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Soundcard modding


Jan
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Hi there,

my cd-transport just broke down. So get a computer. Rip your cds. Prefect world. Maybe some high bit downloads and some lp-recording.

 

On top I love the idea of just one machine standing on top of the amplifiers.

 

So I decided it has to be a soundcard. It will be a [email protected] It should beat my parasound dac by quite a bit.

 

But.

 

The weakness of soundcards is the power source. Power from pci has to be very polluted. And it has to be not enough. The high end DACs , I know and tried all had multiple and big power supplies.

Would it be possible to build a cable pci-risercard with separate input for a second power supply.

 

Cheers

Jan

 

 

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Would it be possible to build a cable pci-risercard with separate input for a second power supply.

 

Just because it grows, is green and you can roll it, doesn't mean you have to smoke it :)

 

Or, NO!

 

Seriously though, look at it this way, the memory sticks inside your machine are also dc powered and they seem to work ok, don't they?

 

If you're planning on using the line-outs to go straight into your amp/pre-amp then the quality of the final digital/analogue stage in the [email protected] likely to be the weakest link in the chain. Chris' reference system is built around a pci card, using the digital output into a dac, and he certainly seems to be quite happy with it. Try it with the line-outs and if you're not happy then start looking for an outboard dac would be my advice.

 

Don't risk frying yourself AND the computer with diy power supplies. The one you have will be fine!

 

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.....or at best burnt fingers.

 

Just build the most simple, stripped down PC you can and make sure it has a good quality PSU. A lot fo PSUs are pushed on the stability and quality of their power outputs nowadays and is a welcome trend.

 

Many now also come with very high quality components, in fact I'd wager a good PC power supply is far superior to a lot of power supplys in Hifi gear. Take a look at some of the items from say Enermax, Corsair etc. you dont need anything above 400w. 250W would probably do in an simple audio only PC but I like to make sure the PSU is never under any stress.

 

You can also add extra ferrite cores to the main power inputs to the motherboard and HDDs etc. this will help reduce any rfi etc. They just cost a few dollars each. You can even run the PC off a decent mains filter to help further if you wish.

 

I'd also switch off any unwanted hardware in the BIOS too (serial ports, printer ports, built in audio, floppy ports, RAID etc.)

 

I tried the line out on just my laptop the other day. No special power mods at all and the audio was as good as I've heard anywhere. The silences between noise were just that...silent.

 

Things have improved.

 

Meridian 551 amp / Meridian 507 CD / Zune Mk1

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Hi,

 

the green I smoke is superskunk, everything alright with that :)

 

To be serious I had the great pleasure to hear some of the best audio equipment one can imagine. Burmesters big transport dac combination is incredible. Close your eyes and you can focus separate singers in the chorus. But there is something missing. The shock when you hear the cry in “Stimela” on Masekela “Hope” for the fist time on a Phonosophie Impuls 3.

 

But time are changing. Computer based audio is much more satisfactory. Just no one ever bothered to build a real audiophile audiocard.

I mean, clean power, separate supply for digital and analogue, high end analogue output ect.

 

And this is what is missing to give computer audio a push.

 

When I start, I buy a soundcard that is just a bit inferior to a dac. When I find I need more, I invest 300 $ in a power supply and some 500 in the analogue part and have the value of a 3000$ dac. No digital senders and receivers needed.

 

Intriguing idea ?

 

And always remember, it is about music.

You have to hear Beecham perform Peer Gynt.

Or Ella and Louis love songs.

 

Cheers

Jan

 

 

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Yeah, I can see where you're coming from but at the moment I think the industry, as such, is centreing its efforts on what happens to the digital stream once you get it out of the computer, rather than providing you with an audiophile solution inside the machine. I have to say that I tend to agree with them. As you rightly point out, the inside of a computer is certainly not built to 'battleship' audiophile specs, nor does it really lend itself to such things.

 

You may have better luck looking at what is available by way of external dac's, where the finer points of audio design can be better implemented, and then choose the best way of getting the digits out to match the dac you choose and/or the resolution of file you wish to deal with.

 

If you already own a high quality dac then a trip over to Empirical Audio may be in order? They have a good range of well thought of kit that will help you get the digits out of the computer and into something to your liking. Just a thought.

 

And if you're handy with a soldering iron then the Audio Note DAC2.1 will be worth a look. It is a non-oversampling dac which I believe accepts sample rates up to 24/96 over any of its inputs. This then opens up the possibility of using the computer to upsample, taking away one stage from the replay process. An interesting idea, anyway.

 

It's all part of the game! Have fun :)

 

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