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How should I hook computer to sound system


Gramophone

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Hello! Now that we are in 2015, PCs are becoming somewhat common in households. It helps that they no longer catch fire or inadvertently send taunting messages to other planets. For these reasons, among others, my uncle wants his very first computer.

 

He is an audiophile and this is a call for help to his brethen.

 

The question is, what should I do to hook the computer to his sound system? Should I simply take the plug that goes in the CD player, put it in a Y-jack, and have that plugged straight into the computer's motherboard? Should I get a soundcard?

I'm looking for good possible solutions for under or around 100 $, because listening to music is not his reason for getting a computer, yet I still want his computer to take advantage of his good sound system as much as possible without his wallet noticing. There's always room for upgrades later if he wants to.

 

I don't know what gear he has, but I do know that he has spent several thousands of dollars in his sound system over the years. What does that include besides the speakers and CD player? I don't know, but I would not be surprised if he has some more things hooked inbetween. He probably doesn't use headphones, and having never learned to appreciate the wonderful subtleties of dubstep, he is more of a recorded concerts, jazz and classical music kind of guy.

 

To my understanding, a PC->DAC->Speakers system seems to be seen as good. If he does not already have a DAC, would it give better results than a simple adapter, considering his musical preferences? Is there a reason I should favor a soundcard over a DAC or vice versa?

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Hello! Now that we are in 2015, PCs are becoming somewhat common in households. It helps that they no longer catch fire or inadvertently send taunting messages to other planets. For these reasons, among others, my uncle wants his very first computer.

 

He is an audiophile and this is a call for help to his brethen.

 

The question is, what should I do to hook the computer to his sound system? Should I simply take the plug that goes in the CD player, put it in a Y-jack, and have that plugged straight into the computer's motherboard? Should I get a soundcard?

I'm looking for good possible solutions for under or around 100 $, because listening to music is not his reason for getting a computer, yet I still want his computer to take advantage of his good sound system as much as possible without his wallet noticing. There's always room for upgrades later if he wants to.

 

I don't know what gear he has, but I do know that he has spent several thousands of dollars in his sound system over the years. What does that include besides the speakers and CD player? I don't know, but I would not be surprised if he has some more things hooked inbetween. He probably doesn't use headphones, and having never learned to appreciate the wonderful subtleties of dubstep, he is more of a recorded concerts, jazz and classical music kind of guy.

 

To my understanding, a PC->DAC->Speakers system seems to be seen as good. If he does not already have a DAC, would it give better results than a simple adapter, considering his musical preferences? Is there a reason I should favor a soundcard over a DAC or vice versa?

 

If you really want to do cheap and easy, a Fiio EO7k, at about $80-90 is the answer. The DAC portion will replace the soundcard in the pc, and will be substantially better sounding , assuming the pc is stock and not a very high end computer. Your options are far greater in the $100-200 range, but may not make sense depending on what equipment he has, especially the computer, and the type of files to be played. If you supplement the info, I'm sure many would be willing to help guide you, including me.

Vinyl is a hugely overpriced way to get flawed sound. Digital is an inexpensive way to get less flawed (though flawed nonetheless) sound.

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Looks like your first post. Welcome to Computer Audiophile forums.

 

Quite a number of ways to skin this cat. We most likely will need a few more details to give best advice to your situation.

 

A connector from the sound card will work. Computers have usually poor sound quality for someone with a nice system like you describe. So that isn't your best choice though it is nearly free.

 

If your uncle has a DAC or receiver or other device with a digital input that will possibly be the simplest good method. You can get devices that let you connect the computer via USB to a digital input so sound flows to the rest of his system. Again many ways, which is best will depend on details of your uncles specific equipment.

 

Here is one way for $99 which will almost surely work in some fashion for him.

 

Schiit Audio, Headphone amps and DACs made in USA.

 

For $99 connect USB from computer and you get analog output to the rest of his system. As long as he has a spare analog input this would work. Gets the most common resolutions from 44/16 of CD to 192khz/24 bit for higher resolution files. Software on the computer, some of it free, will play most any format you will come across.

And always keep in mind: Cognitive biases, like seeing optical illusions are a sign of a normally functioning brain. We all have them, it’s nothing to be ashamed about, but it is something that affects our objective evaluation of reality. 

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Now that I understand better what a DAC is and does, it seems almost certain that my uncle doesn't already have one.

The computer will be very low grade, including the motherboard, which hosts the audio chip.

I belatedly understand now that the goal is to convert sound from digital to analog and have it bypass the motherboard's audio chip. (I know computers well, but sound is unknown territory to me, beyond plugging the speaker's little plug in the green circle.)

 

Your options are far greater in the $100-200 range, but may not make sense depending on what equipment he has, especially the computer, and the type of files to be played. If you supplement the info, I'm sure many would be willing to help guide you, including me.

 

I don't understand this part. If the DAC bypasses the computer's audio chip, why would the computer change whether those greater options make sense? Or do these other options work differently? As for the type of files to be played, it would be simple and common: FLAC and mp3 with bit rates that any device can play.

 

I am waiting for him to call me back, so I don't have more information yet.

 

Thank you both for your answers.

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