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Old 4th September 2010, 10:33 PM   #1
diyAudio Member
Join Date: Aug 2010
Default What do i need? a DAC? CD Player? HQ Sound Card?

Right now i connect my laptop straight to a Pioneer SA-7300 vintage
integrated amp (new capacitors and connectors) and from there to the

I didn't know why im lacking quality and bass in the music until my friend came to my house with a cd player and then everything sounded alot
better with great bass and high quality.

My question is, i still prefer using my laptop for my music source.

What do you suggest? to buy a high quality usb sound card for my laptop
or maybe a DAC? a usb DAC?
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Old 4th September 2010, 11:18 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by rg12 View Post
My question is, i still prefer using my laptop for my music source.
Why? Do you play CDs or ripped MP3s?

Try to get a listen to a stand-alone player with lossless encoding, they're a lot more convenient than a laptop, or if you play CDs try a portable CD player with a mains power supply.

Nothing wrong with a USB soundcard or DAC as a choice, just the sky's the limit as far as spending money is concerned. 'a lot better with great bass and high quality' - this could just be the loudness turned on. Try and get to listen to some other sources. Even comparatively cheap sources these days are good, and you should have to listen carefully to detect a difference unless the laptop is particularly bad, which of course is not impossible.

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Old 4th September 2010, 11:32 PM   #3
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Whats a stand-alone player with lossless encoding?

There is no loudness switch on the cd player, it was it's natural sound.

The laptop is working fine, it's just that the built in sound card doesn't
sound even close to a stand alone cd player, everything just came alive!

I would buy a cd player if thats what i have to do, but im sure there are
different solutions as i don't like burning cd's all the time.

I just want to transfer the signal in a better quality to my amp.

What exactly does dac do to the signal? can it give better sound somehow except converting the signal from digital to analog?
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Old 5th September 2010, 12:15 AM   #4
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The laptop has a DAC, which is what you are listening to. A soundcard will have a DAC (output), but you will pay for an ADC (input) as well. Some are better quality than others, but it also depends on the supporting circuits and power supply. In general, paying more money will get you a better sound, the problem is to decide how much you need to spend to get something you are happy with. Therefore you should try to get to listen to as many as possible different products before you buy. People here can tell you what they like, but everybody has different personal standards, and there is a lot of hype.

Lossless players: Lossless MP3 players - CNET Reviews

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Old 5th September 2010, 12:51 AM   #5
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I would still love to hear some recommendations for preffered models for the lowest price (up to $150) yet having a good quality output.
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Old 5th September 2010, 03:33 AM   #6
anatech is offline anatech  Canada
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Hi rg12,
An MP3 file will not sound as good as a CD, period. Using your CD ROM drive to play music is not a good idea either (especially on random play). Save it for data.

You may be able to find a DVD player that will play MP3 of a CD, but here you are running up against the price wall. Maybe a used CD player? After all, you said it yourself. The sound coming off your friend's CD player sounded far better. So to equal that, you'll need a CD player that works well. It's also easy to spend over $150 on a good used machine.

You have yourself in a no-win situation. You need to set a priority for either sound quality or convenience. At $150, you are unlikely to satisfy these requirements unless you get very, very lucky.

"Just because you can, doesn't mean you should" my Wife
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Old 5th September 2010, 03:59 AM   #7
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Join Date: Jun 2010
I would agree that a CD player is going to sound better. But I also believe that your problem is mostly in your laptop output, probably just a cheap sound card unless you have one of those multimedia laptops.

If I might ask before I continue with my first suggestion, What bitrate are your MP3's at? I would suggest at least 192kbps to get good quality and probably more like 320 or more if you're like me and are trying to replace the CD's with mp3's. Knowing that a CD will sound better, a 320kbps mp3 is still pretty nice

Now having said that, Here is something that I bought a long time ago which sounds ok...

USB to Optical Audio Adapter
I bought it just for the optical out, many years ago. You can probably find it on Ebay somewhere cheaper than 50$.

M-AUDIO - Transit - Hi-Resolution Mobile Audio Interface
This one I believe is much better though, just looking at the specs.

Hope this helps.
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Old 5th September 2010, 10:34 AM   #8
wwenze is offline wwenze  Singapore
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How about EMU0404 USB? A few tens of dollars over your budget but it's a nice multi-purpose machine.

Amazon.com: Creative Professional E-MU 0404 USB 2.0 - Sound card - 24-bit - 192 kHz - 117 dB SNR - stereo - Hi-Speed USB: Musical Instruments

It accepts SPDIF in also so you can plug the CD player to it and listen to both with the same DAC, if your laptop still sounds worse then you know it's your files.
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Old 5th September 2010, 11:49 AM   #9
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Location: Cleveland ohio
explore Doede Duama's website....dddac

Doede has kits for making USB dacs. They are very very good...better than a cd player
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Old 5th September 2010, 11:50 AM   #10
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Location: Cleveland ohio
If you build the 24 chip version, you will not believe the bass
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