Question Build-in audio codecs and external audioprocessors, do they affect each other quality?

Jul 16, 2020
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Hi, I'm thinking about buying new PC, so I checked recent motherboards and discovered they often offer 'unique' sound features and new codecs. I also have plans to buy external headset featuring it's own sound processor with multichannel sound such as 'Sennheiser GSP 350' or something similar. My question is does build-in motherboard's sound codec affect sound quality of such headsets or they work independently from each other? Do I hear any difference while being in a headset if my system supports DTS or other features?
 
They are devoid of each other since each process is independent of the other. The Motherboard codec will process the sound first and channel it as its own output, which the audio device is supposed to pick up as "already processed". Now if the audio device has its own process, then it will pick up the already processed output as its own input and process it further before it channels the final output. As to whether it is going to be significantly better with a second layer of processing is questionable. There will be some improvement though.
But if you want audiophile level output better to go with a DAC/AMP setup.
 
Jul 16, 2020
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They are devoid of each other since each process is independent of the other. The Motherboard codec will process the sound first and channel it as its own output, which the audio device is supposed to pick up as "already processed". Now if the audio device has its own process, then it will pick up the already processed output as its own input and process it further before it channels the final output. As to whether it is going to be significantly better with a second layer of processing is questionable. There will be some improvement though.
But if you want audiophile level output better to go with a DAC/AMP setup.
I can specify my question, if there will be any difference in games specifically. I recall most of developers left support of different proprietary audio techniques such as 'X-Fi' and others which were popular a decade ago. There are many ways to work with sound now, what I am not sure about if a headset is capable to pick up 'complicated' sound output correctly and which approach works better with modern applications (games), dedicated audio-processor in a headset, or something more simple? Or they are capable to benefit from each other...
 
I can specify my question, if there will be any difference in games specifically. I recall most of developers left support of different proprietary audio techniques such as 'X-Fi' and others which were popular a decade ago. There are many ways to work with sound now, what I am not sure about if a headset is capable to pick up 'complicated' sound output correctly and which approach works better with modern applications (games), dedicated audio-processor in a headset, or something more simple? Or they are capable to benefit from each other...
Lets take an example from a latest platform...
ROG STRIX Z490-E GAMING: Audio
ROG SupremeFX 8-Channel High Definition Audio CODEC S1220A
  • Dual OP Amplifiers
  • Impedance sense for front and rear headphone outputs
  • Supports : Jack-detection, Multi-streaming, Front Panel Jack-retasking
  • High quality 120 dB SNR stereo playback output and 113 dB SNR recording input
  • Supports up to 32-Bit/192kHz playback *
Audio Feature :
  • SupremeFX Shielding™ Technology
  • Gold-plated jacks
  • Optical S/PDIF in port(s) at back panel
  • LED-lit Audio Shielding
  • Premium Japanese audio capacitors
  • Audio Cover
Sonic Studio III + Sonic Studio Virtual Mixer
  • Sonic Radar III
  • DTS® Sound Unbound
The default codec is already doing all of the above for you. Over and above that a superior headphone can only make so much of a difference.
 
Jul 16, 2020
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Lets take an example from a latest platform...
ROG STRIX Z490-E GAMING: Audio
ROG SupremeFX 8-Channel High Definition Audio CODEC S1220A
  • Dual OP Amplifiers
  • Impedance sense for front and rear headphone outputs
  • Supports : Jack-detection, Multi-streaming, Front Panel Jack-retasking
  • High quality 120 dB SNR stereo playback output and 113 dB SNR recording input
  • Supports up to 32-Bit/192kHz playback *
Audio Feature :
  • SupremeFX Shielding™ Technology
  • Gold-plated jacks
  • Optical S/PDIF in port(s) at back panel
  • LED-lit Audio Shielding
  • Premium Japanese audio capacitors
  • Audio Cover
Sonic Studio III + Sonic Studio Virtual Mixer
  • Sonic Radar III
  • DTS® Sound Unbound
The default codec is already doing all of the above for you. Over and above that a superior headphone can only make so much of a difference.
Yes I talked about that but in ASUS ROG STRIX B550-F motherboard, which I am looking into right now. If I understand it correctly any headphone will be capable to provide that audio quality in gaming with that motherboard, or has to be somehow implemented in special way with a special audio processor and perhaps multiple dynamics build-in a headest to reflect multichannel DTS sound for example?
 
