What is the best sound card on the market?

I need your help in choosing a sound card for the pc that I am building. The pc specs are :
Intel core i7 980X 3.33GHz processor,
mobo Gigabyte GA-X58A-UD7 Intel X58 (Socket 1366) DDR3,
Corsair Memory Dominator 24GB DDR3 1600Mhz,
Nvidia GTX 580 Series graphics card, or a dual Nvidia GTX 560,
Cooler Master Silent Pro 1000W Power Supply,
Cooler Master RC-1000 Cosmos case,
Western Digital Caviar Black 1TB SATA 6Gb/s 64MB Cache,
I want to have a seperate sound card for superior sound on my pc. I will be using the pc primarily fror gaming via headset, watching dvd and blue ray films vis speakers. So I would like a card which is the best all round card my budget being no more than $200 or £180.
4 answers Last reply
More about what sound card market
  1. Asus Xonar Essence STX - £140.27inc. vat
  2. what about the Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi Titanium HD Sound Card? and can you tell me more in depth what you meant by your statement pls (dont waste your dough. youll be ending up using the sc spdif connection which makes no different from the mobos one) thankyou.
  3. If you want to get the Dolby/DTS sound features out of your DVD/BluRay the SPDIF is just transferring the encoded audio data from the disk. All decoding is done in a receiver. Extended HD sound found on BluRay is either direct analog out where a sound card will matter or transferred over HDMI to a receiver. A nice multichannel receiver is usually more expensive than the nice sound cards.

    Stuff like Dolby Live and DTS Connect are more soundcard dependent as the soundcard packages up multichannel audio to be passed over SPDIF. However, you still need a receiver to make use of these features. Though if just listening to music SPDIF can transfer direct PCM for stereo sound... which, yet again, plugs into a receiver.

    If just using the analog out then soundcard does matter. However, it is much better to give the onboard a whirl first. Unless you've got some nicer speakers (like dedicated shelf speakers) the difference between onboard and dedicated can be hard for many to notice (but for those who can the difference can be astounding).

    Even the onboard for your selected motherboard can generate the multichannel feeling through stereo headphones with its "Dolby Home Theater" feature.

    For movies and music the Asus Xonars and HT Omegas are generally regarded as a better choice. Though Creative Sound Blasters are still very capable, they tend to cater towards gaming.
  4. ummm no....

    give me a list of 'cheap' receivers that have SNR rating well over 110dB....

    a cheap £60 soundcard have an SNR value of 116dB

    (sound card amp??? wtf)

    and just so u know, a nice (mid priced) soundcard is more expensive then the DAC in a 'nice' receiver.
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