Why Sound Cards Are Important in 2019!

by birtanpublished on May 8, 2021

Oh but can i they're sound cards work tremendously important to drive good audio never thought I'd see the day it seems like there may come good people so soundcards maybe more important now than you think and I've been a huge supporter of onboard audio because motherboards have gotten such fantastic output over the last few years but with our conversation with Sound Blaster we've gotten a really interesting insight into development of something like the a7 and the a9 and why they matter in the market today there we go this is the excel I'm looking for

Welcome the 11 excel by Liam Lee stepping it up with upgrades all around for enthusiasts builds with perfect radiator spacing in the bottom on the side and the top with now a slightly wider main chamber for tall GPUs and rear exhaust area the second chamber will hide all your cables and house hot swappable drives for a complete package all around this is the 11 excel by Bailey giving you room to grow and so price wise both sound cards are pretty competitive they're still on the high end and like the premium territory but they do compete with external DAC and

Amplifier solutions like the GS X 1000 from Sam Heiser or the element from JD s labs is what I've been using to drive my headphones it's a fantastic piece of audio hardware but now with a 9 that gives me additional microphone inputs it might be replacing the element so in terms of hardware specifications this is kind of the best it gets with an insane resolution support it's kind of like raw for your audio in terms of what this thing can drive but up to 600 ohms of a headphone impedance this thing is supposed to be like the pinnacle product from Sound Blaster and kind of like a

Love letter to their fans because of all the hardware but also because of the breakout box so you don't have to fiddle with cables at the back of the sound card and have this hub instead with all the i/o on your desk the most interesting thing for me is that XLR input with 48 volt phantom power and that's important because condenser microphones require active voltage supplied in order to function properly which is why it's excellent for streamers to get broadcast quality sound that is what you don't normally find on like external Dax or amps especially

With XLR unless you are buying a dedicated mixer into which you plug everything into here we also have separate 3.5 your headphone and mic jacks plus the 6.3 millimeter headphone jack we have a headphones impedance switch that lets you select what impedance level you want depending on your headphones we have an SB X button to enable those effects and the software so you don't necessarily need to access the software and a nice volume wheel that you can press the mute you can hold it to for seconds to disable the LEDs or hold it for two

Seconds to switch to the external outputs as for the sound card itself we have optical in and out we have front left front right rear is Center subwoofer channels plus we have that ACM link port which is a mini HDMI cable that allows you to connect the breakout box directly into the sound card of course they're using a really high quality DAC in here and opens that are swappable if you want to change up a little character of the sound and interestingly it requires a 6 pin PCI Express from the back that is needed to power the XLR because of that phantom

Power and actually it's needed to power up the whole breakout box as well I will say the card looks beautiful and they have eliminated RGB support like we saw on a 5 and now it's just white with a yellow a 9 illumination and I find that strange so one technical advantage when using a sound card is that audio is hardware accelerated on the processor that is on the sound card and not by your CPU therefore it could give you some framerate advantage in games in my testing and ba5 that has a really busy audio engine it does not it does not matter if I'm using a sound card or

Onboard audio there is no frame rate difference when I'm trying to control for the CPU bottleneck but interestingly I've also discovered that plugging in the sound card into a different PCI Lane that automatically down clocks my graphics card PCI Lane 2 x8 does in fact hinder performance and games and so you have to just make sure and be aware that you're plugging in the sound card into the correct Lane that does not lower the speed of the PCI bus lane into which your graphics card is plugged in I hope that makes sense and that's for audio delivery I was not expecting such power

Such clarity such detail and neutrality throughout this entire experience I feel like the opamp SAR not colored in any way and they draw my HD 800 and my planar magnetic HD 4 XX with plenty of volume head room to spare and even when approaching the really really blasting audio I'm still not hearing any distortion coming from the headphones or the amplifier I am noticing a lot of like weird artifacts in the music that isn't high-quality but as soon as we play any flack files with my hands in my collection with my queen collection everything just like it

Sounds beautiful the soundstage recreation is not artificial in any way nothing is being pushed forward or back to give you a sense of space it's just the way it is and if you wear an open set of headphones stereo reproduction is just beautiful now from a pure audio perspective between the a9 and my element amplifier I still prefer the element I feel like the bass reproduction is identical on both but the a9 feels slightly drier on a high end and therefore to my ears the element appears to be smoother of course this can be mitigated via the driver software

On the creative side will equalize the playground that adds value to the whole customization element and I also really like the option to enable what they call direct mode that bypasses any sound effects that is applied and this is the only way to actually enable that crazy 32-bit 384 kilohertz quality with the selection of roll of filters that to my ears really don't make a difference the encoder setting here is useful for speaker setups for your optical connection for Dolby audio or DTS connect and the recording tab is only useful for my boost and voice morphing

If you're into that and before we do the sound test I just want to come back to the point of why sound cards may be important now and that apparently is because of the new hardware so the r-tx 20 series apparently is introducing so much more EMI or electromagnetic interference into the whole system that it is corrupting the power rail and sending power noise into anything that is plugged into the PCI slot and so they had to design completely new line conditioning as what they call it to filter out the power noise so your line output and your line input are

Completely clean and the crazy thing is I remember hearing this sort of interference in-game with my r-tx 2080 and headphones plugged into the motherboard where I could hear mouse cursor movement and like how's that possible but now it all makes sense where the interference from the graphics card is not being shielded enough and filtered out enough by the motherboard onboard sound cards and that is kind of where creative comes into play with their filtering algorithms applied but now let's hear the mic test all right so microphone test time what

