Computer Audio for Under $100
Mar 8, 2009 at 7:59 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 7


New Head-Fier
Dec 25, 2008
I'm only concerned with music quality (flac/mp3) as I don't game.

Given my budget is $100 or less, what should I do? Buy a EMU 0202 (or something similar, Fubar II maybe) or a PCI soundcard?

One of the primary reasons why I'd like something external is the ease in connecting a pair of headphones into it vs in the back of my case.

Would sound quality be that much different in either case? If not I plan on going with something external.

Oh, the headphones I plan on buying will be in the $100-$150 range
Mar 8, 2009 at 9:51 PM Post #3 of 7
honestly, internal boards will likely give you a better source quality/bang for your buck, while the external solutions will be "flash and press" because the hp amp will make harder to drive units shine (compared to the onboard card)

so now we really have to know: what do you intend on plugging into this, hp wise?

FUBAR II won't give you headphone output, and FUBAR III is considerably more expensive, but there are other options
Mar 8, 2009 at 10:56 PM Post #4 of 7
I'm considering the A700

I listen to a range of music, so it's sorta hard to pick a HP (R&B, Surf Rock, Alternative...). Basically I want a "good enough" setup to keep me happy for a year or two
Mar 9, 2009 at 5:25 AM Post #6 of 7
Not 100% sure if this is doable, but it should be:

Get an emu 0404 PCI card - you can get them as low as 80 bucks online. Then buy a ~6 foot mono 1/4 inch TS to stereo 1/8 inch jack. Plug the cable into the sound card, and your headphones into the stereo jack side.

Pretty much any professional sound card will get you the best you're gonna get in terms of sound cards/DACs. Some (many) here claim that really expensive DACs sound significantly better ones, but I'm highly skeptical of such differences - I can't tell a DAC1 from an 0404 blind - and if they do exist, they're at the margin. Pretty much any professional sound card will net you, if not the best, very close to the best performance. I recommend the 0404 over other cards because of the mono 1/4 jacks, which are compatible with professional headphone amps (I feel the same way about headphone amps as I do DACs) and can be had for very cheap (as low as 20 bucks if you don't mind a plastic enclosure). With a behringer headphone amp and an emu 0404, you can come under/barely exceed 100 dollars and have a combo that will pretty much give you perfect sound output.
Mar 9, 2009 at 8:06 AM Post #7 of 7
^very nice advice! i used to do that for my audigy2zs and hd595s. it worked just fine.

with that setup, you get a good soundcard + (i'm assuming) decent power for your headphones! all for way less than $100!

and about the AT A700 or AD700--simply put, the AD700 is a better choice if your ambient sound level is low. otherwise, an A700 would be better to block 'some' noise.

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