USB or PC Audio Card?

I’m thinking of getting a good audio sound card and noticed there are a lot of USB sound cards.

I play some music and I’m also used to audio interfaces, hence USB plugins. I’ve always used Creative Lab audio cards. Does anyone have good experience with any on Linux/Arch? Tx

USB DACs will be the easiest and likely cheapest approach but you’re going to get noise from the USB power circuitry.

Focusrite should be avoided due to them specifically not supporting Linux. Other than that, you’ll have to do some research to find a DAC that meets your specific requirements.

Shoot, I was thinking of Focusrite. I didn’t know they didn’t have any Linux drivers. I still have a JamLab USB dongle that is not supported. It would be good to plug in 3/4 jacks as well.

I’ve never heard of Venten ( but they support Linux and have separated mic cabling and no ghost noise and other interferences.

Wonder if anyone here has tried their systems?

Just a FYI, some French folks figured out how to use M-Audio’s JamLab here:

I have one but don’t know what to do. They talk about activating snd_usb_audio. I’m sure it is different now.

I recommended a DAC to someone i just built a computer for and he uses it to output through his stereo. It made a huge difference in sound quality.

Thanks, which one did you recommend?

I’ll have to look it up again. I have forgotten? It was not expensive either. It’s USB to RCA out to the stereo.

Yeah, thanks, if you remember, I’d love to know. I have an optical out from my mobo but I also want to be able to plug in a guitar, my drumset, and eventually a synth. Cheers

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I’ve had a FiiO K5 Pro for a few months now and it’s worth every penny. Works with Linux out of the box and I can’t detect any noise.

Also a good choice would be an iFi Zen Dac.

Both are connected via USB only. However, an additional power supply is mandatory for the FiiO.


Thanks Vidar. I’m checking it out now.

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I think that’s the brand…


You can’t go wrong with either one!

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Yeah, it makes more sense to get a DAC than to get a card these days. I think I’m really old school. You should see the stereo I have. I heard it called old school by someone younger than me. :laughing:

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It doesn’t matter. It must run …
My favorite is the K5 Pro. It has in my opinion a little more power in the headphone amplifier. Also visually more appealing (imho). But as I said, both are very good!

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Yeah, I’m leaning that way also, purely on looks :slight_smile:

The Zen DAC is developed in GB, but is also manufactured in China, so from there it doesn’t matter …

Another point for an external DAC: Most of the time the audio card sits too far from the graphics card in the PC, because the slots do not provide more space. Not so good. The less in the computer, the better the airflow.

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I just saw that there is also a version of the K5 Pro with an ESS D/A converter. What exactly makes the difference, other people can explain better here.

Nice, and from B&H. Can’t go wrong with these guys.

At least the chip that the Chinese are using. I still have the version with the AKM AK4493 - AKM (Asahi Kasei Microdevices). It seems that this version is no longer available. It was a bit cheaper.

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That’s true, I wish I wouldn’t have thrown out my old Creative Lab but a modern USB Audio DAC takes care of that.