The Best Audiophile Sound Card For 2022

Nicolas Ward By, Nicolas Ward
Updated
Sound BlasterX G6 Hi-Res Gaming DAC, External USB Sound Card
Image credit: Amazon.com

The Rundown

1. Best Of The Best: Sound BlasterX G6 Hi-Res Gaming DAC, External USB Sound Card

The Sound BlasterX G6 Hi-Res Gaming DAC, External USB Sound Card is the most advanced sound card on the market today. It features industry-leading audio processing technology and Dolby Digital sound. And, with a discrete headphone amp, 7.1 virtual surround sound and an audiophile 192kHz/24bit DAC, there is nothing you can't hear and enjoy with this amazing product. Read Review

2. Best Bang For The Buck: Creative Sound Blaster Audigy FX PCIe 5.1 Sound Card

The Creative Sound Blaster Audigy Sound Card is a must-have for gamers, with its high performance headphone amp, multi-channel cinematic sound quality, and independent input sources. The SBX Pro Studio suite of audio technologies give you full control over your sound experience—from dramatic 3D positional audio to crystal-clear high fidelity. Read Review

3. Best For Gaming: ASUS XONAR SE 5.1 Channel Gaming Sound Card

To meet the needs of gamers who demand exceptional sound for the best gaming and multimedia experiences, Xonar SE is a PCIe gaming sound card. The built-in 300 ohm headphone amplifier on the Xonar SE produces 5.1-channel, 192 kHz/24-bit hi-res audio output with a high 116 dB signal-to-noise ratio (SNR), rich, detailed sound, and defined bass. Read Review

4. Best Connectivity: Creative Labs Sound Blaster Play! 3 External USB Sound Adapter

The Creative Labs Sound Blaster Play! 3 External USB Sound Adapter is a great addition to your computer. It's so versatile that you can use it to hear your music and movies, chat with friends and family in crystal clear voice communications, or record a lecture or interview with crisp audio. Read Review

5. Best Design: Creative Sound Blaster AE-7 Hi-Res Internal PCIe Sound Card

The Creative Sound Blaster AE-7 is a highly-acclaimed, versatile sound card that delivers pristine audio output, massively powerful headphone audio, theatrical-grade discreet and virtual surround sound, true hardware accelerated audio. Read Review

The sound card in your computer might not be the bottleneck for music listening. However, if you’re an audiophile and spend more time listening to your favorite tracks than anything else, then you’d want to invest in a good audio card to get the best experience. You will find that most computers have onboard sound cards or no sound cards at all.

But there are a few dedicated audiophiles who prefer building their computers rather than buying pre-built ones. If you fall into this category, then you should look for the best audiophile sound card that gives you a high-end listening experience so that you can hear every little detail of your music files. Read on to know more about the best audiophile sound card options available in the market today, as well as some useful advice before making a purchase decision.

Our team had to focus on researching and sifting through many hours to get such results for readers. These studies are based on customer star reviews and interviews about their feelings when using the product. When it comes to finding the best audiophile sound card, we believe Sound BlasterX G6 Hi-Res Gaming DAC, External USB Sound Card is a worthy product to buy. If you're looking for additional options and more in-depth advice, you may check out the following.

Our Top Picks

DISCRETE HEADPHONE AMP | Custom-designed Xamp headphone amplifier features discrete components through all stages of amplification in a bi-amp design. Each audio channel is individually amplified to deliver a whole new level of pristine audio fidelity in an authentic, unaltered lossless model. The ultra-low 1 Ohm output impedance perfectly drives performance-grade sensitive 8W in-ear monitors all the way to studio-grade 600W headphones

7.1 VIRTUAL SURROUND SOUND AND DOLBY DIGITAL | Enjoy the latest in immersion technology with Dolby Digital decoding or Sound Blaster’s proprietary surround sound perfect for games and movies

