Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Headphones (full-size) › Up and coming Audiophile, NOISE problem! Is this setup sufficient?
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Up and coming Audiophile, NOISE problem! Is this setup sufficient?

post #1 of 51
Thread Starter 

Hi everybody I am a newbie to the scene but I really love music and I wished someone introduced me to Hi-Fi music before! I've done my research, and have landed on the Audio Technica A700's after using the AD700's and and deciding the bass and "oomph" wasn't what I wanted. I have heard many people praise these two sets of headphones so I thought I couldn't go wrong! =D

 

This is my setup-

 

I have a Dell XPS 15 with an onboard RealTek sound card. I also bought a Fiio E5 headset amplifier to really bring out the bass as well as mids and highs (to possibly make up for ditching the AD700's).

Also, the XPS line comes with Waves Maxxaudio which I don't have much of a clue on how good this software is, or if its interfering with the sound quality. I should also mention this comes with Andrea's  microphone technology, which actually helps with the (tons) of noise I'm getting with my mic. (0 boost, sounds like complete trash with the boost turned up).

The drivers are up-to-date even the bios (which I read can mess things up).

 

And here lies my problem: NOISE! I can notice hissing sound when I have my volume turned up, but when the song goes quiet, if that makes sense. Also a huge issue is tons of noise when I listen to classical music! For example, Fur elise starts with a very noticable hissing and continues throughout the whole piece. I know the problem lies within the 5-khz to 10-khz range because when I turn those way down in an equalizer it goes away noticeably. And this applies to every version I have listened to, FLAC, youtube, spotify, etc.

 

I really want to bring the most out of my headphones but I feel like I'm plagued with insufficient hardware or faulty software. Is WAVES interfering with the potential of my headset? Or do I need to get an outboard sound card (suggestions?) Any suggestions are welcome and appreciated! Thanks and  this website is amazing!\

 

PS: I hope I posted in the right section, couldn't find a help section. 


Edited by micJaGr - 1/21/12 at 6:17pm
post #2 of 51

Most of the audio technica headphones are very efficient and so amplifies the slightest flaw of the amplifier.

 

Onboard realtek audio soudcard are very bad in comparison with a real headphone amp or even an HiFi amp.

 

post #3 of 51
Thread Starter 

Would using the Fiio E5 amp bypass the shortcomings of the crappy onboard sound card? Because if so, i think there still may be a problem :(

post #4 of 51

How do you have the E5 hooked up to the laptop? I believe it's only an amp, so you probably have it attached via the headphone jack, yes? That means you're running your signal through the laptop's DAC, the laptop's amp, and the E5 amp. That's just going to make the noise worse. Try something that's both an amp and a DAC, like the Fiio E10 (or E7 if you want to use it with an iPod or something).

 

You're probably better off using software equalization if you want more bass. Fiio's bass boost isn't especially good, it goes too high into the lower mid-range and muddies things up.

post #5 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by micJaGr View Post

Would using the Fiio E5 amp bypass the shortcomings of the crappy onboard sound card? Because if so, i think there still may be a problem :(

 

No, it just amplifies the signal it receives through the 3.5mm jack.  You need a USB DAC/amp like the Fiio E7/E10/E17, nuForce Icon Mobile, or iBasso D-Zero (these are the least expensive "audiophile grade" portable/transportable solutions).  You could also get something like the Asus Xonar U3, which is essentially the highly-praised Xonar DG card crammed into a USB stick.  It doesn't have the power or quality of the other options I mentioned, but it works just fine (I use one for my work setup) and is about half the price.  If you get sufficient volume out of your onboard sound, then the U3 won't have a problem powering your headphones.

 

And if you're curious, the hissing that you hear is most likely due to electronic interference from other internal components, not the sound card.  While the Realtek cards aren't great, they're not so bad as to produce random hissing.

post #6 of 51
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Head Injury View Post

How do you have the E5 hooked up to the laptop? I believe it's only an amp, so you probably have it attached via the headphone jack, yes? That means you're running your signal through the laptop's DAC, the laptop's amp, and the E5 amp. That's just going to make the noise worse. Try something that's both an amp and a DAC, like the Fiio E10 (or E7 if you want to use it with an iPod or something).

 

You're probably better off using software equalization if you want more bass. Fiio's bass boost isn't especially good, it goes too high into the lower mid-range and muddies things up.

