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Which is better? PC->USB DAC or PC->USB/coaxial converter->DAC ?

post #1 of 43
Thread Starter 
I'm thinking about adding an USB-to-coaxial/SDPIF converter to my desktop rig.
I gonna have the DacMagic and intend to connect it with my laptop directly by USB. However, I also pay attention to the M-Audio Transit.

Now, the question is,which is better?
Can I have the sampling rate of 24bit/96Khz when using the M-Audio Transit? Using USB only have 16bit/44Khz and I think that'll not use all the power of the DAC.

Opinions and advices are really appreciated.
post #2 of 43
Most entry-level USB-S/PDIF transports aren't that good, IME.

The DacMagic upsamples anyway so the Transit wouldn't give you anything above a direct USB connection.
post #3 of 43
My vote goes to the PC -> USB DAC option.
Less components involved, and if done right I am sure it will have higher sound quality.
post #4 of 43
Thread Starter 
Thanks all guys. Look like I don't have to spend some bucks for the converter
post #5 of 43
Avoid USB to SPDIF coaxial/optical conversion, best to stick to either SDPIF directly to DAC, or a good quality DAC with a proper USB input.
post #6 of 43
I'd also go with straight USB. Likely less jitter without the extra conversion unit.

Dave
post #7 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lil' Knight View Post
Thanks all guys. Look like I don't have to spend some bucks for the converter
You're welcome!

Or spend the additional money on the DAC instead. he he
post #8 of 43
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by krmathis View Post

Or spend the additional money on the DAC instead. he he
It's only the matter of time
Resistance is futile
post #9 of 43
I have a DacMagic and use it via USB, using Winamp and asio plugin it sounds excellent.

I have also tried my DacMagic via its coaxial input, output from my S/PDIF M-Audio 192 soundcard and the difference in SQ was hardly noticeable.
post #10 of 43
my question is, if the difference isn't very noticable, it still means you *did* notice something, was it better, worse, or just different?


I'd have to agree with all of the suggestions given here, as its basically the same thing over and over, avoid the USB to S/PDIF, go with USB DAC or USB DAC/amp combo

you could also go with the soundcard -> DAC route, although that'll probably take quite a bit of harassment and opposition on head-fi (for some reason the myth of noisy internal computers just won't die, now, a lot of cheap soundcards *are* crap, but a good soundcard is just as capable as a USB DAC at a similar price (or even up to ~2x the price, I'm not gonna make an outlandish claim that something like an X-Fi Titanium will best a Grace m902 across the board, although it'd probably give you 93-95% of the performance at ~1/10th the price))
post #11 of 43
Just depends on the receiver.

If the USB receiver is crap, you'll have better results from USB->S/PDIF->DAC or soundcard (SPDIF) -> DAC.

Also depends on how the DAC is set up; some USB receivers in DACs are actually converting the signal to S/PDIF for multiplexing anyway so you're either the same or better off with USB->S/PDIF and still better with soundcard -> DAC.
post #12 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lil' Knight View Post
It's only the matter of time
Resistance is futile
Resistance is futile, Resistance is futile, Resistance is futile...
Must not resist!
post #13 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by 1UP View Post
Most entry-level USB-S/PDIF transports aren't that good, IME.

The DacMagic upsamples anyway so the Transit wouldn't give you anything above a direct USB connection.
1up is correct. If you spend $100-200 on a USB to S/PDIF converter it will be poor compared to a built-in interface like the Benchmark DAC-1 USB has.

On the other hand, if you buy a really good converter and spend $800, this will be better than the built-in USB interface. There are a number of reasons for this, three of them are: lower jitter clock than the built-in interface, separate power system and galvanic isolation between computer and DAC.

Because a DAC upsamples asynchronously, this does not make it immune to jitter. This only reduces jitter.

Steve N.
Empirical Audio
post #14 of 43
Thread Starter 
I've just found out that my laptop has a 3.5mm S/PDIF output. So, I just wonder if there's any difference between using it and USB?
post #15 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lil' Knight View Post
I've just found out that my laptop has a 3.5mm S/PDIF output. So, I just wonder if there's any difference between using it and USB?
Use your laptop spdif output, but upsample the signal first in Foobar2000.
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