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Audio Setup Questions - Page 2

post #16 of 60
Thread Starter 

Yeah, okay, thats true.

I don't listen to music very loud, so there might be some sense in saving money for that I do not need powerful speakers.


I've read now, that getting a soundcard is obsolete, since games already have a headphone feature built in where you can select headphones as the output device and the game renders it like a soundcard would. Does anyone know if that works better or equivalent to a soundcard?




@cel4145: are there any products you could recommend by these brands?




The products I found by these brands are all USB DACs. This might conflict with my plan to route from the soundcard over S/PDIF to the DAC. Or am I missing something?




The wharfedale diamond 10.1 speakers are almost equally expensive as the DALI Zensor 1 in my country.

Edited by AllTernative - 5/25/13 at 9:44am
post #17 of 60
Digital t-amps, such as those made by Topping, SMSL, and Indeed, provide more than enough wattage for listening to speakers. For example, this Indeed amp would have more than enough power for using with speakers for desktop listening: http://www.ebay.com/itm/NEW-2012-Indeed-Class-T-Amp-Tripath-TA2021-25WX2-Stereo-Amplifier-12V5A-Power-/290661295439?pt=US_Home_Audio_Amplifiers_Preamps&hash=item43acc3654f. You could couple that with a Fire Phoenix DAC/headphone amplifier: http://www.ebay.com/itm/FIRE-PHOENIX-DAC-02-CS4398-LM4562-MINI-USB-DAC-Headphone-Amplifier-/170696111860?pt=US_Pro_Audio_Amplifiers&hash=item27be47f6f4. I bought one of those for my son and it sounds great. You could plug the Indeed t-amp for the speakers into the back of the Fire Phoenix.

Don't know anything about the lack of a sound card need in games. But the Xonar DG is fairly inexpensive. Use it's optical output to run to the Fire Phoenix (or another DAC/headphone amp).
post #18 of 60
Thread Starter 

They look nice, but isn't there one device that can do both?

And you agree, I can use the surround sound from the internal sound card and feed the DAC withit over the optical output? That would be very nice.

post #19 of 60
Basically, you need three things: DAC, headphone amp, amplifier for passive speakers.

The Xonar DG has a very basic DAC and headphone amp built in. You could use it to listen to the headphones. But there are better quality DACs and headphone amps. The Fire Phoenix would be one such choice.

And yes. You can buy separate DACs by themselves or coupled with t-amps for driving speakers. I'm not familiar with one that has both and has S/PDIF input. You could get one with USB input since the regular 2 channel audio would be fine for just your speakers (you want the game sound enhancement for headphones, right?). Leave the headphone plugged into the Xonar DG, and then switch through the Sound device choice options through Windows Control Panel whenever you want to move from using your headphones to your speakers and vice versa.

But one thing. You aren't really feeding "surround sound" through the DAC or getting real surround sound into headphones at all. Headphones are two channel devices. The sound card artificially creates surround effects--such as Dolby Headphone--that changes the sound stage of the headphones. But games do have audio drivers which the sound card helps to make the positional audio more accurate in 2 channel. The Creative sound cards are known for having the best implementation of that.
post #20 of 60
Thread Starter 
I am familiar with how soundcards simulate surround sound. And yes, I am only looking for surround sound with the headphones.

But I really want this all in just one device, so I don't have to switch between devices. There has to be such a device I am looking for, hasn't it? I mean, there must be other people who want such a setup...

//edit: What about the Audioengine D1? It has a optical input. But it's headphone output impedance is 10 ohm which is too high for the HD598.
Edited by AllTernative - 5/25/13 at 1:06pm
post #21 of 60
There is such a device. It's called a home audio receiver. Only the headphone output on those are generally not optimized for lower impedance headphones.

The Fire Phoenix I linked to is a headphone amp/DAC with preamp outputs, just like the D1. With either one, you still need some kind of amplifier to power your speakers. If you don't want an external DAC/headphone amp, get an Asus Xonar STX or ST. But it also has a 10 ohm impedance rating.

Personally, since the impedance rating on the HD598 is 50 ohms, I think that's a close enough match for a headphone amp with 10 ohm output. The effect to the frequency response would likely only be very slight.
post #22 of 60
Thread Starter 

Oh well, that means I'm back to the roots.

I really thought there has to be something else than a AV Receiver, but well... beyersmile.png


Also I thought the Audioengine D1 would have an amp for the speakers built-in, my mistake.


So, it might be a good way to go, if I get a receiver with a low headphone impedance output?

What do you think about the Yamaha R-S300 or the Pioneer VSX-922 ?

I'm not sure what impedances they feature for the headphone output.


But if I can get a receiver in the price range of 200-300€ - I think that'd be better than getting a separate HP amp / dac and speaker amp.


