there is going to be a difference between 16 bit and 24bit. the 24bit will sound much richer... umm but 91db and 100db won't be much a difference... and as for 48khz and 96khz there will be, the 48khz is choppy and the 96khz one is too but not as bad
Both 16-bit and 24-bit sound at 48 KHz are considered "professional grade," although, obviously, 24-bit sound is preferable to 16-bit. FYI, CD quality audio is 16-bit sound at 44.1 KHz. Most of the people who have to worry about these higher sampling rates are media producers with monstrous sound cards that can really tell the difference. A musician friend of mine has a subwoofer the size of a cedar chest (!).
I've listened to alot of material at varying bit depths and sample rates. I've done alot of recording both in professional and home studios. 24 bit is used mostly to allow for better accuracy in the editing and effects stage.
I guarantee you that you can not hear the difference between 16 and 24 bit in a double blind test. If you can, your sound card has some serious flaws.
well, regarding dreamliners comment, are you saying that I won't hear a difference between an Audigy / Audigy 2 and a SB Live? Audigy has a 192kHz sampling rate, so lets just pretend it has 96kHz... that 24-bit won't make a difference to the Live's 16-bit?
Blade: you'll hear a difference only because the all Creative cards resample all output to 48kHz, and all cards prior to the Audigy 2 ZX are notoriously bad at this resampling. Take a good sound card (or even a cheapy like the Chaintech av-710) and you won't hear a difference. The only place you'd hear a difference is on source material that has to be downsampled/converted to match the max output of the card, and this is only usually heard if a poor algorithym is used.
Mafia: Most normal humans are usually only sensitive to the upper 15khz to lower 16 kHz range. Some people can hear slightly higher. Only newborns really hear up to 20+ kHz. Hearing range decreases with age.
To all: Don't confuse Sound Pressure Level (dB) with Sensitivity/signal to noise rating. Even though they both use dB as a unit of measure, they are two totally different measurements. When refering to a sound card the dB number refers to signal to noise. The chances of actually hearing the difference between a 91dB s/n and 100dB s/n is slim. Almost all pc speaker amplifiers and/or electrical interference inside the pc will add more noise than this slight difference would make audible.
As for the SPL difference between 91dB and 100dB, you most certainly would hear it. It is nearly twice as loud. Every SPL increase of 10dB doubles the PERCIEVED loudness.
To answer blade's original questions:
1) No, the 91dB to 100dB s/n increase would be hardly noticeable, especially with pc speakers. If you were to run an unprocessed digital out to a very good amplifier (which is nearly impossible with any Creative card), it may make a negligible difference.
2) As for sampling rates, it really depends alot on the source material sample rate and whether the card itself resamples and how it handles this. Creative cards are locked to output at 48kHz (therefore, every other sample rate is converted prior to output, and they do a poor job of this). You can test this with this sample: http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index.php?act=Attach&type=post&id=3
Read this thread: http://www.hydrogenaudio.org/forums/index.php?showtopic=9772
Play udial.wav at a very low volume, it can cause speaker damage.
3) I've never heard the Inspires, but I know they are not considered nearly the best, you might hear some stuff, might not hear other.
If you are looking for a good (and cheap) soundcard (and don't need hardware EAX), one of the most recommended cards is the Chaintech AV-710 for $26 at Newegg. It is stellar at bit perfect digital out and has a wonderful 2 channel output on channels 5/6 because it uses a Wolfson DAC on these channels. The card is based around the Via Envy24-HT chip whose brother, the Envy 24, is found on many, many pro-level recording cards.
A while ago, someone over at HydrogenAudio took the cd of the Foo Fighters - One By One and used a wave editor to reduce the bit depth. He was able to reduce the bit depth down to either 4 or 5 bits without people being able to ABX it against the original 16 bit recording. A larger bit depth can be used to gain a greater headroom (dynamic range) but this is hardly ever used.
So what it comes down to for consumers is that often they are led to believe the large numbers = better. Well, this isn't always the case.
The record companies aren't trying to push SACD and DVD-A because of the higher resolution; they are pushing these formats because of the copy protection enabled in the formats.
As someone over at HA said (paraphrasing): The answer the the SACD vs. DVD-A debate is CD.
Thanx for the reply... it did help clarifying alot of things. I was never into sound so all this is quite new to me. So, for creative soundcards, it is basically a marketing gimmick i suppose. Although like you said, the Audigy 2 ZS should be pretty good... only if it wasn't for the price (for me at least since i haven't got the cash for that).
i'll try to look for the chaintech here... pretty hard to find the model around here but will try. think it is worth the effort.
Ep, glad to see you come back and tidy up...did want to ask a one day favor, I want to enhance my resume , was hoping you could make me administrator for a day, if so, take me right off since I won't be here to do anything, and don't know the slightest about the board, but it would be nice putting "served administrator osnn", if can do, THANKS