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What's my bottleneck? How good is my audio source? Will it do good headphones justice?

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 

Hi all, thanks for taking the time to read my post. I am looking at buying some good headphones that will be used exclusively for listening at my computer in my home study. I've been spending lots of time looking for the perfect headphone - and then I realized that a lot of money could go to waste if my headphone is superior to my setup.

 

Currently, I am looking at the Sennheiser HD 518, 558, or 598 headphones to replace my Sennheiser HD 202s.

 

The source will come from a desktop computer using an Asus Xonar DGX soundcard (150 ohms max) streaming mp3 320kbps (MOG).

 

basically, afraid that a $150 set of headphones might not sound any better than a $50 set based on the quality of signal they receive. I don't know how "good" my set up is, or how good of headphones it will "push".


Edited by morijinal - 10/26/12 at 7:13am
post #2 of 20

If it were me doing this upgrade I would go to the AKG K550.  I think the Sennheisers are good enough, but not a huge leap in sound quality.  The AKG K550 is really easy to listen to and very well made.  If you can save up for it...it will be worth the wait.

post #3 of 20
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by NA Blur View Post

If it were me doing this upgrade I would go to the AKG K550.  I think the Sennheisers are good enough, but not a huge leap in sound quality.  The AKG K550 is really easy to listen to and very well made.  If you can save up for it...it will be worth the wait.

They look nice for sure - but budget will not allow.

post #4 of 20

Get the Soundcard and the Senn 598s. They are quite efficient and will sound better than many lower-end cans which you might think are a better match for your set up. I thought higher-impedence was a no no with computers until I tried it. My realtek chipset provides about 1 W max which is more than enough for a lot of different headphones.

 

Use Foobar with the WASAPI plugin to give the headphones a more direct path - it makes music listening way better. Stock sound drivers are usually forcing some digital crap into the signal which can be good for gaming and movies, but not so much for music.

post #5 of 20

The Asus Xonar DGX has a good DAC and I think you would be good with HD598 (which at 50-ohm are quite easy to drive).

post #6 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by morijinal View Post

Hi all, thanks for taking the time to read my post. I am looking at buying some good headphones that will be used exclusively for listening at my computer in my home study. I've been spending lots of time looking for the perfect headphone - and then I realized that a lot of money could go to waste if my headphone is superior to my setup.

 

Currently, I am looking at the Sennheiser HD 518, 558, or 598 headphones to replace my Sennheiser HD 202s.

 

The source will come from a desktop computer using an Asus Xonar DGX soundcard (150 ohms max) streaming mp3 320kbps (MOG).

 

basically, afraid that a $150 set of headphones might not sound any better than a $50 set based on the quality of signal they receive. I don't know how "good" my set up is, or how good of headphones it will "push".

Personally, I would get the HD558 (50-Ohm) , they should respond to the Xonar DGX's half-way decent headphone amplifier.

Or save a few dollars and just get the Takstar Hi2050 (Technical Pro HPT990), semi-open, 60-Ohm, headphones, $52-$62.

post #7 of 20
Thread Starter 

I really like the look of the 598s on Amazon. Maybe they will come down a bit for Black Friday. My absolute max is $150. But I do see the wisdom of buying the best I can afford. As I always say to family wanting to get cheap cell phones on a contract - in 6 months you won't be thinking about how much it cost. You will only think "damn I love this phone".
 

I am glad to hear my setup is "doable". I had some reservations from going over to www.headphone.com and seeing that they recommend a bare minimum of $300 worth of DAC and amp for computer listening.

 

I want the sweet spot headphones because I really don't see myself upgrading to a dedicated external DAC and or amp any time in the next year.


Edited by morijinal - 10/27/12 at 1:18pm
post #8 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by morijinal View Post

I really like the look of the 598s on Amazon. Maybe they will come down a bit for Black Friday. My absolute max is $150. But I do see the wisdom of buying the best I can afford. As I always say to family wanting to get cheap cell phones on a contract - in 6 months you won't be thinking about how much it cost. You will only think "damn I love this phone".
 

I am glad to hear my setup is "doable". I had some reservations from going over to www.headphone.com and seeing that they recommend a bare minimum of $300 worth of DAC and amp for computer listening.

 

I want the sweet spot headphones because I really don't see myself upgrading to a dedicated external DAC and or amp any time in the next year.

Sennheiser has has been holding firm on the price of the HD558/HD598 for almost the past year, I would say there is very little chance of a price drop.

But I'm not a mind reader, so I have no insite to Sennheiser's future plans.

post #9 of 20
Even the 558's will be great compared to the joke the 202's must be.
post #10 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by morijinal View Post

I really like the look of the 598s on Amazon. Maybe they will come down a bit for Black Friday. My absolute max is $150. But I do see the wisdom of buying the best I can afford. 
 

I am glad to hear my setup is "doable". I had some reservations from going over to www.headphone.com and seeing that they recommend a bare minimum of $300 worth of DAC and amp for computer listening.

 

I want the sweet spot headphones because I really don't see myself upgrading to a dedicated external DAC and or amp any time in the next year.

 

Just pointing out, do check the sound signature of the headphone you want to get. This will save a lot of trouble later.

Sennheiser price rarely fluctuates.

 

You don't necessarily need an external DAC, or an amp.

post #11 of 20
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by proton007 View Post

 

Just pointing out, do check the sound signature of the headphone you want to get. This will save a lot of trouble later.

Sennheiser price rarely fluctuates.

 

You don't necessarily need an external DAC, or an amp.

 



I have decided on the 558s.

 

I remember trying them out one day at Best Buy - they were easily my favorite headphones out of the ones on display - but I didn't even give them a second thought because I was hooked on Shure at the time, after a full day of searching I couldn't find a place that carried them locally.

 

Fast forward 2 months and I find the Sennheiser 558 for $105 off Amazon.com. I ordered them yesterday and they should arrive by mail tomorrow. I am looking forward to hearing them on my computer, the audio source at Best Buy is awful.

 

But anyway, thanks for all of your help - I will let you know what I think when I get some time to really listen to them.

post #12 of 20
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by TimPrice View Post

Even the 558's will be great compared to the joke the 202's must be

I have had the 202s for about 4 months now. They only have one fault as far as I can tell.

 

1. They aren't the headphones I want.wink_face.gif

post #13 of 20

The Senn 595s were the first pair of really good headphones that I owned.  I own headphones I like better now but I still go back and use them from time to time. You are going to really like the Senn 558s is my guess.

post #14 of 20

Couple of things -

 

The sound signature of the 598 is very similar to the 595s, but it would seem that the frequency response is "flatter" through the mid-range and treble. When I got used to my 595 (and compare them to my new phones), they seemed to have a nice bass "punch" - but it is far from an aggressive thumping. They are no "sub woofer". If I had to guess, I would say that the 598s are going to seem a little "lean" at first, and have quite a bit of treble energy though the range. But the bass extension will be good, I tend to prefer a more "aggressive" treble, and the mid bass pop is just right for a lot of different kinds of music. They will be comfortable as hell - especially if you are wearing them for very long periods (like I did). 

 

The tradeoff is that the "laid backness" of sennheiser in general was a bit of a let down on metal and some rock, where I occasionally thought something was missing. But the look of the 598s, that may have changed a lot!

 

One other thing, the rated efficiency is 102 versus 112 for the 595s. 10 dB is quite significant. You will probably still have adequate power, but I wouldn't skimp.

post #15 of 20
Thread Starter 

Just got the 558's - great shipping from Dahmart at Amazon - I ordered them on the 31st. My impressions will come as I create themL3000.gif

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