Dedicated Sound Card vs Onboard Sound (optical)

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.
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More about dedicated sound card onboard sound optical
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.)
  7. 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.
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