[linux-audio-user] External DAC for mastering use?

Mark Knecht mknecht at controlnet.com
Thu Mar 18 09:49:03 EST 2004

Daniel James wrote:
> Hello all,
> I'm setting up a system to use for mastering stereo output with Jamin 
> (I have a lot to learn...)
> Has anyone tried using a motherboard S/PDIF output with an external 
> DAC designed for hi-fi use, such as a Musical Fidelity unit?
> I'm guessing that the analogue hardware would be much better than you 
> find on a typical PCI card, but the limitations would be that the 
> system would have no analogue input, and would probably be limited to 
> 44.1/16 bit, since these units were designed for CD players.
> Any thoughts?
> Cheers
> Daniel

I think Steve's observation about clock quality is protentially very 
important. there can be more jitter in less expensive units, such as PC 
s/pdif implementations. That said, nothing stops you from hooking up 
your D/A that way today and then going to a better s/pdif environment 
later should you decide to.

I will also point out that you would not, I think, be able to hear the 
direct effects of your choice of dither in this setup. All audio you 
send to this unit would have to be dithered so all you could do would be 
make a comparitive judgement. While that might suit your needs, it's not 
optimum and as far as mastering goes really a pretty big limitation 
depending on the source material you might be working with.

Over the top of all of these points, I think you want to be pretty 
careful choosing your D/A. They do sound different.

Good luck and good listening.

- Mark

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