Is Buying a Sound Card Worth The Money? An Enthusiast's Perspective

By on December 9, 2013, 1:19 AM

I've been on the fence about buying a discrete sound card since building my first PC in 2002. There's no clear-cut metric to use as a guideline if you're shopping for a sound card. Lengthy audiophile reviews are available, but they generally don't offer a quantifiable takeaway if you have a limited point of reference and don't know much about the subject to begin with. I fall into that category. I've never had anything except onboard sound and my knowledge of acoustics couldn't fill a thimble.

From that position, buying a sound card has always felt more like a gamble than an investment. At the same time, I know audio snobs with thousands in equipment and all-FLAC libraries, and I'd like to believe they aren't delusional -- surely there's something to be experienced beyond my basic setup. But I mean, just how much better can music, movies and games sound? Enough to prevent buyer's remorse?

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1 person liked this | Guest said:

A dedicated sound card is well worth it.

You can hear new sounds that you otherwise wouldn't even know existed.

Guest said:

A good dedicated sound card should be better, especially for the money however the reviewer was using a pretty old Mobo and many of the z87 mobos are using much better sound. Id like the same review but with one of the gaming orientated mobos from Asus and MSI. I think they would be a lot better than an old mobo probably using an ALC890 or ALC892.

Guest said:

Probably the worst review of a sound card I've ever read. Obviously, reviewer is not old enough to remember when they were required (SoundBlaster 16 / Gravis Ultrasound). The onboard stuff is fairly good now, but the "tests" done are BS.

You'd need to test code that uses 3D audio, or test the MIDI wavetables. Just comparing uncompressed audio is stupid

Burty117 Burty117, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

I went from the Built-In sound cards of an Asus P67 Sabertooth MoBo to a Brand new Asus Z87 ROG Hero and the sound difference was immense! the new MoBo sounded clearer, louder and was much better at positioning the sound, it was actually a serious jump in quality.

I've been meaning to get myself a sound card but now the new Steel Series Siberia Elite are almost here and comes with a USB sound card I may not bother :/

I don't know, anyone at Techspot got these headphones yet? I'd love to know what you think as the Internet isn't able to give me any reasonable results.

3 people like this | NTAPRO NTAPRO said:

A dedicated sound card is well worth it.

You can hear new sounds that you otherwise wouldn't even know existed.

reminds me of the first time I listening to pokemon with earphones plugged into the gameboy. I was "oh sh*t, where did these sounds come from" xD

11 people like this | cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

You'd need to test code that uses 3D audio, or test the MIDI wavetables. Just comparing uncompressed audio is stupid
I thought the reviewer made it plain as day, the review was not to be a professional review. The review was meant to be viewed from the common consumer point of view.

I enjoyed reading the review, because it came from a perspective much like my own would be.

2 people like this | Guest said:

I never knew that my life would change so dramatically. I was like you once, I didn't bother with sound-cards thought that its a money waste. Until I bought one. After painfully plugging it in I already knew that something has changed, at first I thought it was a coincidence but my back did not hurt. When the windows sound played I felt like child once again, my world was painted in bright colors, I once again wanted to live. But when I stopped for one second, and I noticed that I forgot to unplug the speakers from my on-board sound-card and replug it in newly bought one. My back! it hurts again - I screamed.

3 people like this | Burty117 Burty117, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

You'd need to test code that uses 3D audio, or test the MIDI wavetables. Just comparing uncompressed audio is stupid
I thought the reviewer made it plain as day, the review was not to be a professional review. The review was meant to be viewed from the common consumer point of view.

I enjoyed reading the review, because it came from a perspective much like my own would be.

In All honesty I'd just ignore the Guest posts, I do, my life has been infinitely better since I started ignoring them.

Take the Guest post above this as an example, he clearly cannot tell the difference between MoBO Sound and a dedicated Sound Card yet instead of putting it in a constructive way he just takes the P*ss.

Emexrulsier said:

Best thing I ever did was move from onboard to discrete. Before moving I too always believed that the audio from onboard sound with fancy realtek 9.2 cards or my last board had the SupremeFX II 8-CH Audio (Asus) striker II and tbh it all sounded good. I then put in a very cheap sound card, a low end pci creative card and no bull shit the sound difference was immediately noticed. Deeper bass, better ampage on the headphones, crisper, cleaner audio it really was that good all for a measly £20. I am still using this same sound card now and I will not look back.

hellokitty[hk] hellokitty[hk], I'm a TechSpot Evangelist, said:

Thanks I liked this bit of insight!

