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Why External DAC?


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Adequate is relative. To many, the L22 is great, but some will always want to push the limits (in a good way). Others will argue that anything in a pc is contaminated by all the other electrical circuits and bad power supply. Also, the L22 is limited to PCs with pci slots. Laptops and non-traditional form factors (mac mini) won't be able to use it. It's kinda like, do I really need separates for my home theatre, or is an A/V receiver enough. Depends on who you are. All the same, the L22 is a great option.

 

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On a PCI card, there are certainly area and height limitations, as well as thermal limitations. The power supply of the PCI bus must be used, which is very poor for audio IMO.

 

Once the D/A is in an external box, these limitations are removed and you can have:

 

1) Class-A operation of output drivers - generates heat

2) linear power supplies - lower noise, but generate heat

3) higher quality power delivery using tall and large electrolytic capacitors

4) through-hole parts that are higher quality that the same surface-mount part on the PCI card

5) higher quality connectors and cabling since you have a real chassis and not a cheesy backpanel or break-out cable

 

All of these things, when implemented well, result in a much higher quality sound, more like analog, more like real music.

 

Steve N.

Empirical Audio

 

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Based on responses, to me it seems the discussion is either a sound card or an external DAC. Pardon me if I interpret it incorrectly. However, I have read somewhere on this site itself that USB can be noisy due to several reasons internal to the comp - power supply, or devices sharing the USB bus. So if I use a sound card just to get digital out via coax or optical, and then feed it to a DAC, will that give me a better result.

Can some one suggest a cheap but good sound card that can output digital correctly, may not have a great DAC, in a $100 budget? I am torn between WDTV or getting hold of an old PC dedicated for music. More inclined towards wdtv - and considering beresford DAC. If there is any suggestion in $250 range for a DAC better than beresford 7520, it will be really appreciated.

 

regards

 

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