Lapfi: A Listing of USB and PCMCIA DACs
Sep 23, 2006 at 3:51 AM Post #46 of 62

granodemostasa

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add the Bel Canto Dac-3, which has a USB input.
 
Sep 23, 2006 at 4:02 AM Post #47 of 62

Konig

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wheres the wavelength products?
 
Sep 23, 2006 at 4:57 AM Post #48 of 62

RedLeader

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guys, you have to add the chinese soundstick I bought for $10. The review link is in my sig, it actually does spdif out for $10!!
 
Sep 23, 2006 at 5:40 AM Post #49 of 62

russdog

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Quote:

Originally Posted by jjhatfield
So what do I need? I am confused at the difference between "sound card" and "DAC". Is there a difference?


A DAC is what turns digital music files into analog electrical signals that an amplifer can then send to speakers or cans so you can hear sound. "DAC" means "Digital-to-Analog Converter". In the general case, a DAC consists of one or more special-purpose DAC-chips on a circuit board, connected to other special-purpose chips that do low-level amplification, enough to generate a line-out audio signal that you can send to some other piece of equipment that will amplify it further. Every CD player has a DAC in it. Every iPod or other Digital Audio Player (DAP) has a DAC in it. Any computer that has a headphone jack has a DAC in it. A soundcard is a combination of a DAC with weak amplification. As a general rule, computers are built to a price, so they come with crappy soundcards, meaning crappy DAC function and crappy amplification function.

What do you need? Easy question, you will get many different answers. What you need is something that will replace the functionality of the crappy soundcard that's built in to your laptop. You can do this in a few different ways:
  1. By getting a high-quality PCMCIA soundcard (such as the Echo Indigo and others)
  2. By getting a stand-alone DAC that connects to your computer via USB
  3. By getting a stand-alone DAC that connects to your computer via an optical cable if your laptop has digital out (which a few do but most don't)
  4. By getting a device that will add digital out to your laptop if it doesn't already have one so that you can connect a stand-alone DAC to it without the limitations that a USB-DAC connection have.
Each of these options will be favored by somebody. Some if not all of these options are disliked by somebody. For each option, there will be various people recommending specific products. Best to use the search function and read up on what people do and don't like about each option. If you want a simple answer that doesn't require that you read and sort it out for yourself, then lots of people will say (in effect) "buy the gizmo I like". That could turn out good or not-so-good, depending on your ears, your other equipment, and the specific gizmo that's recommended.
 
Sep 23, 2006 at 5:42 AM Post #50 of 62

jiiteepee

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Sep 23, 2006 at 3:09 PM Post #51 of 62
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Quote:

Originally Posted by russdog
A DAC is what turns digital music files into analog electrical signals that an amplifer can then send to speakers or cans so you can hear sound. "DAC" means "Digital-to-Analog Converter". In the general case, a DAC consists of one or more special-purpose DAC-chips on a circuit board, connected to other special-purpose chips that do low-level amplification, enough to generate a line-out audio signal that you can send to some other piece of equipment that will amplify it further. Every CD player has a DAC in it. Every iPod or other Digital Audio Player (DAP) has a DAC in it. Any computer that has a headphone jack has a DAC in it. A soundcard is a combination of a DAC with weak amplification. As a general rule, computers are built to a price, so they come with crappy soundcards, meaning crappy DAC function and crappy amplification function.

What do you need? Easy question, you will get many different answers. What you need is something that will replace the functionality of the crappy soundcard that's built in to your laptop. You can do this in a few different ways:
  1. By getting a high-quality PCMCIA soundcard (such as the Echo Indigo and others)
  2. By getting a stand-alone DAC that connects to your computer via USB
  3. By getting a stand-alone DAC that connects to your computer via an optical cable if your laptop has digital out (which a few do but most don't)
  4. By getting a device that will add digital out to your laptop if it doesn't already have one so that you can connect a stand-alone DAC to it without the limitations that a USB-DAC connection have.
Each of these options will be favored by somebody. Some if not all of these options are disliked by somebody. For each option, there will be various people recommending specific products. Best to use the search function and read up on what people do and don't like about each option. If you want a simple answer that doesn't require that you read and sort it out for yourself, then lots of people will say (in effect) "buy the gizmo I like". That could turn out good or not-so-good, depending on your ears, your other equipment, and the specific gizmo that's recommended.



How much does Russdog rock?
Let me count the ways...

Thanks friend, this is perfect. I now commence researching...
 
