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Need suggestions for PC/Desk speakers and DAC solution - Page 2

post #16 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by dclaz View Post
 

 

In which case I would just use toslink out of my mobo in to a DAC?

Yes you can do that.  Just make sure you get yourself a half way decent cable, and be careful not to bend it and you will be fine.

post #17 of 36
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by DrSheep View Post
 

Yes you can do that.  Just make sure you get yourself a half way decent cable, and be careful not to bend it and you will be fine.

 

I would have thought the quality of an optical cable would have mattered less than a normal audio cable?

What are the pros/cons of using toslink as opposed to USB out of a comp in to a DAC? I understand that using toslink out the soundcard may do some audio processing for games, but that is of little concern to me.

post #18 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by dclaz View Post
 

 

I would have thought the quality of an optical cable would have mattered less than a normal audio cable?

What are the pros/cons of using toslink as opposed to USB out of a comp in to a DAC? I understand that using toslink out the soundcard may do some audio processing for games, but that is of little concern to me.

I am not saying you need to get some uber special toslink cable, and I only meant that you should get something with secent shielding and plugs.  AmazonBasics is great for this and won't break your bank.  You are correct that optical reqire some Digital to Digital (DD) processing from the PC end, then decode it on the DAC end, but the processing overhead is really minor.  The only true down side to toslink vs. USB is signal degradation due to distance, but that won't come into play here (we are talking about feet and not miles.)  Of couse another adventage of USB is the ease of system megration and setup, but even this is not exactly true anymore as all Mac and most mid to high end laptops and desktops will have optical build-in.

post #19 of 36

USB is technically superior to S/PDIF.

 

After all, if you do not trust your on board converters what makes you think the clock is any better? Also S/PDIF is a simple pipe. No chance to detect transmission errors let alone correct them. Far better to send sample data bit perfect direct to a clock and converter combined assembly in an interface. Also many portables no longer offer digital out.

 

Not saying using TOSlink / SPDIIF cannot give decent results but it is now outdated and you are better off with USB.

post #20 of 36
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by RonaldDumsfeld View Post
 

USB is technically superior to S/PDIF.

 

After all, if you do not trust your on board converters what makes you think the clock is any better? Also S/PDIF is a simple pipe. No chance to detect transmission errors let alone correct them. Far better to send sample data bit perfect direct to a clock and converter combined assembly in an interface. Also many portables no longer offer digital out.

 

Not saying using TOSlink / SPDIIF cannot give decent results but it is now outdated and you are better off with USB.

 

Got it. Cheers.

post #21 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by RonaldDumsfeld View Post

USB is technically superior to S/PDIF.

After all, if you do not trust your on board converters what makes you think the clock is any better? Also S/PDIF is a simple pipe. No chance to detect transmission errors let alone correct them. Far better to send sample data bit perfect direct to a clock and converter combined assembly in an interface. Also many portables no longer offer digital out.

Not saying using TOSlink / SPDIIF cannot give decent results but it is now outdated and you are better off with USB.

You seem to be thinking of external USB hard drives where packets are sent and there is opportunity for error correction. Audio over USB or optical is a stream, and doesn't work the same way. Moreover, optical has the advantage of being electrically isolated from the computer, so it is "technically superior" in the case where a noisy computer may interfere with the signal transmission.
Quote:
Originally Posted by dclaz View Post

I would have thought the quality of an optical cable would have mattered less than a normal audio cable?
What are the pros/cons of using toslink as opposed to USB out of a comp in to a DAC? I understand that using toslink out the soundcard may do some audio processing for games, but that is of little concern to me.

I would not worry about USB vs optical since implementation of the DAC is what's important. Optical and USB DACs can each be built to both measure well and sound good, or either can be built crappy and sound bad. Just get the best DAC you can independent of whether it is optical or USB.

I've used the Amazon Basic optical cables that DrSheep recommended. I agree. They work very well.
post #22 of 36
I had a pair of the M200MKIII.  Gorgeous.  However, tonally, dark sounding and are not the most transparent speakers.  I got the best bass response while having them on stands.  The Swan T200B is a step above though I haven't heard them.  
So many choices in the active monitor market.  I was thinking about trying the Monoprice ones for fun. http://www.monoprice.com/products/product.asp?c_id=115&cp_id=11504&cs_id=1150401&p_id=605500&format=2
Not terribly expensive and may surprise us.  Personally, I like passive speakers more but I haven't spent the big money to get great active monitors (>$1000).  I don't know about Australia but in the US it is quite easy to get used speakers and amps through Craigslist for a bargain.    
 
Like others have mentioned.  Get the best speaker you can afford then buy a decent source.  The fairly priced ODAC is a great start.  
 
Also consider:
 
Quote:
Swan M200MKIII (leaning towards these)

 

The Swan T200B are the most premium speaker I have looked at, will a cheaper DAC such as the Modi do them justice? is the E1 too much DAC for the other Swans or a pair of Rokits? What is the best performing/value combo? How important are balanced outputs/inputs? What is the consensus on how much they improve quality? (or is it largely situation dependent?) Would it be silly not use XLR cables with speakers that support balanced inputs?

 

Unfortunately, it is difficult for me to actually test any of the products. I appreciate any and all input. Is there any thing else I should consider? Any questions I should answer before proceeding?


Edited by WNBC - 9/24/13 at 7:53am
post #23 of 36

Not to cause a row or anything but to hopefully clear up any confusion members may experience reading conflicting information.

