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Old 05-01-14, 05:11 PM
Step83 Step83 is offline
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I think the issue is for most people they have not heard a high quality audio file through decent speakers/headphones.

The soundcard is usually working as a processor and amp rather than just a source point. A standalone processor or DAC will add character or in some cases help clean up a signal before ideally hitting an amp which will allow you to drive the speaker properly. (And yes some amps will impart a character to music)
Most people have a sound card and passive speakers, some will use a CD player like me which adds a bit of power and acts a bit like a processor adding bass, mid, treble or weighting the sound left to right etc.

Basically to get the "best" out of a track you need to have all the bits in place, good source, good processing, good amp and good outputs. If ones poor then it lets the whole thing down.

If i played Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong's Summertime in 128bit MP3 then again in CD format you will hear differences, more in the fact the violins carry longer notes but also the general depth of the track. You can improve some aspects on lower quality sound playing with time alignment but your basically polishing a turd.

I think the best way to show someone the difference is to have them listen to both and ask them to listen for a specific thing, Louis breathing just before he sings, if all the bits come together to make a track sound great you can hear absurd amounts of detail.

Ill happily admit what I have in the house is pants an EK07 and some basic AKGs or Toslink to a Pinoneer unit and some slightly underpowered Roth Oli10, but thats because although I like good quality audio I dont have the space or time to set it up. When i move its on my list of things to do!

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Old 08-01-14, 02:53 PM
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Ya93sin Ya93sin is offline
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An audio setup is only as good as it's most electronically "dirty" component.

I never really bought a "gaming" headset, preferring instead to just get a clip on microphone, so I can't speak for their sensitivity and impedance and other varying factors.

Sensitivity can usually cause issues for some headphones as they will pick up lots of noise. So I have some Shure SE535 Limited edition in ears, put them in an HTC One and at low volumes I will hear a lot of noise. If I plug in less sensitive Shure SE215 in ears, that noise is inaudible, rather than gone.

Impedance is usually solved by something like an amp. Sound cards can come in useful for headphones here because some have very comfortable amps.

Some audiophiles will have 300ohm+ impedance on some of their headphones. I have a mid range pair of Sennheiser Momentum Over Ears but I can still tell there's a big difference, particularly in low end power, when you use even a portable amp.

Perhaps for the average undiscerning consumer with low impedance and low sensitivity headphones, sound cards are absolutely worthless to them.

For an audiophile with more heavy duty headphones with high impedance and high sensitivity, a sound card with a proper headphone amp could be crucial, for the dual purpose of cutting out noise and yet driving the headphones with enough power.

There are external options as mentioned in the video. A good (non audiophile) DAC can be had for under £100, plus you could add another (non audiophile) portable amp on top of that. You end up with the same result as a sound card, just external to the case rather than internal.

I personally at the moment use a USB sound card (Creative Sound Blaster SB1090), analog out to a portable amp (Fiio E12 Mont Blanc), analog out to my Sennheiser Momentums/Corsair SP2500.
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Old 03-02-14, 04:50 AM
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alxcsb alxcsb is offline
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I didn't read through the whole thread, but I'd like to give my 2 cents here. I used to have a very run of the mill laptop 6-7 years ago, a Toshiba Satellite, with the most basic specs, I just needed it to do my work on, writing articles. Obviously, I could also listen to some music every now and then, using the on board audio, can't remember what it was, but the very basic stuff, AC97-like. At one point I found a Creative Audigy ZS 2 PCMCIA card online for basically nothing, and I decided to give it a go. Now, I can say hand on heart that it made a huge difference, you could tell which card was playing. Might not be that big of a difference these days, I haven't bothered with getting a sound card, but back then I remember it being a massive improvement. Also, i can imagine that with a good pair of headphones you might not notice anything in games, but when it come to music, the components that turn that digital signal into an analog one are very important. I will have to test this.
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Old 03-02-14, 10:07 AM
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PEXON PEXON is offline
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Originally Posted by NRG! View Post
That doesn't seem entirely fair as a test, seeing as their best soundcard is what, a third of the price?

Your hearing has been permanently damaged by the harsh manly metal!

I do hope you are joking
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