View Full Version : Do you have a sound card in your PC?

02-01-2013, 08:20 PM
Just curious as to how many of you have a sound card installed in your PC as opposed to using the motherboard's onboard sound.

If you do, does it make a huge difference to the sound? Of course, one would have to also invest in quality speakers as well, to get the most out of it.

02-01-2013, 08:27 PM
Only the on-board. Even the Media Center in the lounge has On-board and thats connected to several speakers including the stereo . The option adjustments these days are very good with on-board.

02-01-2013, 08:38 PM
Cheers wainuitech. Is the main reason for installing a soundcard for the extra options rather than the quality of sound? I thought it was for the latter. :confused:

02-01-2013, 09:44 PM
A basic Sound Card these days generally wont produce better audio than the onboard. Back when onboard Audio was crap, a sound Card was a better option to get quality.

These days the same functions are built into onboard. My media center has 6 sockets, (used to have a sound card but didn't really notice any difference) same as this one I'm on now. But the one I'm currently on, the office PC, is not used for entertainment purposes, so doesn't need any better speaker setup.

The Media center uses them all, and can be changed to suit any mood or output as required, while this one only has one socket used, but the setting options can be changed to any setting you like.

See just some of the basic settings: ( My Media Center has more)

If you wanted to invest in a good quality sound card to give better output they are not exactly cheap, but they do have more features.

The Error Guy
02-01-2013, 09:51 PM
Main reason is features for most people. Quality is marginal. Most inbuilt sound cards will cater for the casual user to the prosumer/amatuer although most "pro" applications use a sound card. Usually today they involve some form of propriety interface with audio hardware such as equalisers and feedback response at hardware level.

Unless you have a pro situation where hardware control is critical even the most fanciful HTPC setup can be obtained with onboard audio.

02-01-2013, 10:03 PM
Onboard only ... I hook mine to a 2000 year stereo with LR audio cable, not optical or anything like that. It does the job and I'm happy.

02-01-2013, 10:53 PM
Of course my PC has a sound card, what kind of PC doesn't :D

It is onboard though... :p

02-01-2013, 10:58 PM
I have a Asus D1 or DX (can't remember). Love it for the most part, hate it when the drivers decide to be ****.

03-01-2013, 07:27 AM
Onboard used to be rubbish and adding a soundcard almost mandatory for games, both for the quality and originally for the framerate as well because onboard was a bottleneck.
Like a lot of things the practice has outlived the reasons for it, onboard has improved vastly over the years and except for audio purists and the "must have the best" crowd there is really no reason to add a sound card.

I use a 20W T-amp and a pair of bookshelf speakers for my audio, just fed from the onboard soundcard, and the sound quality is impressive. I've abandoned 5.1 sound for three reasons, 1. the wires and speaker placement is a problem 2. Even $200 5.1 setups sound like rubbish for music compared to my cheapo wharfedales and t-amp (total cost $60 for the amp, speakers were in the shed doing nothing) 3. The original reason for me using surround was for FPS gaming so I could hear what direction to turn - it never really worked any better than stereo for that.

03-01-2013, 07:40 AM
Not for years now.
Unless you want some special feature there's no point.

03-01-2013, 08:37 AM
There is some great information listed here that I was unaware of. My daughter is wanting me to put together a PC for her and as she has far better ears than I have I was wondering whether she would benefit from a sound card. I think I had one in my very first PC in 1994 but have used onboard sound since so I wouldn't know if that was inferior or not.

I can now earn some brownie points for saving her a few coin that she can put towards other bits. Thanks everyone! :thumbs: :cool:

Speedy Gonzales
03-01-2013, 01:13 PM
Nope just use the onboard sound. I've got another PCI card, it'll probably be better since its got digital in and out, and SPDIF. But, whether it'll work or not is another matter. Since (I dont think) there are 64 bit drivers for it. If I installed it

03-01-2013, 03:39 PM
The sound in my Asus desk top packed up years ago and I plugged in a USB sound-card, no set up required, just plug in.

03-01-2013, 10:45 PM
Rather than getting an add-on sound card, you would be better to get some good quality USB headphones or connect your PC to your home theatre system via HDMI.
If you care enough about sound quality to need an addon sound card, then you probably have some damn fine audio equipment in your lounge. The catch comes if you have some of the old audio equipment that lasts forever & still sounds amazing - then your motherboard may not have the type of outputs you need.

04-01-2013, 09:01 AM
If you care enough about sound quality to need an addon sound card, then you probably have some damn fine audio equipment in your lounge.

