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New audio setup for new rig : noob need help !

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 

Hi everyone !

 

First things first, I am a total newbie with regards to audio stuff and hi-fi things. The best setup I had thus far was onboard + sennhs PC151. As you can see, I'm way off at the moment :-)

 

I've read tons of articles, forum threads and comments the last few days, and I feel a bit confused as to what setup I should get for my new rig.

My main activity on my desktop computer is gaming (90% of the time). I am not at all into competitive gaming, and overall sound quality is more important to me than anything else (like pinpoint positioning).
 

budget-wise, I would be ready to go as far as 400 EUR if you guys can convince me it's worth it :-)

 

If I buy "high-end" headphones, I will want to use them in the future for other purposes like piano playing (clavinova) or music listening.

I have no idea whether I should favor open-back heaphone or closed ones. I don't LAN that often (like twice a year, and I'd still have those PC151), but I do have the wife watching TV or listening to radio in the same room quite regularly. I would say I play computer games 50% of the time alone at home at 50% with the wife around.

 

There are lots of different offerings on the market right now, and I don't really know how I should consider them.

There's he  Xonar Xense bundle, which comes with a pair of Sennheiser PC350 (any good?).

If not choosing for this bundle :

Soundcards
Titanium HD, Essence ST(X) or the cheaper Xonar D(2)X (the lattest will probably need an additional amp if coupled with high-end headphones, from what I understand). Out of the reviews I read, the STX is universally acclaimed as wonderful. The Titanium HD on the other hand is praised by some, and questioned by others.

Headphones
many people advise for the DT880 (32/250/600 ?) and DT990 (32/250/600?). What about Sennheiser's HD600 / 650 ?

Headsets
Sennheiser's PC350 / 360, Beyerdynamic's MMX 300.

What additional HP Amp would you suggest, if any is needed ?

Thanks.

post #2 of 17

Headphone:

Audio Technica AD700 has an excellent soundstage. It seems to have especially found favour with FPS gamers because it great at acoustically pinpointing events.

 

Its great soundstage also lends itself well for classical music. However it does lack a bit in the bass department, and so is not as well suited for electronica, hip-hop, and other genres that are bass-heavy.

 

My understanding is that the AD700 performs fine without amping, although it should show  improvement with a good amp.

 

Soundcard:

Asus Essence design is oriented towards good 2.0 music reproduction, while I believe Creative based cards have a design more oriented towards gaming & movies.

 

If you are with WinXP, then a Creative Soundcard would best suit your needs. However with Vista & Win7, Microsoft changed the Sound API, so the EAX advantage of Creative is nullified. You should wait for others here to suggest a good gaming soundcard for Vista/Win7.


Edited by gryph0n - 4/17/11 at 8:19am
post #3 of 17
Thread Starter 

Thank you for your post, gryph0n. You pointed something very important that I forgot to mention in the first post : I am indeed under Win7 64bit.

 

I have indeed considered the AD700 pathway, but from what I read it is very "competitive gaming" oriented (positioning etc.). I am more looking forward to overall sound quality and immersive audio. That's why I kind of (erroneously ?) overlooked that option.

Though it's true that it's far more affordable than DT880 / DT990.

post #4 of 17

HD6x0 is a little easier to power than 250/600-ohm beyers.

Consider a Fostex T50RP and modify it, way better overall sound and soundstage than AD700/900.

Alternatively, consider AD900.  It may not be as good as DT880/990 and HD6x0 but it is far easier to power.

post #5 of 17
Thread Starter 

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mad Max View Post

 

Consider a Fostex T50RP and modify it, way better overall sound and soundstage than AD700/900.

 

Thanks Mad Max for the additional alternatives your are pointing me to.

However, I think I'd rather have something that I can use right out of the box than something I have to mod. I have too limited knowledge to dive in such adventures right now :-)

 

On the soundcard front, what would you advise me to go with ? Again, 90% gaming, 100% headphones.

