A have a pair of grado sr80i headphones. I have been using it with my pc internal sound card..a while ago it occurred to me that I have a perfectly fine functioning mini stereo system (ten years old compact all in one cd, tuner cassette tape made by Sony- nothing fancy probably costed me 200-300 dollars ten years ago) sitting around without getting any use.
I decided to hook the pc audio (via speaker jack, without any external dac) as an auxiliary source to the compact system.
And I connected the headphones to the mini stereo's headphone jack.
I was pleasantly surprised with the improvement.
I realize that I am still relying the pc's sound card for dac.
But it still helped. Compared with direct output from pc the difference was huge,
But I also tried the following.
I would play a cd on the mini system. And later I would place the same cd on the pc and send the audio via on board soundcard to the mini system...and it sounded considerably worse. I tried the same with mp3 files. The cd player on the mini system can play mp3, and when played directly on the system it sounded much better than when played via pc.
So by hooking a mini stereo to the pc, I improved the quality but obviously not the best output one could get from this simple budget mini set.
I am using this primarily for headphone listening although the mini system also has shelf type speakers that I occasionally use.
Here is my question.
How can I get my pc audio quality match the mini set?
1. Will placing a usb DAC on the chain be helpful, and how much, I wonder...I don't want to invest on a separate amplifier at this point, so it will be used in conjunction with the miniset's headphone output..will spending 200 dollars or so make a difference?
2. Or forget about this mini set altogether and buy a simple headphone amplifier for the grado. But this is where it gets trickier: I did experience an improvement with the pc sound via mini set. Will the standalone headphone amplifier bring it altogether to a new level, or will it just be similar improvement to what I have at the moment...mobility is not an issue. So I don't mind using this old box at all..
Of course this is all about trying and seeing...but I am thinking of spending 200 dollars max for this and I don't have the chance to try without buying. I am hoping that keeping the budget Sony mini system in the chain will be plus...if not, I rather go with a standalone headphone amplifier..
Components I am considering;
Hrt headphone streamer...
Hrt music streamer 2
Arcam r PAC
....or anything else you would recommend at this price range.
Thank you! I hope this first post made some sense...
Edited by Ruron - 10/25/12 at 3:51am