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Combination of DAC - Amp - and Headphone

post #1 of 3
Thread Starter 


Recently I have been searching through forums and articles trying to find a way to improve my sound quality.

I listen to music through my laptop which has a Realtek sound card and my headphones are ATH M50s and Sennheiser HD428. And I have a few questions on what to do.

1)  Would a DAC such as a Fiio E7 or E10 improve the sound quality? Or do I need a better higher quality DAC?
3)  And would the impedance/voltage of these DACs match with my headphones are designed for?

Basically I am not sure if my headphones are underpowered or badly suited to the setup. So, can anybody recommend an excellent setup for these headphones? I just need an ideal combination for the DAC and AMP.

Also I would prefer to use something non-portable that doesn't rely on battery and can be plugged into the mains - just so I don't have to recharge it. 

Thank you happy_face1.gif

post #2 of 3

The ATH-M50 seems fairly easy to drive (http://www.innerfidelity.com/images/AudioTechnicaATHM50B2012.pdf):

Load: 49 ohms (almost resistive)

Sensitivity: 99 dBSPL/mW.

To get 115 dBSPL (very loud), it only needs 40mW / 1.4V / 28.6mA.


From what I've read, the E7 may have no problems with this.


The HD-448, which is similar to the HD-428 impedance-wise according to HeadRoom (http://www.innerfidelity.com/images/SennheiserHD448.pdf):

Load: 35-50 ohms  (reactive load)

Sensitivity: 100 dBSPL/mQ,

To get to 115 dBSPL it needs 32mW / 1.1 V / 30mA.


Similar requirements to the M50 it seems, so the E7 might pull it off in the < $100 DAC/Amp range for those particular headphones, and you might get some improvement over your computer depending on it's implementation (my HP laptop audio SUCKS!, but my iPad mini is not too bad)


What is your target price range?

Edited by ultrabike - 4/19/13 at 1:09pm
post #3 of 3

It depends on the soundcard you have in your PC already, if its one of those cheap nasty realtek cards or whatever that came with the PC, then you will definitely get better quality from an external DAC/AMP.


When I got my first headphone amp/dac (fiio e7) I couldn't believe how much better it sounded over my PC soundcard. Everything sounded much more balanced, I could distinguish layers more clearly than I ever could with stock soundcards that came with the PC/Laptops. There was no more hissing and crackle either, the sound was "clean".


I hear the E10 is a clear improvement over the E7 at only a fraction of the cost more, so i'd certainly recommend getting it.


Remember, just because your soundcard can drive your headphones loud enough, doesn't mean that it's driving your headphone well.

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