I've been focusing on my computer's video and performance so much that I forgot about audio quality, which is surprising because I'm somewhat of an audiophile. So, I'm in the market for a sound card with at least these specs:

  • PCIe x1 interface
  • at least 5.1 channels
  • 24-bit audio output
  • at least 96KHz sample rate
  • high SNR (at least 108dB)

Things I don't want at all:

  • a sound card in an external enclosure (or one that includes external parts)
  • FireWire

Maximum price I'll pay right now is $75. I wish I could bump this up to the hundreds, but, alas, money is tight.

  • What does your on-motherboard chip provide? Actually, its model number would be enough. What you request above is satisfied by a mobo with an ALC889, if I recall correctly. (That's $2 chip or so.)
    – Fizz
    Oct 2 '15 at 9:03
  • @Respawned I want a dedicated sound card regardless of what onboard chipset I have.
    – Adam
    Oct 2 '15 at 13:20
  • Ok, just be aware that when I bought my last HTPC motherboard (for $50) it came with said chip... which is meeting your specs. It even gets a bit of praise in that direction at tomshardware.com/reviews/high-end-pc-audio,3733-6.html
    – Fizz
    Oct 2 '15 at 13:22

Asus Xonar DX 7.1 is on sale at Newegg for $75+ $4 shipping - $10MIR = $69.

  • PCIe x1 interface? Yes.
  • at least 5.1 channels? 7.1
  • 24-bit audio output? Yes
  • at least 96KHz sample rate? 192KHz
  • high SNR (at least 108dB)? claims 116dB

Response: No, I don't have first hand experience with this card, but I do with another Asus (external) sound product, Xonar U7, that's ok. This was the only card that I found meets both your noise level and price requirements. If you relax the noise level a bit, you get much cheaper stuff, for example:

Creative Sound Blaster Audigy FX 5.1 PCIe Sound Card with 600 ohm Headphone Amp

  • PCIe x1 interface? Yes.
  • at least 5.1 channels? 5.1
  • 24-bit audio output? Yes
  • at least 96KHz sample rate? 192KHz
  • high SNR (at least 108dB)? claims 106dB
  • $32.99 + free shipping

In case you wonder, the "600 ohm Headphone Amp" means it has a separate, relatively powerful headphone amplifier onboard, which can drive "difficult" (that is high-impedance) headphone like Sennheiser HD600 (which cost about 10x what this card does, so it's a bit questionable that you'd want this cheap card for those). This feature doesn't affect/matter for the 5.1 speakers output.

And since you're probably going to ask... no I don't first-hand experience with this card either. The last Creative (proper) card I had was an Audigy 2 (PCI); quality was as advertised. I also have an E-MU 1212M, which is their professional brand basically; outside your price range by a factor of at least 2 and not 5.1 etc.


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