If you want to build a custom PC for you audio production, then first step is to decide on the right motherboard.
The issue here is that there are a ton of choices ranging from affordable motherboards all the way to premium models. The one you choose depends rather on your budget as well as your level of production.
If you are just a beginner, then a simple motherboard would do just fine.
However, if you are professional, then a motherboard with a powerful built-in sound card would generally be the way to go.
The good thing about premium motherboards is that you don’t need to invest in a separate professional sound card since their built-in card is exceptionally good.
In this article we will look at the best motherboards for audio production. We will also look at how to choose one for audio production and the key factors to look for.
Also Read: Best Motherboards for Photo Editing
List of Best Motherboards for Audio Production in 2020
We have selected the following motherboards as highly suitable for audio production. We have selected budget and premium models from both Intel and AMD based setups.
- Gigabyte B365M DS3H – Budget 2.1
- MSI B360 Gaming Plus – Mid Range 7.1
- GIGABYTE Z490 AORUS Ultra – High End – 5.1 – Premium DNR
- Gigabyte GA-A320M-S2H – Ultra-Budget 2.1 Channel
- ASUS AM4 TUF Gaming X570-Plus – Mid Range 5.1
Best Intel Motherboards for Audio Production
1. Gigabyte B365M DS3H – Budget 2.1
One of the most affordable mATX motherboard for the Intel LGA 1151 socket. Great for those making a budget build.
First up, we have one of the most affordable motherboards for the audiophiles.
This motherboard is basically designed for those who want to create a workstation for audio production but want to install a separate sound card by themselves.
The built in sound card on this is not the best out there. However, given the budget, it allows you to save enough to procure a high end external or internal standalone sound card.
The motherboard offers 3 x audio ports i.e line out, line in and mic. Hence it can accommodate a 2.1 stereo system.
Other than that, this offers reasonable expandability with 1 X16 PCIE slot, one X4 slot and one X1 slot. It also offers a decent amount of SATA ports so that you can connect multiple hard disks. It also offers a single M.2 slot for SSD.
Another important point to note here is that this motherboard features an mATX form factor. Since mATX motherboard are smaller than the standard ATX motherboards, you can choose to go for a smaller PC case.
The benefit of the smaller case is that not only is it cheaper, it allows for a compact PC build.
All in all, if you are looking for a budget option for Intel based system, then this is the best motherboard for audio production in our opinion.
2. MSI B360 Gaming Plus – Mid Range 7.1
A midrange mother with great expandability and a 7.1 surround sound system built in.
Next up we have our favorite motherboard for a reasonably affordable build. This is a mid range motherboard that leans more toward the budget range.
However, for the price, this is one of few rare motherboard that offers a 7.1 surround sound system thanks to 6 audio ports.
Even motherboards that are much more expensive than this cap out at 5.1 systems. Hence, that is the testament to the value you are getting with this option.
Other than that, it offers a decent array of slots for expansion. Since this is an ATX motherboard, it has a larger size as compared to the motherboard above.
As such it offers plenty more PCIe slots so that you can add in sound cards, graphics card, and other controllers easily.
Besides, if you plan to build a beautiful workstation for yourself, then you will like the RGB lights it offers.
Sure this is a gaming motherboard, however, that only means that it uses high quality components and as such, if you are looking for a mid range Intel model, then this is the best motherboard for audio production in our opinion.
3. GIGABYTE Z490 AORUS Ultra – High End – 5.1 – Premium DNR
One of the most affordable mATX motherboard for the Intel LGA 1151 socket. Perfect for graphic designers looking for a budget build.
Here we have a rather premium motherboard. However, this is a piece that only professionals seeking to build a high quality workstations would find useful.
For starters, note that this motherboard uses the LGA 1200 socket instead of the LGA 1151 socket. The LGA 1200 socket supports only the 10 generation Intel processors at the moment.
Therefore, if you have an Intel 8th or 9th generation processor in hand, you should look for motherboards with the 1151 socket instead.
Furthermore, this motherboard uses only the most premium components for its construction. Take for example the VRM Phases, this motherboard has 12 VRM phases for controlling the voltage of the motherboard with premium high grade capacitors, instead of just 8 as is found on most motherboards.
On top of that, this is one of the rare motherboard that offers 3 x M.2 slots. Hence you can install up to 3 x SSDs on this.
Sure this can be an overkill for most users, for those who work in a busy audio production house, you will find its extra expandability and high end components to your liking.
The quality of the components like heat sinks, chokes, capacitors etc add to the longevity of the product and also help it against system errors.
As far as the sound card is concerned, this motherboard offers audio ports for 5.1 system along with an optical S/PDIF out. It also features a reasonably high SNR of 108. Therefore, you can expect a great sound quality.
All in all, if you are looking to build a professional PC, then this is the best motherboard for audio production.
