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This is my setup, what DAC do i get?

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 

Hey guys,

Just wondering if any of you have suggestions on how I could improve my current setup. I feel as though I should buy a DAC of some sort. I am just debating whether an internal or external dac is better. My budget is around $400.

Speakers: Bowers Wilkins DM 3000 (pair)
Pre Amplifier: Rotel RC-971
Power Amplifier: Carver M-400t
Computer Motherboard: MSI Z87-GD65-Gaming Intel Z87
Headphones: Audio Technica ATH-M50

 

My music library is obviously digital. I have been told to buy an Asus ST/STX but am seeking further opinion to ensure I make a good decision.
I posted in Help earlier but thought it would be good to post here as well. Hope some of you can help me out, Thanks heaps

post #2 of 11

That motherboard has the latest Realtek ALC1150. That's a 115dB S/N ratio on the mains. ~95dB is pretty much transparent.

 

Provided you are lucky with noise and earth loops it's debatable you will be able to hear any difference with either an internal or external DAC.

 

I'd still get an interface though. It's so much more convenient.

 

These are my favourites at the moment but there are loads of alternatives well within your budget.

 

http://www.motu.com/products/motuaudio/microbook

http://uk.focusrite.com/usb-audio-interfaces/scarlett-2i4/specifications

http://www.native-instruments.com/en/products/traktor/digital-vinyl/traktor-scratch-a6/specifications/

post #3 of 11

Confused over those choices as at least 2 of the 3 seem geared toward someone recording live music.

 

Mr. Hugo,

 

Go simple, go easy.

 

simplest (that sound awesome) is the following:

 

Creative SoundBlaster -X-FI HD $79

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004275EO4/ref=oh_details_o01_s00_i02?ie=UTF8&psc=1

 

AUNE T1 Tube DAC - $159

http://www.amazon.com/gp/offer-listing/B00A2QJMRY/ref=sr_1_1_olp?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1392839485&sr=1-1&keywords=aune+t1+dac&condition=new

 

Maverick D2 - $199

http://www.mav-audio.com/

post #4 of 11

The point being the OP doesn't actually get much for his money with a simple on-board replacement type DAC.

 

Check the specs. In the main it's the same as on-board. Except in a nice box.

 

Audio interface gives you something more. For not much more.

post #5 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by RonaldDumsfeld View Post
 

The point being the OP doesn't actually get much for his money with a simple on-board replacement type DAC.

 

Check the specs. In the main it's the same as on-board. Except in a nice box.

 

Audio interface gives you something more. For not much more.


You mean IN YOUR HUMBLE opinion, right ?

 

The OP gets ALOT for his money and doesn't spend money on crap he wont use...Like guitar input, mic input, keyboard input...

 

As to the specs...MUCH better than his onboard. Do you work for Realtek> You keep pushing it to people as satisfactory. Maybe it is for some 4" pc speakers...But he is using a REAL system

 

~~Speakers: Bowers Wilkins DM 3000 (pair) Pre Amplifier: Rotel RC-971 Power Amplifier: Carver M-400t

post #6 of 11

Signal to noise ratio on his on-board is already better than all those on-board replacements you mention.

 

Times change. The old certainties no longer apply. Old advice is old.

 

And a tube DAC is an abomination. Not merely unfeasible but perverse. A horse drawn Ferrari or a chocolate fireguard.

post #7 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by RonaldDumsfeld View Post
 

Signal to noise ratio on his on-board is already better than all those on-board replacements you mention.

 

Times change. The old certainties no longer apply. Old advice is old.

 

And a tube DAC is an abomination. Not merely unfeasible but perverse. A horse drawn Ferrari or a chocolate fireguard.


speak not ...for you know not what you speak. Anyone who knows, knows specs mean little. ESPECIALLY S/N which gets weighted 18 ways to sunday. You advice is extremely biased and unfounded on first hand info.

 

I have the Realtek. I also have the other 3 outboard DACS, All 3 outboards blow it away like night and day. Specs just give a framework, they are not indicative of how something actually sounds, We have seen first hand, high end units with all the specs in the world...and sound like garbage.

