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Do I need a DAC?

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 

Greetings,

 

Ive just recently started to like audio gears and have been wondering if DAC would be useful for my setup. My setup for now goes like this:

 

Xonar DS > Marantz MR215 > Speakers/Headphone

 

Yeah its vintage but... naah doesnt matter, it amplifies my headphones and speakers atsmile.gif

Read a "LOT" of threads about DAC's but I cant seem to understand it and lead me to confusion. Some people say that it improves SQ but others say it just lessens or erases the noise that comes from the cpu, video card, etc. By the way, I dont get these noises though, I do get a hiss when turning my volume up and down.

 

 

So I have narrowed down my questions:

 

       1.) Will it really improve the sound quality?

       2.) Will it conflict with a 7.1 setup?

       3.) Will it conflict with my receiver?

       4.) Do I really need it?

       5.) If recommended, what DAC would be good?(FiiO)

 

 

I wrote limit the DAC's to FiiO since that is the only DAC I have seen in our country since I was born. Just joking, Ive seen larger DAC's that is more expensive than my entire rig. I chose FiiO since they are the only ones that provide cheap DAC's here.

 

 

Hoping for your replies. I would really appreciate it. Thanks! 

Oh and please excuse my grammar and spelling.L3000.gif

post #2 of 17

Your Xonar DS all ready comes with a decent DAC (Digital to Analog Converter).

 

You could try the third party Xonar drivers.

They are at the website Brainbit, called "Xonar Unified Drivers".

 

Did you disable the motherboard's on-board audio (in the BIOS).

post #3 of 17
Thread Starter 

Oh I see, so does this mean that getting an external DAC would not be a good upgrade? I dont really have a problem with my current setup for now, I just thought that a DAC would upgrade my sound quality(as other thread says). I'll be getting a new pair of headphones then.

 

Yup I already disabled it in BIOS and I also heard of those drivers, I actually had a chat on them and told me that I can use those drivers if a problem would pop up in my current setup.

 

Appreciate the reply. atsmile.gif

post #4 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by xLeira View Post

Oh I see, so does this mean that getting an external DAC would not be a good upgrade? I don't really have a problem with my current setup for now, I just thought that a DAC would upgrade my sound quality(as other thread says). I'll be getting a new pair of headphones then.

 

Yup I already disabled it in BIOS and I also heard of those drivers, I actually had a chat on them and told me that I can use those drivers if a problem would pop up in my current setup.

 

Appreciate the reply. atsmile.gif

You can very easily get an external DAC and bypass the Xonar DS (losing surround sound features).

You can buy external DACs from China, off eBay, prices start from $65 to $100.

The DAC Destroyer (USB DAC) sells for $50 (off eBay) ships from Canada.

Good name brand (like HRT) DACs, start at around $140.

I'm sure your motherboard has USB outputs (posts), does it have optical or coaxial?

post #5 of 17
Thread Starter 

Nah, I dont want to lose the Xonar features since I watch movies and play games occasionally.

 

Sadly, buying anything from the internet(international) would multiply the price if shipped to my country. I have relatives but I need to wait for them to come back here to lessen shipping expenses. frown.gif (Hint: Im Poor)

 

Thanks for the reply, I really appreciate it. atsmile.gif

post #6 of 17

Have you given a thought to the Xonar STX?

post #7 of 17
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by proton007 View Post

Have you given a thought to the Xonar STX?

Yup heard of them and also heard its TONS of positive reviews.

 

What I am afraid is about the improvement of the sound quality if I get this upgrade. Yes, upgrading from built-in sound card into a dedicated one gave me a sensational improvement of sound quality to my ears. But will this give me a lot of improvement from my Xonar DS? I am still satisfied with my Xonar DS for gaming(since I only play CS 1.6 and used the GX mode from my Xonar DS and really works well), movies and music too.

 

I just want to upgrade and have the greatest improvement of sound quality. Ugh, I really cant explain clearly but would this be the right time to use the "best bang for the buck" phrase? LOL Im very sorry for my lack of vocabulary. confused_face.gif

 

Thanks for your reply. atsmile.gif

post #8 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by xLeira View Post
Nah, I don't want to lose the Xonar features since I watch movies and play games occasionally.