 

 


Yep your exactly right, I'm using the e5 through the headphone jack. That makes sense that it would just amplify any sound (including noise). So as I see it my options are an outboard DAC (Fiio e7) or and outboard soundcard that handles the DAC? 
Unless ofcourse its a software problem, is waves maxxaudio good software?

 

EDIT: And if I understand this correctly the Fiio e7 is a DAC/Amp, whereas the Asus Xonar U3 is a outboard sound card with no amp?

 

EDIT2: Sorry for my persistance =D but as LimeANite said the noise is from electrical interference from internal components, would an outboard sound card bypass the interference?

 

 

Edited by micJaGr - 1/21/12 at 7:35pm
post #7 of 51

Doesn't matter if it has a dedicated amp or not. You just need something with a headphone jack that takes a digital signal from USB (or something). A sound card is a DAC, and an amp is just something that feeds voltage and current to headphones.

 

The Xonar U3 measures great everywhere but power (voltage and current) and output impedance. You don't want high output impedance with your headphones, so it's not a great option. The Fiio E10 is better than the E7 in pretty much every way, but doesn't have a battery and can't be used with portable players like iPods. You can always use the E5 for that, with a LOD like the Fiio L3 it will bypass the iPod's amp.

 

I'd recommend you try Foobar2000 or Winamp for audio players, but I doubt it's a software problem.

post #8 of 51
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Head Injury View Post

Doesn't matter if it has a dedicated amp or not. You just need something with a headphone jack that takes a digital signal from USB (or something). A sound card is a DAC, and an amp is just something that feeds voltage and current to headphones.

 

The Xonar U3 measures great everywhere but power (voltage and current) and output impedance. You don't want high output impedance with your headphones, so it's not a great option. The Fiio E10 is better than the E7 in pretty much every way, but doesn't have a battery and can't be used with portable players like iPods. You can always use the E5 for that, with a LOD like the Fiio L3 it will bypass the iPod's amp.

 

I'd recommend you try Foobar2000 or Winamp for audio players, but I doubt it's a software problem.


 

Ok thanks, I think ill go with the e7 or e10 because I think its a hardware issue. I use foobar for my FLAC's, and still get a great deal of hissing and noise with most tracks (mostly classical). oh gosh now i gotta look up LOD :D

 

EDIT: The only discrepancy I have now is whether to get the E7 or an outboard sound card? Since the E7 is a DAC and and amp, is that all I need?


Edited by micJaGr - 1/21/12 at 8:10pm
post #9 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by micJaGr View Post


Yep your exactly right, I'm using the e5 through the headphone jack. That makes sense that it would just amplify any sound (including noise). So as I see it my options are an outboard DAC (Fiio e7) or and outboard soundcard that handles the DAC? 
Unless ofcourse its a software problem, is waves maxxaudio good software?

 

EDIT: And if I understand this correctly the Fiio e7 is a DAC/Amp, whereas the Asus Xonar U3 is a outboard sound card with no amp?

 

EDIT2: Sorry for my persistance =D but as LimeANite said the noise is from electrical interference from internal components, would an outboard sound card bypass the interference?

 

 


A sound card is basically a DAC (Digital-Analog Converter) and an amplifier chip.  It's just called a "sound card" because it's an add-in card for your computer that handles sound.  And yes, a USB sound card or DAC/amp solution will bypass any internal electronic noise unless you have really, really lousy USB ports.  My 5-year-old Dell laptop has a terrible hissing problem through the built-in headphone jack, but with the U3 or E10 plugged in, it's dead silent.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Head Injury View Post

Doesn't matter if it has a dedicated amp or not. You just need something with a headphone jack that takes a digital signal from USB (or something). A sound card is a DAC, and an amp is just something that feeds voltage and current to headphones.

 

The Xonar U3 measures great everywhere but power (voltage and current) and output impedance. You don't want high output impedance with your headphones, so it's not a great option. The Fiio E10 is better than the E7 in pretty much every way, but doesn't have a battery and can't be used with portable players like iPods. You can always use the E5 for that, with a LOD like the Fiio L3 it will bypass the iPod's amp.

 

I'd recommend you try Foobar2000 or Winamp for audio players, but I doubt it's a software problem.


I agree that the E10 is better in all respects than the U3, but the U3 is $40 while the E10 is $80.  Since he's used to the onboard Realtek chipset, it will represent a very noticeable difference, even if it isn't the greatest thing out there.  If he's on a budget and doesn't plan to upgrade to something with much higher impedance (my U3 has trouble driving the FA-011 to a reasonable level, and that's only 125 ohms), the U3 will fill his needs.  Of course, if you can spend more, you get more, but for $40 on a laptop, you can't get much better.

