Help Me Find the Perfect DAC - diyAudio
Go Back   Home > Forums > Source & Line > Digital Line Level

Digital Line Level DACs, Digital Crossovers, Equalizers, etc.

Please consider donating to help us continue to serve you.

Ads on/off / Custom Title / More PMs / More album space / Advanced printing & mass image saving
Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old 3rd October 2011, 02:55 PM   #1
diyAudio Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2011
Location: Texas
Default Help Me Find the Perfect DAC

I am in the process of constructing the best "bang for the buck" computer-based audio system for my dorm room. I have purchased and installed the following:

-Crown Comtech 400 with PIP-AP input card
-2 25 ft XLR cables, 100 ft of 14 and 16 guage speaker wire (14 to the LR speakers and 16 to the subwoofer)
-X-fi Titanium
-Jamo 250 Subwoofer
-Pioneer BS41-LR speakers

When I got everything installed, I was disappointed to find that the sound from this system was still sub-par. Bass was booming and not well-controlled, mids were muffled, and highs weren't apparent.

In order to troubleshoot, I tested out my friend's FIIO 7 Dac and I was floored by the difference in sound quality. It's hard to describe, but everything sounded much crisper through this $80 DAC.

Since this small DAC made such a big difference in audio quality, I could only estimate that I'd see a much bigger booster with a better DAC.

What type of DAC should I be looking for? Should I build an Ebay DAC kit? I'm trying to find something with a SNR of 105 db or greater and a THD of .05% or less (something that will exceed my amplifier in specs).

I was looking at the Musical Fidelity V-DAC, however at $250, it is a big step up from my friends's $80 DAC in price.

Thanks
  Reply With Quote
Old 4th October 2011, 01:02 AM   #2
Billyo is offline Billyo  Australia
diyAudio Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2011
Location: Sydney
heh - I use a Fiio d3, and find it to be superb, and without things you dont want - such as a volume control for headphones.

For $30 or so, its worth a try and could solve your problem.

In my system, it virtually completely eliminates the hiss that was present when using mobo onboard sound or from a 5.1 DSP.

In fact, unless the volume is at ear shattering levels, the speakers are completely silent.
  Reply With Quote
Old 6th October 2011, 08:22 AM   #3
qusp is offline qusp  Australia
diyAudio Member
 
qusp's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Brisbane, Australia
those 25' xlr cables probably arent helping, if they arent very low capacitance you could be losing quite a bit of bandwidth there.

i'd be waiting till after rmaf, wyred4sound have a few small dac products that sound interesting they will be launching there; in the meantime check out the ackodac aku23 async usb dac kits
  Reply With Quote
Old 7th October 2011, 03:10 AM   #4
diyAudio Member
 
abraxalito's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Hangzhou - Marco Polo's 'most beautiful city'. 700yrs is a long time though...
Blog Entries: 101
Send a message via MSN to abraxalito Send a message via Yahoo to abraxalito Send a message via Skype™ to abraxalito
Tight bass is unlikely to happen with 100ft of speaker cables. You'll want the amps much closer to the speakers. Highs might start rolling off too with so much series inductance and skin effect losses.
__________________
No matter if we meanwhile surrender every value for which we stand, we must strive to cajole the majority into imagining itself on our side - Everett Dean Martin

Last edited by abraxalito; 7th October 2011 at 03:12 AM.
  Reply With Quote
Old 7th October 2011, 04:28 AM   #5
diyAudio Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2011
Location: Texas
Hey, thanks for the responses.

I hooked the bb input pip card (bare leads) to my amplifier and ran regular speaker cables back to my computer. I immediately noticed an improvement in sound quality even though the cables that I ran were each 20 feet long.

The problem is that I would ideally like to have my amp in my closet (which is situated diagonally across my room from my computer... about 20 feet). If you guys think that I should move my amp closer, I guess that I could place it under my bed so that my speakers would only be about 5-8 feet away. Currently, each speaker is 25 feet of speaker cable away. I didn't think that this would be necessary since this particular amp is designed for installations in large rooms lol. Do you think that it would be worth moving it much closer to my computer?

I also followed DJK's suggestion in one of my previous topics and installed a 22uf capacitor in parallel with each of the large 6300uf capacitors in the amplifier and bass was MUCH tighter after doing so.

