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Sound glitches ( last post ).

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 

Hi there.

 

After many months of using my portable gear to enjoy the music, i've decided to set up my own "PC-audio" rig and i am deeply convinced that a DAC is the key. But there are some major concerns that must be clarified. Let's go then :>

 

1) My portable gear = Sony X + Sennheiser IE8. It's a good one. I really love it, especially the huge 3D soundstage imaging, and i wonder if a DAC could overtake the X in terms of overall SQ ( i'm going to use those IE8s, as well as my HD380Pros ). If so, which one would you recommend ( price range - up to 400$; been thinking of the NuForce Icon HDP and E-MU 0404  ) ?

 

PS: I used to convert all my music files to AAC ( bitrate - 400 ), since Sony players don't support FLAC format. Keep in mind, that if i had the possibility of using my PC as a source, i would use only FLAC files.

 

2) I've heard of various issues of unwanted sounds/noises linked with USB DACs. What's the most common cause ?

 

3) As you may know, the IE8s are low-impedance earbuds. Are there any problems which are more likely to be encountered when running them through a DAC w/ amp ?

 

Thanks in advance.

post #2 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by luq92 View Post

Hi there.

 

After many months of using my portable gear to enjoy the music, i've decided to set up my own "PC-audio" rig and i am deeply convinced that a DAC is the key. But there are some major concerns that must be clarified. Let's go then :>

 

1) My portable gear = Sony X + Sennheiser IE8. It's a good one. I really love it, especially the huge 3D soundstage imaging, and i wonder if a DAC could overtake the X in terms of overall SQ ( i'm going to use those IE8s, as well as my HD380Pros ). If so, which one would you recommend ( price range - up to 400$; been thinking of the NuForce Icon HDP and E-MU 0404  ) ?

 

PS: I used to convert all my music files to AAC ( bitrate - 400 ), since Sony players don't support FLAC format. Keep in mind, that if i had the possibility of using my PC as a source, i would use only FLAC files.

 

2) I've heard of various issues of unwanted sounds/noises linked with USB DACs. What's the most common cause ?

 

3) As you may know, the IE8s are low-impedance earbuds. Are there any problems which are more likely to be encountered when running them through a DAC w/ amp ?

 

Thanks in advance.


First- You will have a hard time beating your portable setup for low cost simply because you have a relatively closed system dedicated to audio.  A PC based system has all sorts of things that can get in the way,  

 

Before we start throwing out suggestions, how bout telling us what PC, what OS, what Player, amp, interconnects, speakers, headphone amp, etc.

 

Low impedance buds on many amps may pick up some hiss, so try to hear some at a meet prior to buying or get some recs from some IE 8 folks.  As for dacs, they are not cure alls and lots of stuff upstream can affect how they perform.  And yes lots of usb dacs in the low price range do not sound so great.  In fact my portable setup sounds much better than many I have tried.  Can you mitigate some of these issues, yes, but do not get too stuck on the dac.

post #3 of 8
Thread Starter 

Well, i expected it to be quite difficult to make a decent PC rig for that money, but at least i can try ;)

You asked me about PC, OS and other things. I don't really know what should i mention describing my computer, but :

 

OS: Win 7 64-bit / Win XP 32-bit, depends on the computer i am going to use ( i have two PCs ).
Sound Card: Integral in both cases.

Speakers: Creative T-20.

No amps, interconnects, headphone amps etc...

Oh, and i have an old Technics stereo.

 

I decided to pick a few DACs for some tests today and wrote some e-mails in regard to this matter ;) Hope to get a positive reply.

 

PS: What did you mean by "relatively closed system dedicated to audio" ?

post #4 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by luq92 View Post

PS: What did you mean by "relatively closed system dedicated to audio" ?

A flash based portable has no disk drives spinning or polluting the environment, no video, no interfaces for keyboard or mouse to cause noise and no fans.  So no worries about them contributing noise in a portable setup.  Also no external interface from the player to the computer output to add jitter to the digital signal.  Very short signal paths and no external wires.  Power supplies have been designed to minimize noise and without any other variables like in a pc.  So in a portable you have a closed system that is designed to work well with the data, the player and non-moving disk.

 

Read up on how to get the best sound from win 7.  I think it is event wasapi that you should learn about and run.  try here:

 

http://thewelltemperedcomputer.com/SW/Players/MC14/MC_Wasapi.htm

 

Supposed to be the best way to get great sound with usb dac.  That being said in my tests, USB can sound really poor or really good depending on implementation and what else is going on in the computer.  So a $35 converter might do well if other processes and noises are minimized but really poor when not.  Also a $1200 dac with a plain Jane USB implementation (and there are tons of these BTW) can sound much poorer than the same dac without USB.  If I were using a Win PC, I think I would look at something like a Kingrex USB to spdif bridge and a decent used dac.  Then you could play all resolutions up to 192 (assuming the dac could) and upgrade the dac later on.

 

And try some good players for PC like JRiver or some of the alternatives to the standard bearers like foobar.

 

Good luck!
 


Edited by bixby - 9/20/11 at 1:58pm
post #5 of 8
Thread Starter 

Thanks for such a fast reply !

And again, thanks for posting that link. Its really helpful.

post #6 of 8

My set up in my sig works flawlessly through USB using WASAPI.  Before I used WASAPI I would get an occasional audio glitch every now and then, just enough to be annoying.  WASAPI completely eliminated that and my HDP is dead silent (except for the music) with both my IEMs and my HD650's.  It entirely cut any W7 or computer generated glitches out of the chain.  I really am quite satisfied, indeed thrilled, with the sound I'm getting for both music and video through my headphones now.  Although I thought my laptop's on board sound through it's headphone out jack was pretty decent before I got this external USB DAC/amp going, now I can no longer stand to listen to the old on board sound because I've been spoiled by something a lot better.  As I understand it, there are several great choices in the HDP's approximate price range.  I went for the HDP not only because of the value for the quality but also for the small form factor which was very important to me because I have little room on my desk and I wanted something I could easily travel with.

 

Anyway, nowadays, with the right equipment, it is possible to get awesome sound via USB without spending a lot of money.  (I consider <$500 not a lot of money in exchange for great audio from my computer with a lot of options re input choices.  Of course, that figure doesn't count headphones. . .  I'm just talking about the DAC/hp amp.)

post #7 of 8
Thread Starter 

One more question. Is it possible that a music track itself is a cause of occasional, not really bothering and disturbing pops ? For example - "For Whom the Bell Tolls" by Metallica. I played this track several times today and what was getting every time were, mentioned above, pops in the end of the song in the same section at every time.

 

PS: Should i be getting one of those ASIO drivers ? Worth a try ?

post #8 of 8
Thread Starter 

I was trying to get it working properly whole morning but i failed. I tried to use my second PC as a source, i tried to connect it with an optical cable ( instead of USB one ) and plug the power supply into other power sockets but it was all useless. It seems i'm not meant to use an USB DAC :)

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