Asus Maximus VI Hero SupremeFX vs Sennheiser PC 363d USB sound card

Discussion in 'Audio' started by BoySCouT, Dec 28, 2014.

  1. BoySCouT

    BoySCouT E.M.I.

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    Nov 25, 2007
    Iowa
    Hello Everyone,

    I have been building computers for quite a while but I have never purchased a high quality sound card for them. I have always used the onboard sound and currently I am using the SupremeFX that came with my Maximus VI Hero MB.

    I am considering purchasing the Sennheiser PC 363d headphones and I have been reading about the USB sound card that comes with it. My question is this... is the usb sound card that comes with the Sennheiser better than the SupremeFX onboard that I have on the Hero MB? Not much of an audiophile. Please feel free to educate me. Thanks.
     
  2. Rob Williams

    Rob Williams Editor-in-Chief Staff Member Moderator

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    Atlantic Canada
    I'd like to think that if headphones ship with an audio card, it'd be decent, but I'd wager that the onboard audio SHOULD be better. I'll tip Jamie off to this thread, since he's far more educated in audio than I am.
     
  3. Tharic-Nar

    Tharic-Nar Senior Editor Staff Member Moderator

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    Nov 25, 2009
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    The Sennheiser PC 363d is in fact, a stereo headset, the 7.1 is provided by the USB soundcard it comes with, creating virtual 7.1. This will be typically a realtek chip with some software tuning via the the drivers you'll need to install. The SupremeFX on the motherboard is again, just another realtek chip, a lot of marketing, and some higher quality caps, with the same driver and software stack that's been modified for ASUS.

    The simple truth is, both will sound near enough the same if you disable all the software, though the motherboard will likely sound slightly better. However, as soon as software is thrown into the equation, who knows, and that's the problem. I'm personally not a fan of virtual audio, it doesn't work well for me for spacial awareness and just distorts music too much for it to be of any benefit.

    If you are just after a pair of headphones, there are alternatives that will sound much better for the same price as the kit from Sennheiser (which we can help with if you wish). If you are specifically after the 7.1 effect, there is likely an option in the ASUS software for dolby or Xear headphone mode which will do almost the same. But as a comparison between the USB module and the onboard audio, they will sound almost the same without software interfering. If you plan to run a real 5.1 speaker setup though, the onboard soundcard will be better, simply because the USB module only has stereo output and a mic input.
     
  4. BoySCouT

    BoySCouT E.M.I.

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    Nov 25, 2007
    Iowa
    Thank you for the feedback. Does the SupremeFX sound card support the Dolby Surround feature? Perhaps you know? Thanks.

    Did a little reading and not sure that this answers my question.

    ROG-exclusive technology implements multi-approach shielding, with ELNA audio capacitors helping offer 8-channel HD sound that's equal in power, clarity, and range to dedicated sound cards.

    Is 8-channel HD the same as Surround Sound?
     
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2014
  5. Tharic-Nar

    Tharic-Nar Senior Editor Staff Member Moderator

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    Nov 25, 2009
    UK
    From the ASUS ROG website:

    "Sonic Studio lets you enable/disable several audio functions like Bass Boost, Smart EQ, Virtual Surround, Reverb, Equalizer and Voice Clarity"

    If you go into the Sonic Studio, you can enable the virtual surround sound mode, this is in effect what the Sennheiser USB module will do, although it may be more tuned towards the headset specifically; either way, experiment. Since the sound card has a dedicated headphone amp as well, it may be best to splash out on a good pair of headphones instead of getting a headset with virtual surround.

    In regard to 8-channel HD stuff, apart from a whole mass of marketing, that's 7.1 surround, yes, however, that's in regard to real channels, not virtual. If you are confused between virtual and real surround, I'll quickly explain.

    Surround Sound in the physical sense is typically 5.1 and 7.1 speaker systems. You have 6 or 8 speakers connected to the sound card, either by S/PDIF optical, coax or via 3 or 4 1/8" mini-jacks. Each jack has two channels; Front Left/Right, Rear Left/Right, Center/Sub, and where applicable Side Left/Right for 7.1 systems. There are some Headsets out there with individual drivers for each channel, and are technically classed as real surround sound headsets, as they require the 3 or 4 connectors to work.

    Virtual surround is a software effect that takes the 5.1 or 7.1 audio streams, and mixes it down so that it can be heard over stereo, while at the same time manipulating it using various algorithms to make it sound like it's still surround, typically using something called HRTF, or Head Related Transfer Function. Since it's not using discrete audio channels, it's dubbed 'virtual surround', since it's simulating surround over stereo. The vast majority of gaming headsets are virtual surround.

    The SupremeFX offers both real surround for dedicated speakers, as well as virtual surround for headphones, so you can pick and chose based on your circumstances.
     
  6. BoySCouT

    BoySCouT E.M.I.

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    Nov 25, 2007
    Iowa
    I have learned much here at the forums. Thank you Tharic-Nar, you have gone above and beyond in helping me. This helps me a lot in making a decision. I'll do some more investigating and research.
     
  7. Rob Williams

    Rob Williams Editor-in-Chief Staff Member Moderator

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    You've learned why I go to Jamie for basically all recommendations :p
     
  8. Tharic-Nar

    Tharic-Nar Senior Editor Staff Member Moderator

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    Nov 25, 2009
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    Glad I could help.

    Both Rob and I like our audio and we're not keen on the virtual surround sound in a lot of gear, so we both ended up going with high-end stereo headphones. Rob went with the closed-back DT770, and I went with the open-back DT990 Pro, both are from Beyerdynamics. Exceptional and uncoloured sound quality, and the loss of surround sound is not a huge problem.

    The only real problem with going with a pair of headphones over a headset is the lack of a microphone, so that's something you will have to consider. In all fairness though, the mics on gaming headsets are atrocious, most are over-filtered and end up sounding like a garbled mess.
     

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