Seven PC audio solutions compared

Seven PC audio solutions compared
— 12:55 AM on January 9, 2003

MUCH TO MY DISMAY, audio seems to be one of the more universally neglected components of today's PCs, even the high-end ones. Quite honestly, it's not hard to see why. It's much easier to flash some benchmarks showing that a 3GHz processor is indeed very fast, or show a screenshot or video clip that conveys the awesome power of DirectX 9-class pixel and vertex shaders, than it is to convey how good all the different PC audio solutions really sound. What makes something sound good is largely subjective territory, and evaluations can be as dependent on quality of source media and speaker system as they can on the quality of the sound card itself.

Nevertheless, I think quality audio is ready for a comeback. To prepare you for what could be the PC's impending audio revolution, we've rounded up a total of seven very different PC audio solutions and run them through the wringer. We have everything from a typical 6-channel motherboard integrated audio implementation all the way up to a professional-level, true 24-bit/96kHz sound card more appropriate for audiophiles. Is professional-level audio really all that? Is integrated audio really that bad? How do different audio cards stack up, and which one is right for you? Read on to find out.

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