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looking for PCIe Soundcard with Signal-to-Noise Ratio >120 on DAC

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Hi Everyone!

 

I have a well running hackintosh 10.8.2 without any problems.

 

The only thing that bothers me is my onboard soundcard ALC887. The sound is not "clear" enough and not comparable to my Crative X-Fi Extreme Audio i had before.

For listening to music i only use Headphones with high Quality and so i am able to hear a big difference between onboard an PCIe Soundcard.

 

As i tried to use the X-Fi with VoodoHDA i randomly got kernel panics and so i sold it half a year ago.

 

Now i´m looking for a good alternative! A PCIe Soundcard with good support for 10.8 and good performance for gaming under Win 7.

The card should have a SNR of around 120 db.

I took a look at the Juli@ card, but imho this won´t be a good choice for gaming ;)

 

i dont care about 5.1 sound --> Stereo Headphones

 

If there is no good PCIe card around, USB would be ok too!

 

The price shoud be not higher than 200 Euros.

 

Do you have any suggestions?

 

Thanks a lot!

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I took a look at the Juli@ card, but imho this won´t be a good choice for gaming ;)

 

I don't see why not? Gaming performance should be great, or, I guess it's more accurate to say "unaffected".

 

Remember that 'hardware accelerated sound' does not exist on Windows anymore, not even on your X-Fi card. On Vista and up, Creative ALchemy intercepts EAX and DirectSound 3D hardware calls and translates them to OpenAL, which is purely software based.

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ok, so it looks like it is going to be the esi juli@ xte!

 

which is the best driver to use for this card?

 

there is a thread with 50 pages... is it nessaserry to read it complete (if so, i will... of corse) or is there a quicklink for the correct driver vor ML? would be very nice!

 

or are the vendor drivers working for hackintosh? i thought i read, that there are problems with not working drivers from esi.

 

thanks a lot!

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The product page at ESI says that there are OS X drivers for the card. You can use those, special "Hackintosh drivers" are not needed. You can always ask ESI if their OS X driver works on Mountain Lion. It should - it's dated June 2012.

 

The Julia you're looking at is PCI-E. The thread here with 50 pages is about PCI cards, the reason why there's a Hackintosh driver for those is because the only Macs that had PCI slots also had PPC CPUs, so the original driver will not work on a PC Hackintosh with Intel CPU.

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I may be a little late to this discussion... but I prefer my DAC to be outside of the machine to reduce as much EMF as possible. The solution I use is an E-MU 0404 USB. A lot of people harp on E-MU since Creative bought them, but I haven't had any issues thus far. I used to be a big fan of M-Audio products, but they don't have a PCIe interface. E-MU also offers the 0404 PCIe on the same site for nearly €50 less than the juli@.

 

E-MU is what I use for online and offline mastering/remixing. I also have a Behringer X32 board. I know the E-MU 0404 USB is OSX compatible (I even have it working in a VM thru USB) but I'm not sure about the PCIe version.

 

Hope I didn't muddy the waters too much...

 

Remember that 'hardware accelerated sound' does not exist on Windows anymore, not even on your X-Fi card. On Vista and up, Creative ALchemy intercepts EAX and DirectSound 3D hardware calls and translates them to OpenAL, which is purely software based.

 

Remember this is only the case for Creative cards - using the ALchemy I mean. Sound cards that use the CMedia chip (very very common non-Creative sound chip) have software that has been specifically tailored to enable the drivers for these cards to provide full accelerated audio for pretty much every game that supports it, even with EAX games. DirectSound3D GX is as far as I'm aware unique to the drivers for the CMedia chipsets used in these types of cards.

 

To quote the manufacturer:

DS3D GX 2.5 gaming sound effects and DirectSound 3D hardware enhanced functions on Windows Vista/7. (DirectX/DirectSound 3D compatible)

 

directsound3d.jpg

 

DirectSound3D GX translates DirectSound calls (ie. stuff that would normally call the hardware directly in XP) to the software level where the drivers for the card can take over. True hardware accelerated audio doesn't exist for Vista and Windows 7, even ALchemy is a mere facsimile of that. The Xonar D2X I have does most of it's normal processing in software, but it does hardware encoding of that to Dolby Digital Live or DTS so I still get full hardware 3D audio. It also has limited X-Fi support (it can do up to EAX 2.0 in software and emulates it up to 5.0).

 

The biggest difference with the Creative solution is that DS3D GX doesn't need to be modified for each game, it intercepts the normal calls and makes them usable again, something that does need to be done for ALchemy. If a game isn't in ALchemy's definition list, the software does nothing for the game.

 

So far, every game I've played that can do surround sound, has done so, with awesome fidelity.

And because of the real-time Dolby/DTS encoding you can also get 3D audio through the SPDIF connectors, which is handy when you hook it up to a compatible receiver. No more 2-channel only PCM audio.

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Hi Mr.D!

 

No, you didn´t muddy the water :)

 

Today my Juli@ arrived! It´s like a ... wow.. sound {censored} compared to the onboard card!!

 

To the EMU0404 USB: my birthday is yet to come this year and i think i will give it a try! it´s 160 Euros here in germany.. same as the Juli@

 

I´ve testet the juli@ only on OSX for listening to music yet... so i´m very interested in "ingame-sound" under Win7!

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Funny you mention having both - I had not really looked into the juli@ until today - and I have been going over my budget for the next month to see if I can afford it. I still like the idea of having the DA/AD DSP outside of the box. I'm not an audiophile, but I can usually hear pops and they drive me nuts. The juli@ seems like an impressive card - a worthy replacement for my M-Audio 2496 of yesteryear.

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Yes, why not... i made a little money with selling old stuff on ebay. My wife and me are moving at the moment, so there is a loooot of stuff to sell or to throw away.. so i sold it ^^

 

Ok, i´m not having the problem of pops or anything like that.. omg... this would drive me insane :D

 

i agree having the DA/AD outside the box is a good idea, but at the moment it seems to bot not a big problem of having it inside the pc.

 

5 min ago i tested the juli@ on win 7 while playing FarCry 3. sounds realy good so far!

 

next step will be, to connect my e-drumset to the midiport and do some testings with Cubase, but our flat is realy unorganized at the moment so i think it will take a little time ;)

 

one little problem occured with the new soundcard: when i say shutdown the pc, it shuts down completely, than it´s rebooting. No problem on Win7, only on mac os.

i will check my EFI settings, if there is something about "wake on pcie" or anything like that, but would make me wondering, because there are no active components connected to the card that could send a signal... no active mic or anything like that, only my headphones.

 

from now my summary is that the juli@ xte is a very good soundcard with a fair price for people who are looking for great sound and do not need sourround sound.

and: NO, i´m not an employee of ESI :D

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