High-end computer audio (soundcard suggestions) - VeggieBoards
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#1 Old 02-12-2005, 04:40 PM
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Hi. I'm currently running Sony MDR-V600 headphones off of a soundblaster live internal card. The problem, here, is that the soundcard's amp is a bit lacking in the power department and receives interference from the computer's electronics (it may also have a good bit of natural hiss). I have considered running the coaxial digital out into an external DAC and then running that into a dedicated headphone amp. The problem is that it would be rediculously expensive.



The other option I came up with is just getting a new soundcard. This time, I would get an external card of some sort, presumably with a decent DAC and amp of its own. Anyone have any suggestions? I'm also thinking of upgrading my headphones at some point (mine already buzz a bit at particular bass frequencies.)...probably Grado Labs SR-80s.

...

I'm also wondering about DVD audio. I recently picked up a re-release of NIN's "Teh Downward Spiral" which also contains a DVD audio version of the album. I am interested in hearing the 24-bit, 96khz stereo audio track in all its glory (I'll shelve the surround sound plan for when/if I have too much disposable income for my own good). Now, the problem is that DVD audio players are currently prohibitively expensive, especially if you're only going to be listening to one thing on it. I noticed that there are DVD audio rippers out there. If I were to rip the DVD audio track, would there be a soundcard out there that would be capable of playing it without dithering down to something like 24-bit, 48khz?



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#2 Old 02-13-2005, 02:23 AM
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Soundcard: For audio the EMU 1212M and 0404M are all the rage, they are roughly $200 and $100 respectively and can be had at Guitar Center among other places. They are internal, but reportedly very low (electical) noise. Almost nothing else gets recommended for under $500 soundcards since these came out.



As for external DAC, thats what I use. What do you consider rediculously expensive? The Benchmark Media Systems DAC1 is $975, was the 2004 Stereophile Editors Choice and has an excellent built in headphone amplifier.



For headphones, I'm not a Grado fan but given what you listen to I understand why you are. You might also look into the allesandro MS1 (http://www.alessandro-products.com/headphones.html) the allesandro line are tweaked grados, they are a little less bright but have the same up front, fast sound. The MS1 is a tweaked SR125 and sells for close to the price of the SR80 so, it is a good value thing.



Oh yeah check out www.headfi.org for headphones and also soundcard stuff in the computer as source forum. There is supposed to be a meet in Portland in March, I should be there with the DAC1 and some Sennheiser headphones, I'm sure there will be grados and probably a couple of computer setups.



DVD-Audio, you won't get full rez on NIN or anything else copy protected in general. I remember reading once that some soundblaster cards would output full rez dvd-audio as pcm via the digital out, which you could record via digital in on a second card. You can't just play it on said soundblaster card because all soundblaster cards resample analog to 48khz, including up from 44.1 where applicable. There is the toshiba 4900, and pioneer 563a. Both are $150, play dvd-a, and have gotten a lot of attention on audio asylum and the like, I had the pioneer for a while, its worth the money just as a dvd-v player, it plays sacd too, no complaints on the sound at the price.
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#3 Old 02-13-2005, 12:44 PM
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Thanks for the very elaborate response.

Yeah, $975 for a DAC would be prohibitively expensive. Heh. I work part time and make $8/hr.

I didn't know DVD-A players fell that much in price since I last checked. I may have to pick up one after a move out and stop mooching off my room mate's DVD player. I'll also look into the headphones you suggested. If I pick up Grados, I'd likely be buying after-market pads for them anyway. The main attractive point about the grados is the price/performance ratio. They sound noticably better than my Sonys, but are priced similarly.



Now, the real question is whether I'll actually be able to hear the difference above 16-bit 44.1 kHz.



Heh...now, when/if I have a good degree of disposable income, I may put together a proper amp and speaker set-up (to the dismay of my future neighbors, of course).



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#4 Old 02-13-2005, 01:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ebola View Post

I'll also look into the headphones you suggested. If I pick up Grados, I'd likely be buying after-market pads for them anyway. The main attractive point about the grados is the price/performance ratio. They sound noticably better than my Sonys, but are priced similarly.



Flat pads? You know your stuff.



Quote:
Now, the real question is whether I'll actually be able to hear the difference above 16-bit 44.1 kHz.





According the the Nyquist theorem, all the information necessary to reproduce a waveform up to x khz can be stored in 2x samples per second, i.e. redbook cd should be about perfect up to 22.5 khz. A lot of people seem to think there is a profound difference between redbook cd and SACD or DVD-A but given that those formats seem dead in the water (blue ray audio etc are on the horizon) the smart money, imo, would be to invest in the transducer and source rather than one of those formats.
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#5 Old 02-13-2005, 07:00 PM
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Try Turtle Beach's products.
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#6 Old 02-14-2005, 12:41 AM
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I'll hook you up with my dealer, maybe you can return the favor one day



http://www.toddthevinyljunkie.com/pr...ory=Headphones

http://www.toddthevinyljunkie.com/pr...uct.php?id=167
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#7 Old 02-14-2005, 12:47 PM
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Just wanted to second the vote for the EMU 1212M.
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