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Best sound card

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 
I'm becoming an audiophile. I have some great headphones at the moment Sony MDR-XB500.

Well, I'm wondering
1. What would it be compared to my MB's audio and my Zune HD
2. Which one is the best for <$200
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Northern Warrior
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post #2 of 6
I'd say even an $80 Xonar D1/DX does better than the Zune HD. Onboard audio for the most part is a lot worse than both a D1 and the Zune HD.

The XB500 does not warrant a $200 sound card, TBH.
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post #3 of 6
Thread Starter 
referring to headphones : Well, once I get beyond the $100 range would I really notice a difference that's worth the price?

I tried everything at my local Best Buy, and I found these to be better than the Dre Beats Studio ($300)
Northern Warrior
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post #4 of 6
Sound Blaster X-Fi Titanium is our number one pick in 2011 our best sound card around. Sound Blaster card, the sound of an FPS game is easy to find your opponent, even when using stereo headphones. It is also capable of recording analog sound. ASUS is a two-channel sound card that comes with an integrated amplifier.
post #5 of 6
i got an asus essence stx and am very happy with it, the sound quality is very high and i love the RCA outputs and 6.3mm jacks.

google it, there is tons of reviews about it
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Black storm
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post #6 of 6
You're abusing the term "audiophile."

Being an audiophile is not the same thing as wanting to get good sound from your games. In my experience there is not a sound card that does music and games well. You get either one or the other because a soundcard is for games and a dedicated DAC and headphone amplifier is for personal "audiophile" music listening.

If you want to play games with THX sound and all that mumbo jumbo, get a soundcard. If you want to listen to music in high quality, high bit-depth and sample rate, get a dedicated headphone amp and DAC. If you're on a budget you will have to work very hard to find something better than a [ame="http://www.amazon.com/NuForce-Icon-uDAC-2-Black-Headphone/dp/B003Y5FRNS"]NuForce Icon uDAC[/ame]. I haven't tried it myself, but the [ame="http://www.amazon.com/FiiO-E9-Desktop-Headphone-Amplifier/dp/B00470Q76K/ref=sr_1_4?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1295546288&sr=1-4"]FiiO E9[/ame] is supposed to be really good as well.

If you're looking to spend a bit more money and get better audio (music) quality, I recommend a Maverick Audio TubeMagic D1 which I recently had myself. Another excellent system that I am using right now is the Audio-gd FUN, but that one can get quite expensive. I am waiting on an Audio-gd NFB-12 which is much more affordable and should provide similar, if not better sound quality for the price.

With a good DAC and headphone amp your headphones will certainly sound much better. But, there are definitely better options available for sound quality. Sennheiser HD555s are some of the best headphones for the money, I personally got some HD595s from Sennheiser when they were only $117 from Amazon and they're great for the price. The new versions are the 558 and 598 which I have not tried. My favorite headphones come from AKG (K701, K702) but they get quite expensive. Grado SR80i are great for $100 as well, but they are not circumaural so they fit on top of your ear instead of around it. I find that to be a bit annoying.
Edited by Greg121986 - 1/20/11 at 10:07am
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