I'd like it even more if you get a chance to compare your experience to an xonar card in the $30-$40 range (ds/dg/dgx) because I feel like spending $80 on somewhat of a gamble happens less often. I'm considering something like that.

1 person liked this | Guest said:

I have a new Z87 board from AsRock with "Purity Sound", to quote "Realtek ALC1150 audio codec, 115dB SNR DAC with Differential Amplifier, TI® 5532 Premium Headset Amplifier which supports up to 600 ohm headphones, cap less Direct Drive technology, EMI shielding cover, PCB isolate shielding and support for DTS Connect". While this sounds fine on paper I find that the 5 old Xonar DX still has an advantage, like the article mentions, the onboard solution is simply lacking in lows and highs, there are some nuances of the sound that are lost in both "gaming" grade headphones and MOSFET amplifier with speakers. Audiophile headphones make this difference even more noticeable. But this is to be expected if you look at the Xonar DX board vs. the onboard solution: you immediately notice that there are more filtering caps, beter DACs (even though the front one is listed at 115 dB SNR and the other is listed at 110 dB SNR), better opamps, relays that physically decouple inputs/outputs etc.

What I suggest to Mr. Matthew DeCarlo is to try out the Xonar without enhancements, by pressing the HiFi button in the audio center, I find it way crisper compared to any of the DSP stuff. The DSP works fine on cheap audio solutions like onboard audio or not-so-good phones with earbuds but I find it that they hurt quality on good audio solutions with good headphones/speakers.

As a sidenote, what I find amazing is the number of people that "like music", have tons of audio, listen to it a lot but really have no idea about how it should sound. As always, ignorance is bliss: as long as you do not try something superior you do not know what you miss and what you should expect.

trgz said:

I would agree that the sound is definitely better having tried the side-by-side approach, however I do wonder if a dedicated card might actually slow a machine down due to the PCI transfer speed rather than something that is on-board (though that might also have transfer limitations). My other concern is cooling - my second 560Ti can only go in one place and the same goes for my soundcard (Audigy 2 ZS) which does rather hamper the airflow. Anyway, any recommendations for a better value card etc?

2 people like this | Darth Shiv Darth Shiv said:

Personally been hitched on discrete sound cards since I heard an AWE32. Back in the day, they were pretty amazing. FLAC plus discrete sound card I think you'll notice more particularly on low frequencies compared to MP3s. It's hard to notice the difference but when listening to both long enough, I get that funny feeling hearing the mp3's that something was compressed. Bass notes that little bit duller. Hearing mp3 compression artifacts.

If you listen to a lot of random/streamed music and not the same playlist over and over, I'd imagine it wouldn't be so prominent but after listening to FLAC tracks for months on end, I can pick a compressed version of the song and hear flaws in it (and when you know the songs that well, it does grate on you).

Satki said:

Not worth it unless you have amazing speakers, which will cost a lot, in which case the sound card cost would be pretty much immaterial anyway, so you might as well.

Guest said:

Sorry but its such a bad review

the fact that you testes music while being on "rock" settings is a major fail those things just automatically ruin everything you hear

you need to disable everything and let the actual sound that comes out of the card to be what you review

someone should redo this and compare a simple mobo sound solution vs higher end mobo audio like puritysound for example vs dedicated sound like asus stx

and do it with 3 separate machines one next to the other all connected to the same speakers

4 people like this | Burty117 Burty117, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

Sorry but its such a bad review

the fact that you testes music while being on "rock" settings is a major fail those things just automatically ruin everything you hear

you need to disable everything and let the actual sound that comes out of the card to be what you review

someone should redo this and compare a simple mobo sound solution vs higher end mobo audio like puritysound for example vs dedicated sound like asus stx

and do it with 3 separate machines one next to the other all connected to the same speakers

It's Like Guests just simply do not read the article, seriously, what is with that? It was a comparison for the noob essentially, it's a setting he has always used (I bet he's not the only one) and just set it like he would anything else, accept the fact this is not a "professional" review like you expected (although it clearly states that within 30 seconds of reading the article) and is for the people who haven't' thought about / don't care for discrete sound cards. NOT Audiophiles who want every tiny detail about the sound and what settings he used etc...

Get it?

