Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Headphone Amps (full-size) › DAC+AMP Suggestion for HD800 (via PC)
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

DAC+AMP Suggestion for HD800 (via PC)

post #1 of 4
Thread Starter 

Hi, I've been reading with interest for a short time on various opinions on DACs and AMPs and still can't decide plus my head hurts from trying to make sense of it all. Please don't get too complicated as I'm a novice to DACs and AMPs. I may need prodding in the right direction to help get me started on this exciting new road :)

 

I'm very keen the the HD800s for playing back lossless audio (and gaming) on my PC which features a Xonar Phoebus. I've checked out the £1,000 HD800 for myself and was very impressed despite the hefty pricetag as I intend on looking at this as years of constant enjoyment. After speaking to an Asus staffer, I find I then need an AMP to push the HD800 to its potential and was recommended the £320 Essence One but find the idea of changing components off-putting despite the very attractive pricetag. I've seen good feedback on the £750 Lehman's Black Cube Linear AMP as being very capable and seems capable of matching the hard-to-drive HD800s. Then I'd need a DAC. I keep seeing the Benchmark DAC1 pop up but find that pricey at £850. I'd also be replacing the HD800 stock cable to ensure excellent audio playback.

 

Total spends at £2600 - I need help trimming that down without skewing the audio potential of the HD800s. If it helps, I should mention that I listen to rock, soundtracks, jazz, house, everything 70/80s plus I'll be gaming as much as listening to 24/96, or 24/192 Flac.

 

Initially I only planned on the HD800s to replace my old Sennheiser's without thinking I'd need DAC/AMP. I love the sound of the HD800s and will stick with those, the other gear I'm open to ideas but how I'm I going to hook it all up without losing quality?

 

From my limited knowledge that looks about it. I'm unsure about the output direction from my PC and how to maintain the 192KHz sample rate throughout my system without degrading the quality. The connections available out from my soundcard are S/PDIF optical Toslink, and 3.5mm headphone output with a built-in 600ohms amplifier [Pasted from manual: Texas Instruments 620A2*1 (120dB SNR, -117dB THD+N @ Vcc±12V, RL=600Ω, f=1kHz)].

 

I hope I've clearly outlined my ideas and would appreciate some assistance in choosing the right bundle - thanks :)

post #2 of 4
Quote:
Originally Posted by FlacAddict View Post
Hi, I've been reading with interest for a short time on various opinions on DACs and AMPs and still can't decide plus my head hurts from trying to make sense of it all. Please don't get too complicated as I'm a novice to DACs and AMPs. I may need prodding in the right direction to help get me started on this exciting new road :)

I'm very keen the the HD800s for playing back lossless audio (and gaming) on my PC which features a Xonar Phoebus. I've checked out the £1,000 HD800 for myself and was very impressed despite the hefty pricetag as I intend on looking at this as years of constant enjoyment. After speaking to an Asus staffer, I find I then need an AMP to push the HD800 to its potential and was recommended the £320 Essence One but find the idea of changing components off-putting despite the very attractive pricetag. I've seen good feedback on the £750 Lehman's Black Cube Linear AMP as being very capable and seems capable of matching the hard-to-drive HD800s. Then I'd need a DAC. I keep seeing the Benchmark DAC1 pop up but find that pricey at £850. I'd also be replacing the HD800 stock cable to ensure excellent audio playback.

Total spends at £2600 - I need help trimming that down without skewing the audio potential of the HD800s. If it helps, I should mention that I listen to rock, soundtracks, jazz, house, everything 70/80s plus I'll be gaming as much as listening to 24/96, or 24/192 Flac.

Initially I only planned on the HD800s to replace my old Sennheiser's without thinking I'd need DAC/AMP. I love the sound of the HD800s and will stick with those, the other gear I'm open to ideas but how I'm I going to hook it all up without losing quality?

From my limited knowledge that looks about it. I'm unsure about the output direction from my PC and how to maintain the 192KHz sample rate throughout my system without degrading the quality. The connections available out from my soundcard are S/PDIF optical Toslink, and 3.5mm headphone output with a built-in 600ohms amplifier [Pasted from manual: Texas Instruments 620A2*1 (120dB SNR, -117dB THD+N @ Vcc±12V, RL=600Ω, f=1kHz)].

