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Thread: Which USB Sound Card Should I Buy?

  1. #1
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    Which USB Sound Card Should I Buy?

    I've been looking at them and realize they're not as expensive as I originally thought. What should I be looking for with one of these? Is it just the little plastic things that stick out of the USB port like a memory stick?



    Or are these not worth the money? I'm trying to achieve the following:
    - eliminate ground loop completely (I know the other ways too)
    - boost bass a little, I have no headunit and the sound is rather distorted and weak
    - add LFE (subwoofer) because my motherboard microphone jack cannot be retasked to subwoofer output for some reason (D945GCLF).
    - 2.1 sound but 4.1 would be better I guess. But I just need 2.1.

    I order most of my products from www.tigerdirect.ca and if you search for USB Sound Card, you get this: http://www.tigerdirect.ca/applicatio...20sound%20card. Can someone tell me which of these are good for a cheap price and what I'm missing by not buying the more expensive ones?
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  2. #2
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    you get what you pay for when you get a little stick like that.

    I have been researching usb sound cards and just recently bought an emu 0202 for 70 usb on craigslist. I upgraded from onboard sound on my dual core atom intel mobo. HUGE improvement. There actually is life below 60 Hz now.

    I think for your sub you should see if your amp has an input and output so that you can set your cross over frequency on the sub to handle the lows that you speakers dont /cant.

    Cheap soundcards will leave you desiring more due to their low cost DA converters and poor amplification. You should also pay attention to the output voltage of the sound cards and see if it compatible with the input of your HU or amp whichever you are using. My aux in in my car wanted about 2 Vrms so I didnt have much choice.

    For a dac try to get a 24 bit dac if you can but 16 will do if its properly implemented.

    Go to headfi.org to see what those guys use for usb sound cards. That will give you lots of good information.

    I used this site to compare sound card outputs since they are given in odd units every time either Dbu Dbv or Vrms.

    http://www.sengpielaudio.com/calculator-db-volt.htm

    good companies to look into are m-audio, emu, and juli@ (forgot brand).

    hope this helps.

  3. #3
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    Sonicxtacy02's Avatar
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    tried and true Creative Sound Blaster Live 24-bit USB. Bus-Powered and supports hibernate. Only reason i'm not using mine now is the dg45fc has 7.1 HD audio built in. The SB device should be found really cheap now too. I use mine on my HTPC still.
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  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sonicxtacy02 View Post
    tried and true Creative Sound Blaster Live 24-bit USB. Bus-Powered and supports hibernate. Only reason i'm not using mine now is the dg45fc has 7.1 HD audio built in. The SB device should be found really cheap now too. I use mine on my HTPC still.
    I saw it here for $270 and my heart nearly stopped. Don't scare me like that!
    Ampie Case
    2.5" Hard Drive 80GB Samsung 5400RPM
    256 MB DDR2 PC5400
    Xenarc 700TSV - VGA Monitor
    Intel D945GCLF Motherboard
    M2-ATX-HV

    2005 Honda Civic

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by surfntomm View Post
    you get what you pay for when you get a little stick like that.

    I have been researching usb sound cards and just recently bought an emu 0202 for 70 usb on craigslist. I upgraded from onboard sound on my dual core atom intel mobo. HUGE improvement. There actually is life below 60 Hz now.

    I think for your sub you should see if your amp has an input and output so that you can set your cross over frequency on the sub to handle the lows that you speakers dont /cant.

    Cheap soundcards will leave you desiring more due to their low cost DA converters and poor amplification. You should also pay attention to the output voltage of the sound cards and see if it compatible with the input of your HU or amp whichever you are using. My aux in in my car wanted about 2 Vrms so I didnt have much choice.

    For a dac try to get a 24 bit dac if you can but 16 will do if its properly implemented.

    Go to headfi.org to see what those guys use for usb sound cards. That will give you lots of good information.

    I used this site to compare sound card outputs since they are given in odd units every time either Dbu Dbv or Vrms.

    http://www.sengpielaudio.com/calculator-db-volt.htm

    good companies to look into are m-audio, emu, and juli@ (forgot brand).

    hope this helps.
    Why would I need a digital audio converter? I just want simple 2.1 channel analogue sound.
    Ampie Case
    2.5" Hard Drive 80GB Samsung 5400RPM
    256 MB DDR2 PC5400
    Xenarc 700TSV - VGA Monitor
    Intel D945GCLF Motherboard
    M2-ATX-HV

    2005 Honda Civic

  6. #6
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    Sonicxtacy02's Avatar
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    holy crap!

    i bought mine in a store 3 years ago for $50 bucks. If its appreciating like that i'll be able to sell it for 500% profit soon
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  7. #7
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    3 things:

    1. I'm not sure what your budget is, but I would say that any sound card under $100 new is not going to be any better than onboard.

    2. All sound cards require d/a converters to get the digital sound back to a analog signal- and a large part of the difference in cost in sound cards is the quality of the components on the card

    3. If a $100 sound card is out of your budget, I would highly recoment you get a low pass crossover so that you can get the sub output you want- most start at about $15, which will be a lot cheaper than a sound card.

    **denotes iPhone post

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maheriano View Post
    Why would I need a digital audio converter? I just want simple 2.1 channel analogue sound.
    the music on your comp is digital and needs to be converted to analog so that is the point of the sound card. you can use a seperate sound card that is cheap to pass the digital signal to a seperate DAC which should provide the best sound but not necessarily the best value.

    i purchased my emu 0202 because it was relatively cheap, was well reviewed for sound quality with regards to its DAC as well as its amps on board.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by soundman98 View Post
    3 things:

    1. I'm not sure what your budget is, but I would say that any sound card under $100 new is not going to be any better than onboard.

    2. All sound cards require d/a converters to get the digital sound back to a analog signal- and a large part of the difference in cost in sound cards is the quality of the components on the card

    3. If a $100 sound card is out of your budget, I would highly recoment you get a low pass crossover so that you can get the sub output you want- most start at about $15, which will be a lot cheaper than a sound card.

    **denotes iPhone post
    i know from my experience with the onboard sound that was with the dual core atom sold here on mp3, ANY sound card will sound better than that POS. I was severely disappointed with it and almost blamed my aux-in device that im using to pass sound to my H/U.

    some onboard sound will be perfectly acceptable but I would definitely do my research to see which chips are well reviewed by the online community. when it comes to PC sound it seems like the guys on the headphone sites or DIYaudio are a pretty good source of knowledge.

  10. #10
    FLAC freeflashstuff's Avatar
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    I used a USB sound card similar to the one listed, but without the buttons. I had to use a GLI, but I have great sound now.
    I have bad luck with vehicles...

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