Connecting active speakers to a pc

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12,863
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Rich
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Hoping one or two people on here can help out with my quandry
I want to know the best way in terms of sound quality to connect speakers to my pc

Speakers have RCA, 3.5mm and TOSLINK inputs (no usb)
PC only has 3.5mm audio output, does have spare USB, but HDMI is used for a monitor

Would a new sound card with TOSLINK be the best bet or is there a better method
Speakers have a DAC built in so would prefer not to go down that route

Any help will be greatly appreciated

Thanks
Rich
 
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It really depends on what monitors you have .... if your monitors are very high quality and your ear is good enough then there can be arguments to having a separate DAC -> so toslink from computer to dac then phono to speakers.

The advantage to running toslink - and there’s a chance you won’t notice the DAC in the monitors is that there won’t be any interference in the signal.

What are you using the monitors for?
 
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Bob
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Which speakers are you using?
And what will you be listening to?
Will you be recording or mixing etc?
 
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Bazza
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I installed a Xonar DX sound card and use 2 Creative inspire T10 speakers Good tone fit nicely on desk and have a port for headphones and done for AUX in.
to give some idea, you can set for room-hall or many others


I know nothing about speakers but my son says these are very good he knows about them and also bought the same
View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cD61oxmq4qs
 
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Would a new sound card with TOSLINK be the best bet or is there a better method
Speakers have a DAC built in so would prefer not to go down that route
If you want to use the speaker's DAC, isn't a sound card with optical out exactly what you do want? I used to use one of these in the Minidisc days to avoid an analogue conversion when recording. You can find these outputs on PCI cards or external USB sound cards.

Otherwise, there are dedicated USB to optical converters like this:

 
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tijuana taxi
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12,863
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If you want to use the speaker's DAC, isn't a sound card with optical out exactly what you do want? I used to use one of these in the Minidisc days to avoid an analogue conversion when recording.

Otherwise, there are USB to optical converters like this:

Sorry, I phrased that badly, meant not buying a dac so I could use usb to the pc and then toslink from dac to speaker.
So do you reckon a sound card is the way to go, speaking like I know what I'm doing.
Is it a straight replacement and thanks for replying
Currently using the 3.5mm connection both ends, but guessing its not the best way
 
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If you want to use the speaker's DAC, isn't a sound card with optical out exactly what you do want?
Yes it is.
Depends on quality of speakers and intended use whether its worth getting a new sound card or even an audio interface.
If they're just basic speakers, 3.5mm to 3.5mm or
3.5mm to 2xRCA cable may be adequate.
 
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tijuana taxi
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12,863
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Rich
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Yes it is.
Depends on quality of speakers and intended use whether its worth getting a new sound card or even an audio interface.
If they're just basic speakers, 3.5mm to 3.5mm or
3.5mm to 2xRCA cable may be adequate.
They are like these https://homeavdirect.co.uk/kanto-audio-yu6-powered-speakers-matte-black.
Got the sub woofer too, sound is good, but think it can be improved upon
Handy because they have a built in pre amp and can plug my old Project turntable straight in
 
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They are like these https://homeavdirect.co.uk/kanto-audio-yu6-powered-speakers-matte-black.
Got the sub woofer too, sound is good, but think it can be improved upon
The way its connected just now means you're bypassing the speakers dac.
They're good enough quality to use a separate dac, but you'd still need a soundcard with optical (toslink) out for that.
I'd get a new soundcard with optical out first and connect using a toslink cable.
If you want to improve it further in the future, you could get an external dac, then run optical from pc to dac, and rca from dac to speakers.
 
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tijuana taxi
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12,863
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Rich
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It really depends on what monitors you have .... if your monitors are very high quality and your ear is good enough then there can be arguments to having a separate DAC -> so toslink from computer to dac then phono to speakers.

The advantage to running toslink - and there’s a chance you won’t notice the DAC in the monitors is that there won’t be any interference in the signal.

