So a simple question. I found an old SoundBlaster Live in a machine. Would it be any better worse or the same as the Realtek High Def audio found on almost every motherboard these days. Pros and cons? Thanks!
I have an onboard Realtek ALC889 on Windows 7, and an older system with an Hercules Digifire 7.1 (near the first-gen Audigy in sound quality) on Windows XP. The onboard sounds better to me, even if the former is hooked to an old 2.1 computer speaker setup and the latter to a stereo receiver with much better speakers. However a good part of that difference is probably due to the OS (rebuilt audio stack in Vista/7).
The pros : Over a "bad" onboard implementation, a discrete soundcard can be "cleaner" (less interference from other components) on an analog signal.
The cons : Well, it's a 12 year old soundcard to start You won't get higher sampling rates (96kHz+) and 24 bits. Modern onboard actually has the same, if not even more features overall. You'll have to deal with Creative's horrible drivers and bloatware (IMO), which I'm not even sure if they play well with 7.
I used to be a staunch defender of discrete sound cards, but a well implemented onboard with Vista/7 sounds great to me for most uses.