Components

Sound cards

Sound cards test: The best sound cards 2021 in comparison

Stereo sound, but the pleasure is missing? You can’t hear the cheap clattering from your speakers anymore and are thinking about replacing them? Maybe that’s not necessary, because often it’s enough to install a new sound card in your device and enjoy a whole new sound experience. 

Here you will find an overview of the best sound cards 2021– in our sound card comparison! Check out the new 2021 sound cards to find the one that’s right for you and your needs.

Sound cards test: The best sound cards at a glance

In this article you will find everything you need to know about the latest sound cards. In this section we present you the best current internal sound cards with all important information of the small components. Let us inform you about the special features of the different sound cards.

The big sound card guide: Everything you need to know!

Now your questions will be answered here and you can learn all the facts worth knowing in this section. We explain all the product details and try to give you a complete overview of the latest sound cards 2021.

What is a sound card and what do I need it for?

A sound card is a flexible PC card that can be plugged in, similar to a memory card. With this card you can manage your audio settings. Sound cards not only convert analog audio signals into digital ones, they also process, compress and store them. Sound cards are now standard in all PCs, notebooks and tablets – these are called onboard or internal sound cards. 

But the integrated sound cards are usually not completely convincing with their sound and the only remedy is to replace the internal sound card with a powerful external sound card. By using an external sound card you will get to know completely new sound worlds , because even professional DJs rely on these small components when they want to improve their sound.

How much will a sound card cost me?

Of course it is with the sound cards also in such a way that you can spend here also correctly much money, as with all components in the PC range. The only question is whether this is reflected in the quality that the sound card can deliver. We don’t think so, and a sound card for around 20 Euros is usually quite sufficient for the “normal” user. You can also buy a soundcard for around 200 Euro, but we don’t recommend it (unless you are a professional DJ and earn your living with the sound).

When does it make sense to buy a sound card?

In principle, upgrading an existing PC or notebook with a new, powerful sound card makes sense in most cases. The manufacturers of the PCs or notebooks like to use somewhat inferior sound cards as standard equipment and so the sound experience here is usually not very good. So it can be very worthwhile to upgrade your existing system with a new, powerful sound card.

Important technical terms explained!

Here you will learn what the different terms around the topic “sound cards” mean.

Analog/Digital Converter (ADC)

With an A/D converter it is possible to convert analog signals into digital ones. Several steps (coding, sampling, quantification) are necessary for this.

Digital to Analog Converter (DAC)

With the D/A converter it is exactly the other way round than with the A/D converter. Here digital signals are converted into analog signals

Impedance

Impedance is also called “impedance” and refers to the resistance of a circuit of an electronic component or system at alternating current.

Electromagnetic interference (EMI)

Electromagnetic interference is the generic term for the sum of electromagnetic emissions (EME), electromagnetic disturbances and electromagnetic susceptibility (EMS).

Sampling rate

The sampling rate or “sample rate” indicates how often the A/D converter samples the incoming signal.

Signal/Noise Ratio (SNR)

Signal/noise ratio is also called “signal-to-noise ratio”, “signal-to-noise ratio” or “signal-to-noise ratio” in Germany. The SNT indicates the technical quality of a signal which is overlaid by a noise signal.

dynamic range

Dynamic Range is  also called “dynamic range”, “dynamic range” or “dynamic range”. This is used in general, technical or mathematical references to indicate the quotient of the minimum and maximum of a physical function or quantity.

Frequency Range or Frequency Response

Frequency Range  describes the relationship between the input and output signal of a linear time invariant system (LZI system) in terms of amplitude (peak value, amplitude of oscillation) and phase. Frequency response is a multidimensional function of frequency.

Input/Output (I/O)

 Every computer, in order to communicate, must have an input and output. The hardware required for this is called peripheral devices. Input devices are for example the mouse, the touchpad or the keyboard, the most important device for output is the screen or monitor.

Buy a sound card? You should consider this before buying!

I have already briefly explained the sampling rate in the technical terms. This is also very important when buying a new sound card and you should definitely pay attention to it. If you want to enjoy a good sound, choose a sound card with a high sampling rate. This is given in kHz and the higher the kHz value, the better the high frequencies are transmitted.

 The sampling depth is also important. This is specified in bits or in bit rate. The higher the resolution of the sound card, the more finely you can perceive small differences in volume. Pay special attention to the connections on your new sound card. What ports are available on your PC? Are these identical to those on the favored sound card? 

Fortunately, in the sound card construction the cables are held in different colors, so that almost nothing can go wrong with the installation. Very important for a good listening experience is also the sound chip. There are constantly better, more powerful models available and this not only has a positive effect on the quality of the sound, it also helps you to save electricity. 

Once you’ve found your new sound card, be sure to check out the included software before you buy. Can you work with this? This is essential if you want to get the most out of your new sound card.

Install an internal sound card? That’s it!

So that you can install your new sound card easily, here is a small step by step guide. Of course, the “installation” of an external sound card is very simple, because it is simply connected to the PC or laptop via USB and the sound goes off. With the internal sound cards you have to do a bit more.

Step 1: First open  the case of your PC with a screwdriver. Of course you have to disconnect the computer from the power supply first . Once you have done that, now look for several white stripes on the motherboard. Where you see the white stripes is the serial BUS PCI, where you plug in your sound card with PCI or PCIe connector.

Step 2: Once you’ve done that, you’re almost done installing your sound card. Now you only have to make sure that no cable has come loose. If you have checked everything, you can now screw the housing shut again.

Step 3: Now you have successfully installed your sound card. If you have installed a new sound card, you must remove the old sound card in the BIOS and set the new one. Last but not least, you only have to select your sound card as the default audio device in the control panel and then you’re done!

Sound cards test: Our conclusion

Are you also dissatisfied with the sound of your computer for a long time? Your laptop sounds like a tin bucket and you’ve probably always thought since then that your speakers just aren’t the best. However, it is also possible that your sound card is simply an inferior one (this is the case with most notebooks). Especially the external sound cards are great for upgrading your computer quickly and easily. 

For the internal sound cards you will need some basic knowledge to connect the sound card correctly. Benefit from a whole new sound experience and opt for crystal clear sound from your speakers today. You are sure to find the right model for you in our large sound card comparison. Have fun with your new sound!

Video tutorial: Installing a sound card

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