Buying the Best Sound Card for your PC

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Introduction

If you are building your PC, definitely get a dedicated soundcard, anything is better than the on-board soundcard built into the motherboard
 
There are many different types of sound cards out there which you could buy, when buying my one I narrowed my research down to a few key areas in order to get the best one

Brand

I’m a bit of a brand person, I always buy the best brands that are known for making the technology that I am looking to buy. For me this came down to Asus and Creative.

Audio Performance

The best thing to look for is the biggest SNR (Signal/Noise Ratio). You want to find a sound-card which has the highest signal/noise ratio – measured in DB. They are not completely accurate but give a very good indication of quality

Sample Rate/Resolution

This refers to the speed at which the card can reduce a continuous signal to a discrete signal Higher the better in each type of output. Usually 24bit/192khz. 

I/O Ports

Make sure it has the input/output ports that you need. I was specially looking out for an optical out for my soundcard, for most soundcards this comes in the form of an adapter which you can use to convert the coaxial port on the soundcard to a digital output – no impact on quality. The ports with the highest quality sound will be S/PDIF. Both coaxial and optical can produce some of the highest signal-to-noise ratios and resolutions while keeping distortion low.

Conclusion

Best soundcard in my opinion is the Asus Xonar STX. It’s a brilliant soundcard. It does have a higher cost than the other ones but it is definitely worth the money. Just be wary you will need additional power going from your PSU to the card as it needs more power – something that wasn’t mentioned when I bought the card, it can also produce a little more heat, so make sure your case is ventilated

By: sexyswt
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