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External Sound Card

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 

I have Three audiophile headphones :

 

A700x

DT 990 32 ohm

Hd 598

 

I bought all of them for gaming purposes and some music....

 

 

I Own a gaming notebook with an HD Realtek on-board sound card, in addition to that I bought the Xonar U3 for its Dolby features.

 

Now i want a superb external sound card that gives me the ultimate immersion, sound stage and audio quality, Moreover I want something that can drive the above mentioned headphones to their maximum capability so basically a built in amplifier too.

 

 

I looked at some posts and I could find several products on amazon that seem to be the right ones, If you know better ones please do tell me so . 

 

 

Creative Labs USB Sound Blaster Audigy2 External Sound Card

 

 

http://www.amazon.com/Creative-Labs-Blaster-External-70SB030000000/dp/B0000DBMEU/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1380490638&sr=8-2&keywords=Creative+Labs+Audigy+2+NX%2C

 

 

 

AUDIOQUEST - DRAGONFLY USB DAC

 

 

http://www.amazon.com/Audioquest-15660-AUDIOQUEST-DRAGONFLY-USB/dp/B00882U782/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1380490258&sr=8-1&keywords=dragonfly+audio

 

 

Musiland 02US Dragon Sound Card Digital Stereo 32bit/384KHz USB3.0 Power Supply With ASIO New Version

 

 

http://www.amazon.com/Musiland-02US-Dragon-Digital-Version/dp/B00A2QKX5O/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1380490132&sr=8-1-fkmr0&keywords=Musiland+SVDAC06

post #2 of 15

Heya,

 

Keeping using your U3, output to a headphone amplifier like the Fiio E09k (inexpensive and powerful). The good news is, the headphones you have don't need much (if any) amplification, so you don't need to spend a mint here.

 

You can start shopping your options for something external, like a USB soundcard. Note, to maintain the 3D surround tech from your soundcard, you'll need to stick to actual sound cards. Getting a "DAC" will just eliminate that ability, and since gaming is your priority here, I would just keep it simple. SoundBlaster and Asus have great options regarding external USB components that you can then use to hook into a little amplifier and keep your gaming 3D surround emulation and pump it into a nice amplifier and then just enjoy your audio.

 

Very best,

post #3 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sam21 View Post
 

A700x, DT 990 32 ohm, Hd 598

 

I bought all of them for gaming purposes and some music....

I own a gaming notebook with an HD Realtek on-board sound card, in addition to that I bought the Xonar U3 for its Dolby features.

Now I want a superb external sound card that gives me the ultimate immersion, sound stage and audio quality, Moreover I want something that can drive the above mentioned headphones to their maximum capability so basically a built in amplifier too.

I looked at some posts and I could find several products on amazon that seem to be the right ones, If you know better ones please do tell me so . 

 

Creative Labs USB Sound Blaster Audigy2 External Sound Card

 

AUDIOQUEST - DRAGONFLY USB DAC

 

Musiland 02US Dragon Sound Card Digital Stereo 32bit/384KHz USB3.0 Power Supply With ASIO New Version

It would help to know if you have a budget?

What is the make an model of the gaming notebook?

Does the laptop have a S/PDIF optical output?

Is your Xonar U3 the newer version with a S/PDIF optical output?

What kind of gaming FPS? RPG? all types of games?

 

The Audioquest and Musiland do not appear to offer gaming features.

post #4 of 15
Thread Starter 

"It would help to know if you have a budget?"

 

my budget would be under 250 US$

 

 

"What is the make an model of the gaming notebook?"

 

It is a ROG notebook which i bought a year ago with HD realtek onboard sound.

 

 

"Does the laptop have a S/PDIF optical output?"

 

I don't know, but when i enable the on-board sound card then a S/PDIF icon appears in Control Panel/Sound ( i.e the playback devices area)

 

"Is your Xonar U3 the newer version with a S/PDIF optical output?"

 

My Xonar U3 is the latest version and it has the S/PDIF

 

"What kind of gaming FPS? RPG? all types of games?"

 

80% FPS and 20% RPG

post #5 of 15
Thread Starter 

So, What is your suggestion PurpleAngel ? :)

post #6 of 15

If you like small go for the audioquest dragonfly. Or you can spend some money to get the fiio e07k and save up to get better headphones. 

post #7 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by David Chavez View Post
 

If you like small go for the audioquest dragonfly. Or you can spend some money to get the fiio e07k and save up to get better headphones. 