You listen to now is GSP 500 plugged directly into the breakout box on the AE 9 this is the purest form there's no gain on the microphone this is just maximum volume on the microphone I think it sounds fine there's not too much noise and whatever you can hear in the background is not his it's my system which is just less than a meter away from me so I'm gonna be quiet so you can hear that noise floor not bad not bad the voice more functionality is actually can you tell it is probably a very weird audio / visual experience for you it's pretty hilarious how similar to my iMac

I'm afraid so around with a camera actually like the robot because the voice more automatically adds this like robotic feel to it in terms of processing so this one fits back to normal without any voice morph without any voice clarity and this is disappointing because look what happens to my voice when I enable voice clarity right now it's enabled we have noise cancellation at the lowest possible position and it just sounds terrible whatever noise is trying to compress it completely just destroys the vocal character of my voice without

Voice clarity so much better so now I have the gtx 1070 out RTX 2080 TI is in the system spewing so much EMI and the microphone here is actually slightly more noisy versus when the 1070 was in the system especially if I boost the DBA to 10 right now this is +10 the micron volume is great but the noise that noise floor is still there and this is what the microphone sounds like when it's plugged directly into the motherboard with my r-tx 20 80 TI in system there's a lot of digital interference happening in the background I can actually hear some of that in the

Headphones themselves not good this is plus 20 DB a through 89 and this is plus 20 DB a via my motherboard all right so next we have this Eng microphone this is what we use for shows plugged into the XLR with phantom power enabled it is a bit too quiet so I have to boost the gain +10 right now we have +10 and this is a really nice volume for this microphone it is dynamic and it has a little bit of extra like noise in the background not noise unlike ambient noise but the actual digital hissing noise if I boost it to 20 plus you'll definitely hear it now I have the

Dynamic mic plugged in into the XLR with phantom power the volkl pickup is great but you can hear there is noise here's plus 20 DB a now we have a different microphone plugged into the XLR input with phantom power this is the blue amber it sounds incredible for the price point that only a hundred dollars but the main distinction is this is a condenser microphone versus what you just heard was dynamic with that Eng microphone and condenser mics on this breakout box are incredible no noise whatsoever super clarity if I stop speaking all you'll be

Here is like tiny bit of ambient noise in the room it sounds super clean and even if I boost it plus 20 DB a all you'll be hearing is additional fan noise and like whatever ambient room noises there is and not digital hissing noise this is plus 10 and this is plus 20 and so as you could probably hear by that microphone test the noise in the microphone with the 20 series cards versus a 10 series cards is actually slightly different it is lower on the 10 series GPU and it is pretty manageable on a 20 series GPU but it's still noticeable especially when you're

Boosting the signal of the microphone if it's too quiet then it's more noticeable with a 20 series GPU without enabling noise reduction because that completely just distorts and destroys the vocal clarity the more interesting thing Howard to me was the difference in audio noise with dynamic versus condenser microphones and how much more noise there was with a dynamic microphone versus a condenser so potentially if you are streaming a condenser is the way to go while dynamic with a 10 series GPU sounds perfectly fine you can still boost the gain to 10 plus without

Introducing too much like that background hissing sound while with 20 series GPU man you could really hear that and I understand they're using their line conditioning and removing that power noise but it's still not super clean as I was expecting especially for the price point but let me know if you can actually hear the noise because audio again is subjective – based on your ears and what headphones or source are you using so let me know if you could hear the difference and that's for the surround sound experience it is built into the command software so

You can play around with it and it's actually really good but still nothing beats the Sun hyzer gsx 1000 amplifier that thing is just like number one in surround sound and thereby neural engine is so good while sound blaster takes the second place in my opinion still opens up the audio environment without losing detail without losing clarity on all the important audio cues but it doesn't feel as open or as free as the GS X 1000 and so in the end these sound cards are important because they highlight how much EMI interference are introduced by the new hardware and what motherboard

Manufacturers potentially must do to eliminate that but if sound blaster cannot fully eliminate that noise of the EMI interference with a microphone input and we might have a problem but the a9 while being expensive is a very nice complete package in terms of audio output is fantastic and microphone input – that sounds great on ten series cards absolutely no issues but you might face a little bit of noise when a twenty series GPU or if you're using a dynamic microphone I think I'm going to keep the Ani in my system retired the element amp and I love the breakout box cable is

Long enough so I can position that on my left side connect all my headphones to there instead of the cable having to pass on my right side across the mouse and keyboard and I feel like it's a complete product as long as you don't mind a little bit of that noise on the input side for the microphone if you are using some intense hardware the new Hydra x-series from Corsair is a full water-cooling ecosystem with transparent blocks for RGB goodness and built-in flow indicators with soft and hard tubing available and the full array of fittings

So you can design the perfect loop for you hide your X by Corsair everything's linked below all right guys I'm Dimitri thanks so much for watching let me know if you are using a sound card if you have had any experience with sound blaster in the past and if you are experiencing any noise via your onboard audio potentially swap out the hardware to see if there is any dirty power that's floating around somewhere in the system and yeah maybe consider getting a sound card a7 over the a9 i'll have them linked below thanks much for watching check out this

Other relevant content i'll talk to you in the next video

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