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Hi all,

first time poster here so I hope I’m doing everything correctly!

im new to the scene so trying to get the best bang for back in terms of audio quality. 
 

currently for my PC setup I have a set of edifier r1855db bookshelf speakers paired with a klipsch sw-350 sub. They are currently connected via 3.5mm jack into my PC’s motherboard (b450 tomahawk) which features the Realtek alc892 I believe. 
 

so I’m wondering if the purchase of an external DAC/interface would be a worthwhile purchase? In particular the audioengine d1 has come up for sale secondhand and wondering if I was notice an improvement? 
 

in the future I would like to upgrade to something better eg. LSR305 or Rokit 5’s - as these don’t have a dedicated sub out port would I also have to get an interface? 
 

so my question is - should I invest in a DAC/audioengine d1 and/or can this same device serve as a dual purpose for when I upgrade my speakers?

 

thanks for any advice!

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Welcome to the forum...

 

The built in audio on motherboards are made to a budget. Almost anything else will be better!  A separate audio card or external DAC will certainly improve things.

 

An external DAC will feed any active speaker. If you buy a standard (passive) speaker, you will need to add an amplifier.

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Posted (edited)

thanks for your response snoopy!

 

OK - with that input i might pull the trigger on an audioengine d1 then. ($~100AUD seems ok?)

However, i have heard that in recent years the onboard audio for PC motherboards has been significantly improved. is it still guaranteed that an external DAC will still improve sound quality?

And also, what happens to the subwoofer as there isn't a dedicated sub-out to connect to? 

 

Currently only been looking at active monitors, however i suppose it depends on the cabling required. Are there variants for XLR/TRS that turn into the red/white cables that will feed into the D1?

 

Regards,
Sean

Edited by chewstation
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I'd suggest one of these. Absolutely destroys anything even remotely close to it price wise when it comes to its sound. No digititus with these.

 

USB, coax and optical digital inputs, RCA stereo output and a headphone amp.

 

https://www.ebay.com.au/itm/L1387A-8X-decode-1969-pure-methailles-one-machine-TDA1387-super-TDA1541-/272781906180?_trksid=p2349624.m46890.l49292

Edited by MattyW
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2 hours ago, chewstation said:

However, i have heard that in recent years the onboard audio for PC motherboards has been significantly improved. is it still guaranteed that an external DAC will still improve sound quality?

And also, what happens to the subwoofer as there isn't a dedicated sub-out to connect to? 

There are 3 things which improve the sound quality of a DAC: DAC chip, analogue output stages and power supply.  Yes, they can put a better DAC chip on motherboard, but the analog output stages are still poor. And the power is shared with many noisy components on the PC.

 

Without a sub output, you will need a DSP (Digital Signal Processor) to combine the left and right signals to mono.

2 hours ago, chewstation said:

Currently only been looking at active monitors, however i suppose it depends on the cabling required. Are there variants for XLR/TRS that turn into the red/white cables that will feed into the D1?

 

You can buy cables with XLR on one end and RCA on other or use a converter plug.

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4 minutes ago, Snoopy8 said:

There are 3 things which improve the sound quality of a DAC: DAC chip, analogue output stages and power supply.  Yes, they can put a better DAC chip on motherboard, but the analog output stages are still poor. And the power is shared with many noisy components on the PC.

 

Without a sub output, you will need a DSP (Digital Signal Processor) to combine the left and right signals to mono.

 

You can buy cables with XLR on one end and RCA on other or use a converter plug.

I take it i have no choice but to get a dac now!

 

excellent - the XLR - RCA will then hook up to the RCA on the d1 for plug and play.

 

sorry, back to the sub question. the speakers i currently have have a dedicated sub-out port which is easy to connect with. however, once i upgrade speakers - the ones i have in mind don't offer the same sub-out convenience. how do i go about connecting it all up then? and can i still use the d1 to do this? 

 

cheers

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2 hours ago, chewstation said:

I take it i have no choice but to get a dac now!

There is always a choice to keep what you have! But you can also chase better audio quality forever! 😃  

 

2 hours ago, chewstation said:

sorry, back to the sub question. the speakers i currently have have a dedicated sub-out port which is easy to connect with. however, once i upgrade speakers - the ones i have in mind don't offer the same sub-out convenience. how do i go about connecting it all up then? and can i still use the d1 to do this? 

