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Can the lack of a good Audio Card be finessed with outboard equipment?


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Hi all,

First forum post. This is a great source of info!


I am designing and building a music server scenario. I'll buy and build piece by piece. I have an old XP laptop which I'd like to use as the server processor, which would prevent the use of a sound card such as the Lynx, so often referenced here. Can a piece of equipment between the laptop and the preamp make up for this?

An acquaintance suggests a Duet, but I don't see using that in the long run. Is there a way to add a sound card between the laptop and a DAC? Or a reasonably priced Dac with a sound card contained therein?

In general, I plan to stay with a PC based system, running XP or Win7, and use MediaMonkey via wireless remote access. I could go with a new server & sound card, but would prefer to build it up a little bit at a time.


Any suggestions would be appreciated.




PS: Like jazz? Check out Charlie Haden's Nocturne and The Ballad of the Fallen.


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There are so many options that it will come down to your personal preference and budget. On the sound card front, it ranges from something like the m-audio transit up to the Weiss units. Again, a lot of dacs have usb or firewire inputs. Check out the Cash list for starters. I think that you can get a unit that will sound every bit as good as the Lynx card in outboard form.


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on a particular dac, or already own one, then the M2Tech HiFace, USB to SPDIF convertor, is available now, is an excellent piece of kit and will work very well indeed with MediaMonkey. If you need to buy a DAC anyway, then I woould suggest looking at those DAC's within your price range that already accept a USB feed - no sound card required.


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The Wavelength is a fairly high priced solution. If I start with an old XP laptop as server, that gives an idea about the approach I'm taking. I had thought seriously about getting an Olive 4 and be done with it, but that locks me in to a closed architecture, like buying an iPad. So if I go with an open architecture, rip to Flac, I can upgrade a piece at a time.


I'm thinking about the Music Streamer II + as the inline USB Dac. It's getting good early reviews, and is reasonably priced. At the top of my current spectrum would be a Benchmark USB Dac. I'll look at Audiogon for used equipment as well.


Any comments about your experience with the Streamer would be useful.




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