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RECOMMENDATION: Audio system

Chess Gator

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Joined
Aug 22, 2011
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127
Hello fellows,

I am in the process of a new build. My last computer used a sound card. I understand that sound cards are no longer required for computer audio systems. Would you please assist me by explaining how this works? In addition, what audio system is the best one available for my new desktop computer?

Thank you in advance,

CG
 

Lysrin

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Mar 10, 2014
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Nova Scotia
Not strictly required because the sound card interface is built into the motherboard directly. And the mid to high end motherboards are actually quite good and able to push even high impedance gear in many cases.

Some still prefer to run an external DAC/amp combo via USB. That is what I have and it does imo give superior sound and clarity compared to my current motherboard, but honestly the gap is getting smaller all the time.

Some of the pure audiophile folks can comment better than me. I have a Mayflower Electronics O2 DAC/amp combo that I have been very happy with, and their newer model even includes a mic input so allowing you to run everything through the one external unit.
 

Mr. Friendly

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Nov 21, 2007
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British Columbia
depends on if you're using headphones...or a headset...or speakers...or a combination and what gear you already have and intend to use.

let us know that and the budget you'll put into your audio.

that said, the Beyerdynamic DT 880 600 ohm headphone with a warm Amp like the Monolith (Monoprice) Spark is very popular. Monolith just launched the Spark DAC, so you can get a nice stack there. the amp has output for speakers. if your speakers are active, you're good right away..if they're passive, you'll still need an amplifier for them.
 

Skippman

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Sep 25, 2011
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475
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St. Louis, MO USA
Friendly has some good advice there. We do need to know if you plan to use headphones (wired or wireless), a headset (again wired or wireless), or speakers.

I'm personally using a Creative Labs Z soundcard with a set of old school Creative Labs GigaWorks 5.1 THX certified speakers. I also have a set of Steel Series Arctis Wireless Pro headphones I use for work and some gaming when I need a mic.

I'm moving my PC to a new case soon and am seriously considering ditching the Creative Labs Z as since I'm now using a wireless headset I don't really think I'm gaining a lot by using it. I'm also considering ditching the 5.1 speakers for a soundbar and subwoofer to free up desk space as my headphones are vastly superior for surround sound usage.
 

Bond007

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Jun 24, 2009
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Do you need a sound card - no. The quality on motherboards CAN be good, and is generally better on high end boards.

Can you get better sound out of a sound card/external dac- yes, but it depends on the motherboard and the sound card you are comparing. Generally if you don’t go to audiophile level gear or hard to drive headphones the difference it not huge (IMO).

as for what you should get, do you want a subwoofer? Stereo speakers? Surround? Size constraints? Budget?
 

Izerous

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Folding Team
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Feb 7, 2019
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Edmonton
More and more headsets specifically moved to USB negating a lot of the benefits of a soundcard. I was using a Xonar Pheobus for a long time because I was using an analog 5.0 headset and it sounded far better off the soundcard and being able to lower the gains on the headphone dedicated amp than using the motherboard and having to turn the amp higher.
 

Chess Gator

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Joined
Aug 22, 2011
Messages
127
Hi fellows, I will be buying and using a 2.1 speakers with woofer :)

So, I assume a speaker system with the DAC built-in will be enough? Maybe AudioEngine A5+. Does the wireless version work as well as the wired version?

Thank you,

CG
 

Izerous

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Feb 7, 2019
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Some speakers are using USB which again don't really benefit from a discrete sound card. Honestly most people are unlikely to notice the difference with/without a discrete sound card unless there are problems like interference/feedback. If your not happy after using the speaker or you have interference etc then pick up a sound card at that point.

With a sub they are going to be self powered anyways and not getting their sole source of power from the sound outputs.
 

Mr. Friendly

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Nov 21, 2007
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British Columbia
the A5+ are well respected and won't use the onboard audio unless you plug it in via stereo. If you use USB or Bluetooth, it'll be using it's own internal DAC.
 

KaptCrunch

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Feb 23, 2008
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4,403
Location
Ontario
ha only half info told like what going to be using PC for

1) youtube, internet
2) music catolog
3) watch movies , play games Dolby
 

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