 

Here is brief primer on USB DAC implementation.

 

http://www.thewelltemperedcomputer.com/KB/USB.html

 

If you read the link above you will find that asynchronous USB DACs have a form of feedback loop not found on TOSlink/SPDIF.

 

Almost all half decent USB audio interfaces are now asynchronous. cel4145 is referring to what is called USB bulk transfer mode. This is irrelevant to audio.

 

As regards optical digital transfer providing isolation from potential ground loops. This is true as far as it goes. Except that since the DAC is itself powered you still leave the possibility of a ground loop between DAC and amp/speakers.

 

Anyway this is also hardly relevant either. An audio interface  of even the most basic quality will tackle the same hypothetical  problem in other ways. Balanced ins and outs, galvanic isolation of the USB connection or a ground lift switch. If you do have a bad one then USB isolation dongles are very inexpensive (<$10). You shouldn't have a ground loop anyway and if you do it's better to treat the disease itself rather than sweep the symptoms under the carpet.

 

Likesay. If you already own some kit compatible with SPDIF/TOSlink then you can get good results and have no real need to upgrade but if you are starting from scratch it makes far more sense to go straight down the USB audio interface route.  See also explanation in post #19.


Edited by RonaldDumsfeld - 9/24/13 at 8:07am
post #24 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by RonaldDumsfeld View Post

Not to cause a row or anything but to hopefully clear up any confusion members may experience reading conflicting information.

Here is brief primer on USB DAC implementation.

http://www.thewelltemperedcomputer.com/KB/USB.html

You probably need to read a more in-depth explanation.

Your previous post claimed that USB provides error correction. It is my understanding (perhaps I am wrong; I am not an engineer) that the feedback loop in asynchronous transfer does not do that. It controls how fast the data is sent to the clock in the DAC. It does not have error correction capability. It may reduce jitter in comparison to optical. Although this can be a moot point, as I already pointed out, since the difference may not be audible and an optical DAC may be superior otherwise to a USB DAC.

So the OP does not need to worry about USB vs. Optical. Instead, he can go with DACs regularly recommended on Head-Fi and not worry about that.
post #25 of 36
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by WNBC View Post
 

Cheers.

 

I've heard good things about the Emotivas, but might be a bit hard to get them in au. And I'd prefer to buy new as I would not really know what to look out for if things were dodgy on the second hand market.

 

 

It appears to be generally recommended to buy the best speakers you can, and then a reasonable DAC. How good do speakers have to be before you start benefitting from really fancy DAC's?


Edited by dclaz - 9/24/13 at 7:05pm
post #26 of 36
Thread Starter 

Been thinking and reading a lot about DAC's lately and think I'll go with the ODAC + Swan M200MKIII (or T200B...).

 

Is it just me or is there a REAL lack of 'objective', scientific DAC reviews? I feel the DAC should be as transparent as possible in terms of sound and signal, and this quality is definitely measurable using various metrics, yet hardly any reviews do such thing. People talk about depth and soundstage in DAC reviews, etc etc, but these are very subjective descriptions, and qualities that might not actually be present in the original signal.

post #27 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by dclaz View Post

Been thinking and reading a lot about DAC's lately and think I'll go with the ODAC + Swan M200MKIII (or T200B...).

Is it just me or is there a REAL lack of 'objective', scientific DAC reviews? I feel the DAC should be as transparent as possible in terms of sound and signal, and this quality is definitely measurable using various metrics, yet hardly any reviews do such thing. People talk about depth and soundstage in DAC reviews, etc etc, but these are very subjective descriptions, and qualities that might not actually be present in the original signal.

Yeah. It's hard to find measurements for DACs. I'd much rather see measurements first, subjective listening second for comparing DACs with similar measurements (even though the differences described might not actually be real).
post #28 of 36

Make sure you read through this thread if you already haven't done so...

http://www.head-fi.org/t/553895/review-swan-t200b-desktop-monitors

 

In the end you might be happy with either.  From what I read the T200B has a flatter frequency response and sounds more natural.  People that listened to my Swan M200MKIII also agreed that it has a darker, more colored signature.  That is fine as long as it's your preference.  I enjoyed the MKIII but I prefer a less colored and more airy sound.    

post #29 of 36
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by WNBC View Post
 

Make sure you read through this thread if you already haven't done so...

http://www.head-fi.org/t/553895/review-swan-t200b-desktop-monitors

 

In the end you might be happy with either.  From what I read the T200B has a flatter frequency response and sounds more natural.  People that listened to my Swan M200MKIII also agreed that it has a darker, more colored signature.  That is fine as long as it's your preference.  I enjoyed the MKIII but I prefer a less colored and more airy sound.    

 

Yah, I've had a good read of that thread. I think in theory I'd prefer the T200B's but it's still hard to work out how much $$$ I'm comfortable separating with :)


Edited by dclaz - 9/30/13 at 12:33am
post #30 of 36

It is always a tough decision.  Buying what you can currently afford vs waiting to buy something you can afford later.  If you end up not liking the speakers then selling used will usually result in a major loss.  Any chance to visit a local store and find some of the more popular actives?  

   

 

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by dclaz View Post
 

 

Yah, I've had a good read of that thread. I think in theory I'd prefer the T200B's but it's still hard to work out how much $$$ I'm comfortable separating with :)

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