Suggestion for PC audio upgrade
Nov 15, 2008 at 12:41 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 8

hunghing

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Just like the previous thread which concerns laptop audio, I am looking at different ways of upgrading the audio on my PC.

So far I have come across three options: upgrading soundcard, external DAC or an A/V receiver with network compatibility. What are the pros and cons of these setups in relation to:

1. cost
2. sq
3. versatility (eg. say if in the future I want to hook my computer audio to power speakers; I would imagine the receiver wins in this department?)

I am also open to other setups.
 
Nov 15, 2008 at 5:38 AM Post #2 of 8

illy2k

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a DAC is a must for anyone who is seriously considering using a pc as a source component. I would suggest to save and strive to get as best a DAC as possible and your music will come alive as you have never imagined. There is no all in one answer but upgrading a soundcard makes no sense when you can use the upgrade funds to get a serious DAC. A solid external dac will give you the best SQ hands down out of any machine.
 
Nov 15, 2008 at 7:10 AM Post #3 of 8

blessingx

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I think it would make more sense for you to list your situation and budget, than for others to cover all scenarios and possibilities.

And of course any receiver would be network compatible with an Airport Express or Squeezebox.
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Nov 16, 2008 at 1:03 AM Post #4 of 8

hunghing

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I will be running a headphone amp with my setup. My computer is a normal PC with nothing worth mentioning.
redface.gif


At the moment I haven't confined myself to any budget. It would depend on what I am getting for the price. As a rough estimate, I think imagine $300 is reasonable for a soundcard. I am not sure about DACs because their prices range from under $100 to thousands. As for a receiver I would think under $2000 is reasonable seeing you're getting other things like an amp and practicality with regard to hooking up a home theatre system.

I haven't actually looked into those network media centres (is that what they're called?) but I can see how these devices would be convenient. Am I right in assuming those things are just DACs with network interfaces? In terms of SQ, how do they compare to DACs, soundcards and receivers (with their own internal networking and DACs)?

Illy: What kind of prices are we talking about for a 'good' DAC?
 
Nov 16, 2008 at 1:28 AM Post #5 of 8

jenneth

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I'm sort of on the situation as well. I've been thinking about getting a good external DAC, possibly something like the Benchmark DAC1, or the MDHT Havana. I know this is a long shot, but have anyone here done a thorough comparison between a good soundcard with an external DAC?
 
Nov 16, 2008 at 2:14 AM Post #6 of 8

myinitialsaredac

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I'd opt for an offboard DAC in your situation. I recently picked up an ultra micro dac and astrodyne from headroom and it sounds great for around 600. Other options you might want to look into would be the dacmagic and dac1, depending upon your price. If you can wait it out, headroom is supposed to realease an end all standalone dac in april for around 1100 give or take. It all depends on your budget, dont forget to take into consideration cables costs, (nice glass optical~100, nice coaxial ranged from~30-too much, usb~25 all in USD)
As for the airport express and squeezebox I believe they have an onboard dac but they also offer a digital out, simply for those long runs, that way you can get a digital signal far away, and not use the onboard dac which is likely of lesser quality then a true offboard dac.
Dave
 
Nov 18, 2008 at 2:35 PM Post #7 of 8

EliasGwinn

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The Squeezebox and Airport Express are referred to as "music servers". This basically means they are satellite soundcards that receive digital audio from a host (the computer). They can connect wirelessly or over ethernet cable (in the case of Squeezebox).

These devices offer both digital and analog outputs, so you can use a higher quality DAC if you prefer.

If you don't need the audio routed to remote locations (away from your computer), then these devices are not necessary.

For your application, I recommend the DAC1 USB or DAC1 PRE - connected to your computer via USB. It has built-in HPA2 headphone amplifier, and the XLR outputs can be connected directly to powered speakers or a power amplifier.

Thanks,
Elias
 
Nov 18, 2008 at 8:36 PM Post #8 of 8

alwayshungry

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I agree with the DAC suggestion. I recently purchased a PS Audio Digital Link III and it has been a very significant upgrade. It has improved the sound of my headphone setup and 2 channel speaker setup more than I could imagine. Although it was an expensive component, it was well worth the money. The PS Audio doesn't have a built in headphone amp but you may find one of those units more suitable for you.
 

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