Can I get some clarification?! (computer audio process)
May 21, 2012 at 11:49 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 9

Bojakus

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Hey guys, 

Had a thread but I realised what I asked came off as lazy, so I'm remaking to clarify my question. Could someone confirm that my understanding of a computer audio setup is correct.

Computer > Sound Card (in the computer) > DAC > Headphone amp > headphones
                                               and speakers can be inserted here? > Active speakers

Is this understanding correct? Is the sound card necessary? Should I also sound proof (silent fans etc) the computer?

Lastly what is the best way to go about building start with headphones build back? start at the computer build forward? Balance spending on components? 

I read fallenangels digital audio primer, but it had the process listed in multiple ways and I am a touch confused.


Thanks in Advance! :D
 
May 22, 2012 at 9:20 AM Post #2 of 9

trog

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happy to drop a few hundred on a dac/amp, soundcard etc if its justified

Actually since u have a home audio set up involving cans/speakers one way is to cut out a seperate DAC/sound card and send digital out of PC (optical/coaxial/HDMI) to a receiver and for demanding cans a headphone amp connected to the receiver?
 
For expandable HT, i would really start with strong fronts 1st
 
May 22, 2012 at 11:33 AM Post #3 of 9

Darkblade48

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Quote:
Computer > Sound Card (in the computer) > DAC > Headphone amp > headphones
                                               and speakers can be inserted here? > Active speakers

Is this understanding correct? Is the sound card necessary? Should I also sound proof (silent fans etc) the computer?

Lastly what is the best way to go about building start with headphones build back? start at the computer build forward? Balance spending on components? 

I read fallenangels digital audio primer, but it had the process listed in multiple ways and I am a touch confused.


Thanks in Advance! :D

 
A DAC (digital to analog converter) essentially takes your sound files (stored as MP3s, FLAC, etc) which are in binary format, and converts them to an audio (sinusoidal) analog form so that we can hear it.
 
Discrete sound cards, or on (mother)board sound cards act as a DAC.
 
If you have a DAC, you do not need a sound card, and vice versa.
 
Some DACs and amplifiers are built into one unit, some are separate.
 
In either case, in your flow chart, either the sound card or the DAC can be removed.
 
You probably will not need to sound proof the fans; I would not assume them to be extremely noisy (unless you have a particularly strange setup that is not "normal"?)
 
As for your build, you really need only to concern yourself with the soundcard/DAC/amplifier and headphones. Things like video cards (obviously), CPU etc will not play such a large role in affecting music quality. In my opinion, you should just settle on the best headphones that you can afford first, then work up a budget for an amplifier (if needed).
 
May 22, 2012 at 5:44 PM Post #4 of 9

ProtegeManiac

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Quote:
 
A DAC (digital to analog converter) essentially takes your sound files (stored as MP3s, FLAC, etc) which are in binary format, and converts them to an audio (sinusoidal) analog form so that we can hear it.
 
Discrete sound cards, or on (mother)board sound cards act as a DAC.
 
If you have a DAC, you do not need a sound card, and vice versa.
 
Some DACs and amplifiers are built into one unit, some are separate.
 
In either case, in your flow chart, either the sound card or the DAC can be removed.
 
You probably will not need to sound proof the fans; I would not assume them to be extremely noisy (unless you have a particularly strange setup that is not "normal"?)
 
As for your build, you really need only to concern yourself with the soundcard/DAC/amplifier and headphones. Things like video cards (obviously), CPU etc will not play such a large role in affecting music quality. In my opinion, you should just settle on the best headphones that you can afford first, then work up a budget for an amplifier (if needed).

 
Just to add, the soundcard on top of having/functioning as a DAC can function to make your computer into a transport. Let's say you have a DAC that doesn't have USB input, but has SPDIF. Your motherboard doesn't have SPDIF of any sort. There are external devices that can convert the USB signal to SPDIF, like the Musical Fidelity V-link; or you can just install a soundcard with SPDIF digital output. Ergo, sometimes you might still have and use both a soundcard and a DAC.
 
May 22, 2012 at 7:16 PM Post #5 of 9

Bojakus

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Quote:
 
A DAC (digital to analog converter) essentially takes your sound files (stored as MP3s, FLAC, etc) which are in binary format, and converts them to an audio (sinusoidal) analog form so that we can hear it.
 
