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Xonar D2X with PC350 Senns; Amp needed?

Poll Results: Xonar D2X with Senn PC350s; To Amp, or not to Amp?

 
  • 33% (2)
    You don't need an amp
  • 50% (3)
    You don't need an amp, but it would improve SQ/SS/Bass/etc to a worthwhile degree
  • 16% (1)
    You do need an amp
6 Total Votes  
post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 

Hi guys!

 

I am a newbie to the site, but have been lurking for the last few days doing research on a decent gaming headset. I finally settled on the PC350s (modded, of course), and am just wondering if my Xonar is up to the challenge.

 

I have searched this site and many others, and have found "yes" to be the modal answer, but some people do say no.

 

I tried finding out the official listing for output impedance from Asus, but came up with nought. However, anecdotal evidence from several threads suggests that the Xonar is up to the 150 ohms of the 350s. I have seen people say their amp(s) made no difference, even people using my exact card and the same cans, and have also seen people say their D2X can drive their 250 ohm cans. Others have said you need an amp, at least just to get the most out of them.

 

The resident audiophile on Guru3D (My first ever tech site *sniff* So many memories), Rob, says I will need an amp, and he tends to be right about these things. But with the majority of people disagreeing with him, I really have no idea.

 

150 sounds like many an ohm, and I don't think the Xonar has any kind of amp, so I am a little sceptical.

 

Thoughts?

 

P.S. I have thrown in a poll for easy counting :)

post #2 of 14
Thread Starter 

Haha, one result so far; looking good for my wallet!

 

To save me starting a new topic for a related question; I have seen a lot of portable amps that look pretty decent, but I assume that they are meant for earphones rather than headphones, and the impedance of the 350s is going to be too much for such a small amp.

 

So if I get an amp at all, I am going to want a desktop one?

post #3 of 14

Sorry man, I meant to vote for "no amp needed"... stupid iPhone angry_face.gif

So yeh, it should be 2 votes for no amp

post #4 of 14
Thread Starter 

Ha! No worries man, thanks for letting me know!

post #5 of 14

If you like using your computer as an audio source and want a good amp, get the Asus xonar essence stx. It has a very capable built in amp, that should suffice for any pair headphones.

post #6 of 14
Thread Starter 

Well, I only want a good amp if I need a good amp! If the 350s will not lose out because I lack an amp, I don't really want to have to buy one. If, however, something could be significantly improved with an amp, but I don't need one, I will probably look in to buying one in the near future.

 

That's an interesting point you bring up though, assuming an amp is a worthwhile upgrade; would the money spent on a Essence STX not be better spent on an amp to go with my current D2X? Or is there a benefit to getting the two (amp and soundcard) together?

post #7 of 14

I don't know whether or not your sound card will be able to drive your headset, but I suggest trying to find a friend/store with an amp to test and see if the SQ is different.  Granted it might be a bit tough if at a store, since you'd want to compare it to the same source, just with or without a stand-alone amp.

post #8 of 14
Thread Starter 

There is not really anywhere like that to try such things out around here. I might have to try and find a music store, hope they have the kind of equipment I am looking for, and see if they wouldn't mind me listening to some stuff with and without an amp. Obviously, would have to use a source of theirs for both, just to make the comparison worth while.

 

I might actually go through some reviews I have already read and see if any of them mention using an amp or not, or both preferably!

post #9 of 14

I recently sold my PC350s, but having spent several hundred hours with them, about half of which were unamped, I thought I'd share my experience with them.  When I first picked these up about 18 months ago, I was new to mid/hi-fi, so I was rather impressed with the sound quality of these cans straight from my onboard (motherboard) sound.  I wasn't completely blown away, as I thought I might be, given the countless stellar online reviews.  They sounded good though, and the mic was quite clear (though it did have a tendency to filter out/not pick up my voice when speaking softly or in low tones).  After 6 months or so, I decided I wanted to know what these cans could do, so I picked up the Claro Halo soundcard, which features a built-in headphone amp.  While the difference wasn't night and day with the added amp, the PC350s definitely had more bass, bass impact, and clarity with the Halo.  Overall, the sound just became tighter and more precise and controlled.  I never enjoyed these cans for music, they always sounded too distant for my tastes, but they were solid performers for competitive fps gaming, where precision is key. 

