How to Pick a Good Sound Card for your PC

A good sound card, the Sound Blaster X-Fi

Most of us eventually realize that the sound card that came with our off the shelf PC is not a very good one.  The fact is most people know something about gigahertz, ram, hardrive any maybe some video card stats, but usually nothing about what to look for in a good sound card.  If you need to replace your current sound card with a good one read on, I’ll show you exactly what features to look for.

Consider these stats when looking for a good sound card

  • Db rating:  This is simply how loud a sound card can go, in decibels
  • S/N ratio:  Signal to noise ratio, or how much of the sound you hear is actually noise.  The higher the number the better it is.
  • THD:  Total Harmonic distortion, or simply put, how accurately the sound is output based on the input.  The less distortion there is the more accurately you’ll hear what the artist intended you to hear.
  • Frequency range:  This is a measure of how high the high parts are, and how low the lows can go.  You’ll often see 20/20 here, which is 20 to 20000 kHz, the accepted range of AVERAGE human hearing.  If you’re not average you’ll want better.
Audigy2 good sound card

The Audigy2, another good sound card to consider

When choosing a good sound card it’s important to understand the way you’ll use it.  For example, if you just want to play music then you’ll probably care more about the THD and frequency range.  For loud music maybe Db and S/N ratio is more important.  For games perhaps just S/N and Frequency range matters most.

Another important consideration when choosing a good sound card is what formats or API the card supports.  For example, directsound, EAX and Dolby.  This matters more for gaming buy may be a consideration for you.

When you’re ready to go out and get a good sound card I recommend reading sound card reviews on sites like Consumer Reports, Consumer Search and even on Amazon.  These sites have sound card reviews written by users like yourself and can really help you find a good sound card.

Filed Under: Computers

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About the Author

Hi there!, My name is Norm. I am a college grad, a veteran, a pet owner and a family man. I started writing articles both to make a little extra money, and to share my knowledge with others. I currently work in the IT department of a major NY hospital.
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