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DAC/AMP and Sound Card Combo Question

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
There is a big discount on the Audioengine D1 and I was thinking about picking it up.

I run the Sound Blaster Z because I need the DD Live for my Astro A50s. I use a pair of Mackie MR5 MK3s for my desktop speakers and I'm curious if the DAC/AMP will have any improvement over sound running optic out from the sound card to the DAC.

Thanks.
Edited by Crook1d - 6/5/14 at 3:20pm
post #2 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by Crook1d View Post

There is a big discount on the Audioengine D1 and I was thinking about picking it up.

I run the Sound a Blaster Z because I need the DD Live for my Astro A50s. I use a pair of Mackie MR5 MK3s for my desktop speakers and I'm curious if the DAC/AMP will have any improvement over sound running optic out from the sound card to the DAC.

Thanks.

discussin of group buy sites isn't allowed on head fi, so you might want to edit out the part about who's selling the D1 at a low price

 

I know that's a stupid first post to give you but... inb4mods edit it for u

 

that said, I'm not to sure how DSP works when you feed it through an external amp dac, but I want to say that yes, if you feed the D1 with optical it should transmit the pre encoded digital DSP along with the audio, it should be an improvement, although a better pair of headphones might yeild the same if not better results. 

 

check this thread out http://www.head-fi.org/t/534479/mad-lust-envys-headphone-gaming-guide-update-4-17-2014-akg-k612-and-k712-pro-added-edits/23940

post #3 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by Crook1d View Post

I run the Sound a Blaster Z because I need the DD Live for my Astro A50s. I use a pair of Mackie MR5 MK3s for my desktop speakers and I'm curious if the DAC/AMP will have any improvement over sound running optic out from the sound card to the DAC.

 

Hopefully when you installed the SB-Z, you disabled the motherboard's on-board audio? in the BIOS.

The SB-Z's CS4398 DAC chip is a fairly good DAC chip, so an external optical input DAC might cost you more then you would expect, to make a noticeable difference.

Why are you using the Astro 50s and not just plugging your headphones straight into the SB-Z?

The SB-Z's CS4398 should provide headphones with better audio quality, over plugging headphones into the Astro 50s

I would think the best cable connection to go from the SB-Z to the MR5s would be a 3.5mm plug to dual RCA (red/white), or are you using something different?

post #4 of 11
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mshenay View Post
 

discussin of group buy sites isn't allowed on head fi, so you might want to edit out the part about who's selling the D1 at a low price

 

I know that's a stupid first post to give you but... inb4mods edit it for u

 

that said, I'm not to sure how DSP works when you feed it through an external amp dac, but I want to say that yes, if you feed the D1 with optical it should transmit the pre encoded digital DSP along with the audio, it should be an improvement, although a better pair of headphones might yeild the same if not better results. 

 

check this thread out http://www.head-fi.org/t/534479/mad-lust-envys-headphone-gaming-guide-update-4-17-2014-akg-k612-and-k712-pro-added-edits/23940

I edited the OP to reflect this. Thank you.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by PurpleAngel View Post
 

 

Hopefully when you installed the SB-Z, you disabled the motherboard's on-board audio? in the BIOS.

The SB-Z's CS4398 DAC chip is a fairly good DAC chip, so an external optical input DAC might cost you more then you would expect, to make a noticeable difference.

Why are you using the Astro 50s and not just plugging your headphones straight into the SB-Z?

The SB-Z's CS4398 should provide headphones with better audio quality, over plugging headphones into the Astro 50s

I would think the best cable connection to go from the SB-Z to the MR5s would be a 3.5mm plug to dual RCA (red/white), or are you using something different?

Yes, I disabled the on board sound. The reason I use the A50s is mainly for the quality. It comes with a mix amp that is praised by gamers and from what I read on threads even here, is very good. A lot of people recommended using the A40 amp (the same amp only not wireless) with a better pair of headphones than what comes with the setup but I found the headphone quite sufficient for competitive gaming (audio positioning and an immersive experience when set for such). 

 

With that said, when I really want to listen to music or watch a good movie, I find myself cranking my Mackies. From the moment I got them I was so glad I went with studio monitors over "PC speakers". The sound, even for movies and entertainment, even beats out the surround sound system I have in the living room. 

 

Given the fact that I can get the D1 brand new for right around $100, I thought it would be a nice addition to the setup. An external volume knob, a port to plug in headphone if I ever picked up an audiophile pair and (hopefully) better sound from the Mackies. It is not that I'm not content with my setup, but I was just curious if it would be a welcomed addition. I didn't want to purchase it if it would just void my Sound Card (I too heard the DAC on the sound card was good) instead of just assisting it in making my experience that much better. If that makes sense. 

 

 

I hope this helps with some responses. Again, thank you for the replies. 

