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Building a new computer. Should I go for optical out or stick with USB-connection for the DAC.


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Hello everybody!

 

Maybe a stupid question, sorry in that case.

 

I’m planning to build a new desktop PC around a Z170 motherboard and i5 6600k CPU. My question is if I should look for a motherboard with a decent optical out. I’ve seen many go this route with older DAC:s where the USB connection is inferior to the other connections.

 

The reason that I’m asking is because I’m planning to buy some kind of combined external headphone amp/DAC/preamplifier combination.

 

I’ve seen that many do not have a real asynchronous USB. Would it then be ok to use the optical connection? Or should I stick with USB and buy whatever motherboard and look for a unit with asynchronous USB transfer?

I guess that I could pick from a lot more candidates and the second hand market if I could use optical connection, but soundquality from the computer is key.

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Hello everybody!

 

Maybe a stupid question, sorry in that case.

 

I’m planning to build a new desktop PC around a Z170 motherboard and i5 6600k CPU. My question is if I should look for a motherboard with a decent optical out. I’ve seen many go this route with older DAC:s where the USB connection is inferior to the other connections.

 

The reason that I’m asking is because I’m planning to buy some kind of combined external headphone amp/DAC/preamplifier combination.

 

I’ve seen that many do not have a real asynchronous USB. Would it then be ok to use the optical connection? Or should I stick with USB and buy whatever motherboard and look for a unit with asynchronous USB transfer?

I guess that I could pick from a lot more candidates and the second hand market if I could use optical connection, but soundquality from the computer is key.

 

Depending on your format/software needs. You should go Ethernet or USB.

(JRiver) Jetway barebones NUC (mod 3 sCLK-EX, Cybershaft OP 14)  (PH SR7) => mini pcie adapter to PCIe 1X => tXUSBexp PCIe card (mod sCLK-EX) (PH SR7) => (USPCB) Chord DAVE => Omega Super 8XRS/REL t5i  (All powered thru Topaz Isolation Transformer)

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I do not know much about the latest formats/software.

 

I will probably dual boot some Linux distro and Windows 10.

 

I've used Jriver in the past and liked it. Never played Lossless-files in Linux.

 

I mainly want to listen to music while I'm working on my PC (headphones and later also with some active speakers).

 

I've riped 800 CDs ore so with dBpoweramp into FLAC. Then I got a few 24/96, 24/196 albums.

 

I tend to use Spotify alot to find new music, thinking of maybe using Tidal to.

 

I will go 100% digital now so I want to do it right from the begining.

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I do not know much about the latest formats/software.

 

I will probably dual boot some Linux distro and Windows 10.

 

I've used Jriver in the past and liked it. Never played Lossless-files in Linux.

 

I mainly want to listen to music while I'm working on my PC (headphones and later also with some active speakers).

 

I've riped 800 CDs ore so with dBpoweramp into FLAC. Then I got a few 24/96, 24/196 albums.

 

I tend to use Spotify alot to find new music, thinking of maybe using Tidal to.

 

I will go 100% digital now so I want to do it right from the begining.

 

I would recommend building a separate audio PC for playback. Specs depend on implementation with software and components. If not planning on going the upsampling route then you could build a very low cost system for cheap. Like an embedded motherboard, no fans.

 

Lots of great threads on here for suggestions.

(JRiver) Jetway barebones NUC (mod 3 sCLK-EX, Cybershaft OP 14)  (PH SR7) => mini pcie adapter to PCIe 1X => tXUSBexp PCIe card (mod sCLK-EX) (PH SR7) => (USPCB) Chord DAVE => Omega Super 8XRS/REL t5i  (All powered thru Topaz Isolation Transformer)

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Thanks for your answer.

 

Now it got a bit more complicated. I would prefer to use just one computer. Maybe I could triple boot and have one disk with a special music OS (Runeaudio?) decicated just for music listening?

 

I noticed from before that I often do not just sit in sweetspot and listen to music. I hoped that I this way would enjoy listening to music while I was working (mainly writing and reading) on my PC. It would probably be a big compromise? Thinking of maybe trying the Hegel HD12 DAC.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Computer Audiophile

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This is a pretty good option for something Pre-Built and not too painful in terms of price:

 

Sonore - Sonicorbiter

 

If you go this route then you would be free to build your main PC as you wish without much concern for audio devices being connected to it.

 

With the little Sonicorbitor you could either use it stand alone in MPD Mode or if your feeling generous you could purchase ROON and load the Server component on your main PC and point to the Sonicorbitor as the NAA end point which would then connect to your DAC via USB.

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Hello everybody!

 

Maybe a stupid question, sorry in that case.

