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All the factors that go into sound quality?

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 

Ok, so before I spend $3-400 on a pair of good headphones, I want to know all of the factors that go into producing the best audio quality. So far here's what I am lead to believe:

 

quality of the file

the headphones

the amplifier

your computer's audio

 

Is there anything else that could affect the audio quality? Also, are sound cards really much better than onboard HD audio?

 

Thanks.

post #2 of 6

Welcome 0324...beerchug.gif

 

You are on the right track...

 

Many different opinions on the order of preference of the audio chain.  Most say headphones (which I agree, for the most part).  I say source material (quality of file- CDs, FLAC etc....) should come first.  How will a good headphone perform if you are using low quality compressed music?  It will bottleneck it.

 

- source material (files, etc.)

- headphones

- source (iDevice, DAC, CD player etc.)

- amp

 

Remember, your chain is only as strong as its weakest link.

 

Cheers!!!


Edited by HeatFan12 - 2/17/13 at 11:49am
post #3 of 6

By "computer's audio" you probably mean the DAC, which is in portable audio players, too. It is an important part of the chain. The only other thing I'd add is cables, but they're not nearly as important as the other parts, and it's unlikely that they'd be the weakest link in your chain.

post #4 of 6

I agree with HeatFan. Source material is very important as its quality depends on many other factors as well. For example, the quality of the microphone, room acoustics in the recording room, and digital encoder (ADC) used by the production people, etc.. Therefore, not all flac files sound good; they just do not lose information. 

 

For the reproduction of sound, I think the most important are headphones, they're the most direct factor, no further explanation needed.

Next I say is the amplifier, but it depends on your headphone. If a headphone is very hard to drive, without amplification it can sound nothing like a good headphone. Then the DAC, which converts digital signal to analog signal.

 

Cheers!

post #5 of 6
Thread Starter 

I mean the audio that my motherboard produces. I suppose that's the DAC? I'm not too sure. Also, if you can, can you quantify the difference in audio quality between a Sennheiser HD 439 and a Sennheiser HD 598? Is it the difference between 439s and iPod headphones, or is it more slight? I know that may be a difficult question, but there are no local audio shops that carry good headphones, so I can't test anything before I buy them. All I have over hear is beats by dre...

post #6 of 6
Quote:
Originally Posted by 0324 View Post

I mean the audio that my motherboard produces. I suppose that's the DAC? I'm not too sure. Also, if you can, can you quantify the difference in audio quality between a Sennheiser HD 439 and a Sennheiser HD 598? Is it the difference between 439s and iPod headphones, or is it more slight? I know that may be a difficult question, but there are no local audio shops that carry good headphones, so I can't test anything before I buy them. All I have over hear is beats by dre...

The sound coming from your computer headphone jack is converted to analog and amplified. Thus, there's a DAC and an AMP in your computer. But rarely are they better than any external DACs and AMPs.

 

I did not listen to the HD439, so take my words lightly here. HD439 is closed-back, in comparison to the opened-back HD598. Based on this difference, the HD598 is going to have a more airy sound, a more laid-back experience (sound is coming from a distance.) and a larger soundstage (like you're in a large hall). IMO, the HD598 is a very good all-around headphone.

 

Both of these are much better than the iPod headphones, since the iPod headphones are built by very low standards. And HD598 has much more clarity and overall quality than Beats; Beats sounds muddy and are extremely overpriced.

 

Hope this helps (^ _ ^)


Edited by jimmylee1997 - 2/17/13 at 12:53pm
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