To push a signal to both main speakers and a sub, you will need a DAC with 2 sets of outputs.

Output1 to main speakers

Output2 to sub with high level input 

Or to DSP (convert to mono) to sub with low level input

 

It is getting more complicated....

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34 minutes ago, Snoopy8 said:

There is always a choice to keep what you have! But you can also chase better audio quality forever! 😃  

 

To push a signal to both main speakers and a sub, you will need a DAC with 2 sets of outputs.

Output1 to main speakers

Output2 to sub with high level input 

Or to DSP (convert to mono) to sub with low level input

 

It is getting more complicated....

in that case, the d1 won't cut it anymore right. so i have to pay attention to the DAC and make sure it's TWO outputs not 1 set of input and 1 set of output? (is that right?) 

what's an example of this type of DAC? as the ones i'm looking at only contain 1 set of outputs max, or 1 input/1output. or are they called interfaces that i should be looking at? IDK

 

and in terms of crossover frequency - this will work correctly i assume?

 

OR. should i be looking at speakers with specific sub-out ports?

 

 

Cheers for the help so far.

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Let's step back for a moment. You are looking for better sound from a PC setup to a pair of active speakers, plus a sub. I assume that budget is limited?

 

The simplest option is to get a separate sound card.  

https://www.xbitlabs.com/best-sound-card/

It is an area that I do not have experience with but I am sure others here can help.

It will sound far better than your motherboard audio. Plug in, load software and away you go. It supports a sub.

 

Getting a entry level DAC may or may not be better than the sound card. You need a DAC with 2 outputs, which drives up the budget e.g.

https://www.smsl-audio.com/portal/news/detail/id/727.html

Alternately you can use a preamp after a DAC which has multiple outputs. Getting complicated and more expensive.  You can chase even higher sound quality if you spend even more.

 

1 hour ago, chewstation said:

and in terms of crossover frequency - this will work correctly i assume?

You set this in the sub that has a high level input

 

Or feed DAC to a DSP and set cross over there to feed sub with low level input.

 

1 hour ago, chewstation said:

OR. should i be looking at speakers with specific sub-out ports?

There are probably more PC speakers with sub out.  Once you go to HIFI speakers, there are less choices.

 

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you might also wait, safe more money and then invest into complete 2.1 desktop system or studio monitors with interface. 

Anyway it's worth to upgrade DAC even to creative. 

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The simplest option is just 2x RCA splitters. Many subs have left and right inputs.

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okay. 

update: i have picked up a secondhand audioengine d1.

 

upon plugin - (could be placebo) but i swear the audio quality of my music has improved. 

Playing the same song over and over again at approximately the same volume i noticed (i am by no means an audiophile or enthusiast in any regard so excuse my terminology)

(with d1): music seemed richer - as if there was more depth to what i was hearing

(onboard audio): hang on - i am hearing the same tones and stuff, am i sure quality has improved?

(back to d1): hang on. i swear this sounds better. 

(back to onboard audio): i am hearing the same notes from the same song at the same time - they wow factor point in time is still there.. but they sound "the same?"

(back to d1): i swear it sounds better with the d1 but i can't describe how.

 

so am i correct in saying that i am noticing an improvement? perhaps its hard to quantify or pinpoint? overall - with the d1 i am leaning towards "yes there is an improvement" and it's not just a placebo effect is it?

i feel as if listening to the song as a whole with the d1 i can say "yes this is good" however doing my A vs B comparison i can't exactly point out how or when the quality improves. 

 

Do i make any sense?

 

Cheers all

 

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9 hours ago, chewstation said:

Do i make any sense?

 

Yes, but it is a great illustration of why testing needs to be done "blind".  Even though you were probably not particularly biased at the start.    I suspect, under a controlled blind test, you would have been unable to consistently pick one from the other.

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10 hours ago, chewstation said:

so am i correct in saying that i am noticing an improvement? perhaps its hard to quantify or pinpoint? overall - with the d1 i am leaning towards "yes there is an improvement" and it's not just a placebo effect is it?

i feel as if listening to the song as a whole with the d1 i can say "yes this is good" however doing my A vs B comparison i can't exactly point out how or when the quality improves. 

