10 Best Sound Cards: Buying Guide with Reviews [2021]

A sound card is an essential small device to cater to you with sheer satisfaction during music listening or gaming sessions. Most people are looking for a stock sound card that has directly integrated with the motherboard. On the other hand, some prefer to take the sound card as a separate component. Our prime focus is to help you in choosing the best sound card that can fulfill all your requirements.

We have enlisted a wide variety of sound cards that comes with powerful connectors and top-notch features to simonize your music listening.

Best Sound Cards: Reviews, Pros & Cons

1. Creative Sound Blaster Z

Creative Sound Blaster Z is one of the most efficient and remarkably designed sound cards. This compact device can perfectly fit into a single PCIe x1 slot on the motherboard within a small space.

Features:

  • An impressive improvement can be seen in this 116db Signal-to-Noise Ratio stock sound card. This ratio allows you to listen to music with crystal clear sound clarity, especially when you have a high-quality speaker.
  • This sound card comes with SBX Pro Studio, to assure a complete hypnotic surround sound effect on your headphones, speakers and on the surround sound system. Undoubtedly, it offers much better performance than the DTS and Dolby system.
  • It has an in-built CrystalVoice Focus software, to increase the microphone performance. It helps to wipe away background noise, removes echoes to make your voice crispy and clear.
  • However, the only disappointing factor of this sound card is it has not any powerful drivers.

Pros

  • It has an impeccable surround sound
  • Provides excellent sound quality

Cons

  • Unreliable drivers

2. Asus Xonar DS

The Asus Xonar DS does not come with an attractive appearance, it has a regular semiconductor board with an appropriate DTS and Asus logos. This sound card has too many impressive qualities along with a 7.1 surround configuration support.

Features:

  • Asus Xonar DS can easily serve an uncompressed high-quality studio configuration audio with the help of 192KHz/24bit sound reproduction
  • This sound card comes with modern DTS technology, that helps you to convert any stereo base signal to a completely immersive 7.1 effective surround sound experience.
  • Though this sound card is not at all attractive by looks, it is a genuinely amazing product to spend money. This card is able to deliver wonderful sound quality for both home theatre setup and gaming sessions.
  • However, there are a couple of issues that you may face related to tricky control panels and drivers.

Pros

  • Great sound quality
  • An affordable item for both gaming and home theatre

Cons

  • Confusing control panel
  • The poor performance of the drivers

3. Creative Sound Blaster Omni

Creative Sound Blaster Omni is an external sound card that you can easily connect to your motherboard through a USB port. The blend of black and red colours provides the device with an innovative look. It does not skimp on the functionality, it can provide a plethora of high-end features that are useful for long time gaming session.

Features:

  • Creative Sound Blaster Omni has 1 Dolby technology that enables high-quality immersive surround speaker configuration. Not only that!! It also provides a virtual surround function for both headphones and stereo setup.
  • One of the most unique features of this sound card is its in-build dual microphones. Besides that, it has CrystalVoice technology that helps to provide users voice with the highest clarity and reduced background noise.
  • This sound card comes with a volume control knob that is an indispensable part. This knob helps you to control the volume bar easily, without giving any effort to adjust the volume via computer.
  • Creative provides wonderful access to the control panel that is specially tuned for this sound card. This control panel allows you a wide number of customization option for both sound and microphone.
  • Besides all the good features, it also has a flaw. This sound card does not have any echo-cancelling feature that is really essential for several users.

Pros

  • It is a convenient option for desktop users
  • It has an in-built microphone
  • Price worthy features

Cons

  • There is no echo-cancelling feature

4. Asus Essence STX II 7.1

Asus Essence is one of the most demanding sound cards for a large group of the audiophile. This immersive looking hardware device is an internal sound card that consists of powerful heatskin materials.

Features:

  • Asus Essence enables a 7.1 configuration high-fidelity sound card. This sound card delivers top-notch sound clarity with its 124db SNR cutting edge performance. It can provide an outstanding sound effect even if the daughter board or headphone jack is limited up to 120db.
  • Through the six additional 3.5mm connectors, you can easily install this sound card within a compact PCIe slot in the motherboard.
  • All the hardcore audiophiles highly appreciate the three swappable op-amp sockets. It comes with a special Clamps design that plays a significant role in swapping. This function allows you to customize the program beyond any other software control panel.
  • Asus Essence comes with a powerful Dolby technology to serve an appropriate surrounding experience in both virtual and physical ambience.
  • The only backdrop of this sound card is its high price. However, it is very obvious that high-quality features come with a high-quality price.

5. Creative Sound Blaster Audigy RX

Audigy RX is one of the most popular series of Creative sound cards. It may not look attractive but it brings an arsenal of features. Among the features, providing sheer audio quality, detail control panel and surround sound effect makes this sound card an appealing option for both audiophile and gaming freaks.