 

 

Edit: I would just like to note I have a sensitive ear. Placebo does not work on me and I will notice a positive, negative or negligent result. 


Edited by Crook1d - 6/5/14 at 3:31pm
post #5 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by Crook1d View Post
 

I edited the OP to reflect this. Thank you.

 

Yes, I disabled the on board sound. The reason I use the A50s is mainly for the quality. It comes with a mix amp that is praised by gamers and from what I read on threads even here, is very good. A lot of people recommended using the A40 amp (the same amp only not wireless) with a better pair of headphones than what comes with the setup but I found the headphone quite sufficient for competitive gaming (audio positioning and an immerse experience when set for such). 

 

Have you tried surround sound gaming with the SB-Z?

post #6 of 11
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by PurpleAngel View Post
 

 

Have you tried surround sound gaming with the SB-Z?

Yes, I wouldn't be able to use the A50 mix amp for it unless I had a sound card with Dolby Digital Live which is where the SBZ comes into play. I run the card's optical out to the headphone's mix amp. I am thinking about running the sound card out to the mix amp and the mix amp out to the Audioengine D1 to my Mackies. 

 

I also use the SBZ to my Mackies using a 3.5mm to TRS connection. 


Edited by Crook1d - 6/5/14 at 3:43pm
post #7 of 11
Thread Starter 

Okay, so I did some additional research and discovered the reason I really like my Sound Blaster Z is BECAUSE of the DSP it offers. I am quite newbish when it comes to these things, so the features and hardware that increases (or distorts to some audiophiles I am sure) the quality of the sound ie for positional audio or enhancing surround sound and bass for immersion is what I like. 

 

So I guess my revised question would be, if I use my SBZ for the DSP and run the optical out to the Audioengine D1, would it increase the quality of the sound overall to my monitors and a pair of audiophile headphones (if I purchase them down the road)? Or am I simply splitting the signal? 

 

From my understanding, the D1 is one of the very few external DAC/AMPs that offer optical inputs and the other features at that price point. 

post #8 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by Crook1d View Post
 

Yes, I wouldn't be able to use the A50 mix amp for it unless I had a sound card with Dolby Digital Live which is where the SBZ comes into play. I run the card's optical out to the headphone's mix amp. I am thinking about running the sound card out to the mix amp and the mix amp out to the Audioengine D1 to my Mackies. 

 

I also use the SBZ to my Mackies using a 3.5mm to TRS connection. 

What i meant is have you tried headphone surround sound gaming with the headphones plugged directly into the SB-Z's headphone jack?

post #9 of 11
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by PurpleAngel View Post
 

What i meant is have you tried headphone surround sound gaming with the headphones plugged directly into the SB-Z's headphone jack?

No, I have not. However, I am more concerned with my monitors. I want to know if the external DAC/AMP with enhanced the sound coming from my monitors as well as a pair of headphones. 

post #10 of 11
Thread Starter 

Bump

 

 

Quote:

Okay, so I did some additional research and discovered the reason I really like my Sound Blaster Z is BECAUSE of the DSP it offers. I am quite newbish when it comes to these things, so the features and hardware that increases (or distorts to some audiophiles I am sure) the quality of the sound ie for positional audio or enhancing surround sound and bass for immersion is what I like. 

 

So I guess my revised question would be, if I use my SBZ for the DSP and run the optical out to the Audioengine D1, would it increase the quality of the sound overall to my monitors and a pair of audiophile headphones (if I purchase them down the road)? Or am I simply splitting the signal? 

 

From my understanding, the D1 is one of the very few external DAC/AMPs that offer optical inputs and the other features at that price point. 

 
 
 
post #11 of 11

I saw this thread and I have been researching this for quite a while.  I actually got an SMSL dac/amp combo for very cheap that had no usb connection, but an optical in and it came with decent reviews. The way it's made, made it seem like it was designed for combining with a soundcard or onboard audio. I was pretty excited to stumble upon this because it was exactly what I was looking for.  So I connected my card to the dac/amp combo via ... (I'm so noob - I'm not sure what the connector is called) I think toslink and it took me a while to get any sound at first. I had read that I should keep the default device as the soundblaster z and not change it to the spdif out device.  So I did that - still no sound.  Finally, I clicked in advanced features and checked the box that said play stereo mix to digital output. All of the sudden I got this loud nasty aggressive buzzing noise.  I think people call it PCM.  Last I turned off the dts and dolby encoders by clicking no encoder and I got glorious sound. Now it keeps the card's positional audio features of the card, but channels that sound through my dac/amp and sounds better than it ever has.  I believe this exact process would work with Audioengine device.  I just don't understand what's going on with the dts/dolby encoders.  Maybe you understand that piece better?

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