DAC + Small Desktop Speaker Combo Questions

Discussion in 'Computer Audio' started by BfA, Mar 26, 2017.

  1. BfA

    BfA Limp Gawd

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    So I'm trying to upgrade my computer audio. I'm going to be buying a DAC and a desktop 2.1 system. I'm not too
    knowledgeable about this so I was wondering if the following would work. I have a 5.1 setup in the same room so I'm not looking for loudness, just quality. I'd prefer not to get a sub but there are some small ones so I'm leaning towards one of those.

    Motherboard
    ASRock Z170m Extreme4
    - 1 x Optical SPDIF Out Port
    - HD Audio Jacks: Rear Speaker / Central / Bass / Line in / Front Speaker / Microphone
    - Supports Purity Soundâ„¢ 3
    - Nichicon Fine Gold Series Audio Caps
    - 115dB SNR DAC with differential amplifier


    DAC Choices
    I'm not sure which one of these would work best or if there's a better choice out there. I never plan on using this with headphones and it will stay stationary at my PC so I'm wondering if there's anything without an amp?

    Audioquest Dragonfly DAC Black

    Schiit Modi 2

    Schiit Modi 2 Uber (If optical out is better)

    Audio Engine D1

    Mayflower ODAC Rev B. – Stand Alone (Would this work if I don't need an amp for headphones?)


    Speaker Choices
    These are the smallest quality speakers I could find. I'm leaning towards the Kanto currently.

    Kanto YU2

    Audio Engine A2+

    Creative Z 533

    PSB Speakers Alpha 1-100 *Awesome choice but too expensive so I've listed it incase anyone finds this thread in the future.


    Sub Choices
    I need something that's small and not overly large, that's why I'm looking at the Kanto Sub6.

    Kanto Sub6

    Cambridge Audio Minx X201

    Audioengine S8

    PSB Speakers SubSeries 100


    Questions:

    1) Does going from optical out on my motherboard to a DAC provide better sound quality than a USB DAC? I do realize that will limit the output quality to 24/192 which is the maximum of optical output.

    2) From the DAC to the speakers I will have about 8-10 feet of wire. Is there anything I should keep in mind for this?

    3) Is the Dragonfly better than the Modi 2? I'm not entirely sure how to measure that.

    4) If I use a USB DAC should I still install the Realtek drivers or just leave those devices uninstalled.

    The setup that I'm thinking of going that's the easiest is the Dragonfly Black, Kanto Yu2 and Kanto Sub6 which should be small enough to meet my space requirements but upgrade my sound quite a bit. I'm definitely open to suggestions though.
     
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2017
  2. IdiotInCharge

    IdiotInCharge [H]ardForum Junkie

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    The reality is that practically anything will work- if I were to make any suggestion, it would be to get the DAC closer to the speakers.

    With respect to optical, some use this in order to break the electrical connection, i.e. a 'noise firewall'. I'll say that this isn't necessary but also doesn't hurt and won't cost much.

    Overall, if you're looking at anything exotic, you'd want to justify that based on your sources. For casual listening what you have listed at the end of your post looks good.
     
  3. sweets3450

    sweets3450 Limp Gawd

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    you have so many options. Although you didn't list a budget I'd recommend the jbl lsr305 + dac of your choice. they're great for the price, very flat, and then you can choose what sub you want and how you want to hook it up after. Frankly, the speaker choices you have listed suck although I haven't heard those PSBs.
     
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  4. BfA

    BfA Limp Gawd

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    Any reason why it's better to have the DAC closer to the speakers? I can either have the DAC connected to the PC via USB then a 8ft cord to the speakers or I can have an 8ft USB cable to go to the DAC which is next to the speakers. I'm guessing I should get shielded as it will travel over a gas fireplace.

    I'm not looking for anything exotic, just something that will work above average without breaking the bank.

    I've read about the JBL SR305's - the problem with them is they are much too big to put on a desktop unfortunately. Could you suggest any better speakers for the size I'm looking at? As far as I can tell they're the best for the money and size I have for my situation.
     
  5. BfA

    BfA Limp Gawd

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    I'm also trying to figure out if the Focusrite Scarlett Solo (2nd Gen) would be a better DAC than the Audioquest Dragonfly Black. It seems like it has more options.
     
  6. IdiotInCharge

    IdiotInCharge [H]ardForum Junkie

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    The basic theory is that once your audio signal is analog, it's far more susceptible to EMI.
     
  7. mizer357

    mizer357 Limp Gawd

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    I don't have any experience with the Dragonfly Black but I've had a Scarlett 2i2 in the past, which should be similar to the Solo you're looking at. Full-featured USB sound interfaces typically sound exponentially better than onboard audio, you can record into them at a high quality, and drive speakers and headphones at the same time. I find their headphone outs are decent... just OK, good for monitoring and general listening. My experience with good, equivalently-priced DACs (paired with an amp) is that they are essentially hi-fi gear designed to play back music, and will sound better. Horses for courses really. They overlap in that they're both designed to deliver audio, but their strengths are unique. If all you want to do is listen to music, I'd suggest getting the Dragonfly. If you need recording capability, get the Scarlett. Or get both.
     
  8. King of Heroes

    King of Heroes [H]ard|Gawd

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    Of the choices you've listed, I'd get the Schiit Modi 2 Uber if you need multiple inputs. I would suggest giving the Micca Origen+ a look as well.

    If not, get the Schiit Modi 2 or the ODAC, whichever is cheaper.

    The Modi 2, Modi 2 Uber and ODAC don't require any additional drivers. They just work out of the box. The Micca Origen+ will need extra drivers however.

    As for the speakers and sub, I can't comment on any of your choices since size is your primary concern.
     
  9. sweets3450

    sweets3450 Limp Gawd

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    unfortunately if you got any smaller than the lsr305, you're going to have to pay more for similar sound quality or sacrafice quality. it's your choice, but if you go much smaller I wouldn't spend more than $50 total since the quality sucks
     
  10. chineseman

    chineseman [H]ard|Gawd

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    I'm considering the same options as you, OP. For some reason, my Sound Blaster Z started conflicting with my Samsung 950 Pro M2 drive. The only way to get my system to recognize the Samsung drive was to remove the SBZ from my system altogether and now I'm stuck using on-board Realtek audio.

    I'm far from an audiophile since most of the discussions on head-fi, etc left my head spinning. I think I'm about to pull the trigger on the Schiit Modi Multibit + Schiit Magni 2 Uber since it seems to have more input/outputs than other alternatives. I like the fact that this stack can also serve as a pre-amp for my powered desktop speakers and I can easily switch between speakers and headphones just by plugging in the headphones when I want to use them. I hate having to crawl under the desk to unplug my speaker cable and plug in the headphones so this is a nice quality of life solution.

    I'm also considering the Schiit Modi Multibit + Schiit Vali 2 as I've read many posts saying that the Vali 2 is a better match for my AKG k7xx headphones than the Magni 2 Uber.
     
  11. B00nie

    B00nie [H]ardness Supreme

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    Get the JBL M2s. You won't have space issues on your desktop, everything will be hammered away from it :D
     
  12. sweets3450

    sweets3450 Limp Gawd

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