I think I've been living a lie

So, this is my first post here, and I’d really like to get some of your feedback

About 3 years ago I bought a pair of SHP9500S (because hype of course, but they do sound quite nice), alongside a cheap DAC/AMP (Syba Sonic something, little guy with a knob on top).
I’ve honestly enjoyed the combo a lot, but I recently started looking into upgrading my setup a bit (probably going to get the X2HR).

However, during my research of better DACs and AMPs I came across a couple of posts that suggested using the on-board DAC of your motherboard and getting an external AMP as an introduction to the whole audiophile rabbit hole, which got me thinking.
I have one of the top of the line motherboards (Gigabyte X370 Gaming K7), which has two Realtek ALC1220 along with other marketing mumbo jumbo.

My question is, have I been using a worse DAC (the Syba Sonic) than what my on-board audio could provide all this time? Have I been living a lie thinking I got better audio simply because I have a pretty box sitting on my desk?

And yes, I never tested how they sound side by side, but I’ll do it as soon as possible.

Perhaps lol. Personally I would say the syba sonic is about equivalent to good motherboard audio, I would say to actually get something noticeably above motherboard audio you would be in the 100 buck range for an amp and 100 for the dac (or just run the amp from the motherboard dac). Also it really depends on your headphones as well tbh. The shp aren’t that picky and will kinda be happy on whatever, so there isn’t a whole lot to worry about


The Gaming K7 is a pretty high-end mobo. So there is a non-0 chance the integrated DAC would be better than the one sitting on your desk.

The one downside to the chips on the mobo is the surrounding noisy components while the shiny box on your desk could have proper power conditioning built in (which not all stand alone DACs or Amps have…)

Super in-depth review on the Gaming K7 (warning: requires OCing or electronics knowledge to make sense):


Knew I recognized Buildzoid’s video


I remember watching Buildzoid’s video, thanks for reminding me it exists lol.
Tbh I was more worried about the whole power distribution to the CPU and it’s related components as I like to overclock the sh*t out of my stuff, and wanted to know if the power delivery was good enough to handle it. I’ll give it a look, see if he mentions anything about the shielding for the on board audio

He does not care about anything that does not increase clocks or stability.

Gigabyte sometimes has BIOS as bad as Asus, but their hardware on their high-end boards is at least 9/10 all the time.

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Understandable. Now I need to figure out of it’s possible to output to two sources on Linux at the same time…

You could do this with asio4all (well moreso WineASIO)

When your Distro uses PulseAudio, then paprefs can do that.

Sadly it’s for Windows only. But I think I found an alternative, paprefs.

Aaaand MazeFrame just mentioned the same as I was writing this… Lol

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That also works well that might actually be easier

if paprefs doesn’t work out


Well, I have some really interesting things to report. So, from doing some back and forth testing using paprefs to output the exact same signal between my external DAC/AMP and the on-board audio, I’ve found that the AMP is nowhere close. I can crank the volume up on my Syba Sonic to the point where it’s very loud (though it doesn’t get THAT loud either… I’m talking about comfortably loud) without any sort of distortion, whereas the on-board audio only gets to about 60% of the Syba’s max volume. Cranking the volume higher than 100% for the on-board audio does result in a higher volume (duh), but it distorts WAY too much (as expected).

HOWEVER, the DAC from my mobo is indeed a little bit better than the Syba Sonic. I was able to more accuratley distinguish different instruments over the dedicated DAC, as well as having a little bit more clarity.

So, in conclusion, the DAC side is plenty enough to have a good listening experience (ofc, you can always aim higher), but it lacks power to really deliver a better experience than an external DAC/AMP.

EDIT: Forgot to mention, I tested them using my pair of SHP9500S with a VModa Cable with different kinds of music (classical, rock, pop, and others)


I’ve thought for a while mobos have been sounding pretty good. And are largely overlooked as a viable option for budget audiophiles. Some mobos I’ve heard have sounded better than things like the fiio e10k and the syba Sonic or the fx audio dac x6. And use using them as a dac and buying an amp to go along with them is a good way to get started if you want to run a harder to drive headphone


That’s what I’ll probably end up doing, I’ll just get a Schiit Magni Heresy and output my on-board audio into it. I am honestly impressed by these results.


let me put it this way
Everything in the pc industry about audio engine is partly told is a lie for marketing purposes.
A motherboard won’t be as good as a Dac / amp.
Just like these boxes that sell as Dac.
The reason is simple, they are technically just okay, but not qualitatively nor thought so that it sounds harmoniously clean.
The whole thing is made quite cheaply with plastic wrapping. A good name with 3D sound, Dolby lettering ready.
And people buy it.
It is similar with the headsets too.
Made as cheaply as possible from plastic, a name of the brand lettering 5.1-7.1 Dolby.
And everyone also says it is Dolby, no it is stereo, the 5.1 is no longer generated.

If you put in a quality Dac / amp, you’ll be the first to find out how bad your current headphones or headset actually sounds.
If you do that with an exchange for what it’s designed for, you’ll hear the difference.
And at the same time it is balm for your ears.
Many are not even aware that you actually damage your hearing with the cheap shit, because the heights are so sharp and sharp that it hurts.

You can keep listening if you want as you have it, or you can climb up and enjoy yourself a bit.
It is no longer much more expensive than an Astro headset for getting started.
A Schiit Modi, Magni 3 + or Herasy with a Dt770 would be a start.

I played for a long time with cheap stuff on a PC or Playstation, and I was always scratched up and annoyed.
Meanwhile, the audio no longer flows more harmoniously and quietly.
There is also no need to buy a headset every year, as it wasn’t possible yesterday.

