Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Computer Audio › External DAC instead of sound card?
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

External DAC instead of sound card?

post #1 of 25
Thread Starter 

My integrated motherboard sound card finally bit the dust, so I have an excuse to upgrade.  I'm very new to the world of audio, so please forgive these newbish questions.  I hope this is the right forum.

 

1.  I thought I read somewhere that you don't need a sound card if you have an external DAC?  Is this true, or am I imagining things?  If you do still need a soundcard, does it matter how good it is since the DAC is handling the audio conversion?

2.  What would be the best DAC for use with my Grado 325is?  I mostly listen to music, and only game occasionally.  The games I do play are Borderlands 2, Diablo 3.  Portability isn't really an issue as it will just be sitting on my desk.

3.  Same question as 2, but pertaining to amps.  

 

Thanks a bunch guys.  Let me know if I can provide any more info.


Edited by Valicious - 9/26/12 at 8:31am
post #2 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Valicious View Post

My integrated motherboard sound card finally bit the dust, so I have an excuse to upgrade.  I'm very new to the world of audio, so please forgive these newbish questions.  I hope this is the right forum.

 

1.  I thought I read somewhere that you don't need a sound card if you have an external DAC?  Is this true, or am I imagining things?  If you do still need a soundcard, does it matter how good it is since the DAC is handling the audio conversion?

2.  What would be the best DAC for use with my Grado 325is?  I mostly listen to music, and only game occasionally.  The games I do play are Borderlands 2, Diablo 3.  Portability isn't really an issue as it will just be sitting on my desk.

3.  Same question as 2, but pertaining to amps.  

 

Thanks a bunch guys.  Let me know if I can provide any more info.

Getting an external DAC would mean no surround sound for movies and gaming, just stereo 2-channel sound.

Get an Asus Xonar DX or D1 sound card (used $50), comes with the CS4398 DAC chip, and then get any external add-on headphone amplifier of your choice.

The Xonar DX/D1 only negative is it's barely decent at driving headphones.

post #3 of 25
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by PurpleAngel View Post

Getting an external DAC would mean no surround sound for movies and gaming, just stereo 2-channel sound.

Get an Asus Xonar DX or D1 sound card (used $50), comes with the CS4398 DAC chip, and then get any external add-on headphone amplifier of your choice.

The Xonar DX/D1 only negative is it's barely decent at driving headphones.

EDIT - went and bought Xonar STX.  Now I just need to find a switchbox so I can switch between headphones and speakers without unplugging/plugging cables.  (limited hand control)


Edited by Valicious - 9/26/12 at 11:42am
post #4 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Valicious View Post

Would there be an easy way to switch from outputting from the sound card to outputting from the DAC?  I ask because it sounds like, as far as 2-channel sound goes, a dedicated external DAC would well outperform a sound card.

I ask because I can just get a Xonar DS from Newegg for $33.  I'm not nearly as picky about having perfect audio for gaming than for music.

Or should I just get a Xonar STX for $150 and call it a day?

Getting the Asus Xonar Essence STX would take care of all your audio needs, I like my Essence STX just fine.

What headphone(s) would you be using with it?

 

With the Xonar DX/D1 you can plug an external DAC to it's S/PDIF Toslink optical connection and can get Dolby Headphone surround sound thru the external DAC.

There are external DACs that outperform the DACs chips built into sound card, but your also playing a lot more for that external DAC.

 

The Xonar DS(X) is a good value, but does not come with any Dolby, it uses DTS

post #5 of 25
Thread Starter 

I found the Xonar STX for $150, so I decided to get that.  I'm using a pair of Grado 325i headphones with jumbo L-Cush pads.

The STX seems like a decent solution for a DAC.  After reading a few in-depth reviews, I kinda really want to get the Little Dot MKV solid state amp too.

See my edited post above.  Do you know of any such switchboxes?  It would help me out so much.

post #6 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Valicious View Post

I found the Xonar STX for $150, so I decided to get that.  I'm using a pair of Grado 325i headphones with jumbo L-Cush pads.

The STX seems like a decent solution for a DAC.  After reading a few in-depth reviews, I kinda really want to get the Little Dot MKV solid state amp too.

See my edited post above.  Do you know of any such switchboxes?  It would help me out so much.

Not sure what switch boxs your looking for or why you would even need them.

