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Onboard vs. Card - sound.

Last response: in Components
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January 23, 2011 10:21:22 PM

I got an Asus P6X58D - E motherboard (Very good motherboard by the way) and I've been doing some research on sound cards. I was wondering, are they really worth it? Would I be able to notice any difference between whats on MY motherboard compared to a sound card?

Suggested sound cards would be nice. I don't want to spend a lot on them though, if I even think its worth getting one. Oh, and I'm running a Logitech 5.1 X530 (http://www.logitech.com/en-za/speakers-audio/home-pc-sp...) Very nice. Running with Realtek Audio drivers, the drivers are nice for whats onboard.
What do you guys think, somebody that has experience with sound cards.

Thanks.

Specs if anybody wants to know:

CPU: Intel I7 930 @ 3.7ghz (4.2 for benches) with H70 watercooling.
Motherboard: Asus P6X58D - E
GPU: GTX 580, @850 clock (Going for more)
Memory: XMS3 6GB corsair
HDD: 320gb and 1TB.
PSU: Corsair TX650
Case: Silverstone Raven RV02
28inch, and 20 side monitor.

More about : onboard card sound

a c 235 V Motherboard
January 23, 2011 10:42:35 PM

My philosophy on sound cards is to always wait and see if you are happy with on-board sound first. I don't buy them unless I'm unhappy with my on-board. Since you seem happy with your on-board, I see no need to spend the extra money to purchase a sound card. With modern motherboards, there is a limited need for sound cards outside of the "music" enthusiast IMO.

Another thing to think about is, if the build is gaming most people recommend using headsets instead of speakers. It is better for game play (and keeps the game noise down for the rest of the house :D  ).
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a b V Motherboard
January 24, 2011 1:18:19 AM

95% of people are just fine using the onboard audio. Enthusiasts looking for insanely high fidelity and SNR, or people trying to squeeze every last FPS out of their systems sometimes prefer to go with a true hardware based sound card to offload audio processing and / or achieve the best possible sound. Like the previous poster said, try your onboard first, and if you don't like it, then start shopping for a card. But that said, you will probably see that the onboard is just fine. If push comes to shove, a SB X-Fi Xtreme 7.1 PCIe sound card is like $50, but more high end enthusiast sound cards can run $150 and up.

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a c 117 V Motherboard
January 24, 2011 2:05:24 AM

I've been using discrete soundcards in my rigs since 1999 personally i prefer them.
But i would have to agree onboard sound has come along way in the last few years.
Honestly though i wouldn't spend more then $50 on a card for those speakers unless you plan on upgrading them in the future.
Asus and Auzentech makes some nice inexpensive cards that would be an improvement over your onboard.
I picked up an Auzentech X-plosion on sale for $40 and its a huge improvement over onboard and the Audigy 2-ZS it replaced.
Using that card with Logitech Z-5300.
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a b V Motherboard
January 24, 2011 11:04:30 AM

A lot depends on how sensitive your hearing is. Some people can't hear a difference, for some people, its dramatic. It really does depend.

Also, I always recomend analog over digital when it comes to audio. Sound does NOT digitze well...

My recommendations:

ASUS:
ASUS Xonar D1/DX
ASUS Xonar D2/D2X
ASUS Xonar Essence ST/STX

Auzentech:
Auzentech Prelude
Auzentech Forte
Auzentech Home Theatre HD

HT Omega:
HT Omega Striker
HT Omega Claro Halo/XT
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a b V Motherboard
January 25, 2011 11:01:55 AM

^^ Thats sometimes true, but I have a friend who honestly couldn't tell the difference between my ASUS D2 and onboard on my system, despite the fact [I thought] the differences were quite clear.
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a b V Motherboard
January 25, 2011 11:35:06 AM

gamerk316 said:
^^ Thats sometimes true, but I have a friend who honestly couldn't tell the difference between my ASUS D2 and onboard on my system, despite the fact [I thought] the differences were quite clear.

Sound quality is a very funny thing to judge sometimes since everyone hears things different and just like people have different tastes for food it goes the same for sound quality. All in all its really up to the user what sounds good to them. A sound card that is designed for gaming could boost your FPS by 2 to 5 FPS but its really not something that will make a real difference in gameplay its not like it used to be now that onboards are just as good as most soundcards that were out just a few years ago.

For me onboard sounds like crap and has no color in the sound it produces but if you ask my girl she will say it sounds the same so the only one who can judge if you should buy a card is you.
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January 26, 2011 7:09:01 PM

colour in audio isnt exaclty a pro, but neither is it a con, but if u want guranteed accuracy between the recording and the current playback, ud want to avoid electronics that results in colouring the sound. (neutral frequency response, would be a start)

its funny when u read reviews on dedicated soundcards by computer magazines, and they s*** like 'one word to describe this WARM...' not true at all... since most soundcard companies will aim for accuracy and go for as flat frequncy response and lowest distortion as possible, the soundcards i had over time were asus XONAR DX/D2X, creative xtreme gamer (rebranded audigy). the differences are clear... soundcard offer more neutral resposne then onboard, and that means no warm shizz, no colour shizz... NEUTRAL.

try going to a headphone shop/music/ instrument shop next time , and try the grado or the high end sennheiser, man do they put colour back on to speakers and some.
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a b V Motherboard
January 26, 2011 7:37:02 PM

When I say color I meant more as clear and real sounding. I hate all those enhancers and crystalizer they sound like crap.
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January 28, 2011 10:38:27 AM

I agree. If you're happy with onboard sound then don't go for a sound card. Besides the additional scratch, Soundcards are a frequent source of trouble for gaming. At least that has been my experience. I had to remove mine once for a FPS (can't remember which) and not only was I happy with the Realtek 97 onboard sound, the stuttering and freezing stopped. I had always assumed onboard=garbage.
Note: I do use my PC for music and such but not for creating or editing. If music is your business/passion then aftermarket is essential.
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January 28, 2011 11:19:32 AM

If you were asking about onboard video then my answer is always yes to replace it unless it's an HTPC. When it comes to sound, it is hard to say. I have many VIA and Realtek onboard sound cards and the only thing I find frustrating is the included control software. Most of the systems I currently use are 5.1 or 7.1 setups and have optical and sdif outputs along side the analogs on my onboard sound cards. I personally think they have come a long way and are great for being included on the board. If you were running the old AC 97 2.0/2.1 onboard sound then changing it would be a must for me. But some people never use their PC to it's full potential anyways.

Chances are, if you enjoy the sound card that is onboard... then changing to a new sound card will not help anything out. But if you are a true audiophile, then changing it will definitely be noticed. As many people mentioned above, most people can't tell the difference in the onboard or the add in cards. Unless you are going to change your speakers to a better full home theater setup, and what you got makes you happy... then save your money for more RAM or something more beneficial to your daily operating habits. :sol: 
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