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kabeer_g
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First let me tell you over past week I have done over 50 hours of reading on Head-fi. So I am not posting this question simply because I am lazy

 

My current set-up

 

Hardware:

Asus Xonar HDAV Deluxe > HDMI > Integra 8.9 Receiver > Totem Speakers

 

Software:

2 channel music: J. River media center in Wasapi model to accomplish bit perfect output

Movies: Vista Media center

 

I am looking to upgrade 2 channel sound for music playback. All of my music is in FLAC with some high resolution music (24 bit, 96khz).

 

Here is what I am looking at:

DAC: I want to stay under $1000 for a used DAC. Based on all the research, Stello DA100, Benchmark DAC1 & Wavelength seems to be leading candidate

 

2 Channel integrated amplifier: Bryston B100 SST. Reason I am going for integrated amplifier is because I would continue to use my integra receiver for movie playback. With an integrated amplifier I can supply pre-amp output of my integra to the amplifier. On my amplifier I can switch between output from my sound card or integra receiver depending on whether I am playing music or movies

 

Questions I have are:

a) Should I be looking at changing my soundcard? I don't want to spend $800 on Lynx AES 16. What would be your recommendation?

b) What DAC would people recommend?

c) What else can I do to improve sound quality of music (additional expenditure < $1000 since I am spending quite a bit on amplifier and DAC)

 

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Hi kabeer_g - Welcome to Computer Audiophile.

 

Questions I have are:

a) Should I be looking at changing my soundcard? I don't want to spend $800 on Lynx AES 16. What would be your recommendation?

 

You could take a look at the [email protected] card from ESi. It's fairly inexpensive at less than $200 I believe. This is of course if you want to use an internal card to output digital to a DAC.

 

 

b) What DAC would people recommend?

 

I suggest looking hard at the Wavelength Audio Proton. It's less than $1,000 and it is an asynchronous USB DAC. Also the Benchmark DAC1 series is always a great option.

 

 

c) What else can I do to improve sound quality of music (additional expenditure < $1000 since I am spending quite a bit on amplifier and DAC)

 

Make sure you are getting a bit perfect audio signal out of your computer. Turn all the volume adjustments to 100% and use lossless files. It's hard to know what you've already done. I can say that I'm 99.9% sure you aren't getting a bit-perfect audio signal with the Asus Xonar HDAV Deluxe. I have one and I cannot get it to pass audio un-altered.

 

 

 

 

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Chris,

 

I am not 100% sure about whether I am getting bit perfect or not but I think I am. Here is why I say that:

 

a) In windows I cannot control the sound - doesnt matter what I do with sound slider it has no effect on sound level

b) I have tried playing files of various resolution > 44.1, 48khz, 96khz, 192 khz and various channels (2,5). My integra receiver always displays the resolution of source material

 

Here is software setup that I have: Under control panel > sounds : I have set Asus digital output as the default device. I am also using J.River media center with WASAPI

 

so that's why I was not sure if there will be any benefit to upgrading soundcard. Ofcourse if I get a USB DAC, that becomes a moot point. But if I don't get a USB DAC and use coaxial output of my sound card, not sure what to do.

 

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