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Should I buy a sound card?

zoob

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If you have a PCI slot, grab an old used X-Fi XtremeMusic for around $25. They sound great for the money.

X-Fi + ALchemy was a pretty good combo when I cared for positioning in games. I play much less now and have moved on to an ODAC.
 

sswilson

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I agree it's subjective, but even my relatively cheepo Logitech Z506 set seems to put out better audio with a HT Omega Striker 7.1 than it does with onboard.
 

Dr_BenD_over

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If you have a PCI slot, grab an old used X-Fi XtremeMusic for around $25. They sound great for the money.

X-Fi + ALchemy was a pretty good combo when I cared for positioning in games. I play much less now and have moved on to an ODAC.

I'm still using the Xfi XM I picked up in 2006, I need to find a second one for my HTPC as the onboard in that sucks. I had an Audigy NX for it, but it got fried when a UPS blew.
 

Arinoth

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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.

Well that's the only point where a sound card is mostly irrelevant, if you are using optical out to pass it to the receiver, which is doing the audio decoding and digital to analog conversion. The onboard is going to send it the same digital quality as a dedicated sound card.

That said, a lot of people still enjoy using headphones or standard desktop speakers, in this case I have found a dedicated sound card does sound better then onboard.
 

Luay79

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Well that's the only point where a sound card is mostly irrelevant, if you are using optical out to pass it to the receiver, which is doing the audio decoding and digital to analog conversion. The onboard is going to send it the same digital quality as a dedicated sound card.

This!

It took me a while to figure this out. You can see my comments in the same article linked. However I'm thinking a digital input/output such as an HDMI cable will do the job without compromise. You just need to hook up your display to the AV receiver.

A sound card is basically a compact DAC (digital to analogue converter) and amplifier, that would work fine with small speakers such as Corsair 2500 or Logitech Z906. a dedicated AV receiver has all that and in better quality, and can be hooked up to some serious speakers, another heavy investment.

An AV receiver can serve all your electronics; TV, sound system, consoles, including your PC.

If the space on your motherboard is more precious to you than your living space and your money (me for example:rofl:), a dedicated (preferably network capable) AV receiver is the way to go.

Now you can build that powerfull mitx rig or that CF/SLI atx build without using onboard audio.
 

b1lk1

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Well that's the only point where a sound card is mostly irrelevant, if you are using optical out to pass it to the receiver, which is doing the audio decoding and digital to analog conversion. The onboard is going to send it the same digital quality as a dedicated sound card.

That said, a lot of people still enjoy using headphones or standard desktop speakers, in this case I have found a dedicated sound card does sound better then onboard.

No, I never use digital pass through, I only run 2 speakers and I want the soundcard doing the digital to analog conversions.
 

KaptCrunch

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This!

It took me a while to figure this out. You can see my comments in the same article linked. However I'm thinking a digital input/output such as an HDMI cable will do the job without compromise. You just need to hook up your display to the AV receiver.

A sound card is basically a compact DAC (digital to analogue converter) and amplifier, that would work fine with small speakers such as Corsair 2500 or Logitech Z906. a dedicated AV receiver has all that and in better quality, and can be hooked up to some serious speakers, another heavy investment.

An AV receiver can serve all your electronics; TV, sound system, consoles, including your PC.

If the space on your motherboard is more precious to you than your living space and your money (me for example:rofl:), a dedicated (preferably network capable) AV receiver is the way to go.

Now you can build that powerfull mitx rig or that CF/SLI atx build without using onboard audio.


yes for HDMI does great job going with A/V receiver, with soundblaster/creative you need to buy rights for use of optical port "Dolby Digital Live and DTS Connect Pack"

as to A/V's compliants
 

clshades

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ok so there's this little tid bit and forgive my accuracy it's been awhile since I read about it. When bf3 came out EA flat out said having a dedicated sound card will have little to no effect on game performance or sound quality. What they did say was they will be using a dedicated core on a cpu to do all sound encoding. They went on to suggest that having a 4 core cpu would benefit the gamer more because of the core grab. That said... cheap sound cards always use the CPU... better ones do a little more encoding itself.

I don't know if other game makers are doing the same but it would make sense for consoles and since most PC games are ported these days it would be logical to believe they'd do the same for PC. While I can't speak for games other than EA with any accuracy I can confirm that EA does encode sound with a cpu. Hardware side maybe it's just a filter at this point because I honestly cannot hear the difference between onboard and a sound card these days.
 

Cptn Vortex

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Vancouver
As everyone has said, it comes down to the individuals ears. I myself haven't had an onboard that I could use for my akg headphones. Even some sound cards can't hold up. So far the Asus cards have been the best for me. Even the cheapest Xonar DG still sounds great.
 
Last edited:

dtnat

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Jul 19, 2014
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I used to have an ITX motherboard (ASUS P8Z77-I Deluxe). When using the onboard sound card during gaming, I heard static/hiss using the analog ports on the back. Small cramped motherboard = more noise? Not sure about recent motherboards.
I like the software that comes with the sound card I have (SB Z). Improves voice dialog and can add the special effects to the optical output.
 

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