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Which USB Sound Card Should I Buy?

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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?
    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

  • #2
    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.

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    • #3
      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.
      mp3Car.com Senior Tech Blogger (Want a product reviewed? Contact me.)
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      • #4
        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

        Comment


        • #5
          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

          Comment


          • #6
            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
            mp3Car.com Senior Tech Blogger (Want a product reviewed? Contact me.)
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            • #7
              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
              My OLD 2001 Mitsubishi Eclipse GT:
              "The Project That Never Ended, until it did"


              next project? subaru brz
              carpc undecided

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              • #8
                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.

                Comment


                • #9
                  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.

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                  • #10
                    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.
                    After a 2 year break, I'm back! There are so many new and familiar faces here!
                    New vehicle, new ideas!

                    Chryssi - The Changeling CarPC Project

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by freeflashstuff View Post
                      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.
                      Ah, someone that used the cheap one. Did it work okay? Better than on board 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

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                      • #12
                        I would say (what I can tell so far) it's about as good as the on-board. I just used it to keep from having to string a long wire from one end of the car to the other. I have it plugged into my 7-port USB hub behind my dash, then I have a 3.5" to RCA cable going from it to my headunit's AUX in.
                        After a 2 year break, I'm back! There are so many new and familiar faces here!
                        New vehicle, new ideas!

                        Chryssi - The Changeling CarPC Project

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                        • #13
                          Have a look at http://www.hotaudio.com/zen-cart/

                          I've got their DAC Straight & it sounds great ... resumes from hibernation perfectly aswell.

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                          • #14
                            I tried more than 10 usb sound cards. i had noise problem for about 4 moths. whatever that you can imagine, I did on the cabling, grounding and everything just to get rid of noise but I COULDN'T . you have no idea how much i wasted just to get rid of noise but it was still there. BUT after 4 months of everyday money and time spend, I bought a usb sound card that I COULD get rid of noise TOTALLY.


                            buy this one WITHOUT any doubt BUT if you plug it right away, you have same noise as normal or may be more noise than onboard sound cards. BUT there is way to get rid of noises.
                            +++++++++CUT THE CABLE, THERE IS 4 COLORED WIRE INSIDE IT PLUS SHIELDING AROUND IT. THEN CONNECT THE WIRES TOGETHER BASED ON THEIR COLOR EXCEPT DO NOT CONNECT BLACK AND DO NOT CONNECT THE SHIELDING TO GETHER WHICH IS AROUND THE CABLES. SO PLUG ON 3 WIRES TOGETHER AND THERE WILL BE VERY VERY VERY CLEAN AND NICE SOUND.


                            GOOOOD LUUUUCK
                            There is nothing impossible in the world :-)

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                            • #15
                              I just looked at the link you provided in the first post. you waste your money! if you purchase from that website. trust me! I bought this one for 20bux I guess off Ebay include shipping.
                              The software that comes with it has complete control on the device with lots of functionality.
                              the sound is PERFECT. also it has rear output and front output separately. I have same situation as you, I do not have head unit in car so have no control on speakers volume. whenever my dad was sit in back seat he was just keep complaining that turn the volume DOWN lol but since I have this sound card, I easily can turn the back speakers volume down for him and put the front speakers in high volume lol . also it has sub woofer output that works well.
                              There is nothing impossible in the world :-)

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