Switch between headphones and speakers when using a sound card

by Mike   Last Updated January 07, 2018 20:01 PM

I'm looking for the "best practices" of using headphones and speakers interchangeably on the PC.

If you are using on-board sound you can simply connect your speakers right to the motherboard audio output and plug-in your speakers to the phones output somewhere on top of your PC case when needed. But it has two obvious cons: sound quality of the on-board audio far from being perfect and the phones output on the case is also quite bad quality and has noises too. The solution is to use a sound card, either external or internal.

External cards are quite massive and have a lot of options like XLR mic inputs, MIDI, fantom power etc but the allow you to connect both speakers and headphones (to the front panel). But it's quite silly to overpay for the card if you don't need most of the options.

When it comes to internal sound card, I see couple problems over there. First of all, seems like the market of internal sound cards is quite dead. Plus I need a card that works perfectly find with Linux Debian (means Creative cards aren't my choice). The next popular cards you can most likely meet are Asus Xonor cards. Let's take a look into the manual for Asus Xonar XS.

Here is how they suggest me to connect my headphones:

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And here is how I should connect my 2.1 stereo speakers:

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Same output! Beside that I will have to literally get under my table each time I would like to wear my headphones. This is extremely uncomfortable. At the same time if I use a "splitter" this will make my headphones work all the time, even when I do not really need them.

Am I getting anything wrong or you guys have some magical trick that let you turn off speaker and switch to your headphones and vice versa smoothly? The Asus Xonor card is over $70 already and looks quite useless for me, but external cards are getting easily over $200. Does it really the price for the solution I'm looking for?

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