Originally Posted by Hermitt
Take a peek at this Icarus
has 4 digital inputs, 3 optional DAC daughterboards (I have the PCM1798) and my hd595s sound sooo much better than when they were unamped
its not cause of the amplification stage guy, its cause of the DAC board ;-). (I am absolutely serious, I've been testing this before, and tested with my microDAC today).
Originally Posted by geestring
or i can just get that pci chaintech av one thats super cheap and get a amp.
Noooo not the chaintech av710, been there done that. The main issue is static and total lack of benefit from an amp, and it does not even really sound all that good, and adding an amp (I am getting sooo redundant) won't do anything. Ask uraflit, he is running av710 + pa2v2 and his results turned out to be better WITHOUT the pa2v2 (I used porta corda in my start up, and I might as well have not used it although there were no negatives). AV710 has hiss that hd595 picks up, I did not know that hiss could go away until I tried a more quality source. EMU-0404 USB if you can stretch yourself IS the way to go for this sole purpose. Also, it probably has the best DAC chip of all the products in the price range (the other ones - Zhalou(upgraded) and microDAC use a cirrus DAC chip which is not as good number wise, and consequently proved to not perform quite as well to my ears (IMHO). microDAC has some other advantages though, although I might be just telling myself that cause it costs more).
After a few experiments actually - the only benefit of using an amp I can find is that you don't have to use windows volume controls, which is a big plus, they introduce crackle when not maxed out, but emu 0404 and such come with their own analog volume controls, which is the objective anyways.