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My source needs improving... Help from the pro's? *FREE SMILES FOR ANYONE WHO HELPS* - Page 2

post #16 of 36
Thread Starter 
anyone?
post #17 of 36
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by fraseyboy View Post
Hmmm.... The Zhalou 2.5... Maybe I should get it?

Would it be overkill? I'm only driving my MS1's, and my ears aren't TOO fussy. Is there anything a bit cheaper that's good? DAC in a box?


And what about that new DAC-AH or woteva its called?
post #18 of 36
Say, why do you really need an amp or a dac? As far as I could see you only drive low impedance headphones. Obviously an amp/dac improves the SQ, but not so much as a good headphone would.

In your situation I would much rather buy some other headphones than a DAC. Or maybe a USB/dac/amp combo. Or a better soundcard. That's just my opinion though.

I am driving my headphones with a Porta Corda MkIII-USB. And I like them a lot. Now maybe you think this is way too expensive. So there are other alternatives. There are loads of USB devices which are pretty good for the price. I made a list in another thread. If you use the search button and search for "TBAAM" you should be able to find it.

If however you are determent to get a DAC. Please do so. I can only recommend you try it before buying. I tried a DAC and I couldn't notice any difference. ( I tried it for several weeks) I could only hear the difference when using a headroom DAC and amp and that combo is far from cheap.
post #19 of 36
fraseyboy: Tell us how your Onkyo sounds better than the Audigy (subjectively). Do you mean your headphones sound better when connected to your Onkyo? If so, please explain.

Just trying to get a better understanding of your goals and requirements.
post #20 of 36
I would personally advise against an external DAC if you're looking to do this on the cheap. (most) external DACs are ultimately driven from the clock source in the sound card, and the Audigy isn't that good. I've also heard that it internally resamples to 48khz (badly). Anyone know if this is true?

I think you'd be better off with a USB card. I like my M-Audio but I don't wanna sound like I'm always pitching them.

I will say though that the transit has an excellent DAC onboard and half decent SPDIF out, but the onboard amp is so-so. If you pair it with a cheap headphone amp I think you'd be quite satisfied.

The nice thing about a USB card is it lets you get off of the PC power supply by using a hub with a DC adapter.
post #21 of 36
As far as USB DACs, check out the Silverstone EB-01, which is around $90. You would have to also get a cheap amp (used cMoy or something) with that, but should be a significant upgrade from your Audigy.
post #22 of 36
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by EnOYiN View Post
Say, why do you really need an amp or a dac? As far as I could see you only drive low impedance headphones. Obviously an amp/dac improves the SQ, but not so much as a good headphone would.
I wanna squeeze EVERYTHING I can out of my MS1's before I move on to better headphones. I realize that they sound ALOT better from a different source (one that is located somewhere where there is alot of noise, therefore hard to listen to) so I wanted to improve my PC source so it sounds as good or better.

Quote:
Originally Posted by joe_cool View Post
fraseyboy: Tell us how your Onkyo sounds better than the Audigy (subjectively). Do you mean your headphones sound better when connected to your Onkyo? If so, please explain.

Just trying to get a better understanding of your goals and requirements.
Mmmm... Yes, the headphones sound better when connected to my big Onkyo Integrated Amplifier. Of course, it could be the old Pioneer CD player (connected to the Onkyo) that is making them sound good as well. Either way, the sound is better from that. Its just more... Better? Tighter bass, sparklier treble, better instrument seperation, just a better sound overall.

