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Replacing USB DAC on Windows 10 desktop

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by brucej4, Jan 14, 2022.

  1. brucej4

    brucej4 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    San Mateo, CA, USA
    For the past couple of years, I've been using my original Schiit Bifrost DAC as my desktop PC sound card, instead of the old Sound Blaster Titanium. The Bifrost became available when the Oppo 205 moved into my main system. It feeds a Magni 3 with HD 600 headphones. This has been a very satisfactory combination, playing mostly high res files through JRiver, which does conversion of DSD files as needed.

    A few days ago, Windows started to have trouble recognizing the Bifrost, so I think that the USB board is failing. I could replace it for $200, but I think that I would be better off with a new device. I'm back to the Sound Blaster, which is worse than I remembered.

    I need to keep the price down on my replacement equipment - definitely under $500, preferably a lot less. This is not critical listening stuff, just part-time entertainment.

    Schiit has multiple options, none of which do DSD, which isn't critical thanks to JRiver. Unfortunately, they have different combinations of features, such as Unison USB, different DAC chips, and Micro USB. I can't see a clear winner. Availability also differs.

    Modi 3+ - $99 (AK4490 chip)
    Modi Multibit - $249 (AD5547 chip, no Unison USB)
    Maximus - $199 (AK4493 chip, Micro USB)

    Anybody have an opinion on which option would be best for my purposes? Or is there another brand that I should be considering? I see a lot of bad feedback on iFi quality, and everything else approaches my price limit. Thanks!
     
  2. brucej4

    brucej4 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    San Mateo, CA, USA
    Well, I think I have a better answer to my own question. For $349, I can get an Asgard 3 with ES9028 DAC card and Unison USB. I already have an Asgard 3 without DAC in my main system, and I like it. This may be the best compromise. Comments?
     
  3. Linton S. Dawson

    Linton S. Dawson Lovely sort of deviant

    Location:
    Moonbeam levels
    You know, there's a useful chart at Audio Science Review that lets you filter hardware based on criteria, including price and features. After narrowing down your choices, you could come back for subjective opinions.
     
  4. tlowe

    tlowe Life Explorer

    Location:
    Singapore
    Have you tried uninstalling and reinstalling the driver or check for any latest driver? Most of the time, it is software related and not hardware. What about checking on the USB cable? Unless, you are looking for an excuse to try a new DAC or hardware which we all do...:laugh:
     
    rodentdog and Kyhl like this.
  5. brucej4

    brucej4 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    San Mateo, CA, USA
    Thanks, but I am not a fan of ASR.
     
  6. brucej4

    brucej4 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    San Mateo, CA, USA
    Driver will not reinstall because the device is not detected. Have tried multiple USB cables and multiple USB ports. Nothing helps.

    Bifrost is 8 years old and Magni has a somewhat noisy volume control, so I have all the excuses that I need...
     
    tlowe likes this.
  7. tlowe

    tlowe Life Explorer

    Location:
    Singapore
    You know....I used to have the very first generation of MS Natural Keyboard that has gone through at least 3-4 upgrades of my main PC system. It is built like a tank and doesnt die. You have no idea how miserable I was back then, stuck with a 10 years old keyboard that never die....until one day, I just gave it to someone for free, so I can get a new keyboard..:biglaugh:
     
    hi_watt likes this.
  8. rodentdog

    rodentdog Forum Resident

    Audio-GD R2R11. I have one as my computer rig and love it. Got it used. Best value in computer audio.
     
  9. brucej4

    brucej4 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    San Mateo, CA, USA
    Apparently no longer made, but I'm not interested in a Chinese-designed product anyway. Thanks.
     
  10. harby

    harby Forum Resident

    Location:
    Portland, OR, USA
    Just what you want, and lose your headphone preamp also to make up for going over budget:

    [​IMG]

    It uses Dante/AES67, PoE if you have a router or injector. Probably the fastest way to get rolling is Dante Virtual Soundcard and better with a second NIC.
     
