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The AKG K550 Impressions and Discussion Thread! - Page 110

post #1636 of 2454
Quote:
Originally Posted by ratinox View Post

Depends on the sound card and the headhpones. A good SoundBlaster sounds just fine with 200+ ohm headphones. It's just that, well, use the search function:
http://www.head-fi.org/t/613707/the-akg-k550-appreciation-discussion-thread/1320#post_10393889
Anything pushing 10mW or more with an output impedance of less than 4 ohms will drive K55x just fine.

I don't need to search anything. I've never heard an 'upgraded' soundcard alone sound better than a dedicated amp or amp/DAC (portable or desktop). But hey, that's me. I prefer better amps not just for the power, but soundstage, clarity and as black a background as I can achieve (and I don't listen at loud volumes). To me being able to drive a headphone doesn't mean it will sound good.
Edited by x RELIC x - 6/20/14 at 10:16am
post #1637 of 2454
Quote:
Originally Posted by x RELIC x View Post

To me being able to drive a headphone doesn't mean it will sound good.

A sound card is a DAC. How do you think a sound card turns bits into sounds? Magic? An orchestra of tiny fairies? No, it's a digital to analog converter -- a DAC.

The point here is that most sound card amplifiers aren't able to drive easy headphones like K55x. The power output is too high and the output impedance is too high. It's a bad match, plain and simple. The only way to fix this -- I mean really fix it, not just shoring up deficiencies -- is by taking one of the two out of the playback path. That means either different headphones or a different sound card (which is a DAC as I just explained). Anything else is throwing good money after bad. But hey! it's your money to waste if that's what displaces your battleship's weight in water.
post #1638 of 2454
Quote:
Originally Posted by ratinox View Post

A sound card is a DAC. How do you think a sound card turns bits into sounds? Magic? An orchestra of tiny fairies? No, it's a digital to analog converter -- a DAC.

The point here is that most sound card amplifiers aren't able to drive easy headphones like K55x. The power output is too high and the output impedance is too high. It's a bad match, plain and simple. The only way to fix this -- I mean really fix it, not just shoring up deficiencies -- is by taking one of the two out of the playback path. That means either different headphones or a different sound card (which is a DAC as I just explained). Anything else is throwing good money after bad. But hey! it's your money to waste if that's what displaces your battleship's weight in water.

You're quite condescending aren't you? Magic, orchestra of tiny fairies? Really dude?

Why are you trying to school me on hardware? I've been around audio over 35 years since I was a young lad and old enough to appreciate it. I clearly know what a DAC is. I clearly know what synergy is and what the audio chain entails. I don't need a lesson in headphones or hardware impedance. I am well aware of these facts.

I simply pointed out to 50Groszy that most sound cards sound like crap (with any headphone) in reply to this post.
Quote:
Originally Posted by 50Groszy View Post

Thank you smily_headphones1.gif Right now they play straight from PC so as you said it can be my problem (aside from burn in). I was thinking about buying a tube amp (aune t1) in the future. But I will consider a Fiio as I will be using them in Bus quite often. 

The DAC in most soundcards is schiit and the amps in computers are terrible (why do you think the Audioquest Dragonfly is so popular). You may be crazy about the technical specifics (which I already know) but the point is, in reply to the post, that it doesn't sound good.

I also mentioned the X3 because it plays very well with the K550 and they're going to use them on the bus, so it's a great fit. If they wanted to EQ the sound as well it will help them further with their problem in the treble region. Especially since it's analogue based EQ and not digital through DSP.

The Wolfson DAC in the X3 is nice and warm, not as natural and clear as the TI PCM1792 in my X5, but it's a cheaper, better match with the K550. Personally I prefer the ESS9018 implementation in my HA-1, but I'm quite happy with my portable solution.

