produce better sound quality than my on-board audio? I am confused because the sound to noise ration and sample rates are lower (102 SNR, 96khz sample rate) then on my on-board VT2021 (110 SNR, 192kHz sample rate).
I'm planing to pair the sound card with sennheizer pc 320 headset. Is it even worth buying a discrete sound card?
I'm open to suggestions for alternatives but the card has to have optical out and a front panel connector.
Have been looking also at the ASUS XONAR D1 and the ASUS XONAR DX/XD which on paper seem better than the one from creative. Is there any other difference that the PCI vs PCIe? Also can I install the PCI-e card in the PCIE slot (8x or 4x) meant for graphics card? The reason is that my graphics card is blocking the pci1x slot and the other is dangerously close to the graphics card.
Are these cards noticeably better in sound quality than my VT2021 on-board?
Why dont you try them out with the onboard sound and if they dont sound all that great go ahead and order something with a built in headphone amp, like the asus essence.
Thanks for the reply but that card is way out of my price range. The ASUS XONAR DX/XD is as high as I can go and even that is a bit over budget. I could just get the headphones but i won't know how they sound on the asus if i never try them. None of my friends gives a crap about this stuff so i can't try it somewhere else. That is why I'm asking you kind people to help me out here.
A sound card is only used these days by folks who work professionally with audio or whom have very high quality speaker configurations (audiophiles?). They work great for eliminating the negligible amounts of background noise that is sometimes generated on integrated audio chips.
Most integrated audio is seriously good enough for most people, myself included. And if you only plan on gaming or using the machine as a general media box integrated will be fine.
Unless you feel the odd need to fill all your PCI slots or if your motherboard doesn't already support your desired outputs (2.1/5.1/7.1...) I wouldn't recommend spending the money on a sound card.
I'm with popatim on this. Use the onboard sound until you're sure whether you need an add in card or not.