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Thread: PC-Based Audio Equipment for Classical Music

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    Senior Member Ralfy's Avatar
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    Default PC-Based Audio Equipment for Classical Music

    I'm thinking of investing in a sound system that plays CDs or lossless music files from a PC to a DAC with amplifier attached to the USB, and speakers connected to the DAC. I figured this is more practical because unlike hi-fi systems I can use the PC to do other things, connect the DAC to other devices (like a laptop), and replace any component easily if needed.

    If anyone uses this system, please suggest brands and models, i.e., budget and mid-priced DACs with amps and speakers that's good enough to listen to classical music in a small room (around 24 sq m), whether components like subwoofers will be needed, etc.
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    Senior Member Simon Moon's Avatar
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    PC's a notoriously noisy. I'm not referring to audible noise from fans and such.

    Tons of RF from switching power supplies, noise from improperly shielded buses, noise from hard drives, etc, all pollute the signal.

    The best way to do this, is using the PC as a file source only, and use something like a USB bridge to feed your DAC.

    Products like Sonore's Microrendu, SOTM's sMS-200, or Allo Audio's USBridge Signature. The Allo Audio is the least expensive, but it also may require the most work, since it is a Raspberry PI based device running Moode Audio player (Linux based OS). The Microrendu and the SOTM are plug and play.

    https://www.sonore.us/microRendu.html

    https://www.sotm-audio.com/sotmwp/en...-item/sms-200/

    https://www.allo.com/sparky/usbridge-signature-pcb.html

    These types of devices accept audio files from a NAS, a PC, directly attached storage. They isolate the signal (eliminating noise from the PC).

    Then get something like a PS Audio Sprout, 100 watt per channel with built in DAC, and the speakers of your choice.

    https://www.psaudio.com/products/spr...ted-amplifier/
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    Senior Member eljr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ralfy View Post
    amplifier attached to the USB, and speakers connected to the DAC.
    What does this mean?

    How does one make such connections?

    I know of no Dac that is a power amp, I know of no amplifier that receives a signal via USB.
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    Senior Member KenOC's Avatar
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    I’ve used a cheapie Behringer USB DAC for seven years now, sounds very good and still going strong. You just plug its cable into a USB port on your PC and use its RCA outputs to feed your amplifier, receiver, amplified speakers, or whatever.


    Last edited by KenOC; Nov-13-2019 at 23:00.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Ralfy View Post
    I'm thinking of investing in a sound system that plays CDs or lossless music files from a PC to a DAC with amplifier attached to the USB, and speakers connected to the DAC. I figured this is more practical because unlike hi-fi systems I can use the PC to do other things, connect the DAC to other devices (like a laptop), and replace any component easily if needed.

    If anyone uses this system, please suggest brands and models, i.e., budget and mid-priced DACs with amps and speakers that's good enough to listen to classical music in a small room (around 24 sq m), whether components like subwoofers will be needed, etc.
    I connect my computer directly to a Rotel amp via the headphone jack, and I connect the amp to a pair of warfdale diamond speakers. I use the PC’s sound card as a DAC.

    This may be a good way for you to start, if you feel the need to improve the sound from there, maybe consider an external DAC.
    Last edited by Mandryka; Nov-13-2019 at 23:33.

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    Senior Member eljr's Avatar
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    I have several computer source systems. All are PC>Dac>pre-amp> power amp>speakers.

    I still do not understand the OP.
    Last edited by eljr; Nov-14-2019 at 03:28.
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    Senior Member Ralfy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by eljr View Post
    What does this mean?

    How does one make such connections?

    I know of no Dac that is a power amp, I know of no amplifier that receives a signal via USB.
    I asked in other forums, and was told to consider the Topping D10 and the SMSL M100 for the budget line, which are connected to the USB of a computer, but they don't have amplifiers. For DACs that have amplifiers, I was asked to consider the Burson Play or the Schiit Fulla.
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    Senior Member KenOC's Avatar
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    FWIW I feed the output of my DAC to a regular stereo receiver, not a high-end one by any means. This gives control over balance, volume, treble and bass, etc., access to FM stations, and inputs for other sources as necessary. The receiver drives my Cambridge Soundworks Ensemble, the original four-speaker system that hails from a time before some here were born.

