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.
Comparison of Top Motherboard for Audio Production
|ATX||5 x Audio Ports|
120 dB SNR
|Asus AM4 |
|ATX||5 x Audio Ports|
108 dB SNR
|mATX||3 x Audio Ports|
Realtek ALC887 codec
|mATX||3 x Audio Ports||
|GIGABYTE X570 |
|X570||AM4||ATX||5 x Audio Ports|
125 dB SNR
ESS Sabre 9118
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.
- ASUS Prime Z490-A – Intel LGA 1200 – Recommended Motherboard for Audio Production
- ASUS AM4 TUF Gaming X570-Plus – AM4 – Recommended AMD MOBO
- Gigabyte B365M DS3H – Intel LGA 1151 – For Affordable Intel Setup
- Gigabyte GA-A320M-S2H – AMD AM4 – For Affordable AMD Audio Workstation
- GIGABYTE X570 AORUS Master – AMD AM4 – Premium Motherboard
1. ASUS Prime Z490-A – Intel LGA 1200 – Recommended Intel Motherboard for Audio Production
An ATX motherboard with Intel LGA 1200 socket. Built for 10th Gen Intel processors. High quality built in sound system.
If you have a decent budget to spare for your Audio workstation, then this is the most recommended option for an Intel setup.
This motherboard is a mid range motherboard featuring a full ATX form factor and an LGA 1200 socket. This is the socket used by the latest 10th Gen Intel Processors.
But the real beauty of this motherboard lies in its high quality construction as well as its high end components.
For starters, this motherboard features 5 audio ports with one optical out for sending high quality uncompressed 5.1/7.1 audio between devices.
The 5 audio ports are enough to support 5.1 surround sound system. The motherboard features Realtek S1220A codec with 120 dB SNR for the stereo and 113 dB SNR for the line in.
While this is not as good as the very expensive DAC or dedicated sound cards, unless you want to spend twice as much as this motherboard on a digital to analog converter, you are getting a phenomenal sound quality and value here.
Other than that, this motherboard offers plethora of features including the much coveted thunderbolt header which can be used to connect a thunderbolt port. It also offers a great phase power design of 12+2.
As such it has 12 VRMs for the processor and 2 for the RAM giving it a top of the line stability.
It also offers latest ports such as USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type C and plethora of PCIe connectivity.
While for a newbie this motherboard would be an overkill, if you are serious about your workstation, then this is the best motherboard for audio production in our opinion.
2. ASUS AM4 TUF Gaming X570-Plus – AM4 – Recommended AMD Motherboard for Audio Production
A midrange AM4 motherboard with an exceptional 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.
As far as the sound quality goes, this features the Realtek S1200A codec with 108 db SNR. Given its price tag, this is one of the best value you can get.
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.
3. Gigabyte B365M DS3H – Intel LGA 1151 – For Affordable Intel Setup
A functional and a highly affordable motherboard for 8th and 9th Gen Intel Processors.
If you do not care much for a high end setup and you just want a very functional motherboard for audio production, then we recommend this.
This motherboard is also a great option for those who plan to invest on a dedicated sound card or DAC of their own and do not want to rely on the built in sound card.
This is basically one of the most affordable mATX motherboard for the processors based on Intel LGA 1151 socket i.e 8th and 9th gen Intel processors. Great for those making a budget build.
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. It uses the inferior Realtek ALC887 codec compared to the Realtek S1220A codec found in the previous motherboard.
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.
4. Gigabyte GA-A320M-S2H – AMD AM4 – For Affordable AMD Audio Workstation
An affordable AMD AM4 motherboard for basic audio workstation or for those wanting to installing a separate sound card.
This is similar to the motherboard above, however, it is based on the AMD AM4 chipset. Basically this is an 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.
This motherboard only offers 3 audio ports suitable for 2.1 stereo system.
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.
5. GIGABYTE X570 AORUS Master – AMD AM4 – Premium and Elite Motherboard for Sound Enthusiasts
Features the epitome of sound quality on motherboards. Realtek ALC1220-VB Coden and ESS SABRE 9118 DAC. 125 dB SNR
This motherboard would definitely be beyond the budget of most newbie and intermediate audio producers out there, but if you want to grab your hands on the best, then this the most recommended.
Basically if you want to save yourself from investing on a high end dedicated soundcard or a DAC, then this is route that you can take.
It basically features the high end and top of the line audio chipset by SABRE i.e the 9118 as well as the premium Realtek ALC1220-VB codec with a whopping125 dB SNR.
No other motherboard in this list comes close to the audio quality this offers. In fact, motherboards much more expensive then this fail to offer as high quality a sound system as this.
Other than that, being a premium motherboard with X570 chipset for AMD Ryzen processors, this is generally built for high quality performance for gaming. Since premium gaming entails high quality internal components, you can certain that this is much well suited for audio production.
It offers 14 phase power design, has the latest PCIe v4.0 protocol, offers latest USB 3.2 Gen2 Type C ports and a a whopping 3 x PCIe X16 slots which can be used for installing upto three graphics card or other peripherals.
It also offers plethora of connectivity via USB, SATA and PCIe slots. The 3 x m.2 slots can be used to install 3 x NVMe SSD drives.
Again, if you are a professional looking to get your hands on the best possible option, then this is the best motherboard for audio production.
What To Look For in the Right Motherboard for Audio Producers?
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.
Take the SoundBlaster AE-9 – one of the most prominent dedicated sound card – procuring one of these would cost you more than a motherboard itself.
However, you have to gauge the use case. If you do have a professional studio to run, then this an investment worth going for.
Also Read: Best Desktops for FL Studio
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.