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5 Best External Sound Cards in 2017 for Your PC

External sound cards are for anyone, not just professional musicians and hardcore audiophiles. They can transform ordinary PCs and laptops into full-fledged multimedia centers capable of driving even the most expensive headphones. Best of all, all external USB sound cards featured on this list are plug-and-play, making the installation process completely hassle-free.

Best External Sound Card

Creative Sound Blaster X7

Aimed at serious gamers and audio enthusiasts, the Sound Blaster X7 external USB sound card features a powerful amplifier with low-latency Bluetooth connectivity and Dolby Digital decoder, allowing you to stream audio wirelessly from your mobile devices. The sound card is built around the state-of-the-art SB-Axx1 multi-core Digital Signal Processor (DSP) capable of voice processing, audio restoration, and proprietary effects processing. The X7 supports high-resolution audio playback of up to 24-bit 192kHz, and it can effortlessly drive any headphones up to 600 Ohms. At almost $350, the sound card is far from cheap, but you can rest assured that you’re getting an excellent value for your money.

Creative Sound BlasterX G5

Not every gamer or fan of music can spend hundreds of dollars on a sound card, and that’s perfectly understandable. After all, the law of diminishing returns states that more expensive sound cards sound only marginally better after you pass a certain point. The Sound BlasterX G5 could easily be this point. We can wholeheartedly recommend it to all gamers, streamers, YouTubers, and audio enthusiasts who would like to experience what high-fidelity audio sounds like without spending too much money. The card itself is small, yet it includes all key features, such as native 7.1 surround sound support, 3D audio, Baster Acoustic Engine Pro, audiophile-grade headphone amplifier, and built-in SB-Axx1 audio processor.

Sewell Direct Soundbox Pro

If you have an audio device that connects using the RCA connector, you naturally want a USB sound card that allows you to plug it directly without any adapters. Perhaps surprisingly, there’s not really that many high-quality sound cards with RCA connectors. The Sewell Direct Soundbox Pro features front RCA connectors, 3 standard 3.5mm outputs for surround sound, 1 line-in 3.5mm input, a dedicated microphone connector, and 2 optical connectors for SPDIF input and output. With such outstanding connectivity options, you can easily use any audio device you come across, including bookshelf speakers, mixers, amplifiers, mixing boards, and many others.

StarTech.com 7.1 USB Sound Card

The StarTech external USB sound card may not look as stylish as many high-end cards from Creative, but it fully makes up for its modest exterior with its outstanding features. It supports 2 to 7.1 channel analog and digital audio, handles 44.1 KHz and 48 KHz sampling rates for both playback and recording, and the front-panel includes just about every audio connecter you might ever need. Included in the box is only the sound card itself and a USB cable, and that’s not a bad thing. It means that the manufacturer focused on sound quality instead of spending money on features that would only impress people who have no need for high-quality sound in the first place.

Beexcellent External USB Sound Card

The most affordable sound card on this list is also the most unique. The Beexcellent sound card combines a USB hub with 2 audio outputs and 1 microphone input. The card connects to your PC via a long USB 2.0 cable with an integrated noise-reduction magnetic ring. A sound card like this is great for travel, and it’s also perfect for people who have decided to build a gaming rig using a server motherboard.

Best External Sound Card

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