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Thread: DAC's

  1. #1

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    Default DAC's

    So I keep coming back to my office rig again and again. I havent hooked up my dad's old Yamaha reciever yet so this may be a moot point, but:

    Which will have a better DAC, a sound card (such as the HT Omega Claro), or a reciever (such as my Denon 1610).

    I am asking now as if the Yammy powers the P162's better than the Denon I might be selling the Denon off. But my current soundcard is pretty crappy (Supreme FX) as it came with the motherboard and I would have to use a 3.5mm to 2 RCA adaptor to connect the Yammy (analog connections only). I have a feeling that would degrade the sound something awful, so I am looking at dedicated soundcards w/ analog out.

    Any and all thoughts appreciated...
    Last edited by EndersShadow; 11-17-2010 at 04:53 PM.
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    The sound card does look pretty good, and I would go with that option if it was my PC rig. A good card that does RCA out from the PC is a very simple option for reducing connections. The only way I would go with the receiver is if you were having electrical noise issues related to your PC, and would connect the PC and receiver via Toslink to remove an electrical connection.

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    Neither, IMO. Forget "dedicated" sound cards and start looking for an afforable outboard dac.

    H9
    "Appreciation of audio is a completely subjective human experience. Measurements can provide a measure of insight, but are no substitute for human judgment. Why are we looking to reduce a subjective experience to objective criteria anyway? The subtleties of music and audio reproduction are for those who appreciate it. Differentiation by numbers is for those who do not".--Nelson Pass

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    Quote Originally Posted by heiney9 View Post
    neither, imo. Forget "dedicated" sound cards and start looking for an afforable outboard dac.

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    In fact I may have one (outboard dac) for sale very soon that is much better than any soundcard or receiver dac and it's going to be very reasonable (1/2 the cost of the soundcard you are looking at). If you are interested PM me for details.

    H9

    P.s. What are you using for a source?
    "Appreciation of audio is a completely subjective human experience. Measurements can provide a measure of insight, but are no substitute for human judgment. Why are we looking to reduce a subjective experience to objective criteria anyway? The subtleties of music and audio reproduction are for those who appreciate it. Differentiation by numbers is for those who do not".--Nelson Pass

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    Quote Originally Posted by heiney9 View Post
    In fact I may have one (outboard dac) for sale very soon that is much better than any soundcard or receiver dac and it's going to be very reasonable (1/2 the cost of the soundcard you are looking at). If you are interested PM me for details.

    H9

    P.s. What are you using for a source?
    Source would be my computer using WMA lossless format and Pandora at times
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    Quote Originally Posted by EndersShadow View Post
    Source would be my computer using WMA lossless format and Pandora at times
    And how is this hooked to the receiver? Toslink, coax, analog rca?

    H9
    "Appreciation of audio is a completely subjective human experience. Measurements can provide a measure of insight, but are no substitute for human judgment. Why are we looking to reduce a subjective experience to objective criteria anyway? The subtleties of music and audio reproduction are for those who appreciate it. Differentiation by numbers is for those who do not".--Nelson Pass

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    Quote Originally Posted by heiney9 View Post
    Neither, IMO. Forget "dedicated" sound cards and start looking for an afforable outboard dac.

    H9
    I agree that an external DAC will yield better results, but he'll still need a soundcard with a SPDIF out, (unless the external DAC has a USB input), and all SPDIF outs are not created equally, and USB may not be the best option. One thing to take note of if you go SPDIF is the sampling rates that the sound card will output as well as the sampling rates that the outbaord DAC can accept- make sure they'll work together.
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    When I researched soundcards (both for their DAC capabilities and SPDIF capabilities), I ended up with an ASUS Xonar Esssence ST.

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16829132014

    It has a good Burr Brown 24bit/192khz upsampling DAC in it, a world better than the stock computer's DAC, but there was an improvement when I switched to an outboard DAC. I'm still glad I have this card though, because it has a good SPDIF out.

    It can do Toslink or coaxial at selectable bitrates including 44.1, 48, 96, and 192, plus it is the only computer soundcard available that has precision clock tuning to minimize digital jitter, and the signal to noise ratio is 124db.

    The Parasound DAC-2000 Ultra that I'm using now can only accept 44.1 and 48khz, so it's good to be able to select the right one.
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    There is another way that may work for you or not. I'm using J River Media Player to play my tunes on my PC. I then send them to an Airport Express unit at my two channel stereo. This can be done either wirelessly or hard wired like mine through CAT5. Then from the Airport Express to my outboard DAC and then to my pre-amp. Airport Express alone uses Itunes which I can't stand so I downloaded a little program called Airfoil which allows you to send files to AE using ANY player including Windows Media Player and VLC.

