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I'm looking for feedback on an audio setup for my music/gaming PC.

post #1 of 26
Thread Starter 

Hey everyone!

 

This is my first time diving into getting better audio equipment for my PC.  I am really interested in seeing hearing the difference from on-board audio to something better.

 

My current setup for audio on my PC is:

On-board sound from a Rampage IV Extreme motherboard

Speakers- Logitech X-530

Headphone- AKG K44

 

The speakers and headphones are a couple of years old and I think I'm missing out without a better setup.  I reused these speakers and headphone from my old PC and just have them hooked in the motherboard.

 

Since I don't use my speakers that loud as I don't want to disturb others in the house, I'm only going after headphones for music and normal/semi competitive gaming (I used to play competitive tf2 but found it wasn't my thing but I still like some competitive games with friends).  I researched information about 5.1 headphones but wasn't that interested in them as a good pair of normal headphones