I want to start music production and I am a total newbie.

I already have most of the equipment required: a (dektop) PC with a more than decent CPU, a Beyerdynamic headset and decent Creative speakers. For the DAW, I watched and read a lot of comparatives and tested some of them before eventually settle for Presonus Studio One, at least for now.

All I lack now is a master keyboard and a real soundcard.

When I selected components for my PC I decided not to buy a sound card at the moment mainly because I had no more money left on my budget. Now that I want to start producing music, I think the time has come that I invest in it. If possible, I'd like to go for a cheap solution – ideally under $100 (I'm just getting started in music!)

Initially I wanted an internal soundcard like Asus' for instance because I like to keep a clean desk and I don't see the point of having a tower with lots of space if you use external components; and also because I listen to music a lot (obviously) and am not sure an external card is better for listening.

However all the articles and tutorials I have read always mention external cards like Presonus AudioBox (which I really feel like buying because of the free Studio One licence). I searched for debates about internal vs external soundcards and I couldn't extract any answer from them.

What I understood is that external cards are better because they have a physical interface for changing the volume and tons of other parameters; and because they have a better audio input. But the thing is my speakers already have a volume and tone button that I barely use, so I'm not sure I'll need those on an external card; and I don't intend to record anything but rather only use midi intruments.

I am therefore completely lost and have no idea what I should go for. Any insights welcome :)


The most important use of this soundcard for me would be to have a great output sound, namely better than my motherboard's chipset's.

I don't really intend to record things with it for now, mainly because I don't have a proper mic and my budget is tight enough that I can't invest in one for now. And also because I can't and won't sing. What I'm interested in is producing melodies with MIDI instruments. Sampling, I think, is not my thing.

Therefore I think (using the word think because I am a newbie and I may be wrong totally) that I'll need well basically one input port for my MIDI controller and one input port for my speakers or headset.

Volume control is a cool thing to have, although I bet any external soundcard has one. But it's not mandatory for me, because I already can control volume on my speakers. And tone, too, which I almost never do.

What's more to a sound card I don't know, and this is why I'm asking for advices. Hope this edit made my needs easier to understand and can help people answering.

  • Voting to close: Primarily Opinion Based: Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. (it is also too broad) – NZKshatriya Apr 3 '17 at 3:35
  • Even though your question is a bit too opinion based, let me give mine and hopefully point you in the right direction: I believe you would be better off investing in an Amp and DAC than an internal soundcard. – MrPublic Apr 3 '17 at 16:58
  • @NZKshatriya I don't see why this is opinion-based... I have specific needs and things I want to achieve, and am by no way asking people if they do prefer internal or external sound cards but rather if I'll need an external one for what I want to do. – Ctouw Apr 3 '17 at 18:01
  • @MrPublic Is a DAC the same thing as an external soundcard? – Ctouw Apr 3 '17 at 18:01
  • Can you tell us how you plan on using this? Obviously for listening to music, but are you planning on recording at all? What outputs/inputs do you need? Give us everything you know. While you are at it, I would remove the debate about internal/external cards and let the experts here explain their recommendations. – Cfinley Apr 3 '17 at 20:51

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