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Space Cowboy

Best Sound Drivers

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It doesn't matter what the chipset is.


Microsoft could make the driver if realtek let them.

Anyone that can write software can create the driver.


Karajan (onboard sound) = only a codec. Not a sound card.

With the use of drivers, it uses your CPU to emulate a sound card. (software sound card).

What can it do?


* Using your CPU it generates all the number of voices.

* Does sound mixing on a software level.

* 3d effects, surround/environmental effect/EAX.

All the features = use your CPU + all are very basic.


Audigy2 = 100% sound card

*All hardware

*Hardware sound mixing

*onboard processor does all the number of voices. 3d support/effects

Advanced audio effects, EAX

*Surround sound



So the drivers determine the sound card capabilities.

I feel that nvidia's drivers are better.


The realtek ones seem to filter out the bass from the treble and send less Bass to the left/right speakers.


Also less bass to the sub.


Also the nvidia one you can clone sound from the left/right front to the rear set.

And you can set the LFE range, eg, specify the SUB to play any sound in the range of 0Hz to 120Hz.

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Realtek Audio Driver Vs. nVidia Audio Driver





Computer specification:


AMD64 3500+ Winchester Core @ 2300MHz (11x200)

Gigabyte GA-K8NS-939 nForce3 250 (Realtek ALC850)

2x512Mb Kingston PC3200 2,2,2,5

ATI Radeon 9800XT 256Mb - AGP



Microsoft Windows XP SP2

nForce Drivers 6.xx Remix

ATI Catalyst 5.5

Half-Life2 (DirectX9 Engine)

Quake 3 (Old OpenGL Engine)

Doom 3 (OpenGL Engine)






















Final Thoughts:


The benchmarks have shown that Realteks high CPU usage doesnt cause a major performance loss. The music fans should like the Realtek driver because of the great sound quality. Gamers on the other hand may not like the lack of EAX support. Personally I stick with the Realtek driver.


It seems nVidia did well with their Audio driver. It offers many features and provides a very professional interface. They even added hidden features such as a Sound firewall. Check out our files section to obtain the modded nVmixer or the forums for the registry entries.





Realtek Audio Driver v3.72a

+ Great Sound quality.

+ UAJ.

- High CPU usage.

- Poor EAX support.

- Lack of features.


nVidia Audio Driver v4.62

+ Low CPU usage.

+ Advanced features.

+ Professional Control Panel.

+ Dolby encoder support.

+ Reasonable EAX support.

- Sound quality.



If you are more interested in music you should use the Realtek driver. If you are an dedicated gamer or SoundStorm owner you should use the nVidia Audio driver.


Since I'm not a gamer and only listen to music and music video's it sounds ike I should stay with Realtek?


Doesn't the nvidia one also install a service?



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Should I use the drivers from here?




Or keep upgrading the drivers with these?






I don't think the drivers in the first link you listed are the right ones for the NF4 Karajan Module. If you want to download the correct drivers from realtek, they are located here:


It looks like they are the same as the ones on the Majorgeeks site.

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I think some of you might find this to be an interesting read...


Realtek Audio Driver Vs. nVidia Audio Driver




Thank You for that link! It really would have been interesting to see those numbers stacked up against a Audigy2, a Hercules Game Theater Pro, and a Turtle Beach Santa Cruz.


I did like the graphs on that page once I got used to them.

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If your PC is a music source and you are prepared to sacrifice a few FPS in games (that you are giving away anyway with onboard audio) then do yourself a favour and check out a Chaintech AV-710 or ideally an Emu 0404 or 1212m.


The 1212m is the only component I carried over from my previous AthlonXP system and is easily one of my best PC purchases ever :D

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