Are people using sound cards or dac's? What is the general opinion?

Sound card or Dac?

  • Sound Card internal

    Votes: 11 22.0%
  • Sound Card External

    Votes: 1 2.0%
  • DAC

    Votes: 5 10.0%
  • DAC+AMP combo

    Votes: 33 66.0%

  • Total voters
    50
post-13514105
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HiCZoK

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Hi everyone.
I have Koss porta pro and Fiio E10k and I am not sure if I should switch to sound card or external sound card(preferably)...
I am a bit curious about it's special effects, dolby headphone and stuff described in mad lust thread.

I find it a bit limitating having to connect headphones to pc front or back panel. That is the only reason I went for e10k few years ago, so I can connect headphones under monitor, behind keyboard. Speakers are also connected to this. I also have mxied feelings about e10k bass boost.
The huge bonus is no drivers for e10k are needed.

What is the opinion on this topic? Also... I can't be the only one using porta pro for desktop use and gaming right? The headphone sounds good and is so comfortable I am having difficulty finding anything else even at twice the price, so recommendations are also welcome.
 
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haralds12

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I use a DAC (chord mojo) with amp combo. But nowadays I only have a laptop so its pretty much the only option..
 
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fillswitch

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I would also love to hear others' opinions. I got a entry level DAC for my work laptop and was blown away. My first inclination for my desktop computer at home would be another DAC, but I'm not sure how those would work with powered speakers. Or even if I should just go with a better sound card. I think I'm leaning DAC to use in other computers without having to remove something from the computer case.
 
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FlyingWing

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I've got an MSI GT83 Notebook which has a dedicated Sabre 9018DAC-

Yet compared to a plugged in GeekOut 1k with the exact same chipset yet with vastly different Implementation and a far stronger OP-Amp
It's almost non-comparable and makes the Sabre in my laptop sound like a realtek-dac-amp combo.
 
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Erikson2k

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I have a Asus Xonar Essence STX and an O2 ODAC/AMP combo. You'll need pretty high end headphones to detect a difference IMO. The Xonar gives you the chance to leverage Dolby surround but personally I find it just distorts the audio and makes things less clear. So my Xonar is basically a $200 MIC in line for me (I should probably sell this thing).

I personally prefer a external DAC/AMP for the following reasons:
1. External volume knob for gaming is nice as you can dial in your audio while playing
2. External electronics, less PC noise to contend with, cleaner signal
3. Looks good on the desk
4. External DACs have better value, sound cards are typically feature rich with things you don't/won't need but are paying for
 
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NamelessPFG

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Strictly speaking, any digital audio source needs a DAC somewhere in the chain before it hits the drivers, and then your ears. Sound cards just have internally mounted DACs and ADCs (because they have to handle mic input too), among other things.

Anyway, I use an X-Fi Titanium HD in my main desktop PC. It's a bit quirky now and then (random distortion until I switch modes, sometimes modes won't switch until I reboot), but I still play decade-old games that use hardware-accelerated DirectSound3D/OpenAL and therefore require a sound card with the proper DSP support. CMSS-3D Headphone is also a killer advantage.

My retro desktop is even more nuts; I have an Auzentech X-Fi Prelude for XP games, a Turtle Beach Montego II for 98SE games (any Aureal AU8830 Vortex 2 card would suffice), and if I could fit it in the case, a Sound Blaster AWE32 CT2760 with maxed sample RAM for DOS games. I'm that serious about correct audio in my games, even if the actual DAC performance may leave something to be desired.
 
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Xelpud

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Personally, I'd say it all comes down to whether or not you've any need of the extra processing features offered by a dedicated sound card. If so--go for it! If not, an external DAC will tend to offer more flexibility and better long term value.

Realistically though, given your current setup, I really don't think you're gonna get much out of upgrading your audio chain. The PortaPros are an awesome little pair for their price point, and really don't need much of anything to hit their full potential. Unless you're actively hearing interference from your present setup, you can rest easy knowing that there's no rabbit hole you'll have to jump down for these.
 
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uoods

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Plenty of good internal DACs these days, but I figure a good DAC/amp stack will be pluggable to whatever setup I end up building next.
 
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grantman102002

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Motherboard audio had come quite a long way. I have had awesome results with mid-range and high-end motherboards over the last few years. They have plenty of power for any headphone I use...
 
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saddleup

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Motherboard audio had come quite a long way. I have had awesome results with mid-range and high-end motherboards over the last few years. They have plenty of power for any headphone I use...
My Gigabyte G1 mobo audio signal path comes with Nichicon caps and a Burr Brown op-amp that is upgradable. I might upgrade the op-amp to a Burson V6 just for shits and giggles but overall pretty pleased with the sound right off of the mobo.
 
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BrightCandle

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For gaming it is very useful to have a 7.1/5.1 to headphones mode as its better than any solution built into any game and Windows does a dreadful job with binaural audio directly from DirectX. Games like battlefield, Overwatch, Witcher 3, Arma 3 etc all get good use of a surround implementation such as Soundblasters SBX Pro or the Sennheiser GSX 1000 7.1->headphone mode. You can buy SBX Pro as software from Creative and run it on any sound solution you want to, or you get it with a soundblaster Z series card. The Sennheiser GSX 1000 sounds more natural than SBX pro but positioning information is pretty comparable between the two but SBX Pro sounds tinny.

The best setup I have heard so far and what I currently use is a Sennheiser GSX 1000 into a Schiit Magni 2 into my Sennheiser HD 598s. It isn't as good for music as the Schiit modi 2 for the DAC but for games its second to none.
The second best setup I tried was a Soundblaster Z -> Schiit Modi 2 U (optical) -> Schiit Magni 2 -> Sennheiser HD 598s. SBX Pro shifts the average tone but is pretty good for positional awareness. Better for music due to the DAC than the GSX 1000 setup. (the mic input on the SBZ is dreadful and required a USB dongle).
Had a Dolby Headphone Xonar card before this, was pretty bad positional but fantastic sound reproduction and microphone inpu.
Had a CMSS capable Xfi before this and it is pretty comparable to SBX Pro but was PCI only so eventually didn't work in the modern machine.
....plenty of other sound cards prior including the Aureal 3D which remains the best solution for PC gaming I have ever heard and I miss it dearly.

So I don't think its really about DAC/AMP outside the PC verses a sound card practically. There are decent solutions with both and the achieveable nosie floors and isolation are pretty comparable. But gamers really ought to investigate the impact of SBX Pro and the Sennheiser GSX 1000 surround sound effects to see if its something they could benefit from.
 
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Vilhelm

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Boogie7910

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I didn't realize some people still use sound cards
 
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