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Old November 4, 2012, 06:40 AM
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There is no set dollar level spent as per when needing a soundcard. Some motherboards do have a good solution. THe ASUS M4A88TB I was using had excellent onboard sound while my current Gigabyte GA-990FXA-UD3 is crap and I required a soundcard.

If you are running high end headphones your needs are completely different than if you are running speakers. I use an amp and large tower speakers. Lots of dynamic range. Onboard just sounded flat and muddled. Getting a decent soundcard really woke up my sound.

As has been said by the headphone users, if you have headphones that are a higher ohms rating, you must use something with an amp to really make them come alive. They have good cards for well under $100 to fit that need so really there is not much to think about, just a budget.
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Old November 4, 2012, 06:44 AM
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I think what I might do is simply play for a month or two without, then get something in the 100USD range, if I love the difference then Ill look at tossing down more money on newer speakers, headphones, and a beastier soundcard.
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Old November 26, 2012, 05:54 PM
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Just to followup with my post on here .... I have now gone from a X-fi Xtrememusic - realtek hd (onboard) - Xonar DX combined with my hero modded PC 350's in the last now 2 months.

I can say in the X-fi to onboard situation .... lost 1/2 of the amplification (output overall) & bass went from good to NONE whatsoever.

In going to the DX from the previous 2 solutions .... the volume level in windows actualy give volume increase 1-100 (didnt with the X-fi, barely did onboard). I also notice more amplification output from the DX vs the X-fi .. say probly around a increase around 33% might be accurate. Also even thought the 1 poster on here disagreed with my saying onboard uses cpu cycles badly .. I DID see a substantial reduction in cpu usage when I moved from onboard to the DX sound solutions & fps did increase slightly cause of this.

Conclusion: IF your looking to power a higher end set of headphones ... investing in a soundcard IS a MUST!
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