With the LittleDot MKV, you can plug it into the STX's RCA outputs and use the Essence STX's built in DAC.

post #7 of 25
Thread Starter 

The switchbox would be for switching between my speakers and my headphones.

post #8 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Valicious View Post

The switchbox would be for switching between my speakers and my headphones.

 

Actually you don't need to do that.

The speakers connect to the Line Level (Outputs 1 and 2 from left). If your speakers accept a 3.5mm jack, you can get an RCA to 3.5 mm converter( just an example, I don't endorse the brand or anything): http://www.amazon.com/Belkin-Audio-Cable-Splitter-1-Mini/dp/B00004Z5CP/ref=pd_cp_e_1

The headphone connects to the dedicated headphone out from the Xonar STX (Output 3 from left):

 

 

post #9 of 25
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by proton007 View Post

 

Actually you don't need to do that.

The speakers connect to the Line Level (Outputs 1 and 2 from left). If your speakers accept a 3.5mm jack, you can get an RCA to 3.5 mm converter( just an example, I don't endorse the brand or anything): http://www.amazon.com/Belkin-Audio-Cable-Splitter-1-Mini/dp/B00004Z5CP/ref=pd_cp_e_1

The headphone connects to the dedicated headphone out from the Xonar STX (Output 3 from left):

 

 

Thanks a bunch, I'll have to try that.

post #10 of 25

Hi proton007,

Can I do the same thing with my Asus xonar dg? I would like to have my speaker and headphones connected at the same time.

Is that even possible with asus xonar dg?

post #11 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by pogy View Post

Can I do the same thing with my Asus xonar dg? I would like to have my speaker and headphones connected at the same time.

Is that even possible with asus xonar dg?

 

The Xonar DG has no separate speaker and headphone outputs, so you would need to use the (often noisier) front panel headphone jack, or an external headphone amplifier with a splitter. Another possibility is to connect the speakers to the surround (black) jack, and upmix the stereo output to 4 channels, but this probably would not work with many applications. The simplest solution is connecting the headphones to the front panel, if it does not have any audible noise or interference.


Edited by stv014 - 9/27/12 at 10:43am
post #12 of 25

Thank you stv014 for a quick replay!

I dont like the front panel headphone jack because i can hear a lot of static noise. But i dont use speakers all that often so i will just wait until I save up and buy an external DAC.

Sorry for so many questions but can you recommend me a external DAC for my ATH M50? I just got into audio world biggrin.gif and am loving it smily_headphones1.gif

And sorry for stealing thread redface.gif

post #13 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by pogy View Post
Thank you stv014 for a quick replay!

I dont like the front panel headphone jack because i can hear a lot of static noise. But i dont use speakers all that often so i will just wait until I save up and buy an external DAC.

Sorry for so many questions but can you recommend me a external DAC for my ATH M50? I just got into audio world biggrin.gif and am loving it smily_headphones1.gif

And sorry for stealing thread redface.gif

You can plug your headphones into the back panel's front speaker/headphone jack (green) and just get a low cost external DAC, with optical input and RCA analog output, run optical from the Xonar DG's optical put to the DAC and connect the DAC's RCA analog output to your speakers.

http://www.amazon.com/FiiO-D3-Digital-Analog-Converter/dp/B0053VKP8S/ref=pd_sxp_grid_pt_0_0

http://www.ebay.com/itm/MUSE-24Bit-192Khz-Digital-Optical-Coaxial-to-Analog-RCA-Audio-Converter-DAC-/200801113961?pt=US_Home_Audio_Amplifiers_Preamps&hash=item2ec0add769

http://www.ebay.com/itm/High-Performance-MUSE-HI-FI-DAC-TDA1543-DIR9001-Decoder-Digital-Coaxial-Optical-/251122918002?pt=US_Home_Audio_Amplifiers_Preamps&hash=item3a7817a272

http://www.ebay.com/itm/SMSL-SD-1305A-Optical-Coax-Input-RCA-Output-Mini-DAC-/170871991544?pt=US_Home_Audio_Amplifiers_Preamps&hash=item27c8c3acf8

post #14 of 25

Thank you PurpleAngel for reply!

I will definitely look to buy one of those DAC you linked me

post #15 of 25

Can anyone tell me how to connect my SB ZxR sound card to my HDVD 800 for surround effects when watching movies and playing games on my pc? What cables to use and how to configure it? Many thanks.

New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Computer Audio
Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Computer Audio › External DAC instead of sound card?