 

So, to answer your question, no you do not need an amp for these cans; however, the sound will improve moderately with one. 

 

If you're willing to stray away from a headset design, you can get a better set of cans and a desktop/lapel mic for the same cash.  These would have the added benefit of being better all-rounders (music/movies/games) if your main focus isn't competitive online gaming.  I picked up the Audio Technica ATR 4600 desktop/lapel mic for about $7, and it out performs the PC350 mic in every respect, despite being three feet from my mouth.  I can understand the appeal of a dedicated headset though, and was quite reluctant to part with mine due to the convenience of an all-in-one unit.  Just don't be surprised if the upgrade bug hits you after spending some time with the PC350s -- it's what led me here after all.  smily_headphones1.gif

post #10 of 14
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the info! I think the best thing to do would be get them, see how they fare for a while, and see if I can find somewhere to try an amp. Might have to see if ANYONE I know might have one I can borrow.

 

As for buying better cans and a dedicated mic, I do plan on using the set for gaming mainly, only the occasional movie or music session, so I think I would prefer the convenience of the whole set up. Plus, I'm getting the set for a good price as well, so it's hard to say no!

 

As far as amps go, I have seen some desktop ones for as little as £20, but other ones (mainly tubes or hybrids) seem to start at atleast £100. Is there going to be an appeciable difference between the two for a non-audiophile like myself? I have no doubt you get what you pay for, but as with almost everything, at a certain price point you start losing the value, and differences between price brackets starts getting so small it's not worth it unless you are a hardcore audiophile/overclocker/etc. 

post #11 of 14

From my personal experience, I found little difference in sound between my 3 amps ($170/$200/$450) with the PC350s.  If you find your soundcard can't push it to appropriate volumes (my onboard did just fine), then you pick up something like the FiiO E5 for a boost in volume.  A step up to something like the Nuforce Icon uDAC-2-HP ($100 American) would improve both your DAC and amp.  If you're in the UK (judging by your use of pounds) you could also consider purchasing the PC360s, which many regard as a better set all around and are a much easier load to drive.  In the States they're still fairly rare, or if you can find them, they carry a $250 price tag (vs. ~$130 for the PC350), but they seemed to be substantially cheaper over the pond  They are an open design though, which might not work in your environment. 

post #12 of 14
Thread Starter 
I had a look at the 360s recently, but I really do need enclosed headphones, otherwise I would probably be going for them. Plus, got a decent deal on the 350s which only makes the price difference larger.

I guess I will just have to wing it and see how it goes. Seems like whether or not I need an amp depends on my personal preference, which I won't know until they get here and I give them a couple of dozen hours.
post #13 of 14

I just picked up a used D2(pci verison of the D2X).

On the Asus website specs, it doesn't list anywhere that it has a built-in headphone amp, but I downloaded the online PDF manual of the my card(much more indepth then the one that came in the box) and it states that the card does indeed have a amplifier:

 

"The Front Out jack has a built-in high-quality amplifier to drive headphones.  Please connect your stereo headphones directly to this jack."

 

I havn't picked up any headphones yet(waiting for HD 555 to go on sale), but at least it saves me some money on buying an external amp.

 

Post #16

http://forums.techgage.com/showthread.php?t=2239&page=2

 

First sentence under the picture:

http://www.tech-freek.com/computers/hardware/asus-xonar-d2pm-7-1-channel-sound-card.html

 

Let me know how it works out

Cheers

post #14 of 14

The Asus Xonar D2 doesn`t have a built in amp. The article is faulty... About SQ though, I think the Asus Xonar D2 is more than enough for your px350. It`s a great card and I`m sure a Essence Stx wouldn`t give you any noticeable improvements.

 

Generally, I don`t think you need an amp for you headphones, but getting a decent one is always nice, as it might come in handy in the future, given that most people, in this hobby, start craving for perfection. I think you should check out the Headstage Arrow G3, it`s supposed to be a great amp and if you need extra juice, you can allows hook it up to your Asus Xonar D2.

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