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Has computer/laptop DAC technology matured? Realtek vs ......

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 

Just wondering if computer DAC technology has matured to the point where it is pretty much equivalent to high end DACs such as wolfson etc.

 

I am using a Realtek ALC888s which can output 24 bit 192 kHz. I get no noise or hiss and it sounds pretty good on my Starkey SA-43 iems.

 

If there is a difference between these types of dac's, is it a noticeable difference that warrant the price difference?

 

Thanks

post #2 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by x5_spoonman View Post
Just wondering if computer DAC technology has matured to the point where it is pretty much equivalent to high end DACs such as wolfson etc.

I am using a Realtek ALC888s which can output 24 bit 192 kHz. I get no noise or hiss and it sounds pretty good on my Starkey SA-43 iems.

If there is a difference between these types of DAC's, is it a noticeable difference that warrant the price difference?

Realtek (ALC888) is an audio processor, not a DAC (Digital to Analog Converter).

There has always been good DACs around.

But usually motherboard manufacturers use lowest priced (and maybe decent) DAC they can get away with.

People buy motherboards looking for the best price, not the best DAC chip.

Chances are a $175 add-on sound card (or external DAC) comes with a DAC chip that cost several times more then what comes built into a $100 motherboard.

post #3 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by PurpleAngel View Post

Realtek (ALC888) is an audio processor, not a DAC (Digital to Analog Converter).

 

The ALC888 does include a multichannel DAC, as well as an ADC, and a basic headphone amplifier.

 

Newer codec chips used on motherboards can indeed compete with low end DACs, and may have "good enough" sound quality (see also this thread, here the ALC887 - which is not the best Realtek codec, but is similar to the ALC888 - was tested under not too favorable conditions, and it still did not perform badly). However, the problem is often the bad quality of the implementation on the motherboard, that makes the onboard audio outputs noisy because of EMI and ground loops, and the headphone jacks often have too high output impedance and/or use too small coupling capacitors that roll off the bass.


Edited by stv014 - 9/12/12 at 11:28am
post #4 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by stv014 View Post

 

The ALC888 does include a multichannel DAC, as well as an ADC, and a basic headphone amplifier.

 

Newer codec chips used on motherboards can indeed compete with low end DACs, and may have "good enough" sound quality (see also this thread, here the ALC887 - which is not the best Realtek codec, but is similar to the ALC888 - was tested under not too favorable conditions, and it still did not perform badly). However, the problem is often the bad quality of the implementation on the motherboard, that makes the on-board audio outputs noisy because of EMI and ground loops, and the headphone jacks often have too high output impedance and/or use too small coupling capacitors that roll off the bass.

Wow, Realtek integrated DACs into their audio processors.

post #5 of 8

Good motherboards have better quality audio, but you won't find them in OEM PCs.

My gigabyte motherboard (Z77x-UD3H) has a VIA-Vinyl VT2021. Pretty decent in terms of audio quality, and instantly distinguishable from my laptop audio. Doesn't match the ODAC, but close.

post #6 of 8

I have the Realtek ALC898 on my new P8Z77-I mobo.  The funny thing is I didn't even know that until I was listening to some music after installing Windows, and noticed it sounded better.  Looked at the box and realized I have a newer version.  My previous mobo used ALC892.  So yeah, I would say they have made some improvements.

I'm going back and forth with the onboard and Fiio E7 and having a hard time telling the difference with the Shure SRH940 ;/  The E7 has 9 days on the run time counter, so I'm sure it's burned in by now.  This makes me want to of course buy a better DAC, but I think I can wait a while since I'm satisfied with what it sounds like.

post #7 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by PurpleAngel View Post

Wow, Realtek integrated DACs into their audio processors.

How did you think they were able to produce analog sound from digital sources? They've always had DACs inside, along with ADCs.
post #8 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by PurpleAngel View Post

Wow, Realtek integrated DACs into their audio processors.

notsureifsrs.

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