 

As to tubes...too bad you are missing out on what the rest of the world is discovering...tubes add something that offsets the overly clinical sound of many audio devices...which is why so many high end amps, etc. are going back to adding tubes in their designs.,

 

It is analogous to film vs video. Film runs at 24fps, video 29.97fps. More data per second, ability to capture more yet; almost universally, people prefer film to video. Even professional videographers have taken to downconverting to make their videos look like film'

 

The same with sound, Clinical and revealing is not always better than a tad warm and forgiving.

post #8 of 11
I'd go with the Schiit Bifrost; it has multiple digital inputs, sounds awesome, and is fully upgradeable. Should work for any purpose you can think of.
post #9 of 11

Ronald Dumsfeld, are you honestly comparing onboard audio to the quality of aftermarket DACs that cost 100x more then what the Motherboard manufacturer pays. Integrated audio gets the job done. I used integrated for most of my life, then I got an Asus Xonar ST and that was a lot more than just a night and day improvement. And the Xonar ST is considered entry to mid range. There are $1000 DACs that what you claim are not much different then some $5 one Realtek makes. 

 

To the OP, you have some nice and expensive floor stand speakers. Do them justice with a good DAC. Spend at least $200 if not around the $500 range if you want to get the most out of your speakers. Your headphones are not high end enough to really benefit from a proper DAC and headphone amp. A better DAC will make anything sound better but I would get higher end headphones. 

 

I have the internal Xonar ST which is great, but if I would do it over, I would get an external just so I could give my laptop or any computer for that matter an awesome sound card. The Xonar ST is a great value which is why I got it, plus for the 7.1 add on card so I could use a dedicated subwoofer. I know the o2 DAC is respectable, the Xonar Essence One, Schiit makes some nice high end DACs. 

post #10 of 11

Big T..agree 100%

 

I am currently playing with 3 DACS

 

AUNE T1

Creative XFI HD

Maverick D2

 

Plus, I have the Realtek in my Dell.

 

The three outboards slaughter the Realtek. Now I am stuck on the 3 ....I am only going to keep 1..I think.

 

The Maverick and the Creative give me more features...without a doubt. But the damn AUNE sounds the best with the tubes I have....That is a dilemma because the majority is playback (so nod to the AUNE) but I like the Creative for the ripping feature...and the Maverick I just received so have only done playback. Sigh...

 

Anyway, good writeup

post #11 of 11
Quote:
how I could improve my current setup.

 

Well. What you have already is excellent. You have obviously been prepared to invest in something decent which you expect to last for a long time. So really you ought to make the same decision again.

 

Get something bang up to date from an established source, for ongoing support. Cover yourself for any eventuaity over the next 5 years at least.

 

For what it's worth I had, still have, a main system similar to yours. Classic 9Ts twin 7" floorstanders with reflex transmission line paired with a powerful and versatile receiverer.

 

When digital and PC type audio started getting so much better and I started trying to ntegrate what were two more or less distinct systems (PC/Classic hi-fi) together I started with an M-Audio Fast Track Pro. Very quickly followed by a MOTU Ultralite. I also have a Native Instruments Audio 2 for mobile use. The MOTU and the NI are fabulous bits of kit. 

 

That said there is a new generation of devices coming out now which attempt to address not just the conversion aspects (which is almost universally excellent now across the board) but also the control and flexibilty aspects. Think of an audio interface not as a stand alone DAC device but as something like the control section on an old pre-amp or receiver. A DAC, ADC, monitor controller, galvanic isolater, headphone amp, effects package, and multi switch all in one.

 

This product is a bit over our budget but is pretty much the ideal interface.

 

http://spl.info/en/products/interfaces/crimson/in-detail.html

 

This is a long term favourite.

 

http://www.rme-audio.de/en_products_babyface.php#5

 

Get something decent. It worked for you in the past. Set you p for any possible upgrade path for years and years. Looks cool. Don't break down, Has residual value.

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