Sound card to amp

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Hi

I'm interested in getting the best possible sound from my system. Currently i've got a y splitter connecting my audigy 2 to a NAD 3020i which is connected to stereo Denon speakers.

I'm not bothered about surround sound, stereo is fine, but i'd like to get the best possible sound quality.

My sound card has a digital 3.5 connection. Am i correct in thinking this isn't spdif, which seems to be the most desirable connection?

My amp is old but good quality, however i can't connect a digital input?

Basically, i don't have a clue about these things. Any advice would be great. Ideally i would be able to keep my amp and speakers but if there are better alternatives then i'm interested to hear how to go about it.

Thanks!
 
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In all likelihood, you need a 3.5mm to 2x RCA Phono jack (basically, looks like an earphone plug on one end, and two plugs (one white, one red) on the other). Then just plug the 3.5mm end to your soundcard to the front 2 channel socket, and plug the red/white to your amp.
 
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Your stereo amp will only have an analogue input. Stereo digital receivers are like hens teeth with everyone moving to surround sound these days.

If you think your hi-fi components are decent enough then I can suggest either investing in a better quality cable to connect to your PC with or start thinking about upgrading your setup. TBH just keep everything as it is, you've made the right choices already!
 
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Basically, getting rid of that splitter should probably be a priority. Unfortunatly, this will have to be done by getting a new soundcard.

If you mainly listen to music, It might also be worth checking out M-Audio's Delta (which includes the Audiophile 192 and Audiophile 2496) range of soundcards, or Creative's EMU stuff.

Creative's X-Fi cards would be a good choice if you are a gamer. Do check that they have RCA outputs though.

Anything with RCA outputs will stop you having to use that splitter!

RCA outputs are the same as the inputs on the back of your amplifier :)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RCA_Jack

I'm currently using exactly the same amplifier (it's a classic :) ) - although I skip the pre-amp stage as I have a break-out box for my Delta66; which has a master volume control. I doubt you could get an objectivly better amp for under £200.

Also, as the other poster said, check that you're using decent interconnects and speaker-cable.

Plus - it sounds to me as though a speaker upgrade may be a good thing, although you don't mention the model of your Denon speakers.

I would recommend these Quad bookshelf speakers:
http://www.hifibitz.co.uk/product.asp?id=1455

...or these Wharfdale's:
http://www.hifibitz.co.uk/product.asp?id=3433
 
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Thanks so much for the replies!!

I had thought getting rid of the Y Splitter to be the best solution. The speakers are Denon SC-E313, which i thought to be good quality but maybe an upgrade could happen in the near future. The speaker cable is of good quality.

I'm not bothered about gaming or such, only music, so the RCA outputs on a soundcard sounds perfect!! Advice on buying such a sound card and interconnect would be very much appreciated!!

Thanks again!
 
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:o Lesson of the day: Don't skim the original post! (re: my off the mark earlier reply)

Aside from the less than ideal sound quality of Audigy, in principle it shouldn't be necessary to buy a new soundcard just to get 2x RCA Phono outputs if you get a decent cable to connect the soundcard to the amp.

If you don't want/need multichannel and don't mind ordering from abroad, Onkyo make a pretty good 2-channel soundcard with 2x RCA output (Onkyo SE-90 PCI) which should be available for £60-70 ish, and will probably give good results (that doesn't involve an external DAC). Of course, the M-Audio Audiophile or Delta range should also give good results, but some of those tend to cost a fair bit.
 
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jhmaeng said:
:o Lesson of the day: Don't skim the original post! (re: my off the mark earlier reply)

Aside from the less than ideal sound quality of Audigy, in principle it shouldn't be necessary to buy a new soundcard just to get 2x RCA Phono outputs if you get a decent cable to connect the soundcard to the amp.

If you don't want/need multichannel and don't mind ordering from abroad, Onkyo make a pretty good 2-channel soundcard with 2x RCA output (Onkyo SE-90 PCI) which should be available for £60-70 ish, and will probably give good results (that doesn't involve an external DAC). Of course, the M-Audio Audiophile or Delta range should also give good results, but some of those tend to cost a fair bit.

