External vs Internal Sound cards

is internal better for high quality soubds?

Does one reduce the work load on the motherboard more than the other?

Any orher pros/cons besides ease of installation?

You guys think sound cards are even worth it? Id like to spend $30 or less on better sound quality...worth??
12 answers Last reply
More about external internal sound cards
  1. Internal is better for high quality sounds
    Most motherboards have onboard sound, you only really need an external/internal card if you're doing music production
    The external obviously will be easier to install, but the internal will have better quality
    They're only worth it if you're doing music production and you need a high sound quality
  2. Technically, internal should be better because they can be larger, which means room for more and better components, can pull more power as needed, and can theoretically help the processor more because USB wastes CPU time. USB 3.0 isn't as bad as USB 2.0, but still.

    With that said, I doubt you'd get better than integrated audio quality for only $30 and I doubt a $30 option would even have its own processing to help the system's CPU a bit.
  3. I have an internal Audigy-something 7.1 and an external M-audio Fast track USB sound card where I can connect music instruments.
    I use mainly internal mostly. In terms of sound quality during playback I can't tell the difference between the two. Gaming, music or whatever I do.
    When it comes to onboard, I can. And for some reason I just can't get the volume to go high enough for my liking.
    Onboard used to be heavier on CPU years ago but nowadays that don't matter. CPUs are just so fast. Same deal with LAN port.
    I think the CPU utilization of Onboard sound is around 2-3%.

    The reason to get a music soundcard, be it external or internal, is latency.
    Normal soundcards, like Soundblaster and Audigy have lots of latency during recording, like 200 ms. That is unacceptable during music recording. You play a note but you hear it way later. It it very disruptive. Music is all about tempo and when the instrument I play actually plays 1/5 seconds later, that throws me off totally.

    With a music production card that latency is like 8-20 ms. Can't even notice the latency.
    I think it has been proved scientifically that we can't hear latencies around 10ms, ever.

    I can't understand people who use onboard sound. Makes no sense to me. The question I ask myself is: Are these people deaf?
    I can clearly hear how crappy the sound is.
  4. I have a very keen ear for music and movie sound quality. I am currently using on board sound from a Asrock 970m pro 3, and a 1600x900 insignia 21" screen. Both could use upgrading, which is my plan, so i can watch movies better.

    My sound system is a THX certified logitech 2:1 so i know my onboard sound isnt doing it justice.

    There appwars to be some decent internal sound cards for <30$ on newegg currently.
    A concern is this:
    Would it be a waste getting a 5:1 or 7:1 sound card if im only using a 2:1 sound system?
  5. @mamasan2000 - you cant tell quality difference between internal nd external?

    Can you reccomend a good external one for me? Im having yrouble finding usb 3.0...

    The reason i think ill go with external if it offers equal quality to internal is because of air flow in my case. I have very limited room in there.
  6. i depends on what you're doing and the quality of the speakers/ headphones you have.

    Technically a self powered usb dac of high quality will produce the best sound. You are isolating the audio from the power of the computer, fans hard drives etc.

    A 30 sound card most likely will not sound better than a modern on board chip, so i wouldn't waste my money. Cpu overhead isn't an issue either with modern computers onboard sound
  7. I lied about my internal sound card, I'm getting old and forgetful. It's an Asus Xonar DX or DSX, around 70 euro.
    I got that and Logitech Z506 5.1. I used to own an old Logitech 4.1 set but it broke down after 10 years, great sound. This new one sounds like crap. Muffled sound. Headphones have better sound. Don't buy that Logitech Z506.

    What seems to matter in soundcards is what circuit they use. Like Cirrus logic or Realtek. Brands like Logitech, Asus really don't matter. I haven't come across a Realtek chip that is good but I haven't searched either. The old Logitechs were THX certified, monster bass, crystal clear sound. They broke down because I was playing music at max level for 10 years. It was like being at a concert at home.

    I can't recommend a sound card cause I haven't used any of those and don't have a clue what circuit they use. Another thing you should bear in mind, especially in terms of Creative is driver support. Creative is bad at supporting their hardware. I wouldn't be surprised if Audigy don't have Win 10 drivers.
    I had an X-fi Gamer card from Soundblaster. Only supports up to win 7 I think.

    So a list:

    1. What circuit?
    2. What OSes do the drivers support?
    3. What inputs does it support?
    4. How old tech is it? (The older, the less support but usually always cheaper)
  8. A power supply with high ripple could probably cause issues in the audio with an internal card (especially in games where power consumption is higher), although I'd think this would be less of an issue with a decent power supply and a decent card with some filtering caps.
  9. so its starting to sound like most people either dont mess with soundcards or havent had the best of experiences...im going to commit to a USB one in a few weeks when i make another order from newegg and i will report back with my findings...

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16836121048 btw this is the 2:1 THX Certified Logitech system i have.

    i Can confirm what mamasan said -- this thing is a Bass MONSTER. Pretty awesome quality from the 2 lil guys too. I got this in 2010. I blew the subwoofer at a house party in 2011 or 2012 on my first one and they actually replaced it for me! its not surround sound obviously but it has really good quality sound...i wanna pair it with a better sound card than whatever is on my Asrock 970m pro 3 Mobo.
  10. also...mamasan, when you say "what circuit" are you referring to chipset?
  11. Yes, chipset.
    The reason Realtek's chipsets are everywhere is because it's the cheapest (crap).
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