1 person liked this | nismo91 said:

I'm sorry but I have to agree with some of the reviewers here. turning on realtek EQ is the worst thing you can do to color your sound. not to mention the reviewer used sub $100 speakers to judge them.

I used to have two basic X-Fis in the past and now im still rocking my ALC888S with 5.1 analog out from a laptop... I'd say it's not so much different from X-Fi Surround 5.1 USB in terms of sound quality when you're playing FLAC songs through foobar2000. I was listening through a $400 2.1 speakers back then... however, things started to make sense when I used some $50 in-ear earphone with the realtek vs the X-Fi..

then I built a desktop with another realtek 889 chip.. it has bigger number but it sounded worse, especially on headphone... so much background noise, no features like Dolby Digital etc.. and then, one day I plugged my earphone to a friend's laptop... it was a hp pavillion notebook with an i7 chip so it is not definitely a low end laptop. couldn't believe my ears, it sounded so bad it is worse than your average low end smartphone. IDT audio chip seems to be the culprit. now I know why is there so many hate on the integrated audio...

Bottomline:

- Not all integrated audio like Realtek are created equal

- While aftermarket soundcards are better, it may not be worth it if you're running cheap speakers or audio, especially if the card itself already costs $60

- NEVER turn on equalization or any sound effect on any soundcard

- I recommend foobar2000 which can use VST sound effect. High quality VST will take some CPU usage but it will be way way better than any of the soundcard gimmicks

- Don't even think about "virtual surround" plugins or effects like Dolby Virtual Surround, Creative Crystallizer, SRS Sandbox when you're listening to 2-channel music. I know all of them sucks, but the developers obviously don't deserve all the hate, because what they design is a plugin for 6-channel audio. it just wont sell if it's marketed only for movie / game purpose.

1 person liked this |
Staff
Matthew Matthew, TechSpot Staff, said:

@nismo91 I do use foobar . I'll try your suggestion today, thanks.

hood6558 hood6558 said:

I agree with others who feel the review is irrelevant due to the methods and settings he used (rock DSP?). I personally use on board Realtek ALC892 (optical SPDIF) and it sounds great playing through my Boston Micro90X/Micro80X speakers and CR400 powered sub woofer, amped by a 100 watt/ch Sony surround receiver. My music files are mostly FLAC @ 24bit/96MHz. Would it sound better through a dedicated sound card? Probably so, especially if I used good headphones (which I rarely bother with). Would the quality difference be worth spending $80-$200 and losing a PCIe X1 slot? I doubt it - you'd need a much better amp and speakers to hear the difference, and possibly a dedicated listening room to minimize ambient noise. No, I'm not convinced it's worth it, and most people have a worse speaker/amp setup than mine, so they'd never hear the difference.

insect said:

I've never not used discrete audio. I wonder if I should try my on-boards again...

*shrug* I'm happy with discrete and for me $80-$200 is small potatoes when I build a gaming PC. I do use decent headphones and speaker systems though and for the games I play I like to be able to hear all the small sounds (someone sneaking, grenades bouncing alone the floor, loud explosions... it just immerses me so much more).

1 person liked this | Experimentongod said:

Let me put it bluntly: If you don't have a dedicated soundcard, you're NOT an enthusiast, period.

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Let me put it bluntly: If you don't have a dedicated soundcard, you're NOT an enthusiast, period.
Thats the same as saying cars without radios, could never be antiques. Sheeesh!

Luay said:

Yes sound cards, the only reason I'm not jumping on the mini-ITX (one PCI-E) bandwagon, because there's no where to plug it in after I install my graphics card.

But how do the new motherboards sound? ACL 1150 and others? What about those new external sound processing solutions from Asus? What about USB headsets that process the sound internally?

I have a sound card that is plugged into an Onkyo Amp/receiver. Is my Onkyo doing any work? or is it acting as a mere pass-through to my speakers, rendering it expensively useless?

I need this explained on a levels basis, the lowest being on-board audio, and the highest being a dedicated sound card connected to an AMP feeding speakers, and I want everything in between.

TechSpot did promise to explain this since October in their desktop buying guide but I'm still waiting.

Scorpionking20 said:

Thanks for this fun little read. I actually have the soundcard you tested in my wife's machine (was mine before I got my Creative ZxR) and the same Audio Technica Headphones. I have to say, to add a little to your' article, that what you are saying about immersion is spot on. Skyrim "feels" colder with the wind on these headphones and sound card.

