Originally Posted by takato14
What headphones do you have? Either your other gear isn't good enough for you to hear the changes or you just don't have the ears for it.
Either that or the cards you got were overpriced as hell.I personally notice quite a big difference between my iPhone's Cirrus Logic chip and my E7's DAC (dont remember the name of it offhand). The E7 renders far more micro-detail and delivers some nice bass energy.
My headphones are JVC HA-RX900 (basic mods as per this thread). I'm running FLAC though Foobar2000 w/ wasapi/asio from my laptop. My laptop has IDT onboard audio, and I've tried the Xonar U3 and X-Fi HD along with HDMI out from the laptop through Foobar2000 w/ wasapi to a Denon AVR-1712 headphone out (not a cheapo receiver). Between all of these, the AVR-1712 has had the best amplification, the IDT onboard has been the quietest, and the quality has been about the same from all of them with the exception of the receiver seeming to give a bit more clarity at the the expense of low end output (but again you have to really listen for it).
I think the headphones are what is holding me back at this point, but judging from other reviews of the headphones and the different audio equipment that they have been used on, I wouldn't think that to be the case. Maybe I messed something up when modding them?
Now you guys keep saying I don't "have the ears for the hobby" which I understand as being plausible in general, but I have been dabbling in varying forms of audio for quite a while now, and I DO notice differences between audio equipment. Whether it be between my RX900's and my Samsung earbuds that came with a phone or some cheapy $20 Sony earbuds I picked up from Best Buy, or between my Yamaha HTR-6030 and my Denon AVR-1712, or a Denon AVR-2113ci vs a Pioneer VSX-1022K receiver, or Polk M60's vs Sony SSF-5000 towers, or going from a stock car head unit to an aftermarket head unit, or stock to Pioneer cheapies to Infinity Reference car audio speakers w/ an amp, or the difference between my PPI S420.2 vs Boston Acoustics GT2125 sub amps, or my Image Dynamics ID12v3 vs my Alpine SWR-1243D 12" subs, ETC ETC ETC, the list goes on. I was able to tell the difference between my unmodded and modded RX900's. I can tell the difference between different audio.
Hell, on my previous gaming rig (i7 930 @ 4.2GHz w/ GTX470 @ 900MHz on custom water running RAID-0 AAKS 640GB and a Vertex SSD) I could tell the difference between my Siig Soundwave 7.1 PCI sound card (C-Media chip) and my X-Fi Titanium Fatal1ty Pro using the same RX900 headphones.
But on this laptop with both the Asus Xonar U3 and the X-Fi HD, I could not tell much of a difference at all. The slightest smallest difference could be detected if you listen for them very carefully, but as far as just setting everything up and plugging in the headphones, the "WOW that's much better!" effect that I am normally used to was not there, aside from the obvious volume gain from amplification.
Now I'm giving them the benefit of the doubt and assuming my RX900's just aren't detailed enough to convey the differences, but as I was able to tell the difference between my X-Fi Titanium Pro PCI-E and a basic C-media based Siig Soundwave 7.1 PCI using the same headphones, I am very skeptical of that.
All that being said, assuming I'm not making a big enough leap, what gear would you guys suggest (headphones, amps, dacs, etc) that would give me a big audible difference coming from my current setup? Obviously I don't want to spend hundreds of dollars up front, but with a list, at least I can start building over time, headphones then DAC then amp most likely. I listen to a variety of music, but I am also a basshead and like the bass to be powerful, clear, and obvious but don't want the mids and highs to suffer too terribly much. I listen to rap/hip-hop, pop, rock, alternative rock, and a little in between. I would like the DAC to be portable but not necessarily a requirement for the amp. I believe the headphones would convey the most difference, so I don't mind spending a bit more there.
I've really been considering the E7/E9 combo or E17/E9 combo, but I have no idea what headphones I should be looking at based on my particular tastes. I want something that will do almost as good in movies as it does in music, music being the priority, then movies, and very rarely any gaming (not worried about gaming). As far as bass is concerned, I've ready the Sony XB500's are very good with some EQ to turn the bass down a bit but these are still only $60 headphones. I have also been considering the ATH-M50's. The HD518's can be had for $130 on Amazon, but I doubt they'll provide the bass I'm looking for. The AD700's have been compared to the RX900's with less bass, so I'm probably not looking at those either. I've already spent hours researching over the last few days along with 12+ hours of testing, so a little more guidance would be extremely helpful.
As always, thanks for all of your help so far!
Edited by c00lkatz - 11/12/12 at 9:43am