Best method for getting FLAC file audio to an external DAC and amp
Mar 1, 2012 at 10:56 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 24

Z06_Pilot

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Hi folks,
 
If I have missed a thread on this subject, if someone could point me in the right direction I would really appreciate it.
 
My hardware is in my sig.
 
I was using my STX card as my headphone amp until my Woo arrived.  Now I am running analog from the STX into the Woo amp.  I am wondering if I would get a much better signal by avoiding the soundcard altogether?
 
Trying to figure out the cleanest method for getting digital FLAC files streamed out of my PC into an external DAC-USB, Optical?
 
And finally, is the general opinion that an an external DAC provides noticeably improved sound quality as opposed to continuing to use my STX card as my DAC?
 
thanks very much for helping me with this decision!
 
Jeff
 
Mar 1, 2012 at 5:28 PM Post #2 of 24

bowei006

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Quote:
Hi folks,
 
If I have missed a thread on this subject, if someone could point me in the right direction I would really appreciate it.
 
My hardware is in my sig.
 
I was using my STX card as my headphone amp until my Woo arrived.  Now I am running analog from the STX into the Woo amp.  I am wondering if I would get a much better signal by avoiding the soundcard altogether?
 
Trying to figure out the cleanest method for getting digital FLAC files streamed out of my PC into an external DAC-USB, Optical?
 
And finally, is the general opinion that an an external DAC provides noticeably improved sound quality as opposed to continuing to use my STX card as my DAC?
 
thanks very much for helping me with this decision!
 
Jeff


you can't just get an S/PDIF cable. S/PDIF will bypass your sound cards's DAC. you need a DAC for the middle man first. so yes, S/PDIF to a DAC would be the best option, and since your WOO has RCA ports. a DAC that supports RCA output would also be best.
 
While we can argue for what a DAC will do, change the tonality, SNR,THD and stuff. everyone is different. some would like to spend the extra money and get a $300 DAC ...some don't. it's up toyou
 
 
Mar 1, 2012 at 5:50 PM Post #3 of 24

Z06_Pilot

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Quote:
you can't just get an S/PDIF cable. S/PDIF will bypass your sound cards's DAC. you need a DAC for the middle man first. so yes, S/PDIF to a DAC would be the best option, and since your WOO has RCA ports. a DAC that supports RCA output would also be best.
 
While we can argue for what a DAC will do, change the tonality, SNR,THD and stuff. everyone is different. some would like to spend the extra money and get a $300 DAC ...some don't. it's up toyou
 



Right, I fully understand that I need an external  DAC-that's what I am striving for.  What I am unclear on is, if S/PDIF is the best digital connectivity option from my PC to the external DAC, what is the best connectivity method on the PC to obtain the cleanest signal possible: the S/PDIF port on my existing Xonar STX, or some other type of PCI-based board in the PC?
 
thanks...
 
 
Mar 1, 2012 at 6:05 PM Post #5 of 24

Head Injury

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Quote:
Right, I fully understand that I need an external  DAC-that's what I am striving for.  What I am unclear on is, if S/PDIF is the best digital connectivity option from my PC to the external DAC, what is the best connectivity method on the PC to obtain the cleanest signal possible: the S/PDIF port on my existing Xonar STX, or some other type of PCI-based board in the PC?
 
thanks...


The Essence STX already has a very good DAC. Unless you're picking up interference (noise) from the computer's internals, there's not much reason to buy another DAC.
 
Otherwise S/PDIF would be your best bet. Your motherboard might also have S/PDIF if you want to try to sell the card.
 
Don't shy away from USB though, it works perfectly fine.
 
Mar 1, 2012 at 6:41 PM Post #6 of 24

bowei006

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Quote:
The Essence STX already has a very good DAC. Unless you're picking up interference (noise) from the computer's internals, there's not much reason to buy another DAC.
 
Otherwise S/PDIF would be your best bet. Your motherboard might also have S/PDIF if you want to try to sell the card.
 
Don't shy away from USB though, it works perfectly fine.



that's what i meant by..if he wants to spend hundreds on another DAC..not really needed unless problems
 
ok we have another for S/PDIF :)..but..if he doesn't want a DAC anymore..analog in ...is really just it.doubt there's any difference if you get a 3.5mm male end and a RCA end.
 
USB isn't cool enough for me..lol jk. i use it a lot too. but S/PDIF just has a more nostalgic audiophile feel to me :)
 
Mar 1, 2012 at 6:47 PM Post #7 of 24

PurpleAngel

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Try using Foobar to play your audio files.
 
Mar 1, 2012 at 7:43 PM Post #8 of 24

Z06_Pilot

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Quote:
Try using Foobar to play your audio files.



