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  1. #1
    Forum Regular phileserver39's Avatar
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    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
    The round mound of rebound sound is profound and bound to pound the ground. OK, I got nuthin.....

  2. #2
    Vinyl Fundamentalist Forums Moderator poppachubby's Avatar
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    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?

  3. #3
    Forum Regular audio amateur's Avatar
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    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.

  4. #4
    Forum Regular phileserver39's Avatar
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    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.
    The round mound of rebound sound is profound and bound to pound the ground. OK, I got nuthin.....

  5. #5
    Vinyl Fundamentalist Forums Moderator poppachubby's Avatar
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    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?

  6. #6
    Forum Regular phileserver39's Avatar
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    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
    The round mound of rebound sound is profound and bound to pound the ground. OK, I got nuthin.....

  7. #7
    Forum Regular blackraven's Avatar
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    I would consider the PS Audio Digilink III DAC.

    http://www.audioadvisor.com/prodinfo.asp?number=PSDL3
    Pass Labs X250 amp, BAT Vk-51se Preamp,
    Thorens TD-145 TT, Bellari phono preamp, Nagaoka MP-200 Cartridge
    Magnepan QR1.6 speakers
    Luxman DA-06 DAC
    Van Alstine Ultra Plus Hybrid Tube DAC
    Dual Martin Logan Original Dynamo Subs
    Parasound A21 amp
    Vintage Luxman T-110 tuner
    Magnepan MMG's, Grant Fidelity DAC-11, Class D CDA254 amp
    Monitor Audio S1 speakers, PSB B6 speakers
    Vintage Technic's Integrated amp
    Music Hall 25.2 CDP
    Adcom GFR 700 AVR
    Cables- Cardas, Silnote, BJC
    Velodyne CHT 8 sub

  8. #8
    Vinyl Fundamentalist Forums Moderator poppachubby's Avatar
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    Yes the Digilink is a good option. Also check out Benchmark, they make dac's to your preferences.

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