Amp through PC sound Card

Discussion in 'Hi-Fi Stereo Systems & Separates' started by Nicholars, Feb 8, 2009.

  1. Nicholars

    Nicholars
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    Hello,

    I just bought a NAD 315BEE amp to go with my psb speakers (NAD branded)....

    I currently dont have a cd player because its just so much easier to play music from my pc..

    Only problem is the sound quality isnt amazing through my creative x-fi soundcard. I was just wondering if i was to get a better soundcard (any reccomendations?) would it make much of a difference to sound quality or is quality through a PC soundcard always going to be inferior to a cd player/hard drive player?

    Basically what I am asking is can you get good quality sound using a pc as opposed to seperates?
     
  2. dwhite

    dwhite
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    As this is a stereo integrated amp and not a AV integrated amp, I will move your thread to the Hifi seperates forum
     
  3. whybother

    whybother
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    I have a very similar set up to you but with a CA amp and tannoy speakers, when I first plugged it in I had x-fi crystilizer and CMSS-3D on now these were all very well and good for my old logitech x-540's but with the new amp and speakers it just sounded crap. Make sure you have turned these both off

    Whybother
     
  4. ell-ess-dee

    ell-ess-dee
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  5. Nicholars

    Nicholars
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    So if i was to get a decent soundcard and a DAC, is both better or would a good soundcard on its own be ok?

    I want to get a decent setup without buying a cd player as i feel that they are on theyre way out and pc/hd players are the way to go....

    If I said i could spend £50-£100 what would be the best soundcard to get?... is that ESI [email protected] the best? And if i got a good soundcard such as the [email protected] would a DAC be neccessary?
     
  6. ell-ess-dee

    ell-ess-dee
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    If your creative has digital out, which i'm sure it has then you would not need another soundcard with a DAC. IMO the DAC route would be your best bet..

    Totally agree with you on the CD players - no need for them no more and i'm pretty sure there life is almost at an end..

    I personally think the ESI [email protected] is the best for the money, hard to beat for its analogue playback, it's onboard DACs are very good - wish I never got rid of mine..

    If I was you I'd go the Beresford DAC route, exceptional value for money. You will get the 6/3 for around £80 mark SH..
     
  7. Nicholars

    Nicholars
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    Thanks for the help....

    I think what ill do is get a DAC to start with then if im still not happy ill get a soundcard as well, the x-fi i have at the moment is only the xtreme audio one... not the best...
     
  8. BlueWizard

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    I'm not sure you need to go as far as buying a new sound card or DAC. I've got an integrated Pioneer Stereo Amp (40w/ch) connected to my computer's internal (meaning built onto the motherboard) sound card, and it sounds fine.

    I suspect if your computer music doesn't sound good, it is the cheap self-powered computer speakers that are the problem. A good amp and good speakers will make a world of difference in sound quality, even with a basic sound card.

    Just get a 3.5mm stereo to 2x RCA connector cable and plug it into the output of the sound card and into the TAPE or AUX input of the stereo amp, and try it out.

    Perhaps I've misunderstood what you are trying to do or have already done.

    Also consider that if you are playing MP3's, they may have a low bit-rate and too much compression. Though if you are playing commercial CDs, then there is no reason why it should sound fine.

    Start with the basics first, then work your way up.

    Steve/bluewizard
     
  9. Steven

    Steven
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    Generally if a sound card has analog outs then it has a built in DAC... then you would not need a external DAC

    But conversely a good DAC is better than a good sound card

    PC -> usb sound card -> DAC -> amp
    PC -> usb sound card -> amp
    PC -> usb DAC -> amp

    Other possible permutations include firewire instead of USB...
    Or staight optical out such as on a Mac to a DAC with optical input

    You might be wondering why buy a DAC at all if sound cards do the same job. That is true but sound cards will have smaller/inferior parts to save cost and space inside the package whereas a DAC is dedicated

    If you want things like recording, 5.1 channel sound, gaming effects then you want a sound card. But if you want superior stereo sound then put your money towards a DAC
     
  10. leedswillprevai

    leedswillprevai
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    Yeah I agree, I think what you need to do is change the speakers. As a general rule of thumb, the amp and speakers are more important than the source. If you invest in a decent pair of hi fi speakers, you will certainly notice a massive boost in definition, seperation, bass and dynamics.

    Assuming you have a standard sized room, the Monitor Audio BR2's are fantastic budget range speakers, which will give you all of that.
     
  11. Nicholars

    Nicholars
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    I was under the impression these psb speakers are pretty good for the money, if you look at the stereophile review of the psb bronze speakers they say they are pretty good, but depending on finances I may just get some new speakers, i listeened to the mA bronze and they are a bit small for my liking.

    If i can get some spare money together I will probably get a Cambridge audio dacmagic or beresford dac along with esi [email protected] soundcard and some new speakers. I reckon if using lossless music that would probably be as good if not better than most cd player.
     
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2009
  12. BlueWizard

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    Let's go back to the beginning, because it is not clear what you currently have and what you are currently doing.

    You have this NAD amp, and you have a pair of NAD/PSB speakers.

    Have you hooked them up to your existing sound card and tried them out?

    If you have, what is it about what you hear that you don't like?

    Can you give us the specific model numbers of the speakers and a link to their specs?

    Is it safe to assume you have a 5.1 sound card? If so, are you sure you are connected to the correct outputs?

    Again, just connecting to my motherboard sound card, my system sounds fine. The motherboard sound is a RealTek HD, which is probably not a fantastic sound card.

    What is your music source? CD's you've burned from MP3s? Commercial CD's? Direct from MP3 to output?

    And once again, what are you bit-rates and compression levels on your music?

    Do we know that it is the audio system and not the music that is the problem?

    I'm also not sure exactly which sound card you currently have, as there are several Creative card with X-FI designations.

    Is it X-FI Xtreme, X-FI Titanium Fatal1ty Champion, Fatal1ty Pro?

    The basic 'Xtreme' model has 24-bit DACs with 192khz max sample rate. If you are going to buy an external DAC, you need to make sure it's spec exceed those of your sound card.

    Inquiring minds want to know.

    Steve/bluewizard
     
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2009
  13. Nicholars

    Nicholars
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    Hi,

    I am playing mp3's which are quite good quality ones (for mp3's) generally 160k - 320k quality and quite large mp3's.

    I have a feeling i might have damaged my speakers by putting them too loud, they just sound a bit harsh and they didnt used to.

    I have reasonably good connections from the soundcard single rca to dual rca profigold, and i have QED cables so thats not the problem... it does kindof sound good but just a bit harsh sometimes and the nad 315BEE and psb speakers are supposed to be good for NOT being harsh...

    Im thinking of either getting some QUAD 11l2 or the DALI ones cant remeber the name... sadly the b&w bookshelf speakers are too expensive at the moment, i heard them in a shop and they are brilliant.
     
  14. Nicholars

    Nicholars
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    And yeh im not interested in gaming I want good stereo sound for music and films, would you reccomend the ESI julia as well?

    Also the soundcard is the basic x-fi audio one, its on a slimline pcb and cost about £35
     
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2009
  15. leedswillprevai

    leedswillprevai
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    Hi, you say you might have damaged the speakers, well as a general rule, the amp should not be turned up over half way and in addition, if you had your pc volume at it's highest and had the amp turned up quite a distance then the input to the amp and therefore to the speakers could have been enough to damage the speakers. However the sound will come out muffled or disturbingly uneven if you have actually damaged them. It could be well worth connecting your pc to a dac if your pc has a digital out on it

    Also what psb speakers do you have?
     
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2009

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