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sound cards these days?

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 

This is all I want to do:

 

Run a low noise signal from my new PC to powered speakers, for instance KRK or JBL. It's for music playback purposes, that's it.

This is the dilemma... PCI cards seem to be going away as the, what I would call the reliable-rugged-low noise standard. Maybe that's already happened. I've been using a M-Audio Delta 1010 with reliable results since 2002 on my DAW/media/music-production machine. Great value as far as I'm concerned. I'd go with an M-Audio Audiophile 192. However, it appears it's not being manufactured anymore. That means support might be an issue soon. Yes, I've seen them on eBay. That's a bad sign, it means they are becoming scarcer.

 

A few questions...

 

I suppose USB 2 and 3 are the new consumer standard for low noise digital/analog conversion?

 

For research purposes, what are manufacturers calling their devices these days... sound cards? Digital/analog converters?

 

M-Audio used to dominate this market because their drivers were reliable and their boxes were rugged. Who is the standard bearer these days?

 

Thanks in advance

post #2 of 7

For more consumer grade music devices you would be looking for a DAC that can be connected via USB or optical, but IMO USB is the standard for the more budget entries.  The other option is an audio interface, also with similar connectivity, but you will most likely get TRS or XLR connectivity for you active monitors and most likely more than one pair.

 

If you intend to record then the list is HUGE, I use a Roland Quad Capture for everything, but for simple playback you can look into more audiophile companies too.  If you want a DAC not and AI then check out the dedicated source components forums.  

 

Budget and use will usually help you make a decision but loads of useful advice from people far more qualified than me around.  There is no real standard these days as computer audio has moved on ten-fold in the last decade.  You will get literally dozens of options regardless of your budget but I would consider $100 is the entry point for anything external and maybe $60 is the budget internal card and feel free to add a zero or two to that budget if you won the lottery recently :D

post #3 of 7
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tablix View Post
 

For more consumer grade music devices you would be looking for a DAC that can be connected via USB or optical, but IMO USB is the standard for the more budget entries.  The other option is an audio interface, also with similar connectivity, but you will most likely get TRS or XLR connectivity for you active monitors and most likely more than one pair.


This is what I mean. What's the difference between an "audio interface" and a "DAC". To the best of knowledge they are the same thing. Something that converts a digital signal into an analog signal. I don't need inputs, for instance to feed the signal of an analog synth into a DAW. However, this feature is typically bundled into interfaces, so I expect to see it, though my point is I don't need it.

 

Yes, more than likely I would need balanced connectivity, common on monitors, either XLR or TRS. Doesn't matter, depends on the speakers specs.

 

I hope that makes sense.

post #4 of 7

A DAC is a one way device so turning digital data into audio for playback, the AI does all this and the opposite conversion from analogue to digital so you can plug in MIC inputs to record.  If you plan to podcast or record vocals or instruments at any point then an AI is probably better suited, or if you have multiple speaker set ups to connect at once, for example 2 sets of monitors or a multi-room wired set up. 

 

For listening only you only need the DAC conversion not the ADC so you can pick and choose any within your budget they all do the same job :D

post #5 of 7
Quote:
Originally Posted by kurt bermuda View Post
 

This is all I want to do:

 

Run a low noise signal from my new PC to powered speakers, for instance KRK or JBL. It's for music playback purposes, that's it.

This is the dilemma... PCI cards seem to be going away as the, what I would call the reliable-rugged-low noise standard. Maybe that's already happened. I've been using a M-Audio Delta 1010 with reliable results since 2002 on my DAW/media/music-production machine. Great value as far as I'm concerned. I'd go with an M-Audio Audiophile 192. However, it appears it's not being manufactured anymore. That means support might be an issue soon. Yes, I've seen them on eBay. That's a bad sign, it means they are becoming scarcer.

A few questions...

I suppose USB 2 and 3 are the new consumer standard for low noise digital/analog conversion?

For research purposes, what are manufacturers calling their devices these days... sound cards? Digital/analog converters?

M-Audio used to dominate this market because their drivers were reliable and their boxes were rugged. Who is the standard bearer these days?

For simple output from the computer to stereo speakers.

Hifiman Sabre U2 USB DAC, $57.

Schiit Modi USB DAC, $99

 

If you wanted/needed basic sound card features.

Asus Xonar DX or D1 sound card, used $60.

 

Should be easy to get cables to connect to whatever studio monitors(?) you get.

post #6 of 7
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by PurpleAngel View Post
 

Schiit Modi USB DAC, $99

 

 

This is a possibility. However it would limit a user to unbalanced cables feeding the powered speakers... In other words it would limit the cable's length to approximately 20ft. I have to take some measurements.

 

Thanks for the heads up.

post #7 of 7
Thread Starter 

Thanks Tablix. The vocabulary has changed a bit over the past 10 years.

 

I've found a lot of what I'm looking for. Other insight is welcome!

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