Can You Use Headphones Without A Sound Card? Is It Worth Buying A Sound Card?

Sound Cards have been ubiquitous for decades. But what if you want to experiment without them? Can you use headphones without a sound card? The answer is no, but read on to find out more.

A decade back, it was tough to get headphones, computers, and many other devices with high performance and excellent audio. But with the introduction of sound cards, RAM, and different graphic cards, it has become easy for all musicians and creative tech people to have better results. Sound cards are an essential part of every computer today. 

To get more information about the connection between headphones and a sound card, its function, why it is essential?, its connection with USB headphones, and other such related questions, read the article below.

Can You Use Headphones Without A Sound Card

What is a Sound Card? 

A sound card is also well known as an audio card, a popular rectangular hardware piece attached to the motherboard of a PC. It has multiple ports on one side of the card to attach your headphones, and on the bottom, it has contacts to connect with a PC easily. 

It is also referred to as an extension card for sending audio files from a computer to headphones. There is no compulsion that the computer should also work, as it is an expansion card. 

When we talk in technical language, sound cards store the sound files in encoded form in a computer. The card is responsible for converting digital signals received from the computer’s receiver into analog form to allow a person to hear them. The microphone of a computer is connected to a sound card. 

The main work of a sound card is converting analog signals from the recorded voice to digital forms for a computer, further allowing you to record the voice. 

In today’s advanced technology, all sound cards come with unique features, known as MIDI. This musical instrument digital interface allows easy connection of headphones or other hardware parts with computers. 

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Can You Use Headphones Without A Sound Card? 

If you are an audio professional, you need a sound card with your headphones to get good audio quality. The sound card also ensures better performance of headphones. 

It is not recommended to use headphones without a sound card, as it may damage the digital waveforms and not provide audio signals to the computer. For all practical purposes, it is not possible to use headphones without a sound card. 

No matter if you are connecting your headphones or speakers with a PC, the sound card is a mandatory hardware part; otherwise, you won’t be able to listen to anything. 

Can You Use Headphones Without A Sound Card

Can You Use Headphones Without A Sound Card On A PC? 

Sound cards are present on the motherboard of every PC. All PCs that have been manufactured in the last two decades have in-built sound cards. A sound card is responsible for improving sound quality and for hearing audio signals through a PC. 

When we talk about headphones, music professionals majorly use them to record and edit audio. But a sound card is anyway required for converting the digital signals into audio files in PCs through headphones or speakers. 

Is It Worth Buying a Sound Card? 

In the market, you will get many expensive sound cards. But that depends on the user; it is worth it if you are a professional buying a dedicated sound card. 

No matter your budget, many basic sound cards offer sufficient sound quality and further improve the computer’s audio quality for the long term. There are many external sound cards also that you can easily attach to your computers; they have a USB port for easy connection to offer better sound management. 

But External sound cards are not as effective as internal sound cards, and they cost less than internal ones. While picking the correct value sound card with your headphones, you need to be sure that it comes under your budget and offers excellent sound management. 

Can You Use Headphones Without A Sound Card

What is the difference between Dedicated and Integrated Sound Card? 

Integrated sound cards come with loads of latency and offer low sound quality with a hiss and static. And usually, many old PCs have integrated sound cards that do not work correctly or tend to get faulty easily over time. 

Professionals do not widely use integrated sound cards; they are ok with people who generally listen to songs, watch movies, and more through a PC. 

On the other hand, dedicated sound cards deliver slightly better sound quality, and the only reason one buys a dedicated soundtrack is to get great sound management. Also, they are mainly in use by professionals to record the audio or by a serious audiophile. 

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Is It Important To Have A Dedicated Sound Card for Better Audio Quality? 

As we have said before, professionals use dedicated sound cards, and there are specific reasons why they use them, which are: 

  • The main reason dedicated sound cards are more in demand is that they are more potent than integrated sound cards. Also, all integrated sound cards are inbuilt in less expensive computers. 
  • Another reason, integrated sound cards do not give good sound quality, whereas dedicated sound cards mitigate the static that a person hears in their headphones. Static is responsible for reducing the sound quality. Have you ever wondered why a person hears more static in headphones? Many USB ports and jacks have a standard wiring system that increases the chance of hearing static. 

If you are a gamer, ensure you get a dedicated sound card to help utilize the surround sound to identify enemies. 

Can You Use Headphones Without A Sound Card

When Should One Buy A Sound Card? 

Professionals prefer to get sound cards with their headphones to improve the sound quality while recording or editing.

Therefore, there are many reasons why one should get a sound card. Even if you are not a professional, it is still essential to understand the importance of sound cards and when they should be bought? 

When the inbuilt sound card is not working properly

Many old PCs or second-hand PC’s come with old or faulty sound cards. Although this is a rare case, what happens if there is a faulty integrated sound card in your PC? The best way to solve this problem is by buying a new dedicated sound card. 

But the case may be, many companies come with a motherboard that has a warranty, but usually, the warranty period does not last long.

So if the sound card is faulty and your motherboard is not under warranty, it is always better to get a dedicated sound card instead of replacing the motherboard. New dedicated sound is an efficient way, and it also saves your money. 

When your audio file is not supported with your PC 

It is a fact that many audio files are not compatible with all PCs. Once in a while, one may come across a file that is not supported with the PC. In such cases, a person cannot listen to the audio or watch videos with them.

Even some new technology computers do not support some audio software, or some PCs may play the audio that is a quality that you don’t want, and probably you want a better quality of sound. In such a scenario, you have to buy a sound card to get the best sound quality that is supposed to be. 

Can You Use Headphones Without A Sound Card

When there is a requirement for more ports 

Most of the time, integrated sound cards do not have compatible or enough ports, and then it becomes challenging, especially when there is a need for more audio setups. Motherboards have six ports in total that include headphones. If any of the connectors are missing, it gives an incomplete audio setup. To complete the setup or when there is a need for an advanced audio setup, it has become necessary to buy a dedicated sound card to complete the process of getting excellent sound quality. 

Headphones with USB 

You may have heard about Headphones with USB, so we need to discuss two points: the sound card and USB headphones. The first thing that you must know is headphones with USB are not compatible with sound cards, as the sound cards have circular ports, but USB comes in the form of a rectangular port. Undoubtedly, USB headphones can be connected to sound cards. 

Expensive USB headphones come with built-in sound cards, so there is no need to buy another sound card for sound management. 

Can You Use Headphones Without A Sound Card


# Is a Sound card necessary? 

The sound card is a well-known expansion card that helps a computer send audio signals to headphones, speakers, or more audio equipment. We can say it is unnecessary, but one will not be able to listen to any sound attached to a computer without a sound card. 

# Can You have audio without a sound card? 

Usually, most PCs come with an integrated sound card, and without it, one can not get audio. 

# Is a sound card optional? 

Yes, it is an optional component that converts the digital signals into audio files. 

# Do you need a soundcard for headphones with a USB? 

Usually, USB headphones accelerate with software, so they may or may not require a sound card. 

Bottom Line 

Sound cards are an essential component for many people. Although many computers have integrated sound cards, having a dedicated sound card helps get a better sound quality through headphones or another audio accessory.