Most people don't pay enough attention to sound their PC is producing, especially when compared to stress they put on having all those powerful graphics cards, and processors etc.
Yes, those components are important for the overall functionality of your PC, but so is the audio quality of your PC.
Hope you get the point.
So, one of the first steps in achieving HQ audio level on your PC is getting a sound card, apart from getting a good quality headset, or speakers set.
Sound card is a PC component that produces sound which is to be used further by speakers, or headsets.
Usually a PC doesn't require a dedicated sound card to produce sound, on-board audio card does that job.
But many times, PC users complain about distortion on their headsets or speakers while using them.
This is most commonly due to the interference in those audio boards from electrical signals produced by the all the other components of your PC.
This problem can easily be countered by using a dedicated sound card, and that dedicated sound board also makes your PC produce better sound with goodies like surround sound and EQ settings etc.
Another advantage of having these cards is that they relieve your CPU for sound-production related tasks, which helps the CPU in doing other tasks efficiently.
DO I Need A Sound Card
You can think of the whole dedicated sound card thing like PC graphics. You can play light games through Intel's integrated graphics, but for those heavy-graphics games, you need a dedicated graphics card.
The same goes for sound cards.
For ordinary people, there isn't much benefit buying a full-fledged separate sound card. But if you're into sound production, or want audiophile experience on your PC, a dedicated sound card is necessary.
Things To Look For In A Sound Card
Now we'll look into some common things you need to consider before going for a particular sound card.
Below are some of the specs found in a typical sound card.
In terms of audio channels, sound cards come in 5.1 and 7.1 versions. Both of these versions are good, but in case you're going for a 7.1 sound card, make sure that your gaming headset and speakers set have 7.1 surround sound ability to utilize that feature.
The next one is sample rate, and it tells the number of times a sound stream sends data over a specific period. It's measured in Hertz (Hz). In most cases, more sample rate means better audio.
Total Harmonic Distortion is the measurement of sound distortion and lower THD is always better. Ideally it should be zero and some high-end sound cards label their THD as low as 0.01%.
That being said, this is just one aspect to compare different sound cards, and won't necessarily make one make sound better.
The last one is Signal-to-Noise Ratio (SNR). As its name suggested, it's the ratio and between the signal level and the noise level. In digital terms, audio noise is the unwanted signal.
So, High SNR mean more useful information can be sent over useless information. This mean a sound card of 90 dB produces the level of audio signals 90 dB higher than the level of noise.
Internal vs External Sound Card
Another problems people face is they don't know whether to buy an external sound card or an internal one.
Both of them have their own strength and weaknesses, and it's up do you to decide which one is suitable for you.
External sound cards are attached to the PC through USB port which makes them have more signal-latency than internal sound cards.
Internal sound cards, on the other hand, don't give you as many connectivity options as external ones do, probably because they're plugged into the PCIe slot of the motherboard (at the backside of your computer).
If you're interested on external sound cards, then you should consider some other factors as well, like their power consumption, and whether they're with or without battery.
One thing you should remember, however, is that the external sound cards having their own battery are usually on a bulkier side.
Another difference is the price. Internal audio cards generally cost less than external ones.
Best Sound Card 2019 Guide
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