Solved! Sound Card/DAC Question

Denganim20

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Hey guys I came across finding sound cards and external DACs, and want to ask which is better? And would any of them be worth it, and improve my sound experience? Also I like to play games and listen to music. And my current motherboard is GIGABYTE GA-AB350-Gaming 3, which as nice on-board audio.
 

PapaCrazy

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I think it depends on whether or not you need the extra power. I've set up some systems recently that made me question the need for a DAC. Mobos are getting really good at audio. I have power-hungry headphones so the onboard amps have never been enough. That was my primary motivation for getting a sound card and eventually the Schiit stack. But if your motherboard audio has enough power, low noise, black background, and sounds good to you I would say you are better off putting the money into another pair of headphones or something.

If you decide on a sound card, I recommend the Asus Essence STX II ($250) or for external I'd recommend the Schiit Magni 3 amp ($100) and Modi 3 DAC ($100). I don't see the need to spend more than ~$200 to accomplish these audio goals. DACs/Amps make far less difference than headphones/speakers, no need to spend hundreds of dollars to hear a tiny fraction (even if) of a difference.
 

PapaCrazy

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I have both an Essence STX and just bought a Schiit Magni/Modi combo for a new PC. Primary motivation for getting the Schiit combo was the new PC will be hard to reach whereas my old one had easy to reach top I/O. Sound wise? Very similar, both are hifi quality. Schiit combo has more power in the amp. Might sound slightly smoother, but could very well be placebo effect. The soundcard has more tricks up its sleeve though, including Dolby headphone and EQ. But the Schiit stack was cheaper than the sound card, and comes with a nice chassis.

Honestly, it really comes down to features and practicality. There's an argument to be made for both sides. Just don't listen to audiophiles who say the solution needs to be external. Sound cards still have their benefits.
 

Denganim20

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I understand, would u say it would be worth getting a sound card/ DAC then, and it shows a difference in sound quality? And if so do you have any recommendations for one?
 

martinch

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So, the obvious question, is how do you find the onboard audio on your motherboard? Are you happy with it, or are there aspects of it you're not happy with? I used to have sound cards in my PC (Creative Labs SoundBlaster AWE64 through to Audigy series), but didn't bother with my current PC, which has a Realtek ALC1150 in it, as it was more than good enough (I've got some Koss reference-grade headphones plugged into it, and can't detect any issues - I was surprised at how good it was).
 

PapaCrazy

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I think it depends on whether or not you need the extra power. I've set up some systems recently that made me question the need for a DAC. Mobos are getting really good at audio. I have power-hungry headphones so the onboard amps have never been enough. That was my primary motivation for getting a sound card and eventually the Schiit stack. But if your motherboard audio has enough power, low noise, black background, and sounds good to you I would say you are better off putting the money into another pair of headphones or something.

If you decide on a sound card, I recommend the Asus Essence STX II ($250) or for external I'd recommend the Schiit Magni 3 amp ($100) and Modi 3 DAC ($100). I don't see the need to spend more than ~$200 to accomplish these audio goals. DACs/Amps make far less difference than headphones/speakers, no need to spend hundreds of dollars to hear a tiny fraction (even if) of a difference.
 

Denganim20

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I'm fairly fine with it tho sometimes u can hear static like noises though. Sometimes noises may sound drowned out by music, or the opposite, and the bass can be a little much, but those may just be faults of my speaker considering it is a little old. So I'm wondering if sound cards or DACs will solve that or maybe I should invest in new speakers
 

anort3

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Improve your sound experience with what? A gaming headset or computer speakers? Probably not. Good headphones and or speakers? Probably.

 

Denganim20

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With speakers and a subwoofer I mean
 

Denganim20

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Probably $50-60 creative speakers, they are not anything new
 
i swapout my asus z77 sabertooth onboard realteck 8000 chipset sound card that was built in for a creative labs card with a headphone amp. the sound was a lot better on my headphones on the new sound card. if your going to use hardphone try the mb sound chipset if it the newer 11xxx chipset from real. if the sound is flat to you i would put in a new sound card.
 

anort3

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Your motherboard is fine. It's better than fine, really it looks to be pretty decent. Onboard sound has really improved over the last several years.

https://www.gigabyte.com/us/Motherboard/GA-AB350-Gaming-3-rev-1x#kf

It even lists a headphone amp. It's not going to be anything high end but you could drive some pretty decent headphones with it should you ever go down that rabbit hole. :D

Most people buying a separate DAC for speakers have something very good and want to be sure every part of their chain is uncompromisingly just as good. Or they buy it for connection options. Or both.



 

Denganim20

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I mostly play games on speakers, as apposed to headphones. The thing is I may just need new speakers as mine are kinda old, but I may need a sound card too
 
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