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Old 27th November 2016, 6:41 PM   #1
Spacenoodle Thread Starter
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Default Help me upgrade my PC audio - DAC or Soundcard?

At the moment I'm using just a pair of old Sennheiser 280 Pro's plugged directly in to my motherboard's (ASUS Rampage IV Black Edition) onboard sound.

These headphones I've used for absolutely everything, listening to music, movies, editing video, recording video and playing games. All the padding has lost its fake leather trim and the foam is apart now from 4 years of daily use.

I want to get a proper audio set up going.

I pulled the trigger on some new Sennheiser HD 598 Cs that were 99USD on Amazon for black Friday and now I'm looking at picking up some Yamaha HS7 speakers (not sure if I need to get a sub with these advice welcome).

The part I'm not sure of, is what audio solution I should go for, should I pick up a sound card, or just use a DAC to amplify the line out from my motherboard.

I've been perfectly happy with the sound coming out of the motherboard for nearly 3 years. I'll never invest in a surround sound setup or more than 2 speakers and a pair of nice headphones.

I want to be able to plug everything in easily, and quickly switch between listening to headphones and speakers.

Any recommendations for solutions would be hugely appreciated as I have absolutely no idea about PC audio since I've been a neanderthal using onboard sound for so many years.
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Old 27th November 2016, 9:01 PM   #2
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Sound is very personal...

But if you want the easiest and simplest way to provide improved audio then a DAC Connect to power speakers would be your best bet.

Selection would depend entirely on budget...
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Old 27th November 2016, 9:13 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by connico View Post
Sound is very personal...

But if you want the easiest and simplest way to provide improved audio then a DAC Connect to power speakers would be your best bet.

Selection would depend entirely on budget...
TBH I read a lot of headphone reviews and people saying one has a different set of sound characteristics to another, and I have no idea what they're talking about. I have no preference really.

I'm not really very sophisticated in terms of appreciating sound, thought I will say if I get a pair of headphones my priority is hearing dialogue clearly rather than lots of bass, and that goes for my speaker setup too.

Editing video and listening to radio and podcasts and TV is more important than music.

My budget is around the 250-300 dollar mark max.
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Old 27th November 2016, 9:40 PM   #4
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That includes the speakers? The HS7 is already about 300 bucks? A good DAC is going to cost you about 250ish...

Regards
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Old 27th November 2016, 9:46 PM   #5
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That includes the speakers? The HS7 is already about 300 bucks? A good DAC is going to cost you about 250ish...

Regards
No seperate of speakers, my budget for soundcard / DAC is 250-300 but I could probably be convinced to spend up to 400 if something really catches my eye.

I want something that I can hook both my speakers and headphones in to ideally, but I'm not turning up much and I don't really know what to be looking for.
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Old 27th November 2016, 9:59 PM   #6
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Audioengine D1 or Asus Xonar Essence One
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Old 28th November 2016, 6:27 AM   #7
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I am no audiophile, but I recently bought a Sound Blaster E5 and that's a pretty good unit! Has the flexibility of being portable if you require it, has Bluetooth connectivity and some gaming EQ options. Something to look at that's within your price range.
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Old 28th November 2016, 6:30 AM   #8
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Are those speakers active or passive?
A dedicated DAC/amp sounds like the way to go for you, making it really easy to switch between speakers and headphones, and adjust volume without relying on a KB with media keys.
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Old 29th November 2016, 5:01 AM   #9
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This is all great advice, I ordered an Audioengine D1 for my headphones, still deciding between Yamaha HS7 and Audioengine A5+.

Can someone help me understand the difference between something like for example the Focusrite Scarlett 2i4 USB Audio Interface and the Audioengine D1?

What are the use cases for the difference devices?

Will I still need an amp for my HD598's when they arrive or will the DAC be drawing enough power from USB to drive them?

Thanks again everyone for all the input.
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Old 29th November 2016, 7:48 AM   #10
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The Focusrite Scarlett is an Audio Interface, not a DAC. While an AI has a DAC as part of it it's not the main focus, the main focus is to connect other audio devices to it for recording/playback; Microphones, Instruments, MIDI Devices whatever. Whereas a DAC is a dedicated device. My advice would be unless you're going to use the interface part of the AI then get a DAC instead as ALL the money will be in the DAC, rather than split between whatever's on the AI.
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Old 29th November 2016, 8:39 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Spacenoodle View Post
This is all great advice, I ordered an Audioengine D1 for my headphones, still deciding between Yamaha HS7 and Audioengine A5+.
Please note that the Yamaha HS7 is a studio monitor so its response is going to be flat as its designed to reproduce exactly what has been recorded in a studio. It may not be perfect for your listening appetite.

Whilst the A5+ is a very music-centric speaker.. its been designed to make music sound better by improve base and high frequency response.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Spacenoodle View Post
Will I still need an amp for my HD598's when they arrive or will the DAC be drawing enough power from USB to drive them?

Thanks again everyone for all the input.
The D1 will provide enough power for your HD598s but there is no harm if you can afford it to get a head phone amp that you like.
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