Audioengine D1 or Creative X-Fi Titanium Fatal1ty?

IGM0937

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Hello,

I'm having some trouble wrapping my head around what would be the best solution for my new Audioengine A2+ PC speakers. I have recently bought the speakers and while I'm satisfied with them, I would like to push the speakers as far as I possibly can to get the most out of them. I know it might seem petty if I am already satisfied, but I'd hate to think that there is something more I can do to improve the sound.

I had been reading about the onboard sound and dedicated PCI-e cards becoming bottlenecks for good quality speakers, where the quality of the music files are compressed and not "fully realised" when transmitted to the speakers. So something like a good soundcard or an external DAC could help bring more "depth" and "clarity". I have also read that at times the difference between onboard sound and dedicated soundcards can be so minimal that soundcards end up being a waste of money. Finally I have read good things about the Audioengine D1 and not sure whether a DAC in general could help me out.

My current PC setup is a gaming machine which has a Creative X-Fi Titanium Fatal1ty Pro soundcard and the speakers are directly wired to the card via a 3.5mm AUX cable. I had bought the card on the cheep when building my machine about 2 years ago, however I'm not sure if it does a better job over a standalone external DAC connected to the computer via USB. The card in my opinion has served me well so far, but I'm not sure if it does the job with the new speakers. I know that soundcards and DAC can be the same thing, but I might need some clarification.

All in all, should I consider buying something to replace my soundcard, like a DAC, in order to improve my sound quality? or am I just talking rubbish and what I already have is a good setup?

I am a bit cynical towards what I read, as I really can't make out whether it's all marketing drivel, personal inexperience or genuinely true. I'm not the worlds greatest audiophile and I'm sure my ears play tricks on me from time to time, so I would like some help from anyone who can suggest the best option(s) to go along with the speakers. I know at the end of the day it's all down to preference, taste and if I use the speakers for music or games, but it's always best to ask :D Thanks
 

navysealbrian

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DAC = Digital-to-analog converter. A sound card has DACs on it, a motherboard with integrated sound has DACs on it. The only difference between any of that stuff is the quality of the DACs and the circuitry that supports it (good circuit designs will create less interference/noise). Will you hear any difference between your X-Fi an another sound device? Probably not. If there is any difference, it will be practically negligible.
 
There is indeed quite a difference in the quality of DACs. How much of a difference you will hear will depend on the quality of the files, the speakers and your perception. There are many USB DACs (including Audioengine). Take a look at the Cambridge Audio DACS. They start at $199.
 

IGM0937

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That was my initial thought which lead me to do some research and post this question. Is there a difference between what I already have and what is out there and will it be noticeable to justify the price. As already mentioned, I would like to get the best out of my setup and if there is something I had overlooked which could profoundly improve the overall quality, then it is something to consider and resolve. I am also aware that the card is a bit old in comparison to the newer ones, but I don't have much insight into sound cards to know if it has aged well.
 

IGM0937

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I suppose I should get hold of some high quality files to see if I could perhaps personally hear any difference and maybe adjust my card accordingly. Are there any particular place for good high quality sound files?
 
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