Look at the gear in my sig. I've been through the upgrade cycle like anyone else and have had a lot of experience with a lot of gear since the days of vinyl and cassettes (owned one of the first CD players) and purchased what fit for me. You shouldn't make assumptions about people you reply to. I never asked for your advice so enough already.
Edited by x RELIC x - 6/20/14 at 10:43pm
post #1639 of 2454

Good news ! I think these AKGs realy need some time to burn in. I believe the are geting warmer and and more liquid recently, and I listen to them only for short peroids evry few hours. I put Audioslave, Dream Theater, fantastic Polish band LaoChe and some Behemoth (many fast and high pitched guitars) into the playlist.

post #1640 of 2454
Quote:
Originally Posted by 50Groszy View Post
 

Good news ! I think these AKGs realy need some time to burn in. I believe the are geting warmer and and more liquid recently, and I listen to them only for short peroids evry few hours. I put Audioslave, Dream Theater, fantastic Polish band LaoChe and some Behemoth (many fast and high pitched guitars) into the playlist.

 

That, or your ears are getting used to the new audio signature, plus the will to validate the new investment..

post #1641 of 2454
Quote:
Originally Posted by x RELIC x View Post

Why are you trying to school me on hardware?

Because of this: "I've never heard an 'upgraded' soundcard alone sound better than a dedicated amp or amp/DAC (portable or desktop)." Based on this it seems you think that sound cards and "dedicated DACs" are different things. Based on this it seems you think that anything labeled "sound card" is automatically inferior to anything labeled "dedicated DAC". Not true. Asus and Auzentech make some very good sound cards. Xonar STX has the same TI decoder that FiiO uses in X5. Auzentech uses the same high-end AKM decoders that Creative uses in their pro audio and gaming flagship cards. Used; I just discovered that Auztentech is no more. And, of course, ESS has been making sound cards for almost as long as Creative Labs; they made some of the first SoundBlaster clones.

You may have a lot of experience with audio gear but you seem not to have much experience with computer gear. That's why I'm schooling you on hardware.
post #1642 of 2454

So I hate to say it... but I'm growing to really dislike my K550's for music... however as a gaming headset + mod mic they are great for a closed can!

post #1643 of 2454
OooooooooooooooooooOOOOOOOOOHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!! Handbags at dawn gentlemen. I want a good clean fight hahaha
post #1644 of 2454
Quote:
Originally Posted by lawrecedent View Post

OooooooooooooooooooOOOOOOOOOHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!! Handbags at dawn gentlemen. I want a good clean fight hahaha

*

post #1645 of 2454
Quote:
Originally Posted by ratinox View Post

Because of this: "I've never heard an 'upgraded' soundcard alone sound better than a dedicated amp or amp/DAC (portable or desktop)." Based on this it seems you think that sound cards and "dedicated DACs" are different things. Based on this it seems you think that anything labeled "sound card" is automatically inferior to anything labeled "dedicated DAC". Not true. Asus and Auzentech make some very good sound cards. Xonar STX has the same TI decoder that FiiO uses in X5. Auzentech uses the same high-end AKM decoders that Creative uses in their pro audio and gaming flagship cards. Used; I just discovered that Auztentech is no more. And, of course, ESS has been making sound cards for almost as long as Creative Labs; they made some of the first SoundBlaster clones.

You may have a lot of experience with audio gear but you seem not to have much experience with computer gear. That's why I'm schooling you on hardware.

Fair enough. I'll be more specific. Straight from a computer doesn't sound as good. My initial post was that the sound card alone doesn't sound as good. I find that plugging in to the headphone jack on a computer always sounds inferior to me. Most would agree and the original poster didn't seem to have upgraded anything, ergo the suggestion.

The DAC may be capable of converting the digital bits admirably but implementation is everything with DACs and I've never heard a sound card outperform a good implementation on a dedicated player or desktop solution. They may exist, but I've never heard one. Never mind the electrical noise inherent in a computers casing that can wreak havoc with the audio signal. I'll defer to people with more experience on this one though and bow out of that subject. I just know that every time I plug straight in to a computer it sounds horrible to me, regardless of the headphone, so yes, not much effort by me put in to computer audio (especially for the price/performance of upgrading computer audio).

