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M-Audio 2496 sound card, do I need a DAC?

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 

I'm kind of in the dark about DACs but I do know my sound card is supposed to have a pretty good on on-board. Based on the specs below, do you think I would hear a noticeable difference if I had an outboard DAC like a Schiit Bifrost or comparable? Here's a link to the page about my current soundcasrd. http://www.m-audio.com/products/en_us/Audiophile2496.html



 24-bit/96kHz fidelity


S/PDIF digital I/O with 2-channel PCM



software controlled 36-bit internal DSP digital mixing/routing

post #2 of 7
Usually an external standalone dac will outperform a soundcard DAC. I say usually because it depends on the external DAC. The Bifrost has its own power supply which it does not share with any other devices unlike the soundcard. It probably has a better DAC chip. Bottom line is the Bifrost is better.
post #3 of 7
Thread Starter 

Bump for more exposure (I hate doing this and apologize if others do too).

post #4 of 7

That really depends on your budget. If you are looking at something at the same price as AP2496 then I would so no. Another problem is AP2496 is famous for it's analogue output but not digital. You might need a better digital out if you really consider putting in a DAC. 

post #5 of 7

I retired my 2496 when the input failed....


However the replacement for my 2496 (an e-Mu 1616m) made me go Ahaha :gs1000smile:


The 2496 is just not quite transparent - if I recorded a good analogue source (Vinyl), and played it back, it did not sound quite the same - difference was subtle - but clearly audible.


With the 1616m I found / find it very difficult to differentiate between the original and the digitised copy - to the point where in a blind test I doubt I could differentiate between them.


I have since taken it further by purchasing the Mytek Stereo96 DAC & ADC pair - true transparency guaranteed.


The 2496 simply is not in the same league.... nor is it in the same price league!

The 1616m (and its baby brother 1212m) are very good and huge value for money - in my opinion better value for money than the 2496 - the improved sound quality is definitely worth it.


The next step up to the Mytek's was about 3 times the price of the 1616m - (and more than 4x the price of the 1212m) - I have to say that in value for money terms the Mytek kit is not a patch on the e-mu.... on the other hand it is state of the art level resolution so I cannot complain.


If the input on the 2496 had not failed I would not have bitten the bullet and upgraded - but would have assumed that the transparency issue I was experiencing was common to all digital / digitised recordings, the upgrade demonstrated to me that there IS digital gear capable of full transparency (perfect sound forever?!).


The 2496 is long in the tooth now... consider an upgrade!


bye for now



post #6 of 7

I recently found it very hard to tell the difference between my 2496 and the Cypher labs Theorem 720; that was with the HE-400 so maybe that's why! The 720 just pipped it.


I scouted about for an upgrade recently and decided to stay put as my pockets were panicky. I've had it since about 2002 - it must be some sort of record-breaking acquisition in this day and age!

post #7 of 7

An amp is enough

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