Sadly, buying anything from the internet(international) would multiply the price if shipped to my country. I have relatives but I need to wait for them to come back here to lessen shipping expenses. frown.gif (Hint: I'm Poor)

 

Thanks for the reply, I really appreciate it. atsmile.gif

Have you tried removing the audio software from the on-board sound.

post #9 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by xLeira View Post

Yup heard of them and also heard its TONS of positive reviews.

 

What I am afraid is about the improvement of the sound quality if I get this upgrade. Yes, upgrading from built-in sound card into a dedicated one gave me a sensational improvement of sound quality to my ears. But will this give me a lot of improvement from my Xonar DS? I am still satisfied with my Xonar DS for gaming(since I only play CS 1.6 and used the GX mode from my Xonar DS and really works well), movies and music too.

 

I just want to upgrade and have the greatest improvement of sound quality. Ugh, I really cant explain clearly but would this be the right time to use the "best bang for the buck" phrase? LOL Im very sorry for my lack of vocabulary. confused_face.gif

 

Thanks for your reply. atsmile.gif

 

If you're looking for the greatest improvement, I don't think it'll come from the dac side. I don't know what you use for speakers/headphones, but usually that's an area where you can get the best bang for the buck. You might want to think about upgrading those.

post #10 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by xLeira View Post
Yup heard of them and also heard its TONS of positive reviews.

What I am afraid is about the improvement of the sound quality if I get this upgrade. Yes, upgrading from built-in sound card into a dedicated one gave me a sensational improvement of sound quality to my ears. But will this give me a lot of improvement from my Xonar DS? I am still satisfied with my Xonar DS for gaming(since I only play CS 1.6 and used the GX mode from my Xonar DS and really works well), movies and music too.

I just want to upgrade and have the greatest improvement of sound quality. Ugh, I really cant explain clearly but would this be the right time to use the "best bang for the buck" phrase? LOL Im very sorry for my lack of vocabulary. confused_face.gif

 

Thanks for your reply. atsmile.gif

Have you tired moving the Xonar DS to a different PCI slot.

What make and model motherboard are you using?

Try moving one or more of the power plugs to different wall socket.

 

The SMSL SD-793 DAC (optical and coaxial input) sell on eBay for $58.

The DAC is about equal to the one on the Essence STX.

You can run an optical cable from the Xonar DS to the SMSL SD-793, then RCAs to the Marantz MR215.

As your taking a digital signal away from the computer, there is a chance it will remove the noise.

Maybe have it shipped some to someone from just outside the Philippines just before they come to visit?


Edited by PurpleAngel - 6/14/12 at 10:20pm
post #11 of 17

You can also try swaping out the default op-amp that is in the DS. You most likey don't like the generic op-amp sound signature.

post #12 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by genclaymore View Post

You can also try swaping out the default op-amp that is in the DS. You most likey don't like the generic op-amp sound signature.

Try the LME49860NA op-amp, it's the same as the LME49720NA, but with a better voltage range.

post #13 of 17
Thread Starter 
Sorry for the late reply, got busy from my studies.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by PurpleAngel View Post

Have you tried removing the audio software from the on-board sound.

 

If youre talking about those realtek drivers then yes, I already did.

 

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by proton007 View Post

 

If you're looking for the greatest improvement, I don't think it'll come from the dac side. I don't know what you use for speakers/headphones, but usually that's an area where you can get the best bang for the buck. You might want to think about upgrading those.

 

 

Yes, as explained by PurpleAngel that my soundcard already have a decent DAC and I also dont encounter weird noises coming from computer. My current headphones are Philips SHP2500 and JVC HA-RX700. Im thinking about upgrading my headphones and buying those ATH-M50's which costs around $210. I thank my country for this amazing price. tongue.gif As for my speakers, I got those from my mum's component. Dont know bout the model though.

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by PurpleAngel View Post

Have you tired moving the Xonar DS to a different PCI slot.

What make and model motherboard are you using?

Try moving one or more of the power plugs to different wall socket.

 

The SMSL SD-793 DAC (optical and coaxial input) sell on eBay for $58.

The DAC is about equal to the one on the Essence STX.

You can run an optical cable from the Xonar DS to the SMSL SD-793, then RCAs to the Marantz MR215.

As your taking a digital signal away from the computer, there is a chance it will remove the noise.

Maybe have it shipped some to someone from just outside the Philippines just before they come to visit?

