Sound card vs. USB DAC

Trying to get a feel on how to up my computer audio. I've usually used low/medium end sound cards with fair success. It seems medium end computer speakers are more limited by the sound card than anything most often, but i need to completely redo my setup, including some legit headphones with a microphone attached. I'm inclined to lean towards the USB dac route but was looking to see if anyone had experience.
My base recommendation is a topping d10s, they have very high quality components, and the sound out of them is very good, if not excellent. They need an amp or amped speakers.
 
Trying to get a feel on how to up my computer audio. I've usually used low/medium end sound cards with fair success. It seems medium end computer speakers are more limited by the sound card than anything most often, but i need to completely redo my setup, including some legit headphones with a microphone attached. I'm inclined to lean towards the USB dac route but was looking to see if anyone had experience.

Well, that is a huge topic. Generally USB audio devices made for musicians are what I recommend. Focusrite 2i2 or if you want something really nice a Neve 88M. You pay for nice microphone inputs, too, but that isn't quite avoidable if you are going for professional (not HiFi) equipment. You can use it for a nice microphone.

Which brings me to your other purchase, the headphones. Unfortunately there are close to no headphones with really good sound that have a microphone. Maybe the Audeze gaming headset, but I didn't hear it yet. Sound-wise it would be better to have separate headphones and mic.
 
Which brings me to your other purchase, the headphones. Unfortunately there are close to no headphones with really good sound that have a microphone. Maybe the Audeze gaming headset, but I didn't hear it yet. Sound-wise it would be better to have separate headphones and mic.
There is good, and there is amazing, and the difference between the two in terms of price is huge, but the difference in sound is not.

I have a set of logitech gaming x pro (original not rev 2) and they're very good for the price, as is the mic/included software. Are they amazing music listening headphones? nope, but good music doesn't need "amazing" to be enjoyed and they're "very good", for gaming they're really good. The mic's pretty good too.

Same goes for the DAC - you can get a VERY good usb dac for not much money or you can spend ~20x as much for absolutely amazing - In isolation and general listening though, I'd struggle to tell the difference with my ears.
 
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Trying to get a feel on how to up my computer audio. I've usually used low/medium end sound cards with fair success. It seems medium end computer speakers are more limited by the sound card than anything most often, but i need to completely redo my setup, including some legit headphones with a microphone attached. I'm inclined to lean towards the USB dac route but was looking to see if anyone had experience.
I don't think you need to spend alot of money to get great sound out of your PC. I'd recommend separates USB DAC/Amp. Spend most of your money on the headphones and cable. Start at the low price end and move up from there so you know what you're listening to when you upgrade.
 
There is good, and there is amazing, and the difference between the two in terms of price is huge, but the difference in sound is not.

That is always the case for non-transducer devices like DACs and amps. It is a little less true for transducers like headphones.
 
That is always the case for non-transducer devices like DACs and amps. It is a little less true for transducers like headphones.
Less true is correct, but I would still struggle to tell the quality difference in isolation between “very good” to excellent.

If I am listening to excellent all the time then hear very good, very good doesn’t sound as good. But if I listen to them in the opposite order, then generally excellent isn’t that much better.
 
Less true is correct, but I would still struggle to tell the quality difference in isolation between “very good” to excellent.

If I am listening to excellent all the time then hear very good, very good doesn’t sound as good. But if I listen to them in the opposite order, then generally excellent isn’t that much better.
You only need to spend like 200 to 400$ depending if you want to run single ended or balanced headphones and be set. After that its just people looking for a specific sound signature that may result in spending more money on expensive gear. More expensive $$ doesn't mean its better. There is a bunch of equipement and headphones that are cheaper that punch above their weight in terms of quality & price/performance.
 
I decided to move over to a USB DAC last year - my recent motherboards have been short internal slots, this was a great decision.

I picked up a FiiO E10K last Feb and have nothing bad to say about it. Absolutely solid output, I use the aux out on the back for my 2.0 speakers on the PC, have a set of earbuds and headphones to use with it as well, all of which sound great.
It is absolutely a noticeable improvement over onboard sound and lower quality usb wireless headphones, but much less so compared to a wireless headset like a Corsair HS80 Max - better, but if you already had something similar, I would be hard pressed to recommend something this cheap.
 
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I was dedicated to sound cards for a VERY long time. Up until this current build I always had a sound blaster of some form in all my gaming rigs. This rig I decided to go SB X3 DAC. Found a refurb sale through Creative's website. I'm happy with it. It has all the bells and whistles of the modern internal cards, but on paper should sound better as it's isolated from all the noise inside your case.

