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Should I get a sound card?

Last response: in Components
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July 21, 2010 5:21:02 AM

The MoBo I have is GIGABYTE UD7. The speakers I have are the Logitech Z-5500 5.1 speakers.

The UD7 on-board audio chip "Realtek ALC889" supports HD 7.1.

I want the best sound out of my speakers for gaming, I just do not know if buying a sound card will be better than on-board.

If it is, could you explain it to me why? :wahoo: 

More about : sound card

July 21, 2010 5:56:19 AM

Not really necessary any more.
In the bad old days the onboard sound cards used to be pretty rubbish, now however they are good enough to not warrant spending a few hundred on an extra card.

I think I stopped using non-onboard sound cards when Core 2's came out... some time around that at least.
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July 21, 2010 6:04:49 AM

^^agreed with arael. onboard sound is high quality these days. Theres only a very small percentage of computer users that need a sound card (or would actually make use of it)
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July 21, 2010 6:12:40 AM

Exactly. Most onboard cards seem good. Try it out, see what you think.
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July 21, 2010 6:33:27 AM

I won't be able to tell the difference and I will probably get use to it, but I want the best sound so I can get the best experience when video gaming on my p.c.
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July 21, 2010 6:40:07 AM

Man, even on my 3 year old motherboard, the onboard was considered high definition according to it's specs. I would just try it out and see what you think, but if you buy a sound card, I would not buy from creative.
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July 21, 2010 6:46:00 AM

minun said:
I won't be able to tell the difference and I will probably get use to it, but I want the best sound so I can get the best experience when video gaming on my p.c.


When I was using those speakers I actually went out and purchased a Auzentech sound card, with the same purposes. Turns out it was a waste of time and money, the onboard performed better.

In all honesty, don't waste your time or money looking for a sound card. Gaming with those bad boys will be just as good with the onboard as they will with an expensive card.
The only issue I ever had with the z5500's was the fact that the fuse kept blowing if I moved the damn thing. Other than that the sound was, and still is, awesome.
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July 21, 2010 6:08:32 PM

Does a soundcard give better audio quality than on-board sound?
- Yes it does (assuming it to be of a reputed brand)

Will you notice the difference between on-board sound & soundcard's?
- Yes, if you are an audiophile
No, if you are not

Who should definitely get a sound card?
- Those working professionally with media production; the hardcore movie buff

Is it worth spending more on a sound card when the on-board sound gives adequate service?
- That depends. If you have the $, & can discern small differences in sound quality, then it will be worthwhile.
If you are in two minds whether or not to get one & also are unsure about spending, stick to on-board.
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July 21, 2010 10:16:46 PM

of course you are going to find the speakers to sound better when you get a sound card.

but i dont really sonsider z-5500 as high quality.

probably why some ppl thought the sound card wasnt worth it for them, was probably they didnt even have the speakers that are good enough in order for them to hear the differences.

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July 21, 2010 10:32:04 PM

You'll notice a huge difference between onboard and a quality discrete sound card.
Night and day especially with those speakers.
Bought a UD5 with ALC889A and hated it my ancient Audigy 2-ZS blew it away.
If you can discern good sound from bad go for it.
Auzentech has the best price and performance at the moment imo.
Look for the Forte or Bravura on sale you won't be disappointed.
Asus Xonar and Omega Claro+ are also very good.
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July 21, 2010 11:10:32 PM

Hmmmn... There seems to be two authoritative sides to this issue. Claimed by those who know equally.

What to do?

The OP is correct that he will probably get used to whatever he has, but fears he might miss out on better sound.

To the OP:

My suggestion is to buy the damn card and try it out both ways. If you can tell the difference, and it is worth it, then keep the card.
If you can't tell any difference, then sell the card on e-bay, take a minor loss of $ and chalk it up to lesson learned.
If you don't get it, you will forever anguish over missing something.
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July 22, 2010 3:51:22 AM

Your onboard sound card is one of the best available. Higher than my ALCC888 5.1 channel. Money wise, it's not recommended to buy a sound card with your current speaker quality. Unless you have at least a $300 speakers as a consideration, even the top quality sound card won't help you boost your PC's sound quality.

Audiophiles usually use high end speakers, with outrageously expensive cables, to pair the sound card with. A golden ear belongs to an audio perfectionist who listens to lossless recording music quality. Game makers don't actually focus on sound quality more than they focus on the graphics. All the reasons not to buy a new sound card. But if you're really curious, just buy it. See how it's different from the onboard one. Although I won't recommend this gambling-like method.

