Which PCI soundcard for highest quality digital output, to send to hifi DAC?? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 89 Old 02-28-2012, 03:48 PM - Thread Starter
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Hello, I have an old computer underneath my television on which I play CDs and FLAC files. At the minute I use the onboard sound card, with the line out going into the back of the TV. Needless to say, this setup is a disaster in terms of audio quality/clarity!

But I want to sort this out and am willing to spend in order to get it right - I want amazing audio quality. My plan is to feed the signal out of the PC in digital form, send it to a dedicated DAC, and then onto a proper amp and speaker combo.

My question here is focused around the source - i.e. getting the digital signal out of the PC in the cleanest way possible, to reduce the PC's involvment. From what I gather, it's best to go for PCI rather than USB (unless the USB device has it's own power supply) because the USB is more likely to pick up mechanical noises from within the PC's circuitry. Am I right in saying this?

The PC is a Fujitsu-Siemens Scenic C610, which has an Intel chipset. It has PCI only - no PCI Express.

So, I want something with its own ASIO drivers that will export the audio in SPDIF, either coaxial or optical. In terms of getting more DACs to choose from, coaxial would be better, which is better between these two digital connectors in terms of quality?

So, can you recommend a sound card that would do an excellent job, in terms of high fidelity and low noise, and would send the best possible sound to the dedicated DAC unit?

I've heard conflicting advice about this - some say that it doesn't matter what sound card I get, because if it outputs digitally then it doesn't convert the audio. But others say that some conversion/encoding does occur, so it does matter which sound card one gets. Can you shed some light on this for me?

Thanks.
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post #2 of 89 Old 02-28-2012, 04:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by meirionwyllt View Post

I've heard conflicting advice about this - some say that it doesn't matter what sound card I get, because if it outputs digitally then it doesn't convert the audio. But others say that some conversion/encoding does occur, so it does matter which sound card one gets. Can you shed some light on this for me?

Hi Meirionwyllt,

I can only address small parts of your situation.

It doesn't matter much which sound card you get, if you are outputting digital. Normally, there would be no conversion/encoding occurring, and if there is it would be done by your player software and the sound-card would typically not be a factor. There will be decoding taking place when you play FLACs, MP3s or other encoded sources, but your CD data should go out unmolested. Again, the sound-card should make no difference, as the CPU will be decoding.

Where there may be a difference would be with potential ground-loops when using a coaxial connection. Some high-end sound-cards may have isolated coax outputs which would resolve a ground-loop. But I would just use an optical connection, which would prevent any conducted electrical noise from entering your audio system. Preemptively killing multiple birds with a single stone.

BTW: Check your motherboard manual. Many motherboards have S/PDIF outputs built in, and you would only need the connector.
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post #3 of 89 Old 02-28-2012, 07:15 PM
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Instead of buying a sound card that has optical out and a DAC, consider the Asus Xonar Essence ST/STX sound cards (one is PCI; the other PCI-Express). The reviews indicate it to be comparable to separate DACs in the same price range. Here's one: http://www.stereophile.com/computera...tx_soundcards/ (search for additional reviews). You'll see in the reviews that it has a metal shield to protect the sound card electronics from the rest of the PC. Then, buy a decent set of analog cables from Blue Jeans Cable, and connect to your TV.

However, TVs don't typically have the best audio speakers. If you are bucking for very good sound, I wouldn't spend too much on the DAC output. You might be better to buy an inexpensive sound card with optical out, a receiver, and a decent set of bookshelf speakers.

Or a receiver with networking (such as the Onkyo TX-8050) and skip the physical connection from the computer. But it's really hard to know for sure without knowing your budget.

I use the Xonar Essence with an HK 3390 receiver and Energy RC-10 speakers, and it sounds awesome. Excellent clarity and detail. But's hard to imagine that built-in TV speakers can really benefit from that clarity. TV speakers just don't have "amazing audio quality."

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post #4 of 89 Old 02-28-2012, 07:42 PM
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I couldn't tell from the pics of the computer but it seems to have 1/2 height PCI slots. If that is so it will preclude you from using a card like the Xonar ST.

