DIY DAC or Soundcard?

I need a DAC for use with my headphones and speaker systems, and am looking for this to be my first step into higher end sources.

My source/transport will be a computer's digital out, or possibly an airport express.

For a budget of 150-250, would I be better off with a DIY DAC or a good soundcard like an EMU or an upperline M-Audio?
 

Madmike2

Member
2005-04-24 11:55 pm
Toronto
curva said:

Well, if the thing you are looking for is sound, that's fine, but if it is music, that will be not, at least not without lots of tuning & co.


Admittedly i am not an EE and really dont know what exactly makes a good DAC but i would think that zero noise and high usage in the industry would pretty much guarantee a good DAC. The chip and what not in this unit is the same in about 5 other PRO DAW units out there. The break out box from my understanding was to go a step further away from the electrical mess in the Computer case. 0404 1212 delta 66 Tascam et.al ..... the DAC is off the board. Please correct me if i am wrong.
 
well the dac im working on is going to range from 100$ to 600$ for this dac were working on. For people like yuo and other and me to play with..

It's going to have..

-Usb In
-Spdif In
-Digital In.

Optical Out
Spdif Out
Rca left right out
Balanced Out Left Right.
Volume pot on front for head phone's
head phone amplifier
Regulted Psu

I got inspired from a friend that saw this and wanted one.

http://www.6moons.com/audioreviews/benchmark/dac1_3.html
 
Madmike2 said:



The upper end M-Audio cards have a break out box containing the DAC in it. Mine is dead silent at full blast with no signal feed. Thats pretty good i would say. M-Audio delta 66


I have the Delta 44, that should be the same as Delta 66 but without spdif in/out, and inside the break out box there are only the jack connectors.. the DAC are all on the soundcard board.
The sound is pretty good, anyway!
 
paologatto said:



I have the Delta 44, that should be the same as Delta 66 but without spdif in/out, and inside the break out box there are only the jack connectors.. the DAC are all on the soundcard board.
The sound is pretty good, anyway!


:confused: :eek: :bigeyes: :mad: Whoa, i am going back to long and Mcquade today! That dude told me to my face that the DAC was in the break out box and that all the high end DAW cards were like that to avoid electrical noise. Someone has been mislead <me< and now that someone is very angry about being cheated out of their money.:mad:
 
Madmike2 said:



:confused: :eek: :bigeyes: :mad: Whoa, i am going back to long and Mcquade today! That dude told me to my face that the DAC was in the break out box and that all the high end DAW cards were like that to avoid electrical noise. Someone has been mislead <me< and now that someone is very angry about being cheated out of their money.:mad:


Madmike2, I'm not 100% sure that also the Delta 66 is same than Delta 44, but it's very probable that the 2 models have the same board layout and in the 66 there is simply an additional chip and connectors for the spdif. To be sure you have to open the out box and look inside..
But the Delta 44/66 is anyway very good and silent.

An example of soundcard with half part in the computer and the DAC part in the out box is the Echo layla. I'm speaking of the old model (the one with 20 bit converters), don't know about the newest models. Also the old Wa-Mi rack was splitted in internal and external DAC part.

Another solution for avoiding noise or problems is using a good soundcard with spdif and an external good quality DAC, better if opticallly connected, to avoid possible electrical problems (ground loops or impedance matching).
 
Madmike2 said:
Admittedly i am not an EE and really dont know what exactly makes a good DAC but i would think that zero noise and high usage in the industry would pretty much guarantee a good DAC.
nope... noise is much, much less than everything and large usage means cheap. and you want expensive, right?

bjackson said:
...and I was hoping for something like twice-three times that price, assuming of course that more money would yield more benefits, which I think it would.
not if you diy.... if you diy, you may get exotic parts, say capacitors starting at over $100 a piece, a custom built xyz core transformer built out of silver etc; that's only if you want to have a big buxxx DAC and brag about it...
if you want nice music, think about the other parts of the system as well, don't neglect the cables and especially the speakers and their placement.