[SOLVED] Do I need a separate audio-card for an X570?

Yeldur

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Hi all,

Pretty simple query, in the future I'll be buying a new rig and with that will come the X570 - My current MoBo is a ASUS ROG Strix Z370-H and I was advised that the audio on this board as it is, is completely fine and in no need of an upgrade to the audio end, is the same to be said for the X570? I'm a bit of an audiophile so I'd love to get the best possible quality where I can, however if the X570's base audio is fine then there's no real need to switch and get a new card.

Thanks!
 
Gotcha, music is a passion of mine so having high quality audio is definitely something I'd love, do you have any recommendations on specific units? I consider myself someone who wants to have very high quality audio, maybe I don't fall under the technical specification of an audiophile... Idk. Either way, I've never really had any other setup other than the basic headphone jack going into the case tier setup.

For somebody who has never done a DAC type setup, are you able to give me any advice? :p
DAC's can be as easy as they come...or all the way up to true audiophile "golden ear" quality.

They connect to the system using a variety of methods, either USB cables or using a TOS-Link output on the back panel. The thing they provide is a pure digital path through the PC and only converting to noise-susceptible analog in the DAC itself. The really good thing about it, and a good reason to invest in a really good one, is it's 100% transportable to any modern (Windows 10, and probably Linux) system.

I got a low-cost DAC off Amazon. It connects to the TOS-link output of my PC and the headphone audio is amazingly quiet (to my lead ears, at least). For headphone listening you should also pay attention to impedance; 600ohm phones need compatible "Hi-Z" outputs to get good audio levels. You can also use this to drive a class-D stereo amplifer (RCA outputs in back). Or, once again, all the way up to expensive golden-ear amp's to power a floor-thumping audio experience when riding with the Valkyries.

ADDED: one thing to watch for, though, is the power supply quality to the DAC unit. The brick provided was pretty low-quality so I had to find a better one to use to power it. The result was noise imposed on the audio feed, noticeable at high volumes. I think it's a pretty good certainty that the higher priced DAC's will come with increasingly better filtering on the power feed and/or much superior power supplies.
 
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Wolfshadw

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Simplest answer would be to try it out first. If it suits your needs, then you'll be happy without a sound card. If not, then make your purchase. Might help to know which X570 motherboard you're looking at, though. Find out what chip they have on-board for audio and then check through various sound cards to see what chips they're using. If they're the same, then there's no point in getting a sound card.

-Wolf sends
 
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Yeldur

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Simplest answer would be to try it out first. If it suits your needs, then you'll be happy without a sound card. If not, then make your purchase. Might help to know which X570 motherboard you're looking at, though. Find out what chip they have on-board for audio and then check through various sound cards to see what chips they're using. If they're the same, then there's no point in getting a sound card.

-Wolf sends
Hiya, here's the board I'd be looking at:

https://uk.pcpartpicker.com/product/fHxbt6/gigabyte-x570-aorus-pro-atx-am4-motherboard-x570-aorus-pro

Unfortunately they're not the same, and I'm just not sure whether one is "better" or not :eek:

On the X570 there is the ALC1220-VB (https://www.gigabyte.com/Motherboard/X570-AORUS-PRO-rev-10#kf)

On the Z370-H there is the SupremeFX S1220A (https://rog.asus.com/uk/motherboards/rog-strix/rog-strix-z370-h-gaming-model/)


The S1220a seems to be 3dB louder, but I don't really know how that factors into things :eek:
 

Yeldur

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never heard a audiophile said motherboard audio is fine
Hahaha, I'm only a bit of an audiophile so I wasn't really looking for absolute maximum 15/10 quality.

Though, to the rig I'm going on, that's possibly something I'm going to look at more.

If I was to look at upgrading the audio on the board, any recommendations?
 
Hi all,

Pretty simple query, in the future I'll be buying a new rig and with that will come the X570 - My current MoBo is a ASUS ROG Strix Z370-H and I was advised that the audio on this board as it is, is completely fine and in no need of an upgrade to the audio end, is the same to be said for the X570? I'm a bit of an audiophile so I'd love to get the best possible quality where I can, however if the X570's base audio is fine then there's no real need to switch and get a new card.

Thanks!
If you really consider yourself an 'audiophile' you'd get an external DAC to avoid the question of motherboard audio quality entirely. Either a DAC or a quaility internal soundcard that's fully shielded and isolated from the very high EMI environment inside the system case.
 

Karadjgne

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99% of the decision rests in exactly what you have reproducing the sound. If you are running DACs and hi-fi equipment, with really decent surround sound staging, then Yes a decent card would be worth the expense and the term 'audiophile' would be applicable. If all you have is a couple of desktop speakers and use a sub-perfect set of headphones occasionally, then No, 'audiophile' isn't accurate, and you'd not need a sound card.

Nice thing about sound cards is you can always add one at a later date if unsatisfied with mobo sound, but with today's motherboards, there's very little actual need for one and most ppl couldn't tell the difference as they don't have the complimentary equipment to make the difference.
 