 

post #10 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by LimeANite View Post

I agree that the E10 is better in all respects than the U3, but the U3 is $40 while the E10 is $80.  Since he's used to the onboard Realtek chipset, it will represent a very noticeable difference, even if it isn't the greatest thing out there.  If he's on a budget and doesn't plan to upgrade to something with much higher impedance (my U3 has trouble driving the FA-011 to a reasonable level, and that's only 125 ohms), the U3 will fill his needs.  Of course, if you can spend more, you get more, but for $40 on a laptop, you can't get much better.


Actually the only reason he should get a U3 is if he does plan on getting something with higher impedance. The U3 has very high output impedance, just over 20 ohms. He'd want a pair of headphones around 150 ohms to make the best of it, everything else might run into coloration issues, damping issues, and reduced voltage. The E10 on the other hand has 0.5 ohm output impedance, low enough that it won't cause problems with any headphone.

 

The U3 has very good distortion specs, nearly as good as the E10, but the output impedance is a big weakness.


Edited by Head Injury - 1/21/12 at 8:16pm
post #11 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by micJaGr View Post

 

EDIT: The only discrepancy I have now is whether to get the E7 or an outboard sound card? Since the E7 is a DAC and and amp, is that all I need?


They'll serve the exact same purpose, though the sound card will usually have a headphone input as well.  The E10 or E7 will be better than any USB sound card you can get for the same price though.  And unless you need the mobility, get the E10 - it's much better than the E7.  If you do need mobility and can swing the extra money, the E17 is the updated model of the E7, and is essentially a mobile version of the E10.  It'll run you about $140 though.

post #12 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by Head Injury View Post


Actually the only reason he should get a U3 is if he does plan on getting something with higher impedance. The U3 has very high output impedance, just over 20 ohms. He'd want a pair of headphones around 150 ohms to make the best of it, everything else might run into coloration issues, damping issues, and reduced voltage. The E10 on the other hand has 0.5 ohm output impedance, low enough that it won't cause problems with any headphone.

 

The U3 has very good distortion specs, nearly as good as the E10, but the output impedance is a big weakness.

 

I realize that, but the U3 doesn't have the power to drive most headphones with high impedance.  And honestly, I've never noticed significant problems using it with my DJ100s.  It doesn't sound as good as the E10, but it sounds better than the onboard audio on my home computer, which I thought was actually fairly decent.  And it sounds worlds better than the hissy garbage that comes out of my work PC.  It's not something I'd recommend to someone with experience in even mid-fi gear, but for someone starting out on a tight budget, it gets the job done.

post #13 of 51
Thread Starter 

Wow thanks a ton guys, I've been troubleshooting for like 2 days straight trying to figure this out. I think I'm going to go with the E7 or E10 because the impedence for the A700's are only 64 ohms, which is about half of the recommended 150. Im really loving this, i went from Gummi earbuds (LMFAO!) > AD700's > A700's + E5 > A700's + E10's? This is truly a great experience! Thank again guys I'm going for the E7's or E10's depending on price, UNLESS you strongly encourage otherwise :D

 

EDIT: Reason why the E10 http://www.amazon.com/FiiO-E10-USB-Headphone-Amplifier/dp/B005VO7LG6/ref=sr_1_1?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1327207191&sr=1-1
I
s cheaper than the E7 ?http://www.amazon.com/FiiO-E7-Portable-Headphone-Amplifier/dp/B003E6K1VK/ref=sr_1_5?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1327207178&sr=1-5

 

 

EDIT2: Im going for the E10 if it doesn't work I can alwys return it. THX AGAIN! 


Edited by micJaGr - 1/21/12 at 8:48pm
post #14 of 51

 

Because it is USB only, cannot be used as a portable (battery powered) device, and has less features. But it has better sound quality and higher maximum output voltage, and supports 96 kHz/24 bit (the usefulness of the latter is reduced by the still relatively high noise, though). It also does not disable the Windows volume control. The new E17 offers the best of both devices, and some more improvements, but it is not widely available yet, and is more expensive.

 


Edited by stv014 - 1/22/12 at 1:39am
post #15 of 51
Thread Starter 

Unfortunately guys I tried both the e7 and the e10 and neither fix any noise issue :(
Not sure if there's anything I can do now.

New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Headphones (full-size)
Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Headphones (full-size) › Up and coming Audiophile, NOISE problem! Is this setup sufficient?