Sign in with
Sign up | Sign in
Your question

External sound card for A40's?

Last response: in Components
Share
February 1, 2013 6:48:25 AM

Hey there Tom's!


First of all, let me say I'm an audiophile wanna-be. I have decent ears, but not a clue what I'm listening for, as I doubt I've ever experienced good sound before.

My 4th pair of cheap-o $20 headphones died on me today, and after a little research, I decided it was the perfect excuse to blow a bit of money and buy a pair of Astro A40's. [With the 2013 preamp.] (I'm primary a gamer, and they were apparently the end-all be-all for gaming.)

So here are my questions:

1) I'm using a rather crappy pair of Logitech speakers. They do have a subwoofer, but they're still only 2.1 surround. Am I right in thinking that the 7.1 surround of the A40s is going to blow them away both in sound quality and immersion? (If so, it'd be awful nice to be able to move the speakers off my cramped desk area to give my monitor some breathing room.)

2) As I was doing research as to what headset I was to get, I was seeing a LOT of people saying that good headsets are a waste without a decent sound card. I was then researching sound cards, and found that my onboard audio (Realtek ALC898) is about on-par, at least spec-wise, with a lot of the sound cards out there. How true is that?

Basically what it comes down to is this: Will I see a noticeable improvement in sound quality if I'm using a sound card with these headphones?

If so, then I have a problem - I have a small form factor computer, with no room for a sound card to be added. Is there a (cheap, as I already paid way too much for the headphones) external sound card that would suffice? I have USB 3.0, "optical" on my onboard sound, and HDMI from my graphics card [can you send just audio through hdmi?], but I don't know if that means there's a better external option for me.

Thanks!
February 1, 2013 10:54:28 AM

DarkSable said:
1) I'm using a rather crappy pair of Logitech speakers. They do have a subwoofer, but they're still only 2.1 surround. Am I right in thinking that the 7.1 surround of the A40s is going to blow them away both in sound quality and immersion? (If so, it'd be awful nice to be able to move the speakers off my cramped desk area to give my monitor some breathing room.)


Probably not. Most surround headsets use very low grade components as a sacrifice to fitting 5 drivers per earcup. As for immersion, you'll find it hard to be immersed when the audio jumps between drivers because its at the point where they overlap.

I never recommend surround headsets; I always recommend stereo headphones paired with a soundcard capable of Dolby Headphone (or some other S/W based virtualization method).

Quote:
2) As I was doing research as to what headset I was to get, I was seeing a LOT of people saying that good headsets are a waste without a decent sound card. I was then researching sound cards, and found that my onboard audio (Realtek ALC898) is about on-par, at least spec-wise, with a lot of the sound cards out there. How true is that?


False. Sure, in terms of SnR, the ALC898 is pretty good (compared to Creative offerings anyway), but the other audio statistics (Harmonic Distortion, THD+N, etc) aren't that great. Onboard is simply flat and lifeless compared to a soundcard.
m
0
l
February 1, 2013 11:13:27 AM

i have some pretty good audio gear hooked up to my PCs & TV

Mirage 5.1 home theater set up (their large bookshelf speakers, not the little micro)

PC passing audio to a Yamaha receiver hooked up to klipsch bookshelf speakers

gaming PC (and sound card) with Klipsch 2.1 computer speaker set up and turtle beach headphones

all that said I pretty much agree with gamer. I'm not a big fan of computer speakers as I find most over priced and cheap but the 2.1 set ups offer better sound then most 5.1 & 7.1 since they use single drivers in cheap plastic housing.

as for head sets, the "surround sound" is gimmicky as best. it's better to go with a good pair of stereo head sets (as stated above) as the focus should be more on the drivers rather then noise makers.

as for a sound card for someone who primarily uses headphones; unless you plan to drop serious cash on a headset (and most gaming head sets are not serious) then you won't be missing much without a sound card. I can switch between my sound card and on-board audio with my head set (a pretty good gaming head set) and the difference is minimal especially when concentrated on gaming.


m
0
l
Related resources
February 1, 2013 6:11:39 PM

gamerk316 said:
Probably not. Most surround headsets use very low grade components as a sacrifice to fitting 5 drivers per earcup. As for immersion, you'll find it hard to be immersed when the audio jumps between drivers because its at the point where they overlap.

I never recommend surround headsets; I always recommend stereo headphones paired with a soundcard capable of Dolby Headphone (or some other S/W based virtualization method).

They're Dolby virtual 7.1 surround, pumped through a mixamp. It's not an external sound card, but the headset itself is precisely what you were recommending.



gamerk316 said:
False. Sure, in terms of SnR, the ALC898 is pretty good (compared to Creative offerings anyway), but the other audio statistics (Harmonic Distortion, THD+N, etc) aren't that great. Onboard is simply flat and lifeless compared to a soundcard.
Mnkay, that's not surprising. Any chance you could help out a little by recommending external cards that are that great? [Also, how much more am I going to have to spend to get an external as opposed to an internal?]

m
0
l
February 1, 2013 6:14:20 PM

dirtyferret said:
I pretty much agree with gamer. I'm not a big fan of computer speakers as I find most over priced and cheap but the 2.1 set ups offer better sound then most 5.1 & 7.1 since they use single drivers in cheap plastic housing.

as for head sets, the "surround sound" is gimmicky as best. it's better to go with a good pair of stereo head sets (as stated above) as the focus should be more on the drivers rather then noise makers.

I have no idea what the difference between drivers and noise makers is, but they are, I believe, stereo headphones.

dirtyferret said:
as for a sound card for someone who primarily uses headphones; unless you plan to drop serious cash on a headset (and most gaming head sets are not serious) then you won't be missing much without a sound card. I can switch between my sound card and on-board audio with my head set (a pretty good gaming head set) and the difference is minimal especially when concentrated on gaming.

What does serious cash imply? I mean, I shelled out $250 for what I was told were the nicest on the market; if that's not going to be noticeable over a $100 pair, it'd be nice to know so that I can return them. (I'll probably be listening to music as well, using either the headset or my cheap little speakers; whichever sound better.)
m
0
l
!