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Do you need a sound card if you use headphones?

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August 7, 2012 5:32:30 AM

So I'm new to computter building and the components and I was wondering if I need a sound card if I use headphones. Do most motherboards have sound with them? Please help me out I don't want to spend a lot of more money. Thanks.

More about : sound card headphones

August 7, 2012 6:38:57 AM

all motherboards now come with decent enough onboard sound.

it depends on how much your into your audio. almost all games and general PC users won't need or see benifit to a sound card.

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August 7, 2012 12:07:53 PM

^^ Disagree 100%. Especially when it comes to headphones.

Any decent audio equipment will see a quality enhancement when using a soundcard. The question for most is: Is it worth it?

Pesonally, going without a soundcard is like playing a game at 720p with no AA. You CAN, but its ugly.
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August 7, 2012 12:28:58 PM

I'd agree with hugo.
Assuming you'll be listening to MP3s, WMAs, or AACs, you'll lose more quality through the compression than through the sound stage on the motherboard.

I'd also agree with gamerk.
If you have decent headphones and listen to lossless music, then a decent soundcard will be quite the investment
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August 7, 2012 12:57:06 PM

and theres also usb headphones nowadays

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August 7, 2012 1:19:56 PM

mcnumpty23 said:
and theres also usb headphones nowadays

Good shout!
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August 7, 2012 1:29:38 PM

mi1ez said:
Good shout!


just about to order a pair of usb phones later today--never tried usb phones before but my wireless sennheisers are

getting on a bit

so glad you didnt say they were rubbish

theres just so many choices of headphones to pick from is the problem

i ended up narrowing it down by what i will use them for--ie pc only and gaming in particular and how much i was willing

to spend--ended up with deciding to get corsair vengeance 1500 phones


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August 7, 2012 1:44:50 PM

It depends. I'd say that you'll see a benefit with a good stand alone sound card, but only if you listen to high quality recordings and use a good pair of headphones.
Gaming would also benefit from it because of better separation and sound source location. If your motherboard has a high quality sound circuit but it can't power the headphones you have, you could use a headphone amp.
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August 7, 2012 1:53:16 PM

zachmartin1202 said:
So I'm new to computter building and the components and I was wondering if I need a sound card if I use headphones. Do most motherboards have sound with them? Please help me out I don't want to spend a lot of more money. Thanks.


I say experiment! Start off using on board sound for a few days then buy a low end sound card, you can get one dirt cheap (15$), if you see any kind of benefit you can think of investing in a better one, or just sticking with that. Also if you get a sound card you're taking stress off of your CPU so even if you don't think it will help you a cheap sound card might actually make a difference in performance (I'm talking very little here under 5%).
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August 7, 2012 1:56:24 PM

I just upgraded to a sound card to power my new Sennheiser PC360s and I can definitely tell you there is a difference.

If you go with USB headphones you don't need a sound card (not compatible).
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August 8, 2012 5:12:59 AM

gamerk316 said:
^^ Disagree 100%. Especially when it comes to headphones.

Any decent audio equipment will see a quality enhancement when using a soundcard. The question for most is: Is it worth it?

Pesonally, going without a soundcard is like playing a game at 720p with no AA. You CAN, but its ugly.

And I agree 100% with "gamerk316"

However it also depends on what your perception of good enough is. :sol: 
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August 8, 2012 12:01:31 PM

I think the problem with PC audio these days is people who think a set of Logitech Z-5500's or Astro A40's are "high end" audio equipment, rather then, at best, low-mid range end audio parts. So they buy a soundcard, and can't tell any difference.

Seriously, I wish some people could try some cheap audiophile headset (Grado SR-60i's go for $60 for goodness sakes) with and without a soundcard. That would end this debate in a heartbeat.
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August 9, 2012 12:23:06 PM

gamerk316 said:
I think the problem with PC audio these days is people who think a set of Logitech Z-5500's or Astro A40's are "high end" audio equipment, rather then, at best, low-mid range end audio parts. So they buy a soundcard, and can't tell any difference.

Seriously, I wish some people could try some cheap audiophile headset (Grado SR-60i's go for $60 for goodness sakes) with and without a soundcard. That would end this debate in a heartbeat.

Still doesn't take into account the numerous people listening to 128k MP3s. Nothing will make those sound good!
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August 9, 2012 3:28:00 PM

^^ the Kbps matters, but not nearly as much as the compressed dynamic range, which leads to everything getting muddled together.
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August 9, 2012 5:35:43 PM

gamerk316 said:
Seriously, I wish some people could try some cheap audiophile headset (Grado SR-60i's go for $60 for goodness sakes) with and without a soundcard. That would end this debate in a heartbeat.


Yea, I have a pair of Audio Technica ATH A700's and while their comfortable as hell, I've never been too pleased with the quality of audio reproduction.
I mainly listen to speakers anyway but, still if I had something I enjoyed a little more I might be more tempted to use them. :sol: 
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