Hi, I've got a DAC/AMP and HD650 and I just connect the DAC/AMP through the usb in the computer. I'm just wondering, i don't have a sound card in my computer, will adding a sound card make a difference?
- productAsus XONAR DG CMI8786 Sound Cardtagged by System, 11/12/12
- productAsus Xonar DGXtagged by System, 11/12/12
- productAsus Xonar DS 7.1 Channel PCI Low Profile 192k/24bit HiFi Audio Card / Sound Cardtagged by System, 11/12/12
- productASUS Xonar DSX PCIe 7.1 GX2.5 Audio Engine 192K/24bit Playback Support Sound Cardstagged by System, 11/12/12
- productCreative Labs SB0880 PCI Express Sound Blaster X-Fi Titanium Sound Cardtagged by System, 11/12/12
- categoryDACstagged by System, 11/12/12
- productNuForce Icon HDP (High-end Headphone Amp, USB DAC, Preamp)tagged by System, 11/12/12
- productSennheiser HD 650 Headphonestagged by System, 11/12/12
- categorySound Cardstagged by System, 11/12/12
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Do I need a sound card?
Gear mentioned in this thread:
It will make a difference to your wallet, but I doubt you will get any improvement in sound quality.
Already having an external DAC/amp, all I can think of that a soundcard may potentially add or improve is:
- surround sound capabilities for gaming
- ability to connect at higher speeds using S/PDIF (depending on your DAC)
- sound recording capabilities
- slight alteration in sound signature if you use the soundcard's DAC
It's up to you to decide if this is worth pursuing. If all you are after is improving quality of music, then there may be more effective ways of spending your money. For more specific advice on how to improve your setup, i'd recommend moving this thread to the Computer Audio forum.
For sound quality, keep using the external DAC. I found that using a sound card produced same (or sometimes worse) sound via S/PDIF than using USB directly to the external DAC.
If you want something for gaming, then yes, get a sound card. You will get better surround sound awareness, whereas an external DAC would simply produce a 2 channel sound. You can use them independently if you want.
What DAC and headphone amplifier are you using?
If all you doing is music, then the external DAC & amp should be fine.
If your DAC connects with just USB, then adding a sound card would not work with your DAC anyways.
If you like watching movies with full surround sound, then getting a sound card would be helpfully.
Edited by PurpleAngel - 11/5/12 at 11:50am
You will not get any improvement by adding a sound card. The USB connectivity of your Icon HD bypasses any sound card you would have added. It would do nothing. Also note, a sound card is a DAC and AMP, it's the same thing you would find in a boxed item marketed as a "DAC/AMP", it simply has connectivity built for a PC and some extra hardware/software options. So getting a DAC/AMP to output to your DAC/AMP again isn't going to do anything. And once again, USB bypasses this.
A sound card is a DAC and AMP. It's an internal caseless DAC/AMP for PC's specifically.
For music you do not need to add any more hardware.
Have you tried using the audio player program Foobar2000?
If you plug the Icon HPT into the motherboard's S/PDIF (optical or coaxial) port, you should be able to use more of the features of the on-board audio.
What's the make and model of your motherboard?
S/PDIF output on a sound card or motherboard allows you to use the sound cards features, but your still using the Icon HPT's DAC and amplifier.
(bypassing the sound card's or motherboard's DAC and amp).
If you want to do Dolby Headphone 5.1 surround sound for movies
Get the Asus xonar DG ($26, PCI) or DGX, ($40, PCI-E) sound card.
Just plug the Icon HDP into the Xonar's S/PDIF optical output.
If you want Dolby Headphone 7.1, get the Xonar DX or D1
Plug Icon HDP into Xonar's S/PDIF optical output
If you like DTS Headphone surround sound
Which seems to be the audio used on a lot on Blu-ray disks
Get the Xonar DS or DSX
If you like FPS gaming, get a refurb Creative X-Fi Titanium sound card, PCI-E, $49.99 at Newegg.
It also comes with optical output.
Edited by PurpleAngel - 11/5/12 at 12:25pm
No. Exactly. An external DAC will most likely always be better than an internal sound card, if you are using it specifically for music.
If you want to play games that take advantage of virtual surround sound features, a sound card might improve the experience though. If not though, avoid a sound card and always use an external DAC. Also, I found no difference in sound quality using S/PDIF vs. USB with an external DAC. I'm using an Asus Xonar Essence One.
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