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Thread: Two-channel DACs?

  1. #1
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    Two-channel DACs?

    What external DAC are you using or have you used?

    I could go with:

    1. USB out to a USB DAC
    2. USB out to a USB->S/PDIF converter to an S/PDIF DAC
    3. optical S/PDIF out of the motherboard to an S/PDIF DAC


    My preference would probably be in that order.

  2. #2
    Maximum Bitrate kegobeer's Avatar
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    I've got one of these:

    http://www.amazon.com/Digital-Optica.../dp/B003XCHCLC

    Works great.
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  3. #3
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    What Kegobeer said...I have one as well, and its flawless for my use currently.

    Only thing its missing is 4 channel sound output...but I can always get a second one and play round with ASIO if it comes to it. But for 2 channel audio, at that price, it works a damn treat, and its USB powered, so you only need one cable running out to it, and its small enough to stash anywhere (I have it stuck to the top of the Amp with double sided tape under my front seats, which means there is a 25cm RCA cable as the total analogue length, there is no interference at all)

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    Have you compared its sound to any other DACs? Does the USB input use asynchronous mode?

  5. #5
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    I haven't compared it to any other DAC's, I don't have the funds to obtain others, and I haven't got any mates into the SQ side of audio who might have some floating round.

    I did compare it to a Sound Blaster 128, and the onboard sound on my Intel D945GCLF2, and it hands down beat them into submission. I think most of it came down to the highter output voltage on the USB DAC (I think mine is rated at 2V from memory...but it was a long time ago that I looked at it!).

    Not sure on the mode that is used either.

  6. #6
    Constant Bitrate besjr69's Avatar
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    If you would like a 5.1 setup, I'd go wit the HD Audio Rush at http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B005D8YTKQ. I've tried USB DAC and the main issue with them is NOISE. You can get rid of the noise with simple modifications to the device (i.e. grounding the signal returns to the ground plane). If not using a center channel (device does not "phantomize" center like Windows), you can configure the HAR for 2.1. I keep mine powered at all times. My sound quality is much better using the DAC over anything I've tried. It doesn't have the limitations with onboard sound cards and it doesn't have the volume issues most USB sound cards have.
    Last edited by besjr69; 10-05-2011 at 07:09 AM.

  7. #7
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    This is very interesting. Could you elaborate on what other sound cards you used before the Sewell?

    I was just about to pull the trigger on 2 inexpensive 2ch DACs to replace my new mb and Xonar PCIe card which requires a $40 riser to fit in my case.

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  8. #8
    Constant Bitrate besjr69's Avatar
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    I initially used the onboard soundcard's analog outputs. I had a time getting rid of the alternator whine, but could never get rid of the noise internal to the MB. Next I tried a cheap 7.1ch USB soundcard off of Amazon. Again, garbage due to the wired USB connection (ground travels everywhere) back to the PC. Plus, since USB carries and unbalanced signal it was just as susceptible to noise as the analog setup, no advantage. Finally, I purchased the Sewell and hooked it up to the toslink output of the MB. The idea behind the Sewell is the same as what Sony employed with its XES systems (mid '90s) and some of the outboard DACs you can purchase for high-end car audio systems. I'm just doing it cheaper with very few limitations. I would recommend it. If you don't like it, you're only out $70 + plus the cost of an optical cable depending on the location of your PC. Mine is up front so I had to get a 15 ft cable. It comes with a 3ft cable.

    NOTE: The Sewell is a 9VDC device. You will have to either build a 9VDC regulator or purchase the items i listed in my first post. Also it is highly recommended you power it off of the same 12VDC and Gnd used on your amplifier. This is the main cause of ground loops in an automobile. There's a lot of scientific explanations for this, but simply any audio system should share the same GND reference point.

    Hope this helps

    Bobby
    Last edited by besjr69; 10-25-2011 at 06:33 PM.

  9. #9
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    Heads up, not many USB soundcards work in pairs or threes! Or even none of them do who kows. I like both the Native Instruments Audio 2 DJ (may have other name by now) and the Music Streamer 2 by High Resolution Technologies. Audio 2 DJ ist great but I got clicks with ASIO4All. Onboard HD Audio was reliable but I got noise and loss of bass definition. After years and years of trouble and unreliability with ASIO4All, Virtual Audio Cable and Console as a VST Host, I now use a Helix P-DSP as a 6-Channel DAC, Crossover and Time Alignment. (It has 8 channels). I can finally reliably adjust the volume with an analog pot, something nearly impossible with a computer. I get noise free operation and using the optical link too. Audio under Windows 7 is not as bad as it used to be, but overall it's still a mess if you ask me. I'm mostly talking about clicks and dropouts, inability to resume after sleep and incompatibility with some of the higher sampling rates.
    Last edited by JuniorGeezer; 11-13-2011 at 09:42 PM.

  10. #10
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    imo, it is the software you use that makes it worthwhile-- i own console and audio mulch, and there is a night and day difference between the two-- console had driven me nuts almost to the point of dropping the carpc... console is supposed to be intelligent about picking up the audio cards and displaying them in a single output panel, where AM allows you to specify which output is routed to which sound card. i never had very good luck with asio4all, though vac is working flawlessly for me(i just use the direct sound driver because i can't hear a difference between a4a and it). i only have a a temporary stutter every now and then, and that is due to my wireless card not being connected to a network. if i disable that, my audio has zero issues.


    if you have a lot of pops and clicks, then you might want to run a program like DPC latency checker to make sure that your pc is capable of doing everything.

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