Features:

  • This Audigy RX series comes with 7 connectors including 3.5mm jack (6) and an optical output connector. Among those 3.5mm jacks, two jacks are able to function as the mic. This is a complete package of surrounding sound production.
  • This sound card has an in-built E-MU chipset that is uniquely designed to render optimal performance with EAX technologies. This is quite enough to understand how immersive quality is there in this sound card.
  • You have the ability to customize its performance by tuning the control panel to have the best possible musical delight. You can control both audio input and output.
  • However, there are a number of issues can be seen in the drivers and OS compatibility. Besides this problem, you will get a very limited amount of support on the newer Linux version.

6. Creative Sound BlasterX AE-5

Creative Sound BlasterX AE-5 arrives with a unique custom designed distinct headphone amplifier like Xamp. It signifies that every audio channel can be amplified individually and it is helpful to produce prominent and crystal clear sound to both earcups.

Features:

  • Sound BlasterX AE-5 is a SABRE32  Ultra Class PCIe DAC, that is an appropriate option to produce high-end audio for music, movies and games. It can serve 32-bit 384KHz playback support with a 122db DNR, jitter and ultra-low distortion.
  • This sound card comes with a BlasterX Acoustic Engine, you can completely customize audio processing technologies that can offer new levels of audio immersion for the best competitive advantage.
  • It has in-built scout mode that works excellently in the battlefield or in a long-time gaming session. It helps to provide you with a distinct tactical advantage it is really beneficial in-game audio cues.
  • Creative’s new arrived sound card is the highest level of gear you can get for your computer.

Pros

  • Sound quality is top-notch
  • It has Xamp discrete headphone amplification
  •  It has high-quality in-built DAC mode

Cons

  • The plug location RGB LED light is uncomfortable
  • Expensive

7. EVGA NU Audio Card

EVGA NU is a dedicated PCIe 2-channel sound card with an in-build stereo sound system. It is quite rare to find in modern days. Hence, if you love to listen to music, then you must remember that this sound card series is made of premium components.

Features:

  • EVGA NU has impressive audio-grade components delivers that can produce lifelike audio sound. This sound card is built with WIMA, Nichicon and Audio Note
  • Apart from that brilliant capacitors, this sound card can deliver excellent Native DSD Support (up to x256) along with XMOSxCORE-200 Audio DSP
  • If you have a minimum idea about EVGA NU, then you surely know that this brand manufactures their devices with the cooperation of Audio Note. This combination of leading sound card manufacturers cable to produce Hi-Fi gear audio devices including loudspeakers, amps, CD players, Power amps and DACs.
  • The sound quality of this device is pretty stellar and it is an ideal one for audiophile persons

Pros

  • EVGA NU comes with high-quality audio-grade components and cool designs
  • The DAC works wonderfully because of its dedicated speaker setup and amplifier

Cons

  • This series is quite expensive

8. AudioQuest DragonFly Red

AudioQuest DragonFly Red has developed with 32-bit ESS Sabre DAC chips, that has the latest digital volume control and ESS control in headphones for more clear sounding.

Features:

  • AudioQuest DragonFly serves you 1.2-volt units, that is more than enough for your headphone. Apart from that, this sound card can still able to provide up to 2.1 units volt. This unique function is a guaranteed feature of this model and you will run it over any power-hungry or low-efficiency sound system and headphones.
  • The user-friendly function is another key feature of this sound card and you can easily use it with any musical devices because this sound card can cover up to 24-bit/96KHz resolution. This means, now you do not need to install any additional drivers to run the sound card on your PC.
  • Subsequently, you will get an opportunity to update your sound card all the time by simply downloading a free OS X or Windows desktop application.

Pros

  • Amazing design
  • Immersive sound quality
  • It is highly compatible with all latest devices

Cons

  • The compatibility is a little bit poor for Android devices
  • Expensive price

9. Audioengine D1

Audioengine D1 is a premium quality sound card where DAC technology has used to produce top-notch quality sound. This sound card is not only compatible with PCs but it also well fit with TVs, (Apple TV) CD players and DVD or BluRay players.

Features:

  • You can use this device as a portable amplifier for headphones and computers.
  • The user-friendly setup is another important feature of this sound card.
  • You will get a guarantee on a digital audio processing at the highest depth of 24-bits at any kind of sample rate of 192KHz.

Pros

  • It has an in-build USB and Optical unit
  • Headphone amplifier
  • Great sound quality and portable device

Cons

  • It has only mini-jack for headphones

10. FIIO E10K

FIIO E10K is one of the most prominent external DAC sound card. It comes with a slim and sleek classy aluminum finishing.

Features:

  • FIIO E10K caters Optimized low-pass filter along with certain bass boost circuit that is essential for a low noise sound production.
  • This device can manage any PCM file up to 24-bit/96KHz. You will be amazed by its various USB connectivity options including ⅛ front-panel headphone jack and ⅛ rear-panel line output jack.

We have mentioned a wide variety of sound cards that can provide high-end audio performance. More or less. They all are suitable to handle and able to serve a powerful connection with all modern devices. Now, it is your time to choose your favorite one that can fulfill your requirements. Best of luck!!

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