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Soundcard relevance for stereo speakers?

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July 30, 2011 8:08:48 AM

Recently I just bought some Polk Monitor 40's and a center for them on a great sale. My plan is a buy a sub and receiver to build a decent sound system, the first I've ever done.

My plan is to hook my computer up to the receiver in order to be able to play my MP3's, FLACs, and basically all my music on my computer on the stereo system. This will be the first time hooking something like this up, so I have a few questions that I haven't been able to pin down. I apologize in advance if most of these questions are rudimentary/common sense.

-Do I need a soundcard for my motherboard in order to make the music transferring to the stereo speakers sound good? My motherboard is a pretty old one with the standardized audio thing, and I've heard arguments both for and against soundcards, so this is why I am unsure. I just want my music to sound really well and clear on these new speakers, as it'll be the first decent system I've had. If I have to buy a card I will.

-Also, I am unsure how exactly to hook up the actual computer to the receiver. I've heard TOSLINK, RCA, and 3.5mm Y-cable to 2 RCAs. I just want to know the best choice for audio quality, whatever that takes (besides HDMI, I don't have that.)

I apologise for the redundancy of these questions in regard to there being numerous posts about this around the internet, but I just can't seem to figure this out and get a clear understanding of what I need to do. Any input would be very appreciated.
July 30, 2011 8:42:32 AM

Motherboard comes with integrated audio usually Realtek Audio and that should be fine for most people. Sound cards are dedicated to controlling the audio as its name depict. Typically use for high quality sounds, surround sound, 3D audio, etc. Just off the top of my head.
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July 30, 2011 8:01:23 PM

The absolute best quality would result from using an optical or coaxial S/PDIF connection. Since your motherboard doesn't have such an output built-in, you could choose to get a sound card that does. But, there's no reason to even consider such a sound card unless your receiver has an optical or coaxial input.

It's a matter of finding compatible matches between the source and receiver, then choosing the highest quality one.
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July 30, 2011 10:59:03 PM

RazberyBandit said:
The absolute best quality would result from using an optical or coaxial S/PDIF connection. Since your motherboard doesn't have such an output built-in, you could choose to get a sound card that does. But, there's no reason to even consider such a sound card unless your receiver has an optical or coaxial input.

It's a matter of finding compatible matches between the source and receiver, then choosing the highest quality one.


Ok, that sounds like what I'll be planning to do. I don't have the receiver yet, and most receivers nowadays seem to come with both coax and optical.

And to clarify, is there any real difference between the coaxial cable with the RCA ends vs. the ones that "screw in," (F-types?).
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July 31, 2011 1:12:19 AM

To my knowledge there's no difference in quality. The only difference between them would be in the cable itself - you have to use whatever cable type the connection requires. If presented with the choice, I've always chosen to use optical cables.
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July 31, 2011 4:10:48 AM

Technically optical cables have the best sound quality since they virtually eliminate interference/noise by using light to transfer the signal, but a well insulated coaxial cable will sound unnoticeable different. So it doesn't matter really.

You shouldn't care about whether the card is toslink or coaxial...it will sound the same for you.
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July 31, 2011 5:47:09 AM

you could go with this sound card
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
that is a Asus Xonar DG PCI card for $30 with shipping
has Digital S/PDIF Output with a toslink connector
that is a optical output
great little card for the money
it is low profile so if you have a slim case you can fit it
also it is PCI so your tower will have that
better cards use PCIe so be careful if you dont have an extra PCIe

of course there are much better cards
but I own one and it sounds great
and is at a great price
this way you could use more of your budget for the receiver
most receivers will have Digital S/PDIF inputst with toslink
only do realize that card is 5.1 not 7.1
if budget isnt an issue and if you want 7.1
then the Essence from all reviews is awesome
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
there is also the DX and the DS which are under $100

while personally I like asus myself
there are other good brands like Auzentech also


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July 31, 2011 6:32:16 AM

First off, really appreciate all of the feedback, it's really cleared things up. I've done many more hours of research to clarify for myself everything, so I won't be completely in the dark when the time comes to hook my receiver up to the computer. I'll be making sure to get a receiver with both optical and coax most likely, and it sounds like either will work. Again, thanks for all the input.
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July 31, 2011 6:32:58 AM

Best answer selected by Codet74.
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July 31, 2011 12:08:23 PM

This topic has been closed by Mousemonkey
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