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USB DAC or PCI-e Card?

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 

Hey all,

 

first of, this is my first post here so i'd like to take the opportunity and tell a bit about myself:

I'm 25 years old and come from germany. I always loved music but only recently (2 months ago) discovered the head-fi community. This started with me searching a new mp3 player.

With some help i now spend much more money then i thought but i do now know that it's well worth it!

 

My current setup is a sansa clip zip and Beyerdynamics DT 770 Pro 80 Ohm. The Headphones are not only used with the portable but also on my PC. Currently i use my onboard sound to an Onkyo AV-Reciever and then via headphone out to the cans.

 

This is where things start to get into the direction where questions arise. I have the parts for a cmoy on the way and have the feeling that my onboard sound is quiet behind the rest of my equipment. So i plan on upgrading the source.

 

Two ways come to my mind (limited money as alwas^^). First would be a around 100€ PCI-e Soundcard. This to either the Onkyo or the cmoy. Second possibility is a schiit modi instead of the soundcard.

 

Both are payable. Both seem good solutions. But which is better? I think the main advantage of a external dac is, that i may exchange it later, if my pockets are full of money.

 

So give me your opinion. For music only, dac or card?

 

Rock on

Dominik

post #2 of 12
I'd vote for the Modi over an internal soundcard if you are mainly using it for music listening.

Check out the ODAC. A version of it is available in the UK from Epiphany Acoustics. Might be cheaper depending on shipping and exchange rates for purchasing the Modi, and it is considered a comparable DAC.
post #3 of 12
Thread Starter 

Hey,

first, thanks for your thoughts on this. I've just seen, that with shipping the modi will come around 140$ which is ok-ish but paying over 40$ for shipping is a bummer...

I have seen that there is a reseller in the netherlands, which is only 2:30 h to drive for me, so i could pick it up there (maybe).

Apart from the odac (which i'm reading into right now), do i have any good options in that pricerange?

 

Dominik

post #4 of 12
Here in the US, the ODAC and Modi are the two most popular choices under $200 for price/performance. Always possible there is some European market DAC that is good. I don't know.
post #5 of 12
Thread Starter 

Just another question:

would something like this: 

http://www.musicstore.de/de_DE/EUR/Focusrite-Scarlett-2i2-USB-Audio-Interface/art-PCM0011153-000?recId=148e1ae0-fdff-42a3-aafe-7c0b8f0357c1

be a decent dac? Since i do record Guitar and Bass this would server a second purpose as a better recording interface. It has line out, 24/96 over usb and seems of good quality.

What can i expect from something like this audio wise?

 

Dominik

post #6 of 12

One of the advantages of a USB DAC is having a physical volume control close at hand. Another is that you usually have separate controls for volume on both 'phones and your main out. If you pay just a little over the minimal you can also have multiple stereo outs i,e different programs on both outputs simultaneously.

 

So your best option at the moment is an external USB audio interface.

 

For reasons that totally escape me you will find that the manufacturers of pro and semi pro devices offer by far the best value compared to old school 'hi fi' companies. You also tend to get much better software and all round product support. Drivers particularly. You can also expect a comprehensive suite of software. Metering, EQ and effects.

 

In your position I would recommend the Focusrite 2i4. http://uk.focusrite.com/usb-audio-interfaces/scarlett-2i4/specifications

 

It's a little towards the top of your budget @ ~ E180 but is a superb unit which can become the centrepiece of an expanding audio system for many years to come. There are many alternatives many of them even cheaper. Check out USB audio Interfaces on Thomann's site. http://www.thomann.de/gb/audio_interfaces.html

post #7 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by domsch1988 View Post
 

My current setup is a sansa clip zip and Beyerdynamics DT 770 Pro 80 Ohm. The Headphones are not only used with the portable but also on my PC. Currently i use my onboard sound to an Onkyo AV-Reciever and then via headphone out to the cans.

Is the computer's on-board audio connected to the Onyko using digital S/PDIF (optical or coaxial) or analog RCA?

(I would guess S/PDIF would sound better).

 

Found a link to the leading German musical group, great song and dance.

http://www.downvids.net/industrial-dance-vs-polka-480151.html

post #8 of 12
Thread Starter 
My onboard audio only supports analog...

