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Decent sound is a standard feature in all computers and electronic devices these days, but if you are looking to enhance your sound quality and capabilities, a sound card can boost your audio experience. Sound cards range from standard, all-around quality sound to ones that specialize in movie viewing, gaming, or professional audio functions. The process can be confusing, so here's an easy-to-follow sound card buying guide.
Audiophile & Recording Cards: Audiophile and recording cards are top-of-the-line sound equipment that provides professional grade audio for recording and the highest accuracy of reproducing sound signals while blocking out background noise.
Internal Gaming Cards: Many sound cards will provide better sound quality for gaming purposes, but a gaming card contains separate processors that generate sound while removing background noise. Many gaming cards also have technologies that enhance surround sound and make it easier to hear.
External Audio Interfaces: External sound cards range from simple devices that provide an extra headphone jack to a professional audio card that connects externally to the PC from a USB port. They are useful if you want to improve the sound on a smaller notebook with limited internal space and heat by processing the sound outside the computer.
Based on all the consumers’ reviews we’ve scanned, these are the top things they mentioned about their new stuff:
Installation: The highest rated sound cards have simple installation that can be completed quickly and easily no matter how tech savvy the consumer is. Consumers prefer sound cards that compatible with any PC and are recognized and supported by the computer after basic installation.
Audio: Consumers rated highest the sound cards with a wide range of balanced sound capabilities for gaming, movies and music. The most popular sound cards emphasize the full range of music tones such as bass and acoustic, and create a fluid, surround sound through speakers or headphones equally.
Value: Consumers prefer the sound cards that provide a superior quality sound for a comparably reasonable price. The most popular sound cards provide professional-grade sound quality while maintaining affordability.
Compatibility: The most popular sound cards with consumers are compatible with many different brands and types of speaker and surround-sound systems. Most users prefer the sound cards that deliver quality sound performance for a variety of uses from music and movies to gaming. The highest rated sound cards produce clear sound and are compatible with multiple devices from speakers to external Blu-ray disc drives.
If you watch movies in Blu-Ray then a sound card will bring far superior quality audio to all Blu-Ray movies than your computer’s standard audio equipment.
Almost all games have been developed with surround-sound effects and sound cards make experiencing these audio effects possible. Gaming sound cards create an immersive 3D experience for gamers and accentuate their games’ capabilities.
A sound card’s ability to represent a broad range of instrumental and vocal tonal colors is known as dynamic range, measured in decibels. The best sound cards can deliver a dynamic range of 109dB or better.
Good sound cards can produce audio across the entire range of audible tones the human ear can process. The average range of audible tones that a sound card can produce is called frequency response, and a good sound card should produce sounds that range across the spectrum of 20Hz to 20kHz.
Sounds can be distorted by the other electronic components inside the computer, so higher quality sound cards can shield the audio from being distorted by other elements. The amount of the original sound that is produced undistorted is measured as total harmonic distortion + noise (THD+N) in percents. The closer to 0%, the more authentic the sound being produced.
Signal-to-noise ratio refers to the amount of desired signal being received compared to the amount of noticeable background noise. Sound cards with a higher ratio of desired signal to noise offer less noticeable background noise and higher quality desired audio. Signal-to-noise is measured in decibels and good sound cards will have a ratio of 105dB or higher.
Creative: The Singapore based company famous for its Sound Blaster sound cards has been a worldwide leader in entertainment products since its founding in 1981. It has been setting the standard for PC audio since introducing the Sound Blaster sound card in 1989 and is recognized as a global leader for product innovation in the PC hardware and digital entertainment field.
Asus: The Taiwanese-based computer hardware and electronics company is the largest PC vendor in the world, producing notebooks, tablets, phones, sound cards, computer hardware & components, and many more electronic products. Asus values innovation as a key for success in its sound cards and all its other devices.