Something Interesting Thing I found out about Sound Card

cheez

Golden Member
Nov 19, 2010
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A few days ago I had to replace my sound card in my HTPC because stupid BIOS flash killed my card. I replaced it with exact same model.

It sound a little muffled. Spongy. Lost air and openness. Not as 3-dimensional as before. The dynamic range is decreased. It's a brand new card straight outta the box.

So I have been burning it in.... About 10 hours passed. Starting to sound less bad.

Oh I guess I need to continue burning it in...

I know the DAC's do require break-in. I guess same law applies to the sound card. Essentially, it IS the DAC after all.

Pull out your notebook and jot it down. Something to learn for today.


:D
 

thestrangebrew1

Platinum Member
Dec 7, 2011
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GTK. Does a sound card make a huge difference compared to on-board with recent hardware? I'm not an audiophile by any means, and the last SC I had was about 8 years ago (Soundblaster Platinum Audigy or something like that) and every once in awhile the drivers would wreck havoc on my system so I haven't used one since.
 

cheez

Golden Member
Nov 19, 2010
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GTK. Does a sound card make a huge difference compared to on-board with recent hardware? I'm not an audiophile by any means, and the last SC I had was about 8 years ago (Soundblaster Platinum Audigy or something like that) and every once in awhile the drivers would wreck havoc on my system so I haven't used one since.
Yes I think so. I tried out the SoundMax onboard audio from my motherboard while getting the replacement card ordered. It sounded ghey. Sounde muddy and soundstage was narrow. It lost clarity and transparency, and had roughness / edginess. This is comparing to the Asus Xonar DX7.1 card.

I have owned SoundBlaster SB Live cards for many years, and I still have one. It sounds terrible in comparison to Asus Xonar DX card. The Asus Xonar has very good dynamics and very clear, and is punchy. The SoundBlaster card had a lot of statics too. The Xonar card is whisper quiet.


P.s. YAY YAY I just hit 1000 posts! Nice number.

cheez
 
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cheez

Golden Member
Nov 19, 2010
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About 25 hours passed.

It's starting to sound better and better. :D The dynamics has increased. It is more spacious now and the decay is longer. It's opening up more. Trebles sings like pretty birds happily, crisper and livelier.

Looks like this card needs at least 25 hrs. 40 hours should be more than plenty. Asus Xonar DX is pretty impressive card.

I'm booming baby! SHAKE IT SHAKE IT BABE YO YO WEE WEEE




cheez
 

mindless1

Diamond Member
Aug 11, 2001
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The only thing on a sound card or in a DAC that would "break in" is a restoration of the oxide layer on any electrolytic capacitors present. I suppose that might make it sound different, hadn't really had a chance to do any kind of A/B testing on anything like that situation.

Edit: Just thought of another possible scenario. If you have an old pot (volume, tone and/or balance control for example) with oxidation or residue on the tracks or wiper(s), simply adjusting the volume a few times may cause a little better conduction from the slight abrasion by the pot wipers. [/Edit]

On the other hand, the properties of transistors change as they warm up. In digital land it's still a 0 or a 1 but if talking analog audio, a warm transistor in the analog signal path does sound different than the same one cold.
 
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Zap

Elite Member
Oct 13, 1999
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cheez, why in the world are you using any sound card's DAC? If you care at all about sound quality, you would use SPDIF to an external DAC.
 

cheez

Golden Member
Nov 19, 2010
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cheez, why in the world are you using any sound card's DAC? If you care at all about sound quality, you would use SPDIF to an external DAC.
Because it's more than sufficient / effective.

I do care about SQ, which is why I didn't use SPDIF. SPDIF doesn't automatically mean it gives you better sound. It doesn't work that simply. And SPDIF from motherboard carries too much noise.


cheez
 
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cheez

Golden Member
Nov 19, 2010
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how about USB to USB DAC (Behringer U-Control UCA 200)?

better than the model UCA 202 because the 200 doesn't have any volume adustment knobs.
Thanks for the offer. That is dirt cheap.

But I have already gone through all sorts of external DAC's in the past. Tried ones that cost thousands of dollars to a $170 one, through USB, SPDIF, none of them gave me satisfaction in sound. The sound out of a sound card (Asus Xonar DX card for example) is giving me better sound to me. This is why I'm sticking with sound card...


cheez
 

colonelciller

Senior member
Sep 29, 2012
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ahh, it's not my listing, although I do have that exact item.
I'm happy with them for my computer/workstation... headphone use. :)
 

weez82

Senior member
Jan 6, 2011
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This thread is full of fail. DACs do not need a "break in." That so called "break in" is you getting used to the sound. Nothing more. As far as the difference in sound when swapping to a new card of the same model, is the software setting the same? Nothing in the settings checked that wasnt checked before?

