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External DAC vs sound card: gaming only

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
Hi folks.
At the moment I currently own an Auzentech X-Fi Forte, but I'm tired of having all kind of interferences due to the card being into the case (as a pc is a source for all kind of interferences).

So, is there any difference between a sound card and an external DAC such as a FiiO E7? Not talking about a card with X-Fi chip such as the Forte, but one like an Asus Xonar. Do the cards do anything different than a DAC or they are just a DAC with other chips for extra functions?

If there is no difference in the real world (for gaming) I would rather sell my sound-card and get an external DAC so I can get rid of those damn interferences. I really don't care about x-fi as it just doesn't work with w7 and so on, so...

Thanks.

PS: if there are differences I would like to know why (I like knowing things cool.gif ), because as of now my logic says that digital sounds are 0101011100101 and DAC only translates that into analog signals. But also I fail to see what do chips such as ASUS AV100 in a sound card. confused.gif
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post #2 of 12
Check out the Creative X-Fi HD USB and the up-coming Asus Essence USB external soundcard. If that doesn't suite you check out Nuforce, Fiio, ect.
post #3 of 12
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Battou62;12692156 
Check out the Creative X-Fi HD USB and the up-coming Asus Essence USB external soundcard. If that doesn't suite you check out Nuforce, Fiio, ect.

Yeah, well, but I wanted to know if there would be any difference in game-sound, because my knowledge of computer sound (well, sound in general rolleyes.gif ) is quite lacking, and I fail to see what differences bring specific chips that sound cards have on them.
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post #4 of 12
From what I've heard at headfi getting the sound processing out of the computer can greatky improve clarity by reducing interference. I am using a uDAC-2 to feed my jvc rx900's and have not heard one hiss, pop, or crack out of my audio.
post #5 of 12
This depends on games you play, but in general sound card is better. Stuff like CMSS-3D is only supported on sound cards. USB DACs like X-Fi HD are primarily marketed to audiophiles and laptop users. USB DACs may give you clean sound, but they don't support things like hardware accelerated OpenAL with virtual surround for stereo headphone users for example.
post #6 of 12
For gaming only you'd probably be best served by a dedicated gaming soundcard. For music, external DAC hands down. IMO
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post #7 of 12
I would just go with a FiiO E9. This way you have a DAC and volume control.
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post #8 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by Battou62;12692245 
From what I've heard at headfi getting the sound processing out of the computer can greatky improve clarity by reducing interference. I am using a uDAC-2 to feed my jvc rx900's and have not heard one hiss, pop, or crack out of my audio.

I also use a uDac-2 and am very satisfied with it/would recommend it.

It doesn't have all the extra little features of some sound cards, but I don't really care about most of those features and prefer clarity anyways.

Also yes, you are right about the function of a DAC. A ditital to analog converter (DAC) simply translates a sequence of 1s and 0s representing some digital signal into a analog signal that is sent to your headphones. However, not all DACs are created equal. Some are very accurate and clear while others introduce large amounts of errors and noise.

Many DACs come with built in amplifiers, such as the uDac-2, which increases the amplitude of the analog signal coming out of the DAC and allows you to control the volume.
Edited by Xazen - 3/12/11 at 8:54am
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post #9 of 12
Another uDAC-2 user here. If you plan on using speakers for your games, I'd strongly recommend this DAC. It made my crappy $40 Lansings sound so amazing. I'm even thinking of checking out the Icon HDP that NuForce carries.

If you're planning on using headphones, I didn't really hear a major difference from onboard to the uDAC-2 on my HD555s. You're better off getting a sound card with a dedicated headphone amp.
    
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post #10 of 12
Thread Starter 
So, to you guys that use external DAC's, is there any difference if you don't use Crystalizer, CMSS3D or EAX to use a DAC such as yours vs a sound card? If there is none I will order today an external DAC...

Thanks for the input.
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