Hey all, I know very little about computer audio and have never owned a sound card. I recently purchased the Sennheiser PC350 headset and I feel the quality is much lower than it could be as I'm using motherboard audio currently. After reading reviews and gathering information, I've decided to get either the Halo Claro Omega or Asus Xonar as they have built in amps and seem to be very high quality. I plan to mainly use the headset for music and gaming with the occasional movie. However, I have a bunch of questions about them if anyone could help. Here are the links as well:
What do I have to do to set them up? Should I uninstall my motherboard audio drivers and/or disable onboard audio in BIOS? After physically installing the card, will I have to tune any settings to make it work best with my headset?
Do I simply have to plug my headset into the back of the card? Do they include standard headphone and mic ports?
How do I configure the cards to work with my case's front panel audio ports? I intend to keep my headphones plugged in the back, but I like to have the front ports available for my less used and lower quality speakers.
Finally, if anyone has any different suggestions knowing my situation, please let me know. Thanks a lot in advance
1: The only ASUS Xonar card with a headphone amp is the Essence ST/STX. Just want to make sure you know there are other Xonar cards without one...
2: As for setup, I've never had any problems using my Xonar D2 with my onboard audio or other sound devices. Its "possible" you may have to disable onboard, but as far as Windows is concerned, they are differnet devices, no different from a USB headset. Should just be plug into slot, install drivers, and plug in headset.
3: As for front panel connections, both cards should have front panel connectors.
4: The HT Omega Claro has the standard AC97 input jacks that are the norm for PC users.
The ASUS Essence line, however, opted for high quality RCA jacks (Red/White, like you see on a TV). Very high quality, but limited to stereo, and you need an RCA->AC97 converter (which go for like $0.10 these days...) to hook up PC speakers to them. I know the Essence *used* to ship with a second *daughter* card that had the standard AC97 I/O ports, but don't know if that card is still included with the retail package.
I *think* that covers everything you need to know. Let me know if you need another response on something.