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Old 19th March 2017, 10:26 PM   #1
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Default high end onboard vs dedicated sound card

So I've been toying with the idea of doing a new PC build, with the release of Ryzen. Current PC is a first gen i7, and I'm using a pretty old Asus Xonar D2X

If I were to build a new PC it would be ideal to get rid of the soundcard. These days I send my audio through HDMI to a receiver when it comes to playing blurays/movies. All the soundcard is used for is playing music through either Swan M50W speakers, or ATH M50 headphones - so nothing high end really.

How does the onboard sound on mid to high end mobos compare to the Xonar D2X or even newer sound cards?
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Old 19th March 2017, 10:31 PM   #2
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Onboard sound is still pretty crap. Even my cheap HyperX Clouds sound miles better on a cheap Xonar DG than with onboard
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Old 20th March 2017, 8:55 AM   #3
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I have soundcore3d onboard on my Z170X gigabte mobo and when I put my soundlbaster Zx in I noticed a big difference and at the time I had M50's as well.

The problem with audio is that its subjective and while I noticed a difference you may not.
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Old 20th March 2017, 1:45 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by xcessive303 View Post
I have soundcore3d onboard on my Z170X gigabte mobo and when I put my soundlbaster Zx in I noticed a big difference and at the time I had M50's as well.

The problem with audio is that its subjective and while I noticed a difference you may not.
could not of said it better myself.

really would be best to test it out then decide if you want dedicated sound or not.
Myself i recently went down USB sound cards (only option really on ITX) with the Xonar U7 and recently with sennheiser GSX1000. Both are great for both speakers and Headphone use (with how i use them) but bang for buck i would really go for the Xonar U7
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Old 20th March 2017, 2:14 PM   #5
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sounds like ill be keeping my d2x then. thanks for the help
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Old 20th March 2017, 8:45 PM   #6
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Provided it's properly engineered and I would guess most are (noise isolation can be a problem for example), onboard sound will be good enough these days for most purposes. Try it and see if you like it/ can tell the difference from other DACs.
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Old 21st March 2017, 9:59 AM   #7
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I greatly enjoy the (124dB SNR) ZXR with my ADG1Xs; it provides very clear audio. It has most excellent headphone spatialisation for games as well, far better so than Asus's cards.

When I added the ZXR, my external Z5500s also got a great improvement in sound from whatever was onboard my old motherboard.

(Some motherboards do indeed offer SB chipsets, so it'd be interesting to see an actual comparison between those and the ZX / ZXR.)
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Old 21st March 2017, 2:09 PM   #8
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Went from dedicated Creative X-Fi Titanium HD to onboard MSI Z270I Realtek ALC1220 and it is way worse.

It sounds ok for general use, however when playing games, it doesn't seem to do a good job at isolating each individual sound at all - it sort of just muffles everything together.

Anyone got any suggestions for a USB external SC? I was looking at the GSX1000 USBhowever it's quite pricey, another option was the Creative Omni 5.1 USB.
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Old 21st March 2017, 2:28 PM   #9
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I've been using an Audioengine D1 (Optical output from mobo) for a couple of years, and it seems fine. You can also use it as a USB sound card if you prefer.

I'm also after options, as I now need the D1 for another computer.

Does anyone find the "Headphone" option on most sound cards just muffles the sound? From my past experience (possibly bad quality devices) setting the output to "speakers" sounds a lot better on my headphones, but doesnt seem to drive them as hard. Am I doing something wrong, or is this not the case at all with a good sound card?
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Old 21st March 2017, 9:33 PM   #10
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What quality is your source material (your music) ?

No point in getting a dedicated card if your stuff isn't lossless
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Old 21st March 2017, 10:56 PM   #11
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Quote:
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What quality is your source material (your music) ?

No point in getting a dedicated card if your stuff isn't lossless
I'm not looking at getting a sound card - I already have one. I just wanted to know if current high end mobo onboard was any good.

And personally, I disagree, I think 320kbps mp3s can still benefit from a DAC/soundcard.
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Old 22nd March 2017, 9:05 AM   #12
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Waste of money on a dac or soundcard just to listen to crappy compressed 320k mp3. You're better off onboard if you're listening to just mp3's and put that money towards beer or an ssd.
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Old 22nd March 2017, 9:55 AM   #13
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You could always do what I do and buy whatever DAC/AMP or soundcard you're interested in, and then to an A/B comparison for a few days and then if you don't like it sell it. Depending on the gear you may make a small loss but I'd consider that a small price to pay to satisfy the curiosity.

Last edited by xcessive303; 22nd March 2017 at 10:03 AM.
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Old 22nd March 2017, 10:35 AM   #14
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I call that wasting money. D/A conversion on external sound cards are the same as onboard nowadays (onboard has improved greatly compared to AC'97 days). The benefits you're paying for an external sound cards is for its advertised gaming sound features (EAX etc) and a DAC/Amp combo for its better technical ability to drive a wider range of headphones.

If I wanted better sound quality (subjective) I would skip out on a sound card and go straight to a DAC. If I wanted a wider range of outputs for mic, more channel output, sound effects and equaliser for gaming or HT, I would pick a sound card.
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Old 22nd March 2017, 11:23 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Matthew kane View Post
If I wanted better sound quality (subjective) I would skip out on a sound card and go straight to a DAC. If I wanted a wider range of outputs for mic, more channel output, sound effects and equaliser for gaming or HT, I would pick a sound card.
Well for me I wouldn't. I don't want more shit on my desk and more cable to fuck with so I'll stick with an internal sound card. I just lost my Claro+ recently so I've had to throw in a cheap Xonar DX. Having lived off onboard sound for the last 3 months it's a breath of fresh air in regards to sound.

Sure I could get better but beyond $200 (max) for a soundcard and $300 for headphones I'm going to run into diminishing returns pretty damn quickly.
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