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The Nameless Guide To PC Gaming Audio (with binaural headphone surround sound) - Page 157

post #2341 of 3032
I was looking at getting the ZxR because of the reviews saying it has a better DAC and amp. Daughter board is pretty cool looking too, not sure what to use it for but I do like making music so could be nice.

But if I can get the Z for the same SBX surround features and get an external DAC to power the headphones such as an Audio Engine D1(it has the optical inputs to connect to sound card) Would that be a better choice than just getting the ZxR?

Or will I barely notice a difference with headphones under $400?

Does the ACM module really detract from the sound that much? (I like the ability to control volume from an external unit)

Audio Engine D1 has a volume control, so that is perfect for me.


Thanks for the help guys, this has been quite the decision for me. Haven't had to research this much on any part for my comp yet and want to make sure I'm getting the best possible for my money.
post #2342 of 3032

Get the ZxR. I was in exactly your boat - I wanted an external DAC/Soundblaster Z (connected optically) solution to at least match the ZxR or STX. It's a more expensive option unfortunately to match the performance of those cards AND use the surround DSP's for gaming. Just go for the ZxR. See how you go, and upgrade from there if you want. Maybe just do it in stages.. unlike me.

 

http://www.head-fi.org/t/623079/creative-sound-blaster-new-series-z-zx-zxr .. do a search here, or even better read through it all. Look through this thread too. It's worth it. Headphones/sets and Dacs/soundcards... and amps ...are seriously by far the most difficult thing you can ever ever choose for your home entertainment.

 

$400 headphones.. !!! you'll notice a difference in music at least if you lay out that kind of cash with the ZxR.

 

ACM has been discussed to death.. search for "ACM". In short, they're ****.

post #2343 of 3032

Ok, seems like the easiest option too. This way I get all the features I want and can still power most of the headphones I have been looking at without losing the surround features and what not. 

 

I like the ACM for the fact I can control volume externally. That is also why I like the Audio Engine D1 which is roughly $170. 

You wouldn't ever use it though? Not even for gaming? (remember I have been using Razer Megalodon so all these options will own them in regards to quality)

 

If anyone has experience with using a SB Z with the Audio Engine D1, chime in please. Otherwise I will end up getting the ZxR when Monday comes around. I feel like that will be a huge jump anyways from my USB cans and my old X-Fi.

 

If I did do the SB Z w/ Audio Engine D1, I would just plug the soundcard optical out into the D1 optical In and I would get the Surround features while getting a quality DAC/amp from the D1?

 

Would the SB Z w/ D1 be noticeably better for SQ compared to the ZxR or would it be minimal?

 

Sorry I am a noob when it comes to PC audio, when it comes to cars It's a different story but there is tons of options for PC.

 

Thanks again, major help guys!

post #2344 of 3032
Quote:
Originally Posted by Woesty420 View Post

Ok, seems like the easiest option too. This way I get all the features I want and can still power most of the headphones I have been looking at without losing the surround features and what not. 

I like the ACM for the fact I can control volume externally. That is also why I like the Audio Engine D1 which is roughly $170. 
You wouldn't ever use it though? Not even for gaming? (remember I have been using Razer Megalodon so all these options will own them in regards to quality)

If anyone has experience with using a SB Z with the Audio Engine D1, chime in please. Otherwise I will end up getting the ZxR when Monday comes around. I feel like that will be a huge jump anyways from my USB cans and my old X-Fi.

If I did do the SB Z w/ Audio Engine D1, I would just plug the soundcard optical out into the D1 optical In and I would get the Surround features while getting a quality DAC/amp from the D1?

Would the SB Z w/ D1 be noticeably better for SQ compared to the ZxR or would it be minimal?

Sorry I am a noob when it comes to PC audio, when it comes to cars It's a different story but there is tons of options for PC.

Thanks again, major help guys!

While the AKM4396 DAC in the D1 is actually quite good in my opinion(I would say its sq is somewhere in between the z and zxr), the output power is only 2vrms which may give you issues with higher impedence headphones. So that's an issue you may have in the future.

So unless you need the d1 for console gaming, just buy the zxr.

Unless you are OK with upgrading the d1 down the road at some point.
post #2345 of 3032
Quote:
Originally Posted by Woesty420 View Post
 

Ok, seems like the easiest option too. This way I get all the features I want and can still power most of the headphones I have been looking at without losing the surround features and what not. 

 

I like the ACM for the fact I can control volume externally. That is also why I like the Audio Engine D1 which is roughly $170. 

You wouldn't ever use it though? Not even for gaming? (remember I have been using Razer Megalodon so all these options will own them in regards to quality)

 

If anyone has experience with using a SB Z with the Audio Engine D1, chime in please. Otherwise I will end up getting the ZxR when Monday comes around. I feel like that will be a huge jump anyways from my USB cans and my old X-Fi.

