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How much better is Little Dot I+ with onboard sound than with dedicated sound card or usb dac?

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 

Hi guys,

 

Im new to this forum and this is my first post on headfi. there is so much useful, first-hand information here from audio enthusiasts from all over the world and i figured out this would be the best place to find answers.

 

I just got my grado325is not long ago and i have already ordered the little dot I+ with WE408A tubes as i heard they are fantastic together. I also managed to get a set of high quality ofc RCA interconnects.

 

I plan to listen to music from itunes from my computer but I have a couple of questions. 

 

firstly, if i used an RCA to 3.5mm adapter with my interconnects to connect the amp to the onboard card on my computer, (independent of the fact that an dedicated sound card is normally better), will the use of the adapter or the 'conversion' of the RCA to 3.5mm signal limit the potential of the setup or affect the sound quality?

 

secondly, if it does, would it then be better to get a soundcard with an RCA out such as the m-audio audiophile 2496? would the difference be worth the money in your opinion?

 

thirdly, how would the m-audiophile soundcard setup compare to using an ibasso d10 as a usb DAC in terms of sound quality?

 

im really wondering which option i should choose from, and i would really be thankful to anyone who can help me out :)

 

Regards,

Ron

 

   

post #2 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by ronnie89 View Post

 

1. firstly, if i used an RCA to 3.5mm adapter with my interconnects to connect the amp to the onboard card on my computer, (independent of the fact that an dedicated sound card is normally better), will the use of the adapter or the 'conversion' of the RCA to 3.5mm signal limit the potential of the setup or affect the sound quality?

 

2. secondly, if it does, would it then be better to get a soundcard with an RCA out such as the m-audio audiophile 2496? would the difference be worth the money in your opinion?

 

3. thirdly, how would the m-audiophile soundcard setup compare to using an ibasso d10 as a usb DAC in terms of sound quality?

 

 

1. your conversion won't influence the sound unless you're one of the cableguys and believe in unicorns. 

2. the m-audio 2496 will offer a clearer signal than your current onboard, if your onboard is, for example, a cheap Realtek. 

3. M-audio makes solid studiogear. Ibasso makes boutique gear. I bet that the M-audio will measure better. 

 

 

post #3 of 14

What is your budget?

post #4 of 14
Thread Starter 

haha! i dont believe in unicorns. so i guess its alright!

 

thanks Negakinu. i guess ill most probably be going with the m-audio audiophile 2496 sound card although i dont need the MIDI capabilities. i don't know if im paying more for that :( 

Would you by any chance know of any other cheaper or similar priced sound card offering the same or if not better sound quality?

 

@jenna

 

probably around $USD 80. im almost a broke student now, dont know if this is the right hobby though i really like to indulge in great sound.. 

post #5 of 14

uDac is a great match for the I+ and awesome budget setup (budget in terms of price, sound is great).

 

 

1010178t.jpg

post #6 of 14

The uDAC measures worse than a cheap M-Audio Transit ($50) or Behringer UCA202 ($30). This will ofcourse not be directly audible but it does mean that you can spend half of the uDAC's asking price and get similar performance. 

post #7 of 14

Hmm... For 80 dollars, I don't know what to reccomend. But in the long run, you should save up your money and spend money on a nice one, then you wont have to upgrade. 

post #8 of 14
Thread Starter 

thanks for the recommendation Negakinu, and Jenna, thanks for your advice.

 

i was thinking about what you said actually... i looked up for reviews of the behringer, and it seems to be one of the best bang for buck usb dac around.  the other one i noticed was the zero dac which costs only $120, i read one of its review in this forum and it said it was a real gem that can rival other dac's 5 x its price, which makes me so wanna get it.

 

im using an intel g31 chipset, which has intel hd audio. i dont know if it is worth it to get the behringer, because ive heard somewhere that onboard audio can be pretty decent nowadays, and so the upgrade may not be even noticeable.

 

the thing is, my grados don't sound like its worth $300 straight off the 3.5mm jack from the front of my computer and i want to bring out its full potential.

