Learn why you may, or may not, want a new aftermarket sound card, external or otherwise.
Released: April 19, 2014
Most sound systems, head phones and headsets have an impedance of 32 ohms, and most modern on-board sound cards use better digital to analog converters, so for the common user, the answer is in fact, not really.
Now, for those wondering if they should be getting a new sound card, you might be asking that question because you either have a higher end headset, or head phones with an audio impedance greater than 32 ohms. The volume on your current sound card is too low. The audio quality is horrible. You might have too much interference. You have a new 8 channel sound system, and most on-board sound cards only have enough ports for 6 channels of sound. Or, the sound card is missing some features you require.
The choice now is whether you should have a portable solution, also known as an external sound card, or an internal solution. Many people other there will basically tell you to go with the USB solution, and most of the time they may be right, but the usage scenario is what is required.
In my case, I have tons of gadgets all over my desk for many different tasks. I don't have the space, nor the desire to have an USB sound card on my desk. Many of you may think like myself and consider getting sound cards like the SoundBlaster Zx, or ZxR. Some of you are gamers and may want to get a Asus ROG Xonar Phoebus card, some of you may also want to try other solutions.
Some of you may want to use the USB method, in that case you may definitely want to try sound cards like the Creative USB Sound Blaster Audigy 2 NX which is an external USB sound card solution.
Now, just so we understand something, most of us have trouble telling the difference between bad audio, and low volume audio. Getting a better sound card solves that. Interference is rare, but if that is an issue, avoid using the front header for you audio needs. Most on-board audio sound cards are usually designed for headphones, headsets, or sound systems with an impedance of 32 ohms. Getting a better sound card allows us to get higher impedance headsets, headphones, and sound systems.
For those who wish to use the optical output, if your motherboard has an optical out, you don't need to get a new sound card, the output is identical because the DAC is not used in either case.
Host : Steve Smith | Music : Jonny Lee Hart | Editor : Steve Smith | Producer : Zed Axis Productions
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