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128kbps acc - what is it worth doing?

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
Hello everybody,

I'm a noob, so please forgive me if I'm in the wrong forum!

I'm also new to PC audio, but BBC iPlayer has become my main listening source - usually this is a 128k aac stream, sometimes it's 192k aac. I'm currently using the mobo's Realtek HD ALC883. This all sounds OK, but clearly isn't the best.

So, as I can't do anything about the quality of the stream, is it worth getting a better source - sound card or DAC - or would a sound card / DAC just show up the poor quality of the input?

Hope this makes sense Thanks.
post #2 of 9
Anything will give an improvement, but it comes down to how picky your ears are (and whether you know/learned what to listen for). What's your budget like? My recommendation is to check out the sale forums here and grab something used. Get a headphone first, then maybe a dac/amp later.

Just browse around the forums for a while and you'll see a huge number of impressions and products parse through. Decide what your needs are and go from there.
post #3 of 9
Thread Starter 
Hi Armaegis, thanks for your input.

I've been using a Rotel RA01 to 50/50 Grado SR80s or Quad 11ls (depends on the time of day!) and I'm as happy as I can afford to be with this set-up at the moment! I'd like to improve the quality of what I'm getting out of the PC, but 128k aac means little to me. Is 128k aac decent enough to warrant, say, a Xonar D2 or even a V-DAC, or would they just show up a poor quality stream?
post #4 of 9
You have sort of answered your own question
Originally Posted by striggy View Post
...or would a sound card / DAC just show up the poor quality of the input?...
This is definitely most true for your case. 128Kbps does not translate to a high quality recording by any stretch, and in my opinion your money would best be spent on quality source files (find higher quality rips online, buy CD's and rip them yourself, maybe even consider purchasing a CD player to use with CD's) before you spend any money on a DAC/sound card upgrade.
post #5 of 9
Thread Starter 
Hi Brian,

Thanks for your answer - so 128k aac isn't that hot

I should have been clearer. I have hundreds of CDs and a Rotel RCD 02 to play them on - but there is no way that I can match the variety of the BBCs record library + they do a lot of live concerts . However, why the b%&#ers won't put out a decent stream is beyond me! And FM doesn't work where I live.
post #6 of 9
Have you tried spotify? Thats an internet streaming service, and if you go for the subscription (£10 per month) you stream at 320kbps. To my ear it sounds fine and the range of music is astonishing.
post #7 of 9
You could try a cheap sound card like the Turtle Beach Micro. It's a usb gaming card and runs about $30-40. I used one for a while and found it to be a decent improvement over the onboard sound card, it reduced a lot of machine noise, plus it's the size of a keychain and can also act as a usb/spdif converter should you ever upgrade to a higher end DAC.
post #8 of 9
Thread Starter 
I'll have a look at Spotify, thanks St3ve.

Armaegis, thanks for the recommendation. I'll probably skip an internal sound card as I'm getting a low hum through my amp with the PC (but not if I take the headphone out directly from the PC ,probably the PSU, it's not ground loop), so the TB might be a cheap option - though I got the impression it was quite bright (I prefer warm). I'm looking at a few ideas - but I'll take equipment questions over to the Computer Audio section.
post #9 of 9
I didn't find the TB bright... maybe more bass heavy than anything, but it's been a while since I've used it.
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