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help out a wannabe audiophile!

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 

I would appreciate any information on ways to improve my setup. I've perused a few threads to try to learn how to be an audiophile and what will get me the best sound, but I quickly realized I don't know my a** from my elbow when it comes to this stuff. When I listen to music through my laptop I use Sennheiser HD 595's running through a FiiO E5 amp. My computer has IDT High Definition Audio CODEC, but I have no idea what that means. I want to upgrade my E5 so first of all I was wondering if I should just get the E6, or would it make that much of a difference to get either an E11 or a cMoyBB. I try to only download VBR files and 320 kb/s, but what else can I do to enhance my listening experience? Anything would be helpful.

post #2 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by senorfrito View Post

I would appreciate any information on ways to improve my setup. I've perused a few threads to try to learn how to be an audiophile and what will get me the best sound, but I quickly realized I don't know my a** from my elbow when it comes to this stuff. When I listen to music through my laptop I use Sennheiser HD 595's running through a FiiO E5 amp. My computer has IDT High Definition Audio CODEC, but I have no idea what that means. I want to upgrade my E5 so first of all I was wondering if I should just get the E6, or would it make that much of a difference to get either an E11 or a cMoyBB. I try to only download VBR files and 320 kb/s, but what else can I do to enhance my listening experience? Anything would be helpful.

I'd say your first step is getting a better DAC, what kind of soundcard do you have?, is it straight from the motherboard?

 

if that's the case, you are getting (in most cases) bad to above average quality sound, and that is just getting amplified by whatever amp you use.

post #3 of 13
Thread Starter 

I kind of thought the IDT High Definition thing was my sound card but if it's not I have no idea. The laptop is pretty standard, I haven't made any adjustments to it so whatever comes stock with HP is all I've got. What would a DAC do and do you have any recommendations for a relatively cheap one?

post #4 of 13

I would suggest to look @ AudioQuest Dragonfly. Great DAC especially for portable use.

post #5 of 13
Thread Starter 

That one does look nice but it's out of my price range. Is there anything else that you would recommend? I was looking at the FiiO E7.

post #6 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by senorfrito View Post

That one does look nice but it's out of my price range. Is there anything else that you would recommend? I was looking at the FiiO E7.
I've been using the E07K (upgraded E7)
I really like and it's a good entry point. And being a dac/amp portable combo you can use for your PC or player
Edited by Kiont - 1/27/13 at 12:40pm
post #7 of 13
Thread Starter 

Oh awesome, I didn't know there was an upgraded one. Thanks, I just ordered one

post #8 of 13

I would recommend using WASAPI or ASIO audio drivers as well, no need to use additional Windows audio drivers which add latency to your system.

post #9 of 13
Thread Starter 

What would either of those drivers do? Anything significant?

post #10 of 13

They bypass all other handling of the audio stream by Windows. Basically they route the signal straight from the player to the sound card. (be it USB external, Firewire External, or internal) The main benefit is less latency but it also improves reliability of the system and can solve a lot of driver issues. If your computer has funky audio processing it will also bypass that.

post #11 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by 65535 View Post

They bypass all other handling of the audio stream by Windows. Basically they route the signal straight from the player to the sound card. (be it USB external, Firewire External, or internal) The main benefit is less latency but it also improves reliability of the system and can solve a lot of driver issues. If your computer has funky audio processing it will also bypass that.

Just to play devil's advocate (and show how confusing and controversial most topics are in audiophilia):

Latency is the amount of delay between two events (in this case, clicking on a music file and having it play). Lower latency won't make things sound better. It just means that there will be a few less milliseconds from the time you click "Justin Bieber" and the time you hear "Justin Bieber" (gosh, I hope not.) The Windows Volume Control/mixer has been proven to be bit-perfect (properly play every bit in the song) as long as it is at 100% and all other programs are muted.

One issue that I run into with ASIO is that the latency settings (on my amp/DAC/interface, you control it on your own) isn't set high enough. This causes clicks and pops as the interface struggles to keep up. Turning this up every time I boot up my media player is a total chore.

Another issue that I run into with ASIO/WASAPI is that support for the plug-ins is hit-or-miss with media players. Some work well, some don't even support it.

If you're going through your computer's headphone port to run the FiiO, perhaps an E10 would be a good purchase. It has an internal soundcard that bypasses the soundcard in your computer. Because your computer's soundcard is inside of ...well... a computer, there can be a lot of electromagnetic interference. This can causes hisses and static. Getting a USB soundcard/DAC like the E10 will remove this electromagnetic interference.

post #12 of 13

I very much agree, ASIO/WASAPI is by no means a be all end all. I have worked with people who have had serious driver issues that basically caused interference that ASIO drivers solved. Some sound cards ship with god awful drivers and need a work around.

 

Latency really doesn't play any important roll in what we do, you're right on all counts. Having a larger buffer is usually a better thing. 

 

I actually use a Mac laptop and obviously have had no issues with audio.

 

The Modi/Magni Schiit stack is very nice for the price.

O2/ODAC is another excellent contender.

 

Either stack will bring you up to a level of performance that is on tier up to $1000 gear in my opinion.

post #13 of 13
Thread Starter 

Well so far in my short time on this website, I have started using Foobar and got the WASAPI component (thank you by the way, that did actually make a big sound difference). I also ordered a FiiO E07k which should be coming in a few days. I'll give that a try and then look into some of this other stuff if I don't like the FiiO but so far thanks a lot for the advice. Before posting this I had never heard of a DAC or anything like WASAPI/ASIO so I am really glad that I asked.

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