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Budget soundcard

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 

Looking for some advice about a low budget soundcard.

I use a set of affordable headphones, Superlux HD-668B, straight out of the ALC892 onboard audio and listen to music via Foobar2000 (with ElectriQ equalizer).

For the most part I'm quite happy with the sound (especially given the very low price), but I'm wondering whether it can get a little better with an affordable soundcard.

 

I was looking at Asus Xonar DG and DS soundcards mostly, because I can pick them up second hand for relatively little money.

Unfortunately I cannot afford to spend more at the moment.

 

Do you guys think these soundcards (or others in the same budget)  would offer any worthwhile improvements over the ALC892?

 

From what I've read ALC892 is about average as far as onboard goes and not as good as ALC889.

What I'm really looking for is a touch more power output and better instrumental separation & soundstage (especially for classical music)

 

Do you guys think an Asus Xonar DG would be able to provide that?

 

 

Look forward to your replies. Many thanks! :)

 

Jim

post #2 of 5
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Wingnuts View Post
 

Looking for some advice about a low budget sound card.

I use a set of affordable headphones, Superlux HD-668B, straight out of the ALC892 on-board audio and listen to music via Foobar2000 (with ElectriQ equalizer).

For the most part I'm quite happy with the sound (especially given the very low price), but I'm wondering whether it can get a little better with an affordable sound card.

I was looking at Asus Xonar DG and DS sound cards mostly, because I can pick them up second hand for relatively little money.

Unfortunately I cannot afford to spend more at the moment.

Do you guys think these sound cards (or others in the same budget)  would offer any worthwhile improvements over the ALC892?

From what I've read ALC892 is about average as far as onboard goes and not as good as ALC889.

What I'm really looking for is a touch more power output and better instrumental separation & sound stage (especially for classical music)

Do you guys think an Asus Xonar DG would be able to provide that?

 

The HD668B headphones are great for the price and I personally would get a sound card to try to improve audio quality, over a motherboard's on-board audio.

But I would think the Xonar DG or DGX or DS or DSG would be around the max you would want to spend, for use with the HD668B headphones.

post #3 of 5

I had 668b with ALC898 first and then got Xonar DGX. I honestly didn't notice any difference between those two. Xonar even had quiet hiss while ALC898 was quiet. Later I got FiiO E10 and it was noticeable difference but not much.

post #4 of 5

How high a budget are you looking out.

post #5 of 5
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the replies guys.

My budget is very low , in the 30-40$ range.

I've seen some used Xonar DG's for sale recently at very low prices (some Xonar DS's as well) and thought getting one could be an affordable way to upgrade my onboard sound.

 

I've done a bit of research prior to posting this thread, but, to be honest, I've found most feedback rather ambivalent with these soundcards vs. onboard codecs. Some people found the Xonar's to be a step forward, others didn't notice any significant differences.

 

From a technical standpoint ALC892 fares the worst against ALC 889 or ALC898. Output voltage for headphone amp seems to be identical to the others, at 1.1Vrms in 32ohm. SO most likely power output is identical among these 3 codecs.

Dynamic range, signal to noise and harmonic distortion is however a lot more modest on my ALC892, by 10 to 15db. Not sure how that can translate in actual sound quality but I think it's safe to assume, it's not on the same level as the others.

 

Now, the Xonar DG is supposed to have a dedicated headphone amp circuit which should provide more power. Asus gives extremely vague specs for the soundcard.

But I've found more information in the Ti website, for the actual chip being used as headphone amp - DRV601RTJR.

Quote:
The DRV601 is capable of driving 2 Vrms into a 600-Omega.gif load at 3.3 V. The device has external gain setting resistors, that support a gain range of -1V/V to -10V/V, and line outputs that has ±8-kV IEC ESD protection

 

On paper that sounds to me substantially more potent than what the onboard codecs are capable of, but I'm not an expert in all this so I can't be sure.

Can you guys confirm that Xonar DG is louder at full volume compared to onboard?

 

The other specs (snr, thd and dr) also look better on the Xonar vs. all codecs and dramatically better than my modest ALC892.

But does all this really translate into better sound?


Edited by Jim Wingnuts - 3/26/14 at 6:17am
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