I checked out Ackodac and it looks interesting, however I might look into installing a new OPAMP on my sound card first. The current one is only capable of a 3v/ms slew rate! O.o

Last edited by techbiker; 7th October 2011 at 04:31 AM.
  Reply With Quote
Old 7th October 2011, 04:40 AM   #6
diyAudio Member
 
abraxalito's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Hangzhou - Marco Polo's 'most beautiful city'. 700yrs is a long time though...
Blog Entries: 101
Send a message via MSN to abraxalito Send a message via Yahoo to abraxalito Send a message via Skype™ to abraxalito
The thing to do is trust your ears - move the amps temporarily and find out if you can hear the difference between 5ft and 25ft of cables. If you can't, then you're fine. Longer balanced interconnects are not a problem for sound quality - after all check out any recording venue where there are microphone wires going everywhere. Mic signals are much smaller than line level, so if long balanced cables gave any sound quality problem, we'd all be hearing it on recordings.
__________________
No matter if we meanwhile surrender every value for which we stand, we must strive to cajole the majority into imagining itself on our side - Everett Dean Martin
  Reply With Quote
Old 7th October 2011, 04:43 AM   #7
diyAudio Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2011
Location: Texas
Quote:
Originally Posted by abraxalito View Post
The thing to do is trust your ears - move the amps temporarily and find out if you can hear the difference between 5ft and 25ft of cables. If you can't, then you're fine. Longer balanced interconnects are not a problem for sound quality - after all check out any recording venue where there are microphone wires going everywhere. Mic signals are much smaller than line level, so if long balanced cables gave any sound quality problem, we'd all be hearing it on recordings.
The only thing is that these XLR cables aren't balanced because one end is terminated with RCA plugs. Also, I realized somewhat late that the pip-ap card (the input card I was using with the XLR cables) only has a 90 db SNR. I'll move my amp up when I get back from a short break on Tuesday and see if I can hear any difference. Thanks for the advice.
  Reply With Quote
Old 7th October 2011, 04:46 AM   #8
diyAudio Member
 
abraxalito's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Hangzhou - Marco Polo's 'most beautiful city'. 700yrs is a long time though...
Blog Entries: 101
Send a message via MSN to abraxalito Send a message via Yahoo to abraxalito Send a message via Skype™ to abraxalito
Ah good point - unbalanced cables pick up more interference the longer they are because they introduce loops into the audio path. The screen (which picks up the interference) is also doing double duty as a signal carrier. Result - interference mixed in with signal. I would not worry at all about 90dB SNR, that's pretty good - better than the hiss level on many CDs.
__________________
No matter if we meanwhile surrender every value for which we stand, we must strive to cajole the majority into imagining itself on our side - Everett Dean Martin
  Reply With Quote
Old 7th October 2011, 05:57 AM   #9
diyAudio Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2011
Having descriptions in addition to product names would help understand your situation. What is all of that stuff?

I think by X-Fi you might mean a cheap internal sound card. Upgrading to most external sound card might help, as there's a lot of stray RF inside a computer case, especially those with lots of fans. Firewire cards are generally superior to USB.
  Reply With Quote
Old 7th October 2011, 02:41 PM   #10
diyAudio Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2011
Location: Texas
Quote:
Originally Posted by hkingman View Post
Having descriptions in addition to product names would help understand your situation. What is all of that stuff?

I think by X-Fi you might mean a cheap internal sound card. Upgrading to most external sound card might help, as there's a lot of stray RF inside a computer case, especially those with lots of fans. Firewire cards are generally superior to USB.
Sorry about leaving all of that out. I thought that the Creative X-Fi was a high-end internal sound card until I heard music from a cheap external DAC. Please note that I paid $100 for this sound card when I bought it 2 years ago.

The Comtech 400 is my amplifer (250 watts per channel). The speakers are Pioneer BS41-LR's with 5.25 woofers and 1 inch tweeters (these have gotten excellent reviews online). Finally, the pip-ap is a modular input card that can be installed in a Crown amplifier. I swapped it out for a BB pip card (an input card that accepts bare leads).

Thanks
  Reply With Quote

Reply


Hide this!Advertise here!
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
My Perfect DAC jordo81 Digital Line Level 3 9th August 2011 11:01 PM
F/S PS Audio Perfect Wave DAC and Transport rubicon Swap Meet 0 28th December 2010 05:21 PM
USB tube DAC£¬High-quality£¬Perfect design Jacky Ling Vendor's Bazaar 12 8th August 2009 08:44 AM
Near perfect accuracy 16bit DAC idea Bernhard Digital Source 26 3rd November 2006 05:35 AM
Lost finding perfect oscillator for my DAC OliverD Digital Source 6 1st December 2002 09:07 AM


New To Site? Need Help?

All times are GMT. The time now is 02:12 PM.


vBulletin Optimisation provided by vB Optimise (Pro) - vBulletin Mods & Addons Copyright © 2014 DragonByte Technologies Ltd.
Copyright ©1999-2014 diyAudio

Content Relevant URLs by vBSEO 3.3.2