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I'm new and confused, what sort of desktop amp do I want?

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
What I have is the following:
* Moshi Clarus headphones
* A computer with a Intel DH77DF motherboard that is running windows.
* No soundcard of any sort.
* No amp of any sort.

I know I'm looking for a desktop amp right now, but I'm not sure what the different types are. I didn't see any sort of guide stickied so I'm not sure where to start.

You should be able to extrapolate my budget from the sort of headphones I have (they were $200). On the basis of that what sort of amp do I want. What sort of input and output should it have and why? What are some important things to look for and common pitfalls?
post #2 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by paulcdejean View Post

What I have is the following:
* Moshi Clarus headphones
* A computer with a Intel DH77DF motherboard that is running windows.
* No soundcard of any sort.
* No amp of any sort.
I know I'm looking for a desktop amp right now, but I'm not sure what the different types are. I didn't see any sort of guide stickied so I'm not sure where to start.
You should be able to extrapolate my budget from the sort of headphones I have (they were $200). On the basis of that what sort of amp do I want. What sort of input and output should it have and why? What are some important things to look for and common pitfalls?

 

Why are you looking for an amp? Is your computer struggling to drive the Moshis?

 

How much do you want to spend? An amp with an on board DAC (sound card) and USB input might be a good idea. If it is just for your headphones all you need is a headphone output, obviously. You may want to try something like the HRT HeadStreamer USB-powered Headphone DAC/Amplifier which is $140 on Amazon. If you do I highly recommend not plugging it straight into your computers USB hub but use an externally POWERED USB hub. I use one with my Music Streamer II and it makes a night and day difference.

 

Common pitfalls? If you ask me, spending too much on amps and dacs and not enough on headphones.

post #3 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by paulcdejean View Post

What I have is the following:
* Moshi Clarus headphones
* A computer with a Intel DH77DF motherboard that is running windows.
* No soundcard of any sort.
* No amp of any sort.
I know I'm looking for a desktop amp right now, but I'm not sure what the different types are. I didn't see any sort of guide stickied so I'm not sure where to start.
You should be able to extrapolate my budget from the sort of headphones I have (they were $200). On the basis of that what sort of amp do I want. What sort of input and output should it have and why? What are some important things to look for and common pitfalls?

As your Moshi Clarus are only 24-Ohm I would say not to get a sound card, as sound cards usually have a high output impedance (resistance, measured in Ohms) which is a negative for low Ohm headphones (plugged straight into the sound card).

Using a external headphone amplifier, with a low impedance, is fine for plugging into a sound card, and using low Ohm headphones plugged into the external amplifier.

 

Fiio E10 ($68) USB-DAC-Headphone amplifier, should come with a better DAC (Digital to Analog Converter) then whatever is built into the motherboard.

The E10's headphone amplifier is very low impedance, like .5-Ohm.

The Fiio E10 is 2-channel stereo only, fine for music, but offers zero surround sound features for movies or gaming.

 

Is the audio setup for just music? movies? gaming?

post #4 of 13
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by PurpleAngel View Post

As your Moshi Clarus are only 24-Ohm I would say not to get a sound card, as sound cards usually have a high output impedance (resistance, measured in Ohms) which is a negative for low Ohm headphones (plugged straight into the sound card).
Using a external headphone amplifier, with a low impedance, is fine for plugging into a sound card, and using low Ohm headphones plugged into the external amplifier.

Fiio E10 ($68) USB-DAC-Headphone amplifier, should come with a better DAC (Digital to Analog Converter) then whatever is built into the motherboard.
The E10's headphone amplifier is very low impedance, like .5-Ohm.
The Fiio E10 is 2-channel stereo only, fine for music, but offers zero surround sound features for movies or gaming.

Is the audio setup for just music? movies? gaming?
Alright, that seems like a good plan. I've purchased it.

Audio setup is mostly for music. Like 90% I'd say.

Also read a bit about impedance and headphones, interesting stuff.
post #5 of 13
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hooster View Post

Why are you looking for an amp? Is your computer struggling to drive the Moshis?

How much do you want to spend? An amp with an on board DAC (sound card) and USB input might be a good idea. If it is just for your headphones all you need is a headphone output, obviously. You may want to try something like the HRT HeadStreamer USB-powered Headphone DAC/Amplifier which is $140 on Amazon. If you do I highly recommend not plugging it straight into your computers USB hub but use an externally POWERED USB hub. I use one with my Music Streamer II and it makes a night and day difference.

Common pitfalls? If you ask me, spending too much on amps and dacs and not enough on headphones.
Not really looking for an externally powered USB hub at this moment.
post #6 of 13

No need to get one just because someone says it improves the sound. I am using the headphone output of a laptop and it sounds fantastic. Im not looking for a dac or an amp.

 

http://www.head-fi.org/t/634604/hp-pavilion-dm4-beats#post_8835796
 

post #7 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hooster View Post

No need to get one just because someone says it improves the sound. I am using the headphone output of a laptop and it sounds fantastic. Im not looking for a dac or an amp.

 

http://www.head-fi.org/t/634604/hp-pavilion-dm4-beats#post_8835796
 

 

That might be true, but you'll never know unless you test it with an external DAC.

 

My laptop compared to my ODAC was a huge difference.

Less so when compared to my desktop, that has much better audio. But still, I can tell.

post #8 of 13

I have an external dac so I know. This laptop sounds so good when properly set up that the small sacrifice in SQ is more than made up by the convenience of not having to have more boxes. This is not just any laptop. "HP has greatly improved the quality of its internal audio chipsets"

post #9 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hooster View Post

I have an external dac so I know. This laptop sounds so good when properly set up that the small sacrifice in SQ is more than made up by the convenience of not having to have more boxes. This is not just any laptop. "HP has greatly improved the quality of its internal audio chipsets"

 

Hey, as much as I want to agree with you, it still cannot be presented as fact.

post #10 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by proton007 View Post

 

Hey, as much as I want to agree with you, it still cannot be presented as fact.

 

Exactly what can not be presented as fact? This is simply my opinion and my experience. As they say, YMMV.


Edited by Hooster - 11/6/12 at 1:46am
post #11 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hooster View Post

This is simply my opinion and my experience. As they say, YMMV.

 

Fair enough.

post #12 of 13
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hooster View Post

No need to get one just because someone says it improves the sound. I am using the headphone output of a laptop and it sounds fantastic. Im not looking for a dac or an amp.

http://www.head-fi.org/t/634604/hp-pavilion-dm4-beats#post_8835796

 
The main reason I got it, is that I'd rather plug my headphones into a DAC that sits to my left, than either have a silly extension cord dangling by my screen, move my computer upwards, or deal with having my headphone cord having no slack.

Also gives me a nice dial to turn. Also it could even improve the sound! You never know.
post #13 of 13
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hooster View Post

No need to get one just because someone says it improves the sound. I am using the headphone output of a laptop and it sounds fantastic. Im not looking for a dac or an amp.

http://www.head-fi.org/t/634604/hp-pavilion-dm4-beats#post_8835796

 
Also that laptop you mentioned has a sound card basically.
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