Is It Possible to Get Audiophile Quality Sound From My PC?

My primary sound system is an old McIntosh Receiver with solid state amplifier and 45 watts per channel. It has always been great for me and I use it primarily with headphones or my JBL Apollo speakers. I generally take sound files from my computer, burn them to CD and play them on the CD player connected McIntosh for the highest quality sound.

I also like to play sound files on my computer (I use primarily .flac, .mp3 and .wav sound files) where they also sound pretty darned good through my headphones. While the sound on my PC is good that way, it is easy to tell that it is not the same quality as the sound on the McIntosh.

Right now, my PC just has whatever sound card came with it (Dell Inspiron System). I am wondering if there is anything I can add to the PC to bring the sound quality up to something approaching the quality of sound in my McIntosh. I’m not looking for something powerful enough to drive my large speakers, just getting quality audio through my headphones on the PC would be great.

I realize that it is highly unlikely that I could get my PC to sound as good as my main amplifier but even if I could get it close (particularly to add more bass), that would be great.

Is there something I can add to my PC hardware and/or software to accomplish this? Thanks in advance for any feedback.

How much do you want to spend?


And also what you mean by ‘audiophile quality’.

A few years ago on somebody else’s recommendation I got an M-Audio soundcard for my PC. I don’t know what the current contenders are for best-quality or best-quality-for-the-buck these days though.

Beware of asking about anything “audiophile”…

Because the definition of “audiophile” is very subjective.

Personally as I sit listening to the sound produced by my Yamaha sound card into my Dynaco preamplifier fed to my Hafler amp
I ponder that audiophiles talk about sound equipment while music enthusiasts talk about music and lyrics…

Then again another friend has gained both friends and enemies by quoting me as saying: “Anyone who either doesn’t own a subwoofer OR who does own one but only turns it on for playing the Telarc recording of the 1812overture… (To accurately playback the cannon shots could also be an audiophile…”

But still what is an “audiophile” or “audiophile quality” is entirely subjective and like all subjective things has a variable definition.