Some technical and shopping help for a newbie
May 31, 2018 at 9:31 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 17

Anghi22

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Hello everyone, I am writing here to get some help in understanding some concepts and also deciding what to buy for my setup. I apologize in advance for the length of this post.

At the moment I own a pair of Shure SH840 headphones and a pair of Edifier R1280t speakers, connected to an Asus Xonar DX sound card. My use is mostly games and listening to music, so 2.0 is the best for me(I don't even have space for anything above 2.0 in my room). I sometimes connect my phone to the speakers to listen to it when my pc is turned off but that is a very rare occurrence.

My sound card has been having a problem lately(at least, I think that it is the sound card): the audio on the left is lower and also different than the one in the right ear, even balancing the levels through the software, it still aound different than it does on the rught one. I think this is a card problem since when plugging my headphones into my pc directly the problem seems to go away. All that said, I mostly use my speakers and the problem does not seem to be present with them, so that's all right.

With this in mind, after enjoying my speakers for a bit(I had to turn down the bass and up the treble, since some voices in certain old games sounded muffled) I decided to buy an external DAC + AMP(keep in mind it will be connected to my speakers most of the time) for my desk to replace my sound card, which is quite old at this point. Here come the problems, I had my eyes on the SMSL M6 or M3, which have RCA output to connect to my speakers, but they have an impedance of 10 ohms, while my speakers and headphones have an output of respectively 6 and 44 ohms. Will they be ok for me or should I consider other options? In the second case, do you have any suggestions(possibly with jack/RCA, since my speaker don't have speaker wire input)? My budget is a bit under 200€ and be aware that not all the brands are available here in Italy.

A few more questions:
1- Should I consider buying separate DAC and amps or are they not worth for mostly using with stereo speakers?
2- I was looking at a review of the SMSL M6 on youtube and saw the reviewer plug its speaker output into another further amp, why is that? Do speakers benefit from using a second amp after the one included in the M6?
3- I own a Galaxy Note 8, would it be a problem if I used an RCA splitter to plug it into the AMP+DAC together with my pcor should I just plug it into the speakers without passing through the AMP?
4- Will an RCA splitter inputting into the DAC+AMP degrade sound quality? Also, if both sources play at the same time(using a mixer connected to the DAC), will my speakers get damaged(I read this somewhere online)?

Thanks to everyone that spent their time reading this and tooke their time to answer :)
 
May 31, 2018 at 12:34 PM Post #2 of 17

megabigeye

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A few more questions:
1- Should I consider buying separate DAC and amps or are they not worth for mostly using with stereo speakers?
I have no experience with your speakers, but I don't know why you wouldn't gain some benefit with an outboard DAC. Your speakers are powered, in which case they have an amp built in and won't need another amp. Either of those DACs should work well.
2- I was looking at a review of the SMSL M6 on youtube and saw the reviewer plug its speaker output into another further amp, why is that? Do speakers benefit from using a second amp after the one included in the M6?
The M6 does not have speaker outputs, per se, only preamp outputs (as well as headphone). The reviewer was probably using passive speakers (no built in amp) and an external amp. This won't be applicable for you.
3- I own a Galaxy Note 8, would it be a problem if I used an RCA splitter to plug it into the AMP+DAC together with my pcor should I just plug it into the speakers without passing through the AMP?
4- Will an RCA splitter inputting into the DAC+AMP degrade sound quality?
The DACs you listed don't have analog input, so you won't be able to use an RCA splitter from your phone. You probably could use a USB cable, but I'd check on compatibility first.
Also, if both sources play at the same time(using a mixer connected to the DAC), will my speakers get damaged(I read this somewhere online)?
Huh. That's an interesting question. I don't have the answer. My inclination is that it won't make a difference so long as you're not misusing the mixer. (Although, looking briefly at mixers with USB, I don't think this setup would work due to input/output limitations.)

Thanks to everyone that spent their time reading this and tooke their time to answer :)
You're welcome! I hope my answers were helpful!
 
