If you are in the market looking for a sound card, then the thing that you need to know is that there are a lot of options available for you to choose from. You can either go for the internal soundcards, but if you want something different, then the external soundcards is also an option that you can go for. The thing with the external soundcards is that they plug on the back of the motherboard into the USB port, or straight into the audio jack, and draw power from there as well.
These soundcards are a lot more famous than you might think in the first place, and if you are in the mood to buy one, then this round up is just the right one for you. As we are going to take a look at some of the best external soundcards available in the market at the moment.
We are testing these sound cards for both music, as well as gaming so there is enough for everyone. As always, each soundcard is going to have their pros, as well as their cons listed there. So you will have an easier time deciding what you should be looking for. With that out of the way, let’s not waste time and have a look, shall we?
Top Best External Sound Card 2020
1. Creative Sound Blaster Omni External Sound Card – View on Amazon
The first external sound card that we are going to review is from no one else than Creative. Now we all know that Creative is known for creating some of the best sound cards that are available in the market.
Now the thing about Creative is that they make both external and internal soundcards, however, today, we are going to be looking at the Creative Sound Blaster Omni External Sound Card. The sound card is from their Sound Blaster lineup, so it is confirmed that we are definitely getting quality stuff.
With that out of the way, I put the Omni through the usual slew of testing, and found some interesting things about soundcard. For starters, the god news is that the sound quality of this sound card is excellent. While you will not be able to get audiophile level audio, the good news is that if you are looking to drive your standard set of headphones, this sound card is more than enough.
Another great thing about this sound card is that the build quality is super solid, so you will have no issues about the sound card giving in. In addition to that, the sound card is rather small as well, so for those with tight spaces, you should not have issues. Last but not the least, the software bundle that accompanies this soundcard is also really good.
Now as far as the cons are concerned, I don’t think I found any glaring issue with the sound card, as it works really well and does not really create any problems.
- The performance is great.
- The build quality is solid.
- The sound card is small and can easily fit anywhere.
- The software bundle is great.
2. AudioQuest DragonFly Red USB Sound Card – View on Amazon
The thing about external sound cards is that they are really good with their performance, but there is one thing that makes them really convenient, and that is the fact that you can actually connect them to your phone and use them as external DAC/Amps as well.
The same is the case with the AudioQuest DragonFly Red USB Sound Card. When I first checked this sound card out, I didn’t think that it would be able to pack such a punch because it did not seem like it is possible, but after testing it out, I clearly realized just how wrong I was.
The AudioQuest DragonFly Red USB Sound Card is as small as a standard pen drive, but manages to pack a lot of punch. For my testing, I had it hooked up to my PC, and ran the sound card through the usual number of tests, and it all worked just fine. The good news is that despite being just a USB sound card, it is fairly powerful, and worked fine with my AudioTechnica ATH M50x.
Since it is a USB sound card, I realized that it could be used with the phone as well, and I did use it with my phone, and while it worked fine, the one issue that I noticed is that my phone ran out of charge way quicker, which made sense because the sound card does not have a battery of its own.
With that out of the way, the AudioQuest DragonFly Red USB Sound Card is a really good offering and it does not cost a lot either, and gets the job done.
- Great performance.
- Easily fits in your pocket.
- Can drive studio monitors with ease.
- Relatively price friendly.
- Does not have its own battery.
3. FiiO E10K External Sound Card – View on Amazon
For those who do not know, FiiO is a Chinese brand that is known for releasing some of the greatest audiophile products in the market. The good thing about FiiO is that they are aiming for people who are not in the mood to spend a lot of money, and that way, they can capture the market that is previously unexplored.
Today, we look at the FiiO E10K External Sound Card. Although FiiO markets it as a DAC/Amp combination, you can hook it up to your computer, and use it as an external sound card as well. Now the good things about the E10K is that aside from being relatively budget friendly, it gives you a lot of amazing features. For starters, it serves as a pretty decent DAC, and a rather powerful amp.
I was not expecting that in the first, but after using it for a while, I realized that I really needed it to drive my headphones. I had some concerns about sound because I did not have proper experience with FiiO equipment, but the sound is super clean, and detailed. FiiO has also done a great job with the design and build quality, as the E10K comes with metal connectors, coupled with a great aluminum body that screams quality through and through.
I do not think I have a lot to complain about the FiiO E10K External Sound Card; it does the job rather well, but one thing that I would like to tell you is that the sound card is that if you are looking forward to drive headphones with a higher impedance, this might not be the best option available in the market. IT gets the job done really well, just not with the higher end options.
- Excellent build quality.
- Great, clean sound.
- The DAC/amp combination complements really well.
- Not good enough for high impedance headphones.
4. StarTech.com ICUSBAUDIO2D External Sound Card – View on Amazon
Recently, there has been a surplus of cheap external sound cards in the market that are available for a lot less than you would normally pay. The thing that you need to know here is that the situation itself is not all that bad as these options are really good for people who are trying to save some money.