Appreciate the comments all.  That's what I was looking for.  I just want to eliminate any weak links, but not spend money unnecessarily :)  the DAC in the STX seems to be doing a fine job....no issues at all-sounds great.
 
Interesting point you make about Foobar2000.  I have it, but use MediaMonkey mainly due to it's very slick interface, and great organizational software.  I was going to use Foobar with the ASIO add-in.  When I go to the site to pull in ASIO,, it has this message :  Contrary to popular "audiophile" claims, there are NO benefits from using ASIO as far as music playback quality is concerned, while bugs in ASIO drivers may severely degrade the performance.
 
Not sure what to make of that...
 
thanks very much for the input folks!!
 
 
Mar 1, 2012 at 7:47 PM Post #9 of 24

bowei006

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Quote:
Appreciate the comments all.  That's what I was looking for.  I just want to eliminate any weak links, but not spend money unnecessarily :)  the DAC in the STX seems to be doing a fine job....no issues at all-sounds great.
 
Interesting point you make about Foobar2000.  I have it, but use MediaMonkey mainly due to it's very slick interface, and great organizational software.  I was going to use Foobar with the ASIO add-in.  When I go to the site to pull in ASIO,, it has this message :  Contrary to popular "audiophile" claims, there are NO benefits from using ASIO as far as music playback quality is concerned, while bugs in ASIO drivers may severely degrade the performance.
 
Hmmmmm, so I have been using MM.....
 
thanks very much for the input folks!!
 


 
really about ASIO? i hear WASAPI being used a lot more. 

"WASAPI is a new audio output method introduced in Windows Vista; among other things, it provides an exclusive mode that allows applications to take full control over soundcard's resources (muting any sounds played by other applications) and play unaltered bitstream without passing it through the Windows mixer."
 
so like another user said about WASAPI. it doesn't "improve audio" or claim to like ASIO. it just makes sure nothing gets in the way. without WASAPI "you're not hearing everything"-Dr.Dre. haha lol
 
Mar 1, 2012 at 8:30 PM Post #10 of 24

ROBSCIX

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Well ASIO was actually design for low latency recording, people use it because with the right hardware it offers bit for bit transfer of your audio with no messing about with the signal like resampling..etc.
There are others also, such as kernel streaming, WASAPI, they all basically do the same thing.  compatibility may vary form interface to interface depending on your hardware.  Try them out and use your own ears to decide which is best for your system.
Hope this helps, good luck.
 
Mar 1, 2012 at 9:23 PM Post #11 of 24

Z06_Pilot

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Very interesting about WASAPI.  Thanks for the info!

 
Quote:
 
really about ASIO? i hear WASAPI being used a lot more. 

"WASAPI is a new audio output method introduced in Windows Vista; among other things, it provides an exclusive mode that allows applications to take full control over soundcard's resources (muting any sounds played by other applications) and play unaltered bitstream without passing it through the Windows mixer."
 
so like another user said about WASAPI. it doesn't "improve audio" or claim to like ASIO. it just makes sure nothing gets in the way. without WASAPI "you're not hearing everything"-Dr.Dre. haha lol



 
 
Mar 2, 2012 at 3:21 PM Post #13 of 24

Roseval

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A simple one: you can only use ASIO if your  hardware supports it.
Often ASIO (a proprietary protocol) and ASIO4ALL (Kernel streaming) are mixed up.
If the STX supports true ASIO, this might be a good choice.
The advantage of ASIO is that is supports automatic sample rate switching.
In general the combination of discrete sound cards and WASAPI (Microsoft’s own ASIO) don’t allow for automatic sample rate switching.
Both drivers are able to deliver bit perfect output to the DAC
 
I suggest to have a good look at JRiver media center.
It has a very flexible and feature rich interface and supports all kind of drivers like ASIO, WASAPI, DS, Kernel streaming, etc
This allows you to experiment with various drivers.
 
Mar 2, 2012 at 5:00 PM Post #14 of 24

ROBSCIX

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For the best ASIO support on the ST(X) cards make sure you are using the latest driver for the ST(X) as early drivers did not support ASIO IIRC.
Grab the latest versions and you should be good to go as it was added quite awhile back.
 
Mar 4, 2012 at 9:00 AM Post #15 of 24

germanium

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Wasapi does do automatic sample rate  setting but will not play unsupported sample rates that the ASIO driver seems to play even though the hardware doen't support directly so the WASAPI API may in fact be the better API. Plus it retains volume control which I know is sacrolidge to some but a godsend to others. I have both option for volume control available to me & prefer the digital volume control as being more transperant in my case. If you want bit perfect with WASAPI just put the digital volume control all the way up & use an external means of volume control & you will have bit perfect sound.
 

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