Here we go! This is the second edition of this tutorial, I earned a lot of knowledge in the domain these last months so I thought it'd be necessary to share it with everyone who'd love to improve they sound experience and over all, get rid of the awful sound rendering provided by the motherboard integrated chipset (Realtek).
It all starts by the sound card! You'll obviously need a new sound card in order to improve the sound quality properly. There are two major brands on the market: Creative and Asus. I'd personally recommend an Asus product though (I actually own two of the products below and heard many bad things about Creative products. Also Asus products works with the Dolby technology.)
I will unfortunately not be arguing about speakers in this thread, however if you want the most Hi-Fi sound, avoid all the "gaming" sound systems. It generally has good basses and a very clear sound for noises but doesn't handle the music very well. About headphones: note that you'll need at least 100 hours of use to fully exploit your headphones's potential. Check this spoiler to see a list of few headphones I'd avise.
3) Media player
Now you need to get rid of the Windows Media Player. Here's a list of the most popular media players:
Winamp: https://www.winamp.com/ (Music)
Foobar2000: https://www.foobar2000.org/ (Music, File converter)
VLC: https://www.videolan.org/vlc/ (Music, Movies)
There's much more of course, but those above are the most interesting. I've been using Winamp since a while but I've recently took Foobar2000 again because of a little issue I had with Winamp (Winamp's and Windows's volume were both variating when I was setting it with the keyboard media key). Foobar's very useful to convert WAV files into MP3 for your car or convert WAV to FLAC or uncompress FLAC to WAV. (Make sure to download the codecs)
Most of media players has they own graphic equalizer, but you shouldn't touch it.
4) Graphic equalizer
It's a complicated but very important step to refine the sound at your needs.
Note that you have only to set the EQ from the sound card pilote and never from the media player.
Let's give a look at how i've set my EQ:
Legend: Basses; Mediums; Trebles
Usually, the EQ setting will always be different for everyone, it depends of your audio source, hardware and your preferences. If you like a rich sound with basses, you'll raise the 3 first frequences (32,64,125) and if you dislikes agressive trebles like me, you'll reduce the high frequences (4K, 8K, 16K). Don't reduce the trebles too much though, otherwise it will sound played from behind a closed door. For people sensible to trebles, I advise to reduce the 4K a little bit, that'll be much better
Enable the Surround. The "Intelligent Equalizer" is an interesting feature proposed by this pilote, it corrects automaticly when some frequences are too high/low and balances the sound rendering.
Forget all those music genre presets that you can encounter on any drivers, it's total bullshit.
5) File format
Watch out not to download your music from a bad source. Authentify your track format/bitrate to be sure you've got a quality file. Check this thread for further informations:
Here's a list of most common file format:
WAV: Studio (24bit/96k); CD (16bit/44.1k) Quality.
FLAC: Free Lossless Audio Codec, reversible compression of a WAV format. Useful to reduce the track's size and make place on your hard drive disk. (Not all devices can read this format, also reading FLAC formats on your smartphone will drain your battery faster).
MP3: Irreversible compression. Very low file size but loss on the track's integrity (quality).
Check the thread above to certify your track has a bitrate of 320kbps.
M4A: VBR (Variable) Apple compression. Average bitrate of 256kbps.
ALAC: Apple Lossless.
AIFF: Let's say it's Apple's WAV (Audio Interchange File Format).
I hope i've made everything clear. Now you can enjoy a real immersive sound experience