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Which DAC (if at all) for low end desktop speakers

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 

Hi I am driving these with laptop and using 320kbps files. Just wondering if adding a DAC in line will improve sound quality considerably? If yes, which DAC should be sufficient for such a purpose? I am sure the costly Music Fidelity M1 is not required. So is VDAC2 sufficient, or will even that be overkill?

post #2 of 5

I would suspect that you would not benefit greatly from a dedicated DAC if you are only using basic PC desktop speakers.  More information on your laptop and the speakers you are using would help people to advise you better.  I would not consider a DAC or soundcard upgrade until you are spending hundreds of dolars on headphones or speakers and even then you would spend perhaps 25% of your total budget on a DAC.   Obviously if you intend to expand further down the line it may be an option but a DAC is one part of the audio chain.

post #3 of 5

Which speakers or headphones?

post #4 of 5
Quote:
Originally Posted by dragonball View Post
 

Hi I am driving these with laptop and using 320kbps files. Just wondering if adding a DAC in line will improve sound quality considerably? If yes, which DAC should be sufficient for such a purpose? I am sure the costly Music Fidelity M1 is not required. So is VDAC2 sufficient, or will even that be overkill?


Laptops are going to come with low costing DAC chip that are going to be barely decent.

You could try the Hifimediy Sabre U2 USB DAC, $57+ shipping.

And as the DAC would be external, you would no longer get any (possible) electrical noise that might be generated inside the computer.

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

 

I just ordered (6 hours ago) the Monoprice 5" studio monitors for $133+ shipping.

My best guess is they are about the best bang for the buck.

You might think of replacing your Logitech X-230.

http://www.monoprice.com/Product?c_id=115&cp_id=11504&cs_id=1150401&p_id=605500


Edited by PurpleAngel - 11/14/13 at 7:47am
post #5 of 5
Quote:
if adding a DAC in line will improve sound quality considerably

 

My experience suggests not. Certainly not 'considerably' anyway. Of course if you are the sort of person who hears differences in different brands of cable ymmv.

 

The last 3 motherboards I bought, all ASUS, have all had very good to excellent analogue audio out. Certainly surprised me. Unless you are spending more than $ 200 on headphones or $400 on speakers I don't think it's worth getting a dedicated DAC unless you want the extra facilities or have a problematic on board implementation.  You will get infinitely more value investing in good transducers.

 

I still think a good quality audio interface is a good investment though. On board inputs are still generally poor so mic pres are nice to have, Extra channels in and out soon become invaluable, handily placed volume knob(s) are a godsend. Good software and support is worth paying for.

 

Just off the top of my head I reckon you need to spend over $150 on your interface before you get anything that's a genuine step up from a new built in solution. Otherwise it's pretty much the same as you get anyway but in a separate box and with a $100+ price tag for the privilege. That means your total system  cost needs to be around $1000 or more before an interface becomes more or less essential and a very basic stereo in/ stereo out DAC is a waste of money.

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