Sent from my HTC One X using Tapatalk 4
post #9 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by domsch1988 View Post

My onboard audio only supports analog...

Sent from my HTC One X using Tapatalk 4

What's the make and model of your motherboard?

What model Onkyo receiver?

 

An Asus Xonar DX, D1 or DS & DSX sound card would be well under 100 euros (buy used).

 

The low end Asus Xonar DG & DGX sound cards come with a basic headphone amplifier that can drive 80-Ohm headphones, it would also allow you to run a S/PDIF optical cable from the DG(X) to the Onkyo.

 

HifiMediy Saber or Saber 2 USB DACs sell for well under 100 Euros.

post #10 of 12
Thread Starter 
Hey,

Motherboard: asrock 890gx extreme3
Reciever: Onkyo TX SR 707

I think the Onkyo will have to go. I currently use it to drive 2x JBL Controll One and a JBL active Sub. For this it's a bit overkill and its big and produces heat like no tomorrow. I'm currently planing to build a stereo tubeamp for the JBL's.
So for the sake of this thread, forget about the onkyo as a amp.

I think i'll go with RonaldDumsfeld here. I'll go USB just for the ease of use (having a volume controll on hand). I just have not decided which way to go.

- Focusrite Scarlett 2i4 (189€)
- Schiit modi (99€ if i can pick it up in store in the netherlands)
- Fiio E07/E17 (90€/140€) with the benefit of being able to use it with my android phone
- HiFimeDIY Sabre USB DAC 2 (60€ delivered)

The Focusrite has the benefit of doubling as arecording interface for my guitar. The Fiio's i may use with my phone. Both have a amp build in that seems decent enough for now and are upgradeable later down the road. I like the two stereo outs of the scarlett. I can then hook it up to a second amp for my Speakers and switch without rewiring or something like that.
The Schiit pleases me optically and seems to be really good in terms of audio quality. The Sabre i hadn't heard of till now, but seems decent and really cheap.

So what do you think of this selection? Which yould you choose (all are in finacial range)? Have i forgotten any serious contender?

Besides that: A big thank you for the qualified and well informed feedback. This really helps me a ton and i hope that someday i'll be able to help other noobs like i'm today finding their equipment. I really dig this community! you guys rock, so

Rock on
Dominik
post #11 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by domsch1988 View Post

Motherboard: Asrock 890GX Extreme3
Reciever: Onkyo TX SR 707

I think the Onkyo will have to go. I currently use it to drive 2x JBL Controll One and a JBL active Sub. For this it's a bit overkill and its big and produces heat like no tomorrow. I'm currently planing to build a stereo tubeamp for the JBL's.
So for the sake of this thread, forget about the onkyo as a amp.

Focusrite Scarlett 2i4 (189€)
Schiit modi (99€ if i can pick it up in store in the netherlands)
Fiio E07/E17 (90€/140€) with the benefit of being able to use it with my android phone
HiFimeDIY Sabre USB DAC 2 (60€ delivered)

The Focusrite has the benefit of doubling as arecording interface for my guitar. The Fiio's i may use with my phone. Both have a amp build in that seems decent enough for now and are upgradeable later down the road. I like the two stereo outs of the scarlett. I can then hook it up to a second amp for my Speakers and switch without rewiring or something like that.
The Schiit pleases me optically and seems to be really good in terms of audio quality. The Sabre i hadn't heard of till now, but seems decent and really cheap.

Your motherboard does have a S/PDIF optical output, so for the cost of a Toslink digital optical cable, you could improve audio quality to the Onkyo.

 

With something like the Xonar DX, D1, DS, DSX internal sound cards, it would improve audio quality for the Onkyo (analog 3.5mm to RCA cable) and these Xonar cards come with a line-in which has a ADC chip (Analog to Digital Converter) to you could record your guitar audio digitally on to the computer's hard drive

post #12 of 12
+1 on trying the optical cable with your Onkyo. It's a cheap test. Something like an Amazon Basics optical cable is not very expensive.

Building a tube amp sounds like an interesting project, but I wouldn't count on it putting out less heat than the Onkyo smily_headphones1.gif

Be sure to verify FiiO E17 has full USB audio capability with your specific Android phone if you go with that. It's a problematic choice for Android USB audio.
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