 

Hmm what can this things do? Im not getting EMI from my computer so I dont think this has anything to do with the sound quality. (EMI's are the noise right?)
My motherboard is XFX XG31i(Vintage too, I know I know frown.gif). There are 2 PCI slots and one is occupied by the video card.

 

By running an optical cable to a DAC, would this bypass the surround features of the xonar? I really dont want to lose those features.

Yeah my relatives comes back to the Philippines every christmas but i cant really wait for them to have an upgrade. This upgraditus bug keeps biting me.

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by genclaymore View Post

You can also try swaping out the default op-amp that is in the DS. You most likey don't like the generic op-amp sound signature.

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by PurpleAngel View Post

Try the LME49860NA op-amp, it's the same as the LME49720NA, but with a better voltage range.

 

Yes Ive thought about those, can I buy those on electronics shop? (Me Noobsta bigsmile_face.gif)

 

 

One day when I finish this thing called school and got a job, Im gonna feast on those juicy upgraditus bugs and throw away all my money!!!

 

 

Thank you for all the replies, I really appreciate them and I feel welcomed. Unlike from my first post which almost made me cry, just kidding. atsmile.gif

post #14 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by xLeira View Post

Yes, as explained by PurpleAngel that my sound card already have a decent DAC and I also dont encounter weird noises coming from computer. My current headphones are Philips SHP2500 and JVC HA-RX700. I'm thinking about upgrading my headphones and buying those ATH-M50's which costs around $210. I thank my country for this amazing price. tongue.gif As for my speakers, I got those from my mum's component. Don't know bout the model though.

 

Hmm what can this things do? Im not getting EMI from my computer so I don't think this has anything to do with the sound quality. (EMI's are the noise right?)
My motherboard is XFX XG31i(Vintage too, I know I know frown.gif). There are 2 PCI slots and one is occupied by the video card.

 

By running an optical cable to a DAC, would this bypass the surround features of the Xonar? I really dont want to lose those features.

Yeah my relatives comes back to the Philippines every Christmas but I cant really wait for them to have an upgrade. This upgraditus bug keeps biting me.

 

You had talked about hiss when adjusting the volume, that why I talked about moving the Xonar DS, but I guess it's not a noise "problem".

I believe if you run an optical cable out of the Xonar DSs optical port, you can still use the surround sound features of the Xonar DS.

But as you have no noise problem, skip adding an optical cable.

Using a no-name "premium" mini-jack to RCA cable, might help keep a clear signal from DS to Marantz.

Premium cables are usually thicker then regular cables, a thick no-name cable should be $5.

 

The Audio Technica ATH-M50 is good for music, but not that great for surround sound.

 

If your not using the serial or parallel on the motherboard, might as will turn them off in the bios, less chance of shared IRQs

post #15 of 17
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by PurpleAngel View Post

You had talked about hiss when adjusting the volume, that why I talked about moving the Xonar DS, but I guess it's not a noise "problem".

I believe if you run an optical cable out of the Xonar DSs optical port, you can still use the surround sound features of the Xonar DS.

But as you have no noise problem, skip adding an optical cable.

Using a no-name "premium" mini-jack to RCA cable, might help keep a clear signal from DS to Marantz.

Premium cables are usually thicker then regular cables, a thick no-name cable should be $5.

 

The Audio Technica ATH-M50 is good for music, but not that great for surround sound.

 

If your not using the serial or parallel on the motherboard, might as will turn them off in the bios, less chance of shared IRQs

 

Oh yeah forgot I mentioned about the hiss when adjusting the volume, very sorry about that, my bad. Really not a problem to me though since this hiss only occurs when adjusting the volume. I already searched about this kind of hiss and some results say that it is normal on some receivers.

 

So my primal instinct was really correct, when I bought a mini-jack to RCA cable I saw 2 kinds of those, a normal-looking one and a thick one that they usually call "Heavy Duty". Bought the "Heavy Duty" cable and got no problems so far. biggrin.gif

 

EDIT: After the M50's, Im planning to buy open-backed ones, still didnt decide what to buy though.

Ok I'll try turning them off, can you explain(if it is ok) what IRQ means? Im on a learning mode right now. L3000.gif Thanks.


Edited by xLeira - 6/15/12 at 9:52pm
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