The ability for the amp to drive the headphones properly is just as important. You say that anything that can output 10mW with an impedance of less than 4oHm will drive the K550 just fine and you are technically right. I simply disagree that it will sound good. Like I said, volume does not equal quality to me and if the original poster doesn't like the sound then a better quality amp section can help and give a better, dynamic sound with a wider soundstage and blacker background.

The K550 is good enough to scale with better gear so I'm suggesting better gear as a solution. I've seen many people buy one link in the audio chain and not consider the source file quality, DAC implementation, or amp output. Usually when upgrading headphones people's reactions are negative because they haven't acclimated to the sound or the headphone is capable of showing weaknesses in the chain. A less resolving headphone glosses over much of the weakness people have the the audio chain.
Edited by x RELIC x - 6/21/14 at 6:47pm
post #1646 of 2454

Quote:

 

 

Originally Posted by kvtaco17 View Post
 

So I hate to say it... but I'm growing to really dislike my K550's for music... however as a gaming headset + mod mic they are great for a closed can!

 

Fight me IRL :angry_face: 


Edited by Crzomgwtf - 6/21/14 at 5:23pm
post #1647 of 2454
Quote:
Originally Posted by x RELIC x View Post

I find that plugging in to the headphone jack on a computer always sounds inferior to me.

I'm going to harp on this point: it's not a headphone jack. It's a hybrid line out jack, and when I say hybrid I mean that it has an amp that's designed to be a pre-amp for self-powered desktop speakers but can also drive high impedance headphones well enough for gaming and voice chat and Youtube videos. You want to use it for low impedance headphones? You need to take it out of the loop and replace it with something that has a real headphone circuit. Enter what you call a dedicated DAC/amp which really is nothing more than a sound card that's been stripped of all of its audio inputs and the associated analog to digital converters, stripped of most of its audio outputs, and with a lower power amplifier made for lower impedance headphones.

Quote:
Never mind the electrical noise inherent in a computers casing that can wreak havoc with the audio signal.

My suggestion is not to even go there unless you get audible hum or other noise from the system.

Quote:
The ability for the amp to drive the headphones properly is just as important. You say that anything that can output 10mW with an impedance of less than 4oHm will drive the K550 just fine and you are technically right. I simply disagree that it will sound good. Like I said, volume does not equal quality to me and if the original poster doesn't like the sound then a better quality amp section can help and give a better, dynamic sound with a wider soundstage and blacker background.

If the amplifier is transparent and delivers appropriate power for the headphones that you're using then that's perfection as far as human perception goes. What you hear is exactly what's recorded modulo the tuning of the headphones you're using. It may be possible that some rare individual can hear differences better than that but none who claim to have the ability have ever demonstrated it under controlled conditions.

No, a typical on-mainboard sound card doesn't meet these criteria. You need to step up to pro-sumer or entry level professional cards but you're still getting studio headphone power rather than portable headphone power. Or go with a stripped-down, headphone-only card. Call it a dedicated DAC if you like. Same thing.

And then there's the wider soundstage which is always a cheat with stereo recordings. A stereo recording is two channels (duh) but think of it as three pieces: the sound that's exclusively in the left channel, the sound that's exclusively in the right channel, and the sound that overlaps both channels. There are a few ways to tweak these pieces to make things seem wider. The simplest is to put very small delays in the left and right pieces relative to the overlap. A more complex method is crossfeed which takes some of the left and right pieces and feeds them into the other channel again with a slight delay. There are other methods. I wouldn't be surprised to find that most so-called premium DACs are performing this sort of signal processing behind the scenes, not that the manufacturers will admit it because if you change the signal then what you hear isn't what's recorded.

Not that I think there's anything wrong with that per se. I happen to prefer the Meier crossfeed that Rockbox offers to no processing at all. It gets rid of the three-blob headstage.

