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why do I need sound card?

post #1 of 55
Thread Starter 
sorry if im asking such a nub question. basically why do you need a sound card? to get better quality sound? if thats the case, should i just buy a great quality speaker?
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post #2 of 55
Never seen the point in sounds cards, unless you need surround sound, it allcomes down to the speakers you own I would just buy new and better speakers instead of a card
post #3 of 55
Need depends on what you are doing. Whether you'll notice depends on how good your ears are, what you're listening to, and how good your gear is.

On my old Boston 2.1 setup, given what I listen to, I can hear the difference between onboard and my D2X.
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post #4 of 55
If you're an audiophile with high-end speakers (like an HTPC through a high-quality amplifier to good speakers) you'll hear the weakness of on-board audio if you use high-bitrate mp3s or straight CD audio. Distortion of highs, etc.

If you're a gamer playing through PC speakers, you probably would not notice a bit of difference.

I use a Auzentech on my HTPC.

I just removed the X-Fi from my sig rig, so I could use the front-panel jacks on my case. Purely more convenient for plugging/removing headphones, and I don't listen to music or watch movies on that rig.
Edited by 2thAche - 4/25/11 at 9:00am
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post #5 of 55
Thread Starter 
i use my pc mainly for gaming so does it mean I wouldnt notice any difference in term of quality?
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post #6 of 55
A dedicated sound card will be built better, and from better components. Besides minimizing noise, static and other interference, a dedicated sound card will have a high quality Digital to Analog Converter. This directly influences the quality of the music you hear from your computer. All sound needs to be converted from digital signals, to analog signals for your speaker to play.

The DAC (Digital to Analog Converter) is responsible for this, and the better the DAC, the better the quality of the signal you feed to your speakers/headphones, etc. Also, a dedicated sound card can have specialized outputs such as TRS 1/4 connections instead of the headphone 1/8 jack typically found.

If you are investing in a quality set of speakers or headphones, a quality DAC is necessary. Otherwise you'll be listening to a bad signal through awesome speakers.

Garbage in, garbage out.
Edited by _02 - 4/25/11 at 9:13am
    
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post #7 of 55
Sound cards have higher signal-to-noise ratio. Basically that means your sound will be louder with less noise/artifacts. Basically, your music and sound will be "cleaner."

Now you still need a good pair of speakers/headphones to even notice the difference. If your speakers are cheap and low quality, a sound card cannot help with that.
post #8 of 55
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by _02 View Post
A dedicated sound card will be built better, and from better components. Besides minimizing noise, static and other interference, a dedicated sound card will have a high quality Digital to Analog Converter. This directly influences the quality of the music you hear from your computer. All sound needs to be converted from digital signals, to analog signals for your speaker to play.

The DAC is responsible for this, and the better the DAC, the better the quality of the signal you feed to your speakers/headphones, etc. Also, a dedicated sound card can have specialized outputs such as TRS 1/4 connections instead of the headphone 1/8 jack typically found.

If you are investing in a quality set of speakers or headphones, a quality DAC is necessary. Otherwise you'll be listening to a bad signal through awesome speakers.

Garbage in, garbage out.
thanks for the explanation. since i dont know where to spend my money, perhaps i should grab one.

http://www.trustedgoods.com/Creative...b067800000.htm is this card good? seems cheap
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post #9 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by ryanbob1234 View Post
Never seen the point in sounds cards, unless you need surround sound, it allcomes down to the speakers you own I would just buy new and better speakers instead of a card
Benefits of a sound card include:
  • Better positioning in games.
  • Clearer richer sound.
  • Amplification of headphones and passive speakers.
  • In some rare cases, increased performance.
  • Enhanced audio effects with more "on screen" sounds.
Many games sound new when you improve your audio quality.


Quote:
Originally Posted by lotdash0t View Post
thanks for the explanation. since i dont know where to spend my money, perhaps i should grab one.

http://www.trustedgoods.com/Creative...b067800000.htm is this card good? seems cheap
Nah, the only sound cards you should really invest in is the Xonar DX or the Creative Titanium HD imo. Though those are for the best bang for the buck components.
Edited by Domino - 4/25/11 at 9:16am
post #10 of 55
If you aren't listening to tons of detailed music, or producing music, or really really fanatical about the quality of your setup, a typical sound card and a good set of headphones will likely be fine for you. Read audio (not gamer) reviews of the cards to get an idea of their performance.

I think I bought my Echo MiaMIDI card for about $200, to produce music. You can easily spend thousands of dollars on a standalone DAC, several more thousand dollars on a dedicated amplifier, and many more thousands of dollars on a set of speakers.

If you are worried about quality, read some articles on DACs, sound card DAC reviews, headphones and the likes. It is a rabbit hole that you can go down as far as you like.
    
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