USB Sound card for klipsch pro media 2.1

sgt_hole

Estimable
Jul 18, 2014
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Sound noob here,
I have a klipsch pro media running from HP Dv6 laptop and my phone. Friend of mine told me it will sound much better if I had a DAC or USB sound card. What can I buy for less than 60$ which will improve the music?Can this improve music from phone played on Klipsch as well?

I intend to buy some speaker and receiver next year to have better quality music. Can this still be used then?

Thanks
 

ssddx

Glorious
Moderator
perhaps not entirely relevant to your question but..

i've owned the klipsch promedia 2.1 in the past (i returned it the very next day)

i was impressed by the build quality and the satelites really did not have a bad sound to them but the subwoofer is too large for this set and completely overpowers the satelite even on lowest settings unless you manually adjust the equalizer on your sound software which was a deal breaker for me.

i was rather impressed though but figured that this was just a bad matchup given it was their first pc speaker like so i took a look at their regular speaker selection for home theater and ended up getting a set. there really is no comparision between the two. they do make some really nice speakers (expensive though!).

--

to answer your question on all fronts...

could you benefit from a dac/soundcard?
-if you have rather poor onboard sound on the laptop where you hear distortion, crackling or other such noises then definitely. if you do not then you will still hear a bit of an improvement but it will be more subtle.

what external soundcard is about $60 which i could use?
-this creative external http://www.amazon.com/Creative-Blaster-Surround-System-SB1095/dp/B0044DEDCA/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1405696194&sr=8-5&keywords=creative+external is in your budget and may improve sound quality slightly for you.

can you use a soundcard (such as the above) with your phone?
-a standard usb soundcard or dac is not compatible with your phone

what could i use with my phone?
-if you have a smartphone such as an android you could use one of fiio's products specifically made for such devices http://www.amazon.com/E17-Alpen-Portable-Headphone-Amplifier/dp/B0070UFMOW as it is my understanding (please do check up on this though) that they connect via usb to your phone so that they can act as both dac and amp. you *should* be able to connect speakers to the headphone jack of this unit.

but will a portable amp (such as above) work with my pc?
-it should if you use the L7 adapter such as this http://www.amazon.com/FiiO-Line-Out-Dock-Cable/dp/B004QVNS0S/ref=sr_1_1?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1405697085&sr=1-1&keywords=fiio+l7 which connects to the fiio-dock

if i'm buying a receiver in the near future can i use this with it and is it worth buying anything now?
-it will likely not be worthwhile to have a portable dac/amp such as the fiio since it has analog out ports only and receivers are digital nowdays. however, if you ever plan to get a pair of headphones (good ones) for traveling then it could be of use to you in the future but you will not be connecting it up from pc to receiver
-an external soundcard such as the creative could be of use however do make sure you get the pro version (x-fi surround 5.1 pro) as it has dolby digital live (DDL) which allows compressed sound over optical connections. since your laptop likely doesnt support DDL for optical this is important if you want surround sound to your home theater.
-however: if you have hdmi output on your laptop and want to run hdmi to your receiver and passthrough your audio to a tv then you do not need a soundcard at all. the hdmi line will do it all and send all the data to your receiver for processing. this is how i connect all of my laptops up to tv/receivers as they all support hdmi.

keep in mind i am talking about real receivers... not those cruddy boxes which come in home-theater-in-a-box (HTIB) sets which often have very limited capabilities as far as inputs are concerned (some do not even support surround sound inputs!)
 

WyomingKnott

Distinguished
Heh heh. I can't resist, but be warned: My sound card runs $180 and the external DAC/amp I use is $500.

The answer depends totally on your ears. You have to test-listen and see if you can tell a difference, then go with what sounds best to you. And, in my opinion, test listening takes at least four days. Listen to setup A for two days, then the same music on setup B for two days. Think about what you preferred. For me, A/B testing is useless, but that's just me.

Your friend has a real point, but it depends on the equipment. The DAC, which converts the Digital signal to an Audio signal (hence the name), is a key part of your sound chain. If it puts out sketchy reproductions, no amount of good equipment after that stage will help the sound. Some of them cost thousands of dollars. But the question is: does what you are using now sound good enough to you.

I have no idea how good the digital-to-sound conversion on that laptop is. I have to admit that I have heard some built-in PC audio that, run through a decent amplifier, sounds pretty darned good. My machine at work sounds so good that I listen (with headphones) using an amp only, not an external DAC. So my advice is to do one of two things. Either get an inexpensive DAC and do comparative listening, or find a friend (or store) with high-end equipment and compare your sound to that friend's. If you are wowed by the difference, start experimenting. If not, don't bother.

