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Not all PC's sound the same.

Dave A

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My PC story - I had trouble with the built in Soundcard in a 2006 era PC (in 2020, it was my backup basement PC), everything else worked but newer software locked up if it tried to access the soundcard. So I needed to buy a soundcard, I bought a $40 ASUS. Not for the sound quality, mind you, just to avoid lock-ups. Half my audio internet friends told me "all DACs sound the same" and half told me, "If you do not spend $200 (or $500) you'll never hear an improvement. Thus I expected to hear nothing. Wrong! The $40 sound card was noticeably better sonically than the built in maybe $2 DAC chip. This caused me to buy a $99 Schiit Modi external DAC for my TV room PC. We were watching a lot of online concerts in that room. The Modi also made a noticeable improvement. I never A/B'ed the Modi versus the ASUS sound card because the PC's are in different rooms on different floors with different speakers. I never did any blind testing. I've worked in Quality in industry and done a lot of statistics. I respect math and I understand bias, but I refuse to do blind testing of a $40 or even a $100 DAC. With the $40 sound card my bias was against hearing any difference, but I heard it.


I've never compared a $100 DAC against $200, $500, $Multi-thousand DACs, I am curious but not with my money. I am am a believer that any aftermarket DAC could beat whatever DAC is built into a mass production lower cost PC. I'm not claiming they all will, but I am sure some, probably most, do beat the OEM on-mother-board chip. Remember - the guy who is making a million PC's per year can save a million dollars for every dollar removed from the DAC chip cost! That free-to-you sound chip is probably a $2 or $3 item.

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On 10/8/2021 at 9:51 AM, grendel23 said:

I have a Topping DX7s. Excellent unit, top notch for the money.

I had one of those before I bought the DX7 PRO and can comment that both of them are killer units for the money. You would have to spend quite a bit more even used to get a large step up in performance IMO. Gustard makes some great units as well, but from memory, they cost a little more. 

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