• Welcome to Overclockers Forums! Join us to reply in threads, receive reduced ads, and to customize your site experience!

Asus Xonar DX sound card from 2008 vs. Asus onboard sound from 2016 and HDMI

Overclockers is supported by our readers. When you click a link to make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn More.

c627627

c(n*199780) Senior Member
Joined
Feb 18, 2002
I have multiple 3ft tall Infinity Studio Monitor Speakers as my computer speakers.

My computer is connected to the stereo system through HDMI and also through S/PDIF.


Assuming a high quality stereo system, how should I connect it to the computer if options are:



• HDMI from a 2008 Video Card ATi Radeon HD 7870 http://xfxforce.com/en-us/products/...-7870-double-dissipation-edition-fx-787a-cdfc
vs.
• HDMI from a 2016 Skylake motherboard ASUS Z170-A: https://www.asus.com/us/Motherboards/Z170-A/


and a separate specific question

• S/PDIF from a 2008 Asus Xonar DX sound card http://www.asus.com/Sound-Cards/Xonar_DX/HelpDesk/
vs.
• S/PDIF from a 2016 Skylake motherboard ASUS Z170-A: https://www.asus.com/us/Motherboards/Z170-A/
 
Last edited:
OP
c627627

c627627

c(n*199780) Senior Member
Joined
Feb 18, 2002
It appears that

• Running HDMI from the video card to the receiver will always give you the best possible sound. Even for 2-channel audio, HDMI will do 24-bit/192k instead of 24-bit/96K.

• It appears that *not* putting in a Xonar DX sound card is better because I would have a better air flow in the computer case but would not lose anything in quality when compared to S/PDIF from the Skylake motherboard ASUS Z170-A.

S/PDIF (optical or coaxial), using compression, can carry up to 6-channels of 24-bit/48k digital audio.
Either DDL (Dolby Digital Live) or DTS-Connect are need to compress digital audio.

• Since Xonar DX sound card has DDL, and Asus Z170-A Skylake motherboard has DTS-Connect, this should not be an issue since receivers work with both DDL & DTS-Connect.
 

Bishoff

Member
Joined
Jul 28, 2014
Location
S. Flori-duh
I don't use any sound cards at all for my rigs. I go either HDMI out to receiver to TV or HDMI out for audio only and DVI/DP to monitor (Korean monitor). Main reason is the quality is loads better and I can get all codecs (DTS-HD MA, Dolby Pro HD, etc.) that the sounds cards cannot give you. I'm an audio quality freak and and running 5.1 & 7.1 with 475w subs on each system.
 
OP
c627627

c627627

c(n*199780) Senior Member
Joined
Feb 18, 2002
Yes. I do that too.
But if you have a multi-boot, HDMI behaves differently on other operating systems, so it's useful to know the difference between connecting S/PDIF to your stereo when you use a 2016 motherboard vs. sound card.

All signs point to the end of sound cards, other than if you have a headphone amp.
 

Bishoff

Member
Joined
Jul 28, 2014
Location
S. Flori-duh
Yes. I do that too.
But if you have a multi-boot, HDMI behaves differently on other operating systems, so it's useful to know the difference between connecting S/PDIF to your stereo when you use a 2016 motherboard vs. sound card.

All signs point to the end of sound cards, other than if you have a headphone amp.

Ah, Multiboot of different OS's I don't do. I just build another rig for them :screwy:
 

Alaric

New Member
Joined
Dec 4, 2011
Location
Satan's Colon, US
Am I correct in thinking you are using an outboard DAC? If so it shouldn't make any difference as you're just sending the bits to the DAC.
 

[email protected]

Member
Joined
Apr 7, 2016
Location
Israel
It wouldnt make much of a difference, But if you want to feel better and get slightly (Very slightly) better quality, Buy the Soundcard, I dont recommend going above 30$.
 
OP
c627627

c627627

c(n*199780) Senior Member
Joined
Feb 18, 2002
This is about connecting the computer to your stereo system, and yes for informational purposes, to either a low end or a high end receiver.
If the receiver has HDMI in, and you are running modern Windows, then your video card's HDMI out will outperform sound cards, most of which do not have HDMI.