Moi? Oh heck no! Apart from an almost 20-year-old "ghetto blaster" and some Logitech PC speakers which don't really count, I don't have a stereo system at all. Not much point when one has a bionic ear that cannot hear the full audio frequency range, including bass. :waughh:

My daughter has good ears, however, and I was interested in knowing whether she would need a sound card. Since her stereo is nothing special then onboard sound will do for her as well.

Things have obviously changed but it used to be that sound cards were essential as either motherboards did not have onboard sound or it was of such poor quality that even I would want to switch it off. :p

06-01-2013, 02:53 PM
Any Audiophool will require the best sound card including things such as gold plated heatsinks, special audio grade capacitors and a German-engineered hand-made mounting bracket or else the sky will fall.

Such sound cards will be better than on board chips of course, but most people won't care or be able to tell the difference. And If you're not running that high end soundcard into a multi-thousand dollar amplifier and speakers, you're wasting your time anyway.

06-01-2013, 05:18 PM
I'm convinced a great many "audiophiles" are actually fooling themselves into believing they can hear things they actually can't or they hear a difference between two types of recordings and label it something like "quantizing distortion" (a real thing but you'll never convince me it can be definitively identified with the human ear and CD quality settings).

I read a really good article one time in an audio magazine where an audio engineer analysed the effect of gold plated connectors and oxygen free speaker cables etc. His conclusion, a small but audible decrease in the overall signal loss having the same effect as turning up the volume knob slightly. His comment was louder music tends to sound better so save a few $ and turn up the volume.

It's the same with sound cards, whether there's a noticeable difference or not some people will always believe they can hear one and will insist on having that mega expensive gold plated model with insane signal to noise figures. If they can afford it and it makes them happy then good on them, most people are perfectly happy with onboard.

A final comment, I have no issue with people who say they prefer the sound of one thing over another (Analogue vs Digital for example or MP3 vs FLAC), that's a personal preference and they are entitled to it. It's when they start trying to convince you that it's a better format/ recording method/ piece of sound hardware/ etc because it's the one they like that I sometimes get annoyed. A record for example may well have the whole original waveform recorded on it as opposed to a CD with a sampled and encoded version that loses a small amount of accuracy but in order to extract that waveform you have to get a very expensive player with a perfect rotational speed and then filter out all the wow and flutter, crackle and pop. You get sound about as good as a $100 CD player using a digital connection to a decent amp, and a record can't match the dynamic range of a CD (no secret which side of the argument I'm on). They do however sound different and people prefer one or the other, that's fine.

Sorry ranted more than intended, a fault of mine sometimes (that and wandering of on a tangent).

06-01-2013, 06:51 PM
I say once you go FLAC you won't go back. MP3s and other lossy formats are useless in comparison.

I have nowhere near audiophile grade equipment and I can say for certain that to my ears, MP3s etc are just junk compared to FLAC and <insert other lossless formats here>

(Well, highest quality 320k MP3s are OK... and for silly things like iPods an unfortunate necessity, but I do not like anything lower)

06-01-2013, 08:17 PM
I use WMA lossless myself, quality is the same as FLAC and it works better with media centre. A lot depends on your listening enviroment also, in the car I can't tell the difference between a CD and a 192Kb MP3. At home on the stereo I can maybe detect a slight difference but I'm never sure if it's real or just me hearing what I expect to.

FLAC is better than MP3, no argument there. I just included it as an example of preference. I know people who would argue a 128Kb MP3 is just as good as anything else.

06-01-2013, 08:43 PM
I use WMA lossless myself, quality is the same as FLAC and it works better with media centre.

FLAC is better than MP3, no argument there. I just included it as an example of preference. I know people who would argue a 128Kb MP3 is just as good as anything else.

I used to think 128k MP3s were fine. I also used to think Norton Antivirus worked. :waughh:

WMA lossless looks good on paper but being a Microsoft and no doubt proprietary\closed format I don't want it.

The biggest problem with lossy audio formats even at high bitrates is they are still lossy, and you are paying good money for an inferior and sonically defective item.

07-01-2013, 06:27 AM
Fair enough if you prefer to avoid WMA, however before commiting to it as a backup of my CD collection I made sure I had the software to convert it to anything and I can switch to FLAC at any time with no loss of quality using DBpoweramp. I tried it out, converts very quickly from one lossless format to another, I also batch converted the whole lot to VBR MP3 for portable devices etc - much easier than re-ripping.