Is there any point in getting a dedicated sound card?
I kinda want an Optical In for hooking up my PS3, but it's not enough to make me buy one.
Is the audio quality any better?
Currently using an integrated ALC892 and ATH-TAD400 .
i use a usb audio interface since i record stuff with my mic, and need little to no latency, but i'd use one regardless since you can plug optical in some of them too, plus they have better resale value than those shitty internals.
If you don't hear any hissing or weird digital noises from your integrated audio and it's enough to drive whatever you plug into it, I don't think a dedicated card is going to make much of a difference.
If you want to get a sound card anyways, consider buying an external USB one; it's easier to use with more devices and potentially less prone to picking up interference from other parts.
Any recommendations for an external one?
Preferably under $100 and I'd really want the optical in.
I'm actually quite happy with the integrated one, but not having to dick around with cables every time I feel like turning on the console would be pretty nice. Line-In picks up too much interference sadly.
For optical-in quality doesn't matter since it's a purely digital signal, just get any interface that has the plug.
Looking at sweetwater.com I can't find any sub-$200 interfaces with optical though.
This is the same issue I'm having OP. So far though, I don't hear any audio issues so maybe I'll be fine; but it would be nice to know I have options. I use a Turtle Beach Earforce DSS so optical is the only way to go for me, too.
My point being that I'm correcting this anon who's implying that a DAC is only an external box sitting on your desk or wherever.
That onboard audio your motherboard has is also a DAC.
You realize in audio threads on /g/ "DAC" is almost always shorthand "External USB DACs" right? No one wants to waste the time typing that out when everyone understands what you mean by "DAC".
The few times people are actually talking about the DAC chip itself it's always in context and impossible to confuse with an external USB DAC.