What usb sound card for Swan M200 Mkiii speakers?

waloshin

macrumors 68040
Original poster
Oct 9, 2008
3,183
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Wouldn't an external usb sound card take full advantage of the Swan M200 Mkiii speakers or would a Macbook Air be sufficient?

Update:

Or would a Macbook Air be good enough, therefore, a usb dac would be a waste of money?
 
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jterp7

macrumors 6502a
Oct 26, 2011
909
37
Wouldn't an external usb sound card take full advantage of the Swan M200 Mkiii speakers or would a Macbook Air be sufficient?

Update:

Or would a Macbook Air be good enough, therefore, a usb dac would be a waste of money?
a lot of cheap usb sound cards will color the sound to the point of distortion, which will be noticeable with any decent speakers. Still, straight out of the audio jack wouldn't be too bad either otherwise go with a decent DAC. See head-fi for ways to empty your wallet lol. I use a headamp pico (dac/amp) from my head-fi days to drive my Audioengine 5s.
 
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waloshin

macrumors 68040
Original poster
Oct 9, 2008
3,183
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a lot of cheap usb sound cards will color the sound to the point of distortion, which will be noticeable with any decent speakers. Still, straight out of the audio jack wouldn't be too bad either otherwise go with a decent DAC. See head-fi for ways to empty your wallet lol. I use a headamp pico (dac/amp) from my head-fi days to drive my Audioengine 5s.
Haha that's a little too much for me lol.
 
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lixuelai

macrumors 6502a
Oct 29, 2008
808
68
The MBA doesn't have an optical out so you will need a USB DAC. Get something like a Fiio E10. Its like $60. Whether it is worth it for your Swans I don't know (probably yes at that price since external DACs are usually better due to electronic noise etc) but it also gives you more options in terms of headphones as it functions as a headphone amp as well.
 
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waloshin

macrumors 68040
Original poster
Oct 9, 2008
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The MBA doesn't have an optical out so you will need a USB DAC. Get something like a Fiio E10. Its like $60. Whether it is worth it for your Swans I don't know (probably yes at that price since external DACs are usually better due to electronic noise etc) but it also gives you more options in terms of headphones as it functions as a headphone amp as well.
Would the Filo E17 work?
 
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Destroysall

macrumors 65816
Feb 28, 2012
1,290
77
United States
What you need is just the HRT MusicStreamer II.

I use it myself, and it works perfect. It's a DAC, which is what you need. It's a darn good one too. The HRT MusicStreamer II is heavily regarded and recommended by many audiophiles (including me). Just go with it and all will be well.

I also own the E10 and find it's DAC to not be on par at all with the HRT.
 
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lixuelai

macrumors 6502a
Oct 29, 2008
808
68
Not a fair comparison...

$60 DAC + Amp combo vs $150 dedicated DAC.

Better comparison would be against something like Audioengine D1, NuForce uDac2 etc if the OP is willing to spend more.

Would the Filo E17 work?
Its like a portable E10. Unless you need a portable amp its not worth the extra $100 or so.
 
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monokakata

macrumors 68000
May 8, 2008
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396
Hilo, Hawai'i
waloshin -- if you have any kind of audio recording in mind -- such as voice via XLR mike -- then another possibility would be something from M-Audio or Digidesign.

I've used the M-Audio Fast Track and the Digi M-Box2 Mini for making recordings, and when I'm not doing that they both also function well as USB DAC boxes for feeding my powered speakers. Of course that's not their primary function.

With the Fast Track USB at about $120, you also get a copy of Pro Tools SE. If there's no recording in your future then it's a hardware and software waste.
 
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waloshin

macrumors 68040
Original poster
Oct 9, 2008
3,183
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waloshin -- if you have any kind of audio recording in mind -- such as voice via XLR mike -- then another possibility would be something from M-Audio or Digidesign.

I've used the M-Audio Fast Track and the Digi M-Box2 Mini for making recordings, and when I'm not doing that they both also function well as USB DAC boxes for feeding my powered speakers. Of course that's not their primary function.

