Internet radio w/ usb DAC question
Mar 19, 2006 at 4:04 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 5

dandi

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Hello,
I am considering the Silverstone EB01 USB DAC. I listen to Internet raido streaming. I understand how the USB DAC can improve on a sound file stored on the computer. I would like to know, from those who have used a USB DAC, how does it, or can it, create a better sound quality from an Internet stream?
Thanks
 
Mar 19, 2006 at 4:07 PM Post #2 of 5

JaGWiRE

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Quote:

Originally Posted by dandi
Hello,
I am considering the Silverstone EB01 USB DAC. I listen to Internet raido streaming. I understand how the USB DAC can improve on a sound file stored on the computer. I would like to know, from those who have used a USB DAC, how does it, or can it, create a better sound quality from an Internet stream?
Thanks



Not to jack your thread, but I was wondering, do decent quality (192 kbps and up) internet radio stations exist, if so, is there a special program you can use to search them? I've seen a lot of 128 kbps and lower streams.
 
Mar 19, 2006 at 4:21 PM Post #3 of 5

grasshpr

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Depends on what you call improvement. One primary benefit of a USB DAC (depending on the particular solution you buy) is the improvement of the noise level compared with your built-in Laptop's sound card (or PC). I've got an inspiron 9200 and the noise from my built in sound card is extremely noisey, to the point in which it is unbearable to listen to. I currently own an M-audio transit and the noise is next to nil.

As for the sound quality, the choice of DAC will affect the type of sound from your Internet stream, but may be very subtle. The m-audio transit is a very punchy sound card but lacks some detail in the treble.
 
Mar 20, 2006 at 4:27 AM Post #4 of 5

RockinOut

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Quote:

Originally Posted by dandi
Hello,
I am considering the Silverstone EB01 USB DAC. I listen to Internet raido streaming. I understand how the USB DAC can improve on a sound file stored on the computer. I would like to know, from those who have used a USB DAC, how does it, or can it, create a better sound quality from an Internet stream?
Thanks



I use internet streams a lot because I like dance/trance music that although may be popular in some clubs does not have a lot of radio play and publicity.

I can comment regarding my personal rig, and I'm assuming you're using a computer as source rig. Obviously, people with different music and sound tastes may disagree, but I think my experiences may shed some light to you in the quest for better sounds.
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To my ears and tastes, mp3 streams and mp3 music main faults are it's "artifacts," echoing, low bass, and veiling and "weird" highs. In my car stereo system, for rmp3's I tend to raise the bass a lot on the EQ and lower the treble.

As far as a Head-Fi rig, I think every component is important to make streams sound better. From my experience and my music taste, here's how I would rate the improvements in regards to 128k dance/trance streams in my own rig: headphone amp 40%, DAC 40%, 20% headphones.

I would have to say that it really depends on one's music and sound preferences and the total Head-Fi package and it's complementary hardware. For instance my E5c's are bass heavy yet powerful and decent treble. The opamps I chose in my SM3 amp provides complementary clarity, soundstage, and treble to the E5c.

The last addition I made to the rig was the Micro DAC. It made the streams sound amazing considering the crappy source files. With Micro DAC, the deficiency of MP3 were much reduced. A much fuller, thicker, textured sound with excellent soundstaging with less echo, veiling, and "weird" noises. The sound is much more powerful and impactful in all areas: treble, bass, mids.

I've stated this in other posts, but when I sent out my E5c's in for replacement, I used some well-burned in, gray Sony $10 earbuds for a week with my rig. They sounded awesome due to the nicely integrated front-end.

Granted, there is a very valid case for saying why bother because given the crappy source isn't "trash in and trash out." That's true but sometimes, good recording sources and original files are just not available. As in my case much of the music is streamed direct from DJ's and much of it only comes in vinyls. And for some people, budgets don't allow constant purchasing of new CDs.

Having said all this, I say YES, a good rig and a decent DAC with a good amp and headphones will improve crappy MP3 files and streams. They won't ever sound equal to good lossless files, but to me it was worth effort.

Regardless, for myself, and I would imagine for some other Head-Fiers, streaming music is not my only source of music. I also listen to a lot of Apple Lossless files ripped from my CD collection. For me it's a win/win situation.

For a while before I got my Micro DAC, I would burn my 128k MP3 files onto CD and I played it on my MP3 capable $100 DVD player that I already owned and used for movies. Using the DVD as a source into the SM3, the sound of the MP3 was pretty awesome and strong probably due to it's better DAC (and power supply?) than my integrated sound card and AirPort Express DAC fed into my SM3.

So, there's my story and info. Hopes it helps a bit.

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Mar 20, 2006 at 4:37 AM Post #5 of 5

RockinOut

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Quote:

Originally Posted by JaGWiRE
Not to jack your thread, but I was wondering, do decent quality (192 kbps and up) internet radio stations exist, if so, is there a special program you can use to search them? I've seen a lot of 128 kbps and lower streams.


At shoutcast, you can search by genre and bitrate:

http://www.shoutcast.com/

You can also search and sort by genre and bitrate in Itunes radio pane.

For my type of music, I haven't found many 160 or 192k streams, maybe you can find some others.

As I stated in previous post, a good Head-Fi rig can make crappy streams sound a bit better until more stations start increasing their bit rates. Even so, all MP3 and AAC and all lossy compression sounds hideous to my ears. I can't stand it, be it at 128K or 320K. I think a good rig will do more to improve quality than hoping and searching for 192K and up lossy streams. That's just me.

Good luck in your search.
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