What factors dictate the sound quality of a soundcard?



This may seem like a really dumb question but I'll proceed anyway, if the sample bit rate etc. is the same for soundcards can one card have an inherently better sound than another in terms of bandwidth, seperation, clarity etc? Or are all cards (assuming they're not total crap) pretty much comparable and the variability in price and performance rating stems from how versatile and reliable a card is? Are the A/D and D/A converters responsible and if so is there much variability in the quality of these from one card to another? I'm pretty new to the world of the DAW and have found it hard to ascertain exactly what specifications and factors suggest one soundcard is superior to another in terms of sound quality or am I barking up the wrong tree and most quality cards successfully reproduce the sound as it was recorded at source? If I know what to look for then I can make more of an informed decision as to whether an upgrade is necessary and if so what to go for. Can anyone set me straight?


Yes it's largely the AD/DA converters that dictate quality. Usually you get what you pay for, but there are other factors also.

David French

Well-Known Member
Jun 19, 2002
Yes, AD/DA is the critical issue. There is a large difference in clarity between top of the line AD/DA and budget cards. Check out [="http://www.pcavtech.com/soundcards/compare/index.htm"]this site[/] which features tests of many other factors.