And to ZAP, you cant know if using the SPDIF to an external dac would be better without knowing all the equipment used. And even then it will be very difficult to tell the difference. Just cause its external doesnt make it better
 

mindless1

Diamond Member
Aug 11, 2001
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True, just being external doesn't make it better, but with all else being equal, which of course is impossible but still... external should be better providing it has a good clean power supply instead of some trashy $5 switching wall wart PSU.

On the other hand I'm speaking from a purist perspective. Some people like the modulations caused by dirty power or spatial effects that drivers allow. Some people even like the sound of tube amps. :)
 

cheez

Golden Member
Nov 19, 2010
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This thread is full of fail.
This thread is a full of win.

DACs do not need a "break in.
Yes it does. Check DAC manufacturers.... it's all over the place.

" That so called "break in" is you getting used to the sound. Nothing more.
No it's not getting used to the sound. I was used to the sound before the card died. Replaced it with a brand new card, same model, big difference in sound, in negative ways, as mentioned in my first post.

As far as the difference in sound when swapping to a new card of the same model, is the software setting the same? Nothing in the settings checked that wasnt checked before?
Yes all settings the same.


cheez
 

cheez

Golden Member
Nov 19, 2010
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True, just being external doesn't make it better, but with all else being equal, which of course is impossible but still... external should be better providing it has a good clean power supply instead of some trashy $5 switching wall wart PSU.

On the other hand I'm speaking from a purist perspective. Some people like the modulations caused by dirty power or spatial effects that drivers allow. Some people even like the sound of tube amps. :)
Yes they all provide different sounds.. Going external with higher-end DAC the sound is generally softer and smoother (with a few exceptions) which I don't want. All the ones I have tried had softer sounds.

With a descent sound card, the sound is more open, spacious, and more lively.

I have found that going external is a waste of money. You are better off with just a descent internal sound card and make sure that you get clean power for your PC.


cheez
 

mindless1

Diamond Member
Aug 11, 2001
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^ Depends on the application. It is fairly trivial to add an opamp, or even buffered output gain stage after a DAC if you're direct driving cans. A DAC alone really isn't meant for that.

In the end it's still about what sounds best to you, and that will vary from person to person along with the rest of their gear.

It would be nice if you provided a link to what you consider the most complete manufacturer explanation of what break-in a DAC needs.
 

truckerCLOCK

Senior member
Dec 13, 2011
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This thread is a full of win.

Yes it does. Check DAC manufacturers.... it's all over the place.

No it's not getting used to the sound. I was used to the sound before the card died. Replaced it with a brand new card, same model, big difference in sound, in negative ways, as mentioned in my first post.

Yes all settings the same.


cheez

So while your waiting for your DAC's to break in I got these totally awesome Cable Elevators that will make everything sound more "airy" and more "defined"..........dude if you believe in the hype and snake oil I feel sorry for you.
 

cheez

Golden Member
Nov 19, 2010
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So while your waiting for your DAC's to break in I got these totally awesome Cable Elevators that will make everything sound more "airy" and more "defined"..........dude if you believe in the hype and snake oil I feel sorry for you.
What's cable elevator and snake oil got anything to do with sound card breakin? Stop going off topic, "dude".


;)


cheez
 

ericlp

Diamond Member
Dec 24, 2000
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dunno about burn in time... but the Burr Brown PCM2704 DAC chip sounds pretty good.

I would imagine 20-30 hours should be sufficient to get the best sound out of it. Unlike speakers that require a week of listening before they sound their best.

I'm still trying to burn in my T-amp! It's got about 10K hours on it and it just keeps sounding better and better! :biggrin:
 

mikeford

Diamond Member
Jan 27, 2001
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Xonar makes nice hardware, but never updates drivers or fixes known bugs in them.

Burn in seems just another of the audiophile fantasies based around Ouija board test methods.
 

cheez

Golden Member
Nov 19, 2010
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My GOD! That is almost as funny as cheezs cable thread from way back! Thanks for the chuckle!
You know I am famous..^_^ I've had 4 trolls trolling my youtube video so me and Patrick had to fight back!

dunno about burn in time... but the Burr Brown PCM2704 DAC chip sounds pretty good.

I would imagine 20-30 hours should be sufficient to get the best sound out of it. Unlike speakers that require a week of listening before they sound their best.

I'm still trying to burn in my T-amp! It's got about 10K hours on it and it just keeps sounding better and better! :biggrin:
Thanks for sharing your experiences. Yes burnin DAC's certainly work.

Xonar makes nice hardware, but never updates drivers or fixes known bugs in them.
Yes I love the AV100 sound processor in my card.. This card sound really good.

Burn in seems just another of the audiophile fantasies based around Ouija board test methods.
That is not true. The Xonar DX7.1 card sounded bad / rough right out of the box. It opened up and got silkier after 30+ hours of use. I know this because I have a long term memory with listening. I was using the exact same sound card before it was replaced with another one due to failure.


cheez
 

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