One of the most asked questions on my youtube videos is "can I buy the cheaper USB soundcard and get the same result?" The answer I have always had to give is "I have no idea". I decided to fix that, I bought 6 USB Soundcards to compare the audio from.
My least favorite cards were the two wired USB adapters. The stereo one (white cord) was just too quiet, and too digital sounding. The 7.1 card (black cord) was simply too loud and completely unuseable. At 2% input gain, I was still clipping. Then we have the virtual 5.1 soundcard which is blue. This card gave me the same problem as the other cards. Too digital and too quiet, but if you are on a budget, it will be a decent soundcard.
Number 3 on my list is The HDE 7.1 which is one of the cheaper cards. I like this card because it provides a much more natural sound and audio compared to the previous 3 discussed. Unfortunately, for me it was too quiet. I had to crank the gain up to about 75% to get a good level, and at that point, the background noise has been turned up along with the microphone. If you are on a budget, this is a great option for a soundcard, and it performed admirably.
Number 2 on my list is the Sabrent 7.1 card which is the most expensive card that I tested out. I liked this one a lot. It provided natural sounding audio, plenty of gain, however, for what I am doing, I don't need the headphone volume & mute or the microphone mute. These are nice features, but for me are unnecessary.
Number 1 is the Sabrent Stereo USB Audio Adapter. The card that I have been using since day one. In all honesty, it was just pure luck that I ordered this one, and that it turned out to be so good. I think the audio produced through this is as good as the Sabrent 7.1, but in a simpler package. No buttons to mess with, which I like. It is also cheaper than the 7.1 card.
In conclusion, if you are just recording a podcast, or voice over for a video, I think that the Stereo Sabrent card will work perfectly fine for you. It's what I use and I am completely happy with it. On the other hand, if you are gaming online, and you want to be able to adjust your headphone volume, or mute your microphone, the 7.1 Sabrent card will be the right option for you.
Sabrent Stereo: http://amzn.to/1Ikwqt5
Sabrent 7.1: http://amzn.to/1IkwtVI
HDE 7.1: http://amzn.to/1Ikww3H
Virtual 5.1: http://amzn.to/1T8qZ64
Gino Stereo: http://amzn.to/1IkwCIQ
Gino 7.1: http://amzn.to/1T8r21R