As the headphone amplifier in the Phoebus is the same as my Essence STX and I can use 600-Ohm headphone on my STX, a 300-Ohm headphone should not be much of a problem for the Phoebus.

Most think the Xonar STX, ST & Phoebus come with at least a fairly decent DAC.

I think the Asus guy was trying to sell you something based somewhat on profit (was he short with really really big ears?).

I'm sure there are several external DACs and external headphone amplifiers that are better then what the Phoebus offers.

But you do not need to be in a rush to run out and buy them.

Someone in the 'Amplifiers for Sale" thread is selling a used Little Dot MKIII for $200, which you could use for lossless audio (music, 2-channel).

When your gaming (HD800 plugged into Phoebus headphone jack), I'm sure you will be too distracted to listen to audio details, it's gaming, not Mozart.

post #3 of 4
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by PurpleAngel View Post

As the headphone amplifier in the Phoebus is the same as my Essence STX and I can use 600-Ohm headphone on my STX, a 300-Ohm headphone should not be much of a problem for the Phoebus.

Most think the Xonar STX, ST & Phoebus come with at least a fairly decent DAC.

I think the Asus guy was trying to sell you something based somewhat on profit (was he short with really really big ears?).

I'm sure there are several external DACs and external headphone amplifiers that are better then what the Phoebus offers.

But you do not need to be in a rush to run out and buy them.

Someone in the 'Amplifiers for Sale" thread is selling a used Little Dot MKIII for $200, which you could use for lossless audio (music, 2-channel).

When your gaming (HD800 plugged into Phoebus headphone jack), I'm sure you will be too distracted to listen to audio details, it's gaming, not Mozart.

 

Thanks for your feedback. From the off, I was hoping my Phoebus would be enough and glad your happy with your excellent STX soundcard.

 

Initial fears were that the Phoebus wouldn't be enough to drive it, after having a chance to think things over, I'll probably buy only the comfortable and amazing sounding HD800 and see how I get on with it plugged direct into the amped headphone socket and return to this subject at a later date once I've adjusted to the sound to reassess the audio . The manual says to plug it in directly to the Phoebus rather than using the control box, I'd best do that with the HD800 even though I'll loose on-the-fly audio control, no big deal, my keyboard has easily adjustable volume control to compensate.

 

The Asus guy came across as someone trying to tally equipment to my needs, listening to 192KHz flac and gaming, with making sure the HD800s aren't held back - soundcards can never be good enough to drive these quality cans which made perfect sense Vs dedi units. My search of reviews sites found that there isn't many DACs that can manage 192KHz inputs from analogue/SPDIF and worked best from high-quality coaxial connectors, etc, those aren't available from my PC. DACs would only manage up to 96KHz as that is the state of technology at my price-point without needing a mortgage!

 

To clarify why I considered the headphones, DAC, and AMP: I listen to audio whilst working/relaxing in my home office and not when gaming, I would therefor acknowledge any problems with sound. Of the headphones auditioned to date, I've really had to try hard finding the detail whilst others where lacking areas or distorting highs/lows, these HD800s allows you soak up the layers and give each instrument space to perform. I'm spending around around a grand every year on lossless music (or my own CD Flac rips to NAS to eliminate jitter) wanted to make the most of the available quality for both of my uses.


Edited by FlacAddict - 8/7/12 at 8:22am
post #4 of 4
Thread Starter 

Quick update: I bought the Sennheiser HD800s and have been listening to them for a fortnight with various FLAC music genres on my Phoebus soundcard. I've had these plugged into various AMPs valued at up to £800 and I didn't hear any difference.

 

My hearing is excellent and can hear every instrument being played so long as it's not being sandwiched tightly with another layer. If I was to try to pinpoint any little difference, the bass with a dedicated AMP is a bit meatier compared to needing to ramp up the 32/64hz EQ to 8dB on my soundcard. I turned the top-end EQ right down to 4dB at 4/8/16K EQ.

 

Still very impressed with the audio quality and how spacious and detailed the audio is, maybe need to adjust more to this cleaner sound - is that other peoples experience with these cans?

New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Headphone Amps (full-size)
Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Headphone Amps (full-size) › DAC+AMP Suggestion for HD800 (via PC)