What are you using the monitors for?
Just music, mainly heavy rock and metal also watching the odd video every now and then
Does your pc have a spare pci slot?
I believe it does, pci-e sound right to you?
I installed a Xonar DX sound card and use 2 Creative inspire T10 speakers Good tone fit nicely on desk and have a port for headphones and done for AUX in.
to give some idea, you can set for room-hall or many others


I know nothing about speakers but my son says these are very good he knows about them and also bought the same
View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cD61oxmq4qs
Happy with the speakers, just need to sort out a better connection (I think)
 
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tijuana taxi
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12,863
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Rich
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The way its connected just now means you're bypassing the speakers dac.
They're good enough quality to use a separate dac, but you'd still need a soundcard with optical (toslink) out for that.
I'd get a new soundcard with optical out first and connect using a toslink cable.
If you want to improve it further in the future, you could get an external dac, then run optical from pc to dac, and rca from dac to speakers.
Got it, thanks
Would a seperate dac be better than the inbuilt one in the speaker then?
Also is it just plug and play putting a new soundcard in, not messed about with computers much
Changed the ram and put a new dvd drive in, but that's about it
 
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Got it, thanks
Would a seperate dac be better than the inbuilt one in the speaker then?
Also is it just plug and play putting a new soundcard in, not messed about with computers much
Changed the ram and put a new dvd drive in, but that's about it
You can get an external soundcard.
A seperate dac would likely be better, yes.
Which audio source are you using? ITunes, Spotify? Cd?
 
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tijuana taxi
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Rich
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You can get an external soundcard.
A seperate dac would likely be better, yes.
Which audio source are you using? ITunes, Spotify? Cd?
Thanks again, quite fancy putting a hardwired soundcard in, already got enough leads about.

WMP with best quality mp3 ripped from CD's
 
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I believe it does, pci-e sound right
Yes it does, I didn’t do much looking at alternatives, but I’d just chuck in a card like this for now. Very easy to do.

 
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Redsnappa
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I love how this has become a DAC v Sound card thread
Don't you guys realise DAC & soundcard are exactly same, all sound card are Digital to Audio Convertors.
The main difference between DAC & soundcard is that the marketing men realised if they call sound cards a DAC they make more money.
 
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I love how this has become a DAC v Sound card thread
It hasn't.
All soundcards are dacs, but all dacs are not soundcards. Soundcards are generally built in to the pc. A seperate audiophile dac will likely have better audio quality than a built in Pc soundcard. :)
 
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3,269
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I love how this has become a DAC v Sound card thread
Don't you guys realise DAC & soundcard are exactly same, all sound card are Digital to Audio Convertors.
The main difference between DAC & soundcard is that the marketing men realised if they call sound cards a DAC they make more money.
Well, the DAC in the speaker is very probably better than the one in an average soundcard, so the point is to bypass the soundcard's DAC altogether by using its optical output. A dedicated DAC might be better again, but you may then be paying for diminishing returns.
 
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tijuana taxi
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12,863
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Rich
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If you want better quality, I find FLAC files to be much better than mp3.
I have heard about them, not sure what they are though.
Might have to make some enquiries, so thanks for mentioning it.
 
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I have heard about them, not sure what they are though.
Might have to make some enquiries, so thanks for mentioning it.
Well worth the research. I am no expert, but as I understand, is it a lossless format that is smaller than an uncompressed CD file but larger than mp 3 file. The benefit is better dynamic range hence improved sound quality. I tend to use my FLAC files in the car via an SD card as the car sound system can read these files. My pc speakers are quite poor, so if I play FLAC files at home, I use an old netbook connected to my hifi via a cheap dac.

You will need software to convert to FLAC but decent free software is available.
 
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Throwing into the mix..

My PC is in the front room, kids use it as the movie machine..

Any room for an amp in your setup..?

My PC is HDMI to a Denon 2311, HDMI to the TV. Full speaker and sub setup for all the movies and gaming I do.
 
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Dave
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I was going to say, but Retune already has it covered, go with which ever route uses the best DAC. If you haven't already got a dedicated sound card, external DAC or at least an audio orientated mobo then it is likely that the DAC in your speakers will be superior.

But I am not sure of anyway to add an optical output to your PC without going for a whole new soundcard, which isn't cheap and seems a waste of money to effectively bypass the DAC in the new soundcard just to use it's optical output. You may even find that the new soundcard has a better DAC than your speakers in which case you would be better off using the analogue outputs.

So with all that in mind, I would just use the RCA outputs that you already have and see how you get on.

Then try ripping an album to FLAC and compare it to the mp3 version so see if you can hear the difference. Pain in the backside re-ripping all your music though!
 
