Is the Mac Pro Sound Card Upgradable?

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by Tangerine, May 1, 2007.

  1. Tangerine macrumors regular

    Tangerine

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    #1
  2. Glen Quagmire macrumors 6502a

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    #2
    That card wouldn't even fit, as the requirements state it is a PCI card. You could only fit in it a spare expansion slot in your Mac Pro with the aid of a hammer. The Mac Pro uses PCI Express (or PCI-e) expansion slots, which are a completely different kettle of fish to plain ol' PCI cards. I am not sure whether there are many PCIe sound cards around, let alone if they have drivers that would allow them to work on OS X.

    Incidentally, there is no distinct "sound card" on the Mac Pro. It's all integrated on to the motherboard.

    The lack of decent sound is one of the few bad things I can think of with the Mac Pro. Surely it wouldn't have cost much to stick 5.1 audio on the motherboard?
     
  3. MikeDTyke macrumors 6502a

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    #3
    The 5.1 is there, just not broken out into the seperate channels you'd need to drive speakers. You need a decoder which are available as seperate boxes. Feed the optical out into decoder and it'll drive thouse surround sound speakers. However the distinct lack of support in in Mac games will hamper your efforts.

    M.
     
  4. Kosh66 macrumors 6502

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    #4
    The Mac Pro does have 5.1 surround sound. Just pop a DVD into the DVD drive and hook up a good set of speakers like the Z-5500's to the optical out and you'll have 5.1 surround sound. Games I'm not too sure about. Not too many Mac games support surround sound.

    While you cannot replace the sound card in the Mac Pro, since the soundcard isn't a sound card but a set of chips and circuitry on the motherboard, you can add a souncard to the Mac Pro. I haven't heard of a PCI-e sound card, yet, there may be one, but I haven't seen it yet. There are however USB and firewire soundcards, like the M-Audio Sonica Theatre (which seems to be still sold but discontinued) or the Griffin Firewave.

    The usual reason to add a soundcard to the Mac is not to improve the sound - the Mac has great sound - but to add various port options for sound in/out, such as the 3-color coded mini stereo jacks common for low and mid end computer speaker systems. Higher end computer speakers typically have the optical out.

    Also, Creative in general does not support the Mac. They made a soundcard for the Mac back in the MacOS 9 days, but never upgraded the drivers for MacOS X.
     
  5. amtctt macrumors regular

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    #5
    the best option i've seen for gaming is the USB external card from creative. it works ok. not the best, but gives you 5.1 for games.
     
  6. andy-ch macrumors member

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    #6
    Try using SoundBlaster Audigy USB Version, they even support 7.1 Speakers (Creative Inspire T-7900)
     
  7. Tangerine thread starter macrumors regular

    Tangerine

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    #7
    The reason for an upgrade is for watching movies in 3D Surround Sounds, and mostly the online game I play right now. If too many sounds effect is going on at once it can't keep up and I loose the all the sound effects. Such as WoW and Final Fantasy XI. The sound card in the Mac Pro is good, but it put the Mac Pro to shame when compare to the PC which can drive all the possible Sound Card you can put on. I guess Mac is still very limited in term of upgradability like the PC.:(
     
  8. Fearless Leader macrumors 68020

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    #8

    umm no they just are a lot harder. I have an "unsupported" graphics card in my G5. If you can get drivers or kernel extensions to work, its identical to a pc, it is a pc, just a well built one. If you want to lend me your Mac Pro (or wait till i get mine) and an audio card, I could work on a driver.
     
  9. Bigheadache macrumors 6502

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    #9
    I have no idea why people think the built in MacPro sound is any good. In all likelihood, it is a crappy $1.25 realtek or c-media 5.1 codec and none of them have good signal to noise ratios. Have you guys heard what a good Oxygen sound card (like an Auzentech) is like on a PC? I'd like to see something like the Auzentech or Sondigo soundcards make it to Mac, with support for DTS connect and DDL.
     
  10. andy-ch macrumors member

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    #10
    or you can get the optical -> analog decoder. you'll get 5.1 analog and upped it to 7.1 ;)
     
  11. Kosh66 macrumors 6502

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    #11
    lol... a soundcard is not going to help with that.

    I forgot to tell you one thing about sound on a Mac. All sound goes through the CPU on a Mac, EVEN if you add a soundcard. This is the reason the Mac is great for sound applications. A soundcard is not going to help the problem you describe. This is different from a PC where a soundcard offloads the sound from the CPU.

    Now saying that I can't understand why you would have sound problems like the ones you are describing on a Mac Pro, unless WOW is single-threaded, even the sound, but I don't think that is true. The sound should be going to another core than the game. Unless it's different than UT2004 which separates the sound to another core. (I don't play WOW) I've read alot of performance issues with WOW, but I thought they were limited to graphics.

    There are lots of soundcards for the Mac, the problem is they are mostly PCI (or PCI-X), so they work great in the PowerMac G5, but not the Mac Pro. Alot of Audio experts use the Mac for professional Audio, even the movies. Ever heard of Star Wars. All the latest Star War movies sound was recorded and mixed on a Mac (I believe the recording part was done on a Powerbook). Alot of bands record audio and mix it on the Mac. So don't knock the Macs ability for sound.
     
