Audiophile quality soundcard?
Oct 4, 2009 at 8:29 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 7

Crassus

New Head-Fier
Joined
Jan 10, 2009
Posts
10
Likes
0
I'm looking for a sound card (PCI, USB or Firewire) that would be absolute reference quality. If there are forum members who have tried lots of different sound cards, I would appreciate your opinion. What I'm looking for is a device that is as good as nice stand alone DAC. I've read plenty of threads but haven't become any wiser. The problem is that people praise devices like the Emu 0404 but if there's no reference gear mentioned the opinion holds very little value. Sure the 0404 is nice for the money but I want absolute quality not just "ok for the money".

I previously owned an E-mu 1212M which had a bit of a 'harsh' sound but once I swapped the caps to black gates it became a lot more "liquid" and transparent. Overall a nice card once modified. I recently sold it and bought a 0404 USB. I've changed a few caps to better ones but it still sounds a bit harsh and I haven't found any good tweaks that I could try. I've now looked at the 1820M and Motu 828mkII but I would like to hear if you guys have any suggestions what to try or how these compare to stand alone dacs.

I'm not even sure if a better sound cards is the best solution or if I should keep the 0404 and get a stand alone dac (Zero, Beresford, CA Dacmagic, etc)... Btw, I'm planning on using the line out so the headphone output quality is not a big concern (same goes for input preamps).
 
Oct 4, 2009 at 9:03 AM Post #3 of 7

sonci

500+ Head-Fier
Joined
Apr 3, 2008
Posts
898
Likes
14
Quote:

Originally Posted by Crassus /img/forum/go_quote.gif
I'm looking for a sound card (PCI, USB or Firewire) that would be absolute reference quality. If there are forum members who have tried lots of different sound cards, I would appreciate your opinion. What I'm looking for is a device that is as good as nice stand alone DAC. I've read plenty of threads but haven't become any wiser. The problem is that people praise devices like the Emu 0404 but if there's no reference gear mentioned the opinion holds very little value. Sure the 0404 is nice for the money but I want absolute quality not just "ok for the money".

I previously owned an E-mu 1212M which had a bit of a 'harsh' sound but once I swapped the caps to black gates it became a lot more "liquid" and transparent. Overall a nice card once modified. I recently sold it and bought a 0404 USB. I've changed a few caps to better ones but it still sounds a bit harsh and I haven't found any good tweaks that I could try. I've now looked at the 1820M and Motu 828mkII but I would like to hear if you guys have any suggestions what to try or how these compare to stand alone dacs.

I'm not even sure if a better sound cards is the best solution or if I should keep the 0404 and get a stand alone dac (Zero, Beresford, CA Dacmagic, etc)... Btw, I'm planning on using the line out so the headphone output quality is not a big concern (same goes for input preamps).



If you dont want to spent too much money, then go for an expensive DAC
wink_face.gif

otherwise yo`ll modd and modd and upgrade spending a lot more than a standard Benchmark DAC,.
 
Oct 4, 2009 at 9:33 AM Post #4 of 7

Crassus

New Head-Fier
Joined
Jan 10, 2009
Posts
10
Likes
0
Quote:

Originally Posted by sonci /img/forum/go_quote.gif
If you dont want to spent too much money, then go for an expensive DAC
wink_face.gif

otherwise yo`ll modd and modd and upgrade spending a lot more than a standard Benchmark DAC,.



I'm not sure if the Benchmark is "the DAC" to have. I haven't really limited my budget at this point so I'm looking for different options. I'm sure the Benchmark is very revealing and neutral but I'm not sure if that's what I want. I wouldn't use the DAC for mixing/mastering. I'm simply looking for something that makes me tap my foot and enjoy music.

The 0404 has the fabulous AK dac but the analog section is not that great (although it uses the same 5532 opamps as the Benchmark Dac). There's just something in the 0404 that makes the sound a bit harsh and the "S" in vocals seem to jump out a bit. Extremely unforgiving to sibilance in recordings and also seems to make cymbals in drums "hiss and fizz" instead of a metallic nice splash.

Btw. If anyone has a link to a decent 0404 mod collection I would be interested. I've googled and googled but haven't found much. Some people have shorted the output buffers& caps but I haven't found details exactly what to do on the PCB (but enough oftopic).
 
Oct 6, 2009 at 12:12 PM Post #7 of 7

sonci

500+ Head-Fier
Joined
Apr 3, 2008
Posts
898
Likes
14
Quote:

Originally Posted by Crassus /img/forum/go_quote.gif
Thanks for the suggestions. I decided to take the plunge and ordered an Mhdt Havana DAC.


See, even if you dont like(I HOPE NO), yoll stay quiet for some time, not spending anymore..

Enjoy..
 

Users who are viewing this thread

Top