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Please help me pick an AMP !

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 

Dear members of Head-fi.org, I am sorry to do this to you but after trawling through 7-8 pages on the search function I started to get quite bored and confused and now I need your help!

 

I am a computer guy but I don't know that much about audio, for some reason the information doesn't seem to come as easily and I'm finding it really hard to separate stuff I need from stuff I don't need.

 

To skip straight to the point, I recently bought a pair of Sennheiser HD600's and they sound absolutely fantastic, my main reason for buying the headphones is that I spend a great deal of time making and listening to music and felt that a good pair of headphones would enable me to enjoy doing both of these activities even more!

 

Something I have noticed flying around quite a lot is that I might need a headphone amplifier to make the most of these headphones, without hearing the difference for myself I have no idea what to expect if I invested into a headphone amp. I've read that higher impedance headphones usually need a headphone amp in order to "drive" the headphones, probably why I can't get them to go to high volume levels without peaking. Also in my reading there is a whoooole bunch of stuff I'm really confused about.

 

 

My setup is much more PC enthusiast than audiophile sadly but here's what I've got:

 

The motherboard has a Realtek ALC892 audio chip.

The board has an spdif out on the back.

To reiterate I have a pair of Sennheiser HD600s

 

Should I be buying a headphone AMP for these headphones? 

What's the difference between an AMP using spdif and an AMP using USB? I assume if I use spdif I'll be needing a amp/dac?

Is there a noticeable differences between different DAC's and how can I tell if the DAC on my board is any good?

Does my PC's processor factor into the D/A conversion?

 

And to really throw a spanner in the works, if I do need to get an AMP, AMP/DAC, DAC, confused, etc. Can I get anything worthwhile on a $200 budget?

 

I DO NOT need the headphone amplifier to be portable.

 

I appreciate any responses, I hope my noob questions aren't to frustrating for you all.

 

Thanks. 

 

- Junsa


Edited by Junsa - 10/3/12 at 2:08pm
post #2 of 11
Thread Starter 

Shameless self bump here, still sitting here with my wallet out wondering what to do. :P

post #3 of 11

Let me try to explain things a bit simple, you can always find great reading material in the web. My aim here is to get you started.

 

> Think of DAC as your External Soundcard. Why is this important, cause it, typically, is much better than the onboard Soundcard

> A DAC usually takes input in the form of USB, SPDIF and/or Coaxial. Idea is to get the digital signal from the system before it is processed

> Without a Headphone Amplifier module, the DAC output would be too low to drive anything. Many DAC systems come with their own Headphone Amplifier Module but there are many which do not come with them too.

> Most of the high end headphones work better with an AMP, so it is better to get one.

 

 

When I started off, I just got a HeadRoom AirHead as I was not sure how much an amplifier will add to the sound. Then I got an iPod Dock and then as I went higher range and got a Denon AH-D7000, I got a very refined DAC and AMP to go with it. No matter what you buy now, after a while you'd upgrade it to a better system. See if you can go to a Head-Fi meet, that is the best place to start looking for which amp and sound signature you like the best.

 

Good Luck and Sorry about you Wallet. Believe me, it will see far worse days. :)

post #4 of 11
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the response sree that improves my understanding a little. So from what you're saying then I should invest in a amp/dac, is there anything suitable for my budget that would offer a good improvement or do I need to get saving? :P As with most things I'm sure the more you spend the more you get but if there is some awesome bargain out there I'd love to know about it.

post #5 of 11

I think you just need to take your time and start saving and researching. I struggle to imagine anything worthwhile on your budget. Welcome to this world.

post #6 of 11

Buy a AMP/DAC combo.

 

Good amp/dac combo for starters as you imo is the FiiO E9 together with the E7 or the nuforce icon hdp.

I own the nuforce icon hdp and it was my starter amp/dac and I really enjoyed it.

Try checking out the second hand market to see if you can find anything at a reasonable price.

There might be some good suggestions/reviews here http://www.head-fi.org/products/category/amp-dacs if you havent checked it out yet.


Edited by dolor - 10/4/12 at 3:32pm
post #7 of 11

What is your budget? 

HD600s are good, but do you want better?

 

I personally would never use a cheaper Fio.

