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I'm looking for external sound card up to $100 because I'm using build on MSI Z87i Gaming AC (or can I use internal sound card on this motherboard ?)

I will be using it to gaming and music with 2.0 speakers for about $100 but I don't know which I will buy, yet (separate question).

I was thinking about:

Which product should I choose or maybe you have other more intresting propositions ?

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    Is there any reason you don't want the built in audio from the motherboard? – James Jan 29 '16 at 9:18
  • @DJ McMayhem Yes, sound from built in sound card (Realtek® ALC1150) is much worse quality than from dedicated sound cards. I heard sound from AIM SC8000 (internal sound card) with Edifier speakers when I was visiting my friend and difference is huge when you compare it to integrated sound card. – ivaan Jan 29 '16 at 9:31
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    @ivaan There is a thing called sighted listening bias. The typical "even my wife noticed that the sound was better" may also correlate with the person in question knowing, that when certain songs are played and speakers moved or new gear arrived that the husband expects acknowledgment, which may not lead to an honest answer like "sorry I don't hear a difference". – LiveWireBT Jan 29 '16 at 10:15
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    As someone who owns systems ranging from standard onboard sound, I can agree that dedicated ones generally do sound better. However, 70-90 dollars better? Not even close, especially on 2.0 speakers unless they were some really good speakers. I agree with Livewire that i'd start with the onboard sound on the motherboard first and THEN look into other options if that doesn't pass muster with you. – patricksweeney Jan 29 '16 at 21:24
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When given the choice between onboard, Xonar U5¹ and Prodigy Cube² under $100 one would probably go for the highest quality product available. A few years ago I would have chosen the Prodigy Cube, because it has designer components and an impressive professional looking product page. I bit later I would have gone with professional recording interfaces, but unless you can actually evaluate the objective audio performance of a device, a discussion will be more subjective based on taste and preference.

  • Try onboard first. You are already willing to pay for it and it can be your fallback if the external soundcard drops out.
  • I recommended to read a review about the Behringer UCA202 (~$30) in: External USB audiocard with 3.5 or 6.35 jack output. I feel a bit ashamed for dropping the name in every second answer of mine, but that is as much as I know or have experience with.

  1. Asus support staff was unable to answer a question about demanding low impedance headphones regarding their high-end soundcards. I have little to no confidence recommending their products if "supports 600Ω" is what they can say about it.

  2. I was interested in buying a Dr.DAC from Audiotrak until I read that the Alps potentiometer usually crackles and that this can be avoided in high quality designs.

  • There is a lot of sense in your comment under question and in this answer. I think that I should start from new speakers ( actually I'm using Creative T40 Series I ). I will try new set with onboard sound card and then if I won't be satisfied I will think about sound card. Thank you for answer – ivaan Jan 29 '16 at 10:49

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