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I am a music lover shopping for a new A/V computer. For twenty years (!!) I have been using an M-Audio "Audiophile 2496" PCI sound interface for recording from vinyl at home. I don't need any of the device's features except for its low noise floor. Now I am considering buying a small, passively cooled computer with no PCI bus, which all have audio interfaces onboard (and USB-C jacks for external audio devices which I would just as soon not buy).

In my assessment long ago, as a rule built-in sound devices suffered too much crosstalk and background noise for recording purposes. My question is: has their noise floor meaningfully improved in the interim? Otherwise, I suppose that I am going to continue to need a third-party interface. Thank you in advance for any answers to this question.

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    It has gotten a lot better in some cases, but generally microphone inputs on integrated sound have remained at the "good enough" quality point to be used with equally cheap microphones. Some motherboards have integrated sound cards that have been designed explicitly for high-quality analog circuitry & DAC, but only on motherboards that are sold separately for custom PCs (not prebuilt PCs). What is your reason for not wanting a USB audio interface though? There are a variety of high-end USB audio interfaces that are far superior to integrated sound cards. M-Audio even makes some! – Romen Jan 6 at 21:24

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