 

In other words, More info required.....

post #8 of 11

Hi Junsa,

 

You should take a look at our DACport. Here is what one reviewer said:

 

"I was literally floored when I put on my Sony MDR-7509’s and listened to a track.  Detail, depth, space.  For fun, I plugged into the stock headphone out of the Mac Pro and switched the sound settings.  Let’s say the difference was about 70% loss in dimensional sound when not using the DACport.  Amazing." (http://www.sonicscoop.com/2010/03/24/review-centrance-dacport-%E2%80%93-usb-2496-usb-headphone-dac/)

 

It is a bit more than your $200 budget, but I can usually help out fellow head-fier's with a discount. Let me know if you have questions.

 

-Kenny

post #9 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by aqsw View Post

What is your budget? 

HD600s are good, but do you want better?

 

I personally would never use a cheaper Fio.

 

In other words, More info required.....

sorry, Didn't see the budget on the first post!

I would go Ibasso over fio though (imo)

post #10 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by Junsa View Post

Dear members of Head-fi.org, I am sorry to do this to you but after trawling through 7-8 pages on the search function I started to get quite bored and confused and now I need your help!

I am a computer guy but I don't know that much about audio, for some reason the information doesn't seem to come as easily and I'm finding it really hard to separate stuff I need from stuff I don't need.

To skip straight to the point, I recently bought a pair of Sennheiser HD600's and they sound absolutely fantastic, my main reason for buying the headphones is that I spend a great deal of time making and listening to music and felt that a good pair of headphones would enable me to enjoy doing both of these activities even more!

Something I have noticed flying around quite a lot is that I might need a headphone amplifier to make the most of these headphones, without hearing the difference for myself I have no idea what to expect if I invested into a headphone amp. I've read that higher impedance headphones usually need a headphone amp in order to "drive" the headphones, probably why I can't get them to go to high volume levels without peaking. Also in my reading there is a whoooole bunch of stuff I'm really confused about.

My setup is much more PC enthusiast than audiophile sadly but here's what I've got:

The motherboard has a Realtek ALC892 audio chip.

The board has an s/pdif out on the back.

To reiterate I have a pair of Sennheiser HD600s

Should I be buying a headphone AMP for these headphones? 

What's the difference between an AMP using spdif and an AMP using USB? I assume if I use spdif I'll be needing a amp/dac?

Is there a noticeable differences between different DAC's and how can I tell if the DAC on my board is any good?

Does my PC's processor factor into the D/A conversion?

And to really throw a spanner in the works, if I do need to get an AMP, AMP/DAC, DAC, confused, etc. Can I get anything worthwhile on a $200 budget?

I DO NOT need the headphone amplifier to be portable.

Usually motherboards come with the lowest costing DAC chip the manufacturer can get away with.

(DAC - Digital to Analog Converter).

DAC are in everything, cell phones, mp3 players, receivers, sound cards, TVs, etc.

So motherboards come with low cost DAC chips, sound cards usually come with better DAC chips.

Depending on price, external DACs can come with an even better DAC chips or even multiable DAC chips.

Computers can have "electrical noise", which can affect the analog audio signal, an external DAC would not be affected by a computers "electrical noise".

USB and S/PDIF (optical or coaxial) can transmit PCM (uncompressed) 2-channel (stereo) digital audio.

S/PDIF (optical & coaxial) can also transmit up to 7 channel of compressed audio, which does not matter as headphones only work with (need) 2-channel PCM audio.

 

I believe a CPU has zero effect on the DAC process.

 

Impedance is resistance, measured in Ohms.

To increase volume, you need to add more voltage, to overcome the resistance.

Your Senn HD600 are 300-Ohms, most headphones sold in the world are 32-Ohm to 60-Ohm.

It's preferable to have the headphones Ohm rating to be at least 8 times more then the Ohm rating of the amplifier

A sound card like the Asus Xonar Essence STX sound card ($185), comes with a good DAC chip (PCM1792A), Dolby Headphone surround sound and an amplifier (10-Ohm) that can drive headphones up to 600-Ohms.

I'm guess if you wanted, you could also use just about any external DAC/amp you wished

post #11 of 11
Thread Starter 

Thanks again for the numerous responses i'm checking in to all of your suggestions.

 

@PurpleAngel

 

I really learnt a lot from your post! You answered a lot of my questions in your response, this information will no doubt aid me in finding something suitable. :) 

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