In my view - a new soundcard is necessary, as any cable will have to split the signal coming out of the stereo minijack on the Audigy, degrading quality.

In my view stereo minijacks should be banned - except on walkmans ;)

The M-Audio Audiophile 2496, a classic card IMO, should be available for £55. With this card you need RCA -> RCA connectors to hook it up to the amp.
The EMU 0404 is available for £60 and offers 1/4" jack outputs.
To use this card you need 1/4" jack -> RCA connectors.
 
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@jhmaeng

Sorry if it seemed like you were being ignored. :)

My current set up is as you described with a 3.5 to RCA jack (y splitter?).

I'll look into the cards you described. Thanks!

(heads off to sell audigy 2)

@Codmate

Looking at the M-Audio Audiophile 2496 now.
 
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Codmate said:
In my view - a new soundcard is necessary, as any cable will have to split the signal coming out of the stereo minijack on the Audigy, degrading quality.
But at what point does it start to make a difference? I could imagine it would make a difference when you're playing a SACD source through to a hefty pre/power combination, but would it really make a noticeable difference to the sort of setup that OP has/planning?

I don't disagree with you in principle, but I just think that there are many more sound degrading factors from playing music from a PC in general, rather than the fact that the interconnect splits the signal from 1 plug into two. The extremely (electrically) noisy environment of the PC case, for starters.
 
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jhmaeng said:
But at what point does it start to make a difference? I could imagine it would make a difference when you're playing a SACD source through to a hefty pre/power combination, but would it really make a noticeable difference to the sort of setup that OP has/planning?

I don't disagree with you in principle, but I just think that there are many more sound degrading factors from playing music from a PC in general, rather than the fact that the interconnect splits the signal from 1 plug into two. The extremely (electrically) noisy environment of the PC case, for starters.
This is going way off-topic, but for a start, the whole 'electrically noisy environment of the PC' thing is way over-stated. Yes - it can make a difference, but not even as much as cleaning the power IME.

Trust me - a bad splitter cable, or indeed any splitter cable will cause crosstalk and recieve RF. Microchips can't act as an antenna as efficiently as a cable can ;)
In-fact, the cable will pick up way more noise from the computer, than could the soundcard's chipset, unless it was particularly poorly designed.

Interference issues aside - it's simply more connections.

The more times metal has to touch metal, and the more times a signal is messed with (i.e. split or combined) the worse things will get. A direct route from the soundcard to the amp will sound better. IME most cheap splitters can degrade the signal in very nasty ways. An expensive splitter isn't really worth using on a horrible output like a stereo minijack anyway ;)
 
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Soldato
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At the end of the day, any analogue signal from a noisy PC soundcard will be poor. RCA connectors help, but only the more specialised cards tend to have them. A splitter cable will be the least of your worries if you're playing from mp3 anyway.

A really great option too would be to buy a DAC. This would improve your sound greatly, rather than spending the money on a new soundcard which might well be a sideways step.
 
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Dunno how good Denon SC-E313 speakers are, can't find anything on the web about them, but there's a roundup of sub £250 bookshelf speakers here-

http://www.monitoraudio.com/pdf/B2WHF206b.pdf

The Mordaunt Short 902i which won can be had for £120 new and delivered. The Wharfedales and Monitor Audios are supposed to be great too for a little more money. They're all even cheaper used.

How are your speakers setup btw? Hope you don't have them sat on your PC desk.
 
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I think the speakers are of good quality.

They're on opposite corners of my room. At the moment i can't really afford to buy new speakers. New soundcard though, maybe. I'm not sure what to do given the conflicting points of view here.
 
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It's a tough one. The DAC option guarantees no interfernce from your PC, and I think the audigy 2 has digital SPDIF out via an extra cable you have to get from creative. Dunno how much a decent DAC would set you back though.

If you don't fancy that option, I'm sure the 2496 is a sound investment, as long as you're not a gamer. Maybe a good quality interconnect to go with it.

Along with that you could look into whether it's worth re-ripping your music in a different format/bitrate.

Personally I think speakers would make the most dramatic difference (with some nice hi-fi stands to put them on) but you can save that upgrade for another day when you have more money available.
 
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