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5.1 Soundcard recomendation

Getting fed up of a mixture of Creative's dismal driver update(ie none) and non-existent support for my Soundblaster Zx. 
Add to the mix M$ screwing about with driver support in almost every version of Windows 10 and you get a total disaster of  Sound channels disappearing/appearing at random on wrong speakers, rear sound not playing at all or only playing on front.  Also add interface crap like SB software set to 5.1, one part of Windows saying 2.1 and yet another part thinking its 2.0 (but unable to change as the device is "not supported" when only days ago it was).

I'm looking for a cheap alternative to run 5.1 sound (I'll only be running though the 3.5mm jacks not digital) thats fine for games, reasonable sound quality (I'm no audiophile but even I can how bad motherboard audio is with my low end 5.1 system) and most importantly has decent long lasting stable driver support (windows).

Re: 5.1 Soundcard recomendation

Reply #1
I was to recommend you trying onboard audio. I have no problems with my Realtek ALC898. I have it connected to a headphone amp (yes, I am a headphone user myself). This is in Windows 8.1 Pro 64-bit.

But if you find your onboard audio lacking quality, then your other options are:

1. Another dedicated sound card. You do not seem happy with Creative driver support. I have had an internal Asus Xonar, and drivers are not updated since long ago as well. I think it is EVGA that is also offering multichannel internal cards. I do not know how their Windows 10 driver support is though.

2. Multichannel external DAC. I do not know any personally, but I know there are some. But as far as I know, they are expensive. I have seen cheap external 5.1 DACs on sale in Aliexpress as well, but I have not tried any. I doubt they will be any better than onboard audio quality-wise.

3. Lastly, there is the option to send audio to an A/V receiver via HDMI. During some time, I had one 5.1 Yamaha receiver connected to my dedicated graphics card via HDMI. This option is not cheap either.


P. S. There is also the option of external multichannel sound "cards". I have not experience with any, but if you can find one which is really plug and play, it may be what you want.


Re: 5.1 Soundcard recomendation

Reply #2
Updating drivers doesn't sell new sound cards, so don't hold your breath waiting for it to happen.

I don't have a link, but I have found a page in the past at the creative site with a chart of driver support for various cards. The "safest" option IMHO though is to pick a card with a common chip supported by windows drivers natively.

Re: 5.1 Soundcard recomendation

Reply #3
Back in the days, I tried modified drivers either from Daniel_K or "PAX" for my X-Fi Platinum PCI card.
Those were way less troublesome and more stable than Creative's own driver releases.

I couldn't find ZX driver from Daniel_K, but PAX seems to support them:

So before shelling out money for new hardware, you might want to give those a try.

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