An external sound card offers an easy way to upgrade the sound quality of your favorite laptop or desktop computer, especially if it’s an affordable or midrange model. These gadgets are easy to set up, and they typically connect to your computer via its USB port.
Getting started on a PC might require you to download and install software drivers that typically come with the device. Mac setup is often even easier — all users have to do on most occasions is connect the device and select it as an audio source from the sound settings on the Mac.
Here are several top-quality external sound card picks to consider, no matter what your budget.
Creative Sound Blaster X3 External Sound Card
This high-resolution USB DAC is the perfect solution for elevating your audio experience at your desk. It’s the only external USB DAC that features Super X-Fi tech, which recreates the experience of a high-end multispeaker sound system in your headphones. This is one of the few options that has a USB-C port, making it compatible with modern-day setups. It also helps you find that sweet spot between two audio sources. This comes in handy when you need to control the volume mix between video game audio, and the audio of your teammates so you can hear them better. This audio solution is compatible with PCs, Macs, the PS4, and Nintendo Switch.
Creative Sound Blaster G3
Gamers looking to improve their audio for their gaming headset should look no further than Creative’s Sound Blaster G3 sound card. This option will immediately improve audio performance to provide a more immersive gaming experience. It’ll help you hear footsteps in the distance while playing games like Fortnite or PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds. Plus, its “GameVoice” feature comes in handy for balancing your game audio with the chat audio on your PS4 or gaming PC.
Best of all, it doesn’t require any drivers or software to use!
ASTRO Gaming MixAmp Pro
When it comes to audio, Xbox gamers often get the short end of the stick. Wireless headsets for the console are few and far between, and the original Xbox One console didn’t even have a 3.5-millimeter jack for plugging in your gaming headset. ASTRO clearly doesn’t want to leave Xbox owners hanging yet again! This nifty audio solution is perfect for gamers looking to improve sound quality and voice communication within their favorite games. It features Dolby Digital Surround Sound processing and lets you quickly adjust game and voice balance so your friends’ voices don’t get drowned out by your intense game soundtrack. The accessory has plenty of customizable EQ modes and lets you adjust volume on the fly with just a turn of a dial. ASTRO also sells a MixAmp that’s compatible with the PlayStation 4, too.
Creative Sound BlasterX G6 External Sound Card
Creative is one of the leaders in the market for external sound cards, and the Sound BlasterX G6 is one of the company’s best-selling external sound cards. It’s a versatile option that can provide an audio upgrade to your gaming console, PC, or MP3 player. It features Dolby Digital decoding, 7.1 virtual surround sound, and supports Hi-Res audio formats.