A question of sound and soundcards or DAC's

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OK, this may be better placed in the home cinema and hifi section, but following on from the thread entitled A question of Sound, I thought I would place this here in the hopes of attracting some of the same peoples replies !

I have an M-Audio 2496 soundcard, and sadly, windows 7, meaning no drivers for the card.
I want to connect my pc to my hifi, and am wondering about getting a DAC - something like a Beresford 7250 or even the Caiman, which is a moddified 7520.
If I did so, could I sell on my soundcard, as I assume I would connect the DAC to the onboard sound digital output. Any thoughts about this ?
The stereo is pretty high end - modded Naim gear and way better than what was their top-of-the range a few years back.
 
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Personally i'ld be tempted to go for something even better than the Caimen if your gear is that high end. Naim have a DAC but you can pick up a Chord DAC64 for £1000 used.
 
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Might be worth waiting for M-Audio to get their ar*es in gear over driver support. When I had my Delta 66 I just used the vista x64 driver and it was fine (their beta 7 drivers were poop).

I wouldn't advise using onboard sound at all even with a lightpipe connected to a DAC. I must admitt however, that I have no experience with seperate DACs as I leave the conversion to my audio interfaces usually but suffice to say converting anything from a crappy source is like making a copy of a tape of a tape of a tape...if you see what I mean?

The 2496 will sound infinitely better than the onboard sound so have a hunt around on M-Audio's site for the Vista drivers and see if they work (they did for me) and I would advise just waiting for the 7 ones when they do finally appear. Saving you money as well...
 
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Isnt a DAC just like a soundcard anyway. So you can run onboard sound then just connect output on the motherboard to a DAC then DAC to amp
 
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I wouldn't advise using onboard sound at all even with a lightpipe connected to a DAC.

Why not? That's exactly what I do, and the quality of audio is perfectly fine. I certainly didn't hear any benefit using optical out from a Xonar card, so I sold it.
 
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Why not? That's exactly what I do, and the quality of audio is perfectly fine. I certainly didn't hear any benefit using optical out from a Xonar card, so I sold it.

That's because there is no benefit unless you want DD Live or whatever.
 
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Uh huh... but my post was in response to hughythomas's comment implying that there's a sound quality difference over digital out. Fact is there isn't, unless you have a major audio jitter problem.
 
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Isnt a DAC just like a soundcard anyway. So you can run onboard sound then just connect output on the motherboard to a DAC then DAC to amp

A DAC is sort of like a soundcard except it's always external and dosn't have any effects, it's just a digital to analogue converter, the most extras you'll get is a headphone amp and volume control.
 
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Might be worth waiting for M-Audio to get their ar*es in gear over driver support. When I had my Delta 66 I just used the vista x64 driver and it was fine (their beta 7 drivers were poop).


The 2496 will sound infinitely better than the onboard sound so have a hunt around on M-Audio's site for the Vista drivers and see if they work (they did for me) and I would advise just waiting for the 7 ones when they do finally appear. Saving you money as well...

I was still on XP until I went over to W7, so no vista drivers for me...
Not a question as such, but just how long will one need to wait for M-Audio to get their A**e's in gear and release drivers for people like me ?
Still unsure what to do...
 
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A DAC is sort of like a soundcard except it's always external and dosn't have any effects, it's just a digital to analogue converter, the most extras you'll get is a headphone amp and volume control.

Which may make it rather appealing - If I can use it to replace my pe-amp then it is one box that can be sold on, covering the cost of the new box and much more..!
 
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A DAC is sort of like a soundcard except it's always external and dosn't have any effects, it's just a digital to analogue converter, the most extras you'll get is a headphone amp and volume control.

Personally im not looking for extras. My amp already has a headphone port and volume control. Just looking for best sound quality. no 'features' needed. I hate all the software crap on soundcards, i dont even use EAX (and think i ever have, on my audigy 2zs) or any of the other stuff like 'effects' that make it sound like your supposed to be in a coffin or church!
 
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Which may make it rather appealing - If I can use it to replace my pe-amp then it is one box that can be sold on, covering the cost of the new box and much more..!

Why would you want to replace you Naim pre amp with a dac/pre? I would hold out for some M-Audio drivers as keep the Naim preamp. I have a Naim system myself and I use XP64 which meant I was on beta drivers for my 2496 at first. The PC is not my main source though? Is the PC your main source of music?

Dave
 
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Why not? That's exactly what I do, and the quality of audio is perfectly fine. I certainly didn't hear any benefit using optical out from a Xonar card, so I sold it.

I'm sorry I must admitt I am not completely familiar with whether or not it would make any difference as I haven't A/Bed digital before in terms of onbaord vs dedicated. I am a musician/producer and therefore trust my ears over my eyes so would like to hear them both first hand under a fair test listening environment. Assuming there would be no conversion from the computer (which understands only 1010101s) to the DAC then presumably there shouldn't be any difference? However, if it was a question of onboard sound vs dedicated card for outputting analogue the answer would be clear because conversion WOULD play a part.

Trying to get my head around this as I was always taught that good quality audio starts at source therefore the dedicated should be better as it will have more accurate algorithms to process the audio? The fact that it doesn't sound any different to you is a purely subjective comment and I would find it difficult to accept that unless you can explain the tech of it better to me as I clearly have a gap in my knowledge over this.

Look forward to your reply

Regards

Tom
 
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I would only want to replace the Naim pre-amp if I found something as good for lots less money, and as for buying a Naim DAC (or a S/H Chord) - I cannot afford it !
My basic need is to connect the pc to the stereo, and I don't want to wait ages - M-Audio are not the fastest at releasing drivers, as mentioned !
If I can get something like the Caiman that will give me a pretty decent sound from the pc, plus a headphone amp, then that is fantastic.
The pc is not my main source - vinyl then cd are, but for background, I guess the pc would become the most listened to, as it would be left on random all day. As hughythomas says, source first, and I am hoping to try to improve the pc source.
 
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Well you will get a huge increase in quality with the Caimen over on board and i'ld expect a reasonable increase over your current M-Audio. #

Do remember though that you can often connect a digital out fro0m your CD player to a DAC so it may be worth investing a lot so you get an upgrade on your CD source too.
 
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