I'm going to be rocking the X3 DAC for a very long time.
Interesting. I run a SB ZxR in one rig and a SB-X AE-5 in my main rig connected to a Logitech G Pro X headset and Z5500.

I absolutely love the sound quality from the headphones and the speakers with both of the sound cards I mentioned above.
So it's interesting to see that you moved away from a nice sound card and went with a USB external one. I don't feel like I would ever do that, but I have never tried an external and don't see any reason too.
What would one be missing out on? I only game by the way I don't do anything music related.
 
Interesting. I run a SB ZxR in one rig and a SB-X AE-5 in my main rig connected to a Logitech G Pro X headset and Z5500.

I absolutely love the sound quality from the headphones and the speakers with both of the sound cards I mentioned above.
So it's interesting to see that you moved away from a nice sound card and went with a USB external one. I don't feel like I would ever do that, but I have never tried an external and don't see any reason too.
What would one be missing out on? I only game by the way I don't do anything music related.
I only use headphones, decent ones, but just head phones. My 5500s have been idle so long it's a tragedy to be honest. Also, all new OSes don't support external multi channel manipulations like cmss-3d anymore. I know you can do alchemy and other work arounds but I got kids. I need to jump in a game and go. I just want clean quality sound which this DAC does. It has that X-Fi ear mapping deal which is pretty remarkable if it knows what headphones you're using but I usually don't bother. I just set the game to headphone mode and blast away.
 
CyberJunk, I've read some people saying that the Bifrost 2/64 is too bright sounding. Is this true? They say that that the 2/64 is brighter than the original but offers more detail.
 
CyberJunk, I've read some people saying that the Bifrost 2/64 is too bright sounding. Is this true? They say that that the 2/64 is brighter than the original but offers more detail.
I don't find it bright at all. I have used the following headphones. Sennhisers 6xx , Hifiman Edition XS , Hifiman Anada Nano using a balanced output on my Midgard amp. I'm now daily driving the Ananda Nano's which has a treble shelf in the upper regions and some say can be bright at times. I and don't find it overly siblant , peaky or have a sizzle. People comparing the original Bifrost 2 to the 2/64 may say it's brighter and some say it has more clarity. I have never heard the original Bifrost 2 but some say it was a warmer thicker sound. They built their source chain around this warmer thicker sound so when you swap it with a DAC that has a slightly different sound signature it's going to change the sound. I upgraded from the original modius AKM version to the Bifrost 2/64 and I do not find the Bifrost 2/64 any more brighter than the modius. I do find better layering and detail in the music. The sound is more realistic with the Bifrost 2/64 than the modius which I can only describe as a wall of sound. Alot of this stuff is subjective thats why i recommend gradually upgrading from the lower price to the higher price devices so you know what's changing.
 
A good idea is to go on to ebay and see how many Bifrost 2/64 or Schiit products are being sold on there. There is not a lot and it's mostly their entry level or lower priced gear due to people upgrading.
 
I don't find it bright at all. I have used the following headphones. Sennhisers 6xx , Hifiman Edition XS , Hifiman Anada Nano using a balanced output on my Midgard amp. I'm now daily driving the Ananda Nano's which has a treble shelf in the upper regions and some say can be bright at times. I and don't find it overly siblant , peaky or have a sizzle. People comparing the original Bifrost 2 to the 2/64 may say it's brighter and some say it has more clarity. I have never heard the original Bifrost 2 but some say it was a warmer thicker sound. They built their source chain around this warmer thicker sound so when you swap it with a DAC that has a slightly different sound signature it's going to change the sound. I upgraded from the original modius AKM version to the Bifrost 2/64 and I do not find the Bifrost 2/64 any more brighter than the modius. I do find better layering and detail in the music. The sound is more realistic with the Bifrost 2/64 than the modius which I can only describe as a wall of sound. Alot of this stuff is subjective thats why i recommend gradually upgrading from the lower price to the higher price devices so you know what's changing.
Thanks.

How is the bass on the Bifrost 2/64? Also, have you tried the Sound Blaster AE-9? If yes, how would you compare the two?
 
Thanks.

How is the bass on the Bifrost 2/64? Also, have you tried the Sound Blaster AE-9? If yes, how would you compare the two?
The bass is noticably better on the Bifrost 2/64 over the modius that I had previously. There is more detail in the Bass and it seems to extend deeper more punch. I noticed with the Bifrost 2/64 I can hear reflections in a room and details in voices or strings plucking on a guitar. The sound is presented in a different way that sounds more real. I have not heard a Sound Blaster AE-9 but i will assume it's another delta sigma dac using either AKM or ESS. The Schiit Bifrost is propriarty design. It's Schiit's True multibit which is their version of a R2R DAC. Fully balanced internal design.
 
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