Six Sound Card Round Up

Posters Name: Kagato
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Subject: Six Sound Card Round Up

Ever feel like you've been brainwashed from birth into buying only Creative Labs sound cards? More than likely a large percentage of you have always stuck with the Sound Blaster/Live!/Audigy line of cards because everybody else strived to be them, everywhere you looked cards were marked as "Sound Blaster Compatible" and what not. For those of you who have ever thought of going with an alternative brand, then do yourself a favor and read Andrew Browns's (The Tech Report) Six-way sound card roundup of some of todays most popular cards (Ok, creative makes it in there twice with a Live! and Audigy, but you'll see the pros/cons of other cards compared to them as well). Blurbbage:

In most cases, the differences we uncovered here aren't anything to write home about. The Muse XL was notably slower than the rest in the benchmarks, but otherwise everything was pretty even. As for the listening tests, all of the differences we heard were the results of back-to-back tests, but no matter what we said about any of the cards, none of them were objectionable. The days of ISA Sound Blasters that hiss like a cat are gone; unless there's a really bad card out there that we didn't include, the state of PC sound today is that even the worst card sounds pretty darn good. If one were to listen to any of these cards by itself, one probably wouldn't find any gross deficiencies in audio quality (with the possible exception of the overdone EAX effects in Serious Sam, but we're not sure whether to blame that on the sound cards or the game developers).
I personally switched to a Turtle Beach Santa Cruz after my last Live! and have never had an issue with it yet. The quality of their drivers has always impressed me, especially with XP compatibilty from day one, which is one thing that I was fearfull about when switching from Creative Labs. It's a good read, be sure to check it out.
Source: The Tech Report (

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