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What would be the best USB Sound Card/DAC $50 USD and under?

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 

I have a HP laptop with a super crappy integrated sound chip, and I want to be able to use my Sennheiser HD 558s to their full potential, but I don't want to spend any more than $50 on a USB sound card/DAC, and I do not want anything with a built in amp. I do a lot of gaming, mostly counter strike, so I absolutely need positional audio. I have been looking at theĀ Creative Soundblaster X-Fi Surround 5.1 Pro USB Audio System with THX SB1095 that is supposedly good for gaming, and i wanted to know if there is anything better than that for around the same price.

post #2 of 5
I don't understand why you don't want anything with a built in amp. If you are going to use headphones with a DAC, you need a headphone amp built in it too. Output straight from a DAC is line level output and is not meant for using with headphones. It's meant to be amplified, either by a headphone amp or a speaker amp.
post #3 of 5
Thread Starter 

Oh ok. That makes sense, so does every DAC have some sort of amp in it? I meant i don't want something with a super fancy amp in it as well as a DAC like the Fiio E07K.

post #4 of 5
Nope. Every DAC does not have a built in headphone amp.

For cheaper than the Fiio E07K there is the FiiO E10 (although a little more than your budget).

However, if you want positional audio, you definitely want to look at internal sound card or an external device by Creative or Asus. External DAC/amps by FiiO and many other manufacturers won't give you the DSP for creating better positional audio for gaming that the Creative and Asus products will.
post #5 of 5
I can recommend you to take a look at Asus Xonar U3. I've used it for a while, it's a pretty good external sound card for the price. Now only $40 on Amazon. Here is the link:

http://www.amazon.com/ASUS-Xonar-Sound-Cards-XONAR_U3/dp/B0054L8GVK/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1383933636&sr=8-1&keywords=asus+xonar+u3
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