So, anyways, I pop in the new soundcard - the SoundBlaster Audigy X-Gamer. It got rave reviews from Gamespot and Computer Gaming World. Holy freaking CRAPOLA! It's AMAZING. Seriously, the sound difference is mind boggling. Listening to mp3's is like switching from scratchy over-used audio tapes with a pair of $5 speakers to perfect-condition cd's with high-end speakers. I'm well and truly amazed.
I tried playing Heretic II with the new card. YOWZA! I can hear all kinds of little details that just weren't there before. And on top of that, now I get EAX "environmental effects" where the sound is modified to reflect the environment - i.e. when you run into a cave everything echoes, when you're underwater it all gets to be this weird, um, underwatery sound... and DAMN it sounds good.
Consider this a 3-thumb-up review for the SB Audigy series. It cost me $99 to buy brand new, and it was probably worth $200-300, as far as I'm concerned. (Note: I don't have $200-300, $99 was already stretching my wallet further then it was meant to stretch, but...)
Ugh, I've wasted so much money. Ever since my birthday I've just been spending money like crazy. This is dangerous. I need to stop. Christ. But hey, this one was worth it. :) :) :)