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Do I need a DAC? or?


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I got a pair of 70s audiosphere audio research cabinets (AX-Monitor 12) passed down from my dad. The foams were rotten (probably original) so I installed new ones. I am powering them with a cheap stereo receiver that I got for free from a friend to check if the speakers actually work. I am sending audio from my computer onboard sound through a 3.5mm jack that converts into rcas that is plugged into the stereo receiver.

 

I believe I am double amping here maybe? The sound clips very bad when I put the computer to 100% sound. It seems to be best when my comp output is 10% but there is alot of static when no music is playing so the signal seems to definitely be compromised even though it sounds better....

 

Sorry for being a noob but I've searched for a while and cant find an exact post that matches my situation....maybe because im playing with dinosaur equipment and new computers....wrongly? Hope someone can help, tell me what I need to buy :)

 

 

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The vast majority of PC audio sucks.  If you have a soundblaster or other sound card the sound is improved a lot.  It does appear that you are "double" amping.  Get a cheap USB dac from Amazon or favorite online store: Topping D10, Audioquest Black, or even a Schiit Audio Modi... In the US these are less than $100.  Any of these will give a better idea of what your speakers can do.

 

Feed the DAC from your laptop and then into your Receiver.  Any rca cables will do...even the cheap ones that come with TVs, DVD players, etc...I have dozens of these things laying around.

QNAP TS453Pro w/QLMS->Netgear Switch->Netgear R7800 Router->Ethernet (50 ft)->Netgear switch->SBT->iFi xDSD->Linn Majik-IL (preamp)->Linn 2250->Linn Keilidh; Control Points: Squeeze Commander (DroidX) & iPeng (iPad Air); Also: Rega P3-24 w/ DV 10x5; OPPO 103; PC Playback: Foobar2000 & JRiver; Portable: Sony NWZ_ZX1 & ZX2 w/ PHA-3; SMSL IQ, Fiio Q5, iFi Nano iDSD BL; Garage: Edifier S1000DB Active Speakers  Wish List: New DAC,  SBT replacement; Dream system: Linn EXACT or ATC Active or Big Tubes (KR or Nagra or Shindo or ...)

 

My goal is to use appliances and take home PC out of the chain...

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 8/25/2021 at 1:51 AM, Rantler said:

I got a pair of 70s audiosphere audio research cabinets (AX-Monitor 12) passed down from my dad. The foams were rotten (probably original) so I installed new ones. I am powering them with a cheap stereo receiver that I got for free from a friend to check if the speakers actually work. I am sending audio from my computer onboard sound through a 3.5mm jack that converts into rcas that is plugged into the stereo receiver.

 

I believe I am double amping here maybe? The sound clips very bad when I put the computer to 100% sound. It seems to be best when my comp output is 10% but there is alot of static when no music is playing so the signal seems to definitely be compromised even though it sounds better....

 

Sorry for being a noob but I've searched for a while and cant find an exact post that matches my situation....maybe because im playing with dinosaur equipment and new computers....wrongly? Hope someone can help, tell me what I need to buy :)

 

 

Yes, definitely get a DAC. IMO, the best budget DAC is the Schiit Modi 3+, $99. Connect to your computer via the included USB cable. The Audioquest Dragonfly Black is sonically inferior to the Modi and the Dragonfly contains a headphone amp, which you don't need for your setup. I bought a more expensive Topping DAC, the D50S, and preferred my Modi 3. 

“To doubt everything or to believe everything are two equally convenient solutions; both dispense with the necessity for reflection.” 
Bertrand Russell 

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Welcome, Rantler!  Definitely yes on the DAC--the big issue is that the DAC inside your computer cost about 12 cents--it just wasn't built for music.  As the others point out, Schiit is a terrific company--all their stuff is great bang for the buck.  Just decide your budget and pull the trigger.  If you have an old school stereo shop near you they can also be a wealth of information especially if you get hooked on good sound (but of course, then you should be buying from them instead of online).  Rock on!

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On 8/25/2021 at 1:51 AM, Rantler said:

I got a pair of 70s audiosphere audio research cabinets (AX-Monitor 12) passed down from my dad. The foams were rotten (probably original) so I installed new ones. I am powering them with a cheap stereo receiver that I got for free from a friend to check if the speakers actually work. I am sending audio from my computer onboard sound through a 3.5mm jack that converts into rcas that is plugged into the stereo receiver.

 

I believe I am double amping here maybe? The sound clips very bad when I put the computer to 100% sound. It seems to be best when my comp output is 10% but there is alot of static when no music is playing so the signal seems to definitely be compromised even though it sounds better....

 

Sorry for being a noob but I've searched for a while and cant find an exact post that matches my situation....maybe because im playing with dinosaur equipment and new computers....wrongly? Hope someone can help, tell me what I need to buy :)

 

 

Computer jack = DAC + headphone amp and bottom quality at that.

USB DAC dongles that rely solely on device power (ie phone battery) aren't going to behave that well at louder volumes for preamp input because of the output power limit.

Plugging it into a computer doesn't change how much power the device is allowed

 

The Schiit DAC devices are ok for starting DAC, if you can afford the multibit version go for it.

 

If you can afford ~$500 I find the Chord Mojo to be quite a bargain, its a  headphone amp that can run off its own battery or external 5V power so no power

limitation feeding a preamp section. Its one annoyance is a battery conservation feature that turns the device off after a number of minutes if there is no signal

fed the DAC section. I much prefer it to the Schiit multibit Gungnir when externally powered.

Regards,

Dave

 

Audio system

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