Yes I talked about that but in ASUS ROG STRIX B550-F motherboard, which I am looking into right now. If I understand it correctly any headphone will be capable to provide that audio quality in gaming with that motherboard, or has to be somehow implemented in special way with a special audio processor and perhaps multiple dynamics build-in a headest to reflect multichannel DTS sound for example?
The B550-F has pretty much the same features. I think you are talking about point No. 2 from the features set, which is implemented through their Sonic Radar software suit. With any good quality headphone, with or without processor, it should work fine.
 
Jul 16, 2020
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The B550-F has pretty much the same features. I think you are talking about point No. 2 from the features set, which is implemented through their Sonic Radar software suit. With any good quality headphone, with or without processor, it should work fine.
Thank you. I start looking at that from a different angle.

It would be nice if anyone who are capable to compare sound quality played by motherboards codecs through regular headphones (with no dedicated processor) and same sounds in a headset with their own processor, shared their experience about does it really affect quality and how.
 
Hi, I'm thinking about buying new PC, so I checked recent motherboards and discovered they often offer 'unique' sound features and new codecs. I also have plans to buy external headset featuring it's own sound processor with multichannel sound such as 'Sennheiser GSP 350' or something similar. My question is does build-in motherboard's sound codec affect sound quality of such headsets or they work independently from each other? Do I hear any difference while being in a headset if my system supports DTS or other features?
It depends. If your headset is usb based then the sound will not be processed by the motherboard chipset. Otherwise if your headset using the audio jack on the motherboard, and your headset supports additional processing, then the effects will compound likely causing considerable distortion.

I've never been a fan of overly aggressive audio processing. When doing a/b testing the source format usually won for cleaners and detail. (With the exception of vocal enhancement with is just an eq adjustment)
 
Jul 16, 2020
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It depends. If your headset is usb based then the sound will not be processed by the motherboard chipset. Otherwise if your headset using the audio jack on the motherboard, and your headset supports additional processing, then the effects will compound likely causing considerable distortion.

I've never been a fan of overly aggressive audio processing. When doing a/b testing the source format usually won for cleaners and detail. (With the exception of vocal enhancement with is just an eq adjustment)
Are you sure USB-based headsets do not use internal sound driver? Which usually refers to actual sound device/motherboard's codec... I thought this way too but now it seems to me it is not entirely correct and Hellfire13 answered correctly. USB-based something to play audio usually uses software acceleration after sound was actually processed by windows drivers which actually uses primary sound device. And this headset acts only as output device adding extra layer of processing.
 
Are you sure USB-based headsets do not use internal sound driver? Which usually refers to actual sound device/motherboard's codec... I thought this way too but now it seems to me it is not entirely correct and Hellfire13 answered correctly. USB-based something to play audio usually uses software acceleration after sound was actually processed by windows drivers which actually uses primary sound device. And this headset acts only as output device adding extra layer of processing.
windows sound data <-> driver interface <-> hardware.

If windows alters the sound before it reaches the driver interface, then yes the audio on all devices will be affected.

Sound devices are enumerated and independent within windows much like video and network cards are. Thus they are independent and become render targets. Most motherboards use either Realtek ALC (99%) or Create Labs. Most of the processing is done via the chipset hardware as to not overload the CPU.

When you have a USB headset, it is it's own USB audio device (usually). And if you go to hardware manager and list of audio output devices, it will be listed as an independent device.
 
USB headset and an analog headset with 3.5 mm audio jack works in different methods. USB headsets are able to transmit data and power digitally whereas analog headset with 3.5mm jack is capable of transmitting line-level audio. The 3.5mm output uses the motherboard codec to process the audio whereas a USB headset uses the Windows driver and its own processing for the output. So, in the the end it is the quality of the converter that maters...
https://ag.hyperxgaming.com/article/8522/the-difference-between-usb-headsets-and-35mm-analog-headsets
 
Jul 16, 2020
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So I thought correctly at first, but there was misunderstanding afterwards. I know they register their own controller, but I was not sure if it does not actually work by using existing sound card. And by the way not every USB headset has it's own controller, it can act as output device only. There are many such devices. So my question could like is USB headset without it's own sound controller capable to deliver quality emulation of 7.1 sound with all other features such as DTS offered by sound card on motherboard?
 
So I thought correctly at first, but there was misunderstanding afterwards. I know they register their own controller, but I was not sure if it does not actually work by using existing sound card. And by the way not every USB headset has it's own controller, it can act as output device only. There are many such devices. So my question could like is USB headset without it's own sound controller capable to deliver quality emulation of 7.1 sound with all other features such as DTS offered by sound card on motherboard?
Where it doesnt have its own processing, a USB set usually uses the Windows driver AFAIK. If you want to use the onboard codec, better to go with line in audio.
 