As far as I know, the best method to increase the sound quality of the PC is to use a reversed approach. Replace the output device first (speaker, real speaker!), then if the sound reproduction is still disappointing, change the sound card. This will eliminate the gambling factor of determining whether the speaker or the sound card that's inhibiting your PC's audio potentials.
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July 22, 2010 4:35:39 AM

Look what went on sale today!
http://www.ncixus.com/products/?sku=49090&vpn=AZT%2DBRA...
Crazy not to pick one up at that price.
I like geofelt's reasoning.
Btw i'm really curious to know what these posters consider good sound to be and if they have ever heard it.
Guess what 5.1 and 7.1 isn't good sound.
You don't have to be an audiophile to appreciate good/better sound on a pc.
The true audiophile has full sized gear consisting of a high quality turntable,amp mono blocks or bi-wired,pre-amp,and two speakers,and possibly a sub.
That's it i've been doing it for years.
No crappy cd player,and 7.1 hometheatre receiver.garbage.
Sorry for getting off topic a little.
That being said Z-5500 may not be high-end quality speakers but they're not bad.
I have a friend who i just built a rig for and he has those speakers.
He also has high-end home hi-fi set-up and knows what sounds good.
Needless to say a good quality audio card was added to his pc set-up.
Your either tone deaf or simply don't know what your missing if you think an audio card is a waste of money.
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July 22, 2010 4:55:26 AM

davcon said:
Look what went on sale today!
http://www.ncixus.com/products/?sku=49090&vpn=AZT%2DBRA...
Crazy not to pick one up at that price.
I like geofelt's reasoning.
Btw i'm really curious to know what these posters consider good sound to be and if they have ever heard it.
Guess what 5.1 and 7.1 isn't good sound.
You don't have to be an audiophile to appreciate good/better sound on a pc.
The true audiophile has full sized gear consisting of a high quality turntable,amp mono blocks or bi-wired,pre-amp,and two speakers,and possibly a sub.
That's it i've been doing it for years.
No crappy cd player,and 7.1 hometheatre receiver.garbage.
Sorry for getting off topic a little.

Wow, an audiophile! So you're suggesting to buy a sound card without knowing the quality of the output device... But the line "5.1 and 7.1 are garbage" already defines your opinion that minun's current speaker are crappy. the 2 opinion is awkwardly contradictory.

Then as a true audiophile, what kind of speaker do you suggest for minun? Or do you still think that replacing only the sound card would increase his PC's audio quality?
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July 22, 2010 6:23:42 AM

get a integrated amplifier and 2 speakers, thats one easy way of starting off and building up a system to 5.1
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July 22, 2010 6:50:00 AM

davcon said:
Look what went on sale today!
http://www.ncixus.com/products/?sku=49090&vpn=AZT%2DBRA...
Crazy not to pick one up at that price.
I like geofelt's reasoning.
Btw i'm really curious to know what these posters consider good sound to be and if they have ever heard it.
Guess what 5.1 and 7.1 isn't good sound.
You don't have to be an audiophile to appreciate good/better sound on a pc.
The true audiophile has full sized gear consisting of a high quality turntable,amp mono blocks or bi-wired,pre-amp,and two speakers,and possibly a sub.
That's it i've been doing it for years.
No crappy cd player,and 7.1 hometheatre receiver.garbage.
Sorry for getting off topic a little.
That being said Z-5500 may not be high-end quality speakers but they're not bad.
I have a friend who i just built a rig for and he has those speakers.
He also has high-end home hi-fi set-up and knows what sounds good.
Needless to say a good quality audio card was added to his pc set-up.
Your either tone deaf or simply don't know what your missing if you think an audio card is a waste of money.

Sir, you're being sarcastic here. And you're missing the point of the question. minun needs an opinion about sound cards for gaming.

The thing is, unlike movie makers, game makers doesn't focus on high quality audio, which leads to a standard sound reproduction. What difference does it make for minun if he use a good quality sound card other than the onboard one? And if the sound card DOES make a significant increase in audio quality using his "not bad-previously-called-garbage" speakers, what kind of cards do you recommend for him? As a high rangking member, you know better than anyone to post a reply instead of editing your comment when someone is asking.

BTW, I am tone deaf, if that makes you feel any better.

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July 22, 2010 7:00:09 AM

There's nothing wrong with his speakers i've heard them extensively a friend has a set.With and without a sound card.Guess what you can listen to them in 2.1 mode.
And the OP asked if upgrading to a discrete sound card is worth it.
I say yes since i have the same ALC889 onboard and can say without question his sound will improve by adding a good card.
Been there done that.Actual real world experience.
Most of the post are based on opinions and nothing to back it up.
I have onboard it's great don't waste your money.
Great i'm glad you're happy with it.
The OP like myself is/was not satisfied with the onboard.
Simple add a Bravura it's a great card and definitely an improvement he'll hear.
Without breaking the bank under $100.
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July 22, 2010 7:15:15 AM

damasvara said:
Sir, you're being sarcastic here. And you're missing the point of the question. minun needs an opinion about sound cards for gaming.

