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Is my Auzentech DAC enough?

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I just upgraded my Audigy4 to a Auzentech Prelude. I threw out my my old logitech speakers and am going to order some Audioengine A5 speakers.


My question is do I need an external DAC? My friend brought over his A5's plus a Maverick DAC and it sounded amazing... Should I just upgrade the OPAMP on my prelude?


Either way im on the right track to amazing tunes..


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  • 4 weeks later...

If you have hi-fi music aspirations, external is the way to go. If you're not that ambitious and are looking for an improvement to gaming sounds or DVDs, then the sound card upgrade will probably suffice.


If you read enough posts on external DACs, you'll find that a selling point for the better ones is power supply isolation, i.e. the more noise free the power is, the better the conversion from digital to analog. Sound card DACs take their power from the same source as the rest of the computer components thereby risking the electrical disturbances introduced by hard drives, CD/DVD drives, etc. At a low to mid-fi level this may not seem so bad but when you start talking about hi-fi resolutions (44.1kHz sampling and beyond) the impact can be dramatic. So by going with a well designed external DAC, you not only get electrical isolation from the computer, you usually get better power delivery to the components within the DAC itself. External DACs also have some of the latest and greatest conversion techniques which include sophisticated ways of eliminating jitter (a digital noise artifact) that you probably won't find in a sound card. And given that sound cards normally carry double duty for multi-channel audio for video games and DVDs as well as music, an external DAC designed with 2-channel music in mind will almost certainly outperform a sound card in terms of musical fidelity, dynamics and detail.


I have a pair of A5s driven by an Apogee Duet DAC in my bedroom and I'm very pleased with the results. It doesn't compare to my main listening setup but it's not supposed to. The A5s are a terrific bargain and do well with just a direct iPod feed but they will respond even more with a higher quality source.


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