View Full Version : any recommendations for sound cards?

21st June 2000, 05:32
Hey all-

My sound card just died (Creative Labs (formerly Ensoniq) PCI 64) and so I gotta buy a new one...

Anyone have any recommendations. I'm looking for something $75 or less. I hear the company with the competing standard to Creative's EAX 3D standard (Aureal's A3D) has gone bankrupt, so I'm kind of leaning towards a Creative card. However, Creative is not supporting EAX in Windows 2000 for the PCI series. That leaves the Live! series- which is badmouthed here for IRQ problems and driver incompatibilities w/ Matrox products.

So, what options do I have? Anyone have any suggestions?

Thanks much!

21st June 2000, 05:40
I have an SB Live! from Creative. Don't really have that many troubles with it. Most of the driver issues have been fixed. The only IRQ trouble I have heard of is the extra IRQ the DOS emulation uses, which can be disabled and freed up rather easily.

Aureal has gone bankrupt, but they are not out of the picture, yet. They had a management change to fix their problems, but nobody really knows what will happen.


Athlon 650, Biostar board, 128 MB PC133 (Crucial), G400 32 MB DH, SB Live! w/ Digital I/O, 10/100 NIC, lots of case fans, etc...

21st June 2000, 09:32
I think Aureal has closed shop permanantly. Their corporate web site is gone although their tech support site is still up for the moment.

Anyway, you can get an OEM SBLive value for around 50$. I haven't actually had an problems with mine to date. At least no problems that were the fault of the Live.
If you can find an MX300 somwhere, well, it might be worth it, although since Aureal is dead, thats definately an iffy route. The MX400 is iffy as well, I haven't read anything good about it yet. It doesn't use the Aureal chip, I think it uses an ensonique chip. Its mostly useing the name "MX400" to play off the popularity of the MX300.

My $.02

21st June 2000, 10:21
The Aureal site was up last week. Maybe its just down temporarily while their lone IS guy is out on vacation.

21st June 2000, 10:42
The MX400 is based on the ESS Canyon3D controller and uses the Sensaura 3D algorithm.

Aureal is reorganizing under Chapter 11. They aren't officially dead until they declare bankruptsy under Chapter 7. However, not hearing anything about them for such a long time can't be a good thing. In this case, I don't think no news is good news.

Any gaming soundcard can give you IRQ problems, particularly if you keep Soundblaster emulation enabled. I haven't heard reports of driver issues with the SB Live and the G400 in quite some time. Apparently, W2K support is pretty bad.

If you get an Aureal based board, driver support might be iffy as far as updates go, and if they do go belly up, and your card breaks, you can forget about the warranty. The boards work pretty well with the current drivers, however, and many people believe the 3D effects are better. It's a very powerful card, and has had fewer compatibility issues then most. There are lots of new chipsets and peripherals on the horizon, so new issues might pop up.

Some people believe the CL Live sounds better. You can get an OEM Live 1024 for $50.00-60.00. Maybe cheaper. I haven't checked in a while.

Guillemot has a budget board that also uses the Sensaura algorithm and, I believe, a Yamaha chip. A retail board can be gotten for under $50.00.

There are a bunch of expensive, non-gaming soundboards available. They're probably overkill.


[This message has been edited by paulcs (edited 21 June 2000).]

21st June 2000, 11:34
Creative has launched liveware2 for win2k. I use it and it works preety well. Liveware3 shouldn´t be very far.

[This message has been edited by Nuno (edited 21 June 2000).]

21st June 2000, 14:06
I've also read that the SB Live has less of a drain on CPU resources than the MX300.

21st June 2000, 15:22
When running the SBLive! in Win2k I can play MP3's with 0% CPU Utilisation...

however the current Win2k drivers are not really as good as I hoped them to be, but LiveWare 3.0 for win2k is not far away (acrually it could be released any day now)

21st June 2000, 17:18
Thanks for all the feedback.

I'm just about to open my case to make sure my PCI64 is truly dead.

I think I'll go for the Live! Value. I found a site that sells it for $45.

21st June 2000, 18:16
It is truly dead. Put it into a different slot and no go. Tried it with Win2K and Win98 SE.

Anyone know if the Live! X-Gamer is worth the extra money for the digital out?

Also, is Creative discontinuing the Live! Value? I see very few of them around (on websites.) The price of the Value is good...

(I'm buying my first house and have to be cheap right now!)

21st June 2000, 18:41
Just bought the Live! Value. $38 + $9 s&h at techsumer.com

Thanks again for the advice...

22nd June 2000, 15:22
Nuno: MP3 playback with <font size=5>0% CPU Utilisation!</font>

Is that right Nuno? Because I'd be a very happy person!

And is it only when running LW2 for 2000? (btw, when did this come out?)

What player are you using for that? Any? Or only the Creative one?

Thanks, Paul.

22nd June 2000, 16:10
Thanks for the credit, but it was actually dZeus to point it out...

But I can confirm it:


Jon P. Inghram
22nd June 2000, 16:56
Does the SBLive! have hardware acceleration for MP3's or what? I just did the same experiment on my Win98 system and got the same results.