 

I am considering Dragonfly vs ALPEN-E17 ... I am looking for sound quality. I want to pair it with dt990 32 ohm, a700x 38 ohm and HD598 50 ohm. What would you choose out of these two and why ?

  •  
post #8 of 15

Audioquest has a way better dac.  But the fiio e17 has a better amp.  The fiio e17 can also be used portable (only as a amp thou, unless you wanna get ugly with cables to make it a portable dac/amp).  If your going to be better headphones that go over 150ohms (or just +500 dollar headphones) one day then I say the audioquest because you can bypass the amp and use it only as a dac and connect it to a more powerful amp.  If your not going to get expensive headphones one day the e17 should be enough for you.

post #9 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sam21 View Post
 

So, What is your suggestion PurpleAngel ? :)

Fiio E17, gives you two options, interchange as you see fit.

1) Plug the E17 into the U3's S/PDIF using optical cable. you get the gaming features of the U3 with the DAC and amp of the E17.

2) Remove the U3 from the USB port and plug the E17 directly into the laptops optical port and use whatever feature the on-board sound card offers.

 

Laptop on-board audio sound card may offer less or the same or better features, compared to the U3, need exact model of laptop to check

May not really know for sure until you have tried both ways of connecting

When listening to music or watching any video that uses 2-channel audio, U3 would not be need anyway.

post #10 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by PurpleAngel View Post
 

Fiio E17, gives you two options, interchange as you see fit.

1) Plug the E17 into the U3's S/PDIF using optical cable. you get the gaming features of the U3 with the DAC and amp of the E17.

2) Remove the U3 from the USB port and plug the E17 directly into the laptops optical port and use whatever feature the on-board sound card offers.

 

Laptop on-board audio sound card may offer less or the same or better features, compared to the U3, need exact model of laptop to check

May not really know for sure until you have tried both ways of connecting

When listening to music or watching any video that uses 2-channel audio, U3 would not be need anyway.

 

since U3 is 16-bit wouldn't it send 16-bit digital signal to E17 through S/PDIF ?

 

Wouldn't it be better to connect the E17 to the Notebook's USB and use the Razer Surround Software ? or in another word : is E17 a better DAC ?

 

Can you tell me what the Best Quality DAC or DAC/AMP under 250 USD is ? I Bought E17, it has not been delivered yet. If i am happy with the Sound Quality of E17, I am going to buy  a Better DAC ot DAC/AMP, So recommend good DAC's.

post #11 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sam21 View Post
 

 

Since U3 is 16-bit wouldn't it send 16-bit digital signal to E17 through S/PDIF ?

 

Wouldn't it be better to connect the E17 to the Notebook's USB and use the Razer Surround Software ? or in another word : is E17 a better DAC ?

 

Can you tell me what the Best Quality DAC or DAC/AMP under 250 USD is ? I Bought E17, it has not been delivered yet. If i am happy with the Sound Quality of E17, I am going to buy a Better DAC or DAC/AMP, So recommend good DAC's.

The U3's max is 16-bit/48Khz, so the U3 would be sending 16-bit thru to the E17.

For gaming I would think 16-bit/44.1Khz would be good enough

(but I'm not an expert at PC games, but I'm one of the oldest computer gamers (1980, Star Trek) you could ever meet, gaming graphics back then was from a dot matrix printout.)

The E17's DAC chip (WM8740) should be way better then the U3's DAC chip.

The E17's S/PDIF can take in 24bit/192Khz, so if you connect the E17 directly to the ROG notebook's optical output, your going to get the max audio the ROG notebook is capable of outputing, maybe 24-bit/192Khz?.

But I doubt you would have need to anything higher then 24-bit/96Khz, for any audio.

Guess you would have the option of using the Razer Surround software or the notebooks on-board audio software.

I guess you could connect using USB, but USB bypasses the on-board sound card, optical allows you to use the on-board sound card.

I'm sure if you spent $250 for an external DAC/Amp, you could get better audio quality then the E17

 

Audio_GD NFB 15.32, 4235

http://www.audio-gd.com/Pro/Headphoneamp/NFB1532/NFB15.32EN.htm

post #12 of 15
Thread Starter 

"I guess you could connect using USB, but USB bypasses the on-board sound card, optical allows you to use the on-board sound card."

 

and what happens if the sound card is bypassed ? the E17's DAC will not process Audio coming from music/DVD players or Games if we hook it directly to the notebook via a USB port ?