130dB DNR, 32-bit 384kHz DAC Advanced 32-bit oversampled multi-bit modulator with mismatch shaping technology eliminates distortion, ensuring audio is streamed with the highest level of detail and fidelity

INDUSTRY-LEADING AUDIO PROCESSING TECHNOLOGY | Enjoy full audio customization and enhanced audio realism with immersive 7.1 surround virtualization, accurate cues, bass boost and in-game voice communication enhancements. It also has Scout Mode than enhances in-game audio cues, letting you hear your enemies before they hear you

UPGRADE YOUR GAMES ON PS4, XBOX ONE, NINTENDO SWITCH, AND PC | Get immediate increased enjoyment over basic motherboard and controller audio! Apart from incredible audio quality, the Sound BlasterX G6 boasts gaming-centric features such as Sidetone volume control and easy-to-reach profile buttons

TOP Choice #2 Creative Sound Blaster Audigy FX PCIe 5.1 Sound Card
Our Score:
9.5
Creative

600 ohm headphone amp for high performance, studio grade monitoring

Easily converts the PC into a cinematic entertainment system by providing a compelling 5.1 surround sound

106 SNR and 24-bit 192kHz DAC (Playback) and 96kHz ADC (Recording)

Includes the Sound Blaster Audigy Fx Control Panel, PC software that puts you in full control of the SBX Pro Studio suite of technologies

Advanced Audio Processing with SBX Pro Studio, a suite of Sound Blaster audio processing technologies that let you bring out the best in your audio

Xonar Audio Center enables full audio control via an intuitive, spacious interface

Included Low Profile Bracket allows the Xonar to fit perfectly into most systems

5.1 channel, 192kHz/24-bit Hi-Res audio with a 300ohm headphone amp for detailed, immersive sound with punchy, defined bass

Realtek ALC1220X codec delivers a crystal clear 116dB signal-to-noise ratio (SNR)

ASUS Hyper Grounding Technology ensures minimal audio distortion and interference

power source type: Corded Electric

Theatrical-Grade Discreet And Virtual Surround | Supports Discrete 5. 1 On Speakers With Dolby Digital Live / Dts Connect Encoding, And Up To 7. 1 Virtual Surround On Headphones And Speakers. To Top It Off, We Have Also Integrated Sound Blaster’S Surround Virtualization Technology Onto Ae-7 So That You Can Conveniently Enjoy Surround Sound On Most Form Of Media

Massively Powerful Headphone Audio | Custom Xamp Discrete Headphone Bi-Amp Powers Each Earcup Separately With 1Ω Output Impedance And Drives Studio-Grade Headphones Of Up To 600Ω, Including High-End Planar-Magnetic Headphones. And With The Audio Control Module, Gain Quick Access To The Volume Control Knob, As Well As The ¼” And ⅛” Mic And Headphones I/O Connectors – All Within Your Fingertips

Pristine Audio Output | Supreme Audio Fidelity With 127 Db Dnr Hi-Res 32-Bit / 384 Khz Playback Via Ess Sabre-Class 9018 Dac And Dsd64 Playback Support That Satisfies Even The Most Demanding Needs Of Audiophiles For Incredibly Clean Audio

True Hardware Accelerated Audio | Dedicated Quad-Core Processor Designed To Deliver Incredibly Pristine And Enhanced Sound On Your Pc Without Overstressing Your Cpu. Sound Blaster Manages Audio Processing On The Card Itself, Freeing Your Cpu To Handle Other Tasks

IMMERSIVE SURROUND SOUND – Get fully immersed and stay focused on your games with our surround sound. The Sound Blaster Z SE now supports 7.1 virtual on headphones and speakers alongside discrete 5.1 for speakers. You can even switch between headphones and your speakers via the software for those times you want to pump the bass, or go stealthier with your headphones. For extra delivery options to your external devices, the Z SE also supports Dolby Digital Live and DTS Encoding

