My Audigy 2 ZS works perfectly in one Windows 7 x64 install, completely fails to work in another Win7 install, and fails in Win8.1. Using integrated audio is probably a bad idea, but it costs nothing extra. I'm not after sound quality so much as I am getting the stuff to play. If I were after audio fidelity, I would post this in the Hi-Fi category. There's not much besides Creative's Recon series that sounds worse than onboard audio.
I'm looking for a card that is compatible with Win8.1 x64. This probably means everything from Vista and later shouldn't have issues, but if Creative's forums are any indication, driver issues follow every card through every operating system.
--I know I should note that VOGONS users with a large collection of games played without emulation will typically have a massive collection of sound cards due to extremely limited hardware compatibility of the games. I'm hoping this won't be the situation with what I'm trying to accomplish here, and that I won't have to have more than one sound card, OS install, and entirely discrete system to get sound from the application to the speakers. I don't want everything, but I'd like to know the views of the forum on what I can emulate, and what shouldn't be a priority.
--Pins for a MIDI wavetable daughter-board (the reason I include MIDI connectivity in the spreadsheet is in case it doesn't have wavetable support on the card itself, you could always attach a GM card). http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8MpnZlOJIqw
. None of the cards that I have looked at included wavetable support onboard. More on MIDI and soundfont support: http://www.vogons.org/viewtopic.php?t=34631
--OpenAL support (the most recent cards from Creative support OpenAL).
--DirectX Audio (the parent API of DirectSound and DirectSound3D (DS3D)); the reason I didn't mention it in every entry on the spreadsheet is that if it's a Creative card with OpenAL hardware support, it is guaranteed to have DS3D support via ALchemy. I'd like to know if that also includes Direct Sound and the parent API DirectX Audio. For cards that only have OpenAL emulation through ALchemy, the software doesn't even bother passing the DS3D calls through OpenAL emulation, ALchemy does the processing. The Auzen Bravura has DS and DS3D, but not DirectX Audio.
--24 bit SoundFont support. Creative's Sound Blaster X-Fi XtremeGamer Fatal1ty Pro, and the Creative Titanium (non-24 bit SoundFont, however) were the only cards made after '05 I could find that met this criterion.
--Environmental Audio Extensions (EAX) 5.0 hardware acceleration. This one is tricky, since some forums say that manufacturer specifications will sometimes list EAX, but not whether it is software emulation or hardware accelerated. The Creative Z-series and the Auzen X-Fi HomeTheater HD are the only cards I could find that support hardware accelerated EAX 5.0. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm assuming that if the card supports EAX 5.0, it will be backwards-compatible with earlier EAX versions.
--ASIO 2.0 support. Most of the cards in the spreadsheet don't specify which protocol revision it uses or even bother to include ASIO support at all.
--VxD, WDM, and WDF support. The only cards that bothered to mention this were the Auzen Bravura and AUZEN X-Fi HomeTheater HD, so it must not be that big of an issue and it will never cause any compatibility problems with hardware or software. Riiiiight.
Media playback support:
--TrueHD and DTS-HD. I could not find a single stinking sound card that supported the standards. I read somewhere that if a GPU supports the HDMI 1.3a standard, it will support both HD formats; this means my AMD A10-6800K on a GA-FM2A85X-D3H should support the HDMI standard, but it's a guess. The APU has gone through years of R&D, testing, previews, reviews, I bought it, I have it sittin' pretty in the FM2 motherboard, and I still don't know what HDMI revision it uses. Also, because a sound card has an HDMI port on it doesn't mean it supports the standard--the Auzen X-Fi HomeTheater HD has no less than two HDMI 1.3a ports (which they inconsistently refer to as 1.3 in different places in the specifications), an RCA/TOSLINK Combo Jack, and a D-Sub; yet not once do they mention TrueHD and DTS-HD support. Unless I've missed something, and the standards are supported by default when bitstreaming is involved. I could hazard a guess and say that the HomeTheater HD card can support streaming from a GPU that does support the standard: http://www.auzentech.com/site/products/ ... ter_hd.php
. It's possible, but unknown to this user, if other cards with HDMI ports or accessory units can do the same thing. I'd like to know if I'm going to have to buy an AV receiver so I have the right connector for speakers.
--I didn't mention 7.1 support in any of the spreadsheet entries, but having the discrete ports is preferred rather than whatever Surround Sound simulation passes for relatively high quality. The system atm uses junk Logitech speakers, and I have another set that are less junk, but they're 2.0 1/8" jacks. I'm fine with buying some real speakers. I might be moving the computer into another room to function as an HTPC, but until the television is upgraded, the system will stay in another room with 2.0 speakers. Even when there was a living-room system that had 5.1 speakers, the speakers were always underutilized because the cables were not properly laid out beneath carpet and inside walls, so the speakers would end up piled on top of the DVD player (an old Koss all-in-one unit--pretty much dead to anything but audio CD's now). Things could change eventually, and I'm curious for my own benefit because the system I'm writing this for isn't for myself, but I'm going to be building one for myself after I've got the low-end one set up. I'm going to get speakers to match the sound card, not the other way around. I'm not aware of any HDMI speakers, but whatever it takes not to break the TrueHD and DTS-HD bitstream's HDCP.
Linky:https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc ... sp=sharing
Everyone, including you, can edit the sheet.
What I'm looking for from the forum is any advice beyond what the specs have, or any additional cards that I've left out from the list. I'm also trying to find out if I need multiple sound cards to support the features listed, or if one feature is a subset of another feature, or if a feature has been superseded by support for a newer and better feature.