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Soundcard question

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 

Hi, I own Sennheiser hd 518 which is powered through a Harman Kardon amplifier and i have a little question. Should I bother buying a new better soundcard that will replace my realtek onboard sound? And if so which one would you recommend?

Maybe an Usb soundcard and then to the Hk amplifier?

 

Any advice would be helpful. I only listen to 2.0 sound.

post #2 of 16

The main reason to get a sound card would be the DSP features, which mostly cater to gaming usage. That's in addition to the DAC and ADC.

 

If you're just playing music or watching movies, then you could get any sort of DAC and be just fine.

post #3 of 16
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by NamelessPFG View Post

The main reason to get a sound card would be the DSP features, which mostly cater to gaming usage. That's in addition to the DAC and ADC.

 

If you're just playing music or watching movies, then you could get any sort of DAC and be just fine.

 

Ok, then i'm looking for a "dac only" I suppose. Any advice on what dac i should buy? Can I get a decent one for around 130 usd?

 

Thanks for answering and thanks for the help, much appreciated.

 

*edit* what do you think about the FiiO d3 between soundcard and hk amp?


Edited by tojamm - 9/24/12 at 12:17am
post #4 of 16

A USB DAC is what you need. Soundcards are lousy sounding with a decent home audio system. I used to have a $500 "high end"  RME 9632 pro-audio soundcard and even that sounded lousy. I replaced it with a Musical Fidelity V-DAC and that blew the soundcard out the water. No comparison. Even something like a HRT Music Streamer II will do you good. It's around $200 bucks I think.
 

post #5 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by tojamm View Post
Ok, then i'm looking for a "dac only" I suppose. Any advice on what dac i should buy? Can I get a decent one for around 130 usd?

 

Thanks for answering and thanks for the help, much appreciated.

 

*edit* what do you think about the FiiO d3 between soundcard and hk amp?

 

I can't really advise you on dedicated DACs; I never really looked into them much, since I don't want USB-only DACs, and DACs with S/PDIF interfaces are definitely more on the expensive side to the point where I'd rather put the money toward a better headphone and amp.

 

There's that ODAC (Objective DAC) in development if you're looking for a quality plug-and-play USB DAC, though. That one might be promising if it even comes close to delivering on its promises.

post #6 of 16

What kind of HK unit do you have? I have an HK 3390 with my computer desktop setup and use the output from a Asus Xonar Essence STX, which sounds great. But previously I used the Asus Xonar D1, and that was very good, better than my motherboard audio. 

post #7 of 16
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by cel4145 View Post

What kind of HK unit do you have? I have an HK 3390 with my computer desktop setup and use the output from a Asus Xonar Essence STX, which sounds great. But previously I used the Asus Xonar D1, and that was very good, better than my motherboard audio. 

 

Ok. I have a HK 980 Integrated Amplifier.

post #8 of 16

Nice amp! smile.gif

 

If you'd like something uber portable, checkout the FiiO E17. Right in your budget range and would work great if you ever want to use the headphone amp portion with an mp3 player or smartphone. 

post #9 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by tojamm View Post
Ok. I have a HK 980 Integrated Amplifier.

So the HK980 is all analog and does not come with a DAC, which means your using your motherboard's built in (very low cost) DAC.

Asus Xonar DX or D1 sound card (used $50) with it's CS4398 DAC chip, should be improve your audio quality.

Plus you get Dolby Headphone surround sound

 

Maybe order a premium 3.5mm (1/8 mini-jack) to RCA cable from Monoprice.

http://www.monoprice.com/products/product.asp?c_id=102&cp_id=10218&cs_id=1021815&p_id=5598&seq=1&format=2

post #10 of 16
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by cel4145 View Post

Nice amp! smile.gif

 

If you'd like something uber portable, checkout the FiiO E17. Right in your budget range and would work great if you ever want to use the headphone amp portion with an mp3 player or smartphone. 

 

Thanks, your HK also seems nice. I have ordered a FiiO d3 that i'm going to connect between my onboard sound and the HK. I hope it improves my soundquality.

Thanks for your advice guys.

post #11 of 16

I´d like to know your impressions about the Fiio D3 (I get one myself,  connected between onboard,  and an Edifier M3400, and feed through an USB/ miniUSB cable).

post #12 of 16
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by nagual View Post

I´d like to know your impressions about the Fiio D3 (I get one myself,  connected between onboard,  and an Edifier M3400, and feed through an USB/ miniUSB cable).

 

Yes I will give you an impression when I have it.

 

Do you have it or are you going to buy FiiO D3?

post #13 of 16

I´ve had it for almost one year, and to be honest,  I´ve got lots of fun smile.gif.

But, you know,  audio is a very subjective matter...

post #14 of 16
I would recommend better headphones instead of pairing a 518 with 200$ or over stuff.
post #15 of 16
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by TimPrice View Post

I would recommend better headphones instead of pairing a 518 with 200$ or over stuff.

 

Interesting, but my hd 518 will do for a time. I quite recently bought them.

 

Iv'e read that they sometimes are said to sound "dark". I'm no audiophile and i wonder what "dark" means.

Another question. How much will the sound of lossy files be improved by an external dac?

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