Latest Wendell Video Has Me Thinking

So I just watched Wendell’s latest Asrock Steel Legend video on the less expensive B650e platform and it got me thinking about something.

Since I’m still rocking an older Cambridge Soundworks Analog 5.1 sound system, how am I going to drive it if newer onboard audio is no longer outputting analog signals.

I could go all headphones but really I’ve never been a big headphone user, I’ve tried many and there are some really nice ones out there but after an hour or so it becomes uncomfortable for me.

The other option would be a PCIe sound card like from Creative Labs, most are 7.1 models but they would still work as I wouldn’t have a pair of speakers connected to those additional L/R channels.

I’ve also seen USB 2 Analog sound cards as well for pretty darn cheap but has anybody tested these are some other kind of adapter to use analog speakers ?

As a sidenote, the Steel Legend B650E is apparently still capable of 7.1, it just requires using the front panel connections for full 7.1.

You’re probably looking for a USB DAC with 5.1 or 7.1 support, this decodes the digital audio to analog audio. Then you can plug in your amp. There are many options out there, some cheap, some expensive.

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Yeah I think you are right, I forgot about using the search term DAC

Thanks :slight_smile:

On a tangential note, it is interesting how far pro digital audio has come. Back when I started in the early noughties, everyone and their mum agreed digital audio was clearly inferior. Today those 28 nm CPUs are cheap and powerful enough to sample music with a sub millisecond latency. And this without even getting particularly hot.

Digital audio is now pretty much superior in every measurable way. This does not mean analog is dead yet though. Unlike stuff like harddrives and dumbphones, accoustic instruments will be a thing for quite a while.

I wonder how far away we are from an AI with perfect pitch that can pick out individual instruments by sound and replay a song though…

As for OPs problem, get a USB sound card, it will do all you need it to and more.

On that subject, any recommendations on a USB sound card with surround outputs and good SNR on all outputs?

Well I can’t say for sure but have one of the cheapest ones I found on Amazon being shipped and I should receive it on Sunday sometime to begin testing it out.

This make and model:

FYI - I received that Startech device today and it seems to work fine, but will test it out more once I get it properly setup to where I want to use it.

The nice thing about it is that it is ALL USB powered so you don’t have to worry about any wall worts/ac power adapters.

If I end up getting a new motherboard with ONLY digital outputs for AUDIO then I will test this device out further and probably get a Soundblaster card too.

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As a former PCIe sound card user, let me please recommend you start looking into external DACs and amps. Every internal sound card I’ve ever owned eventually gives up the ghost, or starts having weird issues. Beside, my external DAC and amp are exponentially better. The sound quality alone is worth it. However, I’ve has zero problems with my external stacks, and I’ve owned several. Plus, you gain the ability to mix and match, or even throw a tube amp into the mix, for fun, if you wanna.

If you want some good bang for buck options, you could join drop.com which offers name brands at lower prices, because they do a group buy sorta thing. Although, if you want my personal opinion, you should just get a Topping from apos.audio. Doesn’t matter which, because they’re all good. They have various units for all price brackets. Just buy whichever you can afford, and it will rock your world. If you want something with a warmer sound, you can achieve the same effect with some EQ adjustments, or a cheap tube amp. But, once the warmth is in there, you can’t take it back out again. Topping’s products are clean, which gives you the versatility to experiment with how you want to make it sound.

Man, you want me to start looking for an old Macintosh Tube Power Amp from way back when :wink:

Thanks for the feedback, I’m still probably going to get a Soundblaster card for testing too, looks like I can get just the basic 5.1/7.1 type PCIe card for pretty cheap, even some models have been refurbished.

Well, you do you, but internal soundcards are not what they used to be. The old Xfi cards were cool back before Windows had built-in “spacial sound” to give you that echo effect. But, most games now have built-in sound effects, and you don’t need to add anything to enhance them. I’ve also owned the newer Soundblasters, and they all went bad. I thought I was upgrading by splurging on the ASUS Essence STX II, and it lasted a whole year and a half. Now, my computer won’t even boot with it installed. My external DACs and amps are way more exciting, and can handle much higher sampling rates, as well as being able to be plugged into other devices, LIKE MY SMARTPHONE. Once you go DAC, you never go back.

That makes sense, due to changes on the Windows side in regards to audio, thanks again for the feedback.