  11. Ham Sandwich

    Ham Sandwich Forum Resident

    Location:
    Sherwood, OR, USA
    The Rednet/Dante stuff works at a fixed sample rate. It cannot audo-adjust to match the sample rate of the music you're playing. You have to manually adjust the sound card driver to match the music sample rate or implement a resampler that upsamples or downsamples to whatever fixed sample rate the Rednet is set at. If they could get this Rednet stuff to auto-adjust its sample rate on the fly it would be a good audiophile option. But with a fixed sample rate it is only useful in a studio or live concert audio where they work at a fixed sample rate.
     
  12. Ham Sandwich

    Ham Sandwich Forum Resident

    Location:
    Sherwood, OR, USA
    Find a chip based DAC that does both PCM and DSD. All of the current DAC chips support both PCM and DSD. The DSD comes for free in the chip. So take advantage of that. Playing native DSD through a DSD supported DAC sounds better than having JRiver convert DSD to PCM to play through a PCM only DAC. The only reason to have a PCM only DAC in this day and age is because it is a R2R style DAC that can only do PCM or because the DAC implements special custom filters that are optimized for PCM (like the Berkeley Audio Design DACs). Otherwise just find something that does both PCM and DSD and no MQA. There's plenty of choices for those kinds of DACs in the $500 and under category.
     
    Kyhl likes this.
  13. brucej4

    brucej4 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    San Mateo, CA, USA
    I have not come across any such devices. Where are they hiding?
     
  14. chervokas

    chervokas Forum Resident

    I haven't heard these, but but just looking quickly on the net:

    Topping D30
    Cambridge DAC Magic 200
    Pro-Ject DAC Box S2
    SMSL SU-9n

    but if you're not going to consider anything from a Chinese company, your choices are going to narrow. A lot of the stuff is cookbook circuit design per the DAC chip and receiver chip's specs, so it's not like the Country of origin of the design makes that much difference.
     
  15. Ham Sandwich

    Ham Sandwich Forum Resident

    Location:
    Sherwood, OR, USA
    Avoiding Chinese companies will drastically limit your choices at this below $500 price category.

    One option for a US assembled DAC would be Geshelli J2. It does both PCM and DSD. No MQA. It is $300 with the USB input.

    Otherwise you're likely going to have to look at the used market to find a DAC that does both PCM and DSD that isn't Chinese and stay below $500.

    You've got DSD files. I think it would be worth it to get a DAC that supports DSD so you can compare how DSD sounds played natively through a DSD DAC and how DSD sounds converted to PCM by JRiver (or Foobar, or other software).
     
  16. rodentdog

    rodentdog Forum Resident

    Audio-GD R2R11 mk2 in current production. Price has increased.
     
  17. enfield

    enfield Forum Resident

    Location:
    Essex UK
    If you don't need any added amplification (and want a straight in and out DAC.With volume being adjusted via your PC's volume control) then the KOOPAO USB DAC is amazing value..In listening tests the chip has proved to be as good as anything, even DAC's up to 2k in price.Works superbly with Foobar (+Wasapi)
    If this costs under £10,then anything else in the hi-fi world just seems very very expensive.

    https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B08CXHFWS1/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o00_s01?ie=UTF8&th=1
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2022 at 12:45 PM
  18. brucej4

    brucej4 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    San Mateo, CA, USA
    As I originally stated, this is casual listening while using the computer. I am more likely to play the DSD files on my other devices that support DSD, like my Oppo and my Sony HD Walkman. I have never bought used and don't care to start now. Given what I'm reading here, I think that the Asgard is a reasonable choice for me. Thanks for the opinions.
     
  19. brucej4

    brucej4 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    San Mateo, CA, USA
    US importer does not list that model.
     
  20. brucej4

    brucej4 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    San Mateo, CA, USA
    I spoke too soon. I am looking at the Geshelli after all. Thanks for the link.
     
  21. rodentdog

    rodentdog Forum Resident

    It's on Audio-GD's website.
     

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