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The Best Sound Card for PC

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The Best Sound Card for PC

A separate sound card isn’t necessary for every PC user. If you only listen to music or watch YouTube casually, the onboard audio of your PC’s motherboard is likely sufficient. However, certain users like gamers, musicians, and movie enthusiasts may benefit from investing in advanced audio gear.

In this guide, we’ll list the best sound cards for PCs on the market. We included external and internal options for dedicated gaming, options for cinematic sound and music recording. Read on to find the perfect sound card to level up your audio experience.

01 Creative Sound Blaster Audigy FX Internal Sound Card

Creative Sound Blaster Audigy FX Internal Sound Card

Creative Sound Blaster Audigy FX is an internal sound card compatible with Windows 7,8, 10, and Vista. The card converts your PC’s audio into a cinematic entertainment system, providing surround sound and advanced audio processing with SBX Pro Studio technology.

You can control the sound settings directly from the sound card’s control panel. This software is dedicated to putting you in control of every aspect of your audio with a 24-bit 194 kilohertz bit rate, ensuring the highest quality detail, even when the audio is unprocessed. If pristine audio fidelity is a “must,” this card features a 106-decibel sound to noise ratio. The card has five in-line input ports to connect your microphone, headset, speakers, or other external devices.

With 600 ohms of power, Creative Sound Blaster Audigy FX ensures high-performance and clear sound through any device. While internal sound cards generally have a higher noise floor than external options, they offer lower latency and are significantly more affordable.

Pros

  • Great value
  • Powerful
  • Five input ports
  • Software to control the audio

Cons

  • High noise floor compared to external options
  • Not compatible with Linux or Mac computers

Specification

  • Price $43.07
  • Bit-Rate 4-bit 192 kHz
  • Audio Output Mode 5.1
Creative Sound Blaster Audigy FX Internal Sound Card

02 Creative Sound BlasterX AE-5 Plus External Sound Card

Creative Sound BlasterX AE-5 Plus External Sound Card

Made by Creative Sound, the BlasterX AE-5 Plus is engineered to deliver a high-class audio experience to gamers. Featuring customizable RGB lighting, this sound card is an excellent addition to any gaming rig. The looks aren’t the most important thing about this card, though.

The Scout Mode gives you a tactical advantage, enabling you to hear every enemy footstep or a reloading gun from a distance. The sound card utilizes Crystal Voice technology that eliminates background noise in your mic for more efficient communication.

This card also comes with Sound Blaster Acoustic Engine software to give you complete control over audio settings. This suite provides stunning 3D surround sound effects along with numerous other audio processing and enhancement tools. As for technical characteristics, the card delivers 32-bit 384-kilohertz playback, one of the highest indicators in the industry.

With a 122-decibel dynamic noise reduction and ultra-low distortion, the BlasterX AE-5 sound card ensures clear and crisp audio at any volume level. Discrete 5.1 and virtual 7.1 Dolby surround sound provides a truly cinematic experience.

Lastly, Creative Sound BlasterX AE—5 features five input ports to connect your headset, speakers, mic, or another device. Thanks to a 600 ohms’ power and headphone bi-amplification technology, the card delivers studio-grade audio that the most nitpicking ears will appreciate. The card is compatible with PCs running on Windows 7, 8, 10, and Vista. However, 32-bit playback is only available on Windows 10.

Pros

  • RGB lighting
  • 32-bit playback
  • Headphone amplification
  • Specially designated for gaming modes
  • Dolby surround sound

Cons

  • 32-bit playback is only available on Windows 10
  • Pricey

Specification

  • Price $142.49
  • Bit-Rate 32-bit / 384 kHz playback with a 122 dB DNR
  • Audio Output Mode Surround
Creative Sound BlasterX AE-5 Plus External Sound Card

03 Creative Sound Blaster Z SE Internal Sound Card

Creative Sound Blaster Z SE Internal Sound Card

If you wish to elevate your gaming experience but don’t want to spend a lot of money, this sound card may be a perfect choice. The Blaster Z SE was designed for high-performance PC gaming and other home entertainment.

Although it lacks the RGB lighting, this card is not less appealing, encased in a vibrant red metallic body. With discrete 5.1 and virtual 7.1 Dolby Digital Live surround sound, this card offers a cinematic experience in the comfort of your home. The card comes in a set with Sound Blaster Command Center software offering 11 audio settings presets.

It enables you to tweak the EQ, tailoring the in-game and voice chat settings to your preference. A built-in Crystallizer technology improves audio dynamic range, ensuring crisp heights, clear mid frequencies, and deep bass. This sound card ensures excellent detail clarity, delivering a 24-bit rate with a 194-kilohertz sound to noise ratio.

