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  • JFS
  • [*]
Need advice on usb sound adapter for computer
I am looking for a usb audio adapter for my computer.
Computer: cpu: intel i3-7100;  motherboard: Asus prime b250-plus
Using Linux

The onboard sound doesn't work well. Probably a driver issue. I would like to add a usb audio adapter; something I can use with stereo. Like to use it for stereo headphones and to connect to a stereo amplifier. Would like something with good sound, hopefully under $80 US, but will consider others.

I am not familiar with specifications. Would appreciate some direction of what I should look for in this area. Any suggestions welcome.

Thanks,

Joe

Re: Need advice on usb sound adapter for computer
Reply #1
The onboard sound doesn't work well.
It would be interesting knowing what happens exactly, along with the distro/version you're using.
Listen to the music, not the media.

  • john33
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  • Developer
Re: Need advice on usb sound adapter for computer
Reply #2
Have a look at the HiFiMe offerings. I use the 9018 with the base power isolator and I'm more than happy with the quality of the output. Not sure on price in the US, might be on the edge of your limit. :)
John
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My compiles and utilities are at http://www.rarewares.org/

  • DVDdoug
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Re: Need advice on usb sound adapter for computer
Reply #3
I've got one of these.   I assume it works with Linux drivers...    Most regular "USB soundcards" work with Microsoft-supplied (and Apple-supplied) drivers so the standard Linux drivers should also work.

I mostly just use it for "troubleshooting" but I've got no complaints with its (playback) sound quality.   

Re: Need advice on usb sound adapter for computer
Reply #4
I have several cheapo USB 'sound dongles' from Amazon, even though I use a Soundblaster X7 on my desktop and a FiiO E10K on my mac, I find that the mic inputs on these cheap USB things to be better than anything else.

The sound output is also just as good, if not better than onboard as well.

This is a very popular choice:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Sabrent-External-Adapter-Windows-AU-MMSA/dp/B00IRVQ0F8/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1510398682&sr=8-3&keywords=usb+sound&dpID=51QY728wxCL&preST=_SY300_QL70_&dpSrc=srch


  • Melomane
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Re: Need advice on usb sound adapter for computer
Reply #5
Behringer U-Control UCA202

work perfect on linux, plug and play.
29€
  • Last Edit: 11 November, 2017, 10:52:57 AM by Melomane
Music is my first love.

  • DVDdoug
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Re: Need advice on usb sound adapter for computer
Reply #6
Quote
I find that the mic inputs on these cheap USB things to be better than anything else.
We weren't talking about recording, but NO!     Good quality (studio/stage) microphones require an audio interface (or mixer, etc.) with a proper mic preamp with balanced low impedance XLR inputs.     Studio condenser mics require 48V phantom power.

Re: Need advice on usb sound adapter for computer
Reply #7
Quote
I find that the mic inputs on these cheap USB things to be better than anything else.
We weren't talking about recording, but NO!     Good quality (studio/stage) microphones require an audio interface (or mixer, etc.) with a proper mic preamp with balanced low impedance XLR inputs.     Studio condenser mics require 48V phantom power.

I wasn't comparing 3.5mm pc mic inputs to professional interfaces. I should say that I used to have a large home recording studio and am familar with various high end Thunderbolt and USB interfaces from the likes of Focusrite, Presonus and UA. Also used to have a large collection of mics consisting of ribbon, condensor and dynamic mics.

But anyway thats besides the point...

I was simply trying to express how good my recommendation was based on my own experiences. No need to go jumping down my throat :-)

  • mmrkaic
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Re: Need advice on usb sound adapter for computer
Reply #8
Behringer U-Control UCA202

work perfect on linux, plug and play.
29€

My thoughts exactly. I have used one for a few years. Even use it as an adapter for ARTA.

  • JFS
  • [*]
Re: Need advice on usb sound adapter for computer
Reply #9
Sorry I didn't get back sooner. I thought I had it set for email notifications.

For Linux I am using Bunsenlabs it is based on Debian Jessie.
The sound quality is poor: I have to have the volume 100% and then it is not always enough. Detail is not that good.

I have been researching. Still not completely understanding the difference between a sound card and a Dac. From what I understand a sound card can alter the sound and add effects. Will a dac give better sound for music (reproduce music as recorded; would this be better for stereo music. Not concerned about surround sound)? Some say it is better because outside the computer. I will need either a dac and amp or a combo.

In searching the NET I see a lot of difference in price; some quite expensive. Is there a big difference in performance between budget and more expensive? They convert audio from digital to analogue. Is this complecated? How much does a person need to spend to get a decent one? I like the idea of plug and play. It should make things easier not having to worry about drivers.

Thanks for the suggestions

Joe

  • saratoga
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Re: Need advice on usb sound adapter for computer
Reply #10
>Still not completely understanding the difference between a sound card and a Dac.

Same thing, although technically USB devices aren't "cards".

>In searching the NET I see a lot of difference in price; some quite expensive. Is there a big difference in performance between budget and more expensive?

Price is largely uncorrelated with quality.

>How much does a person need to spend to get a decent one?

If you're going to use an external amp, very little. Not sure I'd trust the $8 ones on Amazon, but I wouldn't spend  that much more just to get a line out.

  • finphil
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Re: Need advice on usb sound adapter for computer
Reply #11
Alternatively, and with full respect to the replies you have received on here:

Having used Bunsenlabs and its predecessor in the past I know that there are also many friendly people over on their forum, who might be able to help you resolve the driver issue, before you spend money on more hardware - have you considered seeking help there?