Sep 23, 2006 at 6:38 PM Post #52 of 62
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Looks like for simplicity's sake I'll be getting an Echo Indigo DJ, since it has a line-in (for desktop mic for talking on ventrilo), and a line-out (for running to my Headroom when I receive it via mini -> rca interconnect). Plus that means one less USB based piece of hardware, my laptop is already clogged as it is.

I don't need amazing sound for games, but I do need some sound for games. I use headphones for 100% of my gaming. The Indigo DJ will produce sound for, say, World of Warcraft, right (the only game I play)? Not great sound, just sound.

Thanks in advance for your responses.
 
Sep 24, 2006 at 3:53 AM Post #53 of 62

russdog

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Quote:

Originally Posted by jjhatfield
Looks like for simplicity's sake I'll be getting an Echo Indigo DJ, since it has a line-in (for desktop mic for talking on ventrilo), and a line-out (for running to my Headroom when I receive it via mini -> rca interconnect). Plus that means one less USB based piece of hardware, my laptop is already clogged as it is.

I don't need amazing sound for games, but I do need some sound for games. I use headphones for 100% of my gaming. The Indigo DJ will produce sound for, say, World of Warcraft, right (the only game I play)? Not great sound, just sound.

Thanks in advance for your responses.



I don't know squat about games. I believe that any of the Echo Indigo's will do a very good job of turning digital sound files into actual sound. AFAIK, the only debate will be about whether an Indigo card will give you 99% of excellent vs. 98% (or whatever high % number) of excellent. As long as you're talkiing about stereo, you will be fine. I have an Indigo i/o that I am very happy with. It sounds a lot better on high-quality mp3's with my MediaMonkey MAD add-on feeding it a 24-bit/96kHz signal. I have no idea what happens if you're talking about a game with 5.1 multi-channel sound. Since you're talking about headphones, I assume you're talking about stereo. If so, I expect you'll be quite happy with it.
 
Sep 24, 2006 at 8:57 PM Post #55 of 62

zantafio

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Quote:

Originally Posted by jjhatfield
... I'll be getting an Echo Indigo DJ, since it has a line-in (for desktop mic for talking on ventrilo), and a line-out (for running to my Headroom when I receive it via mini -> rca interconnect).


To avoid confusion :
  1. Echo Indigo I/O : Has 1 line in and 1 line out
  2. Echo Indigo DJ : Has 2 line out : 1 which is ment to be used with headphones (=> amplified and volume knob), the other one being an unamplified line out.
 
Sep 24, 2006 at 9:11 PM Post #56 of 62
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Quote:

Originally Posted by zantafio
To avoid confusion :
  1. Echo Indigo I/O : Has 1 line in and 1 line out
  2. Echo Indigo DJ : Has 2 line out : 1 which is ment to be used with headphones (=> amplified and volume knob), the other one being an unamplified line out.



Yes, thanks for the clarification zantafio, I've ordered the Echo Indigo DJ and will be ordering a separate USB Logitech Desk Microphone for my ventrilo needs.
 
Sep 24, 2006 at 9:24 PM Post #57 of 62

milkpowder

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Quote:

Originally Posted by zantafio
To avoid confusion :
  1. Echo Indigo I/O : Has 1 line in and 1 line out
  2. Echo Indigo DJ : Has 2 line out : 1 which is ment to be used with headphones (=> amplified and volume knob), the other one being an unamplified line out.



IO's line out also has amplifier and volume knob.
 
Sep 25, 2006 at 11:05 AM Post #58 of 62

zantafio

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Quote:

Originally Posted by milkpowder
IO's line out also has amplifier and volume knob.


Yes, that's right. That's why it's better to have Indigo DJ if you want to use a dedicated headphone amp. And connect it to the unamplified line out.
 
Sep 25, 2006 at 1:48 PM Post #59 of 62

russdog

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Quote:

Originally Posted by zantafio
Yes, that's right. That's why it's better to have Indigo DJ if you want to use a dedicated headphone amp. And connect it to the unamplified line out.


I don't see how that makes it better. At a certain setting, the adjustable-out is identical to the non-adjustable-out. It seems that you're assuming that the adjustable-out produces a signal that is somehow noisy or inferior. AFAIK, this is a baseless assumption. Over the years, I have read a zillion user reports about the Indigo's, and I've not read one single report that anyone has actually found this to be an issue. If you have done a direct comparison between the I/O and the D/J, please report on the difference. If you haven't, please report that fact too.
 
Sep 25, 2006 at 2:09 PM Post #60 of 62

lipidicman

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To be clear, I haven't ried the two indigos. The difference I see is not that one is adjustable and one is fixed but that one is amplified whilst the other is not. In my experience amplified outputs (ie headphone outs) work poorly when trying to connect to a headphone (or any other) amplifier
 

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