Quote:
Originally Posted by nightfire View Post
I think you'd be better off with a USB card. I like my M-Audio but I don't wanna sound like I'm always pitching them.
I thought a USB card was the same thing as a DAC . If not, whats a good cheap USB sound card? Transit looks pretty good, although its HIGHLY overpriced here (around $250!!!) so I'd better get it sent from America if I do get it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by m3_arun View Post
As far as USB DACs, check out the Silverstone EB-01, which is around $90. You would have to also get a cheap amp (used cMoy or something) with that, but should be a significant upgrade from your Audigy.
Ok... So... DAC or external sound card? I thought they were the same... Obviously not.
post #23 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by fraseyboy View Post
I thought a USB card was the same thing as a DAC . If not, whats a good cheap USB sound card? Transit looks pretty good, although its HIGHLY overpriced here (around $250!!!) so I'd better get it sent from America if I do get it.
A DAC is the component of the sound card that converts from digital to analog (Digital/Analog Converter).

A sound card includes a PC interface of some sort (PCI, USB, Firewire, etc), a DAC, and an amplifier. They can either be in the PC or external. The Transit is a full sound card that includes a USB receiver, DAC, amp, and S/PDIF out (digital out; in this case, via "toslink" or fiber optics).

When we say "external DAC" we're usually referring to something that's driven by S/PDIF - a non-buffered digital music signal that includes the clock for making the music in the actual signal. DACs usually don't have USB support, but this is changing. In that case, it's basically a glorified sound card. The AQVox and Total Bithead are good examples - they can be fed via S/PDIF or USB.

External DACs are usually higher quality than even the best sound cards - IF they're driven by a stable source. But some sources (ie. the Turtle Beach Audio Advantage Micro) have a lousy S/PDIF output that includes both "jitter" (clock signal is not perfectly stable) and sometimes internal resampling (the opposite of bit-perfect).

So you might have a $1,000 DAC, but it sounds bad because the thing that's driving it isn't sending it something it can work with. Expensive DACs like this include some sort of jitter correction method (ie. buffering) that helps, but cheap DACs usually don't lock as well.

With regards to the Transit, ... ebay my friend. Ebay.
post #24 of 36
cheap DAC... aliendac maybe?

i'd save up a bit more and get a better DAC/source
post #25 of 36
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by nightfire View Post
A DAC is the component of the sound card that converts from digital to analog (Digital/Analog Converter).

A sound card includes a PC interface of some sort (PCI, USB, Firewire, etc), a DAC, and an amplifier. They can either be in the PC or external. The Transit is a full sound card that includes a USB receiver, DAC, amp, and S/PDIF out (digital out; in this case, via "toslink" or fiber optics).

When we say "external DAC" we're usually referring to something that's driven by S/PDIF - a non-buffered digital music signal that includes the clock for making the music in the actual signal. DACs usually don't have USB support, but this is changing. In that case, it's basically a glorified sound card. The AQVox and Total Bithead are good examples - they can be fed via S/PDIF or USB.

External DACs are usually higher quality than even the best sound cards - IF they're driven by a stable source. But some sources (ie. the Turtle Beach Audio Advantage Micro) have a lousy S/PDIF output that includes both "jitter" (clock signal is not perfectly stable) and sometimes internal resampling (the opposite of bit-perfect).

So you might have a $1,000 DAC, but it sounds bad because the thing that's driving it isn't sending it something it can work with. Expensive DACs like this include some sort of jitter correction method (ie. buffering) that helps, but cheap DACs usually don't lock as well.

With regards to the Transit, ... ebay my friend. Ebay.
OOOOOHHHHH Now I get it! Thanks for making it clear to me!!!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by uraflit View Post
cheap DAC... aliendac maybe?

i'd save up a bit more and get a better DAC/source
Save up? Mmm... Maybe I should do that.


What if I saved up enough to get the Total Bithead? Is it any good? I might be able to if I try REAL hard...
post #26 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by fraseyboy View Post
What if I saved up enough to get the Total Bithead? Is it any good? I might be able to if I try REAL hard...
Disclaimer: I've never heard the total bithead.

Having said that, a lot of people have raved about the Zhaolu, and it's in the same price range. The D2.5 with the discrete headphone amp would drive the RS1s very nicely. You could use your Audigy to drive it, and later get a high quality S/PDIF source like a HagUSB.
post #27 of 36
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by nightfire View Post
Disclaimer: I've never heard the total bithead.

