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Headsets, Speakers & Soundcards

Your computer can output audio, but it needs the proper hardware to do so. This is where headsets, speakers and soundcards come in. While most modern computers come with audio capabilities built into the motherboard, some older PCs and specialized systems do not have this capability. And for those computers that do have on-board audio, the quality is not always satisfactory. In these cases, a discrete soundcard is a good addition. But just because a soundcard is installed doesn’t mean you will hear sound. For that to happen, you need an audio output device, like computer speakers or a headset.

First, let’s cover soundcards. A soundcard is a computer component that processes audio files in order to provide playback through computer speakers. Audio is processed in the form of different audio file formats, including WMA, WAV, mp3 and more. Typical soundcards are installed in a PC’s expansion slot area and have an input/output ports at the back of the computer.

Depending on the model, a soundcard typically comes with proprietary software and drivers. The software interfaces with the card to allow for customizing parameters and controls and to perform checks on the hardware. It might also come with tools for recording, burning, editing or composing.

Second, while a soundcard can process audio files, it does not emit sound. You need speakers for that. A speaker is a device that connects to a computer’s soundcard to broadcast the processed audio. Speakers work by creating vibrations that the ear recognizes as sound. Those vibrations are caused by a suspension apparatus built into the speaker that is physically disrupted by drivers hitting it. Computers originally had onboard speakers built into their motherboards. Modern motherboards no longer offer onboard speakers, so external speakers are necessary if you want to hear the sound from your PC.

Finally, headsets are simply speakers that have been refashioned to sit very closely to the ear. Headsets come in a variety of shapes and sizes, including circum-aural, supra-aural, earbuds and canal style. Each version of headset has its positives and negatives, such as environment sound suppression, comfort, and sound quality. Headsets differ from headphones in that headsets have a built-in microphone, allowing the user to communicate rather than just listen. As such, these audio devices are very popular with gamers, especially gaming headsets.

The best headsets, speakers, and soundcard manufacturers from around the world have partnered with Newegg, allowing Newegg to offer its customers the widest selection of each of these audio devices. Brands include: Logitech, Razer, Creative, HyperX, and more. Whether you’re looking for style, performance, function or all of these things combined in your gaming headset, surround speakers, or soundcard, Newegg has the brand and model to fit your needs.

For audiophiles and those that simply value being able to hear sound from their computers and laptops, it makes sense to accessorize. The following headset, speakers, and soundcard accessories will help ensure you maximize your listening experience.

Adapters: Headsets come in different shapes and sizes, but they don’t always work with every device because not every device has the same audio jack. You can solve this by purchasing an adapter for each type of connector. Another adapter you should invest in is an external soundcard adapter. These adapters are typically USB adapters that create audio ports, which is a simple solution when you run into a hardware problem with an existing soundcard. Some soundcard adapters augment your listening experience by virtualizing surround sound for headphones.

Speaker Accessories: Depending on your speakers, they may have not come with speaker wires or RCA cables long enough for your purposes. In those cases, it’s good to have replacement wire or cables to ensure proper placement of your speakers. Extender RCA cables are also a smart investment. Additionally, consider purchasing speaker stands. Desktop space comes at a premium, especially with multi-monitor setups. Speaker stands allow you to place speakers away from your desk, but elevated to the proper height for optimal sound channels.

Headset Accessories: Any product that is constantly being used, especially those that touch your body, will suffer wear and tear. Therefore, they will need replacement parts. Headsets are no different. Invest in replacement ear pads, headset microphone booms, and headset connector wires. If you have a gaming headset and you travel with it to gaming events, then consider investing in a headset case. When at home, make sure you have a headset stand to keep your desk tidy.

When shopping for soundcards, first make sure that your motherboard has a proper expansion slot that will accommodate your chosen sound card. Next, ensure that the soundcard offers the amount of sound channels you want. Even if you don’t have enough speakers to take advantage of all the channels, it’s good to prepare for the future.

When shopping for computer speakers, choosing size and shape is a matter of taste and placement limitations. However, when it comes to performance, consider the frequency response, which is a measurement of the highs and lows the speakers output. Also consider the watts, which measures the amount of amplification.

Headsets are also mostly subjective, but adhere to the same shopping advice as speakers. However, look for the extras that many gaming headsets offer, like virtual surround sound and voice modulation.

What are the top computer speakers?

The top computer speakers are typically the speaker sets that offer the most sound channels, like 5.1, 7.1 and 7.2. Top computer speakers usually also offer high frequency response and wattage. Finally, these speaker sets usually have an external sound controller rather than relying on software alone.

What is the best soundcard?

The best soundcards usually offer the most sound channels to provide the most immersive listening experience. However, sound quality can also be the defining factor of a best-in-class soundcard. These soundcards often offer headphone amplification and/or swappable op-amp sockets for customizable sound.

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