Sound is an integral part of design these days. You might need to record sound, edit sound or integrate sound into a multimedia presentation. Or maybe you just listen to music to inspire your design juices. Yes, I’ve got some music playing on my computer as I write this! What do I have playing? Dos by Green Day.
Sure, most computers have some sort of sound included on the motherboard. You might think it is adequate for your needs. Of course you may not realize how much better it can be if you’ve never experienced a quality sound card.
The leader in the sound card business is Creative and I’m going to list the three different cards in their latest line of high-end soundcards. We’ll start with the least expensive and move up to the top of the line. Luckily top-of-the-line sound cards don’t even come close to the top-of-the-line graphics cards in price!
We’ll start with the Sound Blaster Z which Creative claims is an all-around audio and gaming solution. Right now it is selling for under $100 on Amazon and probably meets the needs of the majority of users. Why is a dedicated card that much better? Quite simply it includes much higher-quality components and has built-in technology that you won’t find on motherboard audio.
Next in line is the Sound Blaster Zx which Creative claims is “ultra high-performance PCI Express sound card of the Sound Blaster Z-Series with external Audio Control Module and beamforming microphone array.” Sure, it includes a few more bells and whistles. It also bumps the current price on Amazon to around $134. While it is certainly more feature-rich than the baseline, I would still recommend the majority of users stick with the Sound Blaster Z.
If you are going to step up to a more powerful card, go all the way to the Sound Blaster ZxR (pictured above right). Creative says “The flagship sound card of the ultra high-performance Sound Blaster Z-Series elevates the standards of technology and performance for the future of PC gaming and entertainment.” Again, this is probably more than most users need. But if you want the best audio card for creation, editing and playback; this is it! Along with this power comes a bigger price tag as it currently sells for $249 on Amazon.
No matter which of the three cards you get, you’ll find that each of them is a huge upgrade from the audio supplied on motherboards.