I've recently decided that I'm in need of some headphone-related upgrades. I am currently running an Audio-Technica ATH-A500 from my desktop's onboard sound. I love the A500, and it has served me faithfully since it was recommended to me by Head-Fiers 6 years ago... but I crave more. I have been reading Head-Fi a lot over the past week, and have decided that I want the following from this upgrade:
- The ability to play games with the best variety of stereo -> 5.1 conversion (from my reading it seemed the general consensus that DH was the best compared to CMSS and whatever else)
- An external amp (preferably Schiit, I love the aesthetics)
- Better overall SQ (duh)
Here is my current rig and my thoughts on my upgrade possibilities (in no particular order).
- Audio-Technica ATH-A500
- X58 mobo with Realtek ALC889 onboard sound
- Yamaha HTR-5830 A/V receiver (not currently used)
- Asus Xonar DX + Asgard 2 (use DX's DAC until I can afford an external one)
- Asus Xonar DX + Magni (use DX's DAC until I can afford an external one)
- Yamaha HTR-5830 (already owned) + Asgard 2 (use 5830's DAC until I can afford an external one)
- Yamaha HTR-5830 (already owned) + Magni (use 5830's DAC until I can afford an external one)
- Asus Xonar DX + Modi + Magni (use DX only for DH)
- Asus Xonar Essence STX + Magni (use STX's DAC until I can afford an external one)
- Creative X-FI card + Asgard 2 (use X-Fi's DAC until I can afford an external one)
- Creative X-Fi card + Modi + Magni (use X-Fi only for CMSS)
My budget for sound card/DAC/amp is about $300 (it's a gift). For a while I was looking at the Xonar Essence STX, but I plan to eventually move to a separate external DAC (Bifrost?) so I figured the STX would be a waste since at that point I would just be using it for it's digital output. From my understanding, the STX and DX should have the exact same digital output with regards to Dolby Headphone, and the DX is far more cost effective (~$60 used).
I'm also planning on buying some new headphones out my own pocket, and I'm 95% decided on the HE-400. I love bass and I want to try orthos with minimal capital investment, so I thought the HE-400 would be a great fit. Other cans I've considered are the DT-990 (250 or 600ohm), ATH-AD900X, HD600, HD650, K701, and Q701. I listen to a huge variety of music, but the majority is EDM, pop, and rock/alt.
So now that I've laid all that out, here are some specific questions I have:
- Should I currently be using my HTR-5830 headphone out as opposed to my onboard sound? Not sure how the DAC quality compares...
- When I get a new sound card, should I use it as the DAC or should I use my HTR-5830?
- I'm assuming the HTR-5830 has it's own headphone amp. Is there any harm in taking that amped output and then sending it through a Magni/Asgard?
- The HTR-5830 supports "Silent Cinema" which seems to be Yamaha's answer to Dolby Headphone. From what I read here it seems like it's a pretty decent equivalent, but I'm very interested in hearing more opinions (this could potentially negate my need for a sound card)
- Is Asgard 2 worth the upgrade over Magni for driving the HE-400?
Sorry for the long post and thanks in advance for any help/advice!
Edited by Highnoon - 3/4/13 at 10:34am