Though, I have to say you may want to try another sound card as well...For instance, my ZxR is to the soundcard you tested what that card is to built in audio on your' MB. And then some, I'd argue. Once you take off the equalizer (Something you should always do!) it sounds like you are there...it's really impressive tech.

LukeDJ LukeDJ said:

This was a great review, very down to earth and helpful. I was actually considering buying a sound-card for myself, and I think this has convinced me it's worth it.

I do agree with some of the comments though, using a "rock" setting does somewhat discredit the review, as this puts an uncontrolled variable in the test that wouldn't be present in the majority of situations. I like the idea of drawing simple, down-to-earth conclusions from real-world situations, but this really does personalize the situation to a degree. Despite not being a major audiophile, I always turn the equalizer to flat before testing new speakers or headphones, and sometimes make small adjustments if I feel the speakers are lacking in a certain area. Judging by the comments, many others do similar.

Re-reading what I said, it seems like I'm calling the review completely irrelevant and useless, which isn't the case. I'm just saying that many of these people are somewhat justified in their criticism.

ET3D, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I could probably make do with no sound card at all, if software supported it. Still it's worth having something for when I do want sound.

5 people like this |
Staff
Matthew Matthew, TechSpot Staff, said:

Since there's a lot of debate, it's probably worth clarifying again that this really isn't a review. I agree my test setup isn't the end-all of configurations -- I even said so halfway through the article. But it was a reasonable starting point for comparison because I've always used it. I have over 2,000 hours logged on my desktop installation of foobar alone in less than a year. Nearly all with the same settings. Changing that last minute would have defeated the goal of the article, which was to offer a look at what you might be able to expect out of upgrading based on my experience. Take from that what you will.

madboyv1, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I miss my Audigy 2ZS... it went in a blaze of glory (literally) after faithful usage of 5 years. =(

1 person liked this | Guest said:

This is ridiculous.. the reviewer has failed to use monstrously expensive speaker wire at $100 per metre AND failing that has also used two fleshy lumps stuck to the side of his head to "hear" the music. How utterly preposterous, it fair makes my blood boil!

;)

Dukenukemx Dukenukemx said:

The choice of getting a sound card or not depends on your speaker setup. Though going from Realtek to anything will be noticable in quality, but is it worth it? If you just slap headphones on your head, you may want to hold onto your money.

Now if you have a digital reciever with 5.1 speaker setup, then you'd want to get a sound card. Problem is most sound cards are made for headphones users, who would only notice a small sound quality increase. So things like Dolby Digital Live or DTS are usually reserved for $100 cards.

Also keep in mind that hardware sound acceleration further improves quality, but only creative still does this. Most sound cards offload their work to you CPU, usually with algorithms that take lots of shortcuts to keep your cpu from slowing down in games. Only OpenAL offers hardware sound acceleration, after Vista/Windows7 killed it off in Direct Sound for no good apparent reason.

Guest said:

I apologise in the behalf of other Guests, whom may not have read the article, (or simply did not understand it).

The article should be good for those who are not yet knowledgeable of the field, but wish to start off somewhere without having to chew through walls of numbers or essay-like comparisons that can scare away the less dedicated persons. Also perfect for the average Joe who only wants to know why/how a dedicated audio card can be good and what should he expect from one.

The only thing I miss from the did not test and wrote an opinion of a random Sennhaiser headset, a brand that is known even for the laymen, outside the realm of audiophiles :)

hahahanoobs hahahanoobs said:

It's simple. On board audio is basically free audio. Except for the PCIe x1 cards you get with some higher end motherboards. Last time I checked, onboard audio costs around $6-$12 to put on a motherboard. Remember PSU's that came with computer cases? Those were junk.

If you care about audio at all, you buy a sound card. If you care about stable and reliable power, you buy the PSU separately .

Another example is, If you want the best out of an app on your tablet or phone, you buy the Pro/full version.

I would of used the Xonar DG ($40) for comparison.

A) You should still hear a difference, and...

B) Readers won't think they NEED to spend $90 (DX) to upgrade from on-board audio.

Nobina Nobina said:

I think that it pays off more to buy a new good set of speakers or headphones than to buy a sound card. Good set of speakers are required to make use of a sound card.

If you have integrated sound with good speakers, you'll probably get a good sound, plus you have an equalizer with Realtek so you can modify sound to your liking.

