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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm considering an HTPC build with music quality as a main concern. I posted a thread yesterday with all the background info here: http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=1227641



After doing some more research, I've seen some people suggest that an external DAC might be better than an internal sound card with a good DAC because of power supply issues, heat, and other interference issues from the other components of the HTPC.

Should I be concerned about getting a good internal sound card like the ASUS Xonar Essence ST? Would I be better off spending the money on an external DAC like an Audio-gd Fun or Nuforce uDAC?


Also, does anyone have any other recommendations on good sound cards and external DACs?
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by aggieactuary /forum/post/18155461


Should I be concerned about getting a good internal sound card like the ASUS Xonar Essence ST? Would I be better off spending the money on an external DAC like an Audio-gd Fun or Nuforce uDAC?

Quite honestly, all three of them look like they would be fun to say when telling your friends what you have. The big question is, what is more fun to say out loud; Xonar, Gud-fun, or U-dac?...



Seriously though, have fun with the brain-melting minutia and technicalities that love to play over and over repeatedly in the Head-fi forums. Then take a step back and ask yourself if it really even matters?


How much are you spending on your speakers and amps? How much are you spending on room treatments and bass traps? Better results will be obtained faster spending a bit of time on that than it will reading the endless debate of internal vs. external soundcards.


-Suntan
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by Suntan /forum/post/18155686


How much are you spending on your speakers and amps? How much are you spending on room treatments and bass traps? Better results will be obtained faster spending a bit of time on that than it will reading the endless debate of internal vs. external soundcards.


-Suntan

You're funny.



I just upgraded my speakers to Ascend Sierra-1 fronts and a Rythmik F12. I'm using a Pioneer VSX-1019AH-K, but all that info is in the other thread I linked to.


Not everyone can (or wants to) put up crazy looking stuff on their walls. Room treatments are not an option for me. I am getting a Gramma for my sub, though. That's about as far as room treatments are going for me.
 

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Fair enough. Then if I were a betting man, I'd put wagers on the fact that you wouldn't hear much difference if any between the various choices.


So I would put my hat in the ring for the U-dac. Because saying that one is growing on me more than the other two.


Good luck with your quest.


-Suntan
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by Suntan /forum/post/18155934


So I would put my hat in the ring for the U-dac. Because saying that one is growing on me more than the other two.


Good luck with your quest.


-Suntan

Thanks.


Though I hate to disappoint you, but it's actually (mu)-DAC.
 

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FWIW I have zero experience with external DACs, but some with internal audio cards. I've owned M-Audio 2496, E-MU 0404, 1212m, then an HDAV1.3, and then jumped to really serious cards like the RME 9632 and currently a Lynx TWO-B.


To put it bluntly, difference is HUGE between the RME and Lynx cards and the rest. You won't believe the difference until you hear it yourself and live with the sound for a while.


Now,the HDAV1.3 really sounds like crap in comparison (even a 1212m is better). The HDAV is good for movies, IMO. And as to how good the Essence is in comparison, I don't know myself but I wouldn't expect nothing closer to a professional sound card.


This is all assuming, of course, that we're talking about music listening, and 2-channel mainly. For movies I really wouldn't care a bit, and even recommend any standard AVR out there with RoomEQ and DSP.


External DACs can sound better than an internal sound card of course, as shown in this shootout . The winner is the famed Benchmark DAC1 HDR , a bit more expensive than a Lynx TWO-B!



Just my .02.
 

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I want a lynx! :p, but overall I'm very happy with even my stock 1212m for stereo.


I have played with a couple USB DACs and so long as you don't go super cheap on your other intenal components, PSU mainly, then an internal will be fine. Most of the guys who swear by USB DACs, also swear that they get better audio with custom made USB cables, which is almost impossible to believe.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
The Lynx and RME are out of my price range for a DAC.


ArtosDragon, I was thinking along those lines. It seems that the issues are with bad implementation of an HTPC not with internal DACs. If I get a good PSU and a good cooling system I shouldn't have any problems.


And some of the better internal soundcards/DACs have shielding as well. I'll do some research, but I assume you could shield a soundcard that isn't shielded, right?
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by suntan /forum/post/18155686


quite honestly, all three of them look like they would be fun to say when telling your friends what you have. The big question is, what is more fun to say out loud; xonar, gud-fun, or u-dac?...



seriously though, have fun with the brain-melting minutia and technicalities that love to play over and over repeatedly in the head-fi forums. Then take a step back and ask yourself if it really even matters?

how much are you spending on your speakers and amps? How much are you spending on room treatments and bass traps? Better results will be obtained faster spending a bit of time on that than it will reading the endless debate of internal vs. External soundcards.


-suntan

+1
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Suntan /forum/post/18155686


How much are you spending on your speakers and amps? How much are you spending on room treatments and bass traps? Better results will be obtained faster spending a bit of time on that than it will reading the endless debate of internal vs. external soundcards.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Servicetech571 /forum/post/18159442


+1

That's ok, but after you do all that you'll stlll need a good DAC, otherwise it's just good and costly preparation for NOTHING!
, which is what a low-to-midrange AVR/AVP will give you.


And like I said, this is assuming you do care about music listening, otherwise even all that setup would be an excessive waste of money, when a good set of speakers and an AVR with Auddyssey could be more than enough (a $1.5K investment at most).
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by gunbunnysoulja /forum/post/18159453


I don't understand the logic of "not wanting to" when music quality is the main concern.


The logic is that while music quality is the main concern in my HTPC build, I have other, larger concerns than my HTPC build.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by aggieactuary /forum/post/18156010


Though I hate to disappoint you, but it's actually (mu)-DAC.

That makes it even better! If you told me I could make a cow sound while describing it to people, I would have picked it right off the bat.


Yeah, man. My system runs with a Mooooo-DAC


Seriously though, it's cool if you don't want to put fiberglass panels all over your walls. Some of us have wives too. My opinion is just that, dollar for dollar, I don't think you will see a difference between internal and external. Unless you pony up for more expensive components, like a lynx, don't expect to get substantially better performance. Further, unless you have cleared out the other bottlenecks (room coloration being the main issue, imo) you're wasting your time fretting over such small differences.


And in case you were wondering, I *would* accept slightly inferior sound quality if I got to tell people I had a Moo-DAC in my system.



-Suntan
 

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What is it with soundcards and animals, I have an Emu, you have a lynx, he's looking at a moo(ok it's a sound and not an animal, close enough though, there are only two things that make that sound in nature, cows and crazies.)


But yeah, don't worry quite so much about shielding your sound card or ridiculously rated SNRs or "super high quality USB cables" or that stuff, you won't notice the difference if you're not in a studio level environment.
 

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I've been reading a lot about external DACs at HeadFi, it seems like you get more "bang for the buck" with an internal card -- they don't have to worry about some expensive aluminum casing (uDAC) or external power supply (Musicland 02).


I currently have an M-Audio Revolution 5.1 PCI card, which has been great. I do get some EMI from my HDD, but this is only on my speakers (Klipsch 2.1) and not on my headphones (Sony 7506).


I'm going ITX on my next build and won't have room even for a PCIE sound card so I'm looking at external USB DAC/AMPS. Was leaning to the uDAC but I'm re-evaluating whether it is being over-hyped on HeadFi, and now leaning to the Musicland 02.
 
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