Originally Posted by Woesty420
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