What I do think is wrong is the idea that premium components are necessary to get good sound. They're not. What's needed are the right components, the right software and the right settings.
post #1648 of 2454
Quote:
Originally Posted by Crzomgwtf View Post
 

 

Fight me IRL :angry_face: 

*

post #1649 of 2454
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Quote:
Originally Posted by ratinox View Post

I'm going to harp on this point: it's not a headphone jack. It's a hybrid line out jack, and when I say hybrid I mean that it has an amp that's designed to be a pre-amp for self-powered desktop speakers but can also drive high impedance headphones well enough for gaming and voice chat and Youtube videos. You want to use it for low impedance headphones? You need to take it out of the loop and replace it with something that has a real headphone circuit. Enter what you call a dedicated DAC/amp which really is nothing more than a sound card that's been stripped of all of its audio inputs and the associated analog to digital converters, stripped of most of its audio outputs, and with a lower power amplifier made for lower impedance headphones.
My suggestion is not to even go there unless you get audible hum or other noise from the system.
If the amplifier is transparent and delivers appropriate power for the headphones that you're using then that's perfection as far as human perception goes. What you hear is exactly what's recorded modulo the tuning of the headphones you're using. It may be possible that some rare individual can hear differences better than that but none who claim to have the ability have ever demonstrated it under controlled conditions.

No, a typical on-mainboard sound card doesn't meet these criteria. You need to step up to pro-sumer or entry level professional cards but you're still getting studio headphone power rather than portable headphone power. Or go with a stripped-down, headphone-only card. Call it a dedicated DAC if you like. Same thing.

And then there's the wider soundstage which is always a cheat with stereo recordings. A stereo recording is two channels (duh) but think of it as three pieces: the sound that's exclusively in the left channel, the sound that's exclusively in the right channel, and the sound that overlaps both channels. There are a few ways to tweak these pieces to make things seem wider. The simplest is to put very small delays in the left and right pieces relative to the overlap. A more complex method is crossfeed which takes some of the left and right pieces and feeds them into the other channel again with a slight delay. There are other methods. I wouldn't be surprised to find that most so-called premium DACs are performing this sort of signal processing behind the scenes, not that the manufacturers will admit it because if you change the signal then what you hear isn't what's recorded.

Not that I think there's anything wrong with that per se. I happen to prefer the Meier crossfeed that Rockbox offers to no processing at all. It gets rid of the three-blob headstage.

What I do think is wrong is the idea that premium components are necessary to get good sound. They're not. What's needed are the right components, the right software and the right settings.

Let it go man. EVERYTHING you spent time on typing is WHAT I ALREADY KNOW. No need to waste your time teaching me about crossfeed, and soundstage depth and width are not the same thing as crossfeed. I'm also not talking about cheap cheats to create a virtual sound field. I prefer pure and as true to the recording as possible.

Most computers come with a jack with a little headphone symbol that sounds like utter garbage (I'm sure you've seen them), that's what I'm talking about. And yes, I feel that the line out from soundcards sound terrible as well, relative to other gear I prefer. I feel their DAC implementation usually sucks (yes, to my A5 powered speakers and not headphones), but as I mentioned I also feel computer audio is way overpriced for what you get so I haven't listened to too many upgraded soundcards (but the ones I've heard I didn't like). That's my opinion and you can't change that, so stop trying.

I wasn't even talking to you initially and was replying to the original posted question that I believe was using the onboard soundcard (remember the little headphone symbol, the ones most people listen with on a computer). If someone posts that they are listening directly from a computer it's more than likely from the motherboard's built in soundcard and headphone out as I don't think many people want to stretch their cable around the back of their computer to listen to music. I don't care if you can't read between the lines in my post to the other guy. You have, and still are, making assumptions about what I know and I find it rather insulting.

You also are contradicting yourself saying you need to enter into pro-sumer to entry level professional computer audio, or a dedicated headphone card to properly drive a headphone and that the onboard card is insufficient. Then you go on to say that premium components are not necessary. Any upgrade can be considered a premium depending on ones perspective.

I agree that the right components, software and settings are what make a good sound reproduction. We obviously just have very different opinions on what that is.

I no longer care about what you have to say so don't bother trying, and this conversation is seriously derailing this thread so let's just end it here.
Edited by x RELIC x - 6/22/14 at 12:30am
post #1650 of 2454
Phew that was close...what's this thread about again??...Oh yes, AKG K550's anyone?
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