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kpierce123's picture
Last seen: 5 years 1 month ago
Joined: Feb 7 2014 - 3:44am
Need help with new rig....confused on the pc audio...

I've always been pretty savvy at building my own computers and setting up a/v equipment but I'm a little stuck at the moment....I just built a new computer and am starting to revamp my home audio. Most of the files I am listening to are FLAC or some other lossless audio. I have a very moderate budget but am still trying to get the best sound possible.  Currently I have my pc hooked to a Deneon avr-1610 through spdif. Ultimately I will get the Marantz 1403 with a separate amp for my mains (Aperion verus grand bookshelf). Right now I have an older X-Fi sound card that Im looking to upgrade. My dilemma is what is the best way to go about getting the best audio quality out of my pc as a source.  I was looking into the Xonars (Essence stx or xonar dsx). Im not sure if the essence will give me better sound for what Im using it for....or also the M-Audio's Audiophile 2496 or 192....And on any of those would I get better sound through the spdif or just the analog plug into the rca jacks on the receiver?  And also does software make a big difference? Im using Foobar at the moment but heard J River is good as well.  Im really just looking for the best, cleanest sound, 2 channel audio out of my pc as I have a PS3 for blu-rays and surround sound and such.  I do use the pc for gaming quite a bit so I would like something that supports dts connect or dd live if possible but if it means losing those for a much better sound quality option i would be ok with that...Any thoughts would be much appreciated, sorry for the lengthy post.    Thanks, Keith

audiophile2000's picture
Last seen: 3 years 11 months ago
Joined: Oct 10 2012 - 9:51pm
Outboard USB DAC

I think your best bet is to look into an outboard USB Dac and then have that feed into your receiver. I struggle for years with SPDIF and other computer based solutions and found when i switched to an outboard DAC connected via USB to a computer it made all the difference. Also you mentioned running digital connections to your receiver. You can always do this, but will comment that receivers generally don't have the best sounding 2 channel DACs so you are probably much better off with an outboard DAc. There are many great options out there today and many are quite reasonable.

In terms of software, I swear by Jrivers. To me it offers bit perfect playback with an outboard dac as well as offers a number of extras that would make me want to own the software without a hi-fi rig. It has a great media streaming system built in that can share all your audio and video files across your house and allows for real time conversion of audio and video files (basically if you have a movie in a format your playstation cant read, it will convert the file in real time so you can play it back). 

I've also used Foobar, but to be honest i always had trouble with the interface.

In terms of gaming, thats a bit out of my league, but you could always look into an Audio only HDMI connection to your receiver. (wouldnt recomend it for streo listening, but I can't think of an easier way to send multi channel content from a PC to a recevier without a purpose build suond card).

Hope that helps

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