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Topic: Recommendations For A Cheap External USB Soundcard? (Read 583 times) previous topic - next topic
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Recommendations For A Cheap External USB Soundcard?

I'm looking for a dirty cheap usb soundcard or dac&amp that will suffice these requirements:

at least 1 Vrms output.
output impedance of less than 10 Ohm.
Not noticeable hiss.

Basically my computers integrated soundcard doesn't have enough power to drive my headphones, and they are all easy to drive (Tascam TH02, Koss KSC75 and UR20, and superlux 668B which are a bit harder to drive).

At the price point I'm looking at (less than 20$) the products are usually:

Some decent card with headphone driver IC that has a integrated voltage inverter for the negative rail, and some decent power output) (Maxim Integrated makes several of those).

Or some crap using a opamp with extremely small coupling capacitors and a high output impedance. (I'm avoiding this).

Re: Recommendations For A Cheap External USB Soundcard?

Reply #1
Decent DAC for $20? No...
The cheapest DAC I can recommend is HiFimeDIY UAE23 for $30.
You can find it here: https://hifimediy.com/product/sabre-dac-uae23/
I bought one for my laptop because built in sound card is, well, shit.
It also has optical output. I bought 3.5mm to Toslink adapter from eBay and it works good.
Everything above 16/44 is scam.
Always download first release, never remastered/HD release.


Re: Recommendations For A Cheap External USB Soundcard?

Reply #3
Apple's USB-C soundcard, maybe? (no volume pot, though) (edit: one poster is reporting lower Vrms than the reviewer.. it could be an EU thing)
https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/review-apple-vs-google-usb-c-headphone-adapters.5541/

That looks good, is there a way that I can use it on usb 2.0?

Re: Recommendations For A Cheap External USB Soundcard?

Reply #4
It probably is USB 2.0, maybe you mean USB A. There are some USB A male to USB C female adapters. I don't know if they'd work for this, but I think they should.

Re: Recommendations For A Cheap External USB Soundcard?

Reply #5
It also depends on whether the particular phone/adapter were designed for the phone passing analog audio over specific pins of the connector, or if it's a genuine USB audio device. Unlike Lightning to headphone dongles, which are USB sound devices, many USB-C sound devices are just analog adapters for their respective phones.

Re: Recommendations For A Cheap External USB Soundcard?

Reply #6
Right, but this Apple thing is an actual audio device, there's a screenshot of it in the link above. Reading the thread, there are also people using it with an adapter on regular old USB A 2.0 ports.
But it looks like there are (at least) two different versions. One of them performs worse and tops at 0.5V:
https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/review-apple-vs-google-usb-c-headphone-adapters.5541/page-16#post-262481

Re: Recommendations For A Cheap External USB Soundcard?

Reply #7
Right, but this Apple thing is an actual audio device, there's a screenshot of it in the link above. Reading the thread, there are also people using it with an adapter on regular old USB A 2.0 ports.
But it looks like there are (at least) two different versions. One of them performs worse and tops at 0.5V:
https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/review-apple-vs-google-usb-c-headphone-adapters.5541/page-16#post-262481

Yes I meant regular old type A 2.0 ports. Thanks for the info.

0.5V seems to be what the EU limits smartphones at, I once had a nextbit robin, it originally outputted up to 1 Vrms with a 32 Ohm load no problems, but after a android update it was limited to 0.5V.

I found this as well:

https://reference-audio-analyzer.pro/en/report/amp/apple-usb-c.php#gsc.tab=0

Definitely looks like a software limit.

Re: Recommendations For A Cheap External USB Soundcard?

Reply #8
Yeah, phones sold in the EU definitely have software limits and high volume warnings.
However, this is much less common on Windows PCs, although apparently it does exist. I read that people are bypassing this with different/older drivers and/or registry tweaks.

The Apple device apparently uses the built-in Windows class compliant audio driver, which might not be as easy to replace. Maybe this driver detects that you're using an "EU version" of Windows (maybe the N version, but that's rarely used). Or perhaps it works based on your region/location setting, which is easy to change.
So if it is a regional software limit in Windows, I think you should be able to find out and disable it.
But I still think it's more likely that the A2155 is just a different device with a different hard coded limit.

 
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