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DAC/Amp Combo Vs External Sound Card

post #1 of 27
Thread Starter 

Title says it all. So I was planning on upgrading to a DAC/Amp, until I found out that you couldn't run surround sound through them. The only other option I'm left with is a sound card, but I've read some pretty bad stuff about internal sound cards. So that brought me to an external sound card. I was wondering how do they stack up against a DAC/Amp combo?

post #2 of 27

I guess the question is how important is surround sound to you?  If its a must, then it seems like a pretty easy choice as a stereo amp/dac can't do that.

post #3 of 27

There are stereo amplifiers that can handle surround sound. It really depends on what your budget is and, as AnalogSavior asked, how important surround sound is to you. Is the surround sound for a home theatre set-up?

post #4 of 27

Instead of making a new thread, I thought I'd ask here, can a DAC/Amp combo open up your headphone's soundstage?

post #5 of 27
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by AnalogSavior View Post
 

I guess the question is how important is surround sound to you?  If its a must, then it seems like a pretty easy choice as a stereo amp/dac can't do that.

Well I would really like to have both, could I use a program like Razer Sound and get virtual surround sound? Or would that work?

post #6 of 27
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by jackskelly View Post
 

There are stereo amplifiers that can handle surround sound. It really depends on what your budget is and, as AnalogSavior asked, how important surround sound is to you. Is the surround sound for a home theatre set-up?

How much is a stereo amp like that?

post #7 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by DanielMiracle View Post

How much is a stereo amp like that?

That's too pricey.

Do you have a PC? If so, get a Xonar DG or DGX. Then a DAC that is optical. The DAC will connect to the soundcard, which can output Dolby Headphone surround to the DAC. smily_headphones1.gif
post #8 of 27
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by cel4145 View Post


That's too pricey.

Do you have a PC? If so, get a Xonar DG or DGX. Then a DAC that is optical. The DAC will connect to the soundcard, which can output Dolby Headphone surround to the DAC. smily_headphones1.gif

I'd for sure be interested in that. It's the first solid answer I've gotten. Would that actually work for virtual surround? & would I achieve the same results if I used "Razer Sound"? 

post #9 of 27
I don't know how good Razer Sound is and how it works. I'm sure if you google Razer Sound vs Dolby Headphone, you could find out.
post #10 of 27
Thread Starter 

How well would the sound card/dac work? Would I still need an amp to power my headphones?

post #11 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by DanielMiracle View Post
 

Title says it all. So I was planning on upgrading to a DAC/Amp, until I found out that you couldn't run surround sound through them. The only other option I'm left with is a sound card, but I've read some pretty bad stuff about internal sound cards. So that brought me to an external sound card. I was wondering how do they stack up against a DAC/Amp combo?

 

Why not a red motherboard? MSI's Gaming Series has a high output op-amp rated for 600ohm dynamic driver headphones (also Asus' ROG motherboards). blurb says they go out through the rear ports but since those are usually analog 5.1, I came across a thread before and supposedly the way it's wired you still get the same signal path to the chassis headphone jack next to the mic jack on/near the front (you just won't have gold-plated sockets). Chances are you won't notice the difference unless you're using something like a Gilmore Lite or Schiit Asgard, minimum, and even then it'll all be in the subtle details in how a discrete Class A amp does its job. The DACs in the motherboards aren't too bad either. Think of it as kind of like having a Fiio E09 built into your motherboard, but the motherboard will have Dolby Headphone and THX Studio Pro on the Realtek DAC chip.

 

I had a DAC-Amp at the time I upgraded my last PC and didn't think of this as important, but now that I'm using an Android as a digital transport to do away with boot-ups and running a 500w++ PSU (and four fans, with one of them blowing through a rad; six if the VGA fans start spinning) when I'm just listening to music, I've decided that my next build won't skimp on getting just any Z87 motherboard.


Edited by ProtegeManiac - 5/1/14 at 7:34pm
post #12 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by DanielMiracle View Post

How well would the sound card/dac work? Would I still need an amp to power my headphones?

A DAC cannot power headphones. So yes. You would still need a headphone amp.

You could also get a Xonar STX or ST, which is a soundcard that has a good dac and headphone amp.

What headphones do you have?
post #13 of 27
Thread Starter 

I may very well consider that if I can't figure something out. Thanks!

post #14 of 27
Also, what is your budget?
post #15 of 27
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by cel4145 View Post


A DAC cannot power headphones. So yes. You would still need a headphone amp.

You could also get a Xonar STX or ST, which is a soundcard that has a good dac and headphone amp.

What headphones do you have?

Right now I have a pair of Astro A40s, but I'm planning on buying AKG K712s within the next couple of weeks.

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