SBLive 5.1 PCI or P5WD2 builtin Realtek ALC882D High Definition Audio 8-channel CODEC

Discussion in 'Asus' started by John, Sep 23, 2005.

  1. John

    John Guest

    Hi

    What's going to give me the best sound quality? My current SBLive 5.1 PCI
    sound card, or the built-in sound on the Asus P5WD2 (it's a Realtek ALC882D
    Hi Def 8 Channel CODEC)?

    I'm assuming the SBLive PCI card is going to consume less of my cpu time. Is
    that correct?

    Thanks

    John
     
    John, Sep 23, 2005
    #1
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  2. Judging from the datasheet of the ALC882, it could well be better than
    the Live! 5.1 with its crappy old Sigmatel (STAC9708) codec. If you want
    to be sure, install both and compare.
    For games, it probably is.

    Stephan
     
    Stephan Grossklass, Sep 23, 2005
    #2
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  3. John

    Paul Guest

    Whether a sound chip has 18 bit ADC/DAC or 24 bit ADC/DAC,
    the noise floor of the PCB determines whether the resulting
    dynamic range is useful or not. Anyone who has turned up the
    volume on their motherboard sound chip, to be greeted by the
    noises from their mouse, or the noises from the processor
    as the computing load changes, knows how important the noise
    floor is. Same thing with trying to record audio via the
    motherboard sound chip - a bad noise floor will ruin your
    attempts at recording.

    Even if the SBLive 5.1 had 16 bit DACs, I bet it would sound
    cleaner.

    Doing an A/B comparison with the two solutions, is the only
    way to quantify the differences between them. Some Asus
    motherboards have terrible analog designs - like analog signal
    wires running in parallel with Ethernet signal wires. No matter
    how expensive an AC-97/Azalia chip is used, it cannot fix a
    bad design.

    Paul
     
    Paul, Sep 24, 2005
    #3
  4. John

    John Guest

    Thanks for the replies and the info. I'll have to test them. I don't
    really trust my own ability to draw any meaningful conclusions
    though.
     
    John, Sep 26, 2005
    #4
  5. John

    Paul Guest

    Try some high dynamic range classical music - a selection with
    silent passages in it. Move the mouse around in the quiet passages
    and see if you can hear mouse noise.

    Some chips are ruined by the lousy DSP special effects, where
    even when the control panel is set to "disabled", to turn them
    off, they are still there. I had that problem with an AD1985
    and SoundMax.

    If you need a very basic audio waveform tool, try this one:

    http://audacity.sourceforge.net/download/windows

    What I tried, is using two programs (because I couldn't get
    Audacity to record and playback at the same time). One program
    was set to play test output, while the other was set up to
    record. I connected output to input with a short 1/8" stereo
    cable. What I discovered is, if I sent a pulse waveform on the
    AD1985 output, two pulses would come back, one at t = 0 sec
    and a much smaller one at t = 30mS. That means some driver
    writer decided I needed "concert hall reverberation", so I
    would feel I was "in a cave". Too much reverb makes music
    sound "muddy". I should be able to drive a signal through
    the sound chip, without the driver adding its share of
    "garbage". If the driver offers a multiband equalizer,
    that is not a bad thing, if you are correcting for coloration
    in the room. If the equalizer is set to 0dB on all sliders,
    there should be no effect at all on the output.

    I'm no expert at this stuff, and I still don't know how to
    draw waveforms in Audacity that are bandwidth limited. Using
    sine waves (tones) to test, doesn't tell you too much,
    except if maybe you are looking for harmonic distortion.

    Given all of that, a classical music test should tell you
    most of what you need to know. You can also try recording
    from a microphone, as some users report that gives them an
    instant reason to switch to a PCI audio card.

    If you are playing CDs, the best way to do that, is use
    DAE, where data is shipped digitally over the IDE cable.
    The four wire CD analog cable that comes with a lot of
    CD drives, works like an antenna and that can introduce
    noise. Digital audio extraction (DAE) is a much better
    option.

    Paul
     
    Paul, Sep 26, 2005
    #5
  6. This one mostly seems to be plagued by bass expansion that is turned on
    by default. One needs to enable the respective slider in the mixer, then
    it can be muted. Another common problem with onboard sound solutions is
    noise caught by additional inputs. Disabling all of those for playback
    can clean up things considerably.
    Actually mic inputs don't have the reputation of being very good on most
    consumer-level cards. (CMedia based cheapies can be as bad as onboard
    stuff.) The cheapest way to obtain a usable mic input seems to be
    purchasing an inexpensive mixer that contains one.
    Actually it's mostly a ground loop that causes these problems, due to
    the connection over both the PC case and audio cable. (You could call it
    a "ground loop antenna".) Some sound chips like older Crystal AC97
    codecs (e.g. CS4294) provide "pseudo-differential" CD inputs because of
    this. Besides, the DACs in CD/DVD drives are not likely to be of great
    quality, only fairly early (and thus expensive) models used TDA1541s and
    such.

    Stephan
     
    Stephan Grossklass, Sep 26, 2005
    #6
  7. John

    John Guest

    Hi Paul,

    Thanks for the comprehensive and informative reply.

    I'll check those things out as you suggested.

    Regards

    John
     
    John, Sep 27, 2005
    #7
  8. John

    John Guest

    Thanks for the additional info Stephan
     
    John, Sep 27, 2005
    #8
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