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Best Sound Cards for Audiophiles

5 Best Sound Cards for Audiophiles in 2020

The new era of gadgets has lead the way to technological boom. Advancement is on the doorstep of every individual. Why then, will a guitarist complain of the poor audio quality of his computer or a gamer complaint of the same? Well, because they lack one important gadget, i.e. sound card.

In case a musician or a gamer is not satisfied with the audio output from the devices, they can get rid of this situation easily. Thanks to the sound card.

A quality sound card is not attached to the motherboard of their computer. It needs to be attached separately. This small chip can enhance the audio quality – both receptive and output- on a computer.

The best sound cards for Audiophiles available in the market are considered essentials for gamers and professional musicians. Thinking of acquiring a sound card and worried about which is the best in the market? The solution is right here.

Also Read: Best motherboard for audio production

Sound Cards to Try: A Complete Guide

Separate Sound Card
Some prefer installing separate sound cards in their motherboards. These provide exceptional sound quality. Source: Creative

What is a sound card? Well, a sound card forms an important part of a computer device. Just like the graphics card, a sound card helps to change the gaming sound, music listening, and movie streaming experience to a new level.

Usually, these cards come soldered with the motherboard. As a result, it’s often overlooked. The job of these built-in sound cards is to turn the digital signals to analog signals so that the output gets played on devices, such as headphones or speakers.

What Is The Need Of It?

Nowadays, motherboard to headsets comes with an integrated sound card. So what’s the need for a discrete one?

Well, for the audiophiles even the minutest of hisses and pops can ruin the audio experience. The built-in sound cards are highly prone to the noise generated by the powerful components surrounding the chipsets.

Hence, poorly insulated built-in card can experience pops or crackles quite often.

To get a clearer sound and better quality audio, a sound card turns to be of great help for audiophiles.

What to Look For In a Good Sound Card?

The answer to this question greatly depends on the purpose of the card. Will it be for gaming? Will it be for DJ-ing or music production? Or will it be for home theater?

Although, a sound card is being extensively used in the field of video gaming, to help players get immersed in the virtual world; yet, its popularity in the field of music listening is not less.

An audiophile takes the help of a sound card to change his/her music listening experience. After all, when the card is used with audiophile headphones, it cuts out interfering noise and offers consistent sound quality.

Those who are looking for the best sound cards for audiophiles in the market should take note of the following features. They are:

Sample Rate

This feature of a sound card helps to decide if the audio quality would be good or bad. It refers to the rate at which the sound stream transfers the data to the computer for a longer period. If the kHz is high, the audio quality automatically improves.

Channels

Make sure the sound card comes with channels like 5.1 or 7.1. 7.1 sound card, is usually advisable for a superb sound experience.

Impedance Support

An electrical quality that helps to determine the functionality of the headphone.

DNR

Basically, it refers to the dynamic range of a sound card. It helps in removing noise from a signal.

What are DACs?

external dac

A sound card is made up of four different components. One important component is DAC (Digital to Analog Converter).

It helps in converting the digital signal to an analog signal. Other components which are a part of sound card are ADC, interface, and output-input converters.

In contemporary term, a DAC refers to an external sound card. Some prefer using external DAC instead of the built in PCIe card to further reduce the noise level generated by the internal components.

List of Best Sound Cards for Audiophiles in 2020

Here is a list of the best sound cards for audiophiles that would meet your needs, such as improved sound clarity, noise-free recording, headphone amplification, and high-end audio quality.

  1. Creative Sound Blaster AE-9 – The Best Of PC Audio
  2. Creative Sound BlasterX AE-5 – Great Sound Card for Gaming
  3. Creative Sound Blaster Audigy FX – Best Budget Sound Card for Audiophiles
  4. Sound BlasterX G6 – High Quality DAC for Audiophiles
  5. Creative Sound Blaster Omni – Midrage DAC with High Performance

1. Creative Sound Blaster AE-9 – The Best Of PC Audio

What makes the Sound Blaster AE-9 so popular? The Sound Blaster AE-9 comes packed with some amazing features, like Acoustic Engine, Dolby Digital Live, and more. The audio quality is more clear and detailed. It is ideal for people who want good audio quality.

That’s not all. The Sound Blaster AE-9 offers DNR of 129db and uses high-resolution ESS SABRE-class 9038 DAC. It even provides support for 32-bit 384kHz playback; along with headphone amplification.

For those who are wondering why it’s regarded as one of the best sound cards for audiophiles in the market should look into the following product features. They are:

  • Incredible Processing: This sound card comes with a complete suite of audio enhancements. Surround helps with fantastic immersion; whereas Crystallizer helps in improving the audio’s dynamic range.
  • Connectivity: The ACM comes with multiple ports and knobs for switching between outputs or adjusting volume.
  • Headphone Amplifier: It makes use of dual-amp design for amplifying each audio channel for great quality audio.
  • Surround Sound: It provides support for 5.1 surround channels and it goes up to 7.1 virtual surround channels.

The price of this sound card might be on the higher side; however, audiophiles who want to enjoy music with proper sound and remixes should go for it. After all, this card offers amazing sound quality.

