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Connect amp to computer soundcard?

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 

So am thinking about buying some new headphones and a amp. But am a bit curious on how you go about connecting a headphone amp to the computer.

 

My soundcard atm is a Creative X-FI Xtrememusic, do you just connect the amp to one of the 3.5mm connectors on the soundcard, and then plug the headphones into the amp? Or do i need some other equipment for my creative soundcard to connect the amp? Maybe it won't work at all?

post #2 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nitrius View Post
So am thinking about buying some new headphones and a amp. But am a bit curious on how you go about connecting a headphone amp to the computer.

My soundcard atm is a Creative X-FI Xtrememusic, do you just connect the amp to one of the 3.5mm connectors on the soundcard, and then plug the headphones into the amp? Or do i need some other equipment for my creative soundcard to connect the amp? Maybe it won't work at all?

Yep, just connect the headphone amplifier to the "line 1" jack on the sound card and in the control panel set output to "2 Speaker".

This will give you 2.0 stereo output to the headphones amplifier.

 

You could also just buy an Asus Xonar DG sound card which come with a decent built in headphone amplifier.

But it does not come with native EAX 5.0 support, it does try to "emulate" EAX 5.0.

The Xonar DG does come with Dolby Headphone 5.1
 

 


Edited by Tacoboy - 8/30/11 at 7:34am
post #3 of 12
Thread Starter 

But do you need some kind of cabel converter? Or do most headphone amps have a 3.5mm cabel/plug you can put into a soundcard? Thought maybe most headphone amps used coaxial or rca cables or something?

 

And the Asus soundcard, is that the only one which got a built in headphone amp?

post #4 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nitrius View Post

But do you need some kind of cabel converter? Or do most headphone amps have a 3.5mm cabel/plug you can put into a soundcard? Thought maybe most headphone amps used coaxial or rca cables or something?

 

And the Asus soundcard, is that the only one which got a built in headphone amp?

The Xonar DG headphone amplifier is really just an extra chip built in to the card, so the card has the same kind of mini stereo jacks (3.5mm) as on the Xtreme Music.

So you will plug in your headphones just like you do on the Xtreme Music.

The Asus Xonar DG is the only low cost sound card with a built in headphone amplifier.

The new Creative labs Titianium HD has a built in headphone amplifier (I'm assuming the amplifier is better the the DG), best price on the Titanium HD is $136.
 

 

post #5 of 12
Thread Starter 

When you mentioned soundcard with built in amp, i got a bit curious, and found that Asus have other card with it as well, looks like their high-end card with built in amp is the http://www.asus.com/Multimedia/Audio_Cards/Xonar_Essence_STX/

 

Looks tempting, maybe buy that and a new pair of headphones. But are there any big differences with an built in amp on the sound card like this, and a standalone amp? Got a feeling a standalone amp probably will deliver more power, but i don't really have a clue. Only downside with a standalone amp is more wires and an extra box outside the case, but that's really not a big problem. But i must say soundcard with built in amp looks interesting.

 

If anyone got more info on the subject please share =)

 

 

Edit: Also, could i disable the amp on the Asus Xonar Essence STX and use an external amp if i wanted? Or would i need another soundcard again then?


Edited by Nitrius - 8/30/11 at 4:26pm
post #6 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nitrius View Post
When you mentioned soundcard with built in amp, i got a bit curious, and found that Asus have other card with it as well, looks like their high-end card with built in amp is the http://www.asus.com/Multimedia/Audio_Cards/Xonar_Essence_STX/

Looks tempting, maybe buy that and a new pair of headphones. But are there any big differences with an built in amp on the sound card like this, and a standalone amp? Got a feeling a standalone amp probably will deliver more power, but i don't really have a clue. Only downside with a standalone amp is more wires and an extra box outside the case, but that's really not a big problem. But i must say soundcard with built in amp looks interesting.

