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Advice please... USB DAC/Card/Amp (mainly for AKG K240 Studio and Audio-Technica ATH-M30)

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 

Hello

 

Currently I have two headphones: AKG K240S and Audio-Technica ATH-M30 and want to upgrade my onboard Realtek ALC270 which itself claims capability to produce even 24 bit 192 kHz sound. I am guessing that those specifications mean nothing. Is it possible that cheap entry level laptop could produce hi-fi sound?

 

So I thought I would need DAC or USB Sound card, preferable if it includes AMP function. My budget is around 50$ since I do not have high end headphones I am not considering high end gear also. I did some research and found stuff to consider:

 

Behringer UCA222

Fiio E10

Or Asus Xonar U3

 

My questions is- would additional USB DAC/Card improves sound quality if I am only using K240 and M30?

                          If Yes is your answer Please recommend me suitable Dac/Card

 

(I have some 24 bit Flac files in my library and it will be great to have 24 bit output support)

 

Please reply

 

Thank you in advance

post #2 of 11
Thread Starter 

I forget to mention that I have installed Ubuntu 12.4 and Win 7 ultimate 32 bit both on my laptop Please share some experience/ideas or anything

 

Thank you very much

post #3 of 11
Thread Starter 

bump


Edited by Lumos - 9/24/12 at 9:22am
post #4 of 11

I would say go with the Fiio E10, better DAC and amplifier then what your laptop came with.

post #5 of 11
Thread Starter 

PurpleAngel Thank you, E 10 is 65 $ on Amazon now, in Georgian currency it is 110 GEL nearly and it is somehow expensive for me, If I could not afford that second choice would be Xonar U3? Or can you recommend something better around 30$ price range?

 

or cheaper choices would not make any sense because I already own cheap device?

 

Thanks


Edited by Lumos - 9/25/12 at 9:00am
post #6 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lumos View Post

PurpleAngel Thank you, E 10 is 65 $ on Amazon now, in Georgian currency it is 110 GEL nearly and it is somehow expensive for me, If I could not afford that second choice would be Xonar U3? Or can you recommend something better around 30$ price range?

 

or cheaper choices would not make any sense because I already own cheap device?

 

Thanks

I guess for your budget the Asus U3 would be the best choice.

As the U3 comes with a very basic headphone amplifier, it should offer some audio quality improvement.

 

Is there much fighting in your area of the world, Chechnya use to be in the news a lot.

post #7 of 11
Thread Starter 

In Georgia there is no war of fighting, but in Chechnya it is still turbulent time. Thanks for recommendations beyersmile.png

post #8 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lumos View Post

Hello

 

Currently I have two headphones: AKG K240S and Audio-Technica ATH-M30 and want to upgrade my onboard Realtek ALC270 which itself claims capability to produce even 24 bit 192 kHz sound. I am guessing that those specifications mean nothing. Is it possible that cheap entry level laptop could produce hi-fi sound?

 

So I thought I would need DAC or USB Sound card, preferable if it includes AMP function. My budget is around 50$ since I do not have high end headphones I am not considering high end gear also. I did some research and found stuff to consider:

 

Behringer UCA222

Fiio E10

Or Asus Xonar U3

 

My questions is- would additional USB DAC/Card improves sound quality if I am only using K240 and M30?

                          If Yes is your answer Please recommend me suitable Dac/Card

 

(I have some 24 bit Flac files in my library and it will be great to have 24 bit output support)

 

Please reply

 

Thank you in advance

 

 

Well two options for you but based on if you need any surround sound ability for games and movies. If thats the case then Xonar U3 hands down but you will loose support for the 24bit formats that you have. You can read more on my findings here http://www.head-fi.org/t/627553/asus-xonar-u3-vs-creative-sound-blaster-x-fi-go-pro-usb#post_8743847

 

If you need that then get the Creative X-Fi 5.1 Pro USB it can do 24bit upto sample rates 96khz stable, the surround  sound option though is mediocre to poor as its THX, not even CMSS-3D. There is yet another older model but its damn rare. Its called the X-Fi 5.1 USB (non-pro) this one had CMSS-3D with none of the THX nonsense. Hard to find though.

 

What are your primary needs though? Music or Movies/games?

post #9 of 11
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by mharidas View Post

 

 

Well two options for you but based on if you need any surround sound ability for games and movies. If thats the case then Xonar U3 hands down but you will loose support for the 24bit formats that you have. You can read more on my findings here http://www.head-fi.org/t/627553/asus-xonar-u3-vs-creative-sound-blaster-x-fi-go-pro-usb#post_8743847

 

If you need that then get the Creative X-Fi 5.1 Pro USB it can do 24bit upto sample rates 96khz stable, the surround  sound option though is mediocre to poor as its THX, not even CMSS-3D. There is yet another older model but its damn rare. Its called the X-Fi 5.1 USB (non-pro) this one had CMSS-3D with none of the THX nonsense. Hard to find though.

 

What are your primary needs though? Music or Movies/games?


Thanks for reply, I mainly listen classical music. All of them are lossless format, some of them are recorded on 24/96, I am using Wasapi on Foobar2000... hence sound quality is a main issue.

I was thinking to save more money and get Fiio E10 because of it includes amp function... have you any experience with that?

 

but curious is that my laptop onboard sound card could drive AKG K20S in very loud volume, I don't feel any need of amplification... some folks here complained that volume is not loud without amp but that is not my case... just wondering what would be change of better if I add Amp for K240S

post #10 of 11

Roland UA-1G. If you can find one, they're out of production. Roland killed the model quietly. AK4556 DAC/ADC, great sound, 96/24. If you're lucky, you can find one online for about $120. Also sold as Cakewalk and Edirol UA-1G.

post #11 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lumos View Post


Thanks for reply, I mainly listen classical music. All of them are lossless format, some of them are recorded on 24/96, I am using Wasapi on Foobar2000... hence sound quality is a main issue.

I was thinking to save more money and get Fiio E10 because of it includes amp function... have you any experience with that?

 

but curious is that my laptop onboard sound card could drive AKG K20S in very loud volume, I don't feel any need of amplification... some folks here complained that volume is not loud without amp but that is not my case... just wondering what would be change of better if I add Amp for K240S

 

Sorry for the very reply (probably too late by now, but anyway) Based on your needs Xonar U3 is definitely not for you.

 

No I have no experience with the FiiO E10, I am getting a FiiO E11 though, which is just an amp, to go with my Xonar U3 because at certain low range frequencies there is a definite clipping that is too easily noticeable. Something to do with my HD 598 having a very high impedance in the low end range. The peak is at about 300 ohms. This is typical for this model in its frequency response. The cans are rated at 50 ohms though because thats for the general listening range.

 

So I think that should give you an idea. You will need to know the frequency response for your cans to know if there are particular ranges that will struggle without an Amp. Most of the time we may not notice it until a particular source/music track section plays that clearly exposes the weakness. If you feel all your media are playing as they should probably your laptop has circuitory that can handle the cans for varying ohm ranges just fine.

 

But since 24bit/96khz is a primary requirement the E10 is definitely a good choice from the reviews at least. But as they say you will have to audition one for your self to know if its what you like. Example: one set of reviews were saying the soundstage reduced with the E11 amp and another set of people said it is wider. So many variables, types of cans type of source etc etc. But in general FiiO E10s have a good reputation. Only bested by E17 from the FiiiO range. Costlier too, more than double the cost I think. E17 has that nice SPDIF TOSlink option.

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