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ElvisNixon
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Best computer driven DAC

I need to go from a g4 powerbook to my creek 5350se. I could buy a Benchmark DAC1 for $1300 with USB. I am trying to find a cheaper option that would be close in performance. I am looking at the audiofire products and want to know if anyone has experience with them or if there are any other suggestions out there. I want to have the ability to stream 24bit 96mhz live recordings.

Elk
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Re: Best computer driven DAC

How much cheaper and is USB the only format that you will accept?

For example, the PSA Audio DAC III is excellent, has USB, and will happily play 24/96 (but not over USB). But connect it to an optical or S/PDIF on your soundcard and off you go. It's $1,000.

struts
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Re: Best computer driven DAC

Dear ElvisNixon,

I am sure Elk's recommendation is a good one, however another way to skin the cat is to go for a soundcard (internal or external) with a digital output and drop the requirement for USB. You can get a really good soundcard (for instance, I have the M-Audio 2496 which is great although it's PCI, not PCMCIA) for well under $100 and the non-USB Benchmark DAC-1, which would definitely be close in performance, for $975, maybe less if they start coming onto the second-hand market as early adopters upgrade to the USB version.

Just a thought.

Elk
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Re: Best computer driven DAC

Yup! What he said!

Struts did a better job of explaining what I was hinting at in my last sentence.

struts
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Re: Best computer driven DAC

Speed-reading lets me down again. Elk, as usual, was right on the money.

Champ
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Re: Best computer driven DAC

I just bought a bel canto DAC3 and it is wonderful. I've used quite a few and so far am pretty happy with my setup. I use a Powerbook G4, 250GB drive and the DAC3 for a front end.

Elk
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Re: Best computer driven DAC

For some reason the Benchmark DAC-1, Lavry DA10 and Mytek Stereo 96 DAC are the DAC's of choice on computer geek populated forums. The TacT afficianados, Slim Devices guys, REG forum, "objectivist it doesn't exist if it can't be measured" types, etc. all like these DAC's. My guess is the price point of about $1k, they are pro units and all are aggressively designed to reject wordclock jitter.

However, there is nothing special about driving a DAC from a hard drive once it is turned into S/PDIF or your format of choice. (I would avoid USB for now until we know that the DAC you are considering really rejects jitter when accepting a USB input.) Thus, also consider Bel Canto, Apogee, PS Audio, etc.

miles
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Re: Best computer driven DAC

I have a Yamaha dvd player with a real jitter problem and the built-in dac doesnt seem to make a difference.I have a computer with a sound blaster live card installed as well. So my question Is, If I connect this item Sound Blaster Live to my computer and dvd player via a s/pdif thingy can I get my music to sound better with less jitter using the computers sound card and dvd player? Im not sure If Im making sence.

Elk
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Re: Best computer driven DAC

Perhaps! Try it. Monoprice.com has good quality inexpensive cables it you need one.

I'm not sure I understand what your are thinking of trying however. Do you have an external DAC to connect to the S/PDIF output of the Sound Blaster Device?

What do you mean by "real jitter problem"? What are you hearing?

struts
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Re: Best computer driven DAC

miles,

Not quite sure what you're thinking/asking here.

The first point to note is that jitter, by its very nature, can be hard to associate with sonic characteristics - even for very experienced listeners. There are many different causes of jitter which differ in nature from randomly distributed digital 'noise' to signal-related artefacts that you could almost think of as 'digital reflections' of the signal. How these manifest themselves in the resulting analogue waveform (i.e. the final sound) is a little understood subject very much at the bleeding edge of psychoacoustic research. So as Elk alludes "a jitter problem" may or may not be the root of your unhappiness with your sound.

That said, I would always encourage tinkering to try to improve sound quality! However, when it comes to what you have in mind here a bit more information would be helpful, such as:

  • Do you listen to CDs (i.e. 16/44.1 programme) or DVD (24/96 programme) (or both)?
  • Does your DVD player have a digital output?
  • Does your DVD player have a digital input? (doubtful, but I thought I'd ask just for completeness)
  • Is your computer a PC or a Mac?

Each of the above will determine what flexibility you have in doing what I suspect you want to do - something like ripping your discs onto your hard drive and playing back the resulting files through your stereo - as well as how easy the whole undertaking will be.

Let us have a bit more info and we may be able to suggest some ways forward.

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