    Sound quality is excellent even using a cheap DAC like my Entech Number Cruncher. Nice wide soundstage with great dynamics. The Airport Express is around $100 and sometimes less on sale. I've got an ok sound card (Soundblaster X-Fi) but the outboard DAC sounds much better when played on my two channel rig. Something to think about.
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    I was using a pro grade soundcard(also came with all the recording/mixing software) and even cheap USB DAC sounded better. I moved on.
    It's hard to explain why, but the analog section of the DAC makes more
    of an impact on sound than all the latest whiz-bang chipsets.
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    Quote Originally Posted by heiney9 View Post
    And how is this hooked to the receiver? Toslink, coax, analog rca?

    H9
    Hooked via HDMI currently. Sending the signal out from a ATI 5450 card so its sent out without being modified.....

    The SPDIF and Coax connection on the mobo are blown and I dont want to deal with taking it apart and shipping it back out again.

    All I can use would be the 5.1 out from the Supreme FX motherboard soundcard. The L/R connections are on one 3.5 connection.
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    Well, I don't know of any outboard dac that accepts HDMI hook-up so you are very limited as to what you can do.

    H9
    "Appreciation of audio is a completely subjective human experience. Measurements can provide a measure of insight, but are no substitute for human judgment. Why are we looking to reduce a subjective experience to objective criteria anyway? The subtleties of music and audio reproduction are for those who appreciate it. Differentiation by numbers is for those who do not".--Nelson Pass

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    Quote Originally Posted by heiney9 View Post
    Well, I don't know of any outboard dac that accepts HDMI hook-up so you are very limited as to what you can do.

    H9
    Yeah, I figured on that end. Thats why I was wondering about going with a nice soundcard in the computer so I can ship the signal out via analog which I know is how lots of you guys prefer to do it.
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    Quote Originally Posted by EndersShadow View Post
    Yeah, I figured on that end. Thats why I was wondering about going with a nice soundcard in the computer so I can ship the signal out via analog which I know is how lots of you guys prefer to do it.
    If it were me I'd buy an inexpensive sound card that has coax or optical out and get a nice inexpensive outboard dac.

    H9
    "Appreciation of audio is a completely subjective human experience. Measurements can provide a measure of insight, but are no substitute for human judgment. Why are we looking to reduce a subjective experience to objective criteria anyway? The subtleties of music and audio reproduction are for those who appreciate it. Differentiation by numbers is for those who do not".--Nelson Pass

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    Quote Originally Posted by heiney9 View Post
    If it were me I'd buy an inexpensive sound card that has coax or optical out and get a nice inexpensive outboard dac.

    H9
    Thats the way to do it. The PS in a computer is quite noisy. Not analog's best friend.
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    Quote Originally Posted by heiney9 View Post
    If it were me I'd buy an inexpensive sound card that has coax or optical out and get a nice inexpensive outboard dac.

    H9
    Gotcha, that makes sense as well. I wasnt aware that DAC's used optical at all. I am totally new to them and thought they normally accepted only RCA's. Any particular suggestions for a soundcard?

    P.S. If I can find the money I may indeed be interested in the DAC you PM'd me about, but not quite sure how the finances are going to work out.
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    Try to go COAX if you can. It is better than optical.
    Ben
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    I thought some of the USB DAC's were touted as being the best way to extract the digital music from a computer.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Earthy View Post
    I thought some of the USB DAC's were touted as being the best way to extract the digital music from a computer.
    Some are, but the number one thing in a USB dac is it needs to be asyncronous. If it's not then it can pass on all the PS noise and other other computer noise thru the dac. Also there are several USB receiving chips out there and all have different performance characteristics. You can't just generalize and say all USB dac's are the best, because many are no better and even worse than coax or optical.

    H9
    "Appreciation of audio is a completely subjective human experience. Measurements can provide a measure of insight, but are no substitute for human judgment. Why are we looking to reduce a subjective experience to objective criteria anyway? The subtleties of music and audio reproduction are for those who appreciate it. Differentiation by numbers is for those who do not".--Nelson Pass

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    What are the thoughts on the NuForce uDAC-2 which uses USB?
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    I am sooooo lost....

    only thing I understood was RCA analog Yamaha

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    No power other than USB...................I'd steer clear. But then again I have no idea what your goal is or what you expect from your computer rig.
    "Appreciation of audio is a completely subjective human experience. Measurements can provide a measure of insight, but are no substitute for human judgment. Why are we looking to reduce a subjective experience to objective criteria anyway? The subtleties of music and audio reproduction are for those who appreciate it. Differentiation by numbers is for those who do not".--Nelson Pass

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    I guess here is the goal overall. I am looking to start building a nice 2 or 2.1 channel rig for my office. I want to be able to switch out smaller speakers (no floorstanding), mostly vintage Polks potentially (Monitor 5JR's, ect) & other bookshelves as I go.