If anyone got more info on the subject please share =)

Edit: Also, could i disable the amp on the Asus Xonar Essence STX and use an external amp if i wanted? Or would i need another soundcard again then?

I just used the Titanium HD as the lowest cost (of the higher end) sound cards with built in headphone amp. as an example.

I just bought a used Essence STX last week, already upgraded the 2 headphone op-amps from 2114D to LME49860NA.

(I'm also looking at even upgrading to the LME49990 op-amps)

Nice thing about using the STX is everything is built into one device (headphone amp. and Dolby Headphone 5.1)

You can get a external headphone amplifier starting at $50. but it may not be worth it over the STX unless you spend (guessing) over $100.

You would not need to disable the headphone amp. on the STX to hook up an external amp.

The STX has a 1/4 headphone jack, but you would use the RCA jacks for the external amp.

 


 

 

post #7 of 12
Thread Starter 

Well, going a bit towards the road of off topic now, but while we are talking about it, both Asus Xonar Essence STX and Creative X-Fi Titanium HD looks interesting, but am leaning towards Asus as i want to try out something new. But are there any major differences between the two? Don't really care that much for EAX, don't think a lot of games use it these days anyway? But yea my computer is used for gaming, but i listen to a lot of music as well.

post #8 of 12
Thread Starter 
Question about volume with a amp, where should you control it? Would it be okay to set windows volume and foobar2000 volume to max and only control the volume on the amp?
post #9 of 12

i use my ff400 with adam a7,set amarra max volume then control with the ff400.i use the 1/4 ->rca adaptor to connect the monitor 

post #10 of 12

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tacoboy View Post

Yep, just connect the headphone amplifier to the "line 1" jack on the sound card and in the control panel set output to "2 Speaker".

This will give you 2.0 stereo output to the headphones amplifier.


Actually, you don't want to do that, because newer games using XAudio2, FMOD, and so forth look at the Windows sound control panel setting. If it only sees stereo, stereo is all the imaging you get when using CMSS-3D Headphone (which only becomes available when the X-Fi control panel is set to Headphones, and yes, they can be set asynchronously). Don't worry about not being able to hear anything; the X-Fi will downmix automatically, whether CMSS-3D Headphone is on or off.

 

DirectSound3D and OpenAL games don't have this problem since they have a proper sound renderer that gives 3D spatial coordinates for the sound driver to work with (it's not the API/audio renderer's job to decide where and how to play back those sounds, but the sound card driver's job), and CMSS-3D Headphone can just work off that directly instead of having to map everything to a virtual 7.1 speaker configuration first.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nitrius View Post

Well, going a bit towards the road of off topic now, but while we are talking about it, both Asus Xonar Essence STX and Creative X-Fi Titanium HD looks interesting, but am leaning towards Asus as i want to try out something new. But are there any major differences between the two? Don't really care that much for EAX, don't think a lot of games use it these days anyway? But yea my computer is used for gaming, but i listen to a lot of music as well.


I still play a lot of older games, so EAX has quite a bit of importance to me. Don't know about your tastes in games, though. If it's some newer title that's downgraded its audio with XAudio2 or FMOD or some such audio renderer that pre-mixes the sounds to surround speaker positions before it ever hits the sound card driver, then it mostly becomes a matter of which card's sound signature you prefer and whether you favor CMSS-3D Headphone or Dolby Headphone as your binaural surround filter of choice (if you even choose to use either; some people don't like either one at all and just play in stereo).

 

Anyway, as for connecting an amp, you may need a 3.5mm TRS to dual RCA adapter (or a straight-up cable built like that, like what you can get on Monoprice), since most amps have dual RCA inputs. This gives you more flexibility in sound cards, though you'll still be limited to XtremeMusic sound quality. It's your call as to which route you want to take, partially decided by what headphones you're trying to amp to begin with.

post #11 of 12

Line out from your soundcard to the amp and then amp to your headphones.  Finally headphones to your ears.

 

Done!

post #12 of 12
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