Bluetooth headphones have built-in sound cards

How a sound card affects computer sound

Many have gotten used to the poor sound produced by desktop computers and laptops. But why does the sound quality of the devices leave so much to be desired? This is primarily due to the quality of the integrated or supplied speakers themselves. These usually only guarantee the basic acoustic supply. In addition, the sound quality often falls short of expectations despite high-quality speakers or headphones. The culprit is hidden in the case: a bad sound chip or a cheap sound card. In this post we explain the most important basics on the subject.

What onboard sound cards (cannot) do

Basically all computers can process audio data. The hardware and software required for this is usually in the form of a Sound chips on the motherboard of the computer. These sound chips process the digital audio data and output them as analog audio signals via the jack output. A digital-to-analog converter is integrated for this purpose. Another important function of sound cards or sound chips is that Processing of speech and sound through a microphone. A converter converts the analog voice signals into digital data.

On well-equipped desktop computers, a separate, i.e. dedicated, sound card is installed every now and then. How good the onboard equipment is depends on the individual case. But laptops in particular with their mainboard sound chips do not usually meet higher standards by far. This is how a 5.1 system not a well-defined surround sound if a laptop with an onboard sound chip is connected as the player. Likewise, high-quality headphones cannot develop their full potential. So if the factory equipment with sound card or mainboard chip does not come close to high-quality audio hardware, buying a new sound card can be worthwhile.

Interesting products for gamers from Teufel

Inside or outside: sound cards by type

Depending on the computer in the housing, dedicated sound cards can be plugged directly into the motherboard or connected externally to the PC or notebook. For the installation, however, the corresponding interfaces on the mainboard must be free. As a rule, PCI or PCI-Express (PCIe) used.

All you need for the external connection is a USB port. When buying, pay attention to which USB standard the external sound card requires. Usually USB 2.0 is sufficient. Power is usually supplied via the respective interface. Some sound cards also have one FireWire interface. These are usually powerful "audio interfaces" that allow time-consuming mixing and the addition of effects.

What is important when equipping the sound card

Separate sound cards produce better sound quality compared to their onboard counterparts, primarily due to more powerful digital-to-analog converters. The bandwidth with regard to the quality of the converters is very large - high-priced sound cards quickly cost 300 euros and more. But sound cards with a price between 50 and 100 euros already ensure a significantly better sound image. The decisive factor in the purchase decision is amount of channelswhich the sound card supports. If you want to control a surround sound configuration with five channels plus a bass signal (5.1), you need three jack inputs for the front and rear as well as one for the center and subwoofer for analog transmission.

The format is on some of the outer packaging for the sound cards Dolby Digital Live the speech. Dolby developed the process especially for the gaming sector in order to enable surround sound independent of the audio data provided by the game. In this way, the sound of games that actually only output stereo can be reproduced in good quality via a 5.1 system. A counterpart to Dolby Digital Live is DTS-Connect. Both standards transmit the signal digitally S / PDIF out. Higher quality sound cards are usually also available with the "surround polisher" Dolby Pro Logic fitted.

Some sound cards have an integrated headphone amplifier so that hi-fi headphones can be plugged in and used immediately. This is particularly beneficial for headphones with a high Impedance (high ohm value, Ω). Dolby Headphone can generate surround sound via headphones as a digital standard.

Tips for configuring the sound card

Depending on the sound card and the sound system used, the exact options and steps when configuring a sound card differ slightly. In any case, you should take a look at the speaker settings and the settings of the sound card, because sometimes the sound experience can be significantly improved with a few clicks. Some tips and recommendations for configuring a sound card:

  • Make sure that after connecting a 5.1 system, or alternatively with a high-quality headset, the correct output device is selected as loudspeaker or headphones.
  • Deactivate the digital output in fully active operation without a receiver - and activate it accordingly, in the opposite case.
  • If you have connected a subwoofer, you should activate the bass redirection so that it receives the corresponding signals. Also check whether the crossover frequency (also called frequency cut-off or crossover frequency) is set to the ideal value of 120 Hz.
  • Go to deeper menu structures - in the THX settings, for example, many detailed settings can also be made.
  • So that the sound from all channels reaches you optimally, you can set the distance to the individual speakers and the angle to your listening position. You can also turn the level up or down on each individual channel so that all speakers sound equally loud.
  • Test the channels to check that the settings are correct and that all connections are working, or that something remains mute or sounds muffled somewhere.

Expert tip: So that you can set each loudspeaker correctly and the tones from all channels reach you equally loudly, we recommend you to use one Sound level meter. This is a one-time purchase and will do you a loyal service with every system that you buy in the future. This is the only way to fine-tune it, because the human ear is seldom precise enough.

Sound systems for gaming & Co. from Teufel

If you want better sound on your PC and opt for a powerful sound card as a first step, you should neither rely on the built-in speakers for your sound system, nor save on the wrong end and fall back on the cheap hardware store solution. Rather, the best sound is obtained when the entire path from signal generation to sound output is technically and acoustically sound. With PC sound systems from Teufel, you can draw on many years of manufacturing expertise.

  • ▶ Cinebar One +: The combination of space-saving soundbar and powerful subwoofer gives your games much more depth in terms of sound.
  • ▶ Concept E 450 Digital Superior Edition: If anything? Do you want to experience superlative gaming? This not only includes the sharpest picture but also the fattest sound? Then there you go: The perfect sound system for your gaming cave.

Straight to the overview: PC sound systems from Teufel

Headphones from Teufel

Conclusion: Without a separate sound card there is usually no hi-fi sound

  • Every laptop or computer is equipped with at least one sound chip for audio playback.
  • The integrated sound chips often do not meet the requirements for hi-fi sound.
  • Separate sound cards are available for installation in the housing (PCI / PCI Express) as well as for external connection (USB).
  • The built-in digital-to-analog converter is one of the decisive factors for the quality of a sound card.
  • When buying, it is important to consider which system is to be controlled and which headphones may be used.
  • Depending on the version, different numbers of channels are supported (stereo, 5.1, 7.1).
  • For better sound from headphones, certain sound cards are equipped with a special amplifier.