This may be an optional device for some people but if you’re into music you will probably want the extra features that a sound card can give. Being into music production I have always had soundcards. With some of the top of the range cards you can turn your computer into a recording studio. One of the features that some sound cards offer is something called zero latency.
As you are probably aware it’s possible to turn your computer into a synthesiser of magnificent proportions that will do almost everything you could imagine compared to the hardware machines of the eighties. You can connect up USB keyboards of the piano variety and play the synthesiser but because of the processing time there is a delay between you pressing the key and the sound being produced. That’s why you will need a soundcard with zero latency. If you have any music hardware it will probably be equipped with what was called the Musical Instrument Digital Interface or MIDI so with a sound card with a MIDI interface you can hook up your hardware up to the computer.
Another thing you might want on a soundcard is recording facilities. Again some of the better ones will have the standard quarter inch jack sockets to plug stuff into as well as rotary volume controls so you can correctly set the optimum levels. The card I have also has a microphone input and phantom powering for the microphone so you can use proper professional microphones as well.
Because music production was a primary requirement with my system I spent quite a bit on a soundcard but it did migrate with me to the next two computers that I built. Creative are the major player when it comes to soundcard manufacturers. They produce many different types of card and depending on what you want you should find something that they make that will suit you and your pocket.