    I am going to be always using the computer as the source so I thought I would start with a good DAC (my Denon does not have pre-outs except for surround rears) then get a good amplification stage (2 channel amp rated for 4 ohms possibly, not sure of how much wattage I really want) and then start looking at speakers again..I am also open to a decent integrated stereo amp which could solve both the DAC and amplification stage.....

    Given those goals what suggestions/improvements would you make to my gear keeping in mind I will be going piece by piece over many months (i.e. rate which ones would make the most difference)
    Last edited by EndersShadow; 11-19-2010 at 02:45 PM.
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    If that is your goal and you are building slowly then find a decent outboard dac. The NuForce gets it power from the USB hub which IMO, is less than ideal. I have a USB hub for my HD's at home and even that is externally powered so I wouldn't expect anything less to power my DAC.

    Head over to DIYaudio; audiocircle; headfi; etc as they have lots of real world users of some of the better sounding inexpensive dac's for the exact project you are trying to do. The AMC I have would be in the mix as well.

    H9
    "Appreciation of audio is a completely subjective human experience. Measurements can provide a measure of insight, but are no substitute for human judgment. Why are we looking to reduce a subjective experience to objective criteria anyway? The subtleties of music and audio reproduction are for those who appreciate it. Differentiation by numbers is for those who do not".--Nelson Pass

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    Quote Originally Posted by heiney9 View Post
    If that is your goal and you are building slowly then find a decent outboard dac. The NuForce gets it power from the USB hub which IMO, is less than ideal. I have a USB hub for my HD's at home and even that is externally powered so I wouldn't expect anything less to power my DAC.

    Head over to DIYaudio; audiocircle; headfi; etc as they have lots of real world users of some of the better sounding inexpensive dac's for the exact project you are trying to do. The AMC I have would be in the mix as well.

    H9
    I will head over that way. I think step one for me is going to be testing the older vintage Yamaha against the Denon. If the Yamaha powers the speakers decently (i.e. can hold me over for a bit) I will probably sell the Denon and use that as my base of upgrade money.

    My only question is what would be the best method to add a sub to the mix (using the Yamaha) if I was going to at some point?

    I have seen it done a couple ways:

    1) RCA to Yamaha, RCA to PSW125, PSW125 to speakers

    2) RCA Splitters to send both RCA to PSW125 and RCA to Yamaha then Yamaha to speakers...
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    Use the sub out on the sound card. Set it up for 2.1. That would be the easiest.
    Please. Please contact me a ben62670 @ yahoo.com. Make sure to include who you are, and you are from Polk so I don't delete your email. Also I am now physically unable to work on any projects. If you need help let these guys know. There are many people who will help if you let them know where you are.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ben62670 View Post
    Use the sub out on the sound card. Set it up for 2.1. That would be the easiest.
    So I would use something like a 3.5mm to Coaxial cable for the sub (using the sub's out on the card) and then in addition use either coaxial or optical to the DAC and so forth correct?
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    Office: Win 7 -> DacMagic w/ Pangea PSU | Sunfire TGP-II | Parasound HCA-750ii | Polk RTA 11TL | Cables TBA

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  29. #29

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    Yes sir.
    Please. Please contact me a ben62670 @ yahoo.com. Make sure to include who you are, and you are from Polk so I don't delete your email. Also I am now physically unable to work on any projects. If you need help let these guys know. There are many people who will help if you let them know where you are.
    Thanks
    Ben

  30. #30

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    Ok... So here is where I think I am going to start. I am going to purchase a HT OMEGA STRIKER 7.1 (purchase date unknown). I will use the Center/Sub output via a 3.5mm to dual RCA connection for the sub. I will then manually set the crossover frequency for it.

    I will use the coaxial out to the receiver via SPDIF (if using the Denon) or Y Splitter (if using the Yamaha).

    Then at a later date I will be removing both of those and adding a dedicated 2 channel amp (100 wpc @ 8ohms max). Then at a later date add in a DAC if I still think I need it, and if not upgrade my speakers...

    Anyone see any problems with this upgrade path or want to recommend a different soundcard?
    Last edited by EndersShadow; 11-20-2010 at 03:13 PM.
    Advice is free, the Flea Market is earned - F1Nut

    Lessons cost money, good ones cost LOTS - Tony Beets

    HT: APC H15 | Pio 51FD | Uverse | Xbox 360 | Squeezebox Classic | Integra DTR 5.9 | Carver AV-705x & M1.0t MKII Opt002 | LSi 15 | LSiC | LSi F/x | Kimber Hero IC & 8VS SC

    Office: Win 7 -> DacMagic w/ Pangea PSU | Sunfire TGP-II | Parasound HCA-750ii | Polk RTA 11TL | Cables TBA

    Bedroom: Uverse | Roku 2 | Samsung LCD | SurroundBar 2000

    Sales Rating
    Gear

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