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Newbie question re sound cards

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Hello CAers. I'm new to the group and I sure am glad to find this resource! I have a basic question about sound cards. As used in a server that feeds a stand-alone DAC, what purpose does the sound card accomplish? I thought that the only thing the server did was to extract binary data from the storage medium and send it to the DAC, in which case any sound card with coax or optical out would work fine. But then I read Chris' design for the DIY server and see that he's spec'ing a very nice and expensive card. So what does this card do that a cheapie does not? Does it produce less jitter, better dynamics, soundstage, PRaT:), that we all crave? Thanks for helping me understand!




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Hi Slanski62 - Thanks for posting here on Computer Audiophile. You have a very valid question. The Lynx card does have very low jitter that many cheap cards simply can't match. The Lynx also supports the 88.2 and 176.4 sample rates bit perfect without upsampling, dual wire AES, external clocking, works with ASIO, and sounds really good. I always tell people to purchase a cheap card and if it works for them great they've saved a lot of money :~) It's all user preference.


Founder of Audiophile Style | My Audio Systems

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  • 2 weeks later...

I had some similar uncertainties


The cards mentioned ASUS, Juli@ or Lynex have a DAC functionality, well I am planning on using an external DAC. What will these cards give me for the $200 - 700 Is just noise and jitter - clock improvement?


I will be paying for the internal DAC chip but I do not use it. So is there a card that will just improve on the digital stream that it picks up from the network and feed it to the DAC?


Do these card offer any advantage over the MacMini as the net receiver feeding the DAC?






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Thanks Chris,


Continuing on the same topic, for SPDIF output of bit-perfect output is there any Comparison data among these three cards.


Is USB out bypass the need for a sound card?


Is SPDIF the best output for bitperfect to external DAC and is coax SPDIF better then optical


Thanks a bunch and sorry for all these questions




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Hi Ted - I don't know of any comparison data. Using USB is the same thing as an audio card except the USB DAC or converter is now the "audio card." There is no best output for bit perfect. They are all capable of great sound and terrible sound. Very similar to every other product in our lives. Some cars are great some are not. Compact cars are good for gas millage, trucks are good for hauling. If a computer only has USB then an S/PDIF only DAC is no good.


It all comes down to implementation by the manufacturer and designer of the DAC.


Founder of Audiophile Style | My Audio Systems

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