Discrete sound cards, or on (mother)board sound cards act as a DAC.
 
If you have a DAC, you do not need a sound card, and vice versa.
 
Some DACs and amplifiers are built into one unit, some are separate.
 
In either case, in your flow chart, either the sound card or the DAC can be removed.
 
You probably will not need to sound proof the fans; I would not assume them to be extremely noisy (unless you have a particularly strange setup that is not "normal"?)
 
As for your build, you really need only to concern yourself with the soundcard/DAC/amplifier and headphones. Things like video cards (obviously), CPU etc will not play such a large role in affecting music quality. In my opinion, you should just settle on the best headphones that you can afford first, then work up a budget for an amplifier (if needed).

Thanks, I had seen a the digital primer guide and the process had been shown with both sound card and without and I was unsure of the difference(If any).
 
Quote:
 
Just to add, the soundcard on top of having/functioning as a DAC can function to make your computer into a transport. Let's say you have a DAC that doesn't have USB input, but has SPDIF. Your motherboard doesn't have SPDIF of any sort. There are external devices that can convert the USB signal to SPDIF, like the Musical Fidelity V-link; or you can just install a soundcard with SPDIF digital output. Ergo, sometimes you might still have and use both a soundcard and a DAC.

thanks, so essentially, a soundcard just adds some interface functionality (If you have a DAC) or serves as a DAC itself?

 
 
May 22, 2012 at 8:08 PM Post #6 of 9

AVU

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correct.  
 
and you can often remove the amp if you're going from the DAC directly to active speakers.
 
May 23, 2012 at 12:11 AM Post #7 of 9

ProtegeManiac

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bojakus /img/forum/go_quote.gif
 
thanks, so essentially, a soundcard just adds some interface functionality (If you have a DAC) or serves as a DAC itself?
 

 
Yes, it can make your computer function as a typical transport. These days though both DAC and digital output functions are usually built onto the motherboard itself, and DACs usually have USB inputs, so depends on how you want your system to be set-up, you an actually skip the separate soundcard altogether.
 
May 23, 2012 at 1:51 PM Post #8 of 9

suburbanite

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An (aftermarket) soundcard n most cases gives u both the dac & amp & headphone port to plug ur headphones directly into as well as better connectivity, e.g. SPDIF, to use ur soundcard as a passthrough.

The problem i was trying to solve was my integrated dac/amp having a high noise floor.

I tried to bypass it by using a usb > external dac/amp but that external dac/amp also had a high noise floor and it got worse when i connected my pc to it via usb as it seems my pc usb ports r "dirty," the case usb ports more than the motherboard usb ports.

In my case, the only way to bypass my integrated soundcard while plugging headphones directly into my pc OR to usemy pc as a transport via an interface my mobo doesnt have is to use a pcie soundcard which has SPDIF, which i did, and am satisfied for now...
 
May 23, 2012 at 3:16 PM Post #9 of 9

PurpleAngel

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Quote:
Had a thread but I realised what I asked came off as lazy, so I'm remaking to clarify my question. Could someone confirm that my understanding of a computer audio setup is correct.
Computer > Sound Card (in the computer) > DAC > Headphone amp > headphones and speakers can be inserted here? > Active speakers
Is this understanding correct? Is the sound card necessary? Should I also sound proof (silent fans etc) the computer?
Lastly what is the best way to go about building start with headphones build back? start at the computer build forward? Balance spending on components? 
I read Fallenangels digital audio primer, but it had the process listed in multiple ways and I am a touch confused.

What headphone(s) do you plan on using with this setup?
Is this for music? gaming? movies?
Are you playing on hooking this up to a home receiver?
Budget?
Does the current motherboard in your computer come with an digital (zeros & ones) optical output?
 
Motherboards usually come with a low cost DAC (Digital to Analog Converter), add-on sound cards come with better DAC, external standalone DACs can come with an even better DAC.
The headphone output jack built into motherboards are limited to what headphones will work with them.
Most of them are line-out jacks and driving headphones is a secondary job.
Sound cards can add surround sound features that most motherboards do not come with.
 

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