Sound card

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by jmpnop, Jan 11, 2011.

  1. jmpnop, Jan 11, 2011
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2011

    jmpnop macrumors 6502a

    jmpnop

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2010
    #1
    First of all I'm new to Macs. I'm using X-Fi card for music/gaming in my PC and really enjoy it. I'm looking for a soundcard for my Mac (going to purchase in the next month). I didn't find a card that suits me. I'm not a pro and don't do recording or such stuff. I just need a good sound card for music like X-Fi. Also I need 5.1 channel sound. The card should be able to offer similar features that X-Fi offers that really makes music enjoyable (Remember I'm a consumer don't care about accuracy so much, just should be pleasant to hear). The reason I'm getting Mac Pro over iMac is for this. I don't need cheap external cards. The quality and features should be comparable to X-Fi or Asus Xonar. Also I don't want cards that require additional components like amplifier and such things. I don't know anything about those things and wouldn't try. It should be as simple as a PC sound card. Thanks in advance.

    Apple has good hardware for everything, they've great IPS displays, good computers but the audio on mac is just unacceptable. 2.1 audio for a multimedia machine?!!!
     
  2. Transporteur macrumors 68030

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    UK
    #2
    Where did you get the 2.1 from?
    All Mac's have a Toslink output, so 5.1 (maybe even 7.1) support my default.
     
  3. jmpnop thread starter macrumors 6502a

    jmpnop

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    Aug 8, 2010
    #3
    I read somewhere that Macs support 2.1 by default and no 5.1. Sorry if that info is wrong. Any help on sound card would be greatly appreciated:)
     
  4. goMac macrumors 603

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    Apr 15, 2004
    #4
    Mac Pros don't support analog 5.1 out, only digital. That's probably what you heard. There are some digital->analog adaptors around, but not very many.

    However, Windows hasn't supported accelerated audio on sound cards in ages. The quality of your X-Fi would be exactly the same as your on board audio (unless your on board audio was really awful.)

    Basically Windows hasn't really supported sound cards for a while (except for just pumping out basic audio with no cleanup). Sound Blaster was not happy when Windows dropped support.

    You can either get digital speakers or a digital receiver. I output every once in a while from my Macbook Pro to my digital receiver and I get perfect sounding 5.1 output. The Mac Pro has the dedicated ports for this on the back (and even a 5.1 digital audio input!)
     
  5. ActionableMango macrumors 604

    ActionableMango

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    Sep 21, 2010
    #5
    You don't need a sound card. Use the existing 5.1 optical output to connect to a receiver or computer speakers that have an optical in and support Dolby Digital 5.1.
     
  6. alphaod macrumors Core

    alphaod

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    #6
    I have an old Creative Audigy 2 NX that works over USB without drivers. Produces 5.1 without any issues (including analog 5.1).
     
  7. 20eman macrumors member

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    Mar 10, 2009
    #7
    This is somewhat misleading. The optical output on the mac does support 5.1 encoded audio (aka Dolby Digital and DTS). However, OS X cannot generate encoded audio unless it's reading a stream that's already been encoded (for most users, this ONLY works with DVDs and surround sound CDs). In all other applications, you will only get 2-channel PCM audio over the optical connection, and OS X treats the optical out like a stereo connection. Your receiver will have to use Dolby Pro Logic or DTS Neo to upconvert the audio to 5.1. This is not as good as real 5.1 audio.

    In windows, it's possible to generate Dolby or DTS encoded 5.1 audio out of an optical connection in real time during games, for instance. The relevant technologies that make this possible are called Dolby Digital Live and DTS Connect, and they must be enabled in the sound card. The Sound Blaster X-Fi supports both of these, so if you have a PCI-e X-Fi, you can install it in your Mac Pro to get 5.1 audio under Windows (dual boot). Unfortunately, there are no OS X drivers for this card so it doesn't do anything in OS X.

    I looked and looked and eventually concluded that there are no consumer-level PCI-e sound cards that have OS X drivers and support Dolby Live or DTS Connect. You are welcome to keep looking, as things may have changed since I was researching this. It may be possible to find a suitable sound card that can do 5.1 over three analog connections rather than a digital connection, for instance, or an external sound card.
     
  8. jmpnop thread starter macrumors 6502a

    jmpnop

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    Aug 8, 2010
    #8
    Its really surprising that there are no consumer cards for Mac. Well something like a Mac driver for X-Fi/Xonar would've been great...guess I've to live without it..

    Thanks alot for the info everyone.
     
  9. jmpnop thread starter macrumors 6502a

    jmpnop

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    #9
    Got another idea. Install X-Fi/Xonar and also install Windows via Paralles. Then I can run driver through windows and get audio right? Or should I run apps through windows (via parallels) to get audio? Anyone tried it?
     
  10. 20eman macrumors member

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    Mar 10, 2009
    #10
    The disadvantage of Parallels is that it's buggy and slow. If you're considering installing Windows anyway, it would probably be easier just to boot into windows when you want to do gaming in surround sound. That's what I do; I have two optical cables hooked into X-Fi -> onboard-input and onboard-output -> speakers, and the onboard sound card is set to passthrough mode under windows, so I don't even have to move any cables around. In OS X the X-Fi just sits there and the onboard sound card produces 2-channel PCM, and in Windows the X-Fi produces DTS connect 100% of the time, which is piped through the onboard sound card and into my speakers. Like I said, you can still do surround sound for DVDs and music under OS X with the onboard sound.
     