If the receiver has no HDMI, then the question becomes interesting.
[email protected], for a 2016 motherboard in this thread, on what bases would the sound card be very slightly of better quality?

Remember, we're talking technically speaking... given an equal choice, how would the sound card's S/PDIF outperform this:

I mean it would outperform older motherboards, but this one?
https://www.asus.com/us/Motherboards/Z170-A/

The Xonar DX uses the C-Media CM8788 audio processor and the Asus Z170 uses the Realtek ALC892 audio processor.
So it comes down to C-Media vs Realtek.


SoundZ170-A.png
 

[email protected]

Member
Joined
Apr 7, 2016
Location
Israel
This is about connecting the computer to your stereo system, and yes for informational purposes, to either a low end or a high end receiver.
If the receiver has HDMI in, and you are running modern Windows, then your video card's HDMI out will outperform sound cards, most of which do not have HDMI.

If the receiver has no HDMI, then the question becomes interesting.
[email protected], for a 2016 motherboard in this thread, on what bases would the sound card be very slightly of better quality?

Remember, we're talking technically speaking... given an equal choice, how would the sound card's S/PDIF outperform this:

I mean it would outperform older motherboards, but this one?
https://www.asus.com/us/Motherboards/Z170-A/

The Xonar DX uses the C-Media CM8788 audio processor and the Asus Z170 uses the Realtek ALC892 audio processor.
So it comes down to C-Media vs Realtek.


View attachment 180746

I dont really know how it will out preform, But a sound card is DESIGNED to work as a sound card, Onboard sound card is much smaller in size and is much less complex i believe.

Edit: Well, Depends on what youre doing, Are you gaming? Or just watching movies and listening to music?
Edit#2: You really should use your GPUs HDMI output for sound, It WILL give you better sound than the onboard sound, Also check this thread out.
You can also use soundcards for a REALLY long time, Switch PCs and keep the card, Unlike GPUs that get old and you want to replace them, Sound cards will take a loooong time to get old for what they are used for.
 
Last edited:
OP
c627627

c627627

c(n*199780) Senior Member
Joined
Feb 18, 2002
Onboard sound card is much smaller in size and is much less complex i believe.

okay.


First of all, just for basic information of anyone reading this, your video card can output Blu-ray High Definition SOUND - your sound card cannot. So HDMI to receiver beats your sound card when high definition audio is involved simply because sound cards need HDMI to output it and most sound cards do not have HDMI.

Second, S/PDIF and other connections are present on both motherboard and sound cards so it is only there where the question is valid on which is better.



S/PDIF (optical or coaxial), using compression, can carry up to 6-channels of 24-bit/48k digital audio.
DDL (Dolby Digital Live) or DTS-Connect are need to compress digital audio.

My sound card Xonar DX has DDL, but guess what? My new motherboard WILL HAVE DTS-Connect (!)

Therefore since receiver works with both DDL & DTS-Connect, the sound card no longer has the advantage!


The shielding is a definite problem. But my particular motherboard, in addition to having real Japanese capacitors, as pictured above, also has shielding, so only if your motherboard does not, then the crackling noise may become a factor, but not with modern quality motherboards, which is what we're talking about.


So in this particular case, in order to claim sound card's superiority, it would ONLY come down to sound card's C-Media CM8788 audio processor versus Asus Z170 Realtek ALC892 audio processor.



Does anyone have any evidence if either is "better"?

- - - Updated - - -

JUST saw your edited link.
Will most definitely look into that and post back.
Thank you!
 

NiHaoMike

dBa Member
Joined
Mar 1, 2013
Data is data. It then comes down to if one output supports a format the other does not or if you're doing something other than outputting a bit perfect stream, in which case DSP capabilities can make a difference.

It's pretty clear that HDMI would probably be your best bet. The main exception is if your receiver is located some distance away, in which case S/PDIF (over coax) will be much cheaper. Also, looping the HDMI through the receiver may add lag. Use a separate output on the GPU just for HDMI audio if possible. Another solution is HDMI ARC if your display supports that.

S/PDIF can in fact support 24/192, but only in stereo mode.
 
