A sound card is an integrated or an external device that converts electrical signals into sound signals and audio signals into electrical signals. Everyone in the world is a lover of good and pleasant sound and music.
A sound card produces a clear sound from the computer. It is a very famous debate nowadays that How to choose a sound card. First of all, before choosing a sound card, you should know the purpose of its use. For Example:
- A sound card which is used in playing games
- Sound card for listening to music (Both audio and video)
- Sound card for music creation such as recording and mixing
1. Choosing a sound card - Features and specifications
There are some essential features of a sound card, which you should know before choosing a suitable sound card. After learning about these features, you’ll find an appropriate answer for how to choose a sound card?
Sound Card has some following essential features.
- Type of Connection
A connection type between the sound card and a computer depends on the speed of data transfer and compactness. The following are some data mediums that are used in different sound cards.
- PCI (Peripheral Component Interconnect)
- PCI Express
- USB (Universal serial bus)
- Inputs/ Outputs
Inputs and outputs are the essential features for any technology device. If you are using a sound card for recording, its input should be robust to record actively. On the other hand, if you are using a sound card for music listening purposes, then you should consider its output features.
- Availability of ASIO
ASIO, also known as Audio Stream Input/Output, is a driver software that is essential for the healthy working of a sound card. ASIO driver increases the performance of the sound card by going out of the way. It increases the data transfer rate of the sound card and reduces signal delay. ASIO driver is more important and significant when you are using the sound card for recording purposes.
- Sampling rate and bit rate
Sampling rate and bit rate are the dimensions of the working of a sound card. An average or standard sampling frequency for a good sound card should be 44.1 kHz. It is good to have a sampling frequency of 96 kHz or higher. The bit rate for a sound card ranges from 16 bit to 32 bit. 16 bit is lowest for a sound card, 24 is average, and 32 is magnificent. The sampling rate and bitrate are dependent upon the quality of DAC and ADC used in the sound card.
- Signal to noise ratio
For a good sound card, the signal to noise ratio should be at least 100 dB (Decibels). The higher rate is better.
Overall, these are some essential features that you should take into account before buying a sound card.
2. How to choose a Sound card for games
Sound is an essential component of a game. You will experience dull gameplay without a good sound. You will have to make sure of a high-quality sound to enjoy the gameplay. For the best gaming experience, a sound card with a PCI or PCI express connection is suitable. PCIe sound cards provide a high data transfer rate, which is highly recommended for gaming. You can use PCI also if PCI express is unavailable or expensive.
Necessary input and outputs are the second most important features for the sound card in gaming. Always pay attention to the following essential Inputs and outputs connections of a sound card.
- Output for connecting headphones (Line Out)
- Input for connecting a microphone (Mic Out)
- Line outputs (Line Out)
- Other significant input/output such as optical fibers
7.1 and 5.1 are the most popular formats of sound cards, which are usually used in gaming.
A sound card with a 16 bit and 44.1 kHz sampling frequency is enough for a comfortable sound experience.
Environmental Audio Extensions (EAX) technology is the latest technology which is used in sound card gaming. EAX produced environmental effects on the sound within games. 3D Audio is the most prominent Example of EAX.
Nowadays, one of the best sound cards for gaming is Sound Blaster Z PCIe. Sound Blaster Z features Sound Core3D Audio Processor with 116 dB SNR.
3. Sound card for listening to music
A sound card with a sampling frequency of 44.1 kHz and a bit rate of 16 or above with the necessary input/output connector is best for listening to music. Less budget is the biggest hurdle in choosing the best sound for music listening because sound cards for music listening are costly. Asus Xonar Essence ST with 192 kHz PCI and 124 dB SNR, is the best sound card for listening to music.
4. Sound card for sound recording, mixing and music production
As we have discussed earlier, the ASIO driver is essential for those sound cards for sound recording, mixing, and music production. Some specific outputs are necessary for this kind of sound card. Sound cards connected with the help of USB are very suitable for recording music and mixing. Still, if you can afford a FireWire connector, it will be best because it has a significantly higher transfer rate.
For your ease, we have arranged a list of best sound cards that are best for recording, mixing, and music production.
- Tascam US 16×8
- PreSonus Audiobox USB 98
- Audient Id 14
- Focusrite Scarlett 2i2
We hope you have satisfied with this article, and this article helped you find the answer to the question of how to choose a sound card.
If you have any questions, please comment below!