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Thread: sound cards vs usb dac

  1. #1
    Join Date: Sep 2017

    Location: greece

    Posts: 7
    I'm nikolaos.

    Default sound cards vs usb dac

    hi, I run a xonar stx card to power a musical fidelity a1 paired with c series Kef 4 ohm. I try to find out if using an external dac like pioneer n50 or the cambridge equivalent I would get a better sound. Unfortunately, all comparisons concentrate to internal noise. Another option is giving away card and amp and buy a cambridge cxa80, I would I appreciate your opinion, thank you in advance

  2. #2
    Join Date: Apr 2008

    Location: Warrington

    Posts: 3,035
    I'm Neil.

    Default

    That Xonar card is no slouch, why not try opamp rolling as your card uses sockets, making switching them easy. Will take a peek at the specs & recommend some!

    Asus really know what they're doing, the grounding, layout & isolation of this unit are world-class (digital is much more difficult at gHz than it is in audio at mHz, so their computing background and motherboard design skills help here), could be worth feeding it with a better PSU, is your computer ATX powered?
    Mana Acoustics Racks / Bright Star IsoNodes Decoupling >> Custom Silent Media Server >> Halide Bridge USB (with AQVOX USB power) >> Pedja Rogic's Audial Model S DAC + Pioneer PL-71 turntable / Vista Audio phono-1 mk II / Denon PCL-5 headshell / Reson Reca >> LFD DLS >> LFD PA2M (SE) >> Royd RR3s.

  3. #3
    Join Date: Apr 2008

    Location: Warrington

    Posts: 3,035
    I'm Neil.

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    Been looking at the datasheet:

    http://www.ti.com/lit/ds/sles105b/sles105b.pdf

    Looks like some 2x Signetics NE5532 for I/V (not NE5534 as in the datasheet!) & 1x opamp for the buffer would be well worth trying in your sound card. Both excellent opamps in the right applications, and not too expensive to try! You would ideally want to find some of the NE5332 from Signetics, they have a bit of a cult following...

    EDIT: here are some that look legit: http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Audio-Jade...-/351743926187
    Last edited by Yomanze; 02-09-2017 at 13:53.
    Mana Acoustics Racks / Bright Star IsoNodes Decoupling >> Custom Silent Media Server >> Halide Bridge USB (with AQVOX USB power) >> Pedja Rogic's Audial Model S DAC + Pioneer PL-71 turntable / Vista Audio phono-1 mk II / Denon PCL-5 headshell / Reson Reca >> LFD DLS >> LFD PA2M (SE) >> Royd RR3s.

  4. #4
    Join Date: Sep 2017

    Location: greece

    Posts: 7
    I'm nikolaos.

    Default

    thank you, my pc is a 7 or 8 years old pentium 4 unit and since it covers my needs I used it for my card. It seems that technically you are more expert than me, but as I understand it, the conclusion is to to change my unit to a newer one with a good motherboard and psu and keep the card, any suggestions about motherboard and psu?

  5. #5
    Join Date: Apr 2008

    Location: Warrington

    Posts: 3,035
    I'm Neil.

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by nikolaos View Post
    thank you, my pc is a 7 or 8 years old pentium 4 unit and since it covers my needs I used it for my card. It seems that technically you are more expert than me, but as I understand it, the conclusion is to to change my unit to a newer one with a good motherboard and psu and keep the card, any suggestions about motherboard and psu?
    For now, I would just change the 3x opamps in your sound card & see if you like it.
    Mana Acoustics Racks / Bright Star IsoNodes Decoupling >> Custom Silent Media Server >> Halide Bridge USB (with AQVOX USB power) >> Pedja Rogic's Audial Model S DAC + Pioneer PL-71 turntable / Vista Audio phono-1 mk II / Denon PCL-5 headshell / Reson Reca >> LFD DLS >> LFD PA2M (SE) >> Royd RR3s.

  6. #6
    Join Date: Sep 2017

    Location: greece

    Posts: 7
    I'm nikolaos.

    Default

    thank you, I will try to do it

  7. #7
    Join Date: Apr 2008

    Location: Warrington

    Posts: 3,035
    I'm Neil.

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by nikolaos View Post
    thank you, I will try to do it
    Forgot to mention, I would try using Signetics NE5532 in all 3x areas, so I/V and the buffer.
    Mana Acoustics Racks / Bright Star IsoNodes Decoupling >> Custom Silent Media Server >> Halide Bridge USB (with AQVOX USB power) >> Pedja Rogic's Audial Model S DAC + Pioneer PL-71 turntable / Vista Audio phono-1 mk II / Denon PCL-5 headshell / Reson Reca >> LFD DLS >> LFD PA2M (SE) >> Royd RR3s.

  8. #8
    Join Date: Sep 2017

    Location: greece

    Posts: 7
    I'm nikolaos.

    Default

    thank you, after a lot of thinking, I communicated with Alex on Burson sales. One solution was to go for the burson cable plus pro which would give me the same result with the opamp change. This is an expensive solution, but I ever change card I will be able to use it. Also I bought a seasonic 650 gold psu. Hopefully in 3 weeks time, I will be able to write down my impression

    cable https://www.bursonaudio.com/products/cable-plus-pro/
    psu https://seasonic.com/product/focus-plus-650-gold/

  9. #9
    Join Date: Jan 2013

    Location: Durham - UK

    Posts: 1,516
    I'm Ken.

    Default

    OP
    Try and avoid the USB bus altogether.
    As a possibly cheaper alternative, use an RPi or one of the similar tini computer devices, that can accept an on board DAC, coupled to the computer board directly via an i2s socket. i2S is the dedicated internal audio bus used on most computers and is superior to USB for the task, as it doesn't carry other traffic. If you don't want to use this form of DAC, you can get an i2S coupled spidif board (opt + Coax) and output the digital to an external DAC of your choice. The on board DAC is a neat solution, as it has very short signal paths, there are plenty of users here that will confirm the excellent sound quality achievable.
    The down side to the RPi is its processor/memory/storage capabilities, which limits your choice of front end apps that will run.
    This is where some of the alternate platforms have an advantage, but the RPi has a larger user base and therefore more community support and also larger choice of add on hardware devices, with known compatibility.
    It's a very different approach to what you were describing, but not a major outlay if you want to try it out.
    Ken

    http://www.jkwynn.co.uk/
    DIY Technics/ProJect based Turntable + Terminator linear tracker + AT 33PTG II / AQVOX Phono 2 CI / Pro-Ject Pre Box RS / ESP Active X-Over / Nord MC500 Power Amps/ Modified semi-active Yamaha NS1000M Speakers / Stello CDT100 Transport / NAD M51 DAC.

  10. #10
    Join Date: Sep 2017

    Location: greece

    Posts: 7
    I'm nikolaos.

    Default

    thank you Ken, I already opted for cables and PSU an now I wait my orders

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