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Amp or DAC or ?

post #1 of 25
Thread Starter 
I was previously using my Auzentech Forte (and XtremeGamer before that) outputting via optical to my Marantz receiver and from there to my A700s. It was wonderful but alas, the reciever has returned to its rightful place in our entertainment center and HTPC. My Forte has died and Auzentech is terrible at RMAs so I've pretty much cut my losses. I'm currently using my onboard sound straight to my headphones.

I can't say I really know the difference between an Amp or a DAC (though I think my Marantz has both, correct?). Anyway, for my situation (usually listening to music and playing video games) would I benefit from a DAC or amp and what would you suggest for my A700s? Budget I guess is around $200 but I have no idea if that is reasonable.
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post #2 of 25
definitely a dac... go for a sound card.

garbage in, garbage out... amps amplify the garbage.
    
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post #3 of 25
Thread Starter 
That makes sense. I was recommended the Asus Xonar DX. Are there any features the D2X or Essense STX have that are worth being almost double in price?
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post #4 of 25
wish you could get that receiver back... optical --> receiver --> amp --> headphones would be optimal... that's what i did (minus the amp, cuz i'm too poor).

just wanted to add that... can't really help you with the sound card question, sry!

my omega striker 7.1 has been great, that's all i know.
    
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post #5 of 25
Thread Starter 
Yeah, I was doing that but since we got our HTPC setup and a new entertainment center, I couldn't keep it all to myself any more.
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post #6 of 25
Well, if you're going to buy something then get a DAC. Go for quality
    
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post #7 of 25
You can get a much better DAC from Audio-GD or Cambridge Audio, if you want to spend a little more money.

DAC's simply convert the digital signal back to analog signal. Amplifiers (integrated, headphone, and preamps) boost the levels of the signal. For externals it gives you better reproduction at larger dBs (depending on the drivers). For headphones it gives you better reproduction with headphones that allow the space (greater than 80 ohms). With your headphones a new DAC would be the choice.
Edited by slytown - 1/16/11 at 8:35pm
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post #8 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by slytown View Post
You can get a much better DAC from Audio-GD or Cambridge Audio, if you want to spend a little more money.

DAC's simply convert the digital signal back to analog signal. Amplifiers (integrated, headphone, and preamps) boost the levels of the signal. For externals it gives you better reproduction at larger dBs (depending on the drivers). For headphones it gives you better reproduction with headphones that allow the space (greater than 80 ohms). With your headphones a new DAC would be the choice.
This. Whats your budget looking like?
    
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post #9 of 25
What I would do in your situation is go for a HT Omega Claro Halo. The main reason why is because the drivers and customer support are much better than ASUS. The DAC chip on the card is roughly on par with entry level external DACs which is quite good to say the least. It also has a built in amp which your AD700s will benefit from, albeit minimally. You can swap opamps on the card too. Different opamps sound slightly different letting you customize the sound. A new set of opamps run about $20 and can be researched on head-fi.org.

The thing to think about is what you'll do in the future. If you end up getting higher end, high impedance headphones, you will be all set with this card. Then if you still desire more, the analog out of the card can feed an external amp.

As slytown said you can spend a bit more for an Audio-gd product like the FUN. However, with shipping to USA you're looking at $300+. It would be well worth it, but I don't know how stretchable your budget is.
post #10 of 25
Thread Starter 
I really like that card, but I only have spare PCI-E x1 and x16 slots open. On newegg, HT Omega only has one PCI-E card and it didn't look like it had a built in amp...

I MAY be able to move one of my 480s to the lowest slot and put the sound card in between the two cards...
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Gunmetal Tower
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