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Not sure what I'm looking for. Want better computer audio, need to power HD 650's and have...

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 

Okay, here's my situation. I'm about to purchase the Sennheiser HD 650 headphone. These are going to be used for my computer pretty much 100% of the time. I also have a Sonos Playbar that I hook up to my computer for audio for movies and music occasionally. The Sonos Playbar receives audio by HDMI from the computer, into my TV, then into the Sonos Playbar via optical cable. I want to improve upon my on-board sound for my sound bar as well as power my HD 650. How can I do this?

post #2 of 19

I would say to get the SBZ (Creative Labs Sound Blaster Z) sound card, $80-$105.

Plug the headphones into the SBZ's headphone jack and run the optical cable from the SBZ's S/PDIF optical output to the Sonos Playbar.

I'm guess when using the Playbar, you would set your computer's audio output to "2-channel speaker" and digital output to "PCM".

When using headphones for Blu-ray or DVD movies, set sound card to 5.1 or 7.1 and "headphone" output.


Edited by PurpleAngel - 6/13/13 at 10:10pm
post #3 of 19

Xonar Essence ST or STX soundcard.

post #4 of 19
Thread Starter 

If I remove the optical from my TV I'll lose audio from my other devices since all audio has to pass through the TV first via HDMI.

post #5 of 19
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by wink View Post

Xonar Essence ST or STX soundcard.

I don't believe those have digital connections so I don't know how I could hook my sound bar up.

post #6 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by VulturinFlame5 View Post

I don't believe those have digital connections so I don't know how I could hook my sound bar up.

The Asus STX and ST come with a S/PDIF optical and coaxial outputs..

post #7 of 19
Thread Starter 

Sorry, the ones that I've looked at didn't seem to have optical.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16829132010

 

Am I looking at the right one?

And would you recommend the Asus over the Creative?

post #8 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by VulturinFlame5 View Post

If I remove the optical from my TV I'll lose audio from my other devices since all audio has to pass through the TV first via HDMI.

What other "devices" do you have connected to the TV?

 

The reason i was subjecting to run optical from the computer to the PayBar, is that your computer (using HDMI) can send a full 5.1 (or 7.1) 24-bit/192Hkz digital audio signal to the TV.

But I'm not sure how good the TV's audio processing is at converting that down to a stereo (2 channel) digital audio signal that is sent to the Playbar.

post #9 of 19
Thread Starter 

A digital cable box and PS3.

It's a Samsung UN55ES7500.

post #10 of 19
I would doubt that there's much that you can do to improve the audio for the Sonos Playbar by getting a different sound card. It looks to have only digital inputs, so it's going to use its own DAC no matter how you send audio to it from your computer. I wouldn't count on the virtual surround features offered by some sound cards helping out. The Playbar already has it's own built in feature for that which is likely better optimized for the driver configuration in the soundbar.

If you want to improve the sound for movies, the Sonos SUB Subwoofer would definitely help (and maybe some help with some types of deep bass heavy music, such as EDM). Ultimately, for movie sound, you need rear speakers and a sub to get the full surround experience. Gets pretty pricey to add in their sub and surround speakers. And even then, it only decodes Dolby Digital 5.1, which is DVD quality, not Bluray quality sound if that's what you were looking for. Unless you have to have a soundbar, a new system with separates would easily sound better for music and movies.

For your headphones, there are a wide range of options. Really depends on what your budget is. There are different internal sound card options (mentioned above by other posters) and external DAC/amp options.
post #11 of 19
Thread Starter 

Makes sense, just thought that since I was investing in a card for powering my Sennheiser's I'd try to improve the sound bar.

I might be investing in the full surround later on since where I work I get a accommodations through them so I get the equipment pretty cheap. Would it make a difference then?

Also what would be blu-ray quality sound? If I could get substantially better sound from a different system I would wanna look into it.

post #12 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by VulturinFlame5 View Post

Sorry, the ones that I've looked at didn't seem to have optical.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16829132010

 

Am I looking at the right one?

And would you recommend the Asus over the Creative?

You looking at the right card, it's just that the S/PDIF coaxial output also doubles as the optical output, when an adapter (that comes with the card) is used.

If your sending an HDMI digital audio signal from the computer (graphics card) to the TV, and add-on sound card is not even used.

Optical from the computer to any external device is going to be the same signal for on-board audio or any add-on sound card.

Some motherboard S/PDIF (optical or coaxial) only offer 2 channel PCM digital output, most sound cards can also do 5.1 (6-channel compressed) digital output.

Chances are the Asus STX and ST do come with a better headphone amplifier then the SBZ or SBZx.

The SBZxR (Sound Blaster ZxR), $250, comes with the same headphone amp as the Asus STX or ST.

I like my Asus STX and have no problem with you getting one, but I like to offer the cheaper options (SBZ) first.

post #13 of 19
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by PurpleAngel View Post

You looking at the right card, it's just that the S/PDIF coaxial output also doubles as the optical output, when an adapter (that comes with the card) is used.

If your sending an HDMI digital audio signal from the computer (graphics card) to the TV, and add-on sound card is not even used.

Optical from the computer to any external device is going to be the same signal for on-board audio or any add-on sound card.

Some motherboard S/PDIF (optical or coaxial) only offer 2 channel PCM digital output, most sound cards can also do 5.1 (6-channel compressed) digital output.

Chances are the Asus STX and ST do come with a better headphone amplifier then the SBZ or SBZx.

The SBZxR (Sound Blaster ZxR), $250, comes with the same headphone amp as the Asus STX or ST.

I like my Asus STX and have no problem with you getting one, but I like to offer the cheaper options (SBZ) first.

So basically whatever configuration I do it's going to be the same audio quality for a digital connection? The only difference will be my headphone?

Sorry for my ignorance.

post #14 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by VulturinFlame5 View Post

Makes sense, just thought that since I was investing in a card for powering my Sennheiser's I'd try to improve the sound bar.

I might be investing in the full surround later on since where I work I get a accommodations through them so I get the equipment pretty cheap. Would it make a difference then?

Also what would be blu-ray quality sound? If I could get substantially better sound from a different system I would wanna look into it.

A modern 5.1 surround sound system with a receiver that has several HDMI inputs could take advantage of full Blu-ray 7.1 24-bit/192Khz digital audio.

You could connect the PS3 to the receiver (HDMI) and play all your Blu-ray and DVD movies using the PS3.

That Playbar might offer really good quality, but it seems to be designed for good 2-channel music or 2 channel TV audio, then surround sound movies.

post #15 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by VulturinFlame5 View Post

So basically whatever configuration I do it's going to be the same audio quality for a digital connection? The only difference will be my headphone?

Sorry for my ignorance.

Correct, the sound card will really only improve headphone audio quality.

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