You can greatly increase the capabilities of media-playing devices with the best USB sound card. Onboard sound cards are usually basic, so it is better to use USB sound cards to get optimum results for your sound device. The USB cards are very easy to install, you just have to plug them into the USB port of your device.
What is a USB sound card?
It adds audio input and output ports to your computer or laptop through a USB. So, you just have to instantly switch on your sound card on any device and you will be ready to enjoy the sound.
I would say that for a good gaming experience a good sound card is a must. The basic onboard cards do not provide such quality as those of a good USB sound card. The audio and video editor certainly needs USB sound cards because they can provide audiophile levels of sound for your devices. Let’s dig into the 9 best sound cards that we have selected.
Best USB Sound Cards of 2023
Creative Sound BlasterX G6
UGreen USB Sound Card
ASUS Xonar U5
StarTech.com 7.1 USB External Sound Card
Creative Sound Blaster X3
Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 SoundCard
Astro MixAmp Pro TR Gen 4
Epos Sennheiser GSX 300
Sennheiser GSX 1000
This name is renowned by many old gamers due to its decent audio. This kit is perfect for gamers with its amazing 7.1 surround virtualization, scout mode, and bass boost.
It has an amazing gamer-focused look that catches everyone’s eye. It features a discrete headphone amp so that it can amplify each audio channel separately
.It runs in-ear headphones to studio-grade cans with perfect precision and quality. It has a 130dB DNR, and 32-bit 384kHz DAC, so you can enjoy high-quality lossless audio.
|Size:||14.8 x 15.7 x 4.4 cm|
|Hardware Platform||Headphones, Gaming Consoles|
If you are looking for a single 3.5-mm port, then this USB sound card is a good option for you. The good thing is that it is very easy to install, you do not have to install any driver for this hardware. Just take it out of the box, and you are good to go.
It has a sleek metal finish with an all-metal build. Due to its compact size, it can easily be inserted into the USB power without blocking other peripheral devices.
It is compatible with multiple platforms like Linux, macOS, Windows, PS$, and others. It features a noise isolation IC to remove any hissing from the audio output.
|Audio Output Mode||Stereo|
|Hardware Platform||Headphones, PC, Gaming Consoles, Laptops, Speakers|
It is the best alternative to Sound BlasterX G6 with a comparatively low price. It gives your sound device a solid sound boost with its 104dB signal-to-noise ratio. It gives you a 5.1 surround sound which is not as good as the Sound BlasterX G6, but still, it provides you with the best quality sound.
With this sound card, you will get three different preset gain modes for use in different scenarios. It also comes with ASUS Sonic Studio Software, if you want to have full control over what you hear. It provides you with a 10-band graphic equalizer to fully adjustable the bass boost and compressor.
|Size||13.7 x 8 x 2.5 cm|
Looking for the highest quality sound, then this is surely the best option you will get. This quality-oriented and reliable adapter can easily power up your 7.1-channel audio system. You just have to connect it to your PC or any other device through a USB cable.
It offers line-in, front, back, and even center/bass for extra capacity. It features a separate single output for the headphones. With straightforward audio control, S/PDIF in and S/PDIF out nothing will keep you from enjoying excellent audio quality.
This is a simple yet highly capable device and is also compatible with old USB 1.7 ports.
|Audio Output Mode||Surround|
|Item Weight||3.17 ounces|
It features a higher-grade sound processor that provides you with a step up in audio quality. It includes support for a 32-bit and 196 kHz high-resolution audio. As compared to the GSX 300 it can drive more powerful headphones, with supported impedances of up to 600 ohms.
Due to its larger frame, it allows a marked increase in ports, so it is perfect to use with a PC as compared o the GSX 300. It includes a separate 3.5mm mic and headphone ports.
It has a large volume dial on the top that can easily spin with one finger. It has an additional three buttons for sound processing.
You have to long-press one of the buttons to switch between headphones and speaker which is pretty annoying.
|Audio Output Mode||Surround|
|I/O Connectors||Optical-out, Line-in and Line-out, USB-C, Mic-in, Headset-out|
|Audio Quality||115 dB, 32-bit / 192 kHz|
|Surround||Discrete / Virtual 7.1 and 5.1|
As compared to the Scarlett Slo it has an increased number of inputs. It is bigger because it features 2 instrument inputs and 2 mic inputs. So, you can use 2 mics or 2 instruments at the same time.