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tijuana taxi
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12,863
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Rich
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So with all that in mind, I would just use the RCA outputs that you already have and see how you get on.
Problem being I don't have any RCA outputs, just the 3.5mm audio jack on the pc

I think the DAC in the speakers is quite decent, but whatever happens with the new set up it should be better than the integrated Realtec (I hope)
Soundcard purchased along with Toslink cable, hopefully get it installed today and see what happens

Once I get it all going definitely going to try the FLAC files, sounds like mp3 is the audio equivalent of jpegs
 
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Problem being I don't have any RCA outputs, just the 3.5mm audio jack on the pc

I think the DAC in the speakers is quite decent, but whatever happens with the new set up it should be better than the integrated Realtec (I hope)
Soundcard purchased along with Toslink cable, hopefully get it installed today and see what happens

Once I get it all going definitely going to try the FLAC files, sounds like mp3 is the audio equivalent of jpegs
Cool, if you are getting a new soundcard anyway you can always try both options. (y)
 
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Before re-ripping all your CDs to FLAC, see if you can really tell the difference in a blind test with your new setup:


or

 
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Dave
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Before re-ripping all your CDs to FLAC, see if you can really tell the difference in a blind test with your new setup:


or

Thanks for sharing. Turns out I can no longer tell the difference, which is really disappointing!
 

AZ6

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I love how this has become a DAC v Sound card thread
Don't you guys realise DAC & soundcard are exactly same, all sound card are Digital to Audio Convertors.
The main difference between DAC & soundcard is that the marketing men realised if they call sound cards a DAC they make more money.
So surely the answer here, is to buy loads of NAIM/Castle gear; about £50k should do it, right? :LOL:

Ok so; getting a bit more serious; basically, if you just want to enjoy tunes from a computer, to a set of active speakers, then a Toslink cable from the optical out of your sound card, will be more than adequate. Tbh, so would a standard analogue lead, probably. Unless you have a dedicated listening room, with decent acoustics, and a proper nice set up, stuff like a decent external DAC (as opposed to one that's basically the same as in your computer really) is an utter waste of money, especially if you're over 20, and definitely if you're over 30, as our hearing deteriorates quite significantly, after that point. And besides all that; the real trick is to get a set up that suits YOU, as we all hear differently. It's all utterly subjective. This can be achieved for very little, or an absolute fortune, depending on your own particular tastes. And besides all that; do you want to listen to the music, or the sound?
 
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Jonathan
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Coming to this a bit late but it's worth checking the mobo manual to see if there's an internal S/PDIF header. If there is, you'd only need a cheap cable and back panel to get the optical connection you want.

FWIW I've had a pair of Edirol/Roland MA-15D active 'micro monitors' on my desk for around a decade and the one thing mentioned in the reviews was that they sound better through the digital interfaces than the 3.5mm jack. As a result, I tend to pick mobos that have an S/PDIF output.
 
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tijuana taxi
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12,863
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Rich
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Coming to this a bit late but it's worth checking the mobo manual to see if there's an internal S/PDIF header. If there is, you'd only need a cheap cable and back panel to get the optical connection you want.

FWIW I've had a pair of Edirol/Roland MA-15D active 'micro monitors' on my desk for around a decade and the one thing mentioned in the reviews was that they sound better through the digital interfaces than the 3.5mm jack. As a result, I tend to pick mobos that have an S/PDIF output.
Thanks for the reply, I'm learning more all the time.
Just checked and no it doesn't have a S/PDIF connection, new soundcard is in and working now.
 
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tijuana taxi
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Rich
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Cool, if you are getting a new soundcard anyway you can always try both options. (y)
Another dumb question, how do I know whether i'm using the DAC on the card or in the speaker?
When I go in to settings it says playback device is either SPDIF Out or Speakers, both show the new soundcard details in brackets
Thanks
 
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Dave
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Another dumb question, how do I know whether i'm using the DAC on the card or in the speaker?
When I go in to settings it says playback device is either SPDIF Out or Speakers, both show the new soundcard details in brackets
Thanks
If you are using the toslink cable, then that is a digital signal so will be converted to analogue by the DAC in your speakers.
If you use the rca or 3.5mm jack outputs from your soundcard, then these carry analogue signals, so the DAC in the soundcard will have been used.
 
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tijuana taxi
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12,863
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Rich
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If you are using the toslink cable, then that is a digital signal so will be converted to analogue by the DAC in your speakers.
If you use the rca or 3.5mm jack outputs from your soundcard, then these carry analogue signals, so the DAC in the soundcard will have been used.
Thanks, so what is SPDIF that shows in the playback device list?
When I click on that the speakers still play, but have a very different sound
 
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