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Soundcards... back to the basics

Discussion in 'Multimedia' started by sideliner, Apr 14, 2007.

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  1. sideliner

    sideliner Thread Starter

    Apr 13, 2007
    I'm a "beginner" and want better sound from my PC for playing music. First I started looking into getting better PC speakers, and then decided to focus on the soundcard too. Now the soundcard seems to be my predominant concern, (and also a mystery and frustration). I'm thinking I should at least upgrade my soundcard or else I will continue to be dissatisfied, even with better speakers. This would be my first DIY upgrade ever, but I still thought it would be a simple thing if I just educated myself about it before diving in. So I've been reading here and there, websites, reviews, browsing the stores, reading specs on packages, talking to salespeople, etc. (I didn't want to randomly make a purchase, install it, just to find out I bought one that doesn't really meet my needs. I also don't want to buy one that EXCEEDS my needs, because money is seriously very tight.) But the more I read about soundcards, and the more I understand about how to interpret the specs, the more and more confused I got. With all my probing, I really haven't learned much except that soundcards are hard to figure out in this piece-meal way. Is there a place/website/book where I could just start at the beginning, with the basics, learning all the nuts and bolts in a more logical progression?

    Or if there's someone here who is knowledgeable/willing/able to address tedious newbie questions?.... And in case it matters, I'm interested in music only, not into movies or games. I'm a little fussy about my music/stereo, but I'm not really an audiophile either.

    I've got an HP Pavilion, with an integrated Realtek AC97. It's torturing my ears with the low-quality/low-volume sound it puts out, so I'm really desperate to get on with this upgrade. I just don't know whether to buy a soundcard that costs $30, (or one that costs $230, yikes! :eek:). I'm also eventually going to connect my PC to my stacked stereo system, (wired, or perhaps wireless)... so I want a soundcard that will be compatible with being connected to my 10-year old Sony receiver. (Okay, I know the AC97 can connect to the receiver right now, but I don't really expect it will give me what I want?)

    Thanks for any help.

    HP Pavilion a1226n
    AMD Athlon 64 3400+ 2.2 GHz
    HD 160GB 7200rpm
    XP Home Edition
    Integrated Realtek AC97
    Integrated ATI Radeon Xpress 200 Graphics
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