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DT880 - Best Soundcard + Amp combo?

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 

[Edit] Dang I just realized this should have went to the amp subsection. My bad guys.

 

Hey guys, I know some of you may say that this has been discussed already, but there are a few finer points that I want to hammer out which I haven't found an answer to.

 

I have already decided on the Beyer DT880's (250), but the next biggest issue has to do with finding a cost effective driving solution that will still power these buckets. To be more precise, I am looking to have a Virtual Surround setup going as follows: computer > ??? > DT880. So far, virtual surround branches off into two categories, the Dolby Headphone and the CMSS-3D. I have read that there are issues with 6 o'clock sound perception (can't hear whats behind you) with the 880's and Dolby Headphone, so I'm hesitant to look into the STX series sound cards. If anyone has any info on this particular issue, any input would be appreciated.

 

On the other end of the spectrum we have the Sound Blaster X-Fi series of sound cards. These don't really come with any built-in amplification so the next logical step would be to get an external amp that enters the sequence like this: X-Fi > Amp > 880's. The big question here is, would this build: X-Fi > E17 Alpen > 880's be enough to drive the phones, or would you suggest X-Fi > Asgard > 880? The second issue with this setup is that I have heard people complaining that having an amp in between the sound card and the phones eliminated the virtual surround effect, and I'm wondering if anyone here knows if it is actually true.

 

TL;DR: Which virtual surround is better for DT880's, the Dolby Headphone or CMSS-3D? If one or the other, what combination of sound card + amp would be the best for under $350? Bonus points for the setup being mobile (ie, small and USB instead of PCIE).

 

X-Fi card: http://ncix.com/products/?sku=58718&vpn=70SB109500002&manufacture=Creative%20Labs

 

Alpen: http://www.headphonebar.com/fiio-e17-alpen/

 

Asgard: http://schiit.com/cart/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=0&products_id=1

 

Essence STX: http://ncix.com/products/?sku=35724&vpn=XONAR%20ESSENCE%20STX&manufacture=ASUS

 

Thanks in advance for the help guys


Edited by Zasteba - 9/22/12 at 6:32pm
post #2 of 5
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zasteba View Post

[Edit] Dang I just realized this should have went to the amp subsection. My bad guys.

 

Hey guys, I know some of you may say that this has been discussed already, but there are a few finer points that I want to hammer out which I haven't found an answer to.

 

I have already decided on the Beyer DT880's (250), but the next biggest issue has to do with finding a cost effective driving solution that will still power these buckets. To be more precise, I am looking to have a Virtual Surround setup going as follows: computer > ??? > DT880. So far, virtual surround branches off into two categories, the Dolby Headphone and the CMSS-3D. I have read that there are issues with 6 o'clock sound perception (can't hear whats behind you) with the 880's and Dolby Headphone, so I'm hesitant to look into the STX series sound cards. If anyone has any info on this particular issue, any input would be appreciated.

 

On the other end of the spectrum we have the Sound Blaster X-Fi series of sound cards. These don't really come with any built-in amplification so the next logical step would be to get an external amp that enters the sequence like this: X-Fi > Amp > 880's. The big question here is, would this build: X-Fi > E17 Alpen > 880's be enough to drive the phones, or would you suggest X-Fi > Asgard > 880? The second issue with this setup is that I have heard people complaining that having an amp in between the sound card and the phones eliminated the virtual surround effect, and I'm wondering if anyone here knows if it is actually true.

 

TL;DR: Which virtual surround is better for DT880's, the Dolby Headphone or CMSS-3D? If one or the other, what combination of sound card + amp would be the best for under $350? Bonus points for the setup being mobile (ie, small and USB instead of PCIE).

First off, I'm biased for Xonar sound cards, that's just me.

Asus Xonar DX or D1 sound card (used $50)

X-Fi Titanium (non-HD), sells as refurb for as low as $45.

Single tube Headphone amplifier, cheapest is $50 on Amazon (Muse 6N11), One I like is the Indeed 6922 EH ($96) sold on eBay.

But lots of models between $50 to $96, on eBay, made and shipped from China.

 

Low cost Solid State headphone amplifiers on eBay

SMSL SAP-II, $50

SMAL SAP-III, $65

 

When you use the USB digital, you lose all surround sound for movies and gaming.

post #3 of 5

I can't speak for the DT880s specifically, but my general view of CMSS-3D Headphone vs. Dolby Headphone is that the former boosts treble slightly, the latter boosts treble slightly, and perform equally well from a positional standpoint...

 

...unless you play any game that makes use of the DirectSound3D or OpenAL APIs, in which case CMSS-3D Headphone wins easily because 3D binaural sound beats virtual 7.1 any day.

 

Also, stay away from any USB "X-Fi" devices, because they lack actual hardware sound acceleration compared to the internal cards. What you want is the X-Fi Titanium HD, along with the amp of your choice.

 

I know you want a mobile setup, but if PC gaming is what you're after (can't think of any other reason you'd want headphone surround mixing right in the audio device), then internal X-Fi cards are the way to go, no contest.

post #4 of 5
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the input guys, I appreciate it.

 

I decided to settle on an E17 to start with, and it should be coming in this Friday. The only thing I'm wondering though is whether or not the Titanium HD + the E17 will be able to drive the DT 880/250's to their potential. Does anyone have any experience with this combo?

post #5 of 5
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zasteba View Post

Thanks for the input guys, I appreciate it.

 

I decided to settle on an E17 to start with, and it should be coming in this Friday. The only thing I'm wondering though is whether or not the Titanium HD + the E17 will be able to drive the DT 880/250's to their potential. Does anyone have any experience with this combo?

 

I'm curious, what have you found out?

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