You may just want to pick up a USB sound device. You can find them from $60 to thousands of $$'s. What is your budget?

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post #5 of 89 Old 02-28-2012, 10:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cel4145 View Post

Or a receiver with networking (such as the Onkyo TX-8050) and skip the physical connection from the computer.

At least Onkyo *007 use a simplier dac chips for NET/USB (PCM1794 for Net/USB vs PCM1796 for HDMI), so it doesn't seem the option for "highest quality".

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post #6 of 89 Old 02-28-2012, 11:53 PM
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HRT Music Streamer II. USB to the Streamer, analog RCA's to your amp. Great sound, easy set up.
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post #7 of 89 Old 02-29-2012, 05:46 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by meirionwyllt View Post

Hello, I have an old computer underneath my television on which I play CDs and FLAC files. At the minute I use the onboard sound card, with the line out going into the back of the TV. Needless to say, this setup is a disaster in terms of audio quality/clarity!

But I want to sort this out and am willing to spend in order to get it right - I want amazing audio quality. My plan is to feed the signal out of the PC in digital form, send it to a dedicated DAC, and then onto a proper amp and speaker combo.

My question here is focused around the source - i.e. getting the digital signal out of the PC in the cleanest way possible, to reduce the PC's involvment. From what I gather, it's best to go for PCI rather than USB (unless the USB device has it's own power supply) because the USB is more likely to pick up mechanical noises from within the PC's circuitry. Am I right in saying this?

The PC is a Fujitsu-Siemens Scenic C610, which has an Intel chipset. It has PCI only - no PCI Express.

So, I want something with its own ASIO drivers that will export the audio in SPDIF, either coaxial or optical. In terms of getting more DACs to choose from, coaxial would be better, which is better between these two digital connectors in terms of quality?

So, can you recommend a sound card that would do an excellent job, in terms of high fidelity and low noise, and would send the best possible sound to the dedicated DAC unit?

I've heard conflicting advice about this - some say that it doesn't matter what sound card I get, because if it outputs digitally then it doesn't convert the audio.

Hold that thought! However, the pictures I found online of your Fujitsu-Siemens Scenic C610 don't show a digital output, even though its ADI 1980 audio chip is capable of driving a digital output. Have I missed something?
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post #8 of 89 Old 02-29-2012, 09:47 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Qaq View Post

At least Onkyo *007 use a simplier dac chips for NET/USB (PCM1794 for Net/USB vs PCM1796 for HDMI), so it doesn't seem the option for "highest quality".

What about Denons with networking? Or Yamahas? I just don't know the DAC processing capability for all the receivers. Anyone know the best choices?

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post #9 of 89 Old 02-29-2012, 03:54 PM - Thread Starter
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Hey, thank you for your replies!

Perhaps I should have emphasised this in my earlier post, I intend on not using the TV at all for audio. What will replace it is a good amp/speaker combo. I'm willing to go up to maybe around £600-£700 for these. But if I go for a DAC then I'm willing to spend maybe an additional £300-£400 on this unit.

MarkHotchkiss - thanks for clarifying the sound card's (lack of) role in the digital output. And as for the potential of coaxial for ground-loop, yeah good point!

Although I have considered streamers, I want to stay with the PC as the music station, because all the music is loaded there, and I go on the internet on it through the TV, etc.

As for the expansion slots in the PC, it has a riser card out of the motherboard, into which you can slot two full height PCI cards, which will then be parallel to the motherboard. But thanks for thinking, though!

Anyone know of any good DAC in my price range that have optical in?

Thanks
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post #10 of 89 Old 02-29-2012, 10:15 PM
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Originally Posted by cel4145 View Post

What about Denons with networking? Or Yamahas?

Sorry, I've no idea. I'm just trying to learn my own avr a bit.

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post #11 of 89 Old 03-01-2012, 09:14 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by meirionwyllt View Post

Hey, thank you for your replies!