Today, we look at the strangely named StarTech.com ICUSBAUDIO2D External Sound Card. I know the name is certainly confusing, and at first, I did think that the sound card might not get the job done either, but the good news is that it is actually a really decent sound card; especially if you are on a low budget. There is not much to say about tbe build quality to be honest, and the sound card itself is pretty strange looking, but once plugged in, it does get the job done.
It does provide a decent amount of amplification as well, so if that is what you are looking for, you do have that option available to you. As far as the sound is concerned, I was honestly not expecting much but was still surprised when I used this sound card. It offers a clean and clear sound, and did not really mess with anything much, something that has become common with cheap sound cards in the market.
The StarTech.com ICUSBAUDIO2D External Sound Card is definitely a budget oriented sound card, but it still manages to be worth the money. However, one of the most important things that I would suggest you to consider is that if you are expecting audiophile grade performance from it, you are not going to get that, as there is simply not enough power.
- Decent performance for the price.
- Plug and play.
- Does not require any rocket science to set it up.
- Not all that powerful.
5. Creative Sound BlasterX G1 External Sound Card – View on Amazon
Creative is back in the list with another offering, and I am not too surprised. Their Sound Blaster series is known to be one of the best out there in the market, and they have released some impressive products so far. Today, we are looking at the Creative Sound BlasterX G1 External Sound Card; an external sound card that aims to deliver great performance for a decent price tag that does not look forward to breaking your bank.
The good thing is that the Sound BlasterX G1 is a rather simple looking sound card that is small enough to fit in the pocket. While you might not get a lot from the sheer looks of this sound card, all the magic happens within the software that Creative supplies. Simply connect the sound card to your PC, connect your headphones into the sound card, download and install the software, and you are good to go.
Now the software itself is where Creative wins; it is filled with all sorts of amazing features that you can use, and the best part is that it does not even require any rocket science level of knowledge to use the sound card either. The sound card is made with gamers in mind but the good news is that even if you just want to have good audio, it is a lot better than what some of the other companies are offering at the moment.
Honestly, I thought there would be a lot wrong with the Creative Sound BlasterX G1, but to my surprise, the sound card delivered beyond what I had expected from it. With that out of the way, for anyone looking for a good gaming sound card that is also external at the same time, then I would definitely suggest you the Sound BlasterX G1.
- Incredibly portable.
- Powerful sound.
- The software features are a blessing.
- Easy to use.
- More geared towards gamers.
6. ASUS Sound Card Xonar U5 External Sound Card – View on Amazon
I believe Asus has always been a company that has focused itself on delivering the best possible performance for the enthusiasts who are looking for it. Today, we are looking at the ASUS Sound Card Xonar U5 External Sound Card, a very small and compact external sound card by Asus that manages to get the job done, and comes with an impressive software suite as well.
With that out of the way, the best thing about ASUS Sound Card Xonar U5 External Sound Card is that it is super small. So much so that you can easily carry it in your backpack whenever you want. This is great for people who are always on the go, and aside from gaming, they want a good listening experience as well.
In addition to that, the Xonar U5 is all about plug and play so if you are worried that you might have to go through extensive list of setups, then don’t worry. Asus also provides with a Sonic Studio software that is extremely easy to use and allows to customize the sound the way you want. Last but not the least, the external sound card also doubles up as a 5.1 DAC/amp combo, which makes it a complete package.
Overall, I don’t have much against the ASUS Sound Card Xonar U5 External Sound Card, the only thing I would say is that the more powerful version is not that expensive.
- Excellent performance.
- Easy to use.
- Good build quality and design.
- Priced too close to its better version.
7. Creative Sound Blaster X7 External Sound Card – View on Amazon
So far, most of the external sound cards that we have reviewed were more budged oriented but the story with the Creative Sound Blaster X7 External Sound Card is entirely different. Instead of being your usual budget sound card that you can put in your backpack and move on, the X7 by Creative is actually a desktop based sound card that looks rather fancy.
The good thing here is that Creative has focused on creating something that is fully featured rather than focusing on a particular sound property. In addition to that, it also gives you Bluetooth connectivity if you are looking forward to connect the devices onto the sound card. I was a bit concerned about sound even after knowing the price tag, but the good news is that the Creative Sound Blaster X7 External Sound Card does a great job at delivering a very precise sound that is most importantly tonally accurate.
Meaning the music or games you will be hearing through this will be the real reproduction of how it actually sounds in the first place. While I am not always the one to judge things on their looks, this is one of the best looking sound cards I have seen, and it more or less looks like a showpiece. Last but not the least, Creative provides you with an app as well that you can use to fine tune the sound card based on your preferences.
I have no glaring issues with the Creative Sound Blaster X7 External Sound Card, but I would mention something; if you are thinking about buying this sound card, then do know that its somewhat high price puts it against tough competition.
