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Dedicated Sound Card vs Onboard Sound (optical)

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October 19, 2012 10:59:41 PM

I'm currently running my audio out of the onboard HD sound chip through an optical cable. My question is If I got a dedicated sound card, would I notice a difference since I am already running a digital signal. I would not be getting a low budget card and I'm running a high-def Yamaha reviver with a good set of Pioneer speakers. I would still be using the optical cable, but with a mini-optical adapter.

Another note. I am not yet running a full surround sound but I will be making that addition soon.

Thank you all.
October 19, 2012 11:14:09 PM

metalman02 said:
I'm currently running my audio out of the onboard HD sound chip through an optical cable. My question is If I got a dedicated sound card, would I notice a difference since I am already running a digital signal. I would not be getting a low budget card and I'm running a high-def Yamaha reviver with a good set of Pioneer speakers. I would still be using the optical cable, but with a mini-optical adapter.

Another note. I am not yet running a full surround sound but I will be making that addition soon.

Thank you all.


If using digital output it makes no difference (besides OpenAL acceleration). However if you have 24-bit sources I recommend getting a sound card and utilizing analog output as some receivers do not support 24-bit or 24-bit/96KHz+ optical audio and are limited to 16-bit.
October 19, 2012 11:20:20 PM

whooleo said:
If using digital output it makes no difference (besides OpenAL acceleration). However if you have 24-bit sources I recommend getting a sound card and utilizing analog output as some receivers do not support 24-bit or 24-bit/96KHz+ optical audio and are limited to 16-bit.


How would i find out if my receiver's is limited optical is limited? I didn't read anything like that when I bought it.
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October 19, 2012 11:24:37 PM

metalman02 said:
How would i find out if my receiver's is limited optical is limited? I didn't read anything like that when I bought it.


Well they usually don't tell you directly but if your receiver says it has 24-bit DACs it usually does support it.
October 19, 2012 11:31:57 PM

It really has nothing to do with the method of signal as opposed to the origination of the signal. The single most important spec to look at is S/N ratio between your onboard unit and the card you plan on getting. If you can hear hum and/or noise now, then you would benefit from a card that has a higher S/N ratio.
October 19, 2012 11:33:46 PM

dingo07 said:
It really has nothing to do with the method of signal as opposed to the origination of the signal. The single most important spec to look at is S/N ratio between your onboard unit and the card you plan on getting. If you can hear hum and/or noise now, then you would benefit from a card that has a higher S/N ratio.


Signal to noise ratio has no bearing on digital output only analog as digital output is well digital and thus incurs no noise.
October 19, 2012 11:37:22 PM

Oh yeah, if your an audiophile you might want to set the output as LPCM instead of AC3 (Dolby Digital) or DTS because LPCM is uncompressed but 2 channel only. I believe that AC3 and DTS are limited to 16-bit however LPCM isn't.

But none of this matters if you don't have a 24-bit source (music/movies/etc.)
October 20, 2012 12:53:00 AM

Well I think for now since I am only running a 2.1 setup I don't see buying a dedicated card being worth the money. I'll start looking around for more stuff about this and then when I go full surround sound hopefully I will know a little bit more about this stuff. But if not, then I'll make another post :p 


Thank you all.
!