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New PC audio

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Hi. This is my first thread, so be kind.

I have just acquired a new PC: Gigabyte GA-EX58-UD5 motherboard, i7920, 6gb DDR3 RAM.

I was previously listening to my Headroom Ultra Micro Amp & DAC driven HD650s through the optical digital out of my old pc's onboard sound card.

My last PC was a Shuttle ST20G5 based system, with whatever sound card that used for onboard sound. The listening experience was generally great.

However with my new PC the sound quality does not seem to be in the same league. I cant subjectively say what is wrong with it, but it just fails to engage me. It is not unpleasant sounding, but I expect so much more from this kit.

One thing that I am having real problems with is working out if the quality is worse, or if the sound just isnt to my taste. It is difficult to fix a problem when you are not really sure what that problem is.

This is made even more difficult by the fact that almost nobody seems to really fully understand how a PC renders audio, and those that do seem to forget that the most important thing is how it actually sounds!

I am not good with audiophile terms, so if you want to know anything else about the problem just ask and I will try to explain it to you as best as I can.

I have checked in most of the obvious places to make sure there is no equalization or sound processing happening.

The motherboard uses a Realtek HD audio chip, Realtek ALC889A codec (hopefully that means more to you than it does to me).

I listen using iTunes 8 and foobar (which I have tried to make run bit perfect, doesnt sound any better though) The system runs using an evaluation copy of windows 7 (build 7100) I have tried both optical and the usb to connect the DAC, they both seem to suffer from the same problem.

If there is anything else you would like to know just ask.

I hope one of you guys knows the answer to this; it's doing my head in.

Thanks in advance


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If I had to take a stab at isolating one of the things that most upsets me about the sound I would say that it sounds like it is being heard underwater (but not nearly as bad as that sounds). I guess a true audiophile may say that it sounds a little "veiled" (not sure on that though)


The music certainly seems to lack sharpness. It's as though parts of the sound that should be jumping out at me and trying to grab my attention are actually burried in the mix. There certainly isn't enough treble.

Oh, and this applies to both connections I'm using (USB and digital optical) Isn't using a DAC with USB supposed to isolate it from the sound card anyway?

Anyway, it's all very subtle but I know it's there.

Thanks in advance for any help


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