 

If I did do the SB Z w/ Audio Engine D1, I would just plug the soundcard optical out into the D1 optical In and I would get the Surround features while getting a quality DAC/amp from the D1?

 

Would the SB Z w/ D1 be noticeably better for SQ compared to the ZxR or would it be minimal?

 

Sorry I am a noob when it comes to PC audio, when it comes to cars It's a different story but there is tons of options for PC.

 

Thanks again, major help guys!

 

 

I wouldn't get the D1 regardless, at least not if your planning on powering headphones directly from it.  It does not have much of an amp section.  It only puts ~100 mw into 32 ohms.  That's pretty weak.  For comparison, the TPA6120 amp used in the ZxR puts about ~900 mw into 32 ohms.  You do the math.  The D1 is essentially just a straight up line-out (2 vrms) DAC without an additional headphone amp section.  It's like powering all your headphones straight from an ODAC.

 

Also, it does it all with a 10 ohm ouput impedance, which isn't ideal for something that expensive/weak.  The ZxR also has a 10 ohm output impedance, but at least it's ~9 times more powerful.  Putting the D1 after the ZxR in the chain is just going to choke the signal UNLESS you add another external desktop amplifier after the D1. 

 

 

I would avoid using the ACM also, as it's known to reduce the sound quality.  It doesn't make much sense to pay more money for higher sound quality just to bottleneck it with something like the ACM.

 

 

The ZxR is $224.  If you wanted to go with a SB Z + external DAC and amp for the SAME budget, it would be...

 

  $224 (theoretical budget)

- $80 (Z OEM)

_______________

= $144 leftover for amp and DAC.

 

Which would basically mean options like the E09K or Magni for the amp (~$100), and basically the D03K for the DAC (~$28).

BTW, the ZxR and E09K both use the same TPA6120 amp.

 

Of course, that's a strict budget.  With the external route you have the option of always upgrading either the external amp or DAC sections later (and individually) as your budget permits.  So if your going to be in the headphone hobby for a while and plan to listen a lot to the music, you might eventually do that anyways - at which point you would exceed the performance of the ZxR alone.  If you get the ZxR, it's perfectly fine but your stuck with the hardware on the card, so to speak. 


Edited by chicolom - 1/4/14 at 2:48pm
post #2346 of 3032
Just an FYI, the zxr actually has 40 ohm impedence. The z has 30.

Just one of the reasons I sold my zxr.
post #2347 of 3032

Actually DJ, that Russian site measured the Z at 18 ohms.

post #2348 of 3032
Quote:
Originally Posted by Woesty420 View Post
 

Ok, seems like the easiest option too. This way I get all the features I want and can still power most of the headphones I have been looking at without losing the surround features and what not. 

I like the ACM for the fact I can control volume externally. That is also why I like the Audio Engine D1 which is roughly $170. 

You wouldn't ever use it though? Not even for gaming? (remember I have been using Razer Megalodon so all these options will own them in regards to quality)

If anyone has experience with using a SB Z with the Audio Engine D1, chime in please. Otherwise I will end up getting the ZxR when Monday comes around. I feel like that will be a huge jump anyways from my USB cans and my old X-Fi.

If I did do the SB Z w/ Audio Engine D1, I would just plug the sound card optical out into the D1 optical In and I would get the Surround features while getting a quality DAC/amp from the D1?

Would the SB Z w/ D1 be noticeably better for SQ compared to the ZxR or would it be minimal?

Sorry I am a noob when it comes to PC audio, when it comes to cars It's a different story but there is tons of options for PC.

Have you considered getting the Asus Xonar DX or D1 sound card (used, $60) and a Schiit Magni headphone amplifier ($99).

Your getting a nice external amp with a volume knob at your finger tips

and the DX/D1 uses the same CS4398 DAC chips as the Z & Zx.

post #2349 of 3032

I've been looking at the Asus stuff, but I've been constantly reading that the SB cards SBX pro studio is much better for surround then the Dolby Headphone Asus uses and my main use will be gaming. I also was checking out the Razer Surround, but SBX is still more favored from what I have seen.

 

What about the Z with the Magni? I will do some research into that DAC though and check it out.

 

DJINFERO, you didn't like your ZxR? Or just wasn't powerful enough for your use?

 

How much would I need to spend to get a much better external DAC/amp then the ZxR?

 

This jump is still already huge from my previous setup, so I could always upgrade down the road once I've gotten tired of the new setup.

 

Need to order me a modmic for whatever pair of cans I get, those look awesome!! I can wait for the order.

post #2350 of 3032
Quote:
Originally Posted by Woesty420 View Post
 

What about the Z with the Magni? I will do some research into that DAC though and check it out.

