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Buying Sennheiser PC360 headset, Fiio E9 worth it?

post #1 of 3
Thread Starter 

As topic title says, I will be purchasing a pair of PC360's fairly soon. I was wondering if the Fiio E9 desktop amp will make any difference on this headset.

 

I already have a soundcard (Omega Claro Plus), and I also have a Fiio E11 for use on the go.

 

Is the E9 in my case worth it?

 

Thanks.

post #2 of 3

I'm wondering the same, I'm getting the PC360s soon also. But I do not understand what would be the point in getting the Fiio E9 or Astro Mixamp if you already own a soundcard? I thought the amplifiers were for people without a soundcard or console players. Could someone please explain? Thanks.

post #3 of 3
Quote:
Originally Posted by FalxY View Post

I'm wondering the same, I'm getting the PC360s soon also. But I do not understand what would be the point in getting the Fiio E9 or Astro Mixamp if you already own a soundcard? I thought the amplifiers were for people without a soundcard or console players. Could someone please explain? Thanks.

 

Soundcards are primarily digital to analogue converters - however for most intents and purposes they are generally more like digital processors than the devices we typically refer to as a DAC. Though "DAC" may refer to the chip that does the digital to analogue conversion, if we refer to the device as a whole, in Hi-Fi terms the "DAC" unit is usually a stereo device while a "processor" is usually a surround sound device, plus options for tweaking. A car audio processor for example is more likely to be capable of just stereo than surround, but has processors for the complex speakers. A headphone only has one driver per side, so think of a car's system as the TripleFi10, and the processor handles the distribution of the sound to each driver, plus time delay to simulate sitting in the center.

 

Amplifiers like the E9 and the mixamp are headphone amplifiers. Some soundcards may have headphone outputs, true, but when driving headphones, IEMs, speakers, etc, you need power and current. Some may require more outright power, some may require more current, some may require a lot of both - either way the soundcard is usually insufficient. In most cases it can sound loud enough for you to never max out the volume, but is the sound clean? Is the sound more or less balanced from the lowest bass to the highest notes? Do you hear the difference between softer notes and louder notes?


As an example as to why an amp (and/or a DAC) may be necessary despite a soundcard, let's go back to a computer. Let's say you have an HD monitor or TV for it. Your APU might be an IVY Bridge Intel Core i7 with an HD3000 GPU built into it. Now you want to play COD4 - would you say that you might need an NVidia GT520? But your CPU has a GPU and the motherboard has a soundcard, right? If you still think you still need the GT520, then it's the same thing for some headphone and some amps. Some can get around it by using a laptop with an AMD A8-3520, like what I'm using, which is like using a device that has both a DAC and a powerful amp inside - it's more a matter of whether your money went more into a sophisticated DAC or a more powerful amp, which again isn't all about absolute output, but clean output with a lot of current.

The console player on one hand just doesn't have a headphone output, but the HDTV might; BUT, what I said about soundcards' amps apply to it too. Personally I don't really see headphone amps as necessary for gaming. Processors, definitely, whether it's as simple as your motherboard's soundcard with Logitech speakers (as on my desktop PC) or a separate processor from Anthem paired with a 4ch Acurus power amplifier, Mission speakers and a Velodyne sub (what I hope my HT would be made of), but not stereo sound.

 

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I can't give any specific answer regarding the PC360's performance with the E9, or any amp for that matter, but one problem with using it with a Hi-Fi amp or DAC is that you will lose the headset functionality. Pro-audio interfaces have a microphone input, but you'd have to re-terminate the PC360's cable to make it work. In any case, I think the PC360 has already been designed to work with just soundcards, so it should be efficient enough. One way to test is to hook up the E11 to it and see if there's any difference - just use the appropriate cable.


Edited by ProtegeManiac - 6/13/12 at 1:37pm
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