    You may find that eBay is your friend.
    Last edited by KenOC; Nov-14-2019 at 03:23.


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    Senior Member Ralfy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by eljr View Post
    I have several computer source systems. All are PC>Dac>pre-amp> power amp.speakers.

    I still do not understand the OP.
    I read this article and noted that sound from an external DAC might be better than the one that's built in the computer sound card:

    https://www.crutchfield.com/S-QU4Se0...converter.html

    There are some sound cards that do well, but I felt it was more practical to get something external so that I can use it easily for other devices.
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    Senior Member Ralfy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KenOC View Post
    FWIW I feed the output of my DAC to a regular stereo receiver, not a high-end one by any means. This gives control over balance, volume, treble and bass, etc., access to FM stations, and inputs for other sources as necessary. The receiver drives my Cambridge Soundworks Ensemble, the original four-speaker system that hails from a time before some here were born.

    You may find that eBay is your friend.
    Thanks! I just realized that I may want to listen to the radio, too. That means I have to retain a receiver, and just connect the DAC and speakers to that. Or maybe just connect a USB radio receiver to the computer.
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    Senior Member eljr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ralfy View Post
    Thanks! I just realized that I may want to listen to the radio, too. That means I have to retain a receiver, and just connect the DAC and speakers to that. Or maybe just connect a USB radio receiver to the computer.
    Why would you not source radio through you computer directly?
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    Senior Member Simon Moon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by eljr View Post
    What does this mean?

    How does one make such connections?

    I know of no Dac that is a power amp, I know of no amplifier that receives a signal via USB.
    Well then, you haven't been keeping up with audio.

    There is an entire category of DAC/AMPS from most manufacturers. Yamaha, Marantz, PS Audio, Schitt Audio, and a quite a few, relatively good quality Chinese products, like SMSL.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ralfy View Post
    I read this article and noted that sound from an external DAC might be better than the one that's built in the computer sound card:

    https://www.crutchfield.com/S-QU4Se0...converter.html

    There are some sound cards that do well, but I felt it was more practical to get something external so that I can use it easily for other devices.
    The sound of an external DAC could be better than the sound card, it could not. If I were you, I’d focus on amp and speakers first. I’m generally against DAC/amps - they are overpriced for the quality and you are locked into the same supplier for two very different components. Best to keep them separate and get the best quality of each you can afford.

    You already have an amp and speakers. Why not hook them up to the computer using the internal sound card, and see what you think of the quality? There, that’s a good thing to try first, you may decide that sound card suits your needs well enough.
    Last edited by Mandryka; Nov-14-2019 at 12:00.

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    Senior Member eljr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mandryka View Post
    The sound of an external DAC could be better than the sound card, it could not. If I were you, I’d focus on amp and speakers first. I’m generally against DAC/amps - they are overpriced for the quality and you are locked into the same supplier for two very different components. Best to keep them separate and get the best quality of each you can afford.

    You already have an amp and speakers. Why not hook them up to the computer using the internal sound card, and see what you think of the quality? There, that’s a good thing to try first, you may decide that sound card suits your needs well enough.
    The likely hood that an external Dac will sound better than a CP sound card is high. Very high.

    I do agree he needs to consider the speakers first, (not an amp)

    Dacs tend to have built in preamps, not power amps. They tend to be very good.

    My recommendation to the poster, his pocket is just not deep enough to improve his sound in any meaningful way so wait and save.
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    Quote Originally Posted by eljr View Post
    Dacs tend to have built in preamps, not power amps. They tend to be very good.
    Who needs a preamp these days? Least of all an active one. People have a single source and they have digital volume control. I must say I think DAC/Preamp combination boxes are a total rip off.

    Quote Originally Posted by eljr View Post
    The likely hood that an external Dac will sound better than a CP sound card is high. Very high.
    I've met so many serious audiophiles, people who design equipment professionally, who have a hard time justifying investment in DACs -- though I think that the quality of the output stage can be very significant.

    And I see many people who have invested in the latest trends in DACs -- NOS for example -- and regret it.

    I think good DACs make a significant difference, but finding them is hard and you can waste a lot of money and time. In my experience it's much more effective to concentrate on amp and speakers.
    Last edited by Mandryka; Nov-14-2019 at 19:01.

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