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The Nameless Guide To PC Gaming Audio (with binaural headphone surround sound) - Page 117

post #1741 of 3088

If you're getting the Titanium HD you will need an external amp. Only get the Titanium HD if you want absolute full control and compatibility over legacy gaming, other than that a ZxR is better both in signal quality and the amp department. 

post #1742 of 3088
Would matching up the Sound blaster Z I already have with an amp like the Matrix M-Stage (recommended in the Q701 thread) be better, or getting the ZxR by itself? Which would have the best all around sound quality, with fps gaming being the main priority.
post #1743 of 3088

Since you already have a Sound blaster Z, Better off getting the external amp and use it with the z, instead of going thru the return and getting hit with a restocking fee if there is one just to get the ZxR.

post #1744 of 3088

If you don't wanna go through the hassle of selling the Z and getting the ZxR just get the M-Stage - you'll have more cables though, more connections, more clutter. In both cases you will be very fine. Remember that audio is a chain and the ZxR has a better DAC. Won't matter much for games though.

post #1745 of 3088
Quote:
Originally Posted by roman797 View Post

Would matching up the Sound blaster Z I already have with an amp like the Matrix M-Stage (recommended in the Q701 thread) be better, or getting the ZxR by itself? Which would have the best all around sound quality, with fps gaming being the main priority.

The Z, Zx & ZxR use the same audio processor, but the ZxR comes with a better DAC, PCM1794.

The Z's CS4398 DAC chip should be good enough, better to spend the price difference (Z vs ZxR) on an external headphone amplifier for use with your Z card.

The Schiit Magni external headphone amplifier, $99, is at least equal (if not better?) then the ZxR built in amplifier (TI 6120).

post #1746 of 3088
So if I get an external amp like the Schiit Magni or M-Stage, how would I connect to the Z? From what I understand I would need to use the headphone out port to preserve virtual surround. But if I do this here is my concern, wouldn't by-amping be bad since the headphone out port is already amplified? Would I use SPDIF out instead, and if so would I get virtual surround?

Also it would not be a hassle to switch to the ZxR (no restocking fee) if that were the best option.
Edited by roman797 - 8/27/13 at 4:38pm
post #1747 of 3088
Even if you were to add the m stage to your z it still won't have the same clarity/sound quality that the zxr's DAC can offer. That's going to be the best sound quality. What is your reason for adding an amp to your z, what headphones are you using? Do you need that much more power or were u after just better sound quality. Because you will still be limited to the z's DAC.


If restocking fees aren't an issue then just go zxr. Less equipment, easier to manage.
post #1748 of 3088

Unless the DAC on the Z is particularly badly implemented, it should not really "limit" the sound quality. The Xonar D1, which uses the same CS4398 DAC, performs very well according to my tests, and I would not use the more expensive Essence STX over it for the DAC alone. Then again, maybe the SBZ has a worse implementation, but I do not have that card, so I cannot test it.

 

On the other hand, built-in headphone amplifiers on sound cards are often mediocre, and it is not just a power issue (although for the Q701 to be used by roman797 it might be). So, adding an external amplifier to the SBZ may make sense. The Matrix M-Stage seems to have a grounded AC connector, though, so I would personally avoid it in a sound card based setup, in which ground loops are a frequent problem. The O2 (or perhaps the Magni) would be a safer choice.

post #1749 of 3088
Not that its badly implemented because its not. What I mean is adding an amp won't magickly give it a better snr . So the DAC is always the limiting factor. If he needs more power for headphones then yes it will improve his headphones sound. I'm speaking strictly of the snr.

Going from the z to zxr netted pretty big sq gains for me. Remember the z's Headphone port is bottlenecked already by the maxxim amp after the DAC. Roughly 109 db snr. Not the 116 for line outs. The Headamp in the z is definitely mediocre/ok. But not bad at all. Was able to power DT 770 250 ohms with no issue.
post #1750 of 3088
Quote:
Originally Posted by DJINFERNO806 View Post

Not that its badly implemented because its not. What I mean is adding an amp won't magickly give it a better snr . So the DAC is always the limiting factor. If he needs more power for headphones then yes it will improve his headphones sound. I'm speaking strictly of the snr.

Going from the z to zxr netted pretty big sq gains for me. Remember the z's Headphone port is bottlenecked already by the maxxim amp after the DAC. Roughly 109 db snr. Not the 116 for line outs. The Headamp in the z is definitely mediocre/ok. But not bad at all. Was able to power DT 770 250 ohms with no issue.