Best AMD Motherboards for Audio Production
1. Gigabyte GA-A320M-S2H – Ultra-Budget 2.1 Channel
An ultra affordable motherboard that is excellent for those who wish to install a separate sound card of their own.
There are budget motherboards and there is this Gigabyte GA-A320M-S2H. This is an ultra-budget motherboard that is excellent if you want to build the most economical setup using an AMD system.
The key here to realize is that this motherboard just serves as a skeleton for you to add premium components on to it.
The money you save on this motherboard can be used to procure high end sound cards with high DNR and sample rate.
Besides, if you are a beginner audio producer and you just need a motherboard to run all the important software, then this can serve you quite well.
Being a micro ATX motherboard, it is smaller than the ATX options and thus the system should have a smaller footprint as a result.
The motherboard features minimal specs with just 2 x DIMM slot for a max of 32 GB, which is more than enough for running any audio software.
In short, if you want to keep your expenditure on a motherboard to a minimum and use the money saved on other components, then this is the best motherboard for audio production.
2. ASUS AM4 TUF Gaming X570-Plus – Mid Range 5.1
A midrange motherboard with an exception sound quality. Features an excellent 108 db SNR sound quality with 5.1 sound system.
Next, we have a midrange motherboard that we personally find to be the go to option for most who plan to build an AMD audio rig.
ASUS TUF series has a reputation of featuring only the most long lasting and sturdy components. From its 6 layer strong PCB construction to certified military grade chokes. This motherboard reeks of heavy duty quality from all corners.
The higher the quality of the components, the less they are prone to accidental damage as well as to system errors.
This attention to high grade components also reflects on the audio components as well. Take for example the audio controller on this motherboard. It is shielded from outside noise with a “TUF” Audio Cover.
As far as the channels are concerned, this motherboard support 5.1 surround sound with it 5 audio ports. It also has an optical S/PDIF for certain protocols like Dolby.
In the end, if you are are looking for a high grade, yet mid-priced option, then this is the best motherboard for audio production.
What To Look For?
Audio production in itself isn’t a very resource heavy task particularly if you compare it with video production or game development.
Nevertheless, there are few factors that you need to look into.
Do You Have a Separate Sound Card?
The first question to ask yourself is whether you are going to use the built in sound card or install a separate sound card yourself.
Many professionals find that the built-in motherboard sound card is prone to noise generation and hence they resort to separate standalone sound card.
Sound card are available as both PCIe Add-in card or as external Digital to Analog Converters (DAC).
If you plan on getting a separate sound card, then there is no need to invest in a premium motherboard. Instead, you can simply look for a budget option and install an expensive standalone sound card in that.
You need to understand that not all motherboard built-in sound cards are created equally.
The first and foremost important consideration is the amount of audio channels you wish to hook up.
There are typically three different configuration found on motherboards
- 3 x Audio Ports: for 2.1 sound system
- 5 x Audio Ports: for 5.1 Surround Sound
- 6 x Audio Ports: For 7.1 Surround Sound
DNR, Impedance, and Sample Rate
Of course, if you are very particular about the built in sound card, then you have to look into its Dynamic Range value, the Impedance and Sample Rate supported.
All these are very important factors about any sound system as they entail the size of the supported audio system, how loud they can be and of course, the quality.
The size of the motherboard defines how many peripherals you can attach to it as well as he overall size of your computer.
Motherboard sizes are referred to as form factors. The most common sizes are ATX, Micro ATX and MINI ITX.
The largest of these is the ATX with a dimension of about 12 x 9.6 inches. Micro ATX comes at 9.6 x 9.6 inch size range and finally, the mini ITX is the smallest of them all at 6.7 x 6.7 inches dimension.
Of course, the smaller the motherboard, the less expandability it will offer. For instance, the mini ITX motherboards only offer a single PCIe X16 slot for expansion.
Hence, if you choose to have a graphics card as well as a standalone sound card installed, you would not be able to do so due to the single PCIe slot the mini ITX has.
ATX and Micro ATX motherboards, on the other hand, offer reasonable expandability.
Also Read: Best Motherboards for SLI
Rest of the Hardware
If you have budget constraints, then we recommend that you keep your budget for motherboard at a very reasonable level only.
You can instead choose to spend some more on other components like a good processors or a high amount of RAM.
Perhaps you can also install SSDs as they can certainly give boost to your PC performance.
However, minimum isn’t necessarily the ideal configuration. Therefore, it is recommended to have 8- 16 GB of RAM, or at least an Intel i5 or Ryzen 5 processor if you are truly serious about building a workstation.
Also Read: Best Motherboards for Graphic Design
In this article we had a look at some of the best motherboards for audio production. The point to note here is that you can either keep things simple or go for all out audio production workstation.
This would depend upon your budget as well as your level of expertise.
If you are a beginner, we would recommend you keep things simple. Alternatively, if you are a pro but you want to add a separate sound card yourself, then you can also keep things simple with a budget motherboard.
However, if you want to make an investment on a premium motherboard, then you have options as well.