The ASIO support technology achieves low latency and high fidelity that audiophiles crave. Your sound enjoyment is further enhanced with gold-plated connectors and a multi-core Core 3D processor to deliver pristine, high-performance audio without overstressing your PC’s CPU. Its five input ports and 600 ohms of power enable you to listen to high-quality audio through any external device.

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Powerful
  • Dolby surround sound
  • Built-in audio presets

Cons

  • Lacks a power setting adjustment for low impedance headphones

Specification

  • Price $109.99
  • Bit-Rate 24-bit / 192 kHz
  • Audio Output Mode Surround
Creative Sound Blaster Z SE Internal Sound Card

04 Phoinikas T10 External Sound Card

Phoinikas T10 External Sound Card

The PHOINIKAS Sound Card features six input ports, both USB and 3.5-millimeter. The multiple ports enable you to connect numerous devices, including headphones, speakers, mic, console, phone, and more.

No additional drivers are required, so setup is as simplified as you can get. A 4-foot cable is included in the set to give you the freedom to locate the card wherever you need. In addition, audio adjustment is hassle-free with a mini LED indicator, control buttons, and turnable switch on the sound card, letting you adjust the audio without launching dedicated software. Finally, transforming your setup into cinema-grade sound is easy with the card’s 7.1 surround sound.

Pros

  • Six input ports, USB and 3.5-millimeter
  • Compatible with different operating systems
  • Long cable
  • Surround sound
  • Controls right on the sound card

Cons

  • No advanced EQ settings are available
Phoinikas T10 External Sound Card

05 Creative Sound BlasterX G6 Hi-Res External Universal Sound Card

Creative Sound BlasterX G6 Hi-Res External Universal Sound Card

The Sound BlasterX G6 is a Hi-Res external sound card dedicated to gaming. Designed by Creative Sound, this card is compatible with PC, Nintendo, Play Station, and Xbox, thanks to four input ports and versatile OS compatibility. Creative Sound’s signature Scout Mode gives you an advantage on the field, enhancing every audio detail and enabling you to hear what others don’t.

A 32-bit, 384-kilohertz playback with an ultra-wide dynamic range delivers extremely clear audio at any volume level. A multi-bit modulator with mismatch shaping technology eliminates distortion, providing crisp heights and deep bass. With a custom-designed discrete headphone amplifier and 600 ohms of power, this sound card delivers the highest audio streaming quality through any headphones.

The power output can be regulated for low impedance earphones, ensuring your gear won’t get overstressed. Dolby Digital 7.1 surround sound provides a cinematic experience, letting you enjoy your favorite content to the fullest.

Pros

  • Suitable for PC and consoles
  • Dedicated gaming mode
  • Surround sound
  • 32-bit playback

Cons

  • Pricey
  • No advanced EQ control

Specification

  • Price $156.70
  • Bit-Rate 32-bit, 384-kilohertz
  • Audio Output Mode Surround, Digital
Creative Sound BlasterX G6 Hi-Res External Universal Sound Card

06 Asus Xonar AE Sound Board

Asus Xonar AE Sound Board

Engineered specifically for Windows 10 PC, this internal Asus sound card delivers pristine audio at an affordable price. This sound card is dedicated to gaming. However, even if you prefer to spend your time differently, you’ll likely appreciate the deep bass and clear detail this card provides.

With a 7.1 surround sound and 24-bit 194 kilohertz sound to noise ratio, this card delivers defined sound at any frequency, and a unique EMI back plate eliminates static noise. With the Sonic Studio interface, you have complete control over the audio settings. By activating Perfect Voice mode, you can eliminate background noise during communication with peers.

In addition, hyper grounding technology ensures low distortion, providing strong insulation, and reducing component crosstalk. The card features six input channels with a 150-ohm headphone amplifier for immersive sound.

Pros

  • Great value
  • Headphone amplifier
  • Six ports
  • Audio control software
  • Perfect Voice mode

Cons

  • Only compatible with Windows 10

Specification

  • Price $79.99
  • Bit-Rate 92kHz/24-bit
  • Audio Output Mode 7.1
Asus Xonar AE Sound Board

07 Zoom PodTrak P4 External Audio Interface

Zoom PodTrak P4 External Audio Interface

Zoom PodTrak P4 is a professional external audio interface dedicated to audio recording. Two input and two output ports enable you to connect the interface to your PC or phone and record a mic or instrument.

Optionally, you can use a Zoom BTA-2 Bluetooth receiver to connect devices wirelessly. This interface makes the recording of remote interviews simple – connect your phone via TRRS cable and enjoy audio as if the person was sitting next to you.

