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New to High-End PC Audio - Advice?

post #1 of 41
Thread Starter 

I recently updated my computer and wanted to start getting more serious about my Audio. I mostly game on this computer, along with Skype and the usual suspects. My budget is essentially unlimited. My goal is :

 

- A very nice headset, mostly for gaming. I was thinking this :

 

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B003DA4D2U/ref=asc_df_B003DA4D2U1808081?smid=ATVPDKIKX0DER&tag=hyprod-20&linkCode=asn&creative=395093&creativeASIN=B003DA4D2U

 

- A good sound card, I was thinking one of these :

 

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16829271004

 

or

 

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16829271003

 

- A set of really nice 2.0 speakers. These will mostly be used for music, Skype and listening to games when I do not want to use a headset. A caveat here, is I have a monster 30" monitor (HP Z230w) so I have about 6-8" on each side of the monitor to spare. I thought about 2.1, but I don't really even turn the subwoofer up on my current system very much.

 

I want these be able to switch from the headset to the speakers effortlessly, like I have right now with my current headset and speakers. Thank you in advance for your help!

post #2 of 41

If all you want to do is use your headset, or stereo monitors, why get the 8 channel card?  What is your current setup?

 

Also, if your budget is unlimited, why not go with an external DAC?  The further removed from the inside of a computer, the better it will sound, in my opinion.

 

You might want to think about the type of 2 channel setup you want to use.  I think you will find "something" is missing, unless your 2 channel speakers are very good; not using a sub that is.  With a "2.1" type setup, the low end is covered, allowing the midrange drivers to do what they are suppose to do, instead of being a compromise.

post #3 of 41
Thread Starter 

Like I said, I am 100% completely new to nice audio, that is why I am asking for advice. I have been using the same Creative Speakers for every computer I've built for like the past 10 years. My  headset now is :

 

http://www.amazon.com/Sony-DR-GA500-Gaming-Audio-Headset/dp/B0049MOF4W/ref=sr_1_2?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1323106360&sr=1-2

post #4 of 41

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Eightythree View Post
My budget is essentially unlimited.

Best be careful with a statement like that...it's all too easy to recommend you a Stax SR-009 + Blue Hawaii SE is money is really no object. That's roughly US$10,000, and you'll still have to wait a year or so on the BHSE. For the source, just pick up a cheap X-Fi Titanium (for its gaming DSP features) and use the S/PDIF output to feed an audiophile DAC. There's a reason why they greet new users here with "Sorry about your wallet."

 

I'm guessing that your budget isn't THAT unlimited, in which case I'd suggest dropping it down to a used Stax Lambda system if you're still willing to spend about $300-600 (depends on what used deals you can find, and whether or not you have a speaker amp to drive the cheaper sets with transformer boxes) and feeding the amp with an X-Fi Titanium HD (unless you need 7.1 analog output, then hunt down an X-Fi Prelude, Forte, or HomeTheater HD).

 

Need a mic? Go look into an AntLion ModMic. It certainly seems like a promising product, with the nifty advantage of being easily attachable to any competent headphone...and easily detachable, too. (Or if your budget is really unlimited...a balanced condenser microphone fed into a professional preamp/audio interface, if overkill isn't enough.)

 

For loudspeakers...I have no idea. That's not an area I really look into, save for expensive ESLs. (Quad, MartinLogan, Acoustat, etc.)


Edited by NamelessPFG - 12/5/11 at 3:10pm
post #5 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by Eightythree View Post

 

- A very nice headset, mostly for gaming.


I would suggest the Beyerdynamic DT 290 MKII.  They are a DT 250 with a high quality mic attached.  The DT's are a good choice for marathon gaming sessions as they are lightweight, have velour earpads rather than pleather, and have a fairly flat frequency response with slightly rolled off treble.  All this means they will be comfy for extended periods, and the sound will not fatigue your ears.  They also have a fairly low impedance of 80ohm, which means just about any source will have adequate power to drive them. 


Edited by Lloyd84 - 12/5/11 at 9:32pm
post #6 of 41

unlimited budget here means 10,000-buck suggestions... so... What's your budget again? 500? 1000? or you really meant unlimited?

post #7 of 41

for actual speakers I would consider the PSB imagine mini or the Audioengine p4.  But you'd have to supply your own amp.  To keep within a decent budget maybe an audioengine n22.  Pic on top is the imagine mini and the one on the bottom is the p4.  Pics just for size reference.  

PSB_Imaginemini_BeautyGroup.jpg

Audioengine_N22_P4_1.jpg

 

 

As for the sound card, I went with an external dac and amp for music and use the onboard for games.  I don't really see the point in having a 5.1 or higher sound card.  Perhaps to use for movies, but for movies I rather watch it on the tv.  

post #8 of 41

If you really want a sound card I would look hard at the Asus Essence STX/ST. Probably the best PC/gaming soundcard IMO. 

