Solved

Front Audio Ports When Using Sound Card

Hello Tom's Hardware forum members,

I have a question pertaining to the use of the front audio ports on a computer case when you have a dedicated sound card already installed in the system. I first want to clarify some points that anyone may correct me if I'm wrong. Firstly, when you use a sound card, you have a dedicated card that processes the sound for your system, rather than your CPU. Secondly, decent and higher quality sound cards provide superior sound quality compared to onboard Intel HD audio. Third and lastly, onboard audio is disabled when you use a dedicated sound card. This is the one I'm not too sure about, but it makes sense.

Now with that out of the way, here is the sound card I am interested in purchasing http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16829132006 for a HP Compaq dc5800 small form factor PC. I want this card because it can use a low profile bracket and fit inside my case. I also have the available 4-pin floppy power cable on the PSU that the sound card requires. This sound card also has the audio header so you can connect your front audio ports that are attached to the computer case. The header cable, best illustrated in this PDF http://bizsupport1.austin.hp.com/bc/docs/support/SupportManual/c01362761/c01362761.pdf, that comes from the audio ports on my computer will not reach this sound card without some sort of extension cable. That means I will have to leave the cable plugged directly in the motherboard.

Here finally comes the question I wanted to ask this community. If I install this sound card and were to use the front audio ports on my computer case, would the sound that comes from it be processed by the sound card or the onboard Intel HD audio? This probably poses another question that if the front audio ports would even work since they go to the motherboard, rather than directly to the sound card. I'm guessing they still would and the sound may be processed by the dedicated sound card and then just channeled through the motherboard to bring me the crisp sound I payed money to produce. Any geniune input would be helpful from the community on this forum

P.S. I'm sorry that I posted the URLs in this manner, but I was having trouble using the URL entry tool on this forum on both links.

Thanks,

Junkyard Dawg
9 answers Last reply Best Answer
More about front audio ports sound card
  1. The sound card would have pins on it where you plug the front panel audio in that would have been on the motherboard if you were using onboard sound.

    So yes, onboard audio is not used but not disabled either on most boards.
  2. Some may allow you to turn it back on however. This way you'd use two sound cards. The front panel however would be controlled by the onboard audio. You should have the ability to in windows designate one of them as the primary audio device. All the system sounds will go through that one, along with any program not smart enough to handle multiple output devices.
  3. Novuake said:
    The sound card would have pins on it where you plug the front panel audio in that would have been on the motherboard if you were using onboard sound.

    So yes, onboard audio is not used but not disabled either on most boards.

    Okay, thanks for clarifying point three for me. That means the onboard audio will not be disabled if I install this dedicated graphics card. I do have the option of disabling onboard audio altogether via the BIOS. Assuming I disable this, can you tell me if I leave the audio header for the front ports still connected to the motherboard that I would still get sound?
  4. 4745454b said:
    Some may allow you to turn it back on however. This way you'd use two sound cards. The front panel however would be controlled by the onboard audio. You should have the ability to in windows designate one of them as the primary audio device. All the system sounds will go through that one, along with any program not smart enough to handle multiple output devices.

    So if I leave the front audio header connected to the motherboard and somehow designate the dedicated sound card as my audio device, the audio that comes from the front audio ports would be processed via the sound card or onboard Intel HD audio? I do have the option in the BIOS to disable onboard audio altogether. Can you please clarify where the sound would be coming from if I do use the dedicated sound card and leave the header connected to the motherboard, or if I still would even produce any sound from there?
  5. Best answer
    Same as it always has, so the Intel HD. If you want to try dual audio, you'll need to leave the audio enabled in the bios.
  6. Best answer selected by Junkyard_Dawg.
  7. 4745454b said:
    Same as it always has, so the Intel HD. If you want to try dual audio, you'll need to leave the audio enabled in the bios.

    Thank you for the clarification on my questions.
  8. Junkyard_Dawg said:
    So if I leave the front audio header connected to the motherboard and somehow designate the dedicated sound card as my audio device, the audio that comes from the front audio ports would be processed via the sound card or onboard Intel HD audio? I do have the option in the BIOS to disable onboard audio altogether. Can you please clarify where the sound would be coming from if I do use the dedicated sound card and leave the header connected to the motherboard, or if I still would even produce any sound from there?


    To fail to answer your question, I don't know whether onboard is automatically disabled in your Compaq when a card is installed. I would go into Control Panel and see what's going on, and I would try your configuration with the card enabled and the front panel plugged into the mobo just to see if it works. I would be very surprised to find that the sound from the mobo header is the same as that from the card header in any event. I would connect the front panel to the card whatever happened.

    Extension cables are available, here, for example, but you can rig it yourself with some wire if you know what you're doing. The only tricky part is that you'll need to have the mic input shielded. I googled <front panel audio extension cable>.
  9. Petrofsky said:
    To fail to answer your question, I don't know whether onboard is automatically disabled in your Compaq when a card is installed. I would go into Control Panel and see what's going on, and I would try your configuration with the card enabled and the front panel plugged into the mobo just to see if it works. I would be very surprised to find that the sound from the mobo header is the same as that from the card header in any event. I would connect the front panel to the card whatever happened.

    Extension cables are available, here, for example, but you can rig it yourself with some wire if you know what you're doing. The only tricky part is that you'll need to have the mic input shielded. I googled <front panel audio extension cable>.

    Thanks for the research. I may buy one of these extension cables so I can have all of the audio ports processed via the sound card and disable onboard audio in the BIOS.
Ask a new question

Read More

Sound Cards Audio Components Product