PRISTINE AUDIO CLARITY – With up to 116 dB SNR at an amazing bit rate of up to 24-bit / 192 kHz, enjoy impressive audio quality for your every need. The sound card also features gold-plated connectors, speaker optimization technology, and digital content encoding capability for the best digital audio performance. Coupled with Audio Stream Input / Output (ASIO) support, Sound Blaster Z SE delivers low-latency and high-fidelity audio, even for your recordings

SBX GAMING EQ PROFILES – Emerge as the last man standing with our updated SBX Gaming Profiles for hot titles such as Apex Legends, Fortnite, Overwatch, PUBG, and more. In-house tuned and optimized to sound the best for the respective games, you can get started right away or further tweak the EQs, instead of having to create the profiles from scratch. Simply select the respective game from our latest Sound Blaster Command software’s menu, and be battle-ready instantly

CRYSTAL CLEAR COMMUNICATION – Comes with a list of Microphone EQ Presets that compensates for your headset’s built-in mic so you can be heard clearly–whether it is to reduce the harshness of your tonality, sound more natural, or to increase the mids for vocal clarity. Together with our Sound Blaster Command Software’s CrystalVoice technology that helps remove echoes and ambient noises, the Z SE is perfect for games and even video conferences while working from home for better communications

Advanced chipset is designed to process the legendary EAX reverb engine for powerful enhanced audio

High quality 24-bit 192 kHz stereo direct playback

106dB SNR ensures a high level of audio quality and supported operating systems is Windows 8, Windows XP SP2 or higher, Windows Vista SP1 or higher, Windows 7, Windows 10

Immerse yourself in full cinematic 7.1 multi-channel audio, perfect for games, movies and music

600 ohm headphone amp provides studio grade monitoring

PACKAGE LIST: 1* MIC, 1* Mic Cable, 1* Mic tripod, 1* windscreen muff, 1* Audio interface mixer, 1* Charging cable, 2* 3.5mm TRRS Audio Cable, 1* User manual. We provide a 12-Month warranty. For a better user experience, please download more instructions below and read user manual before setting up. Maonocaster Lite AM200 only supports 3.5mm microphone input and does not support phantom power. The included microphone is forbidden to be used with phantom power.

BORN FOR LIVE STREAMING: MAONO DJ mixer controller supports up to 2 person, 4 devices and 4 platforms to stream simultaneously. Highlights of this set, you can change your voice to the male, female, girlish, robot. Two mic inputs, One Accompaniment input, and real-time monitoring, good noise reduction effect after pressing DENOISE button. It is compatible with IOS and Android systems.

ALL IN ONE and EASY TO USE: Works as a USB sound card plus mixing station. Integrating audio mixing equipment into 1 comprehensive solution. It delivers superb sound quality and offers intuitive and full control to optimize vocal and sound effects. The S1 Bundle comes with a condenser microphone that lets you start podcasting or live to stream easily in no time. Start recording when you plug into the smartphone or PC.

START YOUR OWN CONCERT: 10-step reverb & 12-step electronic music & 3 modifiable tones (Treble, mid-range, bass) make this audio interface more entertaining and meet more live recording needs.

Compatible with most OS: For most Laptops, PC, Windows, MAC OS, smartphones, iPhones, and tablets. But if your phone does not have a 3.5mm jack, you need an OTG adapter (not included).

SPECIAL EFFECTS: Four user recordable, eight Built-in special audio effects, and various adjustments available for your creation. Fixed audio effects like APPLAUSE, LAUGHTER, CHEERING...Note please record your own audio effects you like to audio interface according to the instructions.

Please Attention: The MAONOCASTER lite is perfect for podcasts, Live Stream, YouTube, Twitch, studio music recording, and more. Considering the complexity of the product, you may encounter some problems during use, please refer to the page User Guide/video, if you are willing to contact us, we will provide you with one-to-one debugging equipment by professional staff to help you solve questions and start your live stream easily.

