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New to pretty much everything. Need help getting started

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 

Long story short, I started looking around for a new gaming headset about a month ago and ended up, well, here. I've lurked quite a bit and tried to gather as much as I could. To get started, I had a tight budget (sub $200) and ended up with the HD555 (arriving tomorrow) and this sound card. These choices were based on both my current and future situations as well as a ton of advice and research. Really, based on my current hobbies, I'm surprised it took me this long to get here.

 

That aside, I would have loved an internal sound card but ASUS decided it would be a great idea to disable my PCI slot when I'm running in SLI mode. But I just got this thing today and I've been messing around with things. Currently, I have the Logitech X-540 (yes, I'm aware of the abysmal quality) and even with these things, I notice a rather large difference. However, once the HD 555 arrives, I'm going to be using those primarily.

 

TL;DR, I need help getting them set up. Any advice?

post #2 of 13

Get yourself a decent media player - Windows media player is not the best in my opinion.

 

I run Foobar and Media Monkey.

 

Make sure your music files are decent, at least 256kbps+ MP3 or even better

- WAV or FLAC format.

 

Enjoy.

post #3 of 13
Thread Starter 

Actually, I made the switch to MediaMoney a bit ago. Any suggestions on what I should be using to convert what I have?

post #4 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by ibage View Post

Actually, I made the switch to MediaMoney a bit ago. Any suggestions on what I should be using to convert what I have?



dBpoweramp music converter. Free for 30 days, an excellent freeware converter that will convert

CD format to WAV, FLAC or Apple lossless codec.

post #5 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gwarmi View Post

Make sure your music files are decent, at least 256kbps+ MP3 or even better

- WAV or FLAC format.

 

Enjoy.


I'd highly disagree on the WAV format part. There's absolutely no benefit to wasting hard drive space using it vs any lossless format. You can't even use tags with it (legitimately at least)...

 

As for the OP, another thing to consider would be the output to the sound card - which would depend on your OS. With Vista and later you'd optimally want to use WASAPI output in your player, whereas in XP you'd want to use kernel streaming. Alternately you can use ASIO in either if your sound card's driver supports it (which I don't think that X-Fi does). Really though, all this information should be covered over in the computer audio forum.

 

Outside of basic setup which should be simple enough, I don't know what sort of advice you're looking for. You'll just get people telling you to get an amp. Then they'll tell to upgrade your source with {insert DAC here}, then to upgrade your headphones, then to upgrade your now insufficient amp, and so on and so forth until you're running a $1000+ headphone with a fully balanced amp/DAC and expensive custom cables. Asking for general advice is dangerous around here. wink.gif

post #6 of 13

Heya,

 

Foobar2000. Customize, customize, customize. Bit-matched.

Convert everything to FLAC. No need to keep waves, they take up more space and don't preserve quality.

Or, if space is an issue, convert everything to a minimum of 320kbps in terms of compression.

Most importantly, listen to music without thinking about it, for a few days, before forming an opinion about your new headphones.

 

Very best,

post #7 of 13
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kwisatz View Post


Outside of basic setup which should be simple enough, I don't know what sort of advice you're looking for. You'll just get people telling you to get an amp. Then they'll tell to upgrade your source with {insert DAC here}, then to upgrade your headphones, then to upgrade your now insufficient amp, and so on and so forth until you're running a $1000+ headphone with a fully balanced amp/DAC and expensive custom cables. Asking for general advice is dangerous around here. wink.gif


Heh, point taken. I frequent PC forums so I should know better.

 

In any case, is there any specific settings I should be fiddling with with my DAC for better quality there?

post #8 of 13

I don't have the X-Fi that you linked to, so I can't really comment much on any particular settings it has or doesn't have. In general though, disable any EAX and similar modes that Creative threw in there. All those filters and effects that the card might have for movies and games are useless for accurate music reproduction. Even if you're not interested in 100% accurate playback, any DSP type effects you might desire are best handled by filters for your music player instead of by the packed in Creative stuff.

post #9 of 13
Thread Starter 

Last question. 

 

The vast majority of my library is digital. My current living situation hasn't allowed for a whole lot of physical media. I'm not a fan of Apple in general but I keep hearing iTunes is the best. Should I just bite the bullet and go that way or is there another service I can use?

post #10 of 13

I'm also not a big fan of Apple and I find that for purchasing stuff online, Amazon is pretty darn good.  They have just about everything and for the most part, it's decent quality. 

post #11 of 13

Digital is an awfully generic term. Do you mean you've ripped CDs (which are digital in their own right mind you) to some format on your computer? Do you mean that you're using random MP3s that you've found on the net? And what do you need the service for? If providing downloadable versions of songs is your only goal, then there's a few services to consider that each have their up sides and down sides. What types of music do you listen to? 

 

And back to the question about what you already have. If you have/had lossy formats such as MP3s, I hope you weren't converting them to another format when you asked above on what to use to convert your files. Lossy files should never be converted again unless it can absolutely not be helped. You'll never gain sound quality, and almost certainly lose it unless you converted to a lossless format - in which case you'll have the same quality and a larger file. Lossless formats, however, can be converted between themselves any number of times, and a lossless file can be converted to a lossy format if needed in a portable environment.

post #12 of 13
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kwisatz View Post

Digital is an awfully generic term. Do you mean you've ripped CDs (which are digital in their own right mind you) to some format on your computer? Do you mean that you're using random MP3s that you've found on the net? And what do you need the service for? If providing downloadable versions of songs is your only goal, then there's a few services to consider that each have their up sides and down sides. What types of music do you listen to? 

 

And back to the question about what you already have. If you have/had lossy formats such as MP3s, I hope you weren't converting them to another format when you asked above on what to use to convert your files. Lossy files should never be converted again unless it can absolutely not be helped. You'll never gain sound quality, and almost certainly lose it unless you converted to a lossless format - in which case you'll have the same quality and a larger file. Lossless formats, however, can be converted between themselves any number of times, and a lossless file can be converted to a lossy format if needed in a portable environment.

Much of my library is from Amazon. In fact, I'd say about half. The other is physical. I plan on re-ripping them this weekend with a better format in mind. As far as preferences, it's mostly classic rock, alternative and progressive. I've picked up dubstep again though in small dosses. 

 

That aside, I read converting lower quality files into "better" ones was much like resolution and that to me made perfect sense so I haven't done much of anything with what I have yet. I was going to attempt to reorganize what I have this weekend.
 

 

post #13 of 13

With those interests, you're probably going to have to rely on the more mainstream sources with wide selections. For classic rock though, there's some at hdtracks.com.  They certainly don't have the widest selection, but what they do have is CD quality or better and DRM free.

 

Personally I hate the concept of paying for non-lossless downloads. Even if they were DRM free and the quality was so good that I couldn't tell the difference, it'd still bother me knowing that I can't ever convert them to anything else in the future. Perhaps some year we'll see widespread adoption of lossless downloads... I wouldn't hold my breath though. The music industry is pretty much stuck with their heads up their rear ends and feet in the sand. For now, I'd just buy the physical albums and rip them myself and then throw the disc away / resell it if I didn't have the room. Not even that big of a price difference really.

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