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Should I buy a sound card?

SugarJ

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Today I came across an article that seems to sum up my experiences with sound cards.

Should You Buy a Sound Card? An Enthusiast's Perspective - TechSpot

TLDR version: Yes, if you already have a SSD and you're happy with your graphics.

While onboard sound is way ahead of where it was 8 years ago, the difference is still noticeable even with $20 earbuds.

If you don't already have a SSD in your system, chances are that's where you should be spending your money instead. The decrease in boot and load times is amazing, and you'll probably get more enjoyment from that than better sound.
 

OJX

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While this might be an interesting question, the link offers absolutely zero help answering it.

It is literally about one dude listening to some music and games with a dedicated sound card, and without. He also knows when he is listening to what card, so there is no blinding whatsoever.

EDIT: A little gem from the comment thread

I never knew that my life would change so dramatically. I was like you once, I didn't bother with sound-cards thought that its a money waste. Until I bought one. After painfully plugging it in I already knew that something has changed, at first I thought it was a coincidence but my back did not hurt. When the windows sound played I felt like child once again, my world was painted in bright colors, I once again wanted to live. But when I stopped for one second, and I noticed that I forgot to unplug the speakers from my on-board sound-card and replug it in newly bought one. My back! it hurts again - I screamed.
 

Dzzope

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lol.. and every person is going to find it different.. No 2 people hear the same way or have the experience to hear the difference. I'll be honest, I can BARELY hear the difference between an Asus xonar dx and the on-board untill I get good speakers and flac...

If your not listening on GOOD cans / speakers / IEMs AND have high-quality source then your not gonna see much difference.. your sound set-up is only as good as it's weakest link. And still extremely subjective... even more so than with probably any other part of a computer (thinking smoothness of monitors, colour reproduction etc.)
 

KaptCrunch

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yes only advancement with add-on sound is with single core CPU systems, but with multi-cores cpu not much

for I use on-board via 400 watt surround amp. 18" sub bin with 1000watt kicker amp
 

Sagath

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yes only advancement with add-on sound is with single core CPU systems, but with multi-cores cpu not much

for I use on-board via 400 watt surround amp. 18" sub bin with 1000watt kicker amp

He is lying. It makes no difference in end user experience how many CPU's you have.

As to audiophiles you can experience a difference with upgraded soundcards. It is all user perspective as to whether it makes a difference. My friend who plays in a band swears by certain differences in acoustical setups that I cannot ascertain. Who is to say who is right? To me he isnt, to him I'm wrong.
 
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KaptCrunch

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yes YMMV

if all bands used the same set-up, would sound the same ?

SJ go to locale computer with your own headphones and test , cause hearing is believing no matter what said in here we all have our tastes
 

SugarJ

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Kapt and everyone else, do you REALLY think I would have made this post if the linked article didn't agree with my tests across my last 8 motherboards and 3 sound cards?

Every single mother board has sounded worse than the discrete sound card I used at the time with Logitech X-530s, a $49 speaker system. That includes my Rampage IV Extreme vs. a Xonar DX.

I posted this because this question comes up every 3 months or so. And I've yet to find someone who bought a sound card and found it to be a negative experience. I'm not an audiophile, far from it. But I am a better player in COD, CS:GO and Battlefield than I used to be because the sounds are sharper and clearer, including footsteps and hearing someone reload.

Is the difference more noticeable in higher end headphones? I think so. Do I notice it more than others? Possibly. Should everyone race out and spend $100 on a sound card? Nope, and I said so in my original post. It's the LAST upgrade you should make in your enthusiast gaming system. But if you have the money, I think it's a worthwhile upgrade when you have all the GPU and storage you need.
 

OJX

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I agree entirely, a sound card can make a night and day difference in audio quality for some setups. Adding an external sound card to the laptop in my sig lead to a substantial improvement, instantly recognizable by almost anyone with ears.

However, I can't tell the difference between that external card and plugging in directly into a Macbook Air.

The problem is, that unless there is an objective measure, the buyers will never known if their existing setup would lead to any benefit whatsoever. And our personal anecdotes will help no one unless they have the same headphones, chipsets, volume and equalizer preferences, music software, music taste preferences, bitrate of tracks, and the same eardrums.


Kapt and everyone else, do you REALLY think I would have made this post if the linked article didn't agree with my tests across my last 8 motherboards and 3 sound cards?

Every single mother board has sounded worse than the discrete sound card I used at the time with Logitech X-530s, a $49 speaker system. That includes my Rampage IV Extreme vs. a Xonar DX.

I posted this because this question comes up every 3 months or so. And I've yet to find someone who bought a sound card and found it to be a negative experience. I'm not an audiophile, far from it. But I am a better player in COD, CS:GO and Battlefield than I used to be because the sounds are sharper and clearer, including footsteps and hearing someone reload.

Is the difference more noticeable in higher end headphones? I think so. Do I notice it more than others? Possibly. Should everyone race out and spend $100 on a sound card? Nope, and I said so in my original post. It's the LAST upgrade you should make in your enthusiast gaming system. But if you have the money, I think it's a worthwhile upgrade when you have all the GPU and storage you need.
 

KaptCrunch

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I posted this because this question comes up every 3 months or so. And I've yet to find someone who bought a sound card and found it to be a negative experience. I'm not an audiophile, far from it. But I am a better player in COD, CS:GO and Battlefield than I used to be because the sounds are sharper and clearer, including footsteps and hearing someone reload.

agree'D for EAX/dolby and better codex really shine in gaming audio and better output amps for some cards.

for me its home theater amp for sound and heads late at night
 

b1lk1

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I use a Sony receiver and large tower speakers for my audio. Onboard has come a very long way, but adding a soundcard makes a difference with my audio gear. If you have sub $100 Logitech/etc speakers then onboard is fine. SPend some dough on audio gear and you'll want one for sure.
 

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