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Does it matter which sound card I use if I am using a receiver anyways?

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 
Hi there,

I am in the process (one of the lengthier decisions I've ever made) of planning my audio system.
Right now, it is looking like I will be using some Bowers & Wilkins 685 bookshelves, an ED A3S-250 subwoofer, and I have yet to decide on a receiver. It will either be a Yamaha RX797, a Marantz SR4023, or a Harmon/Kardon 3490.
Here are some links
Speakers - http://www.bowers-wilkins.com/display.aspx?infid=2301
Sub - http://www.edesignaudio.com/product_...roducts_id=892
Yamaha Receiver - http://www.yamaha.com/yec/products/p...l?CNTID=200028
H/K Receiver - http://www.harmankardon.com/EN-US/Pr...?PID=HK%203490

I will be using my computer as a source, listening mainly to lossless FLAC files, or some high quality MP3's.
Right now, I don't have a sound card, but I'm wondering if it would matter anyways. If I hook my receiver up to my onboard, what difference would it make? The receiver is doing all of the work making the audio sound nice, so would it matter whether or not I have a high quality sound card?
Sorry if thats confusing, just ask and I will clarify what I a mean.
    
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post #2 of 5
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ckaz View Post
Hi there,

I am in the process (one of the lengthier decisions I've ever made) of planning my audio system.
Right now, it is looking like I will be using some Bowers & Wilkins 685 bookshelves, an ED A3S-250 subwoofer, and I have yet to decide on a receiver. It will either be a Yamaha RX797, a Marantz SR4023, or a Harmon/Kardon 3490.
Here are some links
Speakers - http://www.bowers-wilkins.com/display.aspx?infid=2301
Sub - http://www.edesignaudio.com/product_...roducts_id=892
Yamaha Receiver - http://www.yamaha.com/yec/products/p...l?CNTID=200028
H/K Receiver - http://www.harmankardon.com/EN-US/Pr...?PID=HK%203490

I will be using my computer as a source, listening mainly to lossless FLAC files, or some high quality MP3's.
Right now, I don't have a sound card, but I'm wondering if it would matter anyways. If I hook my receiver up to my onboard, what difference would it make? The receiver is doing all of the work making the audio sound nice, so would it matter whether or not I have a high quality sound card?
Sorry if thats confusing, just ask and I will clarify what I a mean.
Oh dear where do I start..

A receiver does not "do work making the audio sound nice". Not even a little bit. The receivers job is to take in the source and turn it into power the speaker can use. The better the receiver, the less quality it loses during that process. The key word is loses. It can not "gain" quality.

GIGO: Garbage In, Garbage Out. No matter WHAT fancy receiver you get you simply can not make a low quality input sound good.

You DO need a sound card if you care about the quality at all.


If it matters any:
PS: Get the Marantz.
PS2: Don't buy B&W's overpriced crap.
PS3: Take the money you would spend on a sub and buy better stereo speakers.
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Snoopy 5
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post #3 of 5
A sound card just converts a digital source (MPS, FLAC, etc) into an analogue signal.
So, when you're buying a sound card you are, basically, buying DACs (Digital to Analogue Converters) and features (surround sound, dolby decoding, HDMI audio, multiple inputs and outputs, etc.)

How usefull the sound card is for you depends on whether it has the "features" you need.

How good the sound card "sounds" depends on what DACs are used. There is much discussion on which DACs are the best.

Some recievers/Integrated amps/amplifiers will accept a digital signal from a sound card (assuming the card has digital outputs). Then you would be using the DACs in the reciever/Integrated amp/amplifier.
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post #4 of 5
Thread Starter 
Ok well, thanks for helping me out here. I have been trying to figure all of this out for months now, and I'm still dazed and confused.
I'm thinking I'll then do this.
Asus STX Essence > One of the receivers listed > B&W 685's

To snoopykins, about the sub, that is my actual intention. I plan to add the sub later when I have more money, and for now just focus on a good pair of stereo speakers.
I want to go for the 685's because they have great bass response (I am a bass head, so working without a sub for a little while is going to be difficult). I have heard them, and I personally love the sound.
The only store in my city that carries HT speakers, well their selection is limited to say the least. I only plan on buying speakers that i have heard before, because music taste is extremely subjective. My local store happens to carry those B&W's, but not much else. it also carries the yamaha and marantz receivers, so I plan to test both of them out with the 685's.

I would appreciate to hear your reasoning for preferring the marantz. What about it do you like? What about the others don't you like in comparison?

Again, thanks for both of your help on the question I originally had, now if you have any insight to offer on the audio equipment I have chosen, i would love to hear your input.
    
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post #5 of 5
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ckaz View Post
now if you have any insight to offer on the audio equipment I have chosen, i would love to hear your input.
Your best "tool" for evaluating Hi-Fi equipment are your ears. You've got the right idea. Listen to it.

I often use the "Well, now show me something that costs 25% more that you think will sound better" approach.

Bring your own music. Your ears only "remember" for 7-9 seconds when comparing performance, so make the salesman set it up so A-B comparisons can be at least that fast, Instantaneous is best.

Good luck.
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My System
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