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Old 3rd December 2011, 01:22 PM   #1
diyAudio Member
Join Date: Aug 2008
Default high end sound laptop to tube amp (no preamp)

Not sure if these posts in this forum are for guys listening at their workstations, or are really good and could be used in a high end stereo.
I've looked at sound cards for laptops, and don't see (m)any that aren't home theatre or don't have rca jacks.
Is there a sound card thats recommended?
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Old 3rd December 2011, 01:37 PM   #2
Shelby is offline Shelby  Austria
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Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: Vienna
Hi Paul,

I recommend, based on my own experience RME soundcards. I use the FF400 in an active system. I never had a better soundcard and DAC before.

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Old 3rd December 2011, 07:08 PM   #3
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Join Date: Sep 2008
My recommendation would be no soundcard at all, but instead an external digital to analog converter fed via USB.
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Old 3rd December 2011, 07:59 PM   #4
pompon is offline pompon  Canada
diyAudio Member
Join Date: Jun 2009
I recommend this device
Audiophilleo, computer audiophile USB S/PDIF audio transports

I am using a simple notebook to feed the AP2.
AP2 use a buffer and reclock the signal to send it to your dac. NO COAX cable need ... just plug directly the device on your dac using the adaptor.

The sound is FABULOUS ... far far better than a Hiface (I previoustly owned). It's a bit expansive but it's the best of all.

I own the 2 version but the 1 (the most expansive) have a volume control with remote on it.
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Old 7th December 2011, 03:06 AM   #5
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Join Date: Aug 2008
pompon, thats a terrible site. At least for an idiot like me. I don't know what it does for $950!
I don't need to convert usb to spdif.
I need to connect usb? (computer/laptop) to rca (amp).
Is there a reason you can't do it directly.

Will my computer sense a external DAC or do you need DAC software for the computer to know its there?
Are there noises inherent in usb connected external DAC's?

Thanks again for your help
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Old 7th December 2011, 04:02 AM   #6
dangus is offline dangus  Canada
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Join Date: May 2004
Location: Vancouver Island
The Audigy 2 ZS laptop card looks reasonably good; up to 24/192, and it has S/PDIF out. It may not work with the newest laptops, though.

Or there's various USB sound dongles. For about $30 you could get a Behringer UCA-202; Windows will recognize it automatically as a USB sound device. It's based on a TI/Burr-Brown codec that's found in some much more expensive devices. USB sound things generally perform well; the only egregiously bad one I've encountered sold for 99 cents on eBay. A $5 one worked fine (based on a C-Media codec chip).

One thing, you'll probably want a preamp or something to use for volume control in between the sound device and the amp, if the amp doesn't have a volume control.
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Old 7th December 2011, 04:52 AM   #7
GloBug is offline GloBug  Canada
Join Date: Jun 2011
I don't know if this helps, I'm using my computer straight into a tube amp.

I installed Foobar2000 and listen to FLACs. Foobar can slightly improve your existing card with add-ons.

It sounds gorgeous.

I am curious to listen to a good DAC, cause I think I want one. lol, but seriously, it sounds amazing even without one. IMO.
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Old 9th December 2011, 06:19 PM   #8
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Join Date: Oct 2007
I'm also using foobar yet on Win7 (caus'of wasapi) playing FLAC files into my NOS VALAB DAC into my 6V6 triode connected (flea power warning!) tube amp...
Works really well and my CD turntable is now switched off, as this sounds better.
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Old 9th December 2011, 06:31 PM   #9
diyAudio Member
Join Date: Feb 2009
Hi Paul!

There are sooo many DACs out there...

My suggestions:

- A simple solution: Echo Indigo DJ PCMCIA (PC-Card Typ II) Soundcard. Also available as Express-Card version. It has 3,5mm stereo outputs, one of them has a build in volume control, the other one is fixed. Good sound for the money, very good drivers, very reliable. Better than any Crative Audigy stuff.

- An external DAC via USB is the second solution. If only USB is needed (and no other input like optical or coax) I'd recommend the standard-version of the KingRex UD-01 USB DAC. Funny name, but I tested some DACs in the lower price range, and this one is really good! You would need at least a passive volume control, though.

In the upper price range there are better ones, of course. PS Audio Digital Link III comes to mind, or the M2Tech Young. A used Stello DA 100 would also be a nice choice, if you can find one.

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Old 19th December 2011, 03:11 AM   #10
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Join Date: Feb 2010
Yes, a world of DAC's out there. I have been using a Nuforce Icon 2 for about three years now as a desktop pre-amp. It has USB input among many other features and accessories that come with such as speaker cables. I have built chip amps and SE tube amps that I have used with this DAC. I really enjoy the unit because it can fit into many different scenarios. I have had no issues with it since the day I opened the box. They make cheaper units and more expensive units that the Icon 2. You might look into there website for what they offer in DAC's.....and no, I don't have any affiliation with the company.
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