How much difference does a discrete sound make?

Had moved to a rental place so switching to using headphone. Just got for myself a sennheiser hd598. Am looking at the Asus sonar essence stx sound card. Before going in would like ask those who had switch to a high quality sound card as how much of a difference it would make compare to a onboard sound card. Is it day and night?
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  1. it is and it isnt...yes it's better than onboard, but if you can get a usb dac it is lightyears ahead of sound cards for less money... also a lost of motherboards actually have pretty good onboard audio, so it just isn't worth it in most cases to get a sound card unless you get a lot of interference from the motherboard side of things
  2. Best answer
    i have no doubt that a decent outboard dac will sound better- i work as a salesperson selling high end audio equipment. But i cannot afford any of them! Finally decided to get the asus stx. So is it any better than the onboard sound? Yes! Miles and miles better- it makes the onboard sound like crap. With my sennheiser 598 everything sound better.
  3. As he said, it depends upon your motherboard. For example, with an Asus ROG motherboard a sound card would probably a waste of space.
  4. honstly with any newer motherboard, say 2012-13 or newer, has pretty decent onboard audio and in most cases it's not overly worth it. If you are using headphone jack on the back, usually interference is the main problem. Spidif or optical are still going to be on par with a sound card for external speaker applications. USB headsets usually counter the need for a soundcard as well. external usb DAC's can be had for under $100 and as low as $30, thus furthering the lack of need for actual internal sound cards (silence level and low volume hum are a big problem with internal sound cards, and sometimes interference from other compnents). Yes the sound card can likely have better quality than onboard audio (gigabyte is not renowned for their onboard audio configurations anyway)
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