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PC to DAC interface ie. audio card

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I'v been searching for a wile now for the best DAC I could get in the 1K$ ballpark. I feel that the component quality is important but there is still some hardware questions concerning the interface between PC and DACs.


I'v contacted Linn records and they confirmed that some 192khz products are comming. So I was even more attracted by the Benchmark DAC1 USB 192khz. Then I'v contacted Benchmark to know why their DAC USB 192 is limited at 96khz!!. They answered;

" 1) it would need any of the other non-USB inputs for the 192khz and 2) if 24/192 does become available, getting it out of the computer will be the challenge. Most of the sound cards that we have seen are not “bit transparent”. I think the only good one at this time is the Lynx card at about $700. Seems a bit steep is all we want is an interface card to plug into the DAC". Well here an other thing!!


I then question myself on what could be this interface card to plug into the DAC, do I realy need the edge card 24bit/192khz?$$. If the signal is digital at start, the card do not need to sample anything, we dont'n need any DA conversion at this point.

Unfortunatly my technical knowledge of computer hardware is quite poor.


Any advise on this topic





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Hi tympathique - This is a good topic. Many DACs say 24/192 and people assume many things when they purchase the DAC. How to get it out of the computer is huge. I use the Lynx AES16e card as a digital AES out to my DAC with around 20 picoseconds of jitter. To me it's worth it. You can check out this card from M-Audio http://www.m-audio.com/products/en_us/Audiophile192-main.html

It will do 24/192, but I can't guarantee it's bit perfect yet.


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  • 2 weeks later...

I am deep into seting up a compter server with Vista and a Benchmark DAC.


I have plugged the Benchmark into my computer via the USB port of the computer. Assuming all settings are correct, am I missing out on getting the absolute best fidelity by utlizing this simple connectivity?


I read about all the cards for connectivity... Lynx, etc.


Have I missed something?




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Excuse my lack of technical expertise, but if I utilize a Lynx card, does that mean the Lynx card inserts into my computer and then via some kind of connector, I need XLR, preferably, to connect to my BAT preamp, I totally do not use the Benchmark DAC or the USB?


Am I understanding this correctly?


My ultimate goal is strictly the highest fidelity.


thank you


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Hey man. Chill a bit.... Computeraudiophile is pushing the computer audiophile boundaries. It's not clear cut. Take a look at the reference audio server discussion posts. IMHO you don't actually NEED 24/192 just yet! There are very few tracks actually available at this resolution and the Audioengineers out there in computer land are still getting their heads around how best to handle these files. There are other limiting factors..these are BIG files and need lots of processor grunt and bandwidth (if you are moving them around a network,,) MAC midi software (leopard anyway) is limited to 24/96 currently, and yes you are correct in that you need to add say a Lynx 24/192 card to get this resolution out of a say a MAC. But the USB port is not physically limited to 24/96...it will transmit higher..it's just the software/processors haven't quite caught up (correct me if I am wrong Chris!). IMHO there is more to good computer audio than JUST the 24/192. What's the use if you haven't considered if the computer is noisy/difficult to use/can't handle the files/Vista keeps crashing/ or your DAC is no good, and your speakers aren't up to it.....


I reckon work on these other issues, use USB @ 24/96 (until the computer manufacturers sort a few things out). You can always add a 24/196 card later if you aren't satisfied....also look at the forum boards at Empirical Audio...you need to consider jitter...but that's a whole new story!!!!!


New simplified setup: STEREO- Primary listening Area: Cullen Circuits Mod ZP90> Benchmark DAC1>RotelRKB250 Power amp>KEF Q Series. Secondary listening areas: 1/ QNAP 119P II(running MinimServer)>UPnP>Linn Majik DSI>Linn Majik 140's. 2/ (Source awaiting)>Invicta DAC>RotelRKB2100 Power amp>Rega's. Tertiary multiroom areas: Same QNAP>SMB>Sonos>Various. MULTICHANNEL- MacMini>A+(Standalone mode)>Exasound e28 >5.1 analog out>Yamaha Avantage Receiver>Pre-outs>Linn Chakra power amps>Linn Katan front and sides. Linn Trikan Centre. Velodyne SPL1000 Ultra

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The question I would pose is whether the Benchmark with a Lynx card offers significantly better sound? BTW my son just set up a Dell Inspiron and I am surprise at just how quiet these late model desktop computers have become. My first impression is that it is suitable for the listening room, which may mean that I am no longer wedded to my MacBook Pro laptop for super quiet audio.


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24/192 is not necessarily better, in fact, it can be worse because most D/A chips are not optimized for this, even though they may support this sample-rate.


24/96 is actually quite wonderful and if you can get original files at 24/96, you will be amazed. Studio files of original recordings are 24/96. It is an industry standard.


PCI cards in general are not as good as USB, Firewire or WiFi interfaces because of the noisy electrical environment of the computer. They really need isolation and reclocking for the digital outputs to be stellar IMO. I recommend using external converters with power supplies for best results. Some of my customers are using the word-clock input on the Lynx card in conjunction with my Pace-Car reclocker with good results. This will isolate the PC power and lower the jitter from the Lynx card. Others are using my Off-Ramp Turbo 2 to drive the S/PDIF input on the Benchmark DAC-1 USB. Contrary to what the marketing BS may say, most DAC's are not insensitive to incoming jitter.


Steve N.

Empirical Audio


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