Jul 16, 2020
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Where it doesnt have its own processing, a USB set usually uses the Windows driver AFAIK. If you want to use the onboard codec, better to go with line in audio.
What do you mean by 'Windows driver'? Isn't it an interface to interact with actual codec on motherboard? What means sound has to be processed by it
 
Jul 16, 2020
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Yes it is an interface but it also contains its own processing architecture...
https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/windows-hardware/drivers/audio/windows-audio-architecture
Hmm, in this scheme I see audio effects in 'audio engine' which must actual audio processor, either motherboard's codec, either USB device, it is written that this engine 'Loads Audio Processing Objects (APOs), which are H/W-specific plugins that process the audio signal'. As I understand it that must utilize hardware codec's effects. Then it sends to appropriate driver for output.

But if I understand it wrong and it works without full audio process, that means the only possible way to get all benefits from this codes is to use 3.5 jack connection, all USB solutions either bypass it either substitute with their own. It looks kinda wrong.
 
Hmm, in this scheme I see audio effects in 'audio engine' which must actual audio processor, either motherboard's codec, either USB device, it is written that this engine 'Loads Audio Processing Objects (APOs), which are H/W-specific plugins that process the audio signal'. As I understand it that must utilize hardware codec's effects. Then it sends to appropriate driver for output.

But if I understand it wrong and it works without full audio process, that means the only possible way to get all benefits from this codes is to use 3.5 jack connection, all USB solutions either bypass it either substitute with their own. It looks kinda wrong.
It doesnt bypass, it processes through the USB driver instead of the other alternatives, before feeding the Audio Engine. But the USB/BT driver is Windows built in API, whereas the 3.5 driver is usually specialist like Realtek or its other alternatives where applicable, which are usually built for Audio specifically.
 
Jul 16, 2020
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It doesnt bypass, it processes through the USB driver instead of the other alternatives, before feeding the Audio Engine. But the USB/BT driver is Windows built in API, whereas the 3.5 driver is usually specialist like Realtek or its other alternatives where applicable, which are usually built for Audio specifically.
It seems I finally understood 'audio engine' is no complete set of motherboard's codec processing, I thought it includes literally everything it has to apply to the sound, including channels mapping and various effects, since it utilizes sound device anyway. If I understand it correctly at that stage there is only mix of sounds with possible windows basic effects based on frequency manipulations, volume and other basic stuff, when 'more serious effects' such as 3D sound, DTS and other effects actually depend on hardware playback. I don't get why they did it though, I mean using USB headphones is way more convenient than 3.5, if you want good sound and have relatively good and capable codec you still have to buy external device with it's own processing or suffer 3.5 inconveniences...
 
It seems I finally understood 'audio engine' is no complete set of motherboard's codec processing, I thought it includes literally everything it has to apply to the sound, including channels mapping and various effects, since it utilizes sound device anyway. If I understand it correctly at that stage there is only mix of sounds with possible windows basic effects based on frequency manipulations, volume and other basic stuff, when 'more serious effects' such as 3D sound, DTS and other effects actually depend on hardware playback. I don't get why they did it though, I mean using USB headphones is way more convenient than 3.5, if you want good sound and have relatively good and capable codec you still have to buy external device with it's own processing or suffer 3.5 inconveniences...
Sounds about right.
 
Jul 16, 2020
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Sounds about right.
Just to be sure, do PC case 3.5 jacks use whole native sound codecs while being equal to sound ports on a motherboard or they utilize another processor as well?

And I still don't quite get what's the point of DTS technology in built-in codec which is often advertised for using in a headset while all you can do with 3.5 jack is two channel sound, it will be better perhaps but it is not exactly full potential of technology, you can only enjoy it by multichannel acoustic system if you have one. I checked there are really expensive headsets for 3.5 jacks, not sure what they do for that money...
 
Just to be sure, do PC case 3.5 jacks use whole native sound codecs while being equal to sound ports on a motherboard or they utilize another processor as well?

And I still don't quite get what's the point of DTS technology in built-in codec which is often advertised for using in a headset while all you can do with 3.5 jack is two channel sound, it will be better perhaps but it is not exactly full potential of technology, you can only enjoy it by multichannel acoustic system if you have one. I checked there are really expensive headsets for 3.5 jacks, not sure what they do for that money...
PC case jacks use the same codec as the motherboard as they are directly connected to the board internally.

Thing is, multi featured headphones are a niche market and still growing. AFAIK, a lot of these technologies were originally conceptualised and developed for more voluminous outputs like speaker sets and then saturised to headphones for more convenience. Now, unlike headphones there is more room to play with speakers. Then again, good quality headsets are not too far away.
 

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