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Is an onboard sound chip suitable for music production?

Plug-in hosts and other software applications discussion

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chk071
KVRAF
 
2835 posts since 10 Apr, 2010, from Germany

Postby chk071; Sat Mar 22, 2014 5:53 am Is an onboard sound chip suitable for music production?

Hey,

i ordered myself a new pc, and now i'm wondering... i use quite a basic setup, with Cubase Elements, and only plugins, mostly triggered by an arp, or the sequencer, i don't even play in melodies from my midi keyboard in 99% of the cases, and don't have any external hardware, except the midi keyboard anyway. In my last computer, i had an Asus Xonar DS card, which isn't really top either, so i'm wondering, if i don't have to worry about latency and stuff, do you think an onboard sound chip, just like the ones coming with most modern mainboards, will be enough for my needs? What i know is, that it's always been said, that most of the onboard sound chips are quite on par with standard sound cards nowadays, as they usually even have the same sound chips. So i wonder whether i should even buy one, i guess the only thing i have to worry about now, is the sound of the chip itself, which should be pretty okaish?

Hope someone can give me a bit of feedback on that. :)
ENV1
KVRian
 
933 posts since 31 Aug, 2011

Postby ENV1; Sat Mar 22, 2014 6:19 am Re: Is an onboard sound chip suitable for music production?

Depends on which one you have.

Something like the HighDefinition RealTek ALC888 for example is nothing to sneeze at, and its successor, the ALC889, is even better.

Can you see what youll be getting in the mainboards specs?
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federu
KVRist
 
99 posts since 27 Feb, 2008, from Middle-Europe

Postby federu; Sat Mar 22, 2014 6:36 am Re: Is an onboard sound chip suitable for music production?

For smaller musical sketches the onboard chips these days are fine. But as long if you don't have a good asio-driver for it you will fight against latencies. But: Some daws today ship their own useable asio-driver (example Magix) or work in a completely different way for low latencies (studioOne).

Maybe this helps a bit to find a solution.
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chk071
KVRAF
 
2835 posts since 10 Apr, 2010, from Germany

Postby chk071; Sat Mar 22, 2014 6:53 am Re: Is an onboard sound chip suitable for music production?

ENV1 wrote:Depends on which one you have.

Something like the HighDefinition RealTek ALC888 for example is nothing to sneeze at, and its successor, the ALC889, is even better.

Can you see what youll be getting in the mainboards specs?

I just checked, and the mainboard has the Realtek ALC887 chip. Do you know how that one is?

@ federu: If it doesn't come with an ASIO driver (which i suspect) then i can always use the ASIO4ALL driver, or, as you said, use the generic one (WASAPI?). As i said, latency is not really crucial for me, as i hardly play anything in anyway. 12-20 ms is totally ok, and that's what i usually get with the ASIO4ALL driver already.
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federu
KVRist
 
99 posts since 27 Feb, 2008, from Middle-Europe

Postby federu; Sat Mar 22, 2014 6:56 am Re: Is an onboard sound chip suitable for music production?

ok, fine then. regarding the sound of onboard I can't complain.
ENV1
KVRian
 
933 posts since 31 Aug, 2011

Postby ENV1; Sat Mar 22, 2014 7:10 am Re: Is an onboard sound chip suitable for music production?

chk071 wrote:I just checked, and the mainboard has the Realtek ALC887 chip. Do you know how that one is?

Not from actual experience, but i can link you the specs, which, to be honest, dont look very good.

(See 9.3 Analog Performance near bottom of doc.)

Quite a bit below the 888 and 889. Not sure if thats acceptable anymore, especially when the chips integration on the mainboard is anything less than excellent.
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chk071
KVRAF
 
2835 posts since 10 Apr, 2010, from Germany

Postby chk071; Sat Mar 22, 2014 7:21 am Re: Is an onboard sound chip suitable for music production?

Hm, that's a shame. Well, i could always just remove my Asus card from my current PC, and build it into the new system. Out of interest: What points do i have to consider the most in the doc you linked to? I can't really read much out of it to be honest.

This is the chip of my Asus card btw: http://www.hardwaresecrets.com/datashee ... Rev0.6.pdf
Last edited by chk071 on Sat Mar 22, 2014 7:38 am, edited 1 time in total.
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do_androids_dream
KVRian
 
925 posts since 26 Oct, 2007, from UK

Postby do_androids_dream; Sat Mar 22, 2014 7:27 am Re: Is an onboard sound chip suitable for music production?

It's perfectly fine using a computers built in soundcard but, generally, the better the soundcard the better the DA conversion will be. I remember years back when I first got a decent soundcard (an Echo Gina) I hooked it up and used it for a few days. Then, I re-enabled the built in soundcard - what a difference. The first thing that struck me were cymbals. With the built in soundcard the high frequencies just sounded like white noise rather than what they were meant to sound like. Similarly, the stereo image was less pronounced and the depth and space was diminished significantly. I would advise anyone to get something better than the built in if you can - I picked up my Echo Mia for £13 on ebay - bargains are out there and, imo, it really is worth it.
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ENV1
KVRian
 
933 posts since 31 Aug, 2011

Postby ENV1; Sat Mar 22, 2014 7:43 am Re: Is an onboard sound chip suitable for music production?