 

 

and what do you think of the following DAC/AMP, Does it outperform the AudioQuest Dragonfly ? 

 

http://www.mav-audio.com/base/product/tubemagic_d2/d2_hardware

 

 

if you scroll down a bit under the Audio input section there is a line :

 

 

Accepted audio format: linear PCM, 16, 20 or 24 bits per sample for all digital input

 

 

so if we bypass the on-board sound card and connect to the notebook via a USB port then it accepts all forms of audio formats.... am i right ?

 

 

and how about the DAC/AMP you posted ? will it outperform the Dragonfly ? does it have a SPDIF input ? can we directly connect it to usb and bypass the notebook's soundcard ? Where can i order it ?

 

 

Also, Which one do you think is better out of these three : Dragonfly , AudioEngine D1 or E17 ?


Edited by Sam21 - 10/1/13 at 3:18pm
post #13 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sam21 View Post
 

"I guess you could connect using USB, but USB bypasses the on-board sound card, optical allows you to use the on-board sound card."

and what happens if the sound card is bypassed ? the E17's DAC will not process Audio coming from music/DVD players or Games if we hook it directly to the notebook via a USB port ?

and what do you think of the following DAC/AMP, Does it outperform the AudioQuest Dragonfly ? 

http://www.mav-audio.com/base/product/tubemagic_d2/d2_hardware

if you scroll down a bit under the Audio input section there is a line :

Accepted audio format: linear PCM, 16, 20 or 24 bits per sample for all digital input

so if we bypass the on-board sound card and connect to the notebook via a USB port then it accepts all forms of audio formats.... am i right ?

and how about the DAC/AMP you posted ? will it outperform the Dragonfly ? does it have a SPDIF input ? can we directly connect it to USB and bypass the notebook's sound card ? Where can i order it ?

Also, Which one do you think is better out of these three : Dragonfly , AudioEngine D1 or E17 ?

Music is 2-channel audio. Movies and surround sound gaming will use 6-channel or 8-channel audio.

The Fiio E17 only knows how to deal with 2-channel audio.

Sound cards can take 6 or 8 channel audio and convert it to two channel audio.

(sound card built into the notebook or the U3 sound card)

USB connections bypass built in sound cards, with optical you can still use built in sound card.

 

The TubeMagic D2 is a DAC only, no headphone jack.

So the Tube Magic D1 plus ($209) would be a better choice, has a headphone amplifier and S/PDIF (optical & coaxial) input (and USB input).

I'm fairly sure the Tube magic D1 plus is a better DAC/amp then the DragonFly and E17.

http://www.mav-audio.com/base/product/d1p

post #14 of 15
Thread Starter 

Thanks for your reply. I totally forgot about channels. but consider the following :

 

I am pretty sure that when you set the input to 2.0 in Control panel\Sound\Playback\Choose a device\Configure then all the applications that you run adjust themselves accordingly to that setting, in other words it is the applications that are adjusting themselves and outputting only 2.0 channels rather than the sound card converting multiple channels into 2.0.

 

 

Now i am willing to spend more money for a good DAC/AMP...under 350

 

 

I looked into some DAC/AMPs and the one you proposed and now my options are :

 

Tube magic D1

 

Fostex HP-A3

 

Musical Fidelity V90-DAC

post #15 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sam21 View Post
 

Thanks for your reply. I totally forgot about channels. but consider the following :

 

I am pretty sure that when you set the input to 2.0 in Control panel\Sound\Playback\Choose a device\Configure then all the applications that you run adjust themselves accordingly to that setting, in other words it is the applications that are adjusting themselves and outputting only 2.0 channels rather than the sound card converting multiple channels into 2.0.

Most applications are going to be 2-channel audio, so it's no brainer for the computer.

But anything that uses 6 or 8-channel of audio, like DVD/Blu-ray movies or surround sound games will not automatically change themselves to 2.0 channel audio.

DVD/Blu-ray movie contain a lot of audio info in their 2 "front" audio channels, so you would still be able to watch the movie, but not get the full audio experience.

I'm sure some games are designed to work in 2-channel, so that not a problem.

I'm sure some games come with a built in internal audio engine for surround sound processing.

But with some audio software (like games and DVD/Blu-ray movies), a user need to go into the computer's audio setting and set the computer audio for 6 or 8-channel input and to output to 2-channel headphone.

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