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n00b inquiry

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greetings all,


im very new to this site as well as computer audiophile'ness, if there is ever such a term. i've come here after a google search, i was thrilled when this site came up. first off some history.


i originally ran mobo embedded audio through a set of yamaha 2.1, which i rather enjoyed, this was years ago. then i went with an M-audio revolution 5.1 out to the same yamaha set up. then the yamaha setup was replaced by a marantz 2226 amp with infinity reference sand alone speakers. the M-audio card was ditched when i went to Win7 but even with the onboard sound from the mobo, still sounds awesome, am very happy with the sound. this is my current set up but sadly my bro has decided he wants his amp and speakers back, soon. thus began my search through local ads and sales for a new setup. i've listened to the regularly suggested systems of Klipsch promedia 2.1 as well as the logitechs and the bose's. im not thrilled with any of them, the sound is loudly there but the clarity and warmth im getting from the marantz/infinity setup is missing. im spoiled i guess. i've since gathered a mess of equipment that i hope will suffice. some i have and others are in the 'negotiation' stage. bear in mind im on a budget, christmas presents seem to be getting more and more expensive every year.


firstly the soundcard: i went with the ASUS xonar DS. the basic sound card without the surround sound circuitry that costs more. good reviews as far as i've read.


secondly the amp: i went with the Audio Source amp-100. 50watts x2 RMS. came highly recommended from a friend. i live in a small place so this should suffice, key word is 'should'.


lastly the speakers: Polk Audio 40series II with associated Polk powered sub. i actually like the sound from these speakers, i might have had a slight cold but still, i liked them.


so, critique please. gripes, snipes, recommendations, and suggestions. i need your input, am i on the right track or stumbling the wrong way. reminder, i am on a very tight budget, sorta. thanks for reading all that if you did.





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Sounds like you've done your research and found a system that you like. If you can stand them, headphones are usually more bang for your buck than any speaker system. For example, the Stax lambda's that I picked up for $400 with energizer have provided consistently better sound than various speakers I've tried around the $1500 range.


As far as your system goes, I think that you are on the right track because you're trusting your ears when they tell you what you like. Cables and software likely will only make a difference when you take your system to the next level so I wouldn't worry about them.


Oh, make sure that you are bypassing the evils of Windows by using asio or whatever Win 7 thing there is (kernel streaming?)


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...that the site is called ComputerAudiophile.com. The subject at hand is turning raw data on your computer into gorgeous analog. If you have an amplification set up that works well with your ears, you have half the battle won. The other half is now to get your computer interfaced with your amplification to get the best performance possible. This is what gets us computer audiophiles excited. So as a professed member of this community here is what I recommend.


A sound card can perform well depending on what you expect from it. If you are taking a digital feed from it (via toslink or spid/if) into a digital-to-analog converter (DAC) you are on your way to some great sounds. If however, you are taking the analog out of the sound card directly, (and this is a subjective opinion) you may be disappointed. The problem here is there is no electrical isolation between the workings of the computer and the conversion of the digital files to an analog signal. Any noise generated by electrical irregularities in the computer would be introduced here and would compromise the quality of the conversion. This is the area where computer audiophiles spend the most time and resources; to get the conversion right. The best place to start would be Chris's CA Academy where you will learn about all of the issues inherent in making the leap from digital into analog nirvana.


One of the problems I have had since embarking on this journey is that my ear gets spoiled, i.e. once I am used to a certain level of quality, I start yearning for more. I would recommend spending some time up front learning where the issues are with the conversion and then deciding what your best approach would be budget-wise. Chris just reviewed an inexpensive DAC that may suit your needs. You should also visit some audio outlets to get some live experience with various gear and decide what your ears want you to spend. Bottom line is the more you know what it is you want, the better you can focus your research and the more value your purchases will have.


Hope this helps. OMT, the more focus you have to the point of your question, the better the response you will get. Anything too general such as "is this any good?" requires too much opinion. Technophiles such as we are prefer specifics. The closer you can get too "is this the right or wrong answer and why" the better. This is where interesting debate really begins. :-)


Lots of luck and welcome to the site.




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gents, thanks for the replies, much appreciated. i am indeed doing a lot of reading regarding what has been subjectively defined as 'computer audiophile'. some make sense, others sound rubbish as i am an IT geek who knows his way around a computer, but anyway. and i am aware the website is computeraudiophile.com


after much reading i've decided to mod my MacG5 as a music server. i was gonna sell that quad G5 beast but i've changed my mind. i take it optic audio out is the way to go with an external DAC. should be fun, time for more reading.


regarding my initial inquiry, from your accounts, it looks like i am indeed stumbling in the right direction with my mess of odd equipment. i am not looking for a 'trued' audiophile nirvana experience on the PC, i just want to equal or better the marantz/infinity setup that i shall be forced to surrender this coming weekend. the MacG5, however, will be an interesting feat althogether. should be fun, wish me luck.






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