question about external sound cards and dac
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chiefroastbeef

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Hi, since the search function off, i guess i'll just ask.

I am a little bit confused about the difference between the function of a dac and an external soundcard

I will be getting an ibm laptop for college, and since alot of my music will be put on the ibm laptop, i want to buy a better soundcard for it so i can use it with my larocco pr.

Does the external soundcard evade the original laptop soundcard?

what about the dac?

all i want is an external soundcard for my ibm, but what is all that art modded d/io(sp) stuff?

any help is appreciated, thanks
 
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fewtch

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An external sound card is a "card" connected to the PC via USB or Firewire, or whatever. The DAC is contained in the external box (or "card"), and all the PC does is send raw data, likely buffered by the card (so jitter should not be a factor in the PC to "card" transfer). After the data gets to the card, it functions similarly to an internal card. Usually external soundcards are powered externally as well, opening up the possibility of delivering cleaner power (in addition to less EMI as the card isn't inside the computer case). Whether this improves sound over an internal card depends on a number of things.

If the external "card" has SPDIF or optical outputs, you can then send data from the external card to an external DAC like the ART DI/O (and from there to an amp), but it might be a better idea just to use an internal card if you wanted to go that route, in the interest of simplification.
 
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chiefroastbeef

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thanks for the info!

so just get an art di/o and plug it into the computer, and hook up my PR to the di/o?

again thanks for the help
 
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CraziiNick

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sorry if this is hijacking your post but what is the Art Di/O as in a link or a link to a description or sumthing
 
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Jasper994

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The Art Di/o is a stand alone DAC (digital to analog converter). In order to use an external DAC you will need a soundcard that outputs a digital signal (either coax or optical) and then an amp to boost the analog signal from the DAC.
 
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chiefroastbeef

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does the dac override the soundcard so it can reproduce the sound?

or is it like crap in crap out that sort of theory?
 
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commando

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Here's what I understand, in plain English. If i'm wrong, someone please let me know.

There are three jobs being done here:
- (A) Decoding music from the USB/fireware PC/Mac output to pure digital music signal.
- (B) Turning this digital music into analog sounds
- (C) Amplifiy the line level (ie low power) signal into music your headphones can reproduce.

Most external sound cards will do (A) and (B). Almost all will offer an analog out (see A above) and a digital output (B above), and some external sound cards will also do (C), amplify the signal.

A DAC will only do (B). The reason you might want to use an external DAC is they're meant to do a better job of turning the digital audio data into sound. Some DACs might have an amplifier built in, but again a separate one might do a better job.

Most of the time you'll need a headphone amplifier, which takes the low-power analog audio signal and makes it strong enough to drive headphones. Even if your external sound card does this, a separate amplifier will often make it sound better. A DAC always needs an external amplifier.
 
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chiefroastbeef

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you just cleared everything commando, thanks for the others who helped too

i think i'll just stick with my cd player and my PR for now...
 
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dsavitsk

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Quote:

Originally Posted by chiefroastbeef
you just cleared everything commando, thanks for the others who helped too

i think i'll just stick with my cd player and my PR for now...



You should check out headroom's bithead. There are certainly better soundcards/DACs/amps, but they are the first to commercially put decent versions of all three in one small convenient case.

-d
 
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