Yeldur

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If you really consider yourself an 'audiophile' you'd get an external DAC to avoid the question of motherboard audio quality entirely. Either a DAC or a quaility internal soundcard that's fully shielded and isolated from the very high EMI environment inside the system case.
Gotcha, music is a passion of mine so having high quality audio is definitely something I'd love, do you have any recommendations on specific units? I consider myself someone who wants to have very high quality audio, maybe I don't fall under the technical specification of an audiophile... Idk. Either way, I've never really had any other setup other than the basic headphone jack going into the case tier setup.

For somebody who has never done a DAC type setup, are you able to give me any advice? :p
 

Yeldur

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99% of the decision rests in exactly what you have reproducing the sound. If you are running DACs and hi-fi equipment, with really decent surround sound staging, then Yes a decent card would be worth the expense and the term 'audiophile' would be applicable. If all you have is a couple of desktop speakers and use a sub-perfect set of headphones occasionally, then No, 'audiophile' isn't accurate, and you'd not need a sound card.

Nice thing about sound cards is you can always add one at a later date if unsatisfied with mobo sound, but with today's motherboards, there's very little actual need for one and most ppl couldn't tell the difference as they don't have the complimentary equipment to make the difference.
Currently I'm just running a decent quality pair of headphones (Philips Fideliio X2's) - Other than that nothing special, however I'd like to grow my audio quality if I can, similarly to the above, any advice on how to begin or recommendations for DAC's?

I'm not looking to go for external audio, just headphone based as I don't live alone so I appreciate that might limit me maybe. (At least in terms of Hi-Fi/Surround Staging I would guess?)
 
Gotcha, music is a passion of mine so having high quality audio is definitely something I'd love, do you have any recommendations on specific units? I consider myself someone who wants to have very high quality audio, maybe I don't fall under the technical specification of an audiophile... Idk. Either way, I've never really had any other setup other than the basic headphone jack going into the case tier setup.

For somebody who has never done a DAC type setup, are you able to give me any advice? :p
DAC's can be as easy as they come...or all the way up to true audiophile "golden ear" quality.

They connect to the system using a variety of methods, either USB cables or using a TOS-Link output on the back panel. The thing they provide is a pure digital path through the PC and only converting to noise-susceptible analog in the DAC itself. The really good thing about it, and a good reason to invest in a really good one, is it's 100% transportable to any modern (Windows 10, and probably Linux) system.

I got a low-cost DAC off Amazon. It connects to the TOS-link output of my PC and the headphone audio is amazingly quiet (to my lead ears, at least). For headphone listening you should also pay attention to impedance; 600ohm phones need compatible "Hi-Z" outputs to get good audio levels. You can also use this to drive a class-D stereo amplifer (RCA outputs in back). Or, once again, all the way up to expensive golden-ear amp's to power a floor-thumping audio experience when riding with the Valkyries.

ADDED: one thing to watch for, though, is the power supply quality to the DAC unit. The brick provided was pretty low-quality so I had to find a better one to use to power it. The result was noise imposed on the audio feed, noticeable at high volumes. I think it's a pretty good certainty that the higher priced DAC's will come with increasingly better filtering on the power feed and/or much superior power supplies.
 
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Yeldur

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DAC's can be as easy as they come...or all the way up to true audiophile "golden ear" quality.

They connect to the system using a variety of methods, either USB cables or using a TOS-Link output on the back panel. The thing they provide is a pure digital path through the PC and only converting to noise-susceptible analog in the DAC itself. The really good thing about it, and a good reason to invest in a really good one, is it's 100% transportable to any modern (Windows 10, and probably Linux) system.

I got a low-cost DAC off Amazon. It connects to the TOS-link output of my PC and the headphone audio is amazingly quiet (to my lead ears, at least). For headphone listening you should also pay attention to impedance; 600ohm phones need compatible "Hi-Z" outputs to get good audio levels. You can also use this to drive a class-D stereo amplifer (RCA outputs in back). Or, once again, all the way up to expensive golden-ear amp's to power a floor-thumping audio experience when riding with the Valkyries.
Interesting, I have seen my MoBo's Realtek Audio Manager tell me that my "front headphone impedance is under 51 ohm" - I presume that this is what it relates to then. Do most motherboards have optical connectors or is that something you'd have to specifically search for if you wanted to set something like that up? I'm guessing that Optical vs USB = Optical wins, similarly to how 3.5mm vs USB when it comes to headphones, the 3.5mm wins as well, right?
 
Interesting, I have seen my MoBo's Realtek Audio Manager tell me that my "front headphone impedance is under 51 ohm" - I presume that this is what it relates to then. Do most motherboards have optical connectors or is that something you'd have to specifically search for if you wanted to set something like that up? I'm guessing that Optical vs USB = Optical wins, similarly to how 3.5mm vs USB when it comes to headphones, the 3.5mm wins as well, right?
Not all motherboards come with a TOS-link optical output. Some boards have an SPD-IF output instead, some with a miniature phone jack on back some only by pins on the motherboard that you'd have to connect up with an add-on panel to make it 'jack-able'. But the USB option is always available with modern Windows 10 systems.

