USB DAC questions/help

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martin bousum

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USB DAC questions/help
« on: 4 Jul 2020, 04:26 pm »
Beginners questions. I listen to YouTube music channels through my Surface computer. I'm using IOTAVX SA3/PA3 amps driving some tower speakers. The SA3 has a Blue Tooth dongle that pairs with my Surface. (The SA3 has a built in DAC I use when playing CDs through my CD transport.) Would a Dragonfly USB DAC benefit me? Would the signal from the DAC make it to the speakers, or will the DAC in the computer override it? Am I wasting my time even considering it since I am not subscribed to a streaming service? Thanks for helping me keep my head above water on this one.

Vincent Kars

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Re: USB DAC questions/help
« Reply #1 on: 5 Jul 2020, 09:24 am »
There are many ways to connect your surface and amp.
Bluetooth is a convenient solution but not the most ideal solution as it is lossy compression.
A cheap one to try is the headphone out of the Surface.
If it sounds decent with a headphone, you can try a headphone jack to RCA cable.
Wouldn’t recommend a Dragonfly. You better try a good budget DAC like
You might try a USB to SPDIF converter as your amp has a SPDIF input.

In the Win audio panel you select the audio device.
If you select Bluetooth, the audio will be send to  the Bluetooth transmitter.
Likewise if you select a USB DAC, the audio will be send to this DAC.
Hence the onboard audio is not involved. The conversion to analog will be done by the USB DAC


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Re: USB DAC questions/help
« Reply #2 on: 27 Jul 2020, 09:51 pm »

Brno Gahr

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Re: USB DAC questions/help
« Reply #3 on: 19 Sep 2020, 01:42 am »
My SA3-PA3 story, hope this helps - I’d been using an Audioquest Black DAC to play ALAC files from iTunes to my older NAD integrated amp. The right-side channel crapped out in March, just a few days after the corona virus stay-at-home regimen took hold. On-line reviews looked good, and all the stores were closed, so I bought the SA3-PA3 stack. With so much time on my hands, I also bought two new DACs - the Audioquest Cobalt and the Schiit Multibit to check out. (I figured the DAC in the IOTAVX preamp couldn’t be all that great, considering the price for the whole thing was less than USD 500). The Cobalt sounded better than the Black when plugged into the IOTAVX stack, but it was still distinctly shrill at the upper end. However, the Schiit multibit sounds fine. I listen to a lot of classical music, especially Bach. I don’t hear distortion in choral music. I can hear the sound of the spaces where the music recorded. The imaging is notably better than what I was hearing earlier with the Black hooked to my NAD. (By the way, that shrill-at the-top Cobalt sounds fine when connected between iPads playing ALAC files into headphones)