22nd June 2000, 17:28
I'll check it out to see if that happens with sonique (I doubt it)
!@#$%ing lack of Internet@home is driving me f*kking up the wall, I don't know how much more of this I can take (takes several deep breaths). At least I have my G400 SH to turn to (and NFSHS)
btw Germany 0 Portugal 3 bwahahahahahahaha

24th June 2000, 06:08
There is a new "Live! MP3" card that Creative boasts has onboard 384kb/s MP3 encoding. Don't remember seeing anything about decoding.

24th June 2000, 11:39
As far as I know, all Lives are basically equal in hardware.
So there isn't really a hw difference between lets say the MP3 or the Gamer, the only change is the software bundle.

I'm using a Platinum (replaced an original full sblive with it) and also a Value, never ever had any bad problems with either of them.
(Win98SE, Win2000, Linux, BeOS)

What I miss the most is support for AC3 SPDIF output in software DVD players under Win2000.

25th June 2000, 08:08
I'm using a SB Live Value with Cambridge FPS2000 speakers. The speakers have digital capability, but my Value doesn't have the digital connector, so I'm using them as analog. They still sound great, but I feel like I'm wasting their capability.

I heard there may be an add on for my Value card that will give me the digital connector, but I can't find it anywhere. Does anyone know if this exists??

25th June 2000, 10:44
I've heard there are differences between the standard OEM Live Values and the more expensive Live 1024's that have been trickling into the OEM channels during the last few months. I know next to nothing about this stuff. Maybe someone who does can explain it. I know of dealers who sell both, and the 1024 is more expensive.


25th June 2000, 10:51
I have the Live! MP3+. It's pretty cool. I just looked, and winamp only takes 2% of the CPU, which I can attribute to the graphical updates.
And yes, it does have MP3 encoding/decoding built into its DSP. If I use the Creative software, I can encode as fast as I can rip (I've timed it, and I get 160bps 44kHz stereo of an entire 62 minute CD in under 7 minutes).
Also, the X-gamer, and the MP3+ (and some Values, it's a luck of the draw) have the digital out connector. The extra connector is real, and I bet you could find out about it if you were to search the forums.
Also, I have the Cambridge FPS2500's, and a digital connection to them. It is quite nice. One of the best things is that you can crank the volume, and there's no hiss.

26th June 2000, 13:19
I just received my "Value" from techsumer.com- it does indeed have the "digital out"!

Cool- although it will probably be a while before I use it...

Thanks again everyone's help.

ps- yeah, according to this:

(as someone above stated), Liveware 3 for Win2K should arrive soon.

I have noticed that Creative is never on time with these things though...

[This message has been edited by LrngToFly (edited 26 June 2000).]

26th June 2000, 14:53
BTW, I still haven't been able to connect the Aureal web site this last week. Has anyone heard any news? Things must be getting pretty sparse if they can't even keep their web site up.

Also, I've got the MX25 digital connector for my MX300, though I still haven't gotten around to buying a DD decoder (still have Prologic). Too bad Aureal has had such a tough time of it.

26th June 2000, 15:54
Wow, I'm really impressed with the difference in the quality of sound from the PCI64 to the SBLive! I had EAX enabled in both- but there's still quite a bit of difference. (been playing lots-o Half Life/Counterstrike...)

Now I can't wait to get out of my apartment in a few weeks so I can turn my subwolfer back on- first time in 3 years!

27th June 2000, 06:29
Digital addons to turn a Live! Value! into a full Live! ?

try www.hoontech.com (http://www.hoontech.com)


has the Value stuff


"Life is what we make of it, yet most of us just fake"

[This message has been edited by SteveC (edited 27 June 2000).]

28th June 2000, 23:45
Anyone heard much about the MX400 daughterboard? I hear it's a hw MP3 encoder decoder.

1st July 2000, 07:51
Note that LW3 for Win2k is already finished, it's not Creative we are waiting for but Microsoft to sign the drivers.

Can't see why it would be so hard for Creative to just tell people to click Yes on the warning message which appears when you attempt to install an unsigned wdm driver.

1st July 2000, 08:06
well... yesterday they stated that they received the driver certification from Microsoft, but know they need to 'pack' the drivers....

as if they couldn't do that while waiting for the certification. Creative is one lousy company regarding driver support. They need to take an example of Matrox.

Creative only released one driver version for Win2k until now, and it is very buggy too

1st July 2000, 13:26
Where do you get this information on Win2K Liveware 3 drivers?


2nd July 2000, 13:04
They couldn't pre-pack because the files themselves have to be digitally signed.

2nd July 2000, 14:17
check the sblive! newsgroup from creative

at least they could prepare a installer and stuff, so they would only need to replace the drivers with the signed ones... don't think that would take much time, do you?

3rd July 2000, 12:30
Is the newsgroup a part of Usenet, or Creative's own newsserver? If the latter, what's the name of the newserver?


3rd July 2000, 13:40
creative's own newsserver....



3rd July 2000, 22:55
thanks! ppl there sure do give the creative guy a hard time...