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Integrated audio vs audio card

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November 26, 2012 8:08:26 PM

I'm building a new computer using an ASUS P8Z68-V Pro/Gen3 MB, i7-2600k and am wondering if the integrated audio would work fine for my use. I'm not an audiophile, but plan on listening to streaming music through my Harman Kardon receiver w/ Klipsch speakers. Any thought on the difference a sound card would make on quality and if so, what cards would you recommend.

Thanks!
November 26, 2012 8:39:57 PM

I was actually just looking into this same basic issue over the weekend. I'm not a huge audiophile, but I appreciate good quality sound and have spent probably the better part of $1000 on a receiver and set of speakers.

Everything I looked at said that dedicated sound cards do provide a noticeably better sound compared to the average integrated sound. The general consensus is that they have tighter control on fidelity, including bass. So considering you seem to have spent at least a few hundred dollars on your setup, I would say it's definitely worth spending $50-$100 more on a decent sound card. If you were just using a set of basic stereo, or even 2.1, desktop speakers, integrated audio would probably be fine.

If you want to send me a PM in a couple of days, I might be able to give you a better idea. I have a Xonar DSX on order with Amazon, and could give some subjective opinions on the differences. I also think Asus and Creative are about the only companies making actual sound cards anymore. Integrated audio is generally "good enough" for most people, so there's not as much demand for actual sound cards anymore.
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December 3, 2012 4:45:27 AM

cl-scott said:
I was actually just looking into this same basic issue over the weekend. I'm not a huge audiophile, but I appreciate good quality sound and have spent probably the better part of $1000 on a receiver and set of speakers.

Everything I looked at said that dedicated sound cards do provide a noticeably better sound compared to the average integrated sound. The general consensus is that they have tighter control on fidelity, including bass. So considering you seem to have spent at least a few hundred dollars on your setup, I would say it's definitely worth spending $50-$100 more on a decent sound card. If you were just using a set of basic stereo, or even 2.1, desktop speakers, integrated audio would probably be fine.

If you want to send me a PM in a couple of days, I might be able to give you a better idea. I have a Xonar DSX on order with Amazon, and could give some subjective opinions on the differences. I also think Asus and Creative are about the only companies making actual sound cards anymore. Integrated audio is generally "good enough" for most people, so there's not as much demand for actual sound cards anymore.



Hey, just checking in to see how your sound card is working out. I checked out your sound card and looked at some others on the ASUS site and found the Essence STX card quite interesting. Was there a noticeable improvement for you? I was mulling over what you posted and am still puzzled how they work. If you have a nice receiver and speakers and you are playing streaming audio, how does the sound card make your stereo system sound better if its already a decent one? If the one you bought gives drastic improvements, I can only imagine what the higher end cards do :) 

I'm imagining the difference is sort of like when I bought my Klipsch speakers and used them on an old Technics reciever. When it died and I bought my Harmon Kardon and played it for the first time I was stunned at home much more sound there was coming out of the speakers playing the same music I'd played with the Technics. The subtle nuances were amazing. is there something about internet streaming that loses its quality that the sound card adds back in somehow?

OK, it's late and work is early a.m. Peace!

I just tallied up all my components with my buying spree ending yesterday and am at $1200. I decided to hold off on the graphics card and use the integrated to see how it works and to use my XP Pro in the interim till I can afford what I want.
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