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Old March 27th, 2014, 11:07 AM   #1
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sound card for NLE pc

I've just built a new NLE pc. Running Win8.1 64 bit and Adobe CS6 (not CC), listening to dialog over Sony MDR 7506 headphones plugged into the PC's front panel 3.5mm jack.

Sound from the motherboard (Asus z87-expert) is... disappointing. I'd like to do some better. Better clarity, better dynamic range, flatter response, that sort of thing. Doesn't need to be audiophile quality, but it needs to be better than what I've got. And yes, I'm sure I'll use it to listen to music while working on non-NLE stuff, iTunes, internet radio, etc. Nothing too demanding.

I'm really looking for an internal sound card, not an external USB audio interface box. I don't need flexibility, or options, or yet another box taking up space on my desk. Any suggestions for a sound card?
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Old March 27th, 2014, 01:30 PM   #2
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Re: sound card for NLE pc

I use the M-Audio Audiophile 192. I recommend it over the Audiophile 2496 which lacks balanced outputs. You can probably find a used one. (The market is moving to USB solutions.) The card outputs sound good with very low noise.

EchoAudio used to sell the MIA and MIA-MIDI, but those are also discontinued. I used to use these but two units died. My Audiophile 192 has been working for years without a hiccup.

FWIW, the MIA and 192 sound slightly different. Without formal tests, I can't tell you which is more accurate. I can tell you that they are both quiet in regards to noise and are both HUGE upgrades over built-in sound.

Do some research on drivers. I use the Audiophile 192 with Windows 7, 64-bits. Not sure about Windows 8.1, but there's a good chance that it's okay, given 64-bit support.
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Old March 27th, 2014, 03:47 PM   #3
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Re: sound card for NLE pc

And there are many reasons "The market is moving to USB solutions."
With a USB device, you have an automatic extension to the life expectancy vs. something that has to plug into the motherboard bus du jour.
And, likewise a likely extension to the life expectancy over various OS versions, etc.
Not to mention that trying to generate (or receive) high-quality audio signals in the noise-hell INSIDE a computer is a kludge and a compromise at best.
To be sure, there are things like video cards which need high-speed coupling to the CPU and memory for obvious reasons. But audio is so slow (by modern computer standards) that USB is virtually an overkill.
Although, even for HD digital video, USB3 is way more than enough bandwidth.
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Old April 3rd, 2014, 02:47 PM   #4
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Re: sound card for NLE pc

Turns out that the only sound card I could find that meets my criteria, works pretty well. It's a Creative Sound Blaster Audigy FX, less than $30 USD. It has an HDA front panel audio header, and drivers for Windows 8.1. A bit painful to install, but once done it's fine. Sound is cleaner, greater dynamic range, better clarity, better noise floor. Makes dialog more understandable, and music is nicer, even from iTunes internet radio where it seems to give a better, nicer, cleaner decompression than the onboard RealTek chip.

So, for the record, that's what I ended up with. Works for me. YMMV.
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