Originally Posted by ru57y
Hi Hashed Browns, welcome and all that :)
to cut a long story short, Get a Decent DAC (Fiio e7?), get some headphones you like the sound of after trying them all out
Thanks for the welcome ♥
I don't understand the use of a DAC exactly. I understand the need to convert digital to analogue but as I understand this is all done on board and is a very basic task. What makes a separate module better than on board for that? Further what makes one DAC stand out from another?
As for headphones, for the past 4 years I've ben using a pair of Audio Technica ATH 700s or some such that I bought from a garage sale for like 15$. They've been amazing to me and I'm not sure I want to replace them until I know what I'm doing.
Originally Posted by seekadds
I think you are overcomplicating things, hashed. Audio equipment hasn't changed that much since the days of "speakers/headphones and an audio card." These are still the basic ingredients of computer audio. What's changing is an increase in awareness of what an audio card does, and expanding its implementation into dedicated hardware components. i.e. Dac, amp, pre-amp, mixer, etc. Usually an internal sound card is all of these things in one, and there are sound cards that do a pretty good job of it.
But many find they can find more value and enjoyment with dedicated components, or just like tinkering with their hardware more than an all-in-one internal sound card can allow. Don't be so overwhelmed right away, digital audio really is quite simple, head-fi just likes to overcomplicate things sometimes. A lot of people could be satisfied with a simple setup, like the Fiio ru57y recommends.
Here is where you start:
-What is your goal? Is it to show off a system to your friends? Is it to simply have better sound quality than average motherboard "HD audio?" Is it to have the best-reference audio studio-grade system this side of the Mississippi?
-What is your budget? Self-explanatory.
-What is your usage? Do you need to drive headphones and/or speakers? Do your headphones need to be closed (for isolation and low leakage), or can you have open headphones? What sized room and listening distance are your speakers going to be used for? Are your speakers powered or do they need an amp?
Unfortunately - for speakers - movies and music are slightly at odds because movies are optimized for 5.1/7.1, but music is usually mastered for 2.1. So you'll have to make a choice about which one gets compromised. Personally, I vote stereo even though I watch movies on my office/bedroom computer. Save the surround-sound setup for the living room.
So start by answering these questions, and then head-fi will be able to really help out. In other words, I think you are attacking the situation from the wrong angle, you tell us what you need, then we tell you what we recommend for those needs.
Sorry, when I said it changed, I meant in relation to my understanding. Previously I knew there were headphones/speakers and I was aware that audio cards existed. The moment I bothered to read/look however things changed fast and it became a lot larger of a subject than I had previously thought.
As for my goal, I want to have an audio system that gives me better quality sound for my games/videos/music, and a hobby. Something I can learn about, have fun with, and apply it to things I enjoy like music.
My budget immediately is 0$. Right now I'm doing research/learning about this so I know what I'm shopping for. Earliest time I'd be able to buy is late December, latest is mid February, because things are weird right now irl. I'm ok with having a large buffer zone between learning and buying. My budget when I am ready to buy will likely be between 150$ and 500$ if I manage to lose control of myself >.>
As it stands usage-wise I listen to everything on my headphones, and live in a small house with a family of 8. So speakers are unlikely to work out for me, but open air headphones have been fine for some time. As for other usage, I am looking into some DAWs/ect for making music on my comp/ect, in a search for another music related hobby. I'm not sure how far I'll take that, but I'd still like to find the line where on board no longer supports the hobby and I need something better.
So as it stands, of this moment, I am more asking/looking for a "what hardware makes a good audio setup, what makes good hardware, all in relation to computer audio, and where are entry level guides/tutorials/literature for this. " as opposed to a " Please tell me what to buy" type deal .
I'm basically wanting to get into a hobby that makes something I love (especially music) even more enjoyable, and actually gives me an understanding of how it works.
Edited by Hashed Browns - 12/3/12 at 12:06pm