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CharlieBristol's picture
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Best PC - Hi-Fi setup?

Hi there,

I'm in the process of setting up a Hi-Fi system for my PC however I'm having trouble figuring out what the best way to do it is. Basically I want to get the maximum possible quality.

I've got a Pioneer A-10-k and a pair of M-Audio BX5 D2s.

Does a soundcard in a PC increase quality/performance?

What cables should I use?

Any advice much appreciated, please excuse my ignorance Smile

Cheers.

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RE: Best PC - Hi-Fi setup?

What type of PC are you using and on which operating system? Its better to bypass your sound card if possible(USB into an external device) But cost ! Whats your budget please?

Cheers

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RE: Best PC - Hi-Fi setup?

A high end desktop PC 4th gen i5, gtx 770, 8gb ram running windows 8. Tell me some prices and ill see. Smile

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RE: Best PC - Hi-Fi setup?

You won't go far wrong with an Epiphany E-DAC. Unless you want more functions and connections, it won't be bettered for sound quality, being effectively audibly transparent. The DAC costs under £100 and another DAC that is also very good in this regard, is the Benchmark DAC1, but that's ten times the price.

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RE: Best PC - Hi-Fi setup?

Good advice from overdose. May i suggest adding another fourty quid to your budget and download JRivers MC18? You can then configure that to take exclusive control, windows isnt all that for bit perfect playback etc. And a great way to rip, store and organise your library.

Cheers

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RE: Best PC - Hi-Fi setup?

sogophonio11 wrote:

Good advice from overdose. May i suggest adding another fourty quid to your budget and download JRivers MC18? You can then configure that to take exclusive control, windows isnt all that for bit perfect playback etc. And a great way to rip, store and organise your library.

Cheers

 

to be honest, I've tried both and found Foobar just as good and it's free Biggrin

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RE: Best PC - Hi-Fi setup?

Each to there own! Just giving my best advice. Take it or leave it  Wink

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RE: Best PC - Hi-Fi setup?

hi i have asus xonar soundcard which then goes to my nad amp and tannoy mercury v1 speakers sound is fantastic Smile

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RE: Best PC - Hi-Fi setup?

If you want the best aduio from your pc look to JPlay.

You can use it in either Foobar or my preferred J River - it improves the sound hugely, cant stress that enough.

There is a lot of info on optimizing your pc to get amazing sound as well again using J Play.

Meridian 861 V4 LPSU, HD621, Bryston 9BSST - GIK Acoustics

Monitor Audio PL100, GXC 150, GXFX, SVS SB13 ULTRA

Custom Audio PC LPSU + Batts, JPLAY, JCAT and PPA Studio

Panny 65VT65, Marantz UD7007, Graham Slee Cables, Isotek, XLO

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RE: Best PC - Hi-Fi setup?

Forget Hi Fi DACS and go for dedicated computer sound cards that are designed for professional music use, as these will also be able to make best use of any computer software you have, due to the fact that they specifically designed for use with a computer. (There is nothing inherently wrong with a Hi Fi DAC but there is no substitute for a dedicated approach)

Examples below:

http://sound-cards-review.toptenreviews.com/

http://compreviews.about.com/od/multimedia/tp/SoundCards.htm

You can use pretty much the same techniques as Windows 7 for optimising your PC for music.

Hope this helps

Bill

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RE: Best PC - Hi-Fi setup?

You can get good coax digital results from a pc sound card but the analogue is not very good - even with op amp upgrades.

 

So I wouldnt suggest going that route as a best path of course - unless your on a tight budget

Meridian 861 V4 LPSU, HD621, Bryston 9BSST - GIK Acoustics

Monitor Audio PL100, GXC 150, GXFX, SVS SB13 ULTRA

Custom Audio PC LPSU + Batts, JPLAY, JCAT and PPA Studio

Panny 65VT65, Marantz UD7007, Graham Slee Cables, Isotek, XLO

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RE: Best PC - Hi-Fi setup?

ellisdj wrote:

You can get good coax digital results from a pc sound card but the analogue is not very good - even with op amp upgrades.

 

So I wouldnt suggest going that route as a best path of course - unless your on a tight budget

 

Sorry, but that's tosh.  An external Hifi Dac is just a soundcard to the computer.  People tend to get a little confused over the matter and just think soundcard = crap dac = good.  Running coax out of a soundcard will just run as a passthrough to whatever dac you want to use, so it's pretty irrelivent to say that you can get good results from doing that as it's not really using the soundcard itself. 

Most of this arise because people try the onboard sound on their computer, or have a cheap soundblaster and then wonder why it's not particularly great.  either way, there are some excellent internal pc sound cards out there that would probably surprise the hell out of a lot of people if they every tried them.

Although Ironically Abacus said look at pro music soundcards, then linked to a load of consumer cards, none of which you could really use for home music production apart from the m-audio one.

