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Old 24th April 2012, 07:51 PM   #1
joonze is offline joonze  United States
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Default Tell me about USB DAC's

I am just getting into digital audio from a quality sound system point of view and I am looking to be able to understand some of the technology available to the general public.

I have read some information (not specs) but just general information and of course that peaked my interest in learning more.

Right now, my set up is this....I have an AudioSource AMP-100 Stereo Power Amplifier, ADC SS100-SL 10 band Graphic EQ, and a decent set of Harvard 3 way speakers that will be fed from a windows pc with vista.

I was reading that you get a cleaner (?) source from the PC through a USB cable into a DAC... and that this will by-pass the onboard sound card? Is this correct?
If it is in fact how this operates, would i need software that directs the sound through the USB cable? Would i play my audio files through my media player or would i also need a specific player? I currently have winamp pro that i play all my FLAC's through, but could/would change to another software package if need be.

Any information would greatly be appreciated...
Thanks,
Joonze

PS. I also have a few questions in a post in the PC Based Forum if you can help with those questions too.
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Old 24th April 2012, 09:18 PM   #2
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The first step is to read this blog by one of our members.

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Old 24th April 2012, 11:07 PM   #3
joonze is offline joonze  United States
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Thanks for your reply.... i checked out the link provided and its very technical. Informative, but with all the acronyms its hard to follow since i don't know they mean. Is there a place, forum for dummies, or some very basic information that you might point me towards that will get me up to speed?
I have read several post over that past day or two, any this seems like a very friendly and helpful forum...I am looking to learn from a great group of audio enthusiast...
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Old 24th April 2012, 11:36 PM   #4
Trebla is offline Trebla  United Kingdom
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I just started doing something similar.
I have a laptop with Vista and a USB dac..........


MUSE USB to Optical S/PDIF Converter DAC DTS External Sound Card | eBay

but i only use it as a converter to get co axial SPDIF from the laptop. Can't comment on the inbuilt DAC as i haven't tried it yet.
It's plug and play with Vista, and should work with any media player that handles FLAC files. I use Clementine.
Haven't noticed any drop in quality from using a CD player as transport. Might even be better.
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Old 25th April 2012, 10:20 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joonze View Post
I was reading that you get a cleaner (?) source from the PC through a USB cable into a DAC... and that this will by-pass the onboard sound card? Is this correct?
If it is in fact how this operates, would i need software that directs the sound through the USB cable? Would i play my audio files through my media player or would i also need a specific player? I currently have winamp pro that i play all my FLAC's through, but could/would change to another software package if need be.
Wether USB->DAC is better/cleaner depends on the DAC. USB input on a DAC replaces your soundcard (a soundcard is a DAC and an ADC), your PC will just see the DAC as an USB-soundcard, which you can select as output device in the media player or set as default for the whole OS.


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Old 28th April 2012, 11:04 PM   #6
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Default What runs the usb port in an external usb dac.

This was my question, the same one as Joonze's.
Thanks for the clear answer. However, if I am reading FLAC files, I will be coming off of foobar, not Win media player. if I reset my audio globally, I will have no simple L and R for skype and youtube etc.
This seems to limit me to lossless WMA, which is really OK, but I have become used to Flac.
Also I gather that sound-card issues are irrelevant---I am using intel chip-based sound.
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Old 28th April 2012, 11:17 PM   #7
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Foobar will read the flac on the sound device you specify.
Skype, youtube will use the default device in Windows (it can be the same one).
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Old 28th April 2012, 11:57 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joonze View Post
I was reading that you get a cleaner (?) source from the PC through a USB cable into a DAC... and that this will by-pass the onboard sound card? Is this correct?
Of course, it depends on your sound card and your external DAC. However, both USB DACs I've used (the Behringer UCA222 and Twisted Pear USB receiver/DAC) were less noisy than the soundcards in the computers they were used with.
Quote:
Originally Posted by joonze View Post
If it is in fact how this operates, would i need software that directs the sound through the USB cable?
No.
Quote:
Originally Posted by joonze View Post
Would i play my audio files through my media player or would i also need a specific player?
Your current media player will be fine.

Of the two I've used, the Behringer and the Twisted Pear, I think the Twisted Pear sounds better, though it's also more expensive, and is just a PCB to which you have to solder some components yourself. You'll also need to supply your own RCA phono jacks, hook-up wire, and a little box to put it in. All of these will be available at Radio Shack.

Happy listening!
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