 

problem is, my littledot 1+ is still on its way. my current set-up would be... onboard -> littledot 1+ --> grado325is.

would the behringer dac make a noticeable difference? or should i just save up for the zero dac, which i assume will be substantially better than both the onboard and behringer and bring the 325is to its fullest potential

 

perhaps i should wait for my little dot I+ first before i make a decision. what do you guys think?

 

 

post #9 of 14

Waiting for your Little Dot is the smartest thing to do. See how you like the sound first with the LD straight from your headphone-out.  It's easy to get caught in Head-Fi's upgraditis. :) 

 

I do believe the M-Audio Transit (or similar) will offer a cleaner signal from your laptop. Hooking up an amplifier to your laptop means the amplifier will amplify all the noise/hiss/beeps whatever coming from your onboard card as well. A laptop compromises on space so it's soundcard is surrounded by interfering hardware. My HP DV6 gamer laptop has decent audio for a laptop but hooking up my Transit makes an audible different when amping the signal. 

 

The Zero is actually pretty nice. You can easily upgrade it's opamps. For peace of mind mostly. wink_face.gif

post #10 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by Negakinu View Post

The uDAC measures worse than a cheap M-Audio Transit ($50) or Behringer UCA202 ($30). This will ofcourse not be directly audible but it does mean that you can spend half of the uDAC's asking price and get similar performance. 



Ah yes, Wavguys famous measurement drama.  Ever since that happened, Nuforce is just garbage, lol........I see your point Nega and it is a valid one since measurements will always determine the final product and sound.  Understand, I am not disagreeing with Mr wav or you in any way but sometimes I like to listen to gear to make up my own mind.  I purchased the uDac (1) when it first came out and enjoy it tremendously with various amps.  I also own the UCA202 & Zero, as well as about twelve other dacs that I have purchased through the years and still own.  I have connected them to various amps (including the I+), laptops, desktops etc....

In reference to the uDac, I came to the conclusion that even after I read the measurement drama, it still sounded good to me...beerchug.gif

 

OP (Ronnie) sorry for the sidebar.  If I had a choice and budget and can save a few dollars and was going to pick between the uDac(1), Zero or UCA202, I would choose the uDac.  Why?  Well, let's see- price, usb power, great sound, RCA outs, can be used as a usb to spdif converter, headphone amp, portability.

 

Of course that's just me...

 

Good luck...beerchug.gif

 

 

post #11 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by HeatFan12 View Post



Ah yes, Wavguys famous measurement drama.  Ever since that happened, Nuforce is just garbage,


I didn't say Nuforce is garbage. I tried to illustrate that you don't have to spend $100 to get a DAC that measures well. I actually have owned the uDAC and have sold it way before Nwavguy did his measurements. I sold it because it didn't offer an improvement compared to my Creative X-Fi and Sony X1050. To my ears, it sounded sterile in comparison. I now own the M-Audio Transit (among other DACs) which sounds more linear and slightly less digital to my ears. Btw, in reference to the uDAC, the Transit functions as an optical converter as well.

 


Edited by Negakinu - 4/5/11 at 7:07am
post #12 of 14

Sounds great Nega.  I did not mean to say YOU said Nuforce was garbage, it's just that after the measurement drama, lots of folks bought into it and jumped on the bandwagon and then wavman and jasonl got into it and it was imo all unnecessary and should have been in the sound science sub.

 

The uca202 is also a converter.

 

 

 

post #13 of 14
For a DAC, you can take a look @

The HRT Music Streamer II
http://www.headfonia.com/the-hrt-music-streamer-ii-asynchronous-2496-for-149-95/

Audinst HUD-MX1
http://www.headfonia.com/audinst-hud-mx1-dac/

Yulong U100
http://www.headfonia.com/the-new-recommendation-the-yulong-u100-usb-dac/

I myself, imac > udac2 > ld I+
Edited by radonsg - 6/5/11 at 7:46am
post #14 of 14

You've got a nice pair of headphones there. To get the most out of them and your Little Dot I+ I would strongly recommend investing in an external USB DAC.

 

If your on board sound card is anything like mine then upgrading to a dedicated, external DAC is quite a revelation - on board sound is garbage by comparison in my experience. I brought the udac as my first DAC and I was very pleased with it. I'm sure any entry level USB DAC, be it the udac or Zero, would provide a quite noticeable improvement in sound quality for you.

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