May 31, 2018 at 6:32 PM Post #3 of 17

Anghi22

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I have no experience with your speakers, but I don't know why you wouldn't gain some benefit with an outboard DAC. Your speakers are powered, in which case they have an amp built in and won't need another amp. Either of those DACs should work well.
The M6 does not have speaker outputs, per se, only preamp outputs (as well as headphone). The reviewer was probably using passive speakers (no built in amp) and an external amp. This won't be applicable for you.
The DACs you listed don't have analog input, so you won't be able to use an RCA splitter from your phone. You probably could use a USB cable, but I'd check on compatibility first.
Huh. That's an interesting question. I don't have the answer. My inclination is that it won't make a difference so long as you're not misusing the mixer. (Although, looking briefly at mixers with USB, I don't think this setup would work due to input/output limitations.)


You're welcome! I hope my answers were helpful!

Thank you very much for the reply, you were very helpful!
Now I am reevaluating my choices and will post here again asking confirmation before buying but I have clearer ideas now :)
 
May 31, 2018 at 6:53 PM Post #4 of 17

megabigeye

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I'm glad to help!

By the way, where in Italy are you? I'll be in Verona in a few weeks. I went to Florence and Sienna several years ago and loved it.
 
Jun 1, 2018 at 12:20 AM Post #5 of 17

PurpleAngel

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Angh22
Replace the Asus Xonar DX sound card with a Creative Labs Sound Blaster Z (used is fine).
Connect the SB-Z's Front Speaker jack (3.5mm) to the dual RCA input on the Edifiers.
Plug headphones into the SB-Z's headphone jack.
 
Jun 1, 2018 at 2:26 AM Post #7 of 17

Anghi22

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Angh22
Replace the Asus Xonar DX sound card with a Creative Labs Sound Blaster Z (used is fine).
Connect the SB-Z's Front Speaker jack (3.5mm) to the dual RCA input on the Edifiers.
Plug headphones into the SB-Z's headphone jack.

Thank you for the suggestion, I'll keep it in mind! Atm I am open again to any suggestion, even though I am mostly considering saving up and buying a good schiit DAC plus AMP a few months down the line
 
Jun 1, 2018 at 9:01 AM Post #8 of 17

megabigeye

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I live on in the Como Lake area, so about 150km away from Verona :)
Oh, wow! Lucky you! Gorgeous! I'd like to see if we can make it over there, but i don't know that we will.

Also, I don't know why I didn't realize sooner that you said you'd be using this mostly for gaming. I'm definitely no expert on gaming, but from what I've read a soundcard is better for gaming than a DAC. You should look further into it, though. Like I said, I'm no expert.
 
Jun 1, 2018 at 12:21 PM Post #9 of 17

PurpleAngel

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Thank you for the suggestion, I'll keep it in mind! Atm I am open again to any suggestion, even though I am mostly considering saving up and buying a good schiit DAC plus AMP a few months down the line

Did you disable the motherboard's on-board audio, in the BIOS, when you installed the Xonar DX?
Did you try the Unified Xonar Drivers?
http://maxedtech.com/asus-xonar-unified-drivers/

My opinion is to buy the Sound Blaster Z, as it comes with SBX Headphone surround sound, for FPS gaming.
Save the leftover cash towards your next headphone upgrade.
 
Jun 1, 2018 at 3:19 PM Post #10 of 17

Anghi22

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Oh, wow! Lucky you! Gorgeous! I'd like to see if we can make it over there, but i don't know that we will.

Also, I don't know why I didn't realize sooner that you said you'd be using this mostly for gaming. I'm definitely no expert on gaming, but from what I've read a soundcard is better for gaming than a DAC. You should look further into it, though. Like I said, I'm no expert.

Well, mostly for gaming and music, I think it's about 50/50.

If you eventually manage to come to Lake Como give me a shout here on the forums and maybe I'll show you around Bellagio, that's where I work :wink:
 
Jun 1, 2018 at 3:26 PM Post #11 of 17

Anghi22

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Did you disable the motherboard's on-board audio, in the BIOS, when you installed the Xonar DX?
Did you try the Unified Xonar Drivers?
http://maxedtech.com/asus-xonar-unified-drivers/

My opinion is to buy the Sound Blaster Z, as it comes with SBX Headphone surround sound, for FPS gaming.
Save the leftover cash towards your next headphone upgrade.

