If you are in the market for a new motherboard, then there are quite a few things to pay attention to. The number of PCIe and RAM slots, socket type, fan headers, and so on. But one thing that is often overlooked is the sound quality. Does motherboard affect sound quality?
Yes, it does. The motherboard you get can have a significant impact on the sound quality that’s coming from your speakers or headphones. Moreover, you need a certain amount of amp power to power high-impedance headphones. And if the motherboard has poorly isolated parts that regulate the sound, then you will hear some sort of static noise and distortion, especially at a higher volume.
But how does motherboard affect sound quality? Is it really that important for the average user? You can learn more about motherboards and sound quality by reading the rest of the article.
Does Motherboard Affect Sound Quality?
So, now that we established that motherboard can affect sound quality, it is time to discuss how it does so and how important it even is in the first place. More expensive and newer motherboards are overall built better and of higher quality, so it is no surprise that sound quality is improved as well.
Note that the average user won’t notice much of a difference in sound quality after upgrading the motherboard. The speakers or headphones that you use affect the sound quality way more. But if you have a powerful pair of speakers or an expensive headset, you should think about getting an Amp/DAC or a sound card instead of using the onboard audio in the first place.
Generally, the audio quality that you can expect from a motherboard is acceptable and decent. There is no point in buying a significantly more expensive motherboard just to get a minor improvement in sound quality.
Still, if you have upgraded from a much older motherboard to a brand-new one, you will notice a significant jump in sound quality. Additionally, you will hear less distortion at higher sound levels and less static noise. And since the audio processor and audio capacitors are typically near the graphics card, that can affect the sound quality too.
A graphics card that draws a lot of power will create static noise in the speakers that is quite audible, even when the speakers are not doing anything. This is mostly true for older motherboards though as they are less good at isolating the sound chipset from the rest of the motherboard.
But does motherboard affect sound quality? Can your speakers or headset sound worse if you use onboard audio? The answer is simple – if you are an audiophile and use a high-end audio system or very expensive headphones, then the onboard audio can significantly impair the resulting sound quality.
Again, the average user will not notice a significant difference here, especially with an average set of speakers or headphones. Moreover, if your headphones or speakers connect using USB instead of 3.5mm, then the sound quality won’t be impacted by the motherboard audio chipset whatsoever. The same is true for wireless and digital audio outputs.
So, if you hear an audiophile talking about how the sound quality of this or that motherboard is bad, don’t take their word for granted. Perhaps you won’t hear much of a difference. Everyone’s ears are different and what might bother you won’t bother someone else and vice versa. We can all agree that distortions at higher volume levels can be slightly annoying, though. You need a good amplifier in that case.
Motherboards have built-in sound chipsets and capacitors that can affect sound quality. Most new motherboards generally have similar sound quality, so the difference won’t be that significant unless you are coming from a very old motherboard. Your speakers or headphones have more to do with the sound you get.
Note that a high-end audio system or headphones should be paired with a separate amplifier, DAC, or at the very least a sound card. Onboard audio has a lot of static interference from other parts like your graphics card. And high-impedance outputs can’t be powered by a weak onboard sound processor in the first place.