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Soundcard + DAC/AMP?, combination of the two devices or will soundcard suffice headphones?
fohrums
post Nov 30 2013, 15:12
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I enjoy audio at home.

My setup consists of:

Soundcard: Creative SB0880
Headphones: AKG K 240 MKII

What I have is basic Dell speakers utilizing the Left/Right port of my soundcard input. So there is no more room to plug in my headphones if I wanted to. The only option would then be to keep switching from speaker usage to headphones when needed (that's just way too tedious blink.gif).
So i'm looking for a DAC+AMP (preferably portable) to power up my headphones + speakers (so I can stop using the soundcard, if possible).

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My music quality:
MP3 320 kbps
FLAC 24/192
I do want one that utilizes the full potential of FLAC 24/192 files.

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Other Thoughts:
-If my soundcard is already a DAC would it be an AMP aswell?
-if DAC, assume it has built-in AMP? Otherwise?
-i've seen some DAC that range from $50 to $150 and what is it that i'm suppose to be looking for? I do believe the saying "Too good to be true"

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Price Range: $50-$150

This post has been edited by fohrums: Nov 30 2013, 15:46
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RonaldDumsfeld
post Nov 30 2013, 17:36
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This Native Instruments Audio 2 costs ~$100 and gives you separate volume controls for two stereo outputs. Either 'phones or speakers.

NI Audio 2

The advantage it offers over many similar priced alternatives is you have 2 stereo outputs. These may be same or different. i.e. Listen to music on speakers and play games on headphones. Or any combination you can think of.

You also get a free copy of Traktor light or $50 dollars off the full version.

NI don't quote an output impedance but they claim it is suitable for 'phones with impedance 28 - 600 Ohms. Your AKgs claim 50. Works fine with my 70 Ohm Senn HD25s.



p.s. I just noticed. Sorry. This new version only goes up to 24/48. My older version will do 24/96. Never use it though so it doesn't matter much and the IoS feature looks a better option. You can use it with a tablet as well as a PC. Cool.

This post has been edited by RonaldDumsfeld: Nov 30 2013, 17:44
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fohrums
post Nov 30 2013, 19:41
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Does the Native Instruments Audio 2 have a built-in AMP aswell?

Interesting to see that there is 2 audio volume control for both channels so setup could be like so: (A & B)
A=Analog Speakers
B=Headphone

That is a thoughtful suggestion that fit everything I was looking for but because I did find other options that were cheaper and even portable i'm going to put the Audio 2's on hold. Besides I still do have a great working soundcard I'm able to use it for my speakers and now deciding (affirmatively) that I would get a more "universal" method of approach so it's compatible in any situation I could possibly be in.

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Other Options:
I ended up finding 3 other options that stand out in price/performance/features (mostly due to popularity):

Syba SD-DAC63057
Pyle PHE7AB (portable) vs. Fiio E07K (portable) (very similar)

I would like to point out that the Syba is the cheapest of them all. The Pyle's original price point made me realize why do they want this to be sold like that huh.gif. The E7K (which added support for 24/96 as to the original E7) overrated? I need help to find one that will fit my usage and especially not make me waste money in decision. What do any of you guys think about these newer choices? I would definately say the price range is now ~$100.

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New Setup:

Creative Soundcard > Speakers
DAC/AMP (USB to PC) > Headphones

which means I will have my Windows 7 Rig putting out two audio outputs, is that bad?

This post has been edited by fohrums: Nov 30 2013, 19:50
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apocalypseon
post Dec 2 2013, 09:33
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No. You just have to switch the audio playback device from sound card to usb dac, from windows control panel, each time you want to switch from speakers to headphones. It wont play back both simultaneously afaik.
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RonaldDumsfeld
post Dec 2 2013, 11:16
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As usual. It depends.

Most half decent audio apps allow you to specify which output device to direct output towards. For e.g, foobar2000 and all DAW software. Others don't give you an easy choice and simply direct audio to the current default device.

So you could direct music from foobar to your internal soundcard and make the USB device the default output to collect everything else. Or some combination thereof.

What makes multichannel units like the Audio 2 so useful is that you can direct either the same audio to all available channels or keep each pair separate. So hey are more flexible overall.

Did you actually bother reading the link I provided? Of course the Audio 2 is highly portable. It's the size of a fag packet and bus powered. Of course it has (2) built in amps. Suitable for both 'phones or line level. It does exactly what you want. For what you want to pay. Please pay attention.
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