Soundcard -> (optical) AVR -> Headphones

                                      -> Speakers


This would work for me to have surroundsound on my headphones, wouldn't it?

post #23 of 60
Is there such thing? As I understand it, receiver headphone amps are generally geared toward high impedance headphones. And they often don't list the headphone impedance in specs, so good luck finding out with specific models. Maybe with some digging with Google, someone will know the answer.

But yes. You can run optical to the receiver.
post #24 of 60
Thread Starter 

I did not find any information regarding the output impedance for headphones on any receivers I looked at.

But I wrote an email to Onkyo, Sony and Pioneer, asking about the impedance.

Although I do not count on the receivers having low impedances for headphones.


This really grinds my gears... one of the reasons I want a new audio setup is, that I don't have to change the output inside Windows.


Well, I probably wait for the replies on my emails, but chances are the receivers only have high impedances on headphones.



Something else came to my mind.

What do you think about active speakers with optical in and a headphone out?


I could go that way:


Soundcard -> (optical) active speakers -> [Headphones]



Are active speakers recommendable and do you know if they are for high impedance headphones aswell, or if that would be an idea for what I want to achieve?

post #25 of 60
If you don't want to change things in Windows, then do what most other head-fiers do. Get an external DAC/headphone amp that has a preamp like the Audioengine D1 or Fire Phoenix. Then you can either buy passive speakers and an amp or powered speakers. The reason to get a receiver is the you want the extra amplifier power and need the other features of it, not to drive HD598 headphones. Otherwise, I don't understand the obsession with having everything in one unit. Receivers are huge in comparison to those other units, many times bigger. So it's not like you are saving on space. Better to get the separate components that result in the best SQ instead of compromising if you don't have to. Plus you can upgrade what you feel is the weakest link in the chain later if you want to improve SQ. Go look at the pictures in the thread: http://www.head-fi.org/t/397869/pictures-of-your-computer-rigs-post-them-here . Almost no one is using a receiver for headphone output. It's generally not the best tool for the job, and they don't support low impedance headphones.

Consequently, I don't think you should get active speakers with built in DAC and headphone out. Doubt you'll get the same SQ as buying separate components. Doubtful you'll get useful feedback for that on this forum as that's not what people here buy. The advantage of head-fi is that you can find equipment that multiple headphone/audio enthusiasts have bought and know what kind of SQ you are getting. If you want to go another direction, I don't think you'll get much useful help. I'm sure you can ask in other audio/video forums where they aren't too concerned (or knowledgeable) about headphones, and someone will tell you to buy some kind of powered speakers with headphone amp built in.
post #26 of 60
Thread Starter 
Very well, I see your point and I think you are right. But I don't want to buy things off ebay, do you know a headphone amp with preamp optical in, aswell as a amp for the DALI Zensor 1 that I can get from amazon?
post #27 of 60
Best Buy, Crutchfield, and B&H Photo all carry the Audioengine D1. The Topping TP20-MK2 t-amp is similar to the Indeed and available on Amazon and Parts Express.
post #28 of 60

I know very little about this stuff and have found reading through this thread a little difficult so I expect to be totally wrong here, but would the Audioengine N22 work for the OP? It would be a combined headphone/speaker amp which sounds like what the OP wants. He would still need a either a good soundcard or DAC to pair with it though.

post #29 of 60
Thread Starter 
Certainly doesn't look bad, but as I see it, it doesn't feature optical in, which is crucial for me.

But then again, the D1 does have 10ohm output. I would like to go the best possible way when I am investing a lot of money.


I live in Germany and we do not have those shops here. Ordering from overseas is not an option.
Also the Topping Tp20-MK2 isn't available at amazon Germany anymore (as well as the D1).

Are there any other products? I am a little disappointed how hard it is to get this stuff here.


I found a all-in-one solution, but it's rather expensive at 1000$, so sadly it's off the table.
Edited by AllTernative - 5/27/13 at 1:47pm
post #30 of 60
Thread Starter 

I need to bump this with a new post, because I don't know if an edit bumps the thread.


From the companies I wrote to, only one reply was helpful.

Pioneer assured me, that with the Pioneer VSX-922-K the headphone amp has an output of 32 ohm.

Sony got my question wrong and Onkyo hasn't replied yet.


But the most interesting thing I discovered is the "Maverick TubeMagic D1".



There are a few different versions out there, but it seems that it's a DAC with headphone amp and (I'm not sure here) amplifier for speakers.

As it has optical in, it would be perfect, wouldn't it?


Or am I missing something here?



Can I plug passive speakers into this or do I need another amp?

Edited by AllTernative - 5/28/13 at 2:39pm
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