That said, some good places to start are
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16829132022 - 40 bucks and from the same company as my Xonar Essence sound card. They made a better external one, but for $600.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16829270009&cm_re=usb_dac-_-29-270-009-_-Product . I haven't listened to this, but it's a good brand.
http://www.head-fi.org/products/fiio-e10 ?
If you're really interested, spend some time browsing head-fi.org or check out the thousand-dollar "budget" components at audiophile.com.
 

ssddx

Glorious
Moderator
perhaps not entirely relevant to your question but..

i've owned the klipsch promedia 2.1 in the past (i returned it the very next day)

i was impressed by the build quality and the satelites really did not have a bad sound to them but the subwoofer is too large for this set and completely overpowers the satelite even on lowest settings unless you manually adjust the equalizer on your sound software which was a deal breaker for me.

i was rather impressed though but figured that this was just a bad matchup given it was their first pc speaker like so i took a look at their regular speaker selection for home theater and ended up getting a set. there really is no comparision between the two. they do make some really nice speakers (expensive though!).

--

to answer your question on all fronts...

could you benefit from a dac/soundcard?
-if you have rather poor onboard sound on the laptop where you hear distortion, crackling or other such noises then definitely. if you do not then you will still hear a bit of an improvement but it will be more subtle.

what external soundcard is about $60 which i could use?
-this creative external http://www.amazon.com/Creative-Blaster-Surround-System-SB1095/dp/B0044DEDCA/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1405696194&sr=8-5&keywords=creative+external is in your budget and may improve sound quality slightly for you.

can you use a soundcard (such as the above) with your phone?
-a standard usb soundcard or dac is not compatible with your phone

what could i use with my phone?
-if you have a smartphone such as an android you could use one of fiio's products specifically made for such devices http://www.amazon.com/E17-Alpen-Portable-Headphone-Amplifier/dp/B0070UFMOW as it is my understanding (please do check up on this though) that they connect via usb to your phone so that they can act as both dac and amp. you *should* be able to connect speakers to the headphone jack of this unit.

but will a portable amp (such as above) work with my pc?
-it should if you use the L7 adapter such as this http://www.amazon.com/FiiO-Line-Out-Dock-Cable/dp/B004QVNS0S/ref=sr_1_1?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1405697085&sr=1-1&keywords=fiio+l7 which connects to the fiio-dock

if i'm buying a receiver in the near future can i use this with it and is it worth buying anything now?
-it will likely not be worthwhile to have a portable dac/amp such as the fiio since it has analog out ports only and receivers are digital nowdays. however, if you ever plan to get a pair of headphones (good ones) for traveling then it could be of use to you in the future but you will not be connecting it up from pc to receiver
-an external soundcard such as the creative could be of use however do make sure you get the pro version (x-fi surround 5.1 pro) as it has dolby digital live (DDL) which allows compressed sound over optical connections. since your laptop likely doesnt support DDL for optical this is important if you want surround sound to your home theater.
-however: if you have hdmi output on your laptop and want to run hdmi to your receiver and passthrough your audio to a tv then you do not need a soundcard at all. the hdmi line will do it all and send all the data to your receiver for processing. this is how i connect all of my laptops up to tv/receivers as they all support hdmi.

keep in mind i am talking about real receivers... not those cruddy boxes which come in home-theater-in-a-box (HTIB) sets which often have very limited capabilities as far as inputs are concerned (some do not even support surround sound inputs!)
 

WyomingKnott

Distinguished
@ssddx - thanks.

"-a standard usb soundcard or dac is not compatible with your phone." I've just recently entered the wonderful world of USB OTG ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USB_On-The-Go ) . My Samsung Galaxy S4, using a dedicated player, can drive the USB input on my Predator DAC/AMP. It's not a driver, I have to use a specific audio player named "USB Audio Player Pro."

A very particular cable is needed, wired to somehow signal to the type B sockets that an OTG connection is available. Besides, nobody makes B to B cables because they don't work - or wouldn't until OTG came about.

It was an interesting and technically satisfying experience, but didn't improve over the portable sound that I'm using now so it remains a curiosity.
 

ssddx

Glorious
Moderator
@WK

i suppose i forgot to specify that. thanks.

i also do not use a portable dac/amp with my headphones (agreeably they dont need an amp) as i find the sound output on my phone to be fine just how it is. a dac might improve it slightly but not enough for me to warrant $100 for one.
 
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