OP
c627627

c627627

c(n*199780) Senior Member
Joined
Feb 18, 2002
Once again, thank you [email protected] for that link.
My conclusions that are that S/PDIF connection is not better on the sound card but that yes, Xonar DX does have the advantage with analog output. So S/PDIF, which I use alongside HDMI is okay on the 2016 motherboard but analog outputs are better on the sound card.


NiHaoMike, yes I have a thirty foot HDMI cable with RedMere® Technology
http://www.monoprice.com/product?p_id=9170

S/PDIF, of course, cannot be used for high definition Blu-ray audio. Only HDMI can.



RedMere has developed several tiny integrated circuits (ICs) that boost and equalize digital signals in HDMI and DisplayPort cables. This allows the cables to be longer and thinner than conventional passive cables. The IC is mounted in the receiver-end connector and powered by harvesting a bit of power directly from the source device.

A passive HDMI cable maxes out at 15 to 25 feet and requires some relatively hefty copper conductors at that length—according to Monoprice, a 25-foot passive, high-speed HDMI cable uses 22 AWG conductors. By contrast, a 60-foot RedMere-equipped active cable can achieve the same performance using 28 AWG conductors. As a result, these cables are thinner and easier to route around—or even through—walls, and they weigh much less than comparable passive cables, putting less stress on connectors. In addition, they provide all the capabilities of HDMI 1.4, including 3D, 4K, Ethernet, and Audio Return Channel.
 

Alaric

New Member
Joined
Dec 4, 2011
Location
Satan's Colon, US
I'm not a fan of the Realtek ALC892, or motherboard audio in general. Even with what manufacturers claim is shielding there is a lot of noise in a motherboard. I can see how a sound card could make a difference, depending on the rest of the equipment. How much difference I can't quantify. Sound quality can be very subjective.
 

NiHaoMike

dBa Member
Joined
Mar 1, 2013
If you're using the digital outputs, data is data. The SNR figures only apply to the analog outputs.
 
OP
c627627

c627627

c(n*199780) Senior Member
Joined
Feb 18, 2002
Yeah. But you cannot watch a Blu-ray in full HD sound using anything other than HDMI which is not present on the sound card, a point lost on surprisingly many people.
You are absolutely correct on your last point about analog. Just how different are the figures and real life analog comparison?
 

Alaric

New Member
Joined
Dec 4, 2011
Location
Satan's Colon, US
Since the S/PIDF won't carry BluRay that only leaves the mobo HDMI or the ATI HDMI. I've found AMD's audio to be decent, and I'm not really a fan of that Realtek chip, but if those are the only two choices I would try them both and see which one I preferred. For anything else I would pick the sound card. My $.02
 
OP
c627627

c627627

c(n*199780) Senior Member
Joined
Feb 18, 2002
You would want the video card's HDMI because it is already carrying the video signal (and along with it the HD audio too). So there's no question about what should be done if the receiver has an HDMI input - video card HDMI out.

I think that the sound card has the motherboard beat on analog, yes.
 

NiHaoMike

dBa Member
Joined
Mar 1, 2013
Just how different are the figures and real life analog comparison?
I don't have access to a spectrum analyzer to measure SNR (which is very difficult to do in the 110dB+ range even with a really nice spectrum analyzer), but in terms of waveform accuracy, at least Intel does quite badly. That said, the SNR seems to be bad enough on the Intel board that a rather ordinary oscilloscope was able to resolve the noise. Subjectively, the onboard seems to "lack power" and have a higher noise floor compared to the OpenDAC HD.
OpenDAC_comparison.png
I suspect the reason is because Intel did not want to use any electrolytic capacitors on the board, even though the headphone out is very low current and electrolytics are just fine. They used polymer caps, which are lower capacity and therefore cause a loss of waveform accuracy.
 
OP
c627627

c627627

c(n*199780) Senior Member
Joined
Feb 18, 2002
Thank you. Since we are now talking Analog only, having established that all other connections are not inferior...
NiHaoMike, would you look at the picture in post #8 of this thread:
Do Asus Skylake board's additional features from that picture make a difference?

Premium Japanese-made audio capacitors, Audio shielding, De-pop circuit, Audio amplifier, EMI protection, power pre-regulator...
Those features are not found on all Intel boards. How much of a difference do they really make?