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I think my brain might explode!

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I have been driving myself crazy trying to wrap my head around this whole computer audiophile world. My entire music library consists of loss-less CD rips. I fell like The highs are too harsh and I can very quickly become fatigued to the point of frequently skipping around my library and not playing songs all the way through. I don't have this problem when playing vinyl through the same receiver and speakers that my computer is connected too. I think what I need to do is upgrade to a DAC but I am not sure what I should be looking for. My sound blaster has an S/PDIF out and can support up to 24/96 output. Since my entire music library consists of CD rips do I need a dac that can go that high or would I still get much better sound from a 16 bit dac? I am on a budget so I am trying not to spend more than I need to. The more I read the more confused I get.


I have been looking at the nuforce Icon HDP but I am wondering if I would be satisfied with something a bit less expensive. I know it's not hugely expensive but I am a college student and every dollar counts.


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may be to swap out the soundcard. Something like the Xonar Essence ST or STX, or the ESI Juli@ may be all you need right now to at least be happy with things. Both cards have a good reputation - I run the digital out from an Essence ST to my TacT and am thoroughly happy with the set-up.


I have listened to the analogue outputs of the Essence and, though not up to the standards of using the digital output/Tact, they would certainly do good service if required. Stereophile have a review of the Xonar Essence here if your interested.


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I think it's correct that the DAC is likely the issue for you, and a better soundcard may do the trick for you. I'd also look at the m-audio soundcard options along with the previous suggestions. I own an M-Audio card and have been happy with it for years, but the ones above have similar great reputations for the money.


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I've been hearing good things about some of the Chinese built DACs that are available at bargain price on eBay.


The Aune Mini-DAC especially - can be connected via USB - and (if relevant) has a reasonable headphone amp.






...in my opinion / experience...

While I agree "Everything may matter" working out what actually affects the sound is a trickier thing.

And I agree "Trust your ears" but equally don't allow them to fool you - trust them with a bit of skepticism.

keep your mind open... But mind your brain doesn't fall out.

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