I got a pair of Sennheiser HD 598s, and I'm getting a Fiio E7 soon. The only problem is, I'm using onboard audio. And I have 100$ that I can spend on a sound card. What sound card would you recommend I buy?
Best Sound Card for under 100$?
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What's the make and model of the headphone amplifier chip?
Seem weird, what about gain adjustments?
Now you put me in a tough position. The specs of the "hidden" amp are here on Head-Fi but that was on a thread over a year and a half ago :S Though I think there's a reference to it on an Asus whitepaper, but I do remember that Asus deliberately hidden stats due to that situation of pushing the next two cards above more easily to the market.
My only reference for is was that headphones had to be plugged on the card's line-out, and that impedance support was up to 60ohm IIRC.
EDIT: Gain adjustments had to be done at a fake .dll level (AsusAudioCenterRes.dll, I think). Seems like Asus went out of their way to make the full DX usability as hard as they could :( Perhaps it would be easier to just get the DG, even though it has an inferior DAC.
Edited by Roller - 2/21/12 at 1:27am
The Fiio E7 is only two channel (stereo) output.
Where as sound cards can do 5.1 or 7.1 headphone virtual surround sound.
The D1, DX, and I guess also the D2 and D2X have line outputs only. These have a maximum voltage of 2 Vrms (I measured ~1.935 on mine), and high output impedance (it is 100.5 Ohm for me). Basically, the same as the RCA line outputs of the Xonar ST/STX. Using this with the HD598 is not recommended, since that headphone is very sensitive to the output impedance of the device driving it. It would be possible to use the E7 as an amplifier only, but that would be a waste of money, with its DAC never being used, and the amplifier is only comparable to the E6. The E11 is cheaper, and is a better amplifier than the E7, but it cannot be powered from AC.
A rating of "up to 60 Ohm" makes no sense when the output impedance is 100 Ohm.
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Most of that software isn't compatible with games, if that's at all a concern, and to my knowledge, USB audio devices like the E7 don't even support EAX 1/2 like practically all sound cards, for those older games that use them. (Roller is planning to correct that latter point, though...don't know if, much less when, he'll come through, but I'd definitely like to see it happen.)
But if gaming is not a concern, the E7 and other USB audio devices are just fine to use.
DVD/Blu-ray movies already come with the sound tracks (Dolby Digital) laid in and if you want to watch them in surround sound using headphone you can't just use the computer it's self.
You need something that can process the Dolby 5.1 or 7.1 sound tracks into Virtual surround sound for the headphones, which sound cards can do and most external amplifiers can not.
That's one good reason for using a sound card.