Perhaps I should have emphasised this in my earlier post, I intend on not using the TV at all for audio. What will replace it is a good amp/speaker combo. I'm willing to go up to maybe around £600-£700 for these. But if I go for a DAC then I'm willing to spend maybe an additional £300-£400 on this unit.

MarkHotchkiss - thanks for clarifying the sound card's (lack of) role in the digital output. And as for the potential of coaxial for ground-loop, yeah good point!

Although I have considered streamers, I want to stay with the PC as the music station, because all the music is loaded there, and I go on the internet on it through the TV, etc.

As for the expansion slots in the PC, it has a riser card out of the motherboard, into which you can slot two full height PCI cards, which will then be parallel to the motherboard. But thanks for thinking, though!

Anyone know of any good DAC in my price range that have optical in?

I did some more checking around and found a Rightmark test (measurements) of the AD 1980 audio chip in your PC. They left a lot to be desired.

Before you spend megabucks, why not try this device and see if it gives you the clean clear sound that you are looking for?

http://www.behringer.com/EN/Products/UCA202.aspx

I have one and find that it should give you a very audible sound quality boost that will be tough to beat significantly at any price.
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post #12 of 89 Old 03-01-2012, 11:17 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by meirionwyllt View Post

Hey, thank you...

Anyone know of any good DAC in my price range that have optical in?

For great SQ forget about optical/Toslink and go with coax digital RCA interconnects.

Meaning buy a new mobo that has RCA digital output. In my recent experience that's your lowest cost approach to great stereo sound from one's PC.

So your question should be: Anyone know of any good DAC in my price range that have RCA digital in?

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post #13 of 89 Old 03-01-2012, 12:08 PM
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Have you looked into M-Audio.
They have a 2496 and a 192 that are both well respected.
I don't think the do optical but otherwise have robust S/PDIF options.
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post #14 of 89 Old 03-01-2012, 09:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by meirionwyllt View Post

Hey, thank you for your replies!

Perhaps I should have emphasised this in my earlier post, I intend on not using the TV at all for audio. What will replace it is a good amp/speaker combo. I'm willing to go up to maybe around £600-£700 for these. But if I go for a DAC then I'm willing to spend maybe an additional £300-£400 on this unit.

MarkHotchkiss - thanks for clarifying the sound card's (lack of) role in the digital output. And as for the potential of coaxial for ground-loop, yeah good point!

Although I have considered streamers, I want to stay with the PC as the music station, because all the music is loaded there, and I go on the internet on it through the TV, etc.

As for the expansion slots in the PC, it has a riser card out of the motherboard, into which you can slot two full height PCI cards, which will then be parallel to the motherboard. But thanks for thinking, though!

Anyone know of any good DAC in my price range that have optical in?

Thanks

The HRT music streamer is not an internet device. It acts like an external USB dac and sound card, and will play whatever you choose to play on your pc. Very good quality dac also.
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post #15 of 89 Old 03-01-2012, 10:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by meirionwyllt View Post

Anyone know of any good DAC in my price range that have optical in?

When I was researching before I bought the Xonar Essence, it seemed to me that the Musical Fidelity V-DAC II got the strongest recommendations at its price point, even though it's USB.

And if you haven't yet, read in the dedicated source component thread at head-fi.org. As the big headphone discussion community, the people there are constantly talking about what is the best DAC option for a PC.

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post #16 of 89 Old 03-04-2012, 09:43 AM - Thread Starter
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Thank you for your comments.

I've been looking into the various versions of the HRT Music Streamer, and comparing them to something more traditional like the Arcam rDAC. Seeing as the HRT and the Arcam both have an USB input, does this mean that the Arcam is also a 'streamer', or does its USB port not do the same things as HRT?

By the way, the USB input of the HRT Music Streamer is labelled as "Asynchronous USB". What does this mean?

The only concern I have about using the HRT is the fact that it is USB powered. Does this mean that it will be susceptible to the mechanical noises that are caused be cheap motherboards and power supplies?

If this is likely to be an issue, would getting a wireless streamer solve it? Are there any decent ones around?