  • JFS
  • [*]
Re: Need advice on usb sound adapter for computer
Reply #12
I posted at Bunsenlabs and didn't find an answer. They think the hardware in my computer is too new. I will have to wait for better drivers in the future hopefully. I thought I would look for an alternative and that was why I am looking for a usb dac/amp. I thought that would be a good alternative. I plan on getting a decent set of headphones and amp/speakers soon and so thougth that would give good sound. I'm not sure what headphones I will be getting. Looking at Grado or Senheiser. Will do some more researching. I have listened to the Grado sr60, but not on a good system.

Basically I want something simple, but good sound. Stereo sound. A headphone out and a line out. I assume the headphone out can hook to RCA connections on an amp with an adapter.

I also read an article that there was emi (electromagnetic interference when connecting to a usb. Has this been a problem for anyone or is this only on high-end equipment?

I want to get decent sound, but not spend too much. So was wondering how much is needed.


Re: Need advice on usb sound adapter for computer
Reply #13
Thread over at diyaudio.com. Double-blind comparison $20 sound card vs $3000. None of the panel could hear any difference.

  • mmrkaic
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Re: Need advice on usb sound adapter for computer
Reply #14
>Still not completely understanding the difference between a sound card and a Dac.

Same thing, although technically USB devices aren't "cards".


Not exactly. Some sound "cards" have both DACs and ADCs. For example, Berhringer UC202 has both. Similarly some Focusrite products etc.

  • saratoga
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Re: Need advice on usb sound adapter for computer
Reply #15
Quote
>Still not completely understanding the difference between a sound card and a Dac.

Same thing, although technically USB devices aren't "cards".


Not exactly. Some sound "cards" have both DACs and ADCs. For example, Berhringer UC202 has both. Similarly some Focusrite products etc.


The Berhringer UC202 isn't a sound card, it's a USB DAC. It includes both adc and DAC functions (they're commonly integrated into the same chip), just like most sound cards.

"DAC" is just short hand for sound device in modern audiophile terminology. There is no actual difference.
  • Last Edit: 15 November, 2017, 12:39:47 PM by saratoga

  • 4season
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Re: Need advice on usb sound adapter for computer
Reply #16
For headphone amps, output impedance is an important spec: The closer to 0, the better. Here's a review plus a mod which greatly improves UCA202 for headphone use:

http://nwavguy.blogspot.com/search?q=behringer

I was able to perform the mod without altering the case, and the cost in parts was still just a few $ but said devices are pretty small.

  • bennetng
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Re: Need advice on usb sound adapter for computer
Reply #17
"DAC" is just short hand for sound device in modern audiophile terminology. There is no actual difference.
In the past I would say PCI, USB, firewire or similar which are supposed to be used with a computer as "computer audio interface". On the other hand things with traditional SPDIF or AES input as "standalone audio DAC".

However nowadays almost everything has USB and can be used with or without a computer, but then there will be another debate about the definition of a "computer".

  • mmrkaic
  • [*]
Re: Need advice on usb sound adapter for computer
Reply #18
Quote
>Still not completely understanding the difference between a sound card and a Dac.

Same thing, although technically USB devices aren't "cards".


Not exactly. Some sound "cards" have both DACs and ADCs. For example, Berhringer UC202 has both. Similarly some Focusrite products etc.


The Berhringer UC202 isn't a sound card, it's a USB DAC. It includes both adc and DAC functions (they're commonly integrated into the same chip), just like most sound cards.

"DAC" is just short hand for sound device in modern audiophile terminology. There is no actual difference.

1. That is why I used quotes.
2. If DAC is just a short hand for a sound device in modern audio terminology, then many have not been informed about this. :))

A DAC is a DAC, an ADC is an ADC and they are very different animals. No need to confuse people and misuse the real engineering terminology.

  • JFS
  • [*]
Re: Need advice on usb sound adapter for computer
Reply #19
For headphone amps, output impedance is an important spec: The closer to 0, the better. Here's a review plus a mod which greatly improves UCA202 for headphone use:

http://nwavguy.blogspot.com/search?q=behringer

I was able to perform the mod without altering the case, and the cost in parts was still just a few $ but said devices are pretty small.

The review of the UCA202 was good. I didn't see a clear guide of how to do the modification. Is there one available? Would this be hard for a novice
I also read the article on impedence.
Why is 0 ohms better? What are most consumer headphones rated at?

The HIFiMe also looks good, and the objective desktop amp:  https://www.head-fi.org/threads/objective-desktop-amp-a-version-from-agdr.719611/ Odac and oda. This looks interesting, but I think more money. Does anyone know where to get this or how hard it is to DIY?



  • 4season
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Re: Need advice on usb sound adapter for computer
Reply #20
Headphone amp output impedance matters because it can adversely affect your frequency response. As delivered by Behringer, the UCA202 has an output impedance of about 50 ohms, which NWAVGUY felt would be fine when used with studio type headphones with 80-600 ohm impedance. But with other types, it could be an issue:

http://nwavguy.blogspot.com/2011/02/headphone-amp-impedance.html

No I would not recommend UCA202 modifications for beginners because the parts are so small.

O2 and ODAC are very nice. A reasonably careful newbie ought to be able to build O2. Don't overlook (readymade) products by Fiio either; they're building some very good stuff.

  • saratoga
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Re: Need advice on usb sound adapter for computer
Reply #21
2. If DAC is just a short hand for a sound device in modern audio terminology, then many have not been informed about this. :))

The terminology is foolish and confusing, but you should still try to understand it before explaining things.  It just makes things worse if you give a confusing or incorrect explanation of a confusing topic.

No need to confuse people and misuse the real engineering terminology.

Welcome to marketing.