1 person liked this | Linkinworm Linkinworm said:

Iv tried many times to get my z77 onboard audio to sound as good as my creative titanium, but it just wont have it, not matter how much I try and tweak the creative titanium sounds better in all aspect. Realtek has always sounded horrible to me this is across many devices.

1 person liked this | Guest said:

Actually if you are an enthusiast, you shouldn't NEED a sound card. Today's high end 7.1 receivers support audio over HDMI which is the BEST way to send audio out of your computer. It is also the only way to digitally send 8 channel audio streams like dolby live and DTS HD.

inventix1136 said:

Probably the worst review of a sound card I've ever read. Obviously, reviewer is not old enough to remember when they were required (SoundBlaster 16 / Gravis Ultrasound). The onboard stuff is fairly good now, but the "tests" done are BS.

You'd need to test code that uses 3D audio, or test the MIDI wavetables. Just comparing uncompressed audio is stupid

WHY would he need to test using 3D audio or MIDI wavetables when 99% of us just listen to regular mp3's, youtube, or play games? He also stated that this is going to be a non-subjective review, but it is a review for us, the audio challenged on to see if a regular joe 6pack can recognize the difference...

Guest said:

I've owned a few audio interfaces over the years for recording purposes.

Running games like GTA V through an optical cable to bypass the PS3's DAC and use my interface's instead, well the sound quality significantly improves.

Of course, crappy mp downloads still sound crappy, in fact they sound crappier since they sound is no longer colored.

But the thing with audio fidelity is, it's only ever as good as your worst part of the chain.

So the problem is, you need a good source, good interface, and good speakers to experience the best audio. And even then you run into issues with power interference.

That being said, movies sounds fantastic on my studio monitors, and when I play my VST grand piano it sounds pretty amazing.

The coolest thing about having VST software and a nice interface is the reduction in latency due to ASIO drivers. My friend left his electric guitar over. I happen to own Waves GTR3, which is an entire virtual amp/cab/pedal setup for guitar. Since I have a nice interface (focusrite saffire pro 40) I have an astounding variety of amp/cab setups at my fingertips, completely customizable.

4 people like this | TomSEA TomSEA, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

Put me in the "sound card required" group. I have a Xonar Essence XTC and the difference over resident sound is considerable. But then again music is very important to me - it's the first thing to come on when I wake up in the morning and the last thing turned off before I go to bed.

I liked the review. I prefer these "does it sound better to an average listener" than one that's filled with stats and algorithm charts. The best advice I ever got from a stereo/audio device dealer was, "go into the sound room, and when you hear a setup that sounds right to you, buy that one. It may be the cheapest, or it may be the most expensive, but if it sounds right to you, that's all that matters."

2 people like this | Guest said:

I don't think that question is debatable anymore. With 20 bucks you can get yourself a cheap Audigy card, that makes all the difference. I have a Logitech X-530 surround system and a cheap Audigy SE. The sound is twice as loud as it is on a Realtek chip, but also many times sharper and clearer. It really is worth the money.

Adhmuz Adhmuz, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Actually if you are an enthusiast, you shouldn't NEED a sound card. Today's high end 7.1 receivers support audio over HDMI which is the BEST way to send audio out of your computer. It is also the only way to digitally send 8 channel audio streams like dolby live and DTS HD.

Actually an optical toslink does the same job, but better. Some enthusiast you are "Guest" And I'm not talking about the integrated one on the mobo, get a discrete card with optical out, way better than trying to have your GPU process your audio, I mean, pass through your audio. And for the record Dolby Live is just 5.1 or 6 channels.

As for the review, it's a good basic guide to why a discrete sound card helps your overall experience in games and with listening to music. But again, a couple things were missed, the biggest things that you missed is number of simultaneous voices that can be processed, my current card does 128 vs my on board which is less than half, hence why your hearing new things you weren't hearing before. In games like Counter-Strike this gives a HUGE advantage. Countless times I've been accused of hacking just by hearing were the other team is, something on board sound can never do. The DSP should be turned off, I will agree with the other comments about that, DSP are meant for devices that can't handle the full range of audio and low bitrate files, as soon as you introduce high quality headphones that can fully reproduce higher bitrates the DSP just muck it up.

1 person liked this | Guest said:

Since when FLAC is snobbish? CD is also snobbish? Gosh, soon you'll be called snob if you refuse to eat junk food or wear rags. I suppose it is also snobbish to actually LISTEN to music, you know, like appreciating stuff like notes, harmonies, vocals and stuff, you know, like, yeah? Now it all fits, I always wondered why I hate the crap they call music these days, with painted tarts who can't sing and hold the microphone like penis -- it's all because I'm a snob! Wow. The new generation is surely made to appreciate the (cultural) poverty they live in.

