Building a DAC +AMP +Headphone +Speaker Setup (Hi-Fi / Audiophile)

Running into bit of an issue in selecting components for a build I need to rig. I'm not too technical on Audio hardware, but need something that can push the quality of what I have now (or higher).

// Output
ATH-700X +ZM-MIC1 //Game
ATH-A900X //Music
8" Bookshelf Pair (unPowered) (120W) //Music +Movies

// Hardware
Xonar DX (7.1 PCIe x1)

The ultimate goal would be to be able to have a desktop USB DAC+AMP and switch from Headphones to Speakers easily, but I'm not beyond swapping cables. If this setup cannot be achieved, then the game setup is priority.

I would like to get the O2+ODAC for JDSLabs or Mayflower, but the main purpose for my PC is gaming. Those devices have no Microphone Jack and I need it integrated. Motherboard built-in Microphones are very poor and found that sound cards do make a difference here. I have been looking at some of the consumer DACs, mostly from Asus and Creative Labs, but the reviews are low for a lot of their products. I've narrowed it down to the following for my limit to around 100 USD:

Asus Xonar U7 $90
Creative Labs X-Fi HD $90

Note : Yes, I know they're not 2 or 2.1, but the higher quality builds are on these
Note : These also have RCA output in the back so I can at least attach some speakers to them.
Note : I am aware of the Creative Labs EX-Line, but they start @130 USD and look mobile oriented, but I can make it work if Y-Splitters are not a problem.

// Questions
I am open to anything as I'm trying to rebuild quality sound on my PC and expanded it to the other computers and mediaPC in the house. I have concerns about the equipment and the following:

Q) Ultimately, will the Quality of the Desktop DAC's >= Xonar DX?? (and push the same volume levels #loud)

Q) The bookshelf speakers are rated for 120watt, I'm not worried about exceeding them, but giving them enough juice. Would the RCA outputs require another amp for Speakers (or powered Speakers)?

Q) If someone recommends a better DAC/AMP with no RCA output, will using a Y-Splitter degrade Signal / Quality / Loudness?

Thanks to everyone in advance for their time and input. If I remember anything I left out, I'll update the post. ^.,^

If you use your mic from front panel headers, have you tried the output on the rear I/O? Headers are infamous for giving signal degradation as they're routed through the case.

Essentially, no DAC / Amp that is worth its price will have a mic pass through, as most do not have ADC's (Analog-to-Digital Converter). If using your mic out of the rear I/O doesn't work, you may be better off using a USB mic. If you already have a soundcard and don't need to sell it to finance the purchase of external gear, you could keep it for ADC purposes.

Definitely consider the Schiit Modi / Magni alongside O2 / ODAC. Same price point, but in my mind a more reliable manufacturer that also has the potential for upgrading down the road if you wish. The Modi / Magni duo can be purchased for $198 ($99 each).

I have no personal experience with unpowered bookshelf speakers, so I can't speak as to their performance with either product. Which speakers do you have exactly?

Modi>SYS>Magni(for headphones) and a speaker amp


Plus amp

Raw Wire... Shouldn't be too hard to convert the other end to RCA if needed. Correct?

Also, I did try the MIC from the back Panel I/O. It is 50% if not less than the sound card (which is dead btw). #frownyfaces

Alright, yeah. Modi > SYS > Magni & SMSL SA50
Get some banana connectors for the speakerwire to connect well to the SA50 (makes it easy to plug and unplug) and you are good to go. A little pricey, but that is how it goes. Might be able to get the price down depending on what it is exactly that you need. You could use the 3.5mm out on the mobo to an rca adaptor to the SA50 and skip the SYS. You could use cheaper dac/amp for the headphone (E10k). Lots of options.

"Modi > SYS > Magni & SMSL SA50"

Am I missing something with the "SYS" part. I'm looking on their site and it has 2x Inputs, not 2xOutputs......

I checked the Spec sheet for that Mixer, the Input Mic impedance is 600 Ohms. Isn't that too much for my ZM-MIC1?

Those are just wires. They can go either way. Imagine you plugged in an rca cable one way, then unplugged it, turned it around and plugged it in backwards. They are just wires. It doesn't make any difference to them which way the current is running. You should be able to use the SYS to use one input to two outputs.

Roger, I was afraid it would be locked one-way with the gain knob. Will the control still work in reverse?

That is just a variable resistor. Those work in either direction as far as I know.

just go ahead with 1920_1080p_1280_720P's advice

Seems I'm not the only one to think to use it in reverse. Tested and works.

The PC board is already terrible. Looking to boost both Headphones and Microphone is this case.

boost what? volume? or audio quality?

IF you want better audio than what your mobo puts out, then you are going to need to use a dac. You can use two dacs, but using a dac and the SYS is a simpler and cheaper method. You will also need an amp for the headphones and then one for the speakers. It is possible to have outputs to both the speakers and the headphones in a single amp, if you want to look for that instead of the SYS and two amps (one headphone and one speaker amp).

Just remembered the recent review. You could use something like this paired with a dac to power both the headphones and speakers. Pretty sure that an E10, SYS, SA50 combo would be cheaper than this and a dac though, if you want to save money.

Thx for all the replies!! Going to go through this more in depth and get a list together! Thx again!

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