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Can the Hifiman HE-500's be driven by a Creative ZxR sound card's headphone amp?

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 

Hello all, and thanks in advance for the help. I recently ordered the HE-500's, and am trying to decide whether I should keep them or not. The card's specs are here: http://www.soundblaster.com/products/sound-blaster-zxr.aspx#specs

 

In short, the card has a 600 ohm 80mw headphone amp, the TPA6120. I have looked extensively, but can find literally no information as to how well (if at all) this card can drive high-end headphones, as it is a very new product. The HE-500's (http://www.head-direct.com/Products/?act=detail&id=102) are 38 ohms and, although I'm familiarized myself with the math of relating ohms to watts, I can't find anything that suggests how much power the headphones actually want. I am new to the audiophile world, and I don't have any other amps or DAC's or anything so I will have no way of knowing if my headphones sound underpowered or not.

 

I would really prefer to not have to buy another separate headphone amp since I just splurged on this brand new sound card which supposedly features a great amp, but this answer will help me decide whether to just get the HE-400's instead, keep the HE-500's as-is, or get a different headphone amp (probably the Schiit Magni or something). Even if I WAS to opt for the last solution, however, I'm not even sure that my sound card will accept having a different external amp connected to it.

 

Basically, I suppose I'm just wondering if anyone has knowledge of this hardware or can do some math that is evading me and tell me whether or not the ZXR can adequately drive the HE-500's. Thanks again!

post #2 of 6
Thread Starter 

Bump

post #3 of 6

For that price I think you might be better served by the Schiit Magni and Modi, which will definitely drive the HE-500.

post #4 of 6
Thread Starter 

I have been looking at the Schiit combo a lot this evening. So are you saying then that the ZxR amp is NOT capable of driving the headphones? Also, if I was to get the Schiit: I can understand getting the amp because I need the power; but the DAC in the ZxR is more than capable, possibly even better than the DAC in the Mogi. I understand that those two modules are a pair so to speak, but why get a separate USB DAC if I already have a pretty good one (one that is specially designed to work well for games, which I play, in addition to music)?

post #5 of 6

The amp may or may not be capable of driving the headphones. The HiFiMans, being orthodynamic, take a LOT of power to really be able to use them at their fullest. I wouldn't really want to deal with the uncertainty if it was me. The Magni puts out a ton of power for its size and depending on just how discerning you are, you might not ever need to upgrade it.

Some other pluses of the Magni + Modi:
 

  1. Sits on your desk and not in your computer (and that Accessible Control Module looks a bit gimmicky)
  2. Sexy beast (definitely desk candy category)
  3. Portable to an extent
  4. Clean setup (just USB + power, and not a bunch of inevitable connections like the Soundblaster + ACM + ??? will result in)
  5. Less expensive
  6. Resale value most likely much higher if you ever decide to upgrade
post #6 of 6
Quote:
Originally Posted by dwthewhiteness View Post

Hello all, and thanks in advance for the help. I recently ordered the HE-500's, and am trying to decide whether I should keep them or not. The card's specs are here: http://www.soundblaster.com/products/sound-blaster-zxr.aspx#specs

 

 

The specs in the link you provided do not indicate the power output that the SB card provides.  I don't know if any audio cards for computers that will provide adequate amplification power for orthodynamic headphones.  When you consider the HE-500 is 89dB efficient vs. many other headphones that are 98 - 101dB efficient, one can easily see how a sound card manufacturer is catering to the masses of those with more efficient headphones.

 

Tus-Chan has been providing some excellent responses to your questions.  To be able to get the most out of the HE-500 experience, the advice provided should be really considered.

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