Guest said:

I presume the comments are like "why would somebody want something more than onboard since bla bla bla?", and the ones saying it matters.

In my home I use the onboard and I'm happy with it, but I have a mid size internet coffe with 25 machines and because of how the place is it is very important to have sound to make the ambient less "sullen?", well, I have a x-fi xtreme music and the day it stop working I will have to run to buy another sound card because there is no way I would have the crappy sound of the onboard sound here.

Yes, onboard sound is "good", you can heard the music, etc without noice. But if you want quality there is no question you need a dedicated one.

Guest said:

Agreed, I enjoyed the rewiew. I don't want numbers, just a simple rewied from a comsumer point of view, with there experience with the hardware.

xioticin said:

I have a sound card that is plugged into an Onkyo Amp/receiver. Is my Onkyo doing any work? or is it acting as a mere pass-through to my speakers, rendering it expensively useless?

I am not entirely sure if this is a rhetorical question or not, but as you have already said, your Onkyo receiver/amp is acting as an amp which is a very important function for any quality speakers. Just having a sound card in a pc doesn't over the same pump that a receiver is capable of. I took run my pc audio to my home theater system with an onkyo. The audio quality that it is capable can be maintained at much higher volumes than my smaller topping amp for my desktop setup. Receivers always add great versatility! It just costs a bit to bring that function out with more peripherals. Sorry again if the question was rhetorical!

GhostRyder GhostRyder said:

If you buy a higher end motherboard like an Asus Maximus you get a pretty good 7.1 surround on board chip that will give you high quality sound. For years ive only run on the on-board sound cards and in this day and age the motherboards come with really nice ones built in if you look at the top tier boards.

I have one now and its a very nice card which gives good quality even compared to my built in one on my Crosshair V-Z, but I really dont think a sound card is necessary unless you buy a lower end board or need the extra bit from a sound card.

Kintigh Kintigh said:

I thought the review was spot on for what it's stated purpose was. Sometimes keeping things simple is the best course.

I can say adding the same Asus card to my set up made an immediate difference in sonic quality.

I connected it too klipsch 2.1 and a pair of M-audio studio monitors all together. Thje same set up on onboard was finicky to configure......with the Asus card everything works together flawlessly. I too was unsure of the difference it would make but am quite pleased with my decision to take the plunge. The Klipsch 2.1 setup is like on it's 5th computer system :)

EClyde EClyde said:

I use my ears, nothing more. My budget Xonar sounds better (producing more of the desired effect) than my onboard HD audio. The best card I ever had was the an Aureal. Smoked the soundblaster and creative knew it so they sued and forced Aureal to bankruptcy

1 person liked this | Raoul Duke Raoul Duke said:

I find it funny gamers will spend like $700 on a soundcard or SLI set-up's yet choke and consider a $80 soundcard a big expense. Especially when the soundcard will last until the slot it uses is obsolete while the GPU will need replacing every few years or less.

I have an ASUS Essence STX, it cost $200 CAD, but I have had it so long I cannot remember when I bought it. It's likely the oldest piece of hardware in my PC. Similarly with headphones, I use Sennheiser HD600's which cost $600 CAD. Insane you say? I have had them at least a decade, replacement parts are still available, and if I work out the joyous amount of time I have used them, they are one of the best bargains I have ever received. Headphones work right off the card

More unusual granted is I use RCA out to a $400 NAD integrated receiver (40 watt) which powers my floor speakers. So my computer provides all home audio, CD's ripped as wave or downloaded as flac, Blu-ray sounds great as do DVD's or even Netflix.

For how long the sound gear lasts (especially compared to computer hardware in general) and how many hours of pleasure it has given me, this is a non-issue

Raoul Duke Raoul Duke said:

Correction, that is a integrated amplifier.

So the headphones and soundcard cost $800 CAD How fast do you burn through that on tech toys, GPU/CPU mobo upgrades etc. The headphones will last decades, the card 'till the slot is obsolete.

But it's your money, do what floats your boat

Raoul Duke Raoul Duke said:

So the headphones and soundcard cost $600 CAD

Aaargh, that's $800 CAD, my apologies for triple post

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