How to choose a sound card for a computer

Most computers are equipped with integrated sound by card. But its performance or characteristics are clearly not enough for high-quality playback or recording music.

How to choose a sound card

How to choose a sound card for your computer: what to look for Attention

When choosing a sound card for a computer, it is advisable to draw attention to the following options:

  1. Type (external or internal);

  2. Format (number of output channels);

  3. Connection interface;

  4. The presence of a built-in amplifier;

  5. DAC parameters;

  6. Support for special technologies – ASIO and EAX.

A type

Sound Card Type

Sound cards are external and internal. First connect via USB and are mainly intended for use together with an audio system or multiple speakers. because of features of their interface they support high-quality audio only in very rare cases.

Internal sound cards are installed directly in computer system unit. Top models of such devices support high-quality audio and are equipped with a powerful DAC. AND budget – just let you connect good speakers or headphones.

Some models of internal sound cards are equipped with an external remote unit for connecting audio equipment. DAC specifications he has no effect.

Format (number of output channels)

When recording the number of output channels, the number is indicated first speakers, and then the number of subwoofers you can connect directly to the sound card. The following formats:

  1. 2.0;

  2. 4.0;

  3. 5.1;

  4. 7.1.

The number of analog output channels may not match number of connectors. For example, on 2.0 sound cards just one 3.5mm connector. Two are connected to it speaker through minijack.

Connection interface

connection type

There are three interfaces for connecting sound cards:

  1. PCI Slow, designed exclusively for low power boards extensions. Suitable for games, watching movies and listening music – if special quality requirements are not imposed;

  2. PCI-E Fast, allows you to connect a really high-quality equipment. Suitable for home studio;

  3. USB Designed to connect external sound cards.

  4. In all cases, driver installation is required.

The presence of a built-in amplifier

The built-in amplifier in sound cards is designed to use with headphones. Therefore, with regular listening it is advisable to purchase music or audio through these devices equipped with an expansion card.

If you plan to connect an external to the sound card audio system, in which there is already an amplifier, you can do without built-in expansion board.

DAC Parameters

Digital-to-analog converter (DAC) – sound card module, which, as the name implies, is intended for digital signal transformations (namely, all music, downloaded from the Internet, including stores) to analog currents for subsequent sending to speakers or headphones. He has two parameter – bit depth and limit frequency.

Bit depth – the maximum number of sound intensity levels, reproducible DACs. The higher it is, the more tangible and rich each instrument in the overall composition will be heard. Sound cards can be equipped with a DAC of one of three bits:

  1. 16 bit Suitable for playing compressed digital audio (e.g. MP3);

  2. 20 bit. Suitable for lossless digital playback audio (FLAC, ALAC);

  3. 24 bit Designed for Hi-Res Audio.

Limit Sampling Rate – Number of Frequency Levels sound that the DAC can reproduce. Not volume, namely sound spectrum. Sound cards can be equipped with one of the DACs. four frequencies:

  1. 44.1 kHz. Provides playback of sounds from audible range man. Suitable for listening to music from an Audio CD or compressed digital audio;

  2. 48 kHz. Provides playback of sounds from audible range and partially inaudible. Suitable for playing FLAC

  3. 96 kHz. Can play sounds far beyond hearing range. Suitable for Hi-Res audio.

  4. 192 kHz. Designed for Hi-Res Audio.

The greater the bit depth and maximum sampling rate – the higher cost sound card. Therefore, to acquire models, designed for high-resolution audio playback (Hi-Res) is only if they are really needed and there is suitable equipment in the form of appropriate headphones or speakers.

Support for special sound technologies

special technology

Among the most common sound technologies, there are two, which require hardware and software support – EAX and ASIO.

EAX technology is used to create realistic sound environment that simulates the environment. It is used in various films, games and similar content. EAX handles sounds, adding reflection and reverb effects to them to create surround audio environment.

ASIO is a special streaming audio output protocol that provides the minimum delay for signal conversion, including including in the DAC. It, for example, allows you to process audio in real-time, which is very important for sound engineers and musicians.


Among the manufacturers of sound cards are the following company:

  1. Orient. Releases simple external sound cards that fit if the integrated one is broken;

  2. Asus. Produces sound cards mostly mid-level, which are suitable for playing high-quality audio. However in the product line has top models that provide excellent sound;

  3. Creative Sound – one of the most famous manufacturers of sound cards, produces both medium and top models;

  4. Tascan, Steinberg – manufacturers of “audiophile” sound kart.


In the following articles, our experts tell you how to choose a video card for the computer, the secrets of choosing a power supply and A complete guide to choosing a desktop keyboard a computer.

Attention! This material is subjective opinion of the authors of the project and is not a buying guide.

Rate article
An online magazine about style, fashion, etiquette, lifestyle, and about choosing the best products and services.
Add a comment