This reservation is also applicable to the Behringer UCA-202 that was also suggested.

Thanks
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post #17 of 89 Old 03-04-2012, 09:54 AM
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The "Streamer" part of the HRT name is just fancy marketing rhetoric. It's a USB digital to analog converter.

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post #18 of 89 Old 03-04-2012, 10:12 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by meirionwyllt View Post

By the way, the USB input of the HRT Music Streamer is labelled as "Asynchronous USB". What does this mean?

It is an important thing. Normally when you have a USB audio device, the PC is in charge of the sample timing. The DAC will follow the number of bytes coming across USB and output that many (and not according to the sample rate as is commonly assumed). Alas, the USB port is made for data and its clock is not very accurate. So you usually get more timing variation ("jitter") than standard interfaces such as S/PDIF.

An asynchronous adapter takes the timing task away from the PC. The adapter becomes the "master" generating a clean clock on its output to the DAC. Its input then is just a data stream from the PC whose timing no longer matters. If you have this, and electrical isolation (not all devices do), then the PC becomes the perfect transport and your performance is only limited by the quality of the clock and isolation in the USB adapter (which usually is usually measurably much better than the PC).

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The only concern I have about using the HRT is the fact that it is USB powered. Does this mean that it will be susceptible to the mechanical noises that are caused be cheap motherboards and power supplies?

I have self-powered USB adapters that work very well. So while all else being equal, having local power is better in the adapter, I would not dismiss the device on that basis at all. You should not hear any mechanical noise from the PC but if you do, it means the device lacks isolation which is not good. I have not heard of asynch devices being this bad.

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If this is likely to be an issue, would getting a wireless streamer solve it? Are there any decent ones around?

There is a school of thought that says once you put networking and RF sources inside of your target, then you are back to square one of it being like a noisy PC. So while wireless streaming is very nice feature to have, for a purist point of view it is probably best to go with these USB bridges.

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post #19 of 89 Old 03-04-2012, 12:02 PM
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Originally Posted by amirm View Post

An asynchronous adapter takes the timing task away from the PC. The adapter becomes the "master" generating a clean clock on its output to the DAC.

My understanding that the USB Async bus simply has zero timing on it from a design perspective. So the end device HAS to supply it.

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If you have this, and electrical isolation (not all devices do), then the PC becomes the perfect transport and your performance is only limited by the quality of the clock and isolation in the USB adapter (which usually is usually measurably much better than the PC).

Don't internal cards have their own clock? Own power filtration? And often times a shield over their analog section that is 100% negating any noise from the computer?

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There is a school of thought that says once you put networking and RF sources inside of your target, then you are back to square one of it being like a noisy PC. So while wireless streaming is very nice feature to have, for a purist point of view it is probably best to go with these USB bridges.

My experience with properly designed internal cards vs their external counterparts can not close the loop on the above correlation.

I have directly compared my 1212M (PCIe) to the RME FireFace 400 (Firewire) and found that both offer excellent SQ for both A/D and D/A. I have yet to read a single review, professional or otherwise, both the 1212M and ESI Juli@ that once mentioned degraded sound output due to their internal nature. I think a modified statement about internal cards would serve the asking community here a little bit better.

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post #20 of 89 Old 03-04-2012, 01:07 PM
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I have directly compared my 1212M (PCIe) to the RME FireFace 400 (Firewire) and found that both offer excellent SQ for both A/D and D/A. I have yet to read a single review, professional or otherwise, both the 1212M and ESI Juli@ that once mentioned degraded sound output due to their internal nature. I think a modified statement about internal cards would serve the asking community here a little bit better.

Agreed. Not all internal sound cards are made the same.

The Asus Xonar Essence cards have an EMI shield. This test at Overclockersclub shows a very low noise threshold, results confirmed in another review. Not to mention that everyone jumps on the PC noise bandwagon, but I would be interested to see direct comparisons of SQ between the better internal sound cards and similarly priced USB DACs. I would be surprised if <$200 USB DACs have better chips and other electronics on the board than the Xonar.

