Onboard DAC performance

Running latest Ubuntu with KDE. Using dual playback to my Schiit Audio ESS add in card and the analog out off the laptop and finding the onboard is rather good. With a short listen volume matched nothing was jumping out at me. I am sure something could be heard if you really searched but only obvious thing was the level was slightly lower then the $120 DAC card in my amp. I have sound tested this DAC against a handful of other devices and the card has always been near or at the top. If you want to drive headphones and you aren’t listening to super high quality source you may only need an amp rather then a DAC amp combo. I am sure you can do better but the onboard Intel audio is better then I would have thought. IEM’s and maybe even to drive can’s might be fine even without and amp. I will try later and follow up if people are interested.


I would be interested to know more from further testing! We don’t have super powerful cans, just M50x but would still like to know how it handles higher-impedance equipment.

~ Jamie

I can try my HD660’s. I don’t think I would bother with my harder to make sound good planars.

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So I listened between my work macbook pro 16 inch 2019, my framework and my Asgard 3 with the onboard ESS dac. This was not blind and only on a few tracks. I compared my Dan Clark Aeon Open X’s and my Sennheiser HD660S’s. I think the Aeon’s are 32 Ohm but low sensitivity and the HD660s are like 150Ohm and high sensitivity. The 660’s are lounder. Both head phones sound better on the Asgard 3. I am not sure if $350 better but regardless better. The framework and the apple were quite hard to tell apart. I think you would need a structured listening test. Both where loud. The Aeon’s felt thinner with a bit less bass. The HD660’s actually felt like they lost some openness or air. I would be fine listening to either on either laptop for day to day. If I didn’t have the asgard I might be tempted to just go with the 660’s with no amp dac. I am sure the audiophile’s here would not approve. I did not test the noise floor with the volume up and no sound or try on sensitive IEM’s which might hear more flaws. But I think I wouldn’t hesitate to leave my Asgard at the office or at home and get by with either for a day or a week. I typically listen to my Beyerdynamic MMX300II’s and they are fine on both setup’s as well.
I think the argument would go like this: The audio interface is fine for not detailed listening and relatively pleasurably. Do my $500 cans sound better on the $350 headphone amp of course. I would say something like a Senn HD58X would be totally fine on the onboard. I am curious if at HD560S would sound off. I will likely still use my Qudelix 5K when I travel just so I can dual connect my phone.


Thanks for the testing :smiley: Greetings

@Chris_Schafer good to know! I have also have the open x and 660s and currently shopping for a thing and light. Thank you