar's DS3D-GX. Most other soundcards have very limited solutions, if anything at all. As far as older games and 5.1 are concerned it's often X-Fi, Xonar or nothing.
    2: Dolby Digital Live or DTS Connect. These are essential for encoding content other than movies to 5.1 over optical. For X-Fi only full spec cards based on EMU20k1 and EMU20k2 processors support this. The cheaper Xonar cards support one or the other. Higher spec Xonars support both.
    3: Gaming effects: Again - X-Fi (based on EMU20k1 and EMU20k2) processors support up to EAX 5. Other X-Fis and Audigy cards support up to EAX4. Xonars emulate EAX and can approximate up to EAX5 but you will find games where EAX compatibility isn't there.

    IMO points 1 and 2 are absolute essentials for a gaming soundcard. You'll need optical ports as well.

    I would recommend the following cards as meeting the basic requirements:
    - X-Fi OEM SB0770 or SB0772 cards plus a $5 payment to Creative to enable Dolby Digital Live and DTS Connect.
    - Xonar DS (if your receiver supports DTS)

    There is absolutely no point in spending more than those cards for the usage you've described.

    If you'll be using headphones at all I might suggest some other options.