Asus Xense bundle (which of course discard the need for an additional headphone))

Essence ST(X)

Creative Titanium HD -- will potentially need addtional amp

lower end card (Xonar DS / DX / D2X, X-Fi Titanium vanilla) -- will potentially need additional amp
 

 

post #6 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by bbross View Post

 

Thanks Mad Max for the additional alternatives your are pointing me to.

However, I think I'd rather have something that I can use right out of the box than something I have to mod. I have too limited knowledge to dive in such adventures right now :-)

 

On the soundcard front, what would you advise me to go with ? Again, 90% gaming, 100% headphones.

Asus Xense bundle (which of course discard the need for an additional headphone))

Essence ST(X)

Creative Titanium HD -- will potentially need addtional amp

lower end card (Xonar DS / DX / D2X, X-Fi Titanium vanilla) -- will potentially need additional amp
 

 



I don't think a Xonar D2X should be near those other lower end cards you mentioned.

post #7 of 17

bbross - I just wanted to comment that Asus Xonar Essence STX's software for windows 7 now works perfectly with 64 bit.  You may find some dated threads here (like I did) that talk about alot of issues with the software and win7x64, but since then Asus has updated things and it now works wonderfully.  

post #8 of 17
Thread Starter 

You're probably right and I should have known better only by looking at the price tags.

Anyway, I've decided to go the ASUS route, as it will prevent me from having to by an additional amp even if I happen to chose very demanding cans. Plus, from what I read, ASUS technology does not seem that much behind Creative's even for pure gaming purposes. Especially when you consider that I am more a casual gamer than a hardcore gamer regarding the types of games I play. I don't play competitive FPS and such things -- my wife would still be laughing like crazy if she knew I describe myself as "casual" gamer... wink.gif

 

So that leaves me with 

 

1/ Asus Xense Bundle

2/ Essence ST(X)  + Cans

3/ For the same price : Xonar DS / DX + Fiio E9 + Cans.

 

The advantages I see with the Xense bundle are :

+ price (220 EUR)

+ closed mid-end headphones included

+ a card that can drive very demanding cans for future upgrade

- it seems the PC350 are not that great, and I could get a better budget, closed headSET

 

The STX + Cans

+ Best setup I can afford right now (Sound Quality, Cans Quality)

- More expensive than previous solution

- I would go with open cans, which would let me with no closed cans for when the wife is at home (could still use the PC151 headset though)

 

Xonar + Fiio E9 + Cans

+ modularity : I could use the hp amp for other purpose like for my Clavinova digital piano --if it needs some as I can't seem to be able to find any information as to the capacity of the built-in dac / amp.

- same as above : open cans only

 

What would you go for if it were for yourselves ?

 

Edit - Thanks for the update on Win7 compatibility, Nova13.

 

 

post #9 of 17

I just started playing FPS games but still will never give up and regret that i went Essence STX route for my HD650 headphones (had to replace my belowed Auzen Prelude cause it was right next to video card so very little air had access to cool it)but since very little details of music are very important to me i also upgraded OPAMPs and i have no problems doing things under Windows 7 64 bit

post #10 of 17
Thread Starter 

I am sorry my english is bad enough that I don't understand whether you're saying you DON'T regret going the STX route or if you actually DO regret.

 

biggrin.gif

post #11 of 17

In case he does not reply - he does NOT regret it.  He likes his STX. :)

 

 

post #12 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by bbross View Post

I am sorry my english is bad enough that I don't understand whether you're saying you DON'T regret going the STX route or if you actually DO regret.

 

biggrin.gif


Yes I really ike it my STX. To be honest I was a little bit disappointed at the beginning but OPAMP upgrade fixed everything and now i can recommend to anybody especialy if you want to improve sound quality for HD650 without buying any external equipment but they also should be able to run a lot of other headphones too.

 

post #13 of 17
Thread Starter 

What OPAMP did you put ?

post #14 of 17
I have one LME49860NA and one LME49720NA,had no idea u should order a pair before too late but it works great
post #15 of 17

LME49990, 49725, and 49880 are supposedly real good.

A guy I know loves 49990 most.  He also found 49860 to be an upgrade over 49720 (a.k.a. LM4562).

 

Just some more rolling options for ya.  evil_smiley.gif

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