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post #21 of 89 Old 03-04-2012, 01:19 PM
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My understanding that the USB Async bus simply has zero timing on it from a design perspective. So the end device HAS to supply it.

That is what I described .

Quote:


Don't internal cards have their own clock?

They do but that fact doesn't assure it has high quality.

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Own power filtration? And often times a shield over their analog section that is 100% negating any noise from the computer?

They may or may not. I have noted in the past how my Soundblaster XFI Gold or whatever they called it would pick up fax noise coming over USB. So clearly it has lousy isolation.

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My experience with properly designed internal cards vs their external counterparts can not close the loop on the above correlation.

What correlation?

Quote:


I have directly compared my 1212M (PCIe) to the RME FireFace 400 (Firewire) and found that both offer excellent SQ for both A/D and D/A. I have yet to read a single review, professional or otherwise, both the 1212M and ESI Juli@ that once mentioned degraded sound output due to their internal nature. I think a modified statement about internal cards would serve the asking community here a little bit better.

There was no question about internal card in the post that I responded to. Question was asked what asynchronous USB was. There is no "internal" version of such a device. All versions are external. Some are asynch, some are not. I explained what is good about the former.

With so many good USB asynch adapters, I don't see the reason for people going with internal cards and getting stuck with desktop systems as the only thing that can work there. You give up nothing in using a good USB adapter which soon, will also work on such devices as tablets. Using internal PC buses means buying again in the future.....

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post #22 of 89 Old 03-04-2012, 01:22 PM
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Originally Posted by cel4145 View Post

I would be surprised if <$200 USB DACs have better chips and other electronics on the board than the Xonar.

You have another option. Get a USB to S/PDIF converter. Asynch versions are getting cheaper every day and you can pair them with the existing DAC you may have in an AVR and such. Or buy a good stand-alone DAC. There is no requirement to buy a combo DAC+USB. I use my asynch USB with my 10 year old Mark Levinson DAC and it sounds superb.

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post #23 of 89 Old 03-04-2012, 02:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by amirm View Post

They do but that fact doesn't assure it has high quality.

Doesn't mean low quality either.

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They may or may not. I have noted in the past how my Soundblaster XFI Gold or whatever they called it would pick up fax noise coming over USB. So clearly it has lousy isolation.

My and others interpretation of your previous statement is that you are painting internal sound cards with a very wide brush.

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What correlation?

This:

There is a school of thought that says once you put networking and RF sources inside of your target, then you are back to square one of it being like a noisy PC

It's a very loose statement meant to get a person to infer. The wording is such that if questioned you can then start the backing away from the statement that it can be interpreted X instead of Y.

The correlation being that the noisy insides of a PC are inevitably going to make it into the sound card.

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With so many good USB asynch adapters, I don't see the reason for people going with internal cards and getting stuck with desktop systems as the only thing that can work there. You give up nothing in using a good USB adapter which soon, will also work on such devices as tablets. Using internal PC buses means buying again in the future.....

I went with an internal sound card in part due to desire for less clutter (one less box). Also if you want / desire 24/192 vs 24/96 you won't get that with a UAC V1.0 device under Windows. So for some people there are salient reasons not to go the UAC route you are a fan of. When MS supports UAC V 2.0 I will align with your thinking. I don't know of any sub $200 USB DACs that have balanced and unbalanced I/O.

The OP has a compact form factor computer. The way the initial post is worded I believe they want a low clutter solution.

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post #24 of 89 Old 03-04-2012, 02:59 PM
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Originally Posted by amirm View Post

You have another option. Get a USB to S/PDIF converter. Asynch versions are getting cheaper every day and you can pair them with the existing DAC you may have in an AVR and such. Or buy a good stand-alone DAC. There is no requirement to buy a combo DAC+USB. I use my asynch USB with my 10 year old Mark Levinson DAC and it sounds superb.

But back to the OP. He wants to be able to run analog to an integrated amp. Is he going to get superior sound out of any of these external solutions in roughly the same price range over the Asus Essence or comparable internal sound cards? Or is this just a moot suggestion?