All of us have different expectations and experiences.  If you do not hear much difference, you can save a lot of money! 👍  

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Something to think about over time if you upgrade. I evolved thru a few DACS on my PC onto my active speakers, nEar08's, each an improvement. The speakers are mounted at height so a bugger to get to the volume and i dont use variable volume on the PC as that to an extent defeats the purpose of bypassing the audio processing on the PC, leave it fixed if available or flat chat.  In the end i lashed out on a Rotel pre/Dac and I am very happy with it.  I am constantly amazed at the quality of the sound.

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On 08/01/2021 at 4:30 AM, MattyW said:

I'd suggest one of these. Absolutely destroys anything even remotely close to it price wise when it comes to its sound. No digititus with these.

 

USB, coax and optical digital inputs, RCA stereo output and a headphone amp.

 

https://www.ebay.com.au/itm/L1387A-8X-decode-1969-pure-methailles-one-machine-TDA1387-super-TDA1541-/272781906180?_trksid=p2349624.m46890.l49292

 

Hi, as I have no funds to buy my desired TDA1541 tube DAC, I would like to try one of these TDA1387. Is there a similar quality DAC that already has an integrated LPS?  I currently do not have an available quality power supply....

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No, unfortunately you'd need to source one. You can get external linear power supplies on Aliexpress using Talema transformers. I'd suggest one of those though you could always get the DAC and upgrade later.  :)

 

Just keep in mind though,  while these are amazing for the cost,  they will not compete with a well implemented Phillips TDA1541A DAC. That said I've heard poorly implemented TDA1541A DAC's as well that these outperform handily. Just letting you know to temper your expectations. TDA1541 is a better chip, but implementation is king.

Edited by MattyW
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1 hour ago, MattyW said:

No, unfortunately you'd need to source one. You can get external linear power supplies on Aliexpress using Talema transformers. I'd suggest one of those though you could always get the DAC and upgrade later.  :)

 

Just keep in mind though,  while these are amazing for the cost,  they will not compete with a well implemented Phillips TDA1541A DAC. That said I've heard poorly implemented TDA1541A DAC's as well that these outperform handily. Just letting you know to temper your expectations. TDA1541 is a better chip, but implementation is king.

Thanks for the feedback. Will hold for now then. Speaking of TDA1541a, you had the Muji and upgraded to the Abbas. Have you heard the MHDT Orchid which is in the middle between these two price wise? 

Edited by al2813
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5 hours ago, al2813 said:

Thanks for the feedback. Will hold for now then. Speaking of TDA1541a, you had the Muji and upgraded to the Abbas. Have you heard the MHDT Orchid which is in the middle between these two price wise? 

No, I've not heard that unfortunately 

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If your active speakers have a digital in, you don't need an external DAC. Active speakers with both analogue and digital inputs just redigitise the analogue input so you end up going through an extra digital to analogue and then analogue to digital step for nothing.

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Hi all,

 

checking in again about my d1 dac. 
 

I previously used edifiers (r1855db) and found it to be a bit hit or miss whether I could notice an improvement. I was leaning towards yes. 
 

I have recently changed speakers to the klipsch r-51m and oh boy I swear there is a world of difference now. I was contemplating selling the d1 and just go onboard to save some cash but after trialing onboard audio again.. I don’t think I can sell it!

 

or possibly sell it and buy something better? Recommendations?

 

cheers 

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1 minute ago, chewstation said:

Hi all,

 

checking in again about my d1 dac. 
 

I previously used edifiers (r1855db) and found it to be a bit hit or miss whether I could notice an improvement. I was leaning towards yes. 
 

I have recently changed speakers to the klipsch r-51m and oh boy I swear there is a world of difference now. I was contemplating selling the d1 and just go onboard to save some cash but after trialing onboard audio again.. I don’t think I can sell it!

 

or possibly sell it and buy something better? Recommendations?

 

cheers 

 

Try considering it this way.  Yes, the better the rest of the system, the more you might benefit from an upgrade, BUT -  how good is the sound you currently are hearing.  If it is really enjoyable, maybe the money would be better spent elsewhere - maybe a better whiskey, or wine, or holiday?

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4 minutes ago, aussievintage said:

 

Try considering it this way.  Yes, the better the rest of the system, the more you might benefit from an upgrade, BUT -  how good is the sound you currently are hearing.  If it is really enjoyable, maybe the money would be better spent elsewhere - maybe a better whiskey, or wine, or holiday?

Ahh.. fair point my good man. 

the reason I raise this is because if I sold my d1, I’d surely be looking to replace it!

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