Well I'm starting to think about building my next system, and I'm a little stuck in the sound area right now. From my experience I've always been much more pleased with the sound quality and options/configurability/feature set/ etc. of a dedicated sound card vs onboard.
I currently have an Audigy2 in my system, yeah a bit old, but I still find myself loving it when I have to work on friends (store bought) computers and find thier sound setup leaves much to be desired.
I am wondering, has this situation changed at all? Is it still a wise move to get a seprate card? It was nearing the end of 2005 when I last built my system so I'm feeling a bit out of the loop on this.
Well, since you're quite the stickler for audio quality, I'd suggest you still get a dedicated audio card.
That being said, onboard audio is a lot better. Some motherboards already support 7.1 out of the box. The advantage of a dedicated audio card for an apparent audiophile like you is that you chose the functionalities you want, without paying for a more expensive motherboard that comes with features (audio-related or otherwise) you don't need.