Schiit, for example, brought another good Dac / amp onto the market. I just don’t remember the name anymore.


That would be something where can be sure that it will outshine your current setup. And can sell without certain.
Do not come up with the idea of ​​a sound card for the PC, which can cause problems from software to hum loops.
If only then visually, but that is also controversial.
Just go to the Dac via USB and you’re done. The Dac takes care of the rest, they are so good in part now that you don’t need to worry about hum loops, jitter.
To answer your question whether you lived in a lie?
Inevitably yes through marketing, like so much in the meantime.
Buy a decent setup and then, if you are satisfied, you will have peace and quiet until what breaks, and that can take years and the sum was worth the bottom line.

You should read my post from like 3 hours ago. I do agree that there are WAY better DAC/Amps out there, however this on-board audio isn’t actually bad at all. Only issue is the Amp which isn’t powerful enough.

This is speaking for a top of the line motherboard by the way, can’t say the same for cheap ones…

yes I have read it.
There are certainly motherboards where the focus on the audio is not bad.
But it’s not designed for that.
Especially technical, let me put it this way.
Just by the power supply of the PC you have quite high voltage peaks, then the capacitors and everything that belongs to a Dac in which living inside is completely missing.
You have a good base with your motherboard that is surely better than one that only costs $ 40-100.
It is not more, but it could be expanded.
It’s like connecting two devices together via Hdmi.
The picture is crisp and sharp, okay.
Technically also passable.
Now you go via Hdmi first through an AV reciver then to the TV.
What are you experiencing
The picture remains the same, but the sound has more power, details emerge that you did not notice. The music is more musical, it sweeps you away.
Even modern TVs have no Dac or good boxes installed, so it is with your PC. You have a good basis.
Otherwise, I suggest something that you choose a Dac / Amp where it comes from the audio area and sometimes connect, maybe even a passable headphone.
If you don’t like this, send it back and bury the topic, so I am kind of not wanting to turn anything on you or anything.
Many don’t understand that, they want good sound okay no problem.
Surely it doesn’t have to be the most expensive.
If I tell you take the Shiit Magni or Herasy as an example.
just because you’re looking for an amplifier okay.
But don’t expect miracles.
Then it is still that you can only connect via Rca.
Ergo again need a sound card that has that.
In addition, you have to expect a humming loop if analogue goes in.
Instead of turning on a sound card now, it would be better to take a Dac that saves you that.
It is also a bit complex to count the whole thing, especially the technical side.
You can read what a Dac does and what an amplifier does.
Maybe that will convince you more.
I don’t want to talk bad about the Dac where you have it, for example the specifications about it are missing.
What kind of chip is installed and so on.
This is also a topic that the pc industry likes to keep silent.
You only get performance information that sounds good, nothing more.
I don’t want to do anything bad for you, but to help ensure that your money is not wasted senselessly and later unhappy about it.Maybe I can not do it at all or express it incorrectly.
What I see is that you would like more, what I understand, otherwise you would not be here
You are also right here somewhere, you can trust many here because many have already accepted help here.
Ultimately, you won’t lose anything if you get something and do a test.
You can send it back.
Otherwise take a look at the Fostex Hp A3, which works driverless.
One of the Ify Dacs, Jds labs O2, or one of the topping products Dx3 pro or something else the older models.
An Aune x series would not be wrong either.

I mean, the whole point of this thread was to say that maybe buying a cheap Syba Sonic DAC/Amp was a mistake since the on-board audio in my PC is a bit better than it…
Which turned out to be true when comparing the DAC.

The Amp however is a different story, as the Syba easily beats the punny little amp that’s on-board.

The motherboard uses Realtek ALC1220 as the DAC/Amp chips, one for the front panel and one for the back IO. As for power distribution, I wouldn’t worry too much about rippling. You get the same rippling from the power supply of a computer as you do with a power supply for your Amp (I’d argue you get less from the computer’s PSU actually). What matters is what happens after the power supply, as the most noticeable issue with on-board audio is noise from nearby electronic components, which is not noticeable on my current motherboard from the tests I did.

Bruh that wasn’t the point of the post. And as a builder of PC’s while motherboards aren’t mainly designed for audio has improved over the years in shielding and staying quite. They have started sound much better than cheap dac amps imo. But it still heavily depends on components in inside a PC. If you guys powerful ships expect noise to be picked up. But there is no denying a clean sounding motherboard after a build is done and being benchmarked

Alright! As promised I’m going to post my initial impressions of the on-board sound thanks to the fact I just got a proper amp to test it with (because the on-board amp sucks and can barely power my SHP9500S…). The amp in question is the Liquid Spark coupled with both the X2HR and SHP9500S.

So it turns out, the hypothesis seems correct. The Syba Sonic is not bad by any means, it’s quite ok, however the on-board DAC is just SO much god damn clearer. It may be the fact that the units themselves tend to color the audio in different ways and I simply enjoy the output from the Spark more, or maybe the Spark is just overall clearer than the tiny Syba (I think we all know what comes next… Standalone vs On-Board DAC), but all in all, you’re more than capable of enjoying quality music without using an external DAC.

Now, don’t get me wrong, a quality external DAC is probably way better than the on-board audio, but it’s safe to say that manufacturers are now putting a LOT more attention into audio quality for on-board solutions compared to 5 years or so ago.

So, my conclusion is, if you’re new and have yet to fall into the audiophile hole, don’t worry about getting a DAC right away if your motherboard is mid-tier+, I’d recommend you to get a dedicated amp first and just give it the signal from your motherboard. Trust me, you’ll be more than pleased :smiley:

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