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View Full Version : PCI or PCI express soundcard as Bushmaster DAC source (Linux support)



gilesw
24-07-2012, 09:47
Hi All,

I was fully onboard with buying a USB DAC but I've gone ahead and ordered a bushmaster so I probably need to get myself a second decent soundcard with digital out.

I've found a few sub 100 options:-

http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B...00_i00_details

http://www.thomann.de/gb/esi_prodigy_71_hifi.htm

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Musiland-Digital-Times-Soundcard-PCI-S-PDIF-optical-BNC-/320765536270?pt=US_Home_Audio_Amplifiers_Preamps&hash=item4aaf1da80e#ht_1578wt_794

Stan himself uses an xfi xpress and I have an old xfi music in another machine so I may try that out, but from memory I seem to think it had a weird minijack to coax cable and linux support looks pretty poor.

I could also buy another squeezebox if you guys think the isolation is better than I'll ever get with an internal soundcard.

http://www.alsa-project.org/main/index.php/Matrix:Vendor-Creative_Labs

g.

bobbasrah
24-07-2012, 10:19
This is probably a stupid question (My speciality) Giles, but why do you want to buy a internal DAC to feed a external DAC ?
Your motherboard should have a spdif output at least, or is it something strange?

tannoydmt
24-07-2012, 12:08
The ESI Juli pci card is one of the best for providing an excellent digital output, ebay link below

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/ESI-Juli-PCI-Audio-Recording-Interface-NEW-/230824209193?pt=Midi_Controllers&hash=item35be31eb29

It has a unique feature which allows you lift out the top section of the card if you just want digital out leaving a half height card or you can reverse the top section to have rca or 3.5mm outputs available depending on your choice, but back to the sound output from the digital output, in one forum it was quoted as producing a better sound than the RME soundcard.

realysm42
24-07-2012, 13:55
A sound card is a dac, if you will.

You either want one or the other, not both; you should use your motherboard outputs to feed the dac (that you've already paid for), if you've got an external solution.

If you're hell bent on using a sound card in your pc as well though, I recommend the Asus Xonar Essence, musically, it's far superior to the X-fi one I had (which was top of the range at the time (although they are also good, far better than on board solutions).

gilesw
24-07-2012, 14:13
Thanks for the input both, I'll definitely take a look at the esi. I know it's annoying that the high end cards are really for the dacs when all I care about is the digital out but I want to give the bushmaster a source with the least jitter if possible. Stan said that he personally didn't want the digital source going through usb to the spdif interface so things like the m2tech hiface are off the the menu.

Gazjam
24-07-2012, 14:44
Another option is to just stick a Musical Fidelity V-Link into your Bushmaster?

Better solution for digital out than either a soundcard or motherboard SPDIF in my opinion.

bobbasrah
24-07-2012, 17:55
Another option is to just stick a Musical Fidelity V-Link into your Bushmaster?

Better solution for digital out than either a soundcard or motherboard SPDIF in my opinion.

IME Gary, I would tend to agree as it seems reliable, but it is still worth experimenting. There are so many differing quality SPDIF implementations on the mobos and DACs that it is pot luck IMHO

synsei
24-07-2012, 18:15
The ASUS SPDIF implementation works very well indeed on my MOBO and saves me from having to splash out on weird and wonderful doodads to do the same job ;)

gilesw
24-07-2012, 22:33
That v-link II does look very good and affordable at 100. I was only going for a sound card because of what Stan said "I tend to use USB as a last option. I prefer the raw audio data through the optical or coax from a PC, instead of a USB signal that has to go through a special USB decoder chip first."

I suppose I'll just have to wait for the thing to arrive so I can try out a few options. Almost got all of my cd's ripped, phew.

bobbasrah
25-07-2012, 08:09
That v-link II does look very good and affordable at 100. I was only going for a sound card because of what Stan said "I tend to use USB as a last option. I prefer the raw audio data through the optical or coax from a PC, instead of a USB signal that has to go through a special USB decoder chip first."

I suppose I'll just have to wait for the thing to arrive so I can try out a few options. Almost got all of my cd's ripped, phew.

I am aware of Stan's opinion on usb, and understand his reasoning, even though I have gone contrary to that route with no complaints.

I use usb out to a cheap chinese async DAC which is reasonably good on DAC audio out, but as with Gary's suggested V-Link, it provides a better digital audio to to a subsequent DAC stage than off the Gigabyte motherboard direct. :scratch:

Using this dac as an alternative digital signal to a quality DAC with a buddy's rather exotic system, also showed his PC optical out as being the bottleneck, to our mutual surprise. We changed PC, experiment repeated, no perceptible difference. Changed to another PC, and optical direct was better than usb.
This clearly shows implementation on the motherboard varies quite markedly. :eek:
YMMV.:cool:

gilesw
25-07-2012, 11:47
Interesting I've done no testing in this area of hi-fi myself so it's all new to me. MF also do a 192 vdac but that comes in at 200. I don't have any hi-def music at the moment so it's probably overkill for my needs, what do you recon?

bobbasrah
25-07-2012, 17:33
Interesting I've done no testing in this area of hi-fi myself so it's all new to me. MF also do a 192 vdac but that comes in at 200. I don't have any hi-def music at the moment so it's probably overkill for my needs, what do you recon?

To be honest, I cannot hear any difference between a 96 and a 192 at all, albeit that this is only with one album.
As Stan's new machine is on order Giles and appears from reviews to be a cracker, I would be tempted to let it burn in first using your motherboard's spdif, play with Asio/Wasapi/JRiver or whatever to get used to it, then look at different options to obtain a potentially better way of supplying it, without resorting to a second DAC...

AndrewR
25-07-2012, 18:21
Switching from the Coax output of my Asus Xonar D2 soundcard to a Musical Fidelity V-Link II was a major improvement.

The sound became a lot more life-like.

If you don't use hi-def there are also some standard def USB-> Coax converters on ebay that are really good.

Andrew

nat8808
06-12-2012, 02:48
A sound card is a dac, if you will.

You either want one or the other, not both; you should use your motherboard outputs to feed the dac (that you've already paid for), if you've got an external solution.

If you're hell bent on using a sound card in your pc as well though, I recommend the Asus Xonar Essence, musically, it's far superior to the X-fi one I had (which was top of the range at the time (although they are also good, far better than on board solutions).

I realise that you wrote this a while ago, but no-one seemed to bother to correct you.

A soundcard isn't a DAC.

Take the Frontier Wavecentre for example - all digital outputs and no DAC anywhere to be seen.

Most soundcards do INCLUDE a DAC but they also have pure digital outputs.

A motherboard s/pdif isn't necessarily the best implementation and is often worse than a good soundcard's s/pdif. The one on the motherboard is nothing more than an afterthought, a tick on a list of connections, with no real concern as to how well it works as long as it does of course work.

The data sent to the s/pdif out comes from software via the operating system (in general). You can better implement unique drivers for the specific, higher spec hardware on the soundcard e.g. ASIO 2 drivers than you necessarily can implement software to then deal with the barrier of the generic motherboard soundchip software drivers before then sending to the hardware.

Considering the efforts people go to to set up their servers, I'm surprised that so few people use dedicated soundcards for their digital outs and instead use USB which wasn't designed to handle audio..