Is a sound card worth it?

I have an asus p6t deluxe and a pretty good end stereo system(3 large high end speakers with amplifier but 25 years old) which are connected to my pc via a 2.5mm jack. Would it be worth it to buy a sound card?
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  1. I'd be tempted to say no. A good quality speaker system would be a much more noticeable difference. The CPU does most of the processing for audio anyway. You may notice a difference if you have a particularly well-tuned ear but I can't see it being much. If you're happy with your sound quality at the moment I wouldn't bother :)
  2. Are you an audiophile? You'd know it if you are. Might be worth it if you are, but the sound card (discrete or on board) isn't your issue. Right now you're only transferring 2 channel stereo sound to the receiver for 3 speakers. If the receiver doesn't have the correct inputs that you're mobo outputs, maybe its time to get a new amp. A 25 year old amp that has 3 channel output was probably cutting edge then, but its obsolete now. Once you have a new amp, then give it a listen and see if the quality is good enough for you. If not, then ask the sound card question again.
  3. In my opinion, no.
  4. It would certainly be worth it if you work with audio files(or an audiophile), recording and want a better sound quality while listening to music or playing games. But as suggested earlier a good stereo system would do the job.
  5. I probably won't upgrade I'm actually pretty happy with my sound now. I just listen to music and play some games but I'm not really obsessed with sound or anything.
  6. Somebody_007 said:
    I probably won't upgrade I'm actually pretty happy with my sound now. I just listen to music and play some games but I'm not really obsessed with sound or anything.

    If you're happy, then save your money. The only ones who benefit from a sound card are those doing audio production work or those with a finely tuned ear that can hear the little differences and it drives them nuts. Sanity is worth a lot of money to those people.

    What kind of inputs does the amp have on it? Might be able to find an older decoder that can accept an unprocessed signal from the mobo, process it, then output it with individual channels over a wire your amp can input.
  7. Go with the onboard sound. You will discover if it is good enough. Then decide.
  8. depends on the soundcard, as well your speakers.

    if ure gonna get a creative, ur not gonna get difference, unless ur have a good system.

    get an ASUS, and u will probably find more.
  9. skora said:
    If you're happy, then save your money. The only ones who benefit from a sound card are those doing audio production work or those with a finely tuned ear that can hear the little differences and it drives them nuts. Sanity is worth a lot of money to those people.

    What kind of inputs does the amp have on it? Might be able to find an older decoder that can accept an unprocessed signal from the mobo, process it, then output it with individual channels over a wire your amp can input.


    Do you mean inputs from cd player, computer, ... or from my speakers? For the first one it's the usual two red and white audio cables and from the speakers a thick wire with lots of copper strands in it.
  10. Since you're not nuts about how it sounds, probably not. These guys seem to know what they're talking about with the amp and stuff.

    And I'm still not stalking you :lol:
  11. If you are really worried about sound quality, turn the volume meter on the computer output down and the volume dial up on your external amp so the noise floor is pushed down from the PC.

    Reference motherboard designs should have perfectly fine onboard audio (it's the OEM ones like Dell and Toshiba that are dubious in quality because they design their own integrated audio outputs). Modern computer DACs are fairly close in quality, the only real audible difference lies in the pre-amp/gain stage.

    However, if the voltage is kept low enough, onboard will sound as good as a discrete sound card (Reminds me of the 1980s Stereophile double blind test where under normal listening levels, nobody could tell the difference between a $200 Pioneer receiver and $10k power amps).
  12. Well I initially came here to ask this question, but seeing as the basic consensus is aligned with what I already believe, we can skip that.

    But I have a couple points to add, based on living the audio life... I am not an audiophile in the consumer sense in terms of my home system/listening habits (cf. this), but I have fairly extensive pro audio production experience.

    The differences when it comes to audio quality, per se are not going to be very evident when it comes to gaming. For the most part, game audio is probably not recorded using such quality equipment and facilities as are used for music or movies. (Some certainly is, which is why you hear a game like CoD costs >$100M to make! But dare I say "most" is not.) Also, video game audio isn't going to have the wide dynamic range of music/movie audio, either. Game audio is pretty much "turned up to 10" the whole time. Modern pop music is too, but movies, classic rock, jazz, classical music, etc. have much more dynamic range, and frankly a lot of the time the quality -- or lack of -- of your system is going to be revealed in the quiet parts, not the loud ones! Also, if you are listening to music in any compressed format -- e.g. MP3, AAC (iTunes), etc. -- a lot of this subtle quality is already obliterated from your music during the encoding process. :( Only formats like CD, Blu-Ray, CD-quality WAV/AIFF/M4A, as well as any existent or emerging HD audio format you happen to come across are going to deliver source material that is even demanding of this level of quality reproduction.

    So, if your main audio needs are based on gaming or "MP3s" listening, this is definitely a vote in the "no" column.

    Also, FWIW, my response to astrallite's suggestion that you should keep your PC's output low: Keeping the output low may reduce the amplifier noise of the card, but there is still going to be a base floor created by the card's background noise that this will not affect. So, you turn your PC's volume down too much, and you wind up with too low SNR and wind up amplifying a bunch of noise along with the desired signal. YMMV but in these sorts of scenarios I generally work with the source device's output at anywhere from about 65-85% of max, to keep a decent balance between amp noise and device noise. It's really just a rule of thumb and I would experiment to find the best results in any given situation -- even to the point of using max volume, or extremely low volume on the source device, as astrallite suggested, if it happens to work better for the given scenario.

    _____________________________

    To get back to the "asking" side of the discussion, though, my interest is: will an outboard card really take the load off CPU, system RAM, etc. resulting in better performance?

    I saw another thread where responders were saying the onboard RAM of sound cards is not even utilized by most games, but that was from 2007 so things may have changed...

    TY for any info!
  13. COD series cost a lot to make because of profit sharing, bonuses, major paydays :)

    Based on pure effort it could be made much cheaper :D
  14. ShouldntHave said:


    To get back to the "asking" side of the discussion, though, my interest is: will an outboard card really take the load off CPU, system RAM, etc. resulting in better performance?

    I saw another thread where responders were saying the onboard RAM of sound cards is not even utilized by most games, but that was from 2007 so things may have changed...

    TY for any info!


    Only in XP. Windows 7 sound API is completely software based.
  15. Somebody_007 said:
    I have an asus p6t deluxe and a pretty good end stereo system(3 large high end speakers with amplifier but 25 years old) which are connected to my pc via a 2.5mm jack. Would it be worth it to buy a sound card?


    Well by "large" what do you mean?...and are they 2 way, 3 way, 4 way speakers?...I have 2 speakers with 12'' woofers in them in my office...they are pretty large, but my 16'' woofers in my basement make them small. It all depends, once you enter the realm of deep and loud bass, a sound card helps because distortion becomes a big problem. Moreover, what is the range of sound your speakers provide? Do you have a subwoofer? How much power is your receiver?
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