I have Klipsch pro media speakers (no headphones), and a solid gaming computer. I'm considering adding a sound card. I hear mixed things about whether or not it's worth it, but I'm a gamer and would rather not spend millions on a card that is unnecessary. What is a great card for a gamer and the occasional music playing that isn't too expensive?
In my opinion it sounds good, but I keep hearing people say, "I thought my setup sounded good but then I put in a sound card and it changed my way of thinking about music". If that's true, then I'm interested, if that WAS true but no longer is, I don't need it. So which is it?
The only real answer is it depends. For some people, a jump from onboard to a soundcard is a huge improvement, for others, not so much. A lot has to do on the user, the speakers, and the way that each brand of soundcard processes the audio.
Onboard audio is actually very good now, especially Realtek. But with good speakers, a soundcard really shows its stuff.
many on-board sound cards including many VIA chipsets (that use realtek audio) don't have an equal amount of DB gain across the front/certer/rear jacks. this will affect the performance of products like this: