I am having an old Dell Inspiron 1525 laptop. Recently I bought myself a Bose QC15 headphone. I find the sound I get on the headphone a bit thin (lacks depth). I mostly listen to FLACs. I was wondering if an external sound card like this can bring any considerable difference to my music listening experience. I am not intending to connect to speakers.Could you please comment on whether I do need external card.


If you are listening to .flac files for the same reasons as me (maximum possible sound quality) you will always encounter quality problems with notebook or USB soundcards. I can only suggest you look at the Creative store (maybe at a product like this). I found the Creative sound products to be really satisfying, exspecially for their low pricing. I've not tried their USB sound cards, but I own a ZEN X-FI II and love its sound.

  • What is your opinion on the product I linked to in the question. Basically, I don't want to buy something that I can't utilize for the headphones. – Ajay May 17 '11 at 8:54
  • Without having the product tested on my own, I think it will do the job. There may be better solutions, but they will also be much more expensive. – Michael K May 17 '11 at 8:56
  • The product you linked looks perfect for headphones. – Ajay May 17 '11 at 8:58
  • According to the tech specs of creative, it supports EAX and uses the well known sound blaster technology. Unfortunately I don't have the time to read some reviews now, but if it is nearly as great as the sound blaster cards, it may be what you are looking for. – Michael K May 17 '11 at 9:02
  • bought it. hope it is the one. – Ajay May 17 '11 at 9:16

according to jeff you want 'amplification' from your soundcard:

Thus, once you have a set of nice headphones, you do need some kind of amplified output for them. Something like the Boostaroo, or a Total BitHead. And if you're on a laptop these outboard solutions might be your only options.

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Internal sound cards often let you hear noise that comes from imperfect shielding. This is especially audible with good headphones (and bad hardware, of course).

So, yes, the only way to overcome this is to buy an external sound card. I can't tell you how good the one you linked to is, but I'm sure it will deliver better quality than the internal one.

The best way would be to buy an Audio Interface that can also be used for recording, because they have dedicated headphone amplifiers. In the end, the signal chain matters, and mostly "normal" sound cards only have low budget headphone amplifiers. There are also standalone headphone amplifiers available, you just have to google for that.

  • the fastrack is brilliant. I'd also recommend using foobar2k as a music player, and the ASIO interface option on that with the fastrack. its probably one of the most flexible options, even if its not something most audiophiles would consider. – Journeyman Geek May 18 '11 at 7:59
  • @Journeyman Geek Yep, it's not perfect but still considerably better than any consumer stuff. Doesn't seem like everybody wants/needs that, though ;) – slhck May 18 '11 at 8:02
  • I've been using a udac2 more recently , but the maudio gear has a nice price/utility factor. I think most audiophiles won't consider it cause its not a boutique device ;p – Journeyman Geek May 18 '11 at 9:42
  • @Journeyman Geek Oh, that's nice, I've been looking for recommendations for headphone amps anyway since my interface isn't particularly portable (it has 8 XLR inputs...). – slhck May 18 '11 at 12:07
  • This is about half the size of a deck of cards. Apparently has some issues with IEMs, but is fairly nice (IMO) with full sized phones – Journeyman Geek May 18 '11 at 12:10

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