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PC - sound card or external dac/amp for Denon D5000?

post #1 of 4
Thread Starter 

I have trolled for two days looking for my particular situation but finally I thought I would just post.  So many sound card questions are raised by gamers.

 

My higher end audio set up is in the living room, but the PC in the study is where I work.   I like to listen to music while I work.  I rotate cans into my study but seem to have stuck with my Denon D5000s for awhile, so looking for a set up that works best with them. 

 

Until recently, while in my study I had PC USB out to Nuforce Dac/amp combo.  Sounded good while it worked, but it died so I have been plugging my cans into a low quality sound card. 

 

At first I thought I would just upgrade the sound card, right?  Looked through forums, lots of praise for Asus Xonar DS or DG.  But then I came across several posts stating that while internal DACs in the sound cards are good, low impedence cans (Denons are 16 omhs, I think) need real amplification to shine.  

 

Do I really need an amp?  What about something like the Asus DGX which seems to be the DG sound card with more amplification. Or do I get a sound card for DAC purposes and then small external amp?  Although, if I concede I need external amplification, isn't some external amp/dac combo like Nuforce replacement (although definitely NOT Nuforce) a better bet than sound card plus external amp?

 

Gaming not a priority, just two channel music.  And budget about $100 to maybe $250 at highest end.

 

What would you do? 

post #2 of 4
Thread Starter 

update - since posting I have found this excellent 5 page discussion on this issue which I had not found previously.  http://www.head-fi.org/t/601869/denon-d5000-which-amp-dac

 

after reading through that thread, I am now leaning toward ASUS Xonar DX and external O2 amp.  Although I am intrigued by a suggestion in that thread that perhaps sound card dac is over-rated when you have a good on board Realtek chip on the motherboard.  My mobo is pretty new and sports a Realtek ALC889 codec, so some further research may be required to see if I really need to spend $80 on a sound card?

post #3 of 4

A used Xonar DX or D1 can sell for around $60-$65.

The Schiit Magni headphone amplifier is only $99.

The Magni has a very low output impedance, like the O2.

 

If all your doing is music, then get the Hifimediy Sabre U2 USB DAC, $55 plus shipping.

and plug the Magni into the Sabre.

http://hifimediy.com/index.php?route=product/product&product_id=123

post #4 of 4
Thread Starter 

Thanks.  I will look into the Magni and the O2 and compare.

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