2. Creative Sound BlasterX AE-5 – Great Sound Card for Gaming

It is one of the best sound cards for audiophiles who happen to be gamers. The Sound BlasterX AE-5 is one such sound card that comes with an inbuilt RGB controller. On top of that it comes with easy to use software controls.

The sound card comes loaded with a host of features, such as superb audio performance of 122db; latest SABRE 32 Ultra Class PCIe DAC with 32-bit 384kHz playback. This card is a perfect component to enjoy high-quality audio for games and even music. It supports headphones with impedance range of 16-600 Ohms.

  • Xamp Discrete Headphone Amplification: The Sound BlasterX AE-5 allows all audio channels to be amplified separately. This, in turn, provides a clear and accurate sound for each headset speaker.
  • Scout 2.0: One of the noticeable features of this sound card. This feature helps gamers during competitive gaming. In any shooting game, gamers can easily visualize their enemies on the radar while playing on their respective devices.
  • Aurora Reactive Lighting System: It allows the sound card to come with an RGB LED strip on its body. People who love lights will love this lighting.
  • BlasterX Acoustic Engine: With customized audio-processing technology, audio precision is taken to a new level.

Don’t underestimate this sound card due to its diminutive size. Enjoy the best gaming experience with Sound BlasterX AE-5.

3. Creative Sound Blaster Audigy FX – Best Budget Sound Card for Audiophiles

Let’s check another product from Creative. The Sound Blaster Audigy FX is a budget-friendly sound card. This sound card is ideal for those who do not have a built in sound card in their motherboard or for those who have damaged it.

This sound card works well with any kind of motherboard.  Let’s take a look into these features:

  • Multi-Channel Cinematic Sound: Upgrade your cinematic experience with this sound card from Creative. It comes with 5.1 channel outputs. Hence, connecting with any existing multi-channel speaker is easy. This card is ideal for enjoying a surround sound experience while watching any movies.
  • Sound Quality: No more distortion with the onboard audio. Listen to the rich sound with unnoticeable distortion because of its audio processing technology.

With a lower price tag comes a lower performance as well, it has a low SNR of 106 and low sample rate of 24-bit 192kHz DAC for playback.

Going by its budget-friendly price, this is one of the best sound cards for audiophiles who have budget constraints.

4. Sound BlasterX G6 – High Quality DAC for Audiophiles

This sound card from Creative is a mini wonder and it works with PCs and mobile devices. Some amazing feature of this external soundcard which makes it distinct is its support for Dolby Digital Decoding and 5.1 as well as 7.1 virtual surround sound.

Some amazing features of this sound card are mentioned below:

  • It amplifies both channels separately, using discrete components. This, in turn, helps to boost the clarity of the audio.
  • It provides support to high-resolution audio formats, such as PCM and DoP. It provides support to 32-bit 384kHz playback and very low impedance output. Hence, it provides support to 130db DNR.
  • It’s ideal for gamers. This card makes use of leading audio-processing technology for upgraded audio realism and immersive surround sound effect. The Sound Blaster Software provides clearer vocals and improved bass boost.
  • The Scout Mode improves the ambient noises and helps to determine the course of action.
  • Controlling the game audio is easy with game-voice volume balancing.
  • It supports OS like Microsoft Windows 10, 8.1, 8.0, and 7 32 / 64 bit; Mac OS X v10.8 and above; PS4 Firmware Version 5.0 and above.

It’s one of the best sound card for audiophiles.  Despite its compact casing, it takes the audio to a next level.

5. Creative Sound Blaster Omni – Midrage DAC with High Performance

The Sound Blaster Omni is an external sound card, which helps to improve PC or MAC audio experience. The best thing about this sound card is reasonably priced. Moreover, it makes use of advanced audio technology for high-quality audio output.

What makes Sound Blaster Omni as one of the best sound cards for audiophiles in the market? To know it, you need to know its features.

  • This sound card provides support to 5.1 discrete channels for enjoying the dynamic sound. As promised by the brand it takes audio quality to a new level. It features Dolby Digital Live technology for a better surround-sound experience.
  • This card comes with two in-built mics so that users get a clear sound on their headsets. It helps in reducing outside noise. However, it doesn’t support the Acoustic Echo Cancellation.
  • This external card offers a cinematic sound experience due to its 600-ohm headphone amplifier.
  • The sound card is USB powered and it’s very easy to install. A single USB connection can make this sound card work perfectly.
  • The Scout Mode feature is perfect for gamers involved in any combat games. It helps to hear distant sounds clearly in a virtual game.

This external soundcard is apt for enjoying a better audio performance from a PC or MAC.

Bottom Line

The sound cards are designed in such a way that it offers improved audio performance from audio equipment or PCs.

There is no denying that a sound card improves the sound quality emitted either from a computer or a speaker. However, some of the best sound cards for audiophiles available in the market are either external or internal.

Whether one wants to go for an internal sound card or an external one, is a matter of personal choice. Using an external sound card is an added advantage as it offers better connectivity options. Similarly, users can go for internal sound cards also if they want to enjoy the lifelike audio sound effect.

If you are planning to buy a sound card, it’s not that difficult. Just check if it meets your requirements.

To sum up, getting the most out of high-resolution audio files or surround sound is only possible through a sound card.

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