 

Headset is really preference. I would try and audition if you can. Does the mic need to be attached? If not, I use a Zalman clip mic that works great and is cheap. 

 

Of couse a higher end DAC and AMP will probably be better, but that Asus card is really good. Get a pair of Senn HD650s and that Asus card and I think you will be pretty happy. In the future you can always add a nice DAC and AMP when this hobby really gets addicting lol.

post #9 of 41
Thread Starter 

Wow, thank you guys for all the detailed advice.

 

When I meant unlimited, under $2000 is cool as long as it fits on my desk. I now think I am going to just use the microphone on my Logitech C910 (It's just for Skype mostly and some online games) and focus on a high end headphone set. Do you need a headphone amp to power these higher nice headsets? The Omega Claro Halo advertises a built in headphone amp.

 

Now since these headphones are mostly for gaming usage, not music, are they surround sound? I play a lot of FPS titles and knowing where shots are coming from is obviously important.


Edited by Eightythree - 12/6/11 at 9:45am
post #10 of 41
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by soymilkftw View Post

for actual speakers I would consider the PSB imagine mini or the Audioengine p4.  But you'd have to supply your own amp.  To keep within a decent budget maybe an audioengine n22.  Pic on top is the imagine mini and the one on the bottom is the p4.  Pics just for size reference.  

PSB_Imaginemini_BeautyGroup.jpg

Audioengine_N22_P4_1.jpg

 

 

As for the sound card, I went with an external dac and amp for music and use the onboard for games.  I don't really see the point in having a 5.1 or higher sound card.  Perhaps to use for movies, but for movies I rather watch it on the tv.  


I'm really liking the Audio Engine P4 + N22 Amp set up, it looks compact and powerful enough for my available desktop space. How are the bass on these? Do you have any suggestions on a external DAC to connect that too?


Edited by Eightythree - 12/6/11 at 9:38am
post #11 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by Eightythree View Post

Wow, thank you guys for all the detailed advice.

 

When I meant unlimited, under $2000 is cool as long as it fits on my desk. I now think I am going to just use the microphone on my Logitech C910 (It's just for Skype mostly and some online games) and focus on a high end headphone set. Do you need a headphone amp to power these higher nice headsets? The Omega Claro Halo advertises a built in headphone amp.


The Essence ST(X) series that was mentioned earlier also have built in headphones amplifiers if your headphones require them.

I would suggest going with a surround card even if you are only going to be using stereo as it give you upgrade options for the future.

Usually sets with higher impedance will require a headphones amplifier but you can always get an external headphone.

 

A common gaming setup, is to buy a used gaming card say a X-Fi X-tremeMusic, you can find them for under $40 and use the S/Pdif output to drive a nice

DAC /headphones amplifier.  This way the card takes care of all your gaming requirements and you put your money where it does the most good, in the output section.

You have a nice budget to work with so do your homework and you should end up with a solid system.

 

Do you have any idea of what type or brand of speaker you are looking for?

I would recommend a set of bookshelf speakers and a subwoofer...this way you can always add more speakers down the road for full surround sound if your needs change.


Edited by ROBSCIX - 12/6/11 at 9:49am
post #12 of 41
Thread Starter 

After reading this thread here is what I am thinking :

 

Speakers :

 

  • Audioengine P5 Speakers : : $399
  • Audioengine A8 Subwoofer : $350
  • Audioengine N22 Amp : $200
  • External DAC ?

 

Headphones :

 

  • Sennheiser 650 (Wondering how good their surround sound is for gaming, which is what they will be almost exclusively used for.) ~ $360
  • Headphone Amp?

 

Microphone :

 

  • Logitech C910 Microphone (Already own.)

 

Soundcard :

 

  • Don't even know what I need to power the above set-up.

 

My only concern about the speaker set-up is, since they will all be pretty much in my face (speakers on desk) or directly under my feet (subwoofer under my desk) how much overkill is it?


Edited by Eightythree - 12/6/11 at 10:15am
post #13 of 41

I would go with a HD 650 paired with a WooAudio 6 imo. Never head this personally, but I hear it is a nice combination. For a DAC, I am not too sure, and just get a sound card with S/Pdif out and you are set.

post #14 of 41
Thread Starter 

I found this on Amazon :

 

FiiO E9 and E7 Bundle Desktop and Portable Headphone Amplifier with USB DAC

Would this satisfy both the headphone amp and external DAC gap in my set-up? So it sounds like you plug everything into this, then a USB cord into the computer?

post #15 of 41

If you need something that is portable then yes it is a good setup. But if this is strictly for the PC, then the Asus STX is far better imo. AFAIK both have the same or similar DACs.

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