Question Bought a sound card, was it a mistake?

Hey there.

I'm not any audiophile, or anything close, and for me onboard audio does exactly what I need. So, I can't really testify as to the difference.

However, for the most part (and this can be argued either way) a decent sound-card which the Audigy is, is always better than onboard audio for sound reproduction, less interference, and higher quality sound output, if using really good quality headphones, or mixing recording etc. For 99% of the time, and for 99% of people listening, there is very little difference. But for those that care, seemingly the difference is night and day.

IMO, for normal every day use: watching youtube, movies, music on relatively standard speaker setup, onboard is fine. For anything really seriously music related, whether recording, mixing or whatever, then the add in card will be better.

I found this thread online regarding the 24bit 96khz v 24bit 192khz aspect. https://www.gearslutz.com/board/newbie-audio-engineering-production-question-zone/861682-24-bit-96khz-vs-24-bit-192khz.html

Seems to be lots of different opinions on it. Have a read. Hope it helps some.
 

delaro

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Sample Rate scales actually 16-bit to 24-bit 44.1, 48, 96, 192kHz.
It also has a higher Signal to Noise Ratio of 106dB which is better.

You're not going to notice the difference with those headphones but there is a difference once you have speakers or Cans with much better quality.
 
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Sample Rate scales actually 16-bit to 24-bit 44.1, 48, 96, 192kHz.
It also has a higher Signal to Noise Ratio of 106dB which is better.

You're not going to notice the difference with those headphones but there is a difference once you have speakers or Cans with much better quality.
Hey delaro,

So with the scaling, does that take up more CPU resources when processing? Obviously not so much with an add in card, but for onboard? Interested to know.
 

joeblowsmynose

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On board sound can be problematic, and always seems to pick up some signals (its gotten better though) at some point.

I'm currently having issues with my onboard sound on my ASUS ROG mobo at work ... it wants to always run some stupid sound leveling filter (which appears to have no on/off setting) which is messing up my audio edits -- I need to unplug and re-plug my headphones, every time I notice when this randomly turns on - such a pain.

At home, I do music and audio editing ... you pretty much should always have a dedicated card if doing those things. I use my onboard, for digital optical 5.1 out, that runs to my ancient SB "Extigy" external sound card (which feeds my 5.1 amp+speakers) for movies, and I use a Tascam audio interface and Fostex monitors for music stuff and gaming. So I use both ... well, technically all three. :) (now Windows needs to update the audio mixer so one can send audio to more than one device at a time - you suck microsoft!)

Onboard has its place and is most often adequate, but if you need or want really good signal to noise ratios, and overall sound reproduction reliability, add-in card for sound is where its at. I wouldn't say you wasted your money (except that they usually are overpriced for what they are).

Don't sweat the 96/192khz thingy - unless you are making a music studio it won't matter to you. (and if you were, you wouldn't be using the on board sound anyway, but a proper audio interface).
 
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hang-the-9

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So i just got my sound card installed,
which is the Sound Blaster Audigy FX and i noticed that it is only 24bit 96khz,
while my motherboards built in sound uses the alc887 codec and runs at 24bit 192khz
is this better than the sound card?

Am i better off using my motherboard audio and tossing the card?

As already pointed out, don't sweat about the bit rates and other pure numbers, there are a lot of other factors that affect the sound. Next time you should ask around if you should get something before buying it, prevents money spent in the first place if you don't need to.

To find out if the sound card is better than onboard is simple, listen to your headphones on both. Your ears and brain are better judges of what is "better" than some spec numbers. If you can't tell the difference and bought it from a place with a good return policy, return the card.

If it was me, I would return it and if you want something fun to play with in audio, get an external higher end sound card with a headphone amp. You will find that even with easy to drive headphones a decent quality amp/dac will have improvement over onboard

I got this FX Audio one, it's pretty cheap for what it is, sounds good, and has a line out so you can stick powered speakers or something similar on it and have headphone volume controls separate from the speaker volume which is nice. Easier to plug in headphones also using that.

https://www.amazon.com/FX-Audio-Digital-Decoder-Headphone-Amplifier/dp/B07TW2JQNN/ref=asc_df_B07TW2JQNN/?tag=hyprod-20&linkCode=df0&hvadid=385179140364&hvpos=&hvnetw=g&hvrand=6776332221834713785&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=&hvdev=c&hvdvcmdl=&hvlocint=&hvlocphy=9001834&hvtargid=pla-836624983158&psc=1&tag=&ref=&adgrpid=82240853201&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvadid=385179140364&hvpos=&hvnetw=g&hvrand=6776332221834713785&hvqmt=&hvdev=c&hvdvcmdl=&hvlocint=&hvlocphy=9001834&hvtargid=pla-836624983158



This is how my setup is done with that, it's run under my monitor, powered speakers and headphones both go to that dac/amp, nice clean setup and easy to handle.

 
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Hello. I got mother board gigabyte ga-970a-ds3p with stock audio and windows 10 64bit. Using almost year and start to think-something is missing in sound. Maybe upgrade audio to Creative sound blaster z card? Just for music listening, video watching. Nothing more.
 

delaro

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To find out if the sound card is better than onboard is simple, listen to your headphones on both. Your ears and brain are better judges of what is "better" than some spec numbers. If you can't tell the difference and bought it from a place with a good return policy, return the card.
CUSTOM ONE PRO PLUS
Those lack clarity and fine detail along with a spacious sound stage, they are good at what they are marketed for "Gaming and Theater" only average at critical listening. He can change the source all he wants the difference with those headphones is going to me minimal.


Hello. I got mother board gigabyte ga-970a-ds3p with stock audio and windows 10 64bit. Using almost year and start to think-something is missing in sound. Maybe upgrade audio to Creative sound blaster z card? Just for music listening, video watching. Nothing more.
That depends on your speakers, Average to low-end speakers won't sound any better from any source you pick regardless how much you dump into the source. You're basically asking the same question with different hardware. ;)
 
no matter speakers, if u dont play flac music, u wont notice any difference
games etc is mostly in 44kHz, if u play it at 192kHz, u wont hear any diff, if u play it on 22kHz, u will feel it
some goes for HQ audio files, u need to have HQ recordings to hear difference
 

delaro

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no matter speakers, if u dont play flac music, u wont notice any difference
games etc is mostly in 44kHz, if u play it at 192kHz, u wont hear any diff, if u play it on 22kHz, u will feel it
some goes for HQ audio files, u need to have HQ recordings to hear difference
You honestly just said you're not going to hear the difference between a $10K pair of Von Schweikert Audio UniField 2 MkII or a $20 Logitech usb speaker? 🤣 This tells me one thing, you have never heard a really good pair of speakers or headphones, they can take even a Lossy MP3 and bring them to another level. Good speakers make a massively huge impact and they will show you just how bad your DAC/AMP really is.
 
You honestly just said you're not going to hear the difference between a $10K pair of Von Schweikert Audio UniField 2 MkII or a $20 Logitech usb speaker? 🤣 This tells me one thing, you have never heard a really good pair of speakers or headphones, they can take even a Lossy MP3 and bring them to another level. Good speakers make a massively huge impact and they will show you just how bad your DAC/AMP really is.
u know that talk was about difference between 96/192kHz, rite?
i doubt u can hear diff on gear you mentioned
anyway, reality is that DAC's dont really have a sound. they just reverse what the ADC did when it encoded the waveforms. since all the specs of all the DACs are outside the realm of audibility, the only meaningful difference is the formats they can handle.
 

delaro

Splendid
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u know that talk was about difference between 96/192kHz, rite?
i doubt u can hear diff on gear you mentioned
anyway, reality is that DAC's dont really have a sound. they just reverse what the ADC did when it encoded the waveforms. since all the specs of all the DACs are outside the realm of audibility, the only meaningful difference is the formats they can handle.
Look closer at his onboard audio.

up to 192kHz

They scale. ;)

As far as a DAC not having a "Sound" you also couldn't be more wrong and I won't even get into the long explanation of how incorporating different components into a DAC or AMP change and add "Flavor" nor will I mention how those flavors favor the various differences in speaker types and quality.
 
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joeblowsmynose

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... This tells me one thing, you have never heard a really good pair of speakers or headphones, they can take even a Lossy MP3 and bring them to another level.
I don't really share this sentiment ... my Fostex studio monitors @ 192khz makes lossy MP3 sound like <Mod Edit>, because the fidelity is so high, you can hear all the "loss". It literally sounds grainy and gritty in the high end compared to an uncompressed source. And this is the idea behind a high end dead flat response studio monitor - so that when you are making music, you make it without flaws that a low quality speaker would tend to hide. the higher the quality of a speaker, the flatter the response will be.

His sentiment isn't entirely incorrect. You shouldn't be pairing high end gear with a crappy compressed source, like YouTube for example or even MP3 in most cases, as the source is still crappy - it can't really be fixed - at least not in any natural way.

If you listen to a lossless music format like FLAC from the original recordings, or maybe straight from vinyl with a beautiful pre-amp, only then is the source quality going to be high enough to make higher end gear actually worth the extra money.



I'll give a bit more detail as to partly why without a lossless source, your not properly using your high end gear ... A high end speaker system will output flat to at least 21,000 to 30,000hz (+/- 6db) - sometimes even more. While you can't really hear anything above 16,000-18,000hz, those higher frequencies do get recorded and will interact / resonate with the other audible frequencies and augment them, just as one would experieince in a live "real life" scenario, to create a much more natural "live" sound.

This is part of the reason you would spend extra for a high end speaker - to reap the benefits of this ability from a lossless source; and this is why some very high end speakers reach into these frequencies, when our ears can't even hear them at all.

Now let's look at the source ... if the music is MP3 or compressed in any manner, guess which frequencies get affected and stripped? The high frequencies because they take waaay more "data" to translate into sound. So the frequencies above about 17,000hz are completely stripped, even with light compression and everything else in the high frequency space gets compression applied. Low frequencies take very little data, so they tend to stay fairly accurate with compression and don't really suffer much "loss".

Only if your source has retained these very high frequencies that are contained in th eoriginal recording (like FLAC for example), can you reap this benefit that a high end system can provide.

I'm not saying some expensive high end monitors don't sound better than $20 speakers with an MP3 source, but I think you missed what he was actually trying to say.
 
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anort3

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A tube amp has a 'sound' because it introduces distortion. Which can be pleasurable with some speakers and headphones. A good DAC has no sound and is transparent. Some DACs can be more revealing than others or have differing dynamics at different frequency ranges but any DAC that has a 'sound' isn't a good DAC.

I can tell a difference between 16/44 and 24/96 but it's small and only with my good stuff.
 

joeblowsmynose

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A tube amp has a 'sound' because it introduces distortion. Which can be pleasurable with some speakers and headphones. A good DAC has no sound and is transparent. Some DACs can be more revealing than others or have differing dynamics at different frequency ranges but any DAC that has a 'sound' isn't a good DAC.

I can tell a difference between 16/44 and 24/96 but it's small and only with my good stuff.
"Distortion" is a bit of rough term in this context ... I like to say that a tube amp will "flavour" the sound. :)



Keep in mind that a digital audio signal is somewhat lossy by nature - so the "sound" (or lack therof) can be there and then replicated (but ideally corrected) in the DAC process, especially at lower sample rates.

To explain why digital is lossy by nature, is that there has to be a sample rate - and while 96 or 192 khz reproduce the experience of analog audio quite well, there is still going to be loss between the samples.

So when the DAC has to convert the digital sound into an analogue one, it has to fill the spaces between the samples with interpolation or extrapolation - this is mathematical guesswork. While it usually aligns properly if the source sample rate is high enough, it still has to introduce math to fully flesh out the analogue curves. This could also add a touch of "flavour" (of some sort) depending on the algorithms used.
 
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