The thing is, unlike movie makers, game makers doesn't focus on high quality audio, which leads to a standard sound reproduction. What difference does it make for minun if he use a good quality sound card other than the onboard one? And if the sound card DOES make a significant increase in audio quality using his "not bad-previously-called-garbage" speakers, what kind of cards do you recommend for him? As a high rangking member, you know better than anyone to post a reply instead of editing your comment when someone is asking.

BTW, I am tone deaf, if that makes you feel any better.

Good sir your're taking my post out of context i did not refer to his speakers as garbage.
I simply said i don't consider 5.1 and 7.1 set-ups as good sound/music listening.
I was referring to full size hometheatre receivers and 7.1 out of the box set-ups as garbage in reference to home hi-fi gear.
Maybe you should scroll further up the thread before commentiing.
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July 22, 2010 7:52:08 AM

davcon said:
Good sir your're taking my post out of context i did not refer to his speakers as garbage.
I simply said i don't consider 5.1 and 7.1 set-ups as good sound/music listening.
I was referring to full size hometheatre receivers and 7.1 out of the box set-ups as garbage in reference to home hi-fi gear.
Maybe you should scroll further up the thread before commentiing.


I see, must have skipped that one.

So this line: "No crappy cd player,and 7.1 hometheatre receiver.garbage." only refers to the 7.1 out-of-the-box home theatres. My mistake then, I'm sorry.

It's the Bravura then. From an expert of audio. minun, you have an answer.

There will always be conflict of interest between people, especially in this kind of forum. In this case, discrete sound cards vs onboard ones. I'm glad the "sparks of dispute" died off, since I was starting to think that you're one of those guys with a big ego and hot head (you should check out the thread about AMD vs Intel: AMD loose again!!!, it was a warzone!!!..). It turns out that you manage to came with a win-win solution. Worthy of an experienced high ranking member of Tom's.

I'm one of those guys whose saving for months to build a low-end PC, audio isn't really my strong points (especially for financial reasons :cry:  ). I only got a 2.1 value class Altec Lansing speakers. I guess that doesn't even count as "not bad", does it?

But after this discussion, I'm starting to think about upgrading my PC audio quality. Since you insist, based on true life experience, that it does make a difference, I'm curious to see how much it will change.

No hard feelings then. Glad to have this discussion with you, Sir.
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July 22, 2010 2:06:08 PM

A problem I've had with listening on a very good system is that your sub-par input sources like live concerts or cassette tapes will sound much worse on them; you notice every bit of hiss, distortion or scratches. It's kind of like watching SD on an HDTV - you become hyper-aware of the imperfections and the viewing (listening in the case of audio) experience suffers.

That's why I only use the original iPod headphones... just kidding. Seriously though, I'm also in the camp of onboard audio users. I had a sound card in my old P3-based system 10 years ago, but haven't needed one in my later builds. I also have the Z-5500 and am pretty satisfied.
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July 22, 2010 2:30:07 PM

^+1 i agree the input source is the most important factor.
Good post.
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July 22, 2010 2:33:37 PM

Here's a post from Wolfram23 an experienced member pertaining to your question.


Everything on that list below the Prelude is a PCI card as opposed to PCIe, so that just depends on which socket type you have available on the mobo. Generally, PCIe is better but as far as the card performance goes, I don't know.

The Forte is great, but for strictly gaming it's a little more than necessary. I have a Bravura and it's been absolutely great for gaming. I'm using 7.1 audio and it sounds just fantastic. So far, every game has been able to fully use the 7.1 channel sound from STALKER, Crysis, Metro, Batman, Cryostasis, NFS Shift, Dirt 2, Mirror's Edge etc. The only game I've had any issue with is Starcraft 2 beta, but it's a known issue. Basically, in the game menu you can only use stereo output. It has nothing to do with the sound card.

As for the Prelude, it is also a great card. It's basically the same as a Bravura. I'm not sure how many features are different but it should perform just fine in games. Looks like it has a few different input/output options.

The Forte and Bravura both have very high quality full-size headphone jacks which is great if you use a high quality headset. For speakers any of them will be good.


Message edited by Wolfram23 on 07-20-2010 at 06:34:09 PM
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i5 750 CPU (3.7/4.2ghz) | ASUS P7P55D PRO mobo | 2x2GB Patriot Viper II Sector 5 RAM @ 1400 1T CL7 | 2x Sapphire 5850 @ 960core/1210mem | GT240 PhysX PPU | 2x500GB Seagate 7200.12 RAID 0 HDDs | Corsair 750TX PSU | Win 7 64bit OS | Samsung 24" 1920x1080
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