Audio Interface or DAC (Help)

Discussion in 'Soundgear' started by globalpeace, Jan 27, 2019.

  1. globalpeace

    globalpeace Noisemaker

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    Hi! I've purchased a customized laptop from Clevo, which has ESS SABRE HiFi DAC and Burr Brown Converters inside it. I've compared the audio quality of my laptop with Babyface Pro and Crane Song Solaris and couldn't see much difference with Babyface Pro but a lot with Crane Song Solaris. Both the interfaces were used only for testing.

    I'm looking forward to buy monitors and confused whether to buy an audio interface or a dedicated DAC to connect my monitors and FYI I don't record anything. Since my laptop already has a decent DAC, is there any other option to connect my monitors with my laptop?

    Thanks!
     
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  3. eli will

    eli will Noisemaker

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    "Just for listening" you can get a rinky dink 2 channel mixer so you can hook your monitors up
    to that. feed the output of your laptop to an input of your mixer.
     
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  4. johndoehizzle

    johndoehizzle Kapellmeister

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    i've never really understood the difference between audio interface/ sound card and DAC. if you're looking to produce i always say get an audio interface/ sound card . theyre made for that purpose. never really got why anyone would get a "high" end internal sound card. kinda limits you to certain things and cause the computer/ system to heat up/overheat.

    unless you're looking to travel with it (obviously since its a laptop) then YES an internal would be better i guess. then again although laptops can be powerful machines, desktops are suitable for music production/ video editing ,etc. laptops are prone to overheat since everything is crammed into a small unit.

    just my two cents,
     
  5. G String

    G String Rock Star

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    When you say you don't record anything, do you mean you nevertheless use DAW?

    What outputs do you have from laptop (ie from the built-in stuff)?

    Surely cheaper and wiser to forget an audio interface if you don't record anything or use DAW? And likely you have analogue audio connectors from laptop.......so just connect audio cables from Laptop to amp/monitors?

    But if you want to use a DAW, then that will need to work (well) with whatever an ESS SABRE HiFi DAC is. If it doesn't, you'll need something else, such as an audio interface. Does the SABRE have ASIO and drivers? Does it work with your DAW?
     
  6. globalpeace

    globalpeace Noisemaker

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    I use a DAW but I don't want to record anything for now.

    My laptop has Firewire, Thunderbolt 3, USB 3.1 ,
    • S/PDIF Digital Output
    • 1 x Line-Out Jack
    • 1 x Line-In Jack
    I just want my studio monitors to utilize my on-board sound card. Is that possible?
     
  7. relexted

    relexted Kapellmeister

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  8. SineWave

    SineWave Audiosexual

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    Well, if you so want to use onboard laptop audio card, then just buy a proper mini-jack to two mono-jack cable, depending on what monitors you're going to buy. Monitors usually have XLR [+4dB balanced] and Jack [line -10dB unbalanced] inputs. When you're using line output like your card has, you can't utilise the cleaner and better XLR balanced inputs on the monitors.

    If you want to use XLR inputs on the monitors, you will have to buy something like this [~180 euro]. Line inputs will have more hum and noise because unbalanced cables are prone to picking up RFI easily, and you have to buy good quality cables, and keep them as short as possible. Up to about 1-1.5m most of the cables will do just fine. :wink:

    Cheers!
     
  9. dbmuzik

    dbmuzik Platinum Record

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    You don't have to do anything major to connect your laptop to monitors. You just need a Y cable if that's all you want to do. And the cost is cheap. Here's a 3.5mm stereo out to dual XLR cable: https://www.amazon.com/SiYear-Unbal...&sr=1-31-spons&keywords=1/8+to+dual+xlr&psc=1

    You can also search for 3.5mm to dual TRS (balanced), or to whatever inputs are on the back of your monitors. There are even Y cables for old RCA inputs for that matter. And if for any reason you don't want to go cheap with the cable you buy.. the Mogami brand has the cable you need as well, but for 5x the cost of the SiYear brand I posted the link to.
     
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  10. tzzsmk

    tzzsmk Rock Star

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    depends what you really seek for,
    let's assume you want serious at least 2-way active monitors with balanced analog XLR inputs (digital AES input monitors are entirely different story),

    then you should FORGET about any adapter cable shittery and at least get some passive DI box such as Palmer PLI 04 (also then you can get cheapy cables and it won't really matter much),

    if you want some analog hardware control for "volume", forget about cheapy-ass monitor controllers, quality degradation is severe,
    something like SPL SMC 2489 would cost too much for what you'd need,

    dedicated DAC is kinda fancy thingy, for ex. RME ADI-2 DAC features remote control (probably very neat for some people), DSD support and up to 768kHz (lol no idea why anyone would need that), also Class Compliant USB compatibility means you would never ever have to trouble yourself with drivers for whatever computer/tablet/phone you decide to plug in (assuming you would not plug in small jack of your laptop which also would work),

    for the price you can get audio interface like RME Babyface Pro though, which would be overall MUCH better choice for DAW use (DSP-powered TotalMix FX is the stuff once you go for you can't really go back or get anything else),


    as you mentioned not noticing any difference in DA conversion and line output signal, let's be honest here, most interfaces are literally same in line output quality, and if you play some mediocre source, it will affect sound way more than entire signal chain (except monitors and room environment of course)

    my two cents :chilling:
     
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  11. G String

    G String Rock Star

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    I just realised ESS Sabre32 9018 chip is in Audiolab M-DAC.

    I use DAW (FLStudio) with the Audiolab, using USB. From the Audiolab DAC I simply use RCA cables to connect to a regular consumer 'Hi-Fi' amp.

    Sounds better than my Focusrite 2i2 (for which the DAC chips cost $10 wholesale, IIRC).

    Assuming you are using a regular amplifier, just get a 3.5mm male jack to stereo female RCA converter/splitter and connect to the amplifier. Sorted!
     
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