• 10-16-2010, 05:03 AM
    phileserver39
    Advice on DAC/Sound card upgrade...
    Hey all!

    I have an ASUS STX card which I am happy with. It has, as far as I know, some pretty good specs. My question is; what would be a "next step" upgrade? I would be willing to spend upwards of $1k. However, the specs of the ASUS seem to best DACS which cost many times the ASUS. For example, the ASUS has a signal to noise ration of 124 dB. I realize that there are other factors which weigh into converting digital signals to analog. What do you guys suggest?

    Thanks for the advice!

    Jason

    ASUS STX Specifications

    Output Signal-to-Noise Ratio (A-Weighted): 124dB for Front-out,117dB for Headphone-out (600ohms) dB
    Input Signal-to-Noise Ratio (A-Weighted):118 dB
    Output THD+N at 1kHz:0.0003% (-110dB) for Front-out, 0.001% (-100dB) for eadphone-out
    Input THD+N at 1kHz:0.0002% (-113dB) for Line-in
    Frequency Response (-3dB, 24-bit/192kHz input):<10Hz to 90KHz
    Output/Input Full-Scale Voltage 2 Vrms (5.65 Vp-p)
    Bus Compatibility PCI Express:
    -PCI Express Rev. specification compatible
    -Compatible with X1, X4, X8, X16 PCI Express slots
    Main Chipset High Fidelity Headphone Amplifier:
    Texas Instruments 6120A2*1 (120dB SNR, 100dB THD+N @ Vcc±12V, RL=600Ω, 1kHz) Audio Processor:
    ASUS AV100 High-Definition Sound Processor (Max. 192KHz/24bit)
    24-bit D-A Converter of Digital Sources:
    Texas Instruments PCM1792A*1 for Front-Out (127dB SNR, Max. 192kHz/24bit)
    24-bit A-D Converter for Analog Inputs:
    Cirrus-Logic CS5381* 1 (120dB SNR, Max. 192kHz/24bit)
    Sample Rate and Resolution Analog Playback Sample Rate and Resolution:
    44.1K/48K/96K/192KHz @ 16/24bit
    Analog Recording Sample Rate and Resolution:
    44.1K/48K/96K/192KHz @ 16/24bit
    S/PDIF Digital Output:
    44.1K/48K/96K/192KHz @ 16/24bit, Dolby Digital
    ASIO 2.0 Driver Support:
    Supports 44.1K/48K/96K/192KHz @16/24bit with very low latency
  • 10-16-2010, 06:09 AM
    poppachubby
    I am wondering about those specs, and under what conditions they were measured in. That said, I have no doubt your soundcard is grand. You should definitely look at a new DAC to upgrade your set up.

    You say $1K+...how much plus exactly?
  • 10-16-2010, 07:21 AM
    audio amateur
    What's the rest of your system comprised of?

    You may be getting interference from the computer's power supply etc so you might benefit from an external DAC but if everything sounds fine to you then chances are you wont be hearing any more using another DAC. But this is only my opinion others here claim to hear differences (small and big) between DACs.
  • 10-16-2010, 07:30 AM
    phileserver39
    Hey poppachubby (can't believe I just typed that- ha ha) and audio amateur,

    I wrote that I would spend "upwards of $1,000" meaning $1k would be my limit. Any suggestions? I am leaning towards an outboard DAC as I think the only real gain would be cleaning up noise from my pc as audio amateur suggested.
  • 10-16-2010, 09:26 AM
    poppachubby
    Agreed, actually that's what I was getting at also. They measured your card's specs in optimal conditions to be certain. Once you factor in real life noise and AC of a comp, those nubers will shrink.

    What kind of sound do you prefer? Lots of detail with dynamic extension, or smooth and "musical" sacrificing a bit of detail?
  • 10-16-2010, 09:49 AM
    phileserver39
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by poppachubby
    Agreed, actually that's what I was getting at also. They measured your card's specs in optimal conditions to be certain. Once you factor in real life noise and AC of a comp, those nubers will shrink.

    What kind of sound do you prefer? Lots of detail with dynamic extension, or smooth and "musical" sacrificing a bit of detail?

    Great question poppa. I think I would prefer a great soundstage with detail and dynamic extension (or are those descriptions dichotomous in nature?) over pure musicality.

    Thanks for your time, btw!

    Jason
  • 10-16-2010, 05:32 PM
    blackraven
    I would consider the PS Audio Digilink III DAC.

    http://www.audioadvisor.com/prodinfo.asp?number=PSDL3
  • 10-17-2010, 04:00 AM
    poppachubby
    Yes the Digilink is a good option. Also check out Benchmark, they make dac's to your preferences.