 

I am not sure you know what 116 dB SNR (assuming it is not just a marketing figure not actually achieved in reality) really means. For that to produce audible hiss, you would need more than about 125 dB peak SPL (which is very loud, and would be too much for most people) even in a fairly quiet listening environment; even then, it would only be audible while no music is playing. Additionally, 16-bit CD quality music (which is something like 99% of the music currently sold) has only about 96 dB A-weighted dynamic range with typical simple dithering; adding a -116 dB noise floor to that would only make the overall noise level worse by a few hundredths of a dB, which is insignificant.

 

In other words, the SNR of any decent DAC is usually not much of an issue in practice; that is, assuming that the DAC is running at or not much lower than 100% digital volume, and the volume is mostly controlled downstream of the DAC (this is not the case with the amplified headphone outputs of sound cards like the Xonar Essence STX). At the headphone output, listening at a realistic level, the SNR of the amplifier can easily be much worse than 116 dB.

 

To get an idea what various levels of noise sound like, try this link, where you can compare a 24-bit sample to various quantized versions from 16-bit to 8-bit. The 16-bit sample has a dynamic range of about 97.3 dB (A-weighted), and losing one bit of resolution makes it worse by 6.02 dB. There is another test to try here, where short samples of various music have been recorded from a number of devices, including the Xonar D1 (~110 dB SNR at 44100 Hz sample rate), and even Realtek onboard codecs.

post #1751 of 3088
Lol my point was the headphone port isn't even 116 db. Every z owner pretty much says the line outs sound much better in terms of sq. So imagine compared to the zxr's headphone out. Huge difference in sq. I notice it and other do too.

At the end of the day I was tying to justify roman797's dilemma by saying upgrading to the zxr isn't diminished returns .
post #1752 of 3088

So from what I read on the Soundblaster Z/Zx/ZxR thread is that the ZxR is indeed a good improvement in sound clarity for headphone use.  

 

This would simplify things for me, and as long as the ZxR has a good amp that pairs relatively well with the Q701's, than I should be good.  If I get the itch to upgrade the amp in the future, that will always be an option.

 

My main concern I have is that I want the best sound quality for my new headphones.  I know the ZxR will indeed have better sound quality than the Z and a better amp, but would the amp be a good match with the Q701's, which seem to be picky in this regard.

 

I have contemplated sticking with the Z and getting a better amp because I figured that would give me better sound quality in the long run.  I could be wrong about this.  From what I have been reading on the Q701 thread, the Magni and O2 sound harsh with these HP's.  For other HP's they are excellent, but not the Q701's.  Many have recommended the M-Stage, stating that it pairs very well with the Q701's sound signature.

post #1753 of 3088
Well people over in the q701 thread have said it pairs really well with the stx which uses the same headphone amp as the zxr. So it seems ull be good.
post #1754 of 3088
Quote:
Originally Posted by DJINFERNO806 View Post

Well people over in the q701 thread have said it pairs really well with the stx which uses the same headphone amp as the zxr. So it seems ull be good.

I will be able to tell you guys in the coming weeks. I have the Q701, Titanium HD, and am about to trade my ATH Pro700 MKII to a buddy for his Xonar STX. This way I can compare the two soundcards and tell you which one's are truly better.

post #1755 of 3088

Hey everyone, new guy here. I'm looking for a recommendation for a pair of headphones/amp that would be good for gaming/movies, but that I could also use for my music needs. As a high school student I don't really have a load of money to buy multiple pairs of headphones for different uses. My music tastes vary greatly - I like hip hop, jazz, classical, ambient, and a lot of weird experimental stuff that can't really be put into a category. My budget is about $600, but I can stretch a little bit. My motherboard is the ASRock Z77 Extreme6 which has Realtek ALC898 Audio Codec, here's a link to some info - http://www.realtek.com.tw/products/productsView.aspx?Langid=1&PFid=28&Level=5&Conn=4&ProdID=284. My other question is do you think a sound card would be necessary or would I be able to get by without one? If you need any other information just ask, and if I'm asking for too much just let me know. Also, sorry if this is not the place to ask for a recommendation, I thought posting this here would be good since it's a gaming headphone thread. Thanks for the help, and sorry for my lack of knowledge. I'll keep researching in the meantime.


Edited by peskybrat - 8/28/13 at 7:26pm
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