Any such thing as high-quality onboard sound?

Discussion in 'Amateur Video Production' started by James, Jul 26, 2006.

  1. James

    James Guest

    I've always heard that from an audiophile or pro-audio perspective, computer
    onboard sound has traditionally been crap. Is this still universally true?
    Do any mobos have onboard audio that tests out well and that you would use
    for critical (i.e. production) purposes or do you dismiss them all as
    2nd-rate junk suitable only for gaming or casual/non-critical
    listening/recording?
     
    James, Jul 26, 2006
    #1
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  2. James

    Eeyore Guest

    Never in a million years.
    Forget them for serious work. An external USB audio interface is likely your
    best bet.

    Graham
     
    Eeyore, Jul 26, 2006
    #2
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  3. James

    mankan Guest

    James skrev:
    It´s very hard to shield the circuits on ther onboard sound, so they
    are quite jittery.
     
    mankan, Jul 26, 2006
    #3
  4. James

    Bigguy Guest

    Depends what your definition of 'high-quality' is...
    Depends on the PC too.

    High end mastering quality? not even close...
    Critical production? not good enough.
    Demo CD quality? good enough.
    Mp3 work? no problem.

    With so many external USB options for little money why bother with onboard
    sound?

    All IMHO

    Guy
     
    Bigguy, Jul 26, 2006
    #4
  5. James

    Arny Krueger Guest

    Well, it has been steadily improving crap.

    When audio interfaces started showing up on motherboards, I checked it out.

    Frequency response was 20-20 KHz +0, ->50 dB (!!), and dynamic range was
    62 dB when recording and playing simultaneously.

    This sucks!
    Test your own with motherboard with the Audio Rightmark program and see!
    All it takes is a loopback jumper and a little moxie on your part.

    http://audio.rightmark.org/download.shtml

    This makes sense because the routing and ground on the motherboard can
    affect performance. So, the presence of a given sound chip on the
    motherboard does not guarantee good performance. In practice I've seen
    motherboards that let the chip perform sbout at well as it possibly could,
    and others that just about rendered it useless.
    One problem with onboard audio interfaces that will keep them forever second
    rate, is the fact that the performance of first-rate audio interfaces is so
    good.

    This is the measured performance of an inexpensive <$200 pro audio
    interface, the M-Audio AP 24192 with balanced I/O, max output about 4 vrms:

    Frequency response (from 40 Hz to 15 kHz), dB: +0.03, -0.07, - 0.5 dB @ 50
    KHz
    Noise level, dB (A): -106.0
    Dynamic range, dB (A): 105.7
    THD, %: 0.0005
    IMD, %: 0.016 (@18 & 20 KHz mixed 1:1 @ 6 dB down)
    Stereo crosstalk, dB: -102.2
    IMD at 10 kHz, %: 0.022

    Here is the performance of a modern on-board audio interface - the Realtek
    Vinyl AC97 with 3.5 mm stereo jack I/O, max output about 1 volt RMS:

    Frequency response (from 40 Hz to 15 kHz), dB: +0.08, -0.56 , - 2 dB @ 20
    KHz
    Noise level, dB (A): -85.0
    Dynamic range, dB (A): 84.8
    THD, %: 0.018
    IMD + Noise, %: 2.703 (@18 & 20 KHz mixed 1:1 @ 6 dB down)
    Stereo crosstalk, dB: -67.1
    IMD at 10 kHz, %: 0.088

    The inexpensive pro audio interface outperformed the on-board chip by 10 to
    100 or more.
     
    Arny Krueger, Jul 26, 2006
    #5
  6. James

    Ty Ford Guest

    The converters in my Mac G4 Ti book are really pretty good. Amps and speakers
    are another matter.

    Ty Ford



    -- Ty Ford's equipment reviews, audio samples, rates and other audiocentric
    stuff are at www.tyford.com
     
    Ty Ford, Jul 26, 2006
    #6
  7. Why are you guys so focused on USB?
     
    Laurence Payne, Jul 26, 2006
    #7
  8. James

    Arny Krueger Guest

    (1) Easy to implement
    (2) Works with laptops
     
    Arny Krueger, Jul 26, 2006
    #8
  9. James

    Carey Carlan Guest

    Would you prefer S/PDIF I/O to the computer? That's what I use. Still
    won't touch onboard sound. Too much crap inside the box to compete with.
     
    Carey Carlan, Jul 26, 2006
    #9
  10. James

    GMAN Guest

    Hell . I would be hapy if any of them provided basic Bass/Treble control.
     
    GMAN, Jul 26, 2006
    #10
  11. As opposed to Firewire, I meant.
     
    Laurence Payne, Jul 26, 2006
    #11
  12. That would come on the external amplifier, wouldn't it? Though all
    but the most basic playback programs provide eq. Looked at Windows
    Media Player lately?
     
    Laurence Payne, Jul 26, 2006
    #12
  13. Maybe generally true for laptops. But comprehensively proved untrue
    by the many quality soundcards that do it all in the box.
     
    Laurence Payne, Jul 26, 2006
    #13
  14. James

    Bigguy Guest

    Cheaper?

    Guy

     
    Bigguy, Jul 26, 2006
    #14
  15. James

    Arny Krueger Guest

    Every modern PC has 2-8 USB ports. Firewire ports are optional on many PCs.
     
    Arny Krueger, Jul 26, 2006
    #15
  16. True. But if you want to stream dv, or attach a multi-port audio
    interface you install a (very cheap) Firewire card.
     
    Laurence Payne, Jul 26, 2006
    #16
  17. James

    David McCall Guest

    do you know of a firewire based "sound card"?

    You may be able to use an professional DV deck
    as an outboard sound card, but I don't know of
    any software that can make use of it except for
    NLEs, and they may be limited.

    David
     
    David McCall, Jul 26, 2006
    #17
  18. James

    Arny Krueger Guest

    Agreed. But slots are at a premium on many modern PCs.
     
    Arny Krueger, Jul 26, 2006
    #18
  19. James

    Arny Krueger Guest


    Yes. Searching google for "firewire audio interface" trolled up a bunch
    relevant items.

    Behringer even has the FCA 202 for about $80 list.
     
    Arny Krueger, Jul 26, 2006
    #19
  20. You're joking, of course? Look at
    http://www.midiman.net/index.php?do=products.list&ID=mobileinterfaces
    for a start. If you want more than a couple of channels in and out
    it's just about GOT to be Firewire :)
     
    Laurence Payne, Jul 26, 2006
    #20
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