I'll look into those drivers and try installing them.

Regarding the onboard audio, I don't really know, I assembled everything in my pc except for the audio card, which was mounted by my technician and has remained there since the beginning without any change in settings.
If you don't mind me asking, why should I disable onboard audio if I plug my devices into the sound card directly?

I'll also think about the soundblaster but, the point is, I tried surround sound but I'm not really into it, I would prefer to have better stereo output for my music rather than surround sound for my games to be honest.

My mention of the Schiit products was mostly because I heard good things about them and I also think they would look very good on my desk(I know it's a stupid reason :disappointed_relieved:)
 
Jun 1, 2018 at 4:19 PM Post #12 of 17

PurpleAngel

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I'll look into those drivers and try installing them.
Regarding the on-board audio, I don't really know, I assembled everything in my PC except for the audio card, which was mounted by my technician and has remained there since the beginning without any change in settings.
If you don't mind me asking, why should I disable onboard audio if I plug my devices into the sound card directly?
I'll also think about the Sound Blaster but, the point is, I tried surround sound but I'm not really into it, I would prefer to have better stereo output for my music rather than surround sound for my games to be honest.
My mention of the Schiit products was mostly because I heard good things about them and I also think they would look very good on my desk(I know it's a stupid reason :disappointed_relieved:)

There is a small chance that an active on-board audio, might be effecting the Xonar DX, disabling on-board in the BIOS removes that possible issue.
Unified Xonar Driver might also fix the issue with the Xonar DX.

Did you try making sure the DX is fully seated in it's slot and the (floppy) power connector is not lose.

The SB-Z card is a great value, but if you have no need for headphone surround sound, then you do not have to replace it with another sound card and just get the DAC/amp.

If the issue with the Xonar DX can be resolved, then all you would need is the Schiit Magni and not have to buy the Modi.
But if you really just want to buy the Schiit stack, go for it.
 
Jun 1, 2018 at 5:51 PM Post #13 of 17

Anghi22

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There is a small chance that an active on-board audio, might be effecting the Xonar DX, disabling on-board in the BIOS removes that possible issue.
Unified Xonar Driver might also fix the issue with the Xonar DX.

Did you try making sure the DX is fully seated in it's slot and the (floppy) power connector is not lose.

The SB-Z card is a great value, but if you have no need for headphone surround sound, then you do not have to replace it with another sound card and just get the DAC/amp.

If the issue with the Xonar DX can be resolved, then all you would need is the Schiit Magni and not have to buy the Modi.
But if you really just want to buy the Schiit stack, go for it.

I tried checking the power connector on the sound card and it's as conncected as it can be(it almost seems glued in, I could not manage to unplug it even after trying with all my strength).
I tried the drivers but the problem seems to persist but I also could not find the option to disable my onboard audio on the uefi of my pc.
I guess I'll just fiddle around a bit and if Im still can't find it then I'll just go ahead and swap out the card for an external unit.
Thanks for all the help!
 
Jun 1, 2018 at 7:14 PM Post #14 of 17

pbui44

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If you want a cheap DAC and amp, Schiit B-Stock and Closeouts (retention of full warranty, but no refunds) are in, with b-stock Magni 2 solid-state amps at $49, b-stock Vali 2 tube-amp-hybrid at $99, b-stock Modi 2 DACs at $79, and more. Check out the Schiit B-Stock and Closeout inventory here:

http://www.schiit.com/b-stocks
 
Jun 1, 2018 at 7:20 PM Post #15 of 17

PurpleAngel

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I tried checking the power connector on the sound card and it's as conncected as it can be(it almost seems glued in, I could not manage to unplug it even after trying with all my strength).
I tried the drivers but the problem seems to persist but I also could not find the option to disable my onboard audio on the uefi of my pc.
I guess I'll just fiddle around a bit and if Im still can't find it then I'll just go ahead and swap out the card for an external unit.
Thanks for all the help!
The on-board audio might be listed as "HD Audio Controller" in the BIOS.
What is the make and model of the motherboard?
 

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