Basic USB soundcard for increasing output volume of my work PC ?

Configure and optimize you computer for Audio.
basic channel
KVRian
964 posts since 28 Sep, 2002 from UK

Post Wed Feb 19, 2020 10:20 am

Hello

I am being upgraded to a new small footprint i5 mini pc at work.

I listen to a lot of music (via Microlab 2:1 speaker system).

The output level of the new pc is (perhaps unsurprisingly) weedy compared to that of my previous larger PC.

Can someone recommend a basic usb sound card that will be louder than the onboard chip of the new PC ?

Ideally would be cheap and cheerful (no ASIO drivers required) but not sound too crappy.

There is quite a bewildering selection out there e.g. on Amazon etc.

Thanks
If God did exist (and he doesn't) he would answer to the name of Maurizio

User avatar
BertKoor
KVRAF
11590 posts since 8 Mar, 2005 from Utrecht, Holland

Re: Basic USB soundcard for increasing output volume of my work PC ?

Post Wed Feb 19, 2020 10:46 am

Sorry to say, but I'd actually blame the speaker set you connect it with for lacking enough gain.
We are the KVR collective. Resistance is futile. You will be assimilated. Image
My MusicCalc is back online!!

basic channel
KVRian
964 posts since 28 Sep, 2002 from UK

Re: Basic USB soundcard for increasing output volume of my work PC ?

Post Wed Feb 19, 2020 11:14 am

How so ?

With the same (great) speaker system the previous PC (via onboard sound) was much louder.
If God did exist (and he doesn't) he would answer to the name of Maurizio

Eauson
KVRian
946 posts since 9 Jan, 2013 from morf

Re: Basic USB soundcard for increasing output volume of my work PC ?

Post Wed Feb 19, 2020 11:53 am

Sound blaster, I'm sure you can pick one up cheaply?
Man is least himself when he talks in the first person. Give him a mask, and he'll show you his true face

basic channel
KVRian
964 posts since 28 Sep, 2002 from UK

Re: Basic USB soundcard for increasing output volume of my work PC ?

Post Wed Feb 19, 2020 12:43 pm

Went for one of these (fingers crossed) ...

https://smile.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00F7120T ... 11_TE_item
If God did exist (and he doesn't) he would answer to the name of Maurizio

User avatar
BertKoor
KVRAF
11590 posts since 8 Mar, 2005 from Utrecht, Holland

Re: Basic USB soundcard for increasing output volume of my work PC ?

Post Wed Feb 19, 2020 1:35 pm

basic channel wrote:
Wed Feb 19, 2020 11:14 am
How so ?

With the same (great) speaker system the previous PC (via onboard sound) was much louder.
I'll try to explain then.

So you have a 3.5mm stereo output jack. Could be for headphones, could be line level, I don't know. Maybe it doesn't even matter.

This output jack is connected to your speaker set. Presumably its inputs are designed for "industry standard" line level. That is roughly one volt into 600 ohms impedance, which is 1.67 mW.
To do these calculations: http://www.bertkoor.nl/VawoCalc.html

Side track: suppose it's actually a headphone output. My Mackie mixer's headphone socket delivers 250 mW which is frigging loud. PC headphone output is more likely 40 mW, but actual specs are hard to find. With a 16 ohm headphone (most efficient) it is 1.0 volt. Quelle bonne surprise! If connected to a high impedance line input, that one volt is pretty good.

Anywayz... Industry standards should just work. If not, what's the point of it.

Now your speaker set. You had it's volume set to max amplification previously? If yes, it is underpowered. If no, you can raise it further to compensate. If that is not enough, it is underpowered.

This all assumes you have not overlooked a software volume slider somewhere. Had that a couple of times...

Oh, another idea is a BlueTooth audio receiver with line out. Costs slightly more, but hitech wireless and also connects to phones etc.
We are the KVR collective. Resistance is futile. You will be assimilated. Image
My MusicCalc is back online!!

basic channel
KVRian
964 posts since 28 Sep, 2002 from UK

Re: Basic USB soundcard for increasing output volume of my work PC ?

Post Wed Feb 19, 2020 3:02 pm

Everything is the same (levels settings etc) apart from PC and Win 10 (old PC was Win 7).

So I am thinking the output from the new onboard sound is less than the old one. Is this illogical (and wrong) ?

I guess trying an alternative usb soundcard may help answer this.
If God did exist (and he doesn't) he would answer to the name of Maurizio

User avatar
BertKoor
KVRAF
11590 posts since 8 Mar, 2005 from Utrecht, Holland

Re: Basic USB soundcard for increasing output volume of my work PC ?

Post Wed Feb 19, 2020 11:57 pm

Same level says not much. But you did stumble upon a design difference. Some chips are designed for 100% volume is 0dBu line level, others designed for 50% volume is the same line level with room to boost for headphone usage.

If you can still raise a volume fader in a control panel, there is no real issue.
We are the KVR collective. Resistance is futile. You will be assimilated. Image
My MusicCalc is back online!!

sandyt88
KVRer
7 posts since 25 Jan, 2020

Re: Basic USB soundcard for increasing output volume of my work PC ?

Post Sun Mar 01, 2020 11:33 am

You can right click on the levels to see the db level instead of percentage (it also works on the microphone levels setting).

Conflicting information (or that I simply can't understand) on Microsoft's website on whether the default volume should be 0 or -6 db. On my desktop pc, my onboard realtek audio chipset 67% equals to -5.9 db (and 100% equals to 0 db).

https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/window ... e-settings

https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/window ... e-settings

I think it depends on whether you have a desktop with powered speakers (that has its own amplifier and its own volume control) or whether you have a laptop that you control the volume using Fn keys. Of course, there are plenty of people who will use the Fn keys on the desktop instead of the speakers' hardware volume knob. Microsoft has to make a compromise somehow for everybody.

So should people set their speakers level to -6 db or 0 db for a desktop pc with powered speakers with its own volume knob?
You do not have the required permissions to view the files attached to this post.

Return to “Computer Setup and System Configuration”