- Great sound that is accurate.
- Offers connectivity through Bluetooth.
- Looks great.
- Has a lot of features.
- Comes with an app for fine-tuning.
- It is priced alongside a lot of competitors.
8. ASUS Xonar U3 External Sound Card – View on Amazon
When it comes to the saying “size matters”, Asus is the company with somewhat different thoughts. Simply because the company is constantly pushing boundaries, and there is nothing wrong with that either because the result is rather fascinating. Today, we look at the ASUS Xonar U3 External Sound Card, a rather small external sound card that is supposedly holding a lot of power.
The ASUS Xonar U3 External Sound Card is probably the smallest external sound card that I have had the chance to review so far, and while I love some of the larger sized options, this one is great because it can easily fit my backpack, and even my pocket. However, don’t let the size fool you as you get a lot of performance from it as well; the soundstage is impressive, and the best part is that the you can even use it with your Android phones; especially if the built in DAC/amp combo is not good enough.
At such a small price, and so many features; the ASUS Xonar U3 External Sound Card is certainly an impressive option for those who are looking for it. The best part is that it does not cost a lot of money, and honestly, if I have to find some downsides, I would be hard pressed to do so because that is nearly impossible.
- Super compact.
- Great sound for the size.
- Works with Android phones as well.
9. VAlinks External Sound Card – View on Amazon
If you are kind of not in the mood to spend a lot of money on a good sound card but you still want something that gets the job done, then the VAlinks External Sound Card. This is for people who are looking for the higher end options. Normally, I avoid the cheaper options but for this list, I thought I should just look at them as well, because a lot of people do buy these cheaper options.
To start, the VAlinks External Sound Card is a very cost effective option for those who are looking to buy. In addition to that, it is compact as well as easy to use. You can easily use it with most platforms, as well as devices, and there is no hassle of any proprietary connections whatsoever.
However, the most surprising part about this sound card is the price to performance ratio; seriously, I was not expecting anything that good from this sound card but the good news is that if you are looking for a fairly decent audio performer, then this one is it
There are some issues that need to be mentioned here though; for starters, the sound card itself is not durable and it is only available in one colour which beats the whole purpose of colour coordination.
- Surprisingly decent performance.
- Works on majority of platforms.
- Very compact.
- Not durable in terms of build.
- The colour is of putting.
10. Creative Sound Blaster E5 External Sound Card – View on Amazon
If you are looking for a really high end offering from Creative, then the good news is that you are in for a treat. Right now, we are reviewing the Creative Sound Blaster E5 External Sound Card. For those who do not know, the Sound Blaster is one of their top of the line series, and has been around for some time now. It works extremely well for anyone who is looking for high end sound cards.
Now the good thing about the E5 is that it comes with one of the best build qualities you will get to see in a sound card. I know that most people don’t really concern themselves with that, but at least you know that your investment is safe. The sound card is also compact, so you really do not have to worry about carrying too much weight.
Now if you are concerned about how it sounds, the good news is that it is one of the most solid performers I have seen till now. It seriously packs a lot of punch and gets the job done as well. As always, Creative has given us a great software as well, so if that is your concern, it should not be an issue for you. Last but not the least, the Creative Sound Blaster E5 External Sound Card is extremely versatile, which means that you can use it for gaming, listening to music, or watching movies, and it would give you a great experience.
Overall, I have no complaints from the sound card. Sure, it is slightly expensive but what can you expect from a higher end device by Creative.
- Amazing sound.
- Great build quality.
- Very versatile.
- Great software.
11. UGREEN USB Audio Adapter External Sound Card – View on Amazon
We are slowly heading towards the finale of the list, but before we conclude this roundup, we are still going to take a look at some of the good external sound cards that are widely available in the market. Now the important thing that you need to know here is that our aim for this list was to create the perfect blend of both cheap and expensive sound cards so we can cater both the budget users, and those who have no restraints on the budget.
Right now, we are looking at UGREEN USB Audio Adapter External, and while at first, it might not look like a lot, but you would be surprised just how good it is; especially when you consider the price.
Now the important thing is that this is made for people who don’t have a proper working audio solution on their computer, or just want a somewhat better audio quality. It gives you good performance, but certainly not enough to replace a full sized sound card. Other than that, I don’t think you will be having any issue with the sound card.
Overall, the UGREEN USB Audio Adapter External Sound Card is more than enough for people who are looking for something simple and something that gets the job done.
- A very small price to pay.
- Does not require extra settings.
- Simple and easy to use.
- Not good enough to replace a full sound card.
Finding a sound card is something that happens to be a lot more important for a lot of people. The thing that you need to know is that if you are looking for a good sound card, then you will have a lot of options that you need to explore.
With that out of the way, this roundup is great for people who are looking for options because this way, you will not have to worry about what is available and what is not. I can assure you that you will find some great options in this list, and you will not have any issues whatsoever either.