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Suitable surround sound sound card for headphones

Can anyone give me a suggestion for a sound card that can output 5.1 surround sound to stereo headphone? Something that will get me the most out of my Sennheiser HD558 audiophile grade headphones. I plan on using them to watch movies. Thanks.

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"suitable surround sound sound card" lol that word.

 

OT: The onboard sound will do it's job perfectly unless it's really old.

 

Just buy an AMP for it.

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I want to emulate surround sound through my headphone and I can't do that with my on board audio. 

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I want to emulate surround sound through my headphone and I can't do that with my on board audio. 

 

You can download Razer Surround (for free), which will do that for you.

But most modern games that will actually "benefit" from something like that have a "Headphone" option in the audio menu, that's all you need honestly.

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You could go for a USB headset that supports surround instead. Sound cards don't really have much of a purpose, you'd be better off with an external AMP. 

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What is your budget? Many xonars arent even listed on pcpartpicker. ( d2, d2x...) You could buy phoebus if you dont mind paying premium. Most of them have support for virtual surround.

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I want to emulate surround sound through my headphone and I can't do that with my on board audio. 

what's your onboard?  There are several options but you should explore all the on-board ones first as they do have quite good surround capabilities and are free. 

Grammar and spelling is not indicative of intelligence/knowledge.  Not having the same opinion does not always mean lack of understanding.  

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Razer Surround is really good. Just use that. It's free.

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At the moment I'm using a Gamecom 780 with built in surround sound which works better than the razer surround sound software, but I'm after using higher end stereo headphone but still getting the surround sound feature.  My budget is around $100. I have owned an Asus Xonar DX in the past but the crappy floppy power connector wouldn't work, otherwise I would probably go for one of those again. My onboard is whatever comes with a gigabyte GA-z77x-ud3h which doesn't have an amp so I need to upgrade anyway.  

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Well, I don't know what applications are specific to the via sound chip, but i do know it's enough to drive those sennheisers without issue.

Grammar and spelling is not indicative of intelligence/knowledge.  Not having the same opinion does not always mean lack of understanding.  

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It may drive the headphones but not as clearly or as loud as a dedicated sound card. Onboard audio wont be as good as a dedicated solution and I want to get the best out of my headphone, including watching movies in surround sound.

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It may drive the headphones but not as clearly or as loud as a dedicated sound card. Onboard audio wont be as good as a dedicated solution and I want to get the best out of my headphone, including watching movies in surround sound.

 

Using a sound card won't make anything "clearer". It will make things louder, but that's about it. Like everyone's suggest, if you want "surround sound" there's plenty of free software available either inside the game/movie or online via 3rd party. There's no special hardware in sound cards that makes them magically surround sound, it's just software.

 

That being said, if you want something louder, there are plenty external solutions that are cheap and won't have as many problems as sound cards.

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Does it get loud enough for you? if yes- 97% of the time you won't need a more powerful amp. if there is crackling, popping, hissing or anything like that, then you can also consider getting something new. and virtual surround is a gimmick, i've tried watching movies with virtual surround enabled (Dolby headphone) and it just sounds bad. it gets muddy, echo-ey, and usually just confuses me. Same thing with games. 

 

and if you're considering sound cards, they usually have a 10 ohm output impedance, or even higher in some, and with only 50 ohms impedance in the 558's, that'll be a bad dampening factor, which could ruin the bass response. 

Reviews: JBL J33i   M50s   SRH440   Soundmagic PL50           

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I have the following hardware:

 

Rampage IV extreme black mobo with SupremeFX onboard audio

 

Asus Phoebus sound card

 

Creative ZXR sound card

 

Audio Technica AD700 and ADG1 open back headphones

 

For 2ch music there's not a discernible difference, for virtual surround there is a big difference.

 

My old rig had a Recon 3d, which didn't have the best sound quality and suffered from noise but it had excellent positional audio for BF3.

 

When I built my new rig I didn't include a soundcard, the onboard sound quality was very good but positional audio was lacking. I installed the Asus Phoebus, but this was no better then the onboard solution. When running stereo headphones windows only sees a 2channel device, so if the game is set to output surround windows will downmix it to 2ch then the card will attempt to create virtual surround from the downmixed signal.

 

The other option when running the phoebus was to run the game in 2channel mode so it handled the vurtual surround, this was an improvement but still lacking.

 

I then installed the razer surround software, this allowed windows to see a 5.1 channel device, with the game set to surround, windows set to 5.1 and the razer software performaing the virtual surround processing. This was a significant improvement over the asus software, but something still seemd a bit off. I switched back to the recon3d from my old rig and there was still an obvious difference, the recon 3d was placing sounds above and below me, and was overall more accurate than the razer/asus combo, although the overall sound quality wasn't very good, this card seems prone to interference.

 

People who are arguing that there is no difference to onboard sound have either never heard what a decent card & software is capable of or have their settings wrong. Setting the game to headphones and also having virtual surround active in the card software will double up on the processing and the result will be a mess.

 

I then purchased the Creative ZXR. This has the best positional audio by far. Game set to surround, windows 5.1 and SBX enabled in the creatrive control panel. It had the positional performance of the recon 3d with sound quality to match the phoebus.

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So back to the original question can anyone suggest a sound card? unfortunately the Creative ZXR is a bit out of my price range.

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So back to the original question can anyone suggest a sound card? unfortunately the Creative ZXR is a bit out of my price range.

 

Look at the cards below the ZXR, they all use the SBX vitual surround. The ZX has the audio control module which is basically an inline volume control - you dont need this and it can potentially hurt the sound quality. Out of the Z and ther ZX I think the Z would be the better option.

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Are the creative sound cards better than the asus xonar cards or better value for money? is there an equivalent xonar card you could suggest? or are creative cards better?  

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Basically do what everyone else said, download razer surround sound matey. Need a link?

The time you enjoy wasting, is not wasted time. 

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Take a listen to the following with no surround sound on at all:

 

 

That will give you an idea of how the various options compared, Realtek being the onboard solution, SBX pro is the Soundblaster Z, cmss is an Xfi, Dolby Headphone is a Xonar card. Which ever gives the best positioning picture to you is the best option. If you can't tell the difference or its all basically the same then you don't need to worry about it and can just use onboard.

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I already tried it and I get better surround sound out of my gamecom 780.

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I can't tell if the razer software is working with my movies? which probably means if it is it's not good enough.

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I already tried it and I get better surround sound out of my gamecom 780.

 

Gamecom 780 is a headphone type, right? What brightcandle meant was play the video from start to finish, and remember which effect you like the most, is it SBX? Is it CMSS? Is it Dolby Headphone? Or is it 'the video sounds better than my current setup, but I can't hear any difference between the SBX, CMSS, and DH'. If your answer is the last one, than just go with your onboard audio. Just download the latest driver, and learn how to turn on the surround sound feature.

 

As for movies, just use Cyberlink PowerDVD. It has built-in surround sound emulator, quite good for movies....

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It may drive the headphones but not as clearly or as loud as a dedicated sound card. Onboard audio wont be as good as a dedicated solution and I want to get the best out of my headphone, including watching movies in surround sound.

 

I have a lower VIA sound chip in my board than the one you have, and it drives the 558 just as good as a dedicated soundcard.    It is as good as you'll get spending that $100 on a soundcard. 

Mystery is the source of all true science.

 

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