USB OPTICAL AUDIO: Supports 44.1 and 48 KHz sampling rates for analog playback and recording or 48 KHz for SPDIF.【The audio adapter's SPDIF optical pass-through port supports two-channel audio, this port does not support 5.1 or 7.1 audio.】

OS COMPATIBILITY: Compatible for Win 11 / 10 / 8 / 7 (Included Software Only for Win 11/10/8/7).

EXTERNAL 7.1 USB SOUND CARD: Full 7.1 / 5.1 / 2.1 audio outputs via 3.5mm mini-jacks | Dual microphone input. (VLC media player suggested)

USB SOUND CARD: Optical S/PDIF input (pass through) and output | Built-in volume control buttons | Full-duplex recording and playback.

7.1 USB AUDIO ADAPTER: High Speed USB 2.0 compliant host interface, with transfer rates up to 480 Mbps.

LIGHT-YEARS BEYOND THE COMPETITION: iBasso sound and audio products are crafted to be the best and are used by serious audiophiles around the world. Wherever people love music, iBasso is there.

HIGH-QUALITY AUDIO SOURCE: This sound module allows you to easily attach the balanced line out to an external amplifier. Use this sound card to blast or superior-quality audio for friends and friends on your home audio system.

AUDIO-CARD AMPLIFIER: Experience superior quality when listening to audio files. Made for the seasoned professional or someone new to the field, this sound card delivers on the highest-quality sound and audio capability.

PURE SOUND AUDIO AMP BOARD: With a double-feedback negative loop and mirror collector with crossed auto-zero emitter, this AMP board easily handles large output signals with increased electrical circuit stability and a high cut-off stage.

FULLY DISCRETE CIRCUIT DESIGN: The iBasso amplifier card is a 4.4-millimeter balanced AMP card specifically designed to work with the DX300. This internal sound card is discrete on both voltage amplification and current amplification stages.

Product Images, Product Titles, Product Highlights from Amazon Product Advertising API

What to Look For in a best audiophile sound card?

Until now, numerous customers trust the information and advice we offer them, which means our offers to you are accurate and up to date all the time. This objective is being pursued with tremendous zeal and attention. 

It's necessary to keep in mind the following points for selecting best audiophile sound card:

Software Features

Because everyone has their own preferences, the software capabilities of a sound card are essential. It is actually one of the most important reasons you should get a soundcard.

Virtual Surround Sound is the most prominent feature. It's often used with headsets to improve spatial awareness in games, particularly in esports. These software solutions can also provide advanced audio features like customizable frequency response, equalizer settings and other options.

Swappable OpAmp

High-end sound cards offer the option of swapping out their OpAmps. Different OpAmps can provide different audio characteristics. Audiophiles love the ability to personalize their sound card's sounds.

Interface

There are two kinds of interfaces when we talk about the computer. The first is an interface between the soundcard and the computer. The second is an interface between audio devices and the soundcard. The latest sound cards require a PCI-Express slot. Make sure to have another, free slot.

The audio interface must be inspected at the ports of the sound card. Some sound cards support multichannels via RCA jacks, while others utilize 3.5mm jacks. Some sound cards have 3.5mm headphones whereas others provide 1/4-inch or 6.3mm headphones.

Channel Support

For a fantastic home theatre, 5.1 channels are essential. Many of the latest sound systems feature the 7.1 and 7.2 surround sound. These audio systems give the illusion of 3D sound and provide incredible immersion.

Only the sound card can provide separate channels to the system. Many sound cards can provide virtual 7.1 sound through audio processing, but only a handful of cards offer true surround sound support. If you have a high-end, 7.1 home theatre system you may be using costly external audio solutions. However, if this is the case, then you should consider upgrading to the most recent 7.1-channel sound card.

For headphone users, the majority of high-end headphones can be used as stereo headphones. You will only get surround sound via the sound card's Digital Signal Processing.

