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Advice on Amps and DAC.

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 
I want to further my adventures into the audiophile land.

I have heard from many people/posts that a DAC will improve my sound quality from the X-Fi card immensely. I would like some advice on a few decent DACs and also, if an amp is needed, a few good amps to power the system.

Thanks in advance.
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post #2 of 7
both the Zhaolu and Beresford MKV are good DACs with headphone jacks built right in. They will both give you better SQ than a stock X-fi.

But to be perfectly honest since I've modded my X-fi I've done w/o the DAC. So I actually have an extra digital coax mini-RCA and an extra Beresford DAC laying around. Oh, and I think I'm soon to have a 2nd digital coax bc I have an X-fi Elite Pro on the way and that should have another cable with it.
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post #3 of 7
Thread Starter 
So would I use the DAC by itself or with the X-Fi?

What type of connection works best?
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post #4 of 7
By DAC do you mean Digital to Analog Converters?
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post #5 of 7
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by odie View Post
By DAC do you mean Digital to Analog Converters?
That is correct.
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post #6 of 7
Look for dual 24bit burr brown da converters, some of the best sounding converters you can get.
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post #7 of 7
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheLegend View Post
So would I use the DAC by itself or with the X-Fi?

What type of connection works best?
Well you can get a USB DAC, but that would negate the use of your X-fi and USB DACs are few and far between... yeah there are some around, but to get a really good one you'll pay for it.

Most DACs have Digital coax and/or optical toslink inputs.

Since you have an X-fi there it makes no sense to get a USB DAC. And since the X-fi doesn't have optical out you'll want a DAC with a digital coax input.

*X-fi and digital out notes*
some people will claim that you cannot use the processing of the x-fi chip if you use digital out so no CMSS 3D or Crystalizer. This is FALSE
The truth:
- Digital output will only give you surround sound if the source was formated in surround sound. So if you're watching a DVD you'll get surround sound as long as the DVD was encoded with it. If you're playing games you'll only get stereo, unless the game was coded w/ 4.1 or 5.1 for positional audio.
This doesn't bother us though because you're using headphones so stereo it is. You'll get better SQ and all the goodies as to why X-fis are so good at gaming.

The DACs that I suggested have RCA line outs (Zhaolu also has balanced output) and they both have built in headphone amps. so, the best sound will be achieved by using the output from the DAC to the input of a dedicated headphone amp. But both DACs can be used as an all-in-one solution if you would like. This is also good as a stop-gap for building a new system.
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