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what's the point of buying a sound card?  

post #1 of 45
Thread Starter 
my motherboard has onboard audio with 7.1 out, optical out, and coaxial out.

so what is the point of a sound card?

i've heard some say it makes the sound quality better. elaborate please?
post #2 of 45
If you're just using optical out to a receiver there isn't much point.
Analog out can make a substantial difference depending on chipset.

Also, a lot of cards have their own processor on board, which will handle audio processing themselves, instead of relying on your CPU.
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post #3 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by kiwiasian View Post
my motherboard has onboard audio with 7.1 out, optical out, and coaxial out.

so what is the point of a sound card?

i've heard some say it makes the sound quality better. elaborate please?
Your onboard audio solution requires more cpu usage. Dedicated sound cards have their own processing to take away some workload off of the cpu. Some dedicated sounds cards can decode audio extensions that your onboard solution has to ignore (EAX 5.0) and they can also produce 128 simultaneous sounds. Add to that more tweaking options, possible DD or DTS streaming, possible to mod, etc and you can see some differences. I, for one, always add a sound card to any gaming build.
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post #4 of 45
Thread Starter 
does it make any difference that processing occurs in the sound card rather than the cpu?
i am a music producer and haven't had any issues with sound processing on my i7.

i am just using somewhat high-end headphones, would i benefit from a sound card?
post #5 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by kiwiasian View Post
i am just using somewhat high-end headphones, would i benefit from a sound card?
Yes, I'd definitely try out a sound card and test for yourself. You should easily be able to find a store that you could audition one and return it if you're not happy. A sound card should really help if your headphones aren't super efficient.
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post #6 of 45
It used to be about better sound quality, now it's about processing the audio via the sound card instead of the processor. Every process matters! =)
    
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post #7 of 45
It should help with the clarity of music really, depending if the quality is good.
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post #8 of 45
Just to add to what people said above. It sounds HELL of a lot better as well. Sounds are more defined, clear, and rich.
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post #9 of 45
Onboard solutions are spotty depending upon the motherboard. Some are decent and others are bad. I would only get a sound card if your speakers/headphones are somewhat higher end. There is no point pairing some cheap $30 speakers with a high end sound card.

If you have a home theatre receiver or an external DAC/sound card/audio interface, you don't need an internal sound card. Just use optical, HDMI, firewire, or USB.
post #10 of 45
sorry to threadjack, but i am also wondering the same thing. is it worth buying a sound card over onboard sound, if i send the audio to a samsung home cinema system via optical spdif?
    
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