Do I need a dedicated DAC?

I’m no audiophile, but I definitely appreciate high quality audio. I’ve always wanted a discrete sound card or USB DAC, but I keep hearing that modern onboard DACs are more then good enough to throw out some decent quality audio.

So my question is, will a DAC in the R1000-R2000 price range noticeably improve my sound quality?

I’m a complete noob when it comes to audio hardware but I can’t help but feel that my headphones are being held back by Asrock onboard audio.
I’ve been eyeing this DAC, because of availability, and I like the portability since I’ll want to use it with my laptop as well when out and about, Sennheiser EPOS GSX 300

My current setup:
Motherboard: Asrock H270 Pro 4
Headphones: Sennheiser GSP 500

A software mixer like VB-Audio VoiceMeeter and a few hours of research and configuring can help up your audio game immensely. But for raw audio signal DAC’s are an obvious step, just not always the next step. I’ve always had bad mic audio, but I put that down to sound bouncing around the room, and mic technique.

In terms of signal noise, many of the “off the shelf manufacturer audio modules” that go on motherboards, just aren’t shielded very well. Watch any audiophile review about onboard sound, and it becomes apparent immediately, how EM interference is actually audible in your normal sound, if you turn it up far enough.

I think the best analogy for DAC’s vs onboard audio is: Stereo is to mono sound, what DAC’s are to onboard audio. You can either hear the difference and care, or you can’t and don’t. And that’s fine, either way

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I have a pair of Razer Blackshark V2 and Logitech G Pro X headsets, each with their respective USB DACs. They sound audibly better when using the headphones with the supplied DAC. I’ve never really considered using a bespoke sound card or DAC, until I experienced it with the pairs of headphones. I’m now a bit of an evangelist for either of these headsets or a headset+DAC setup.

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Been playing with this for a few minutes, I like it so far, I see what you mean by hours of research.

I’ve just looked up some reviews of my GSP 500 and almost everyone says an external DAC will improve the audio quality.

I use the Go-XLR mainly to allow me to mix game and chat audio on the fly. Nothing as frustrating as not hearing team mates while playing.

It also has a great XLR preamp but I just use the normal 3.5mm connectors. Sound is great, and my mic seems to be doing fine. I mean, you lot can hear me frew my fick ahksent.

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So I now have my sights set on this, Sennheiser GSX 1200 Pro

One issue I foresee is that I have 5.1 speakers, i.e. 3x 3.5mm jacks, and this DAC only has 3 inputs in total. Heaphones, Mic and Speakers.

I really want the “touch to switch outputs” features, but I don’t see how this will work with my 5.1 sound. How do people normally integrate a DAC with 5.1 surround system with multiple outputs?

I told you guys I’m an audio noob, i need help!

Ah, that throws a spanner in the works. Most 5.1 and 7.1 amps emulate the surround sound to your 2-channel headphones. If you have physical 5.1 speakers then it becomes very tricky and you probably then need to look at home cinema amps?

Also, just my 2c, but that Sennheiser seems expensive for what it does.

Ya, I thought as much, I’ll probably keep my 5.1 on my onboard audio in that case.

I thought so too, until I watched this (and read some other reviews)

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I have this, but don’t think I would recommend it to anyone, it has no software and minimal config options and it only support stereo output like you mentioned. The virtual 7.1 support it has does nothing for me.

The only cool feature it really has is the touch screen.

I’m looking to get rid of my USB sound blaster… Would this do you any good?


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I probably would have taken you up on that offer, but the GSX 1200 is already on it’s way :upside_down_face:


Pretty happy with the GSX 1200 so far. Sound clarity is way better than my onboard, I’ve even decided to convert my 5.1 Z506’s to stereo for the convenience of being able to toggle between the 2 outputs on the touchscreen.
The 7.1 directional audio processing is pretty good IMO, feels like my headset has a few extra speakers in it. I still need to test out some games with it.

Got it as an open box deal, so R1k off retail price. I could have probably gotten away with something cheaper, sure, but as a complete package, I like it.

@murfle you mentioned the 7.1 did nothing for you. I was a bit confused initially as well, since it sounded the same or worse than my onboard. This was until I set the headphones output to default comms device and the speaker output to default device. The difference was night and day.

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Don’t think it was me… :upside_down_face:


My bad, it’s the painkillers :stuck_out_tongue:

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You gonna share? :smiley:

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