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Do I need a sound card?

 

Bronze Member
Username: Jmsoave

South Lake Tahoe, CA USA

Post Number: 50
Registered: Feb-07
Despite all my home stereo hi-fi knowledge and experience, I've never bridged the gap between my PC and my home stereo. I've got loads of music on my PC in SonicStage. I know that I can simply hook up my PC to the stereo using a minijack-to-RCA cable, but is this going to get me the best sound? Or will a sound card improve the sound quality? I've read some postings that seem to imply that a sound card would be redundant in this case. I'm confused by all the sound card info out there, so any help or advice would be greatly appreciated...

The signal would be going into a 2-channel integrated amplifier.
 

Silver Member
Username: Stefanom

Vienna, VA United States

Post Number: 493
Registered: Apr-06
Depends on what you're willing to spend for best sound. Getting an external sound card, and then using a digital connection from that to a high end DAC should give you the best possible sound from your PC. However, if you're just running 128kbps mp3s, your standard output should be fine. If nothing else, you'll be out all of six bucks for that experiment.
 

Bronze Member
Username: Jmsoave

South Lake Tahoe, CA USA

Post Number: 52
Registered: Feb-07
This will be mostly mp3's and atrac3's, so you seem to think it's not worth an upgrade? I forgot to mention that this is a notebook computer, and that mobility is key...does that change the equation?

I've got my eye on this:
http://www.echoaudio.com/Products/CardBus/IndigoIO/index.php
 

Silver Member
Username: Stefanom

Vienna, VA United States

Post Number: 497
Registered: Apr-06
Depending on what you have now, it might make some difference. However, if the source is going to be low grade mp3s, there are limits as to what you can expect. In either case, I would try it with the standard integrated sound card in your machine now, and see how it sounds before upgrading.
 

Bronze Member
Username: Msvara

Post Number: 36
Registered: Sep-06
I would like to add a comment about sound cards. I had the Audigy 2 ZS and upgraded to the X-Fi and WOW! there is an option in the mixer called Crystalize and when you set that to maximum it really enhances the music. Also it bundles with a great Audio Creation Mixer that allows you to add effects to inputs during recording. One more benefit is they added a Game mode that allocates the available buffer RAM to work in such a way that games benefit and takes the load off the main CPU.
 

Silver Member
Username: Shane24

Post Number: 142
Registered: Mar-07
Mark is right, big improvement from audigy to x-fi especially the onboard 64mb ram, well I would assume u listen to mp3,wma,acc and related file formats, if ur looking for cd-quality then I would suggest to upgrade to the x-fi coz 192kbs mp3 is considered cd-quality...
 

Silver Member
Username: Stefanom

Vienna, VA United States

Post Number: 528
Registered: Apr-06
A: For top quality sound, use lossless formats, not mp3.

B: Something like this....

http://www.tnt-audio.com/sorgenti/trendsaudio_ud10_e.html

Will likely outperform anything Creative Labs puts out.
 

Bronze Member
Username: Msvara

Post Number: 37
Registered: Sep-06
Good to know Stephen. Thanks for the post. My wife is a singer and we're always looking for inexpensive audio improvments.
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