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post #25 of 89 Old 03-04-2012, 03:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by meirionwyllt View Post

By the way, the USB input of the HRT Music Streamer is labelled as "Asynchronous USB". What does this mean?

About $100 at this point. It seems like adding the Asynchronous USB feature to a USB audio interface automagically pushes the price up by at least $100, sometimes more than twice that.

This begs the question what the "fair market value" for the Asynchronous USB feature is. It appears to me that in some cases, its just a firmware change. IOW, no parts cost.

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The only concern I have about using the HRT is the fact that it is USB powered. Does this mean that it will be susceptible to the mechanical noises that are caused be cheap motherboards and power supplies?

Since the spurious noises that can be traced to cheap motherboards and power supplies aren't mechanical but electrical, the answer is a qualified no.

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If this is likely to be an issue, would getting a wireless streamer solve it? Are there any decent ones around?

Wireless has its own can of worms. The high quality digital audio implementations that I'm familiar with have high latency, which could cause picture/sound mistiming, in A/V applications.

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This reservation is also applicable to the Behringer UCA-202 that was also suggested.

The thing about the UCA-202 is that its cost is so low for acceptable performance. Depending on where you buy, the UCA-202 costs about the same of less than the sales tax or VAT on competitive equipment.

The audio interface in your PC has a bad reputation with pretty nasty measurements to substantiate. Separating the sound quality of any of the good quality alternatives isn't going to be easy.
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post #26 of 89 Old 03-04-2012, 04:00 PM
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Originally Posted by amir View Post

They do but that fact doesn't assure it has high quality

Amir would appear to be playing with words to create a scare tactic. Fact is that no particular feature assures high quality. All of this equipment is complex enough that they represent the combination of a number of things done right.

There's no guarantee that every asynch USB audio interface sounds good, no more then there is a guarantee that every USB audio interface that lacks the asynch feature has to sound bad.

I've got a number of USB audio interfaces that lack the asynch feature and they all work well, and sound great.

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Originally Posted by Jinjuku View Post

Doesn't mean low quality either.

Exactly. Amir seems to like to talk about the same cup being half full or half empty depending on his whim of the day.


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My and others interpretation of your previous statement is that you are painting internal sound cards with a very wide brush.

That wide brush seems to always zag at the right time to avoid touching whatever Amir is excited about today. ;-)

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There is a school of thought that says once you put networking and RF sources inside of your target, then you are back to square one of it being like a noisy PC

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It's a very loose statement meant to get a person to infer. The wording is such that if questioned you can then start the backing away from the statement that it can be interpreted X instead of Y.

Right.

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The correlation being that the noisy insides of a PC are inevitably going to make it into the sound card.

This is one of the oldest scare tactics in the audio business. It has been around for at least a decade.

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I went with an internal sound card in part due to desire for less clutter (one less box). Also if you want / desire 24/192 vs 24/96 you won't get that with a UAC V1.0 device under Windows. So for some people there are salient reasons not to go the UAC route you are a fan of. When MS supports UAC V 2.0 I will align with your thinking. I don't know of any sub $200 USB DACs that have balanced and unbalanced I/O.

Two problems with internal cards - one is that you need room for them, another is that it takes a little skill and guts to put one in. The room requirement puts them out of bounds for laptops, for example.

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The OP has a compact form factor computer. The way the initial post is worded I believe they want a low clutter solution.

Compact form factor computers can be a can of worms. The riser cards don't always work perfectly with every card. They add extra capacitance to the PCI bus, and can slow it down or otherwise disturb critical timing relationships.
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post #27 of 89 Old 03-04-2012, 04:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jinjuku View Post

Doesn't mean low quality either.

I gave an example of it being low quality. Do you have an example of an async USB that has that level of crosstalk?

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My and others interpretation of your previous statement is that you are painting internal sound cards with a very wide brush.

You are forever defensive about your choice of an internal PCI card . You don't need to keep defending your choice. My posts are directed at someone investigating PC audio solutions and there, I think USB has achieved very high fidelity together with dead easily connectivity. That doesn't invalidate your choice. But what you have done is not my recommendation moving forward.