  11. jmpnop thread starter macrumors 6502a

    jmpnop

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    Aug 8, 2010
    #11
    What I thought was when I install Windows and run it parallel to Mac using Parallels, I can run driver through it. That means I can use audio from it right? Or is it like when I run an audio from Mac OS it uses its driver and when ran through windows it uses X-Fi?

    Also I was looking at M Audio Audiophile 192 + an amplifier for speakers. How does that sound compared to X-Fi + speakers?
     
  12. xgman macrumors 601

    xgman

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    Aug 6, 2007
    #12
    I think you are better off forgetting about a sound card and get a decent firewire audio interface and a separate amp and speakers.
     
  13. goMac macrumors 603

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    Apr 15, 2004
    #13
    Have the Hackintosh people gotten anything working?
     
  14. matteusclement macrumors 65816

    matteusclement

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    Jan 26, 2008
    Location:
    victoria
    #14
    dont have it now

    i have a hackintosh....
    I use a USB device to deal with this. It was 30 bucks and has analog and optical out. Will find the brand.

    So is the OP looking for a NO TOSLINK solution? (digital?)
     
  15. jmpnop thread starter macrumors 6502a

    jmpnop

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    Aug 8, 2010
    #15
    I've heard of Toslink but I need a sound card. After using sound card in my old PC, I now consider it as a minimum requirement. What do you guys fell about M Audio Audiophile 192 compared to X-Fi?
     
  16. matteusclement macrumors 65816

    matteusclement

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    #16
    but i think thats what we are all trying to say, TOSLINK gives you perfect sound.
    what are your speakers?
     
  17. Ryan P, Jan 12, 2011
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2011

    Ryan P macrumors regular

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    Aug 6, 2010
    #17
    I've actually been quite impressed with the analog line out on my 2010 Mac Pro, I've got it hooked up to 4 sets of these Sennheiser 180 headphones and it really does a great job. Never any audible static or computer noise.

    I've got a fancy DAC on order so I can use the optical and to to give me a few extra features, but I don't have any complaints with my current setup.

    (The headphone jack on the Mac Pro has quite a bit of noise btw, probably due to the long run through the case).
     
  18. jmpnop thread starter macrumors 6502a

    jmpnop

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    Aug 8, 2010
    #18
    I really like the fancy stuff that a X-Fi offers:D Thats why I want one..

    How are Asus Xonar U1 and M-Audio Audiophile 192?

    By the way I'm getting Z-5500 speakers for Mac Pro.
     
  19. goMac macrumors 603

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    Apr 15, 2004
    #19
    Whaaaat? You do realize that Toslink puts out better quality audio than any sound card possibly could, right?

    I mean, it's digital vs. analog audio.
     
  20. jmpnop thread starter macrumors 6502a

    jmpnop

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    Aug 8, 2010
    #20
    As I said in my first post, I'm a newbie. Don't know about these stuff. I assume(d) that audio processing by a sound card is always better. Not talking about professional audio but for movies, music X-Fi is so good. I mean like they aren't providing accurate sound but some fancy things that make sound a little better.
     
  21. Vylen macrumors 65816

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    Sydney, Australia
    #21
    Think about it.. digital vs analog... the data being sent over a digital line from the PC is exactly as it is stored - only when it's converted by a digital receiver is it going to possibly degrade in quality. Analog audio coming from a sound card has already been processed by whatever digital signal processor is on there - bad or good.

    That in mind, I'd recommend buying new speakers with a digital receiver. I'd also recommend getting something I have - Logitech Z5500D. It has optical input and is capable of receiving AC3 and DTS 5.1 audio. As well, it has Dolby Digital surround for any 2ch audio it receives.
     
  22. jmpnop thread starter macrumors 6502a

    jmpnop

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    Aug 8, 2010
    #22
    You're talking about Logitech Z-5500 speakers? Thats exactly the one I'm getting!

    You mean I get 5.1 surround effect even if the audio is 2 channel? Can you elaborate on that? Also is a sound card really necessary for Z-5500? I heard that its really good on features...
     
  23. Vylen macrumors 65816

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    Sydney, Australia
    #23
    An additional sound card is not necessary if you're using a Logitech Z-5500D (doesn't stop a person from getting one, but that's not the point). You just use a single optical cable to connect a Mac Pro and the receiver.

    The receiver on the Z-5500D features Dolby Digital Pro Logic II. i.e. press the "Effects" button to switch to either "DD PLII Movie" or "DD PLII Music" and it'll process stereo audio into surround sound - it's not perfect, but it's pretty good.
     
  24. jmpnop thread starter macrumors 6502a

    jmpnop

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    Aug 8, 2010
    #24
    The term 'perfect' is relative. I don't have a high-end X-Fi. I have Creative X-Fi Xtreme Gamer. I always keep it under gaming mode since it produces the best sound (best bass and overall sound). If I'm getting similar audio directly from the speakers then its okay. Its really surprising for a multimedia machine like iMac and in general Macs that there's no proper audio for ordinary consumers...wierd.
     
  25. chrismacguy macrumors 68000

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    Feb 13, 2009
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    United Kingdom
    #25
    It isnt weird, because 1) The Analogue stuff is okay, nowhere near as good as TOSLINK but OK. 2) Most consumers dont even know what a sound card is, they just see they can plug in headphones and are happy.
     

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