Tips on how to choose the best sound card

Tips on how to choose the best sound card
Tips on how to choose the best sound card

A sound card is an integrated device that can convert electrical signals into sound signals and audio signals into electrical signals. If you like watching videos, playing games, enjoying music or any kind of audio, you know the importance of a sound card.

Tips on how to choose the sound card for you

There are several components that you need to consider before buying a sound card. This is because each product has different specifications and is used for different purposes. In order not to make the wrong choice, here is my explanation in detail about how to choose a sound card.

Specify the sound card type

There are several types of sound cards that you can choose according to your needs. The types offered in the market are also quite diverse, including my explanation of the following sound card.

1. Internal sound card: There is a chip embedded in the motherboard, some people know it as the motherboard sound chip. Initially, sound cards were installed in expansion slots, which are sockets on the motherboard where additional hardware could be inserted.

However, most modern PCs have an integrated chipset as an audio controller that allows the PC to record and play sound. PCs that have a motherboard sound chip are characterized by the presence of an audio jack on the back of the motherboard with another expansion port. The type of expansion port can be a USB port.

2. Standard sound card: Featuring 24-bit recording or multiple-channel surround sound, a standard sound card is an expansion card that plugs into a slot in a computer. One of the advantages of using a standard sound card is that it has its own processor chip. This is in contrast to sound chip motherboards which rely on the computer's processor to perform some calculations to produce sound.

This condition makes it produce less load on the main processor so that its performance increases when used for gaming. It also has features that motherboard sound chips don't have, such as 24-bit recording or multiple-channel surround sound.

3. External sound card: Requires a USB or FireWire expansion slot, an external sound card is a small box that contains all the features of a standard sound card. However, this device connects to the computer via a USB or FireWire port, not the internal expansion slot.

External sound cards have features that standard sound cards do not have. Some of these are additional inputs and outputs as well as physical volume control knobs.

External sound cards are also easier to transfer to a new PC than standard sound cards. When you want to improve the sound of your laptop, you don't need anything but a USB or FireWire expansion slot.

Check the sound card connection type

The type of connection between the sound card and the PC or laptop depends on the speed and compactness of the data transfer. There are several data media used on the sound card as below.

1. Peripheral Component Interconnect (PCI): Allows the installation of various hardware components, such as network cards, modems, sound cards, disk controllers and other peripherals.

2. FireWire: Connectors used to connect digital camcorders, external hard drives, and other devices.

3. PCI Express: Standard interface that connects high-speed components and USB.

Choose a sound card based on your needs

USB sound cards, external sound cards, HP sound cards, and PC sound cards are made for different purposes. Some people buy sound cards with full specifications because they are used for more complex performance. But there are also people who buy sound cards with standard specifications because they will be used for lightweight performance.

1. Sound card for games: Must have a fast data transfer performance, sound is an important component in a game. For the best gaming experience, a sound card with PCI or PCI express is right for you.

The PCI express sound card offers high data transfer rates which are recommended for gaming. Given the high cost, you can also use PCI if you don't have PCI express.

Input and output are the other most important features of a sound card for gaming. For that, always pay attention to the input and output connections. This includes headphone connection outputs, microphone connection inputs, line outputs, as well as other inputs and outputs such as fiber optics.

2. Sound card for music: Requires a high sampling frequency, a sound card with a sampling frequency of 44.1 kHz and 16-bit or higher is the best choice for listening to music. Budget is the biggest obstacle to having the best sound card for listening to music. This is because this sound card has a fairly high price.

3. Sound card for sound recording: Mix and produce music with ASIO driver, ASIO driver is an important feature for sound card, especially for music recording, mixing and production purposes. USB sound cards are also considered suitable for recording music and mixing. However, the FireWire connector could be the best choice because FireWire has a much higher transfer rate.

Check other important features on the sound card

Each brand of sound card has different features. The more complete the features included in the sound card, the more you can enjoy clearer audio quality. The following are some of the features in a sound card that should be included in the list of considerations.

1. Inputs and outputs must be robust: Inputs and outputs are essential features for all technological devices. When you use a sound card to record, the input must be strong for the device to actively record. On the other hand, when you use a sound card to listen to music, you need to consider the output features more carefully.

2. Availability of ASIO to improve performance: Audio Stream Input or Output (ASIO) is essential software because ASIO drivers can improve sound card performance. The trick is to speed up data transfer and reduce signal delay. The ASIO driver is also an important feature when you use a sound card for recording.

3. Sampling rate and bit rate with high sampling frequency: Sampling rate and bit rate are the working dimensions of the sound card. The standard sampling frequency for a good sound card is 44.1 kHz. If you want to have a good sound card, it is recommended that you have a sound card with a sampling frequency of 96 kHz or more.

In the world of sound cards, 16-bit speed is considered the lowest, 24-bit is the average speed, and 32-bit is considered extraordinary. The sampling rate and bit rate also depend on the quality of the Digital-to-Analog Converter (DAC) and Analog-to-Digital Converter (ADC) used.

4. High signal to noise ratio: A good sound card has a signal to noise ratio of at least 100 dB (decibels). For quality audio, a sound card with a higher signal-to-noise ratio is a good choice.

Is a sound card really necessary?

There are several common uses for sound cards, such as for listening to sound from video games, listening to music, movies, and more. Although fairly light, but the sound card can be a mandatory item for some users.

Sound cards are becoming a rare component in modern PCs as most PCs now have onboard audio built into the motherboard. For all users, except gamers and audiophiles, this is not a problem due to external and internal sound cards.

However, a true gamer needs quality sound, especially for games that use surround sound. For example, sound is used to help identify where the enemy is or where the enemy is shooting. Game lovers will definitely be very happy when they get clear sound while playing games.


The main thing to remember when buying a sound card is to use it with new computer speakers or the best headphones. That way, the sound card can improve the sound quality on the PC system more optimally. Otherwise, you won't see the difference.

Conclusion

I've provided tips on how to choose the best sound card to meet your needs the next time you make your purchase. You can use it for live streaming, live performance, live broadcast, home recording, and voice recording.

So that you don't choose the wrong one, make sure you check the connection that is suitable for your laptop or PC. That way, you can use your sound card more optimally.
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