Dolby Atmos' latest format provides 3D sound, but comes with a lot of requirements. Although there are some 7.1 surround headphones on the market with as many as ten drivers, their audio latency makes them less appealing than high-end stereo headphones.

Headphone Amplifier

An essential component in sound cards is the Headphone amplifier. It is required if you have studio-quality headphones. These headphones have higher impedances, so they are not compatible with low-end sound card that don't include a headphone amp.

Studio-grade headphones that have poor audio solutions will result in low volume. If you wish to purchase studio-grade headphones with poor audio solutions, ensure that you get a sound card that has a dedicated amplifier for your headphone. The supported impedance should be greater than the rating of the headphones.

Additional Power And Connectors

Some sound cards, in addition to the minimum requirement for the motherboard's PCI/PCI Express slot, require extra power to run the components. This connector is typically a Molex connector.

DAC Quality

The first thing to look for in a sound card is the quality of the Digital-to-Analog-Converter. The DAC module is responsible for audio playback. A better DAC will result in a more natural sounding track.
How can you determine the quality of a DAC's DAC? The SNR (Signal to Noise Ratio) is a common indicator of the DAC's quality. It simply refers to the volume of the intended useful sound compared with the noise that is not being used.

High-end sound cards can provide a SNR of up to 124 dB. The majority of motherboards that have onboard audio solutions offer an SNR between 80 and 90 dB. This is quite a difference considering decibels can be logarithmic.

Moreover, in addition to the SNR, the DAC also controls bit depth and audio sampling rates.

The latest high-end sound card can provide 24-bit, 32-bit and even 32-bit audio at a sampling rate of 192-kHz to 384-kHz. These specifications roughly define the audio quality of the sound card, although there are other factors included such as gold-plated connectors, Electromagnetic-Interference shielding, etc.

FAQs

Do Audio Cards Really Make A Difference?

An audio card's main purpose is to enhance sound quality when playing video games or listening to the in-game sounds. Even with a high-end headset, the inbuilt sound card on a PC or gaming console may be dull. You need a sound card with balanced sound to balance the sound.

Which Is The Best Audio Card?

It can be difficult to find the right audio card. The right card will improve surround sound capabilities and provide great results.

How Long Does The Soundcard Battery Last?

These chipsets are available in two versions. The one you see will likely be an internal PCIe card, while the other might be an exterior card. The power source for your motherboard will supply the internal cards with the power. They do not need a battery. To get power, some external devices can be connected to the computer via a USB connector.

What Makes A Good Sound Card?

High signal-to noise ratios and low distortion are the hallmarks of a sound card. Your soundcard's SNR (signal-to-noise ratio) will have a greater ability to reproduce audio signals and not introduce unwanted artifacts.

Are USB Audio Cards Good?

If you're a filmmaker or video editor, USB cards may be your best choice. An external chipet can be used to connect it to other consoles, whether it's a computer or laptop. If you are looking to enhance your audiophile level, USB audio cards can be very useful.

What Alternatives To Sound Card Do Exist?

A comparison of sound cards and alternatives to them. The most popular alternative is the USB headset. It can play both music and voice. The downside is that USB headsets are limited in audio quality, typically 16-bit 48kHz. They cannot produce high frequency frequencies sufficiently well to reproduce music and speech. There may also be latency problems with USB headsets for playing digital audio streams from computers.

What Is The V8 Soundcard?

The version number V8 indicates the type of audio card that you'll be using. Multi-function models are the basis of this audio card. This is currently the only chip that allows dual-mobile use. Both iOS and Android smartphones can use the sound card to play games.

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About Nicolas Ward

Nicolas Ward

Nicolas Ward is an elite author with many years of experience in the music field and the owner of many engaging articles at TheAudioCritic. He studies music production and has many years of passionate research into sound systems. Appearing in many popular newspapers, Nicolas Ward provides useful knowledge and the latest information on music and sound.

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