The built-in mix-minus feature eliminates echo and background noise, producing ultra-clear voice recording. Furthermore, you can record all input sources on separate tracks. There’s no need for software when it comes to controlling the audio settings of the PodTrack P4. You can adjust every detail of the recording using controls on the interface itself or choose among one of the 11 pre-uploaded presets.

Pros

  • Professional gear for podcast and instrument recording
  • Advanced controls
  • 11 presets
  • Optional Bluetooth receiver available
  • Suitable for any operating system and even phones

Cons

  • Pricey
Zoom PodTrak P4 External Audio Interface

08 Creative Sound Blaster AE-7 Hi-Res Internal Sound Card

Creative Sound Blaster AE-7 Hi-Res Internal Sound Card

Creative Sound Blaster AE-7 is one of the most advanced sound cards in our selection. This audio card is engineered to deliver high-resolution audio and is compatible with Windows 7, 8, 10, and Vista PCs.

Incredibly clean audio is achieved by 32-bit, 384-kilohertz pulse code modulation playback, the highest industry standard. DTS Connect Encoding and Dolby Audio discrete 5.1 and virtual 7.1 surround sound technology deliver professional-level sound straight to your door.

If you’re looking for precision audio, the AE-7 has you covered. The Sound Blaster Command Center software gives you complete control over every audio aspect. It includes settings like Scout Mode to gain a tactical advantage in multiplayer games and Crystal Voice mode for more efficient communication.

With five input ports and 600-ohm power output, this card lets you deliver studio-grade sound to multiple devices simultaneously. The output is adjustable to stay safe for low impedance devices. This sound card features a headphone bi-amplifier for pristine sound.

Pros

  • 32-bit rate
  • DTS Connect Encoding and Dolby surround sound
  • Different audio modes and advanced settings control
  • Powerful adjustable output

Cons

  • Only compatible with Windows PCs
  • High price

Specification

  • Price $221.93
  • Bit-Rate 127 dB DNR hi-res 32-bit / 384 kHz
  • Audio Output Mode Surround, Digital
Creative Sound Blaster AE-7 Hi-Res Internal Sound Card

09 PreSonus AudioBox USB Audio Interface

PreSonus AudioBox USB Audio Interface

PreSonus AudioBox is a versatile external audio interface connectable via USB to Mac and Windows PCs. It isn’t just a regular sound enhancement tool but rather professional-grade gear for passionate musicians or podcasters.

Two Class-A mic inputs and two high-headroom instrument inputs, along with over $1000 included recording software, make this audio interface an exceptional choice. You get Studio One Artist, Ableton Live Lite, and Studio Magic software to control every aspect of your recordings and sound output. Enliven your recording with virtual instruments and nine effects along with music tutorials from Melodics – you get it all.

As for the technical specifications, PreSonus AudioBox features 24-bit, 96-kilohertz playback. Although it’s not the highest possible indicator, it is considered an industry standard for high-quality recordings. Mixer controls right on the interface enable you to create a custom input blend and monitor the playback with zero latency.

Additionally, the interface has phantom power output, necessary for many condenser mics. Portable size and lightweight make this interface ideal for carrying around with your laptop. It’s available in blue and silver combination or pure matte black, a 25th-anniversary edition.

Pros

  • Phantom power
  • Included software
  • Portable
  • Compatible with Mac and Windows
  • Zero-latency

Cons

  • The bit rate could be higher
PreSonus AudioBox USB Audio Interface

10 M-Audio Store M-Track Duo USB Interface

M-Audio Store M-Track Duo USB Interface

External audio interfaces are generally pricey, but you don’t have to overpay to get high-quality instrument or vocal recordings. M-Audio M-track offers two output ports and is compatible with Mac or Windows PCs via USB cable.

This interface may not provide master-grade quality, yet its 24-bit, 48-kilohertz playback helps create great recordings while staying within budget. A built-in phantom power supply and compact size make this interface perfect for carrying it along to rehearsals or concerts.

One of the best features of this interface is its bonus material. It comes with a software package that includes Pro Tools, First M-Audio Edition, MPC Beats, Xpand! 2, Eleven Lite guitar amp plugin, and 20 AVID FX plugins.

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Included software
  • Phantom power supply
  • Compatible with Mac and Windows
  • Portable

Cons

  • Recording quality isn’t professional-grade

Specification

  • Price $69.00
  • Bit-Rate 24-bit, 48-kilohertz
  • Audio Output Mode M-Audio interface
M-Audio Store M-Track Duo USB Interface

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Aug 23, 2021

1862 Articles Published

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We're not just tech junkies, but we're also tech experts. Each and every "Best of.." list on TechJunkie is curated by our content-area subject matter experts to provide a well-rounded, unbiased perspective to help and inform you, our reader. Our lists are constantly reviewed and updated, so you can be sure you're reading relevant and up to date information.

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