Having said that, a lot of people have raved about the Zhaolu, and it's in the same price range. The D2.5 with the discrete headphone amp would drive the RS1s very nicely. You could use your Audigy to drive it, and later get a high quality S/PDIF source like a HagUSB.
But the Zhaolu isn't a DAC is it? I thought it was just an amp... Maybe I'm wrong (likely)...

If not, has it got USB or only optical or woteva?


Oh and what about the DAC-AH? Everyone seems to love them! Would it be better than the Zhalou? Its certainly cheaper...
post #28 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by fraseyboy View Post
But the Zhaolu isn't a DAC is it? I thought it was just an amp... Maybe I'm wrong (likely)...

If not, has it got USB or only optical or woteva?


Oh and what about the DAC-AH? Everyone seems to love them! Would it be better than the Zhalou? Its certainly cheaper...
Zhaolu is a DAC/amp AFAIK. I think does not have USB out. You might want that though since your soundcard isn't all that great. By using USB out you can avoid using the your soundcard.

DAC-AH is only a DAC and not an amp. ( I think - I looked at it and I couldn't find the volume control)

I would really advice something like the Total bithead or a Meier amp. ( Opera if you've got money to spare and Porta Corda MkIII-USB if you haven't )
The EMU 0404 is pretty good aswell and I haven't tried the M-audio thingemabob ever, but from what I hear that does the job aswell.
post #29 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by fraseyboy View Post
But the Zhaolu isn't a DAC is it? I thought it was just an amp... Maybe I'm wrong (likely)...

If not, has it got USB or only optical or woteva?


Oh and what about the DAC-AH? Everyone seems to love them! Would it be better than the Zhalou? Its certainly cheaper...
The Zhaolu (http://www.ifiaudio.com/d25.html) is both a DAC and a headphone amp. You have a choice; the base model uses a cheap "opamp" amplifier which is probably decent. Or you can take the "discrete headphone amp" module that implements a class A transistor amp, which should sound a fair bit better.

There's no USB in. You have to feed it via optical or coax S/PDIF. As far as I know your card does support S/PDIF out (check the manual) so you can use that to drive it for now. Or, you could buy a USB S/PDIF converter now or later. They run from $35 for a real cheapie to .. well the sky's the limit.

The HagUSB and M-Audio transit are both decent, and around $100 on ebay. But for now you could certainly drive it with the Audigy.
post #30 of 36
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by nightfire View Post
The Zhaolu (http://www.ifiaudio.com/d25.html) is both a DAC and a headphone amp. You have a choice; the base model uses a cheap "opamp" amplifier which is probably decent. Or you can take the "discrete headphone amp" module that implements a class A transistor amp, which should sound a fair bit better.

There's no USB in. You have to feed it via optical or coax S/PDIF. As far as I know your card does support S/PDIF out (check the manual) so you can use that to drive it for now. Or, you could buy a USB S/PDIF converter now or later. They run from $35 for a real cheapie to .. well the sky's the limit.

The HagUSB and M-Audio transit are both decent, and around $100 on ebay. But for now you could certainly drive it with the Audigy.
Yep my card has all the inputs and outputs you could ever desire (I have the Platinum version, which has the front bay with TOS-Link, S/PDIF and loads of other connections).

Couldn't I just use S/PDIF with ASIO (my card also supports this) then wouldnt it bypass all the crappy audigy stuff?

If not, I think it might be a better idea to go for the Bithead. How does the Bithead stack up to the Zhalou $199 version?

And what about the Lite DAC-AH (http://pacificvalve.us/LTDACAH2.html)? I've read good things about it. It seems it uses older hardware, in an attempt to get closer to the Vinyl sound... From what I've read it works. And it's cheap too!

Contenders as of now:

Lite DAC-AH $170
Total Bithead $199
Zhalou 2.5 $199
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