Is a soundcard worth it ?

Discussion in 'Desktop & Laptop Computers Forum' started by stevewestern, Nov 10, 2017.

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  1. stevewestern

    stevewestern
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    I have recently started listen to music (flac files) on my pc via a SMSL amp and some Q Acoustics Concept 20's. Is a soundcard worth the cost ?
    I don't really understand what it might add - just like I don't know if an external dac would make any difference.
    Anyone able to help out and maybe suggest what to look at if anything ?
     
  2. andjarnic

    andjarnic
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    I would say it depends if your ears fall in that 5% or so of prestige hearing capabilities that you can actually discern the difference between 24bit FLAC output on a good set of speakers, or if mp3s sound awesome to you. If you do notice enough of a difference that it bugs you.. then i would look at an external sound card, not an internal one. The ones that come on motherboards today are pretty decent. DACs have gotten quite good and cheap. For an external setup, I use Edirol or if you can spend a little more, Focusrite has some good quality hardware.
     
  3. EndlessWaves

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    How if your amp connected? SMSL seem to do a range.

    If it's connected via USB or HDMI then a sound can't won't bring you any benefit. If it's connected via S/PDIF then the sound card won't affect sound quality but will offer you some audio processing options, although they're typically more of interest to gamers than music listeners.

    If it's connected via analogue then a sound card will benefit your sound quality, especially on more budget motherboards. A DAC is the same in terms of sound quality but doesn't provide any other functionality.
     
  4. stevewestern

    stevewestern
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    I guess that as I'm closer to 60 than I'd like to be that my hearing isn't so wonderful. I can still hear nagging with no problem though..!
    Seriously, I can say that mp3's do not sound as good as flac, but I wouldn't go as far as saying it bugs me - for most of the time the music is a loud background noise rather than something I concentrate on.

    Amp is connected via phono plugs so I assume analogue, and I don't game, just listen to music. Motherboard is about 5 years old, no idea what sort. Amp has only one input so I can't try another, so it might be worth looking for something secondhand - any suggestions ?

    Thanks for the replies - much appreciated !
     
  5. EndlessWaves

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    Yeah.

    I'm not sure which second hand models would have Windows 10 support. Creative's X-fi range should do (maybe not the entry level xtreme models) and I'd expect most of the Asus Xonar ones to do so.
     
  6. stevewestern

    stevewestern
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    Thanks again - I'll have a proper look at the Xonar ones as they seem to be highly thought of.
     

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