It has a class-leading conversion with sample rates up to 192 kHz/24 bit. Without the use of DSP, you will get super-low roundtrip latency. It has multiple volume control knobs and separate gain knobs for the instruments and mics.
So, it is ideal for multi-person podcasts, interviews, or live music recordings. Additional buttons include an air button, a 48V phantom button, a monitor knob, and gain controls.
|Compatible Devices||Personal Computer|
|Number of Channels||2|
|Sample rates||up to 192kHz/24-bit|
This sound card is best for gamers and you can use it on PC, Xbox, and PlayStation as well. It is specifically designed for gaming so it has multiple game-centric features like Game/Voice balance. It helps you hear your teammates clearly in the noise of the game.
The other good feature is that you can also tweak what your audience can hear during the stream. So, if you are a gamer then you should surely consider this sound card. Otherwise, there are many other options for those who are not interested in gaming.
It often comes bundled in with the Astro Gaming A40 headset.
Epos is an old company previously known as Sennheiser’s gaming division. This sound card is compact and at a reasonable price available on the market. It offers an amazing simulation of 7.1 surround sound on your stereo headset.
It supports high-resolution sound up to 24-bit 96kHz, and it can drive headphones up to 75 ohms. It has two 3.5mm inputs for your mic and headphone and a Micro USB port. If your headset is using a single TRSS jack instead of a separate TRS connection then you will be required a single to dual 3.5mm adapter.
There is a single dial on the front for the volume that offers tactile steps. Similarly, there is a single button that is used to switch between sound modes or different EQ profiles.
|Audio Output Mode||Surround|
|Item Weight||160 grams|
Sennheiser devices provide good-quality audio at a very reasonable price. GSX 1000 is one of the expensive sound cards I have mentioned here. If you are looking for multiple features and a good-quality audio output, then this is the best option you will get.
This one also focuses on gamers’ experience and its features are mostly favorable for gamers. It delivers virtual 7.1 surround sound and a frequency response of 0-48 kHz on headphones which is exceptionally great.
It features a touch-sensitive control panel where you can customize your needs and can easily switch between speakers and headphones with a single touch.
It gives only 4 audio presets, so if you want fine controls over EQ, then you should consider other options.
|Compatible Devices||Personal Computer, Speaker|
|Item Weight||0.66 Pounds|
|Number of Channels||7|
How to Choose the Best USB Sound Card
Well, it is not an easy step to look for anything with good specifications without a proper guide. So, I have collected some important factors that you should look for in a good sound card.
Well by the name you can easily predict that it is surely the most important feature to be looked at in any sound card. Different devices have different ways of delivering quality. But I will suggest you go for a DAC system like “Creative Sound BlasterX G6” for the perfect sound quality.
The more controls the better, so you can tweak the audio coming out of the device to the maximum. Usually, USB sound cards have volume control which is very useful. But if you can tweak the EQ system completely from the sound card, then it would be awesome. So, you can change the bass, and treble right from your sound card.
The number of outputs that are coming from your sound card makes a huge difference that decided whether you can pair it up with the system or not. The more ports the better.
I recommend you go for the 5.1 or 7.1 channels model for future systems.
Make sure the sound card you are purchasing should be portable enough to carry around easily.
The specification table is surely the most important thing you have to see before purchasing a sound card. Supported bit-depth, sampling frequency, and recommended impedance are three major points to look upon.
If you listen to high-resolution sound then you should consider a sound card with the highest bit depth. Similarly, if you have high-impedance headphones, then you need a sound card that can actually run them at this impedance.
Difference Between Sound Card vs DAC vs Amp
These three look very much alike but they have differences. Most sound cards have a DAC included in them, you have to spend more money for that. The main difference between a sound card and a dedicated DAC is the mic port. You will get a mic port in a sound card so that you can use both the mic and headphones with the same sound card.
So, if you want to use the mic and headphones side by side, then you should go for the sound card.
So this was my list of the top 9 best sound cards. I would recommend you Creative Sound BlasterX G6, and Sennheiser GSX 1000 if you have a good budget.