Dedicated DAC vs Audio Interface

Which Computer? Hard drive? Audio interface? Mic? Preamp? 3rd party plug-in? + Production techniques

Dedicated DAC vs Audio Interface

Postby charlievb » Tue Aug 14, 2012 8:36 am

Hey guys, I would appreciate some advice.

My setup: Macbook Pro 15'' 2011, Shure SRH 840s

My requirements: To mix music in Logic pro, using only my Shure headphones

My budget: £150 max; ideally £100

My Question: Are dedicated (USB/FW) DACs better than (USB/FW) Audio interfaces for my requirements?

_____________________________________-

So although I currently only mix, I may in the future like to have the flexibility to record some tracks. If both dedicated DACs and Audio Interfaces provide the same quality of audio output then there is no reason for me not to take advantage of the Audio Interface's additional features (i.e. its ability to act as audio input).

As a comparison example; would the audio quality from the FOCUSRITE SCARLETT 2I2 be better than the FiiO E9i?
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Re: Dedicated DAC vs Audio Interface

Postby triplets » Tue Aug 14, 2012 9:08 am

For your budget you can only get an interface, which is also a DAC.
Get the Scarlett, much better than the FiiO.
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Re: Dedicated DAC vs Audio Interface

Postby David Nahmani » Tue Aug 14, 2012 9:23 am

An interface is something that connects your computer to external devices. In your budget most audio interfaces include ADC, DAC, clock, usually mic/instrument preamps, headphone amps, sometimes even mic (Apogee one). In commercial recording facility budgets many interfaces don't include any of those features, so they use an interface, a DAC, an ADC, a clock, multiple mic preamps, multiple instrument preamps, multiple headphone amps, multiple microphones etc...

I don't know of any dedicated DAC in your budget, and if it's USB/FW then it's an interface (or a DAC with an interface card, which is the same thing as an interface with a DAC included).

Note that you already have a built-in audio interface on your Mac. I just had a quick look at the FiiO E9i and it doesn't seem to bring anything more than what you already have. The Focusrite on the other hand gives you mic preamps - but apparently you don't need them:

My requirements: To mix music in Logic pro, using only my Shure headphones

Plug your Shure headphones into your Mac's headphone output. Done. You'll probably get better results than by using any £100 device.
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Re: Dedicated DAC vs Audio Interface

Postby Eric Cardenas » Tue Aug 14, 2012 9:45 am

David wrote:
Plug your Shure headphones into your Mac's headphone output. Done. You'll probably get better results than by using any £100 device.


I totally agree.
You won't gain anything with a £100 device and you won't have to deal with flaky drivers.
Take the money and by some nice plug-ins or save it to add a decent interface or monitors instead.
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Re: Dedicated DAC vs Audio Interface

Postby iMacCartney » Tue Aug 14, 2012 1:58 pm

charlievb wrote:Hey guys, I would appreciate some advice.

My setup: Macbook Pro 15'' 2011, Shure SRH 840s

My requirements: To mix music in Logic pro, using only my Shure headphones

My budget: £150 max; ideally £100

My Question: Are dedicated (USB/FW) DACs better than (USB/FW) Audio interfaces for my requirements?

_____________________________________-

So although I currently only mix, I may in the future like to have the flexibility to record some tracks. If both dedicated DACs and Audio Interfaces provide the same quality of audio output then there is no reason for me not to take advantage of the Audio Interface's additional features (i.e. its ability to act as audio input).

As a comparison example; would the audio quality from the FOCUSRITE SCARLETT 2I2 be better than the FiiO E9i?

OT. I really like those Shure SRH 840 headphones. Revealing and matches nicely with my Genelec 1031.
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Re: Dedicated DAC vs Audio Interface

Postby charlievb » Tue Aug 14, 2012 2:54 pm

@Dave @EricBradley thanks for your advice. I really appreciate the honest and direct feedback. Dave i recognise you. I used to have an account on here a few years ago, and was more of a silent observer, as i tried to dabble in logic pro; but even my occasional messages were usually responded to by yourself. So thanks again.

@iMacCartney I am super happy with my Shure SRH 840s. They look a but stupid on my head, but I sold a pair of Bose QC3s and bought these following strong advice from audiofile friends of mine. At half the price, I get a lot better audio quality.
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Re: Dedicated DAC vs Audio Interface

Postby Eric Cardenas » Tue Aug 14, 2012 3:03 pm

You're welcome Charlie.
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Re: Dedicated DAC vs Audio Interface

Postby Rev. Juda$ Sleaze » Tue Aug 14, 2012 4:58 pm

David wrote:Plug your Shure headphones into your Mac's headphone output. Done. You'll probably get better results than by using any £100 device.


Just to add a little note to that; make sure in Audio/Midi setup (in the folder Applications>Utilities) has your internal sound set to 24bit, as they seem to default to 16bit.
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Re: Dedicated DAC vs Audio Interface

Postby Eric Cardenas » Tue Aug 14, 2012 11:16 pm

Rev. Juda$ Sleaze wrote:
David wrote:Plug your Shure headphones into your Mac's headphone output. Done. You'll probably get better results than by using any £100 device.


Just to add a little note to that; make sure in Audio/Midi setup (in the folder Applications>Utilities) has your internal sound set to 24bit, as they seem to default to 16bit.


Yes, very important!
Great point Rev. :D
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