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Thread: Sound Cards - Do We Still Need Them?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2013

    Arrow Sound Cards - Do We Still Need Them?


    I was wondering what the Forum thinks about Sound Cards. People tell me that the integrated audio chip is sufficient, these days, but what's your take?

    I am an Amateur Musician/Producer and I just bought my Graphics Card for gaming, so I am thinking about getting an OMEGA Claro II, just to top off the performance of my machine, and to improve any capabilities of FL Studio 10.

    Used a Turtle Beach Sound Card before, and I noticed a slight improvement, but this was about three years ago.

    Thank you!

  2. #2
    parsec's Avatar
    parsec is offline Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Third stone from the sun

    Default Re: Sound Cards - Do We Still Need Them?

    If you will be doing any kind of audio recording/mixing/producing, you will definitely want a separate audio card, and the software that is part of the package.

    IMO, the audio capabilities of many new mother boards is not better than in the past, and in at least one way is worse. The specs of the newer chips may be better in some aspects, but if you are into audio you know that specs do not tell the whole story about the sound. The line level amplifiers are on the large sound chip, not even separate op-amps that are used on better sound cards. On board audio can also be noisy, and if it is, fixing that is virtually impossible.

    The audio chips on mother boards may be described as "5.1 or 7.1 channel Surround Sound", but all they really provide are the line level analog audio outputs, without and DD or DTS decoding. The board's SPDIF output(s) will be two channel stereo only. If a board's description or specs do not specifically mention DD or DTS, it will not have that capability. The DAC on the audio chip is also an unknown.

    The software for controlling the audio on many boards is much simpler than in the past, and in some cases is nothing more than the audio chip's driver software. My ASRock Z77 EX 4 board is like that, the only audio options I have are those provided in the Windows Sound feature. The THX TruStudio software that is (was) included with my board is nothing more than a one click on/off predefined EQ setting, that no longer even works, and the installation file was removed from the download page (and on other ASRock boards too.) ASRock does provide free Magix software for audio, but I've never used it.

    The two main things to carefully check with a board's on board audio are what features and capabilities it really provides, and what audio software is included. Do not depend on the simple descriptions, verify what is really included with the board's on board audio.

    The question is, do you and your usage of PC audio, need a discrete sound card?

  3. #3
    profJim's Avatar
    profJim is offline Chief Munchkin + moderator
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Tacoma, WA. [USA]

    Default Re: Sound Cards - Do We Still Need Them?

    I have the HT Omega Striker 7.1 and Claro Plus+ cards in my systems.
    Both cards have been flawless and all of the Dolby features work perfectly with my Logitech Z-5500 5.1 speaker system.
    Except for their eClaro model, all the other models use a PCI interface.
    Email response time from their tech support is excellent, very fast and they provided the information I requested both times.
    You can download the user manual and drivers for any of their cards from HT Omega - Driver Downloads.

    Was it worth the cost? Absolutely! Especially if you have a higher end speaker system.
    The only con is that their software looks like it's from the win95/win98 era, but it works fine.
    Q9650 @ 4.10GHz [9x456MHz]
    P35-DS4 [rev: 2.0] ~ Bios: F14
    4x2GB OCZ Reaper PC2-8500 1094MHz @5-5-5-15
    MSI N460GTX Hawk Talon Attack (1GB) video card <---- SLI ---->
    Seasonic SS-660XP2 80 Plus Platinum psu (660w)
    WD Caviar Black WD6401AALS 640GB (data)
    Samsung 840 Pro 256GB SSD (boot)
    SLI @ 16/4 works when running HyperSLI
    Cooler Master 120XL Seidon push/pull AIO cpu water cooling
    Cooler Master HAF XB computer case (RC-902XB-KKN1)
    Asus VH242H 24" monitor [1920x1080]
    MSI N460GTX Hawk (1GB) video card
    Logitech Z-5500 Digital 5.1 Speakers
    win7 x64 sp1 Home Premium
    HT|Omega Claro plus+ sound card
    CyberPower CP1500PFCLCD UPS
    E6300 (R0) @ 3.504GHz [8x438MHz] ~~ P35-DS3L [rev: 1.0] ~ Bios: F9 ~~ 4x2GB Kingston HyperX T1 PC2-8500, 876MHz @4-4-4-10
    Seasonic X650 80+ gold psu (650w) ~~ Xigmatek Balder HDT 1283 cpu cooler ~~ Cooler Master CM 690 case (RC-690-KKN1-GP)
    Samsung 830 128GB SSD MZ-7PC128B/WW (boot) ~~ WD Caviar Black WD6401AALS 640GB (data) ~~ ZM-MFC2 fan controller
    HT|Omega Striker 7.1 sound card ~~ Asus VH242H monitor [1920x1080] ~~ Logitech Z-5500 Digital 5.1 Speakers
    win7 x64 sp1 Home Premium ~~ CyberPower CP1500PFCLCD U.P.S

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