 

I’m planning to build a new desktop PC around a Z170 motherboard and i5 6600k CPU. My question is if I should look for a motherboard with a decent optical out. I’ve seen many go this route with older DAC:s where the USB connection is inferior to the other connections.

 

The reason that I’m asking is because I’m planning to buy some kind of combined external headphone amp/DAC/preamplifier combination.

 

I’ve seen that many do not have a real asynchronous USB. Would it then be ok to use the optical connection? Or should I stick with USB and buy whatever motherboard and look for a unit with asynchronous USB transfer?

I guess that I could pick from a lot more candidates and the second hand market if I could use optical connection, but soundquality from the computer is key.

 

Hi - welcome to the rabbit hole. It's very deep ;)

If you don't have a DAC picked out, then it would be best to keep your options flexible on outputs.

 

One thing, some DACs state that an i7 processor is a minimum. You are using an i5 but I would use an i7 at a minimum because it's false economy to limit yourself with processing power out of the gate I think?

 

also - looks like good info here

Best Motherboard for Audio - Page 6 - diyAudio

 

I read some Z170 mobo reviews and seen some issues and concerns raised about compatiblities

Dedicated 20A>>MacBook PRO Core i7>Decibel>Metric Halo LIO8(firewire) or Exasound e28(usb)>RedCo Mogami Multi Channel Snake Balanced Interconnect Cables via DB25 Neutrik Balanced Connectors 3 pin Male XLR-Blk/Gold or BJC RCA Cables

Dedicated 20A>>Dual APC LineVoltageRegulators 1200Wx2>>McCormack DNA 1 DLX mono blocks>Mogami W3104 bi-wire>Aerial 10T v2 Mounted to SoundAnchor Stands+Spikes

Separate 20A>>Dual HSU Research 10 inch Subwoofers

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Thanks for all your inputs.

 

I now noticed that it is a bit more complicated than i thought, :)

 

I thought that taking the signal wired from a decent desktop computer to the DAC would be a good solution. I seems like some kind of streaming wireless solution is prefered? Isolate the computer from the DAC? I used a Squessebox back in the day and was very impressed by the sound but noticed no big noticeable difference when conected to a better external DAC.

 

How about using a Cromecast Audio (using Tidal/Spotify) with a external DAC connected over the optical out to start with? I know it only has 24/96 but I’m willing to give up playing 24/196 and my own music libary if I can spend most of the money on the DAC, not a second computer/or a endpoint? (Intel Nuc/NAS-Server/Raspberry Pi?).

 

I’m a also bit confused in that area while some use components like maxed out Mac Mini or a top notch NAS and some a 50 dollar Raspberry Pi.

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Thanks for all your inputs.

 

I now noticed that it is a bit more complicated than i thought, :)

 

I thought that taking the signal wired from a decent desktop computer to the DAC would be a good solution. I seems like some kind of streaming wireless solution is prefered? Isolate the computer from the DAC? I used a Squessebox back in the day and was very impressed by the sound but noticed no big noticeable difference when conected to a better external DAC.

 

How about using a Cromecast Audio (using Tidal/Spotify) with a external DAC connected over the optical out to start with? I know it only has 24/96 but I’m willing to give up playing 24/196 and my own music libary if I can spend most of the money on the DAC, not a second computer/or a endpoint? (Intel Nuc/NAS-Server/Raspberry Pi?).

 

I’m a also bit confused in that area while some use components like maxed out Mac Mini or a top notch NAS and some a 50 dollar Raspberry Pi.

 

Yeah - there is an incredibly wide range of computer audio/video "solutions". You pick your price range and go from there.

 

I have stuck with Apple so far. Some like Kal use an Apple with Windows installed and it's stable. That would be a good mid-range solution price-wise.

 

I have been happy (until recently) with my MacBook pro setup and just upgraded to Sierra OS.

Dedicated 20A>>MacBook PRO Core i7>Decibel>Metric Halo LIO8(firewire) or Exasound e28(usb)>RedCo Mogami Multi Channel Snake Balanced Interconnect Cables via DB25 Neutrik Balanced Connectors 3 pin Male XLR-Blk/Gold or BJC RCA Cables

Dedicated 20A>>Dual APC LineVoltageRegulators 1200Wx2>>McCormack DNA 1 DLX mono blocks>Mogami W3104 bi-wire>Aerial 10T v2 Mounted to SoundAnchor Stands+Spikes

Separate 20A>>Dual HSU Research 10 inch Subwoofers

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Pick up a TEAC UD-301 from Crutchfield for $350 with free shipping. The TEAC is 24/192-capable and both an amp for your headphones and a volume control for your future powered speakers. Run however many OS you want so long as you have a music playback app. Use J River since you're already familiar with it.

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