 

DJINFERO, you didn't like your ZxR? Or just wasn't powerful enough for your use?

 

How much would I need to spend to get a much better external DAC/amp then the ZxR?

 

This jump is still already huge from my previous setup, so I could always upgrade down the road once I've gotten tired of the new setup.

 

Need to order me a modmic for whatever pair of cans I get, those look awesome!! I can wait for the order.

Normally you would not want to plug an external headphone amplifier into a sound card's headphone amplifier, but I've seen at least one person have positive results.

To out do the ZxR and still have a "gaming" setup.

Audio-GD NFB-15.32 external DAC/amp, $255+shipping, with a SB-Z (OEM), $60.

So total around $360-$370

post #2351 of 3032
^ I can confirm the above statement. My 15.32 is still burning in but man does it perform. Wish I had my zxr to do side by side.
post #2352 of 3032

The one thing that annoys me about some of the Audio GD amp/DACs is the lack of analog inputs.  

 

It's a shame to pay so much for a beefy amp like that and then NOT be able to use it with any other sources.  :( 

post #2353 of 3032

Just got the Compass 2 and it features line-ins. Think it's the cheapest in their line that does it.

post #2354 of 3032
Quote:
Originally Posted by NamelessPFG View Post

EDIT: Fixed!...no thanks to Microsoft. As usual, Linux saves the day.

But I couldn't boot Linux on this system before...you know why? Secure Boot needed to be changed from "Windows UEFI" to "Other OS" in the UEFI menu, otherwise it won't get past the bootloader.

So I installed Win7 over the Win8.1 drive, formatting it first, booted Linux off a USB drive, used GParted to copy over the fresh bootloader install over to the borked one, booted the Win7 install DVD and had it run a Startup Repair to fix the BCD, and NOW it all works.
I think I need to install a bootloader on my other two drives... I can't install Windows on my SSD that used to have OS X on it (before I borked it, OS X disk utility doesn't even see it anymore) but I CAN use it as extra storage if my IDE harddrive does the booting. I think you can guess why I'd want the SSD working. So, I need to research GParted, right?
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mad Lust Envy View Post

Those specs are not truly worth mentioning. Impedance is not a cut and dry measurement on how hard a headphone is to drive. The HE-4 is 40ohm or so and it's a LOOOOOOOT harder to power than any 600ohm I've heard.

The AKG K70x series are all 62ohm or so, and they are well known to need as much as 600ohm headphones. Hence why you don't just look at some impedance to gauge how powerful your amp or headphone is/needs to be.

Just FYI, the K612 is different than the x7xx series because the K612 has a 120 Ohms impedance. May do a better job of dampening harshness than the Q701, and I like that fine plugged straight into my SB Z.

I do prefer plugging my tube hybrid amp into the SB Z's headphone jack though... I like the coloration added by the tube.
post #2355 of 3032
@Sal,

Ya my bad I confused that with the TiHD ouput impedence.



Quote:
Originally Posted by Woesty420 View Post

I've been looking at the Asus stuff, but I've been constantly reading that the SB cards SBX pro studio is much better for surround then the Dolby Headphone Asus uses and my main use will be gaming. I also was checking out the Razer Surround, but SBX is still more favored from what I have seen.

What about the Z with the Magni? I will do some research into that DAC though and check it out.

DJINFERO, you didn't like your ZxR? Or just wasn't powerful enough for your use?

How much would I need to spend to get a much better external DAC/amp then the ZxR?

This jump is still already huge from my previous setup, so I could always upgrade down the road once I've gotten tired of the new setup.

Need to order me a modmic for whatever pair of cans I get, those look awesome!! I can wait for the order.

I loved the ZXR, it sounded amazing. But I also wanted an external solution for console gaming so the zxr had to go. My OCD would never allow me to have an external and internal at the same time.

Also the output impedance being quite high bothered me since if I ever want to use a pair of 32 ohm or so cans, it would affect the frequency response to a certain degree.

The zxr had enough power for my 250 ohms but if I ever wanted to get some 600 ohm cans, I would be at a power disadvantage. Or if I wanted to power my dream k712's.

It was a culmination of a few issues that resulted in just giving up on the z as a standalone audio solution.


On another note. I am actually finding that playing in stereo with my 15.32 isn't as bad as it was on my z. I feel the soundstage has increased and due to that I'm not as bothered as I thought.

Although its still not as good as sbx in bf4 when an aircraft passes over and its either absolute right or left. Bugs the hell out of me. But for just fun single player games I can manage until my z OEM comes.
Edited by DJINFERNO806 - 1/5/14 at 3:48am
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