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Old May 28th, 2007, 04:54 PM   #1
Major Player
 
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Sound Card System Performance - XFi vs On-Board

In the never ending effort to try to maximize performance of my PC I'm kicking around the idea of upgrading my on-board sound solution (based on one of the RealTek HD codec's). Has anybody done any A/B testing with previewing video to determine if various soundcards will have an impact on performance?

Specifically looking to maybe pick up one of the Creative X-Fi solutions

I don't so much care of rendering performance (not likely any difference there anyway) as much as I want good video-preview performance on the timeline.

Thanks for any input in advance.

Jon
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Old May 29th, 2007, 07:04 AM   #2
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there are many different answers to this, but here goes..

"In the never ending effort to try to maximize performance of my PC I'm kicking around the idea of upgrading my on-board sound solution (based on one of the RealTek HD codec's). Has anybody done any A/B testing with previewing video to determine if various soundcards will have an impact on performance?"

forget realtek, as its a software solution based on onboard sound generation chipsets driven by CPU and Ram memory.
ANY software driven (as in rendering and playback) will impact your CPU.. even if its 5%, its still an impact..
Some however are better than others, but personally i would recomend a dedicated 48khz native soundcard (when it coms to video)

Specifically looking to maybe pick up one of the Creative X-Fi solutions

((Good idea.. ditch the 7.1 as there are no software 7.1 encoders for Dolby True HD or DD plus.. for now, the 7.1 is a gimmick based on 5.1 streams with the aditional channels mixed down from FR FL and RL RR. Basically its a glorified Prologic 2 system, BUT it is hardware driven... ))

I don't so much care of rendering performance

((you should))

(not likely any difference there anyway)
((there is))

as much as I want good video-preview performance on the timeline.
((understood.. however consider this.. some soundcards or onbaord sound are 44.1khz only, in turn your 48khz audio from your HDV or DV camcorder must be converted or "conformed" on the fly as the playback device doesnt support that khz range.
To do this with an onboard card, would require extensive processing down from 48khz down to 44.1, taking a chunk of CPU power from your preview/render output time.

BUT if u run a card like an SBLive, and set it to 48khz native u can even set it to 96 if u really wanted to) this entire process will be alleviated as the card is set for 48khz and requires no processing
.
In addition, if u were to import mixed 44.1 and 48khz audio onto a 48khz timeline, those varying khz rates will be processed by the soundcards hardware, again saving you precious CPU ticks.
Throw on multiple audio streams and you'll see where im coming from.

Theres also the issue of ASIO drivers, in turn allowing for lower latency to a point of non existance, as well as soundfonts, which are Creatives answer to sample banks. Great when working with softsynths and the like

There is also the issue of specific hardware features and effects, such as in built effects, in turn, u can route via midi or virtual audio cable into the soundcard and let the soundcard act as an outboard effects unit, in turn again saving precious CPU ticks as you process these audio effects (such as reverb, chorus, flange, pitch etc etc)
Most of these are also processing in 96khz 32bit floating point so the clarity is much better and less cpu intensive than if u were to run a straight feed into a software plugin.

In regard to rendering, this wont make of a big deal when actually outputting (ie recording or rendering) however when playing back, this WILL make a HUGE difference to system performance.. with the points mentioned above making that difference in performance.

People will say Creative cards are only for gamers, i disagree. They creatied in bulk (hence the price) and offer some of the best S./N ratios on the market. In 7 years of producing audio and video using windows based PC's ive NEVER had an issue with any creative product
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Old May 29th, 2007, 03:52 PM   #3
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Fantastic response! I'll put my order in now.

Thank you SO much for this helpfull reply!

Jon
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