I have AKG K271 MKII headphones for silent guitar practice and good music experience. I'd also love to record my guitar, possibly with some effects on PC.

My current setup is guitar -> combo amp -> line out to PC -> headphones.

a) how much will decent sound card help while listening to high-quality music (I'm running through onboard card right now - my motherboard is ASUS P8P67-M PRO rev-3, ~4 years old)?

b) when recording, I hear quiet noise on the background (I have both good amp and cable). While practicing, when I reverse amp-PC connection (PC speaker output to amp aux in), there is a LOT of noise. Would decent sound card help with this?

If yes, what is better - external USB sound card, or internal sound card?

1 Answer 1


A decent sound card will make all the difference:

  • It will lower your noise floor
  • It will improve sound resolution
  • It should reduce latency
  • It should give better input options (high impedance, XLR, Line-In, possibly Phantom Power etc)
  • When listening, it should provide you with improved sound quality. My current M-Audio one (pretty old now) has 7.1 outputs, as well as a total of 14 useful inputs and outputs including SPDIF)

Currently there are two schools of thought on internal vs external. Internal can suffer from interference from inside the computer. External can be powered independently of the computer. My preference is internal with an external powered daughter board.

  • What price are you thinking about when you say "decent"? Commented Jan 22, 2016 at 7:07
  • And also, will sound card help with ground loop? When I connect my combo amp to PC, I get certain amount of 60 Hz hum. Are external cards better for this than internal ones? Commented Jan 22, 2016 at 8:52
  • Decent: £100 to £200, but prosumer is more like £500-£800. Regarding your hum, currently your guitar, the lead and the amp will all pick up hum. You can't do much about this other than use humbuckers and practice further away from sources of mains interference because guitars use unbalanced leads (unless you are lucky enough to have a guitar with a balanced XLR... Rare) - but you can improve the resistance to further interference, and yes, an external sound card does help with this.
    – Doktor Mayhem
    Commented Jan 22, 2016 at 9:00
  • It's not problem with guitar, it's ground loop between PC and amp (amp probably grounding through PC) - it hums with guitar disconnected and only when I connect the amp to PC - I tried different wall sockets and the issue persisted. Commented Jan 22, 2016 at 16:13
  • In that case, a good external card is likely to help, yes.
    – Doktor Mayhem
    Commented Jan 22, 2016 at 16:14

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