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Would A Soundcard Make A Difference?

Tags:
  • Peripherals
  • Sennheiser
  • Sound Cards
Last response: in Computer Peripherals
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March 25, 2014 11:37:18 AM

I have recently purchased a pair of Sennheiser HD 558s for primarily gaming purposes. I notice that the sound is a bit different so I was wondering if adding an external sound card would enhance the audio quality?

My motherboard is an ASUS Z87-Plus so I suspect the on-board sound card is only of average quality.

So if I should buy a soundcard which ones would you recommend? Thanks.

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March 25, 2014 11:50:05 AM

That board comes with the ALC 892 audio codec, which is actually very good.

Use the headphone jack on the back of the PC that is attached to the motherboard for best sound quality. Using the front header is not as good.

The only other thing I can think of is perhaps getting an in-line DAC amp in the case of headphones with high resistance. This helps. You do NOT need to spend a lot to get a good one.

Tom's and Tek Syndicate both have some recent articles/videos on audio and how to get good quality with headphones. It's worth a read..
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March 25, 2014 1:31:03 PM

maddogfargo said:
That board comes with the ALC 892 audio codec, which is actually very good.

Use the headphone jack on the back of the PC that is attached to the motherboard for best sound quality. Using the front header is not as good.

The only other thing I can think of is perhaps getting an in-line DAC amp in the case of headphones with high resistance. This helps. You do NOT need to spend a lot to get a good one.

Tom's and Tek Syndicate both have some recent articles/videos on audio and how to get good quality with headphones. It's worth a read..


Hmm, I was lead to believe that on-board audio from MBs were not as good as sound cards. Since my MB is mid-ranged I thought the on-board audio would be average.

I have connected my headphones to the back audio jack. The sound has improved but the volume seems to be low compared to using the front jack. I have maxed the volume on Realtk HD Audio Manager and I would like to have more options for increase the volume. It definitely lower in volume compared to my speaker system.

It still feels like I need a sound card/DAC/amp to enhance my headphones. I will check out the reviews for Tom's and Tek Syndicate for advice. So far the Creative Sound Blaster Z series looks to be a good option, but I like to see what other choices I have. Do you think the CSB Z would be a wise choice?

Thank you for your reply. :) 


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March 29, 2014 7:16:08 AM

If you have your volume maxed out and can still stand to listen to the headset, something else is going on. Either the volume in the program is low or the headset volume control is on low. Make sure you have it in the headphone out and not the line out or something else. Some motherboards have quite a few audio connections for surround sound.

I can't turn up my sound more than 10% without my headphones sounding very loud. An add-one sound card will sound better, but it's not really needed. Won't help with volume issues at all.
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March 29, 2014 8:30:25 PM

hang-the-9 said:
If you have your volume maxed out and can still stand to listen to the headset, something else is going on. Either the volume in the program is low or the headset volume control is on low. Make sure you have it in the headphone out and not the line out or something else. Some motherboards have quite a few audio connections for surround sound.

I can't turn up my sound more than 10% without my headphones sounding very loud. An add-one sound card will sound better, but it's not really needed. Won't help with volume issues at all.


I just recently purchased the SoundBlaster Z online and installed it today. Not only did it make a substantial difference in sound quality, but the headphones are MUCH louder on the soundcard audio jack than the on-board audio jack. At 15% volume on the SC the headphones are louder than 100% on the on-board audio. It gets very loud at 20%-25% that most people would have to turn the volume down. I made sure to max all the volume options on Realtek Audio before deciding to purchase the Sound Blaster Z.

I did test out the other jacks on the back of my computer before I bought the sound card and they did not work for the headphones; there was no sound.

Maybe the on-board audio was faulty or something related; I do not know. I am just really happy now that my audio system is working as intended.

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March 31, 2014 7:06:13 AM

IceCreamRaider said:
hang-the-9 said:
If you have your volume maxed out and can still stand to listen to the headset, something else is going on. Either the volume in the program is low or the headset volume control is on low. Make sure you have it in the headphone out and not the line out or something else. Some motherboards have quite a few audio connections for surround sound.

I can't turn up my sound more than 10% without my headphones sounding very loud. An add-one sound card will sound better, but it's not really needed. Won't help with volume issues at all.


I just recently purchased the SoundBlaster Z online and installed it today. Not only did it make a substantial difference in sound quality, but the headphones are MUCH louder on the soundcard audio jack than the on-board audio jack. At 15% volume on the SC the headphones are louder than 100% on the on-board audio. It gets very loud at 20%-25% that most people would have to turn the volume down. I made sure to max all the volume options on Realtek Audio before deciding to purchase the Sound Blaster Z.

I did test out the other jacks on the back of my computer before I bought the sound card and they did not work for the headphones; there was no sound.

Maybe the on-board audio was faulty or something related; I do not know. I am just really happy now that my audio system is working as intended.



Glad you're happy with the new card. That low volume setting for headphones really should be the setting on the onboard sound as well, so something is wrong there. I use onboard sound and can't turn it past 10% or so when using headphones.
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March 31, 2014 10:11:02 PM

hang-the-9 said:
IceCreamRaider said:
hang-the-9 said:
If you have your volume maxed out and can still stand to listen to the headset, something else is going on. Either the volume in the program is low or the headset volume control is on low. Make sure you have it in the headphone out and not the line out or something else. Some motherboards have quite a few audio connections for surround sound.

I can't turn up my sound more than 10% without my headphones sounding very loud. An add-one sound card will sound better, but it's not really needed. Won't help with volume issues at all.


I just recently purchased the SoundBlaster Z online and installed it today. Not only did it make a substantial difference in sound quality, but the headphones are MUCH louder on the soundcard audio jack than the on-board audio jack. At 15% volume on the SC the headphones are louder than 100% on the on-board audio. It gets very loud at 20%-25% that most people would have to turn the volume down. I made sure to max all the volume options on Realtek Audio before deciding to purchase the Sound Blaster Z.

I did test out the other jacks on the back of my computer before I bought the sound card and they did not work for the headphones; there was no sound.

Maybe the on-board audio was faulty or something related; I do not know. I am just really happy now that my audio system is working as intended.



Glad you're happy with the new card. That low volume setting for headphones really should be the setting on the onboard sound as well, so something is wrong there. I use onboard sound and can't turn it past 10% or so when using headphones.


There is definitely something wrong in the configuration as my speakers were very loud at higher settings. It is not a major concern for me since I have the sound card but it does worry me that there could be an issue with the MB itself. So far, I have not noticed any issues from the MB itself.
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April 1, 2014 6:54:46 AM

You could check for a new BIOS for the motherboard, and the chipset drivers, also uninstall and re-install the onboard audio. Although you can skip that now as you're not even using it.
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