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RE: Best PC - Hi-Fi setup?

I am speaking from experience.

The sound output from the asus xonar sound card is ok from the analogue but its easily bettered by other kit.  Its certainly not the last word in soudn quality especially from the included poor quality opamps.

 

The digital output quality spdif I have found to be surprisingly good, when used with the right computer and audio software such as JPlay.

Only then does it sound any good compared with proper high fi equipment.  I am not talking £100 cd players etc I am talking about proper high fi.

Meridian 861 V4 LPSU, HD621, Bryston 9BSST - GIK Acoustics

Monitor Audio PL100, GXC 150, GXFX, SVS SB13 ULTRA

Custom Audio PC LPSU + Batts, JPLAY, JCAT and PPA Studio

Panny 65VT65, Marantz UD7007, Graham Slee Cables, Isotek, XLO

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RE: Best PC - Hi-Fi setup?

ellisdj wrote:

I am speaking from experience.

Yes, but you've blatently not read what I said.  I'm talking about pro-audio, not the asus/soundblaster cards, so (no disrespect meant) in that respect you appear to have no experience.  What do you think they use to record the music with?  It's not a hifi dac now is it! 

ellisdj wrote:

The sound output from the asus xonar sound card is ok from the analogue but its easily bettered by other kit.  Its certainly not the last word in soudn quality especially from the included poor quality opamps.

The digital output quality spdif I have found to be surprisingly good, when used with the right computer and audio software such as JPlay.

Only then does it sound any good compared with proper high fi equipment.  I am not talking £100 cd players etc I am talking about proper high fi.

Again, if you're just using the digital out, it's a passthrough, doesn't really matter about the card, it's more about what you are plugging that digital output in to.

 

 

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RE: Best PC - Hi-Fi setup?

I disagree with your points there - so we will have to agree to disagree.

Both the links you posted were reviews of sound cards and both said the Asus Xonar Sound cards are the best.  Therefore that was the basis of my arguement and I do have a lot of experince with them as sound cards.

 

I very much doubt a top end studio has one pc with one sound card - I dare say there is a bit more to it than that.

http://www.practical-music-production.com/music-studio-equipment.html

 

If you feel you get the best sound from your pc sound card fair play to you - if you check out actual reviews they are compared to a squeeze box standard of playback £300 player.

I also strongly disagree with the comment on spidf playback also - but we can agree to disgaree there too

Meridian 861 V4 LPSU, HD621, Bryston 9BSST - GIK Acoustics

Monitor Audio PL100, GXC 150, GXFX, SVS SB13 ULTRA

Custom Audio PC LPSU + Batts, JPLAY, JCAT and PPA Studio

Panny 65VT65, Marantz UD7007, Graham Slee Cables, Isotek, XLO

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RE: Best PC - Hi-Fi setup?

ellisdj wrote:

I disagree with your points there - so we will have to agree to disagree.

Both the links you posted were reviews of sound cards and both said the Asus Xonar Sound cards are the best.  Therefore that was the basis of my arguement and I do have a lot of experince with them as sound cards.

 

y'see, you didn't read what I said.  I never posted those links.  In fact I was pointing out that the links were not to pro-audio cards... :help: As I said, you may have experience with those level of sound cards, but from what you;ve said, not with pro-audio cards.  I am saying that if you go down the pro-audio route you'll get a hell of a lot more for your money.  In fact the cheap m-audio 24/96 isn't half shabby indeed and to my ears much better than the more expensive asus xonar..

ellisdj wrote:

I very much doubt a top end studio has one pc with one sound card - I dare say there is a bit more to it than that.

http://www.practical-music-production.com/music-studio-equipment.html

 

eh?  We've gone from having a pro-audio sound card to a top end studio in one easy leap... :? no, what I'm disagreeing with is you saying all pc sound cards are crap and you can get better stuff in the hi fi world, and I'm saying that's utter tosh.  Remember, a hifi dac is still a sound card to a pc....  There's quite a few studios now that basically do everything virtually.  It used to be the case that you would record on the pc and use the mixing desk to aux the effects, now a lot of those effects are just plugins.

 

There's an ever increasing amount of studio released albums that are recorded at home with basic equipment (pc, pro-audio soundcard, small mixing desk and a bunch of plugins) so what was once the realm of top end studios has now become affordable at home. 

 

ellisdj wrote:

If you feel you get the best sound from your pc sound card fair play to you - if you check out actual reviews they are compared to a squeeze box standard of playback £300 player.

Again, you need to get out of the realms of "pc sound card" as it's too vague a term and theoretically covers everything from inbuilt to 24 input recording units....

 

ellisdj wrote:

I also strongly disagree with the comment on spidf playback also - but we can agree to disgaree there too

But I don't understand what there is to disagree about.  The spdif *is* a digital passthough :?

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