Correction, i was comparing the wrong doc.

Actually the AP of the 887 is comparable to the 888, but its still below the 889.


As for what to look for; first thing to check is the data under 'Analog Performance'. It is there where you find the converters Signal to Noise Ratio, Total Harmonic Distortion, Crosstalk, etc. Those should be in an acceptable range.


As for the ASUS card; yes, if you can get it into the new computer it will probably be the better choice. If in doubt simply compare, then decide.
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chk071
KVRAF
 
2835 posts since 10 Apr, 2010, from Germany

Postby chk071; Sat Mar 22, 2014 7:48 am Re: Is an onboard sound chip suitable for music production?

Alright, i guess i'll just give the onboard one a go, and see if there's thing which are unsatisfieing. If not, i'll just keep using it. Thanks for your help guys, really appreciated. :)
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Hink
Rad Grandad
 
24616 posts since 5 Sep, 2003, from New England U.S.A.

Postby Hink; Sat Mar 22, 2014 8:48 am Re: Is an onboard sound chip suitable for music production?

let me play the other side of the coin as i Have serious coinage tied up in soundcards. :hihi:

Others say it's fine or okay to use a stock type soundcard, I guess I agree but I dont. So let me ask you, is "fine" or "okay" acceptable when you finish a song? Do you strive for "fine" and "okay" when it comes to your music?

What if you decide you want to attach a mic?

What do you use for monitors? Are you using headphones?

There is more to it than just getting sound into your machine and that is an important consideration.

Stock cards are not as robust and often use 1/8" submini jacks for headphones, these pose a problem. Plug in a decent set of headphones and with you moving around you're putting a lot of pressure on the jack. The contact points inside the jack can be easily bent when they are that small and soon you may find yourself having to fiddle with the headphone plug to get it to work. Then of course like was mentioned by someone else there are the converters to have concern over.

My opinion is that stock soundcards are not up to the task and with the prices on smaller soundcards dedicated to audio work I just think that eventually you are going to either need or want for a better solution. I think an after market sound card is a must have, but you can find ones that will suit you for short money (under 150 usd). Keep in mind that a decent soundcard will out last several computers. (I use presonus firestudio soundcards, but I still have my original Edirol UA-5 I bought like a dozen years ago. In fact I am using it now on my laptop which I do not use for music production).

Just my 2 cents, buy a dedicated audio soundcard, you wont be sorry :)
Thank cod I love fish
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chk071
KVRAF
 
2835 posts since 10 Apr, 2010, from Germany

Postby chk071; Sat Mar 22, 2014 8:59 am Re: Is an onboard sound chip suitable for music production?

All good points, if you have a certain demand. But then, i'm on a low budget, i have 170 € speakers, 30 € headphones, use mostly mag- or freeware, use the low budget version of Cubase, and the most expensive plugin i ever bought was one for 49 €. I just think it doesn't make sense to get a sound card for 100-150 € then. It would be just overkill for my setup. Not to mention that the PC i ordered wasn't really cheap either, so i don't really have much money to burn atm either. :) In the end, i see myself as a hobbyist, who is interested in this thing, but i don't have the ambition, or abilities to do this for a living any time near, so.
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federu
KVRist
 
99 posts since 27 Feb, 2008, from Middle-Europe

Postby federu; Sat Mar 22, 2014 9:20 am Re: Is an onboard sound chip suitable for music production?

another thought: many people today produce (only?) mp3-music (or ogg or other compressed formats). an excellent and very expensive sound device for that is not necessary even when one goes to highest mp3 quality. onboard sound these days is better than a lot of soundcards used to be a few years ago.
Last edited by federu on Sat Mar 22, 2014 9:22 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Hink
Rad Grandad
 
24616 posts since 5 Sep, 2003, from New England U.S.A.

Postby Hink; Sat Mar 22, 2014 9:21 am Re: Is an onboard sound chip suitable for music production?

chk071 wrote:All good points, if you have a certain demand. But then, i'm on a low budget, i have 170 € speakers, 30 € headphones, use mostly mag- or freeware, use the low budget version of Cubase, and the most expensive plugin i ever bought was one for 49 €. I just think it doesn't make sense to get a sound card for 100-150 € then. It would be just overkill for my setup. Not to mention that the PC i ordered wasn't really cheap either, so i don't really have much money to burn atm either. :) In the end, i see myself as a hobbyist, who is interested in this thing, but i don't have the ambition, or abilities to do this for a living any time near, so.



As long as you're happy that's all that matters and if it works for you great :)
Thank cod I love fish
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thecontrolcentre
KVRAF
 
16386 posts since 27 Jul, 2005, from the wilds of wanny

Postby thecontrolcentre; Sat Mar 22, 2014 10:03 am Re: Is an onboard sound chip suitable for music production?

Sounds like you are already happy with the sound you have. I used to feel the same about my soundblaster card back in the day. When I finally got a half decent soundcard I couldnt believe the difference in my mixes. It was like I could suddenly hear the music properly ... picked up some Genelec monitors soon after that. :)
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