With the Fast Track USB at about $120, you also get a copy of Pro Tools SE. If there's no recording in your future then it's a hardware and software waste.
Would the Tascam US 1800 be of any higher quality?
 
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robdpittman

macrumors newbie
Jun 10, 2012
3
0
Any DAC under $500 is a waste of money. All of the cheaper ones use the exact same chipset as in your MacBook to begin with. The only difference will be a slightly better output stage. The problem with any USB DAC is that USB loses fidelity due to power leakage to and from the motherboard.

You're best off to get a good amplifier and 1/8" to RCA cable (check out Oyaide interconnects). That combination will get you better sound than a cheap DAC.

If you want a good DAC, the Cambridge DacMagic Plus on the budget end of things, the Audiolab M-DAC in the mid-range, or if you want crazy good sound and have cash to burn, get the Weiss DAC2 or DAC202.
 
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waloshin

macrumors 68040
Original poster
Oct 9, 2008
3,183
68
Any DAC under $500 is a waste of money. All of the cheaper ones use the exact same chipset as in your MacBook to begin with. The only difference will be a slightly better output stage. The problem with any USB DAC is that USB loses fidelity due to power leakage to and from the motherboard.

You're best off to get a good amplifier and 1/8" to RCA cable (check out Oyaide interconnects). That combination will get you better sound than a cheap DAC.

If you want a good DAC, the Cambridge DacMagic Plus on the budget end of things, the Audiolab M-DAC in the mid-range, or if you want crazy good sound and have cash to burn, get the Weiss DAC2 or DAC202.
Would the amplifier in the Swan M200MKIII be good enough?
 
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monokakata

macrumors 68000
May 8, 2008
1,887
396
Hilo, Hawai'i
Would the Tascam US 1800 be of any higher quality?
I'd guess not, because the price differential between it and the Fast Track (for example) is probably related more to all those inputs, a power supply, and so on.

I'd stick with something simple, unless you're thinking ahead to multi-track recording.

And you're not setting up a high-end sound system -- keep it consistent all down the chain, unless you know you're going to be upgrading later.

As for robdpittman's comment, anybody who's suggesting interconnects from this family

http://www.amazon.com/Oyaide-NEO-RC...ie=UTF8&qid=1339413219&sr=1-1&keywords=oyaide

is living in a different world than the rest of us are. I know these are RCA/RCA but I suppose that RCA-1/8" interconnect is priced similarly.

I'd want to see some chip part numbers before believing that my Macbook's DAC is the same as the one in my M-box.
 
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robdpittman

macrumors newbie
Jun 10, 2012
3
0
Would the amplifier in the Swan M200MKIII be good enough?
I haven't heard those speakers, but based on the specs I would suspect they should sound pretty good with their internal amplifier.

Seriously, if you can spring for the Audiolab M-DAC, I've A/B'd it blind with the Weiss. The Weiss sounds better, but only about 10% better, and it costs $2500.
 
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robdpittman

macrumors newbie
Jun 10, 2012
3
0
As for robdpittman's comment, anybody who's suggesting interconnects from this family

http://www.amazon.com/Oyaide-NEO-RC...ie=UTF8&qid=1339413219&sr=1-1&keywords=oyaide

is living in a different world than the rest of us are. I know these are RCA/RCA but I suppose that RCA-1/8" interconnect is priced similarly.
The NEOs are approaching the top end of the spectrum for their RCA interconnects. The RCA-mini goes for $90-$120 depending on the length, and you'd be amazed the difference you can get out of a good cable.
 
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waloshin

macrumors 68040
Original poster
Oct 9, 2008
3,183
68
The NEOs are approaching the top end of the spectrum for their RCA interconnects. The RCA-mini goes for $90-$120 depending on the length, and you'd be amazed the difference you can get out of a good cable.
How is the Scarlett 18i6 ?
 
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