  12. trainguy77 macrumors 68040

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    #12
    Yeah i don't think there is a single PCI express sound card. :(
     
  13. Tangerine thread starter macrumors regular

    Tangerine

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    #13
    I think it does help because the Sandblaster XFi cards have their own memory to process sounds. It's a bad excuse to use WoW as an example because I don't play that game anymore, it's just more popular and recognize by many. It's now a problem in Final Fantasy XI. My friends never have issue with the loosing the sounds effect and they all use PC. Also it's not just for games, I want to add 3D Surround making my Mac Pro a home theater system and multimedia center. It look like it's going to be difficult for it to be upgrade from what I heard on here from many people. In the future there will be a lot of games that support 3d surround sound, and the Mac Pro sound card going to be wimpy and outdated. Oh well, I guess I will live with the current sound card on my Mac Pro. Not a big gamer anyway.
     
  14. Fearless Leader macrumors 68020

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    #14
    I've got a question. I connect my G5 through optical to my audio system, am I using the audio chip set at all (what ever it is on the G5)? or am I just sending pure digital goodness to my receiver?

    also:
    Umm. I don't agree with you.
    the audio isn't being processed by the cpu... ever. Its got a dedicated chip, on the motherboard, and that does the processing. So it is offloading the sound to that chip. So when we (I?) get a working sound card it will off load it. Unless you can give me some proof, your statement doesn't mean anything. Also you say that its different than a pc... nope mac's are pc's. Boot into windows with an audio card and it'll work as it should.
     
  15. vohdoun macrumors 65816

    vohdoun

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    #15
    They hardly support PC's. You're lucky if you get a driver release once a year.

    Everything is broken with Creative's drivers in Vista.

    An example of how bad it is:
    Even 5.1 isn't supported same goes for MIDI.

    All that is supported is basic 2.1 stereo.

    Same goes for Creative's flagship card the X-FI series.
     
  16. FriedApple macrumors newbie

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    #16
    @vohdoun

    Creative has always been like that. Same thing happened when WinXP was released. That was hell of a long time. Now I am dealing with it again with the X-fi.

    I will be getting a MacPro when they update the graphics cards on these things. Hopefully by then they will have a PCIe sound card out from m-audio for my Promedia Ultras.
     
  17. amtctt macrumors regular

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    #17
    Ummm, don't know what you're talking about. Mac Pro's do not have PCI card slots, only PCIe so it's not like you can throw in any old creative card. If you want multi channel audio for games and stuff, your options are super limited. Best option, like i said before, is the external USB that creative makes. If you want it for movies, sure you can use the optical. but for games, gotta have external for now.
     
  18. Wild-Bill macrumors 68030

    Wild-Bill

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    #18
    Amen. Creative is a TERRIBLE company, their drivers are not timely, and their support is abysmal. Don't believe me? Do a Google search for "Creative crackling" and see what you get.
     
  19. localoid macrumors 68020

    localoid

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    #19
    Creative's "professional" sound division (EMU) is no better, when it comes to having problems with drivers. The available drivers often don't work correctly (on all systems), and/or the drivers don't even exist (for some platforms.) It's sad. Especially when you consider the fact the EMU line has some products with really nice specs.
     
  20. sycho macrumors 6502a

    sycho

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    Wow, quite abit of mis-information regarding the TOSLINK output. The TOSLINK will only provide surround with DVDs, and pretty much nothing else. Forgo the toslink and get a nice external soundcard, here is a guide for configuring pretty much any windows only soundcard to work on all output of the card in OS X:

    http://guides.macrumors.com/5.1_Surround_output_in_OS_X
     
  21. amtctt macrumors regular

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    #21
    sweet, thanks for pointing that guide out. i'll have to hook that up tonight.
     
  22. vohdoun macrumors 65816

    vohdoun

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    #22
    Oh I know. The X-FI was a great example when it first launched. It was incompatible with many nForce4 motherboards. Creative had to replace a lot of soundcards for some users.

    Here's a great example:
    I think its a great product to make when it stops your system from starting up!
    I always get the impression they don't test their crap, and their attitude is the same for drivers. It's more or less well if it works for ours and not yours go take a flying........ so to speak. You should see the Creative Vista forum section. It's unreal the amount of unhappy users.

    Their tech support is lovely, their responses for fixing drivers that are so bugged to hell is, please uninstall and reinstall the drivers please and its usually some muppet that doesn't have a scoobie. Idiot boards gotta love them. :)

    It would seem companies are always cleaning up after Creative's f*** up's.
    I think the sound popping and crackling has been with Creative since day one.
     
  23. The General macrumors 601

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    #23
    They don't make PCI-e sound cards yet? I figured they'd have started that already. :confused:
     
  24. Blogger macrumors 6502

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    #24
    RME and Lynx have announced that they will be producing Mac OSX compatible PCIe audio interfaces soon.
     
  25. vohdoun macrumors 65816

    vohdoun

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    #25
    ASUS has one in the works but its a PCI-E 1x slot card. Or perhaps theres a few models which I think the other is PCI... but I'll bet its PC only.

    http://www.theinquirer.net/default.aspx?article=38230


    This is a normal thing though, they hype PCI-E to no end, and not much gets made for it. Heck its been on the go since 2005 and the only things thats been PCI-E were graphic cards, and here we are 2007 where a PCI-E sound card is about to be revealed. And now PCI-E 2.0 is on the horizon.
     

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