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Audio Card Needed or Not?

Tags:
  • Headphones
  • Audio
  • Sound Cards
  • Components
Last response: in Components
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September 30, 2012 5:56:24 AM

I will be purchasing headphones soon and was wondering if I needed to buy a sound card to get the best out of them. I have already picked out a card at my spending limit but would rather not have to buy it at all after spending $115 on these headphones.

Headphone specs:
http://www.audio-technica.com/cms/headphones/57a64f4a9f...

Current on-board audio specs:
http://www.realtek.com.tw/products/productsView.aspx?La...

Audio card specs:
http://www.asus.com/Multimedia/Audio_Cards/Xonar_D1/#sp...

More about : audio card needed

September 30, 2012 7:10:49 AM

On board audio is so good with modern boards, I can't justify spending money on an audio card.
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September 30, 2012 11:53:14 PM

I've read that it is typically the case, but my motherboard is a pretty cheap one. As far as I can tell, it seems that the quality would improve, but only slightly. I'm no expert on audio, as this is my first crack at it. I'm just wondering if the difference would really be noticeable.
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September 30, 2012 11:56:38 PM

As far as I know, yes, a cheap sound card will sound 10x better than on-board especially if you have a nice pair of headphones - which you do.

My HTPC has a cheap Biostar motherboard doesn't have the best of sound, I popped in a cheap $30 ASUS Xonar sound card and the difference was massive :lol: 
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October 1, 2012 12:17:29 AM

mocchan said:
As far as I know, yes, a cheap sound card will sound 10x better than on-board especially if you have a nice pair of headphones - which you do.

My HTPC has a cheap Biostar motherboard doesn't have the best of sound, I popped in a cheap $30 ASUS Xonar sound card and the difference was massive :lol: 

My plan is to get the headphones and see if I am satisfied with the quality before moving on to a sound card. I specifically became interested in better sound quality because of a particular band (Wintersun) finally releasing an album that was held back for many years, due to technical limitations of hundreds of tracks per song. It sounds like it will be an amazing experience with a lossless format and good sound quality.

That said, this is my first venture into high-quality audio. I've never owned a pair of headphones more expensive than my Skullcandy Titans, which are starting to lose a slight bit of boom in one side after two years of heavy use. I've never done anything audio related and have no clue how to gauge the specs. I read into S/N ratios and the like and have a very basic understanding of the concept, yet I am having trouble finding exact specifications for each product or info on why it would matter, or how much of a difference it would make.

I'd just like to know, from someone who understands the specs, if I could tell much of a difference from my motherboard's audio to the sound card while using those headphones. My motherboard was cheap but is actually fairly new and high quality, it is just a small micro-ATX AM3+ motherboard. Regardless, I won't be considering buying the card until I try the headphones on the on-board audio jack.

Also, I've looked into DACs. I wonder if that would be a better way to go?
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October 1, 2012 12:31:45 AM

Unfortunately, I am quite new to the realm of Sound Cards and being an Audiophile in general, so I can't really help you too much in terms of experience/recommendations other than what I have read online :( 

Though, fortunately for you, there's a great sound community on THG as well, so I'm sure you will be able to find answers to your questions :) 

I'm sorry my knowledge is very limited regarding your matter, and I wish you the best of luck finding answers.
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October 1, 2012 12:36:58 AM

mocchan said:
Unfortunately, I am quite new to the realm of Sound Cards and being an Audiophile in general, so I can't really help you too much in terms of experience/recommendations other than what I have read online :( 

Though, fortunately for you, there's a great sound community on THG as well, so I'm sure you will be able to find answers to your questions :) 

I'm sorry my knowledge is very limited regarding your matter, and I wish you the best of luck finding answers.

I appreciate the help. My other two posts on here didn't receive any attention and I had to solve the issues myself. I think it might be because I left tons of details with them, and that can be a little daunting, but it sure beats the usual, "HALP, STUFF NO DO, HOW DO WUT?! :pt1cable:  "
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October 1, 2012 12:41:11 AM

jrgray93 said:
I appreciate the help. My other two posts on here didn't receive any attention and I had to solve the issues myself. I think it might be because I left tons of details with them, and that can be a little daunting, but it sure beats the usual, "HALP, STUFF NO DO, HOW DO WUT?! :pt1cable:  "

:lol:  I, for one, love reading additional details so it's easier to help someone right off the bat. Maybe I'll do some looking into this matter myself and come back to ya ;)  I'm wanting a very nice speaker upgrade as well as getting myself a decent pair of headphones :lol:  so it's something I've been meaning to do!
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Best solution

October 1, 2012 4:24:44 AM

The ATH-M50s will need a soundcard to get the best out of them, without a doubt.

The best soundcard options that don't break the bank would be the ASUS Xonar DG(X) and ASUS Xonar D1/DX.
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October 1, 2012 6:02:26 AM

What is the difference between the 5.1 and 7.1? Will that mean anything with the headphones?

And thanks for the heads up on the cheap one. For $25, I'd almost be willing to just take the risk and buy it to compare for myself.
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October 1, 2012 12:12:35 PM

The ATH-M50s are stereo, so you don't need the 5.1/7.1 analog output jacks. Nice to have if you ever plan to move to a 5.1/7.1 speaker set though.
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October 4, 2012 1:08:44 AM

gamerk316 said:
The ATH-M50s are stereo, so you don't need the 5.1/7.1 analog output jacks. Nice to have if you ever plan to move to a 5.1/7.1 speaker set though.

Thanks for the info. I will be ordering in the morning!
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October 4, 2012 1:09:01 AM

Best answer selected by jrgray93.
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