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This:

There is a school of thought that says once you put networking and RF sources inside of your target, then you are back to square one of it being like a noisy PC

It's a very loose statement meant to get a person to infer. The wording is such that if questioned you can then start the backing away from the statement that it can be interpreted X instead of Y.

The statement comes directly as I ask DAC companies to implement built-in networking. Some will avoid it due to the philosophy I mentioned.

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The correlation being that the noisy insides of a PC are inevitably going to make it into the sound card.

All else being equal, the quieter the environment in which the DAC lives, the less the heroic actions need to be to get good performance.

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I went with an internal sound card in part due to desire for less clutter (one less box). Also if you want / desire 24/192 vs 24/96 you won't get that with a UAC V1.0 device under Windows.

Async USB can be as small as the thickness of a USB cable. And since you need drivers for your card or it won't work at all, I don't see why you think you have an advantage there.

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So for some people there are salient reasons not to go the UAC route you are a fan of. When MS supports UAC V 2.0 I will align with your thinking. I don't know of any sub $200 USB DACs that have balanced and unbalanced I/O.

Not really. The number of people who need 192 Khz is small on Windows (Mac is standard) and for them, they can install a driver. Their device never turns into a rock in the future because PC stopped supporting the type of hardware bus your card uses, or incompatibility with future version of Windows.

Quote:
The OP has a compact form factor computer. The way the initial post is worded I believe they want a low clutter solution.

Again, you are jumping in the middle of a question which was what is asynch USB. None of the topics you are discussing is related to that because your card is not a USB device.

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post #28 of 89 Old 03-04-2012, 05:02 PM
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Originally Posted by arnyk View Post

About $100 at this point. It seems like adding the Asynchronous USB feature to a USB audio interface automagically pushes the price up by at least $100, sometimes more than twice that.

This begs the question what the "fair market value" for the Asynchronous USB feature is. It appears to me that in some cases, its just a firmware change. IOW, no parts cost.

Not quite. The trick here is to do the firmware in a way that doesn't invalidate the inbox driver in Windows/Mac. And to live in the context of existing USB slaves. Most people designing hardware don't have the necessary software skills to pull this off. So they go and license it from the couple of outfits and those guys charge royalties for them. I don't know what they charge but given the low volumes here, I wouldn't be surprised if it is good bit of dollars per unit.

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post #29 of 89 Old 03-04-2012, 05:07 PM
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I bought a UCA - 202 after reading this review. As cheap and plasticky as it is, it looks as if Bheringer did a decent job with it.

http://nwavguy.blogspot.com/2011/02/...eview.html?m=1

It also outputs spdif and acts as a digital interface for recording.
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post #30 of 89 Old 03-04-2012, 05:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by amirm View Post

Not quite. The trick here is to do the firmware in a way that doesn't invalidate the inbox driver in Windows/Mac. And to live in the context of existing USB slaves. Most people designing hardware don't have the necessary software skills to pull this off. So they go and license it from the couple of outfits and those guys charge royalties for them.

The alternative is that the design houses that do the silicon have a reference driver that the integrators can use and tweak. This is the often the case with the outfits that actually design the silicon. It's a value add that helps them move sand.

As a side note:

I know when we did our controller with an Amtel CPU and Lantronix Xport Direct that the most we paid was $250 for a hardware/software dev kit.

For $129 we have a full blown TCP/IP stack one RS232, two GPI, 4MB NV RAM, a geek port, 2 amp 36v Relay. If we can do an intelligent piece of silicon like that for $129 then I shudder to think of the $30-$40 in parts for some of these DAC's costing upwards of $300 and more. The CS4398 is available for ~$6 in quantity. Probably less if we are talking an order by the 1000's. Not discounting the R&D mind you. I just know what we were able to knock together in spare time over the course of a year.

Even assembled on a line here in the US.

An audiophile likes to talk about how much they spent and how good it sounds.

A DIY'er likes to talk about how little they spent and how good it sounds.

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