One thing I can do when using TOS-link on my motherboard is use the on-board audio chipset for its audio processing with its control panel. Effects like 8-band equalizer and environment effects, all done digitally and never converted to analog until at the DAC. The USB output is digital streaming provided by the OS, so no on-board digital processing by the audio chipset to affect the audio either. Whether it's 'golden-ear audiophile' grade or not I can't say though.
 

Yeldur

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Not all motherboards come with a TOS-link optical output. Some boards have an SPD-IF output instead, some with a miniature phone jack on back some only by pins on the motherboard that you'd have to connect up with an add-on panel to make it 'jack-able'. But the USB option is always available with modern Windows 10 systems.

One thing I can do when using TOS-link on my motherboard is use the on-board audio chipset for its audio processing with its control panel. Effects like 8-band equalizer and environment effects. The USB output is digital streaming provided by the OS, so no on-board digital processing by the audio chipset to affect the audio. Whether it's 'golden-ear audiophile' grade or not I can't say though.
Hahahaha, I'm coming across from a straight connection to the MoBo so realistically any improvement is better.

So essentially, when using something like a DAC, a USB connection would be best (when optical is not available?) because this prevents the MoBo interfering with it, but when not using a DAC the connection via the 3.5mm would be better?
 
Hahahaha, I'm coming across from a straight connection to the MoBo so realistically any improvement is better.

So essentially, when using something like a DAC, a USB connection would be best (when optical is not available?) because this prevents the MoBo interfering with it, but when not using a DAC the connection via the 3.5mm would be better?
I'd prefer to use the SPD-IF output, with the miniature phone plug if available, although only if I could then use the audio processing effects of the audio chipset. I do like using the equalizer since my DAC is a cheap one, with only bass and treble controls. USB is kind of last choice, but not because I think it's necessarily any worse quality.

Keep in mind that hands-down the top end solution still involves getting a top-end audio card. They provide unparalleled audio processing ability to fine tune the audio to any speaker system and physical environment as well as provide a broad range of source mixing and effects. Including things only multi-thousand dollar studio sound boards are capable of. I'm just 'going cheap' with my external DAC because I was tired of the buzzy sounds I'd get from mouse movements and when the display changes. That's the kind of thing EMI imposes on analog audio that needs expensive filtering and shielding, something not found on most motherboards.
 
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Yeldur

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I'd prefer to use the SPD-IF output, with the miniature phone plug if available, although only if I could then use the audio processing effects of the audio chipset. I do like using the equalizer since my DAC is a cheap one, with only bass and treble controls. USB is kind of last choice, but not because I think it's necessarily any worse quality.

Keep in mind that hands-down the top end solution still involves getting a top-end audio card. They provide unparalleled audio processing ability to fine tune the audio to any speaker system and physical environment as well as provide a broad range of effects. Including things only multi-thousand dollar sound boards are capable of. I'm just 'going cheap' with my external DAC because I was tired of the buzzy sounds I'd get from mouse movements and when the display changes. That's the kind of thing EMI imposes on analog audio that needs expensive filtering and shielding, something not found on most motherboards.
Gotcha, I'm definitely not looking to spend thousands upon thousands on this, so I think for now I'll just stick with the base motherboard audio and see how that treats me, if I feel like it's bad enough I'll start looking into upgrades to improve the quality.

I've definitely not experienced any buzzy sounds, or at least nothing that I can notice with my current setup but maybe I will on the new board.

Thanks for all your help :)
 
...
I've definitely not experienced any buzzy sounds, or at least nothing that I can notice with my current setup but maybe I will on the new board.
...
I've had it some times...and some times not. It's even changed when I swapped out a PSU once. I think it's got an awful lot to do with routing of the case wires, especially the wires to the front panel, on some cases. BTW: front panel audio, the one you have to hook up the case wires to the motherboard, is generally considered to be the 'better' audio output quality from the on-board audio. But I've had some sketchy results in the past.

I think it has to do with wire routing: if tucking some of it underneath the motherboard, for instance, to make a neat build. If a wire should run closely parallel to a trace carrying a varying clock signal a sub-harmonic of it might be imposed on an audio input and then become noticeable in the sound output for instance. It's not a sure thing, but it's annoying when it happens. Now that I have an external DAC it will never be a problem again though!

What drove me to do it with my current build were the new Sennheiser headphones I got. While not 600 ohm, they are higher impedance than the bog-standard gamer phones so I had to run at very high levels. At those levels even the stock S/N rating of the Realtek chipset just was not adequate and I'd get 'hissing' sounds in quiet spots. It's that hissing that 'tires' your ears and makes you want to quit in the middle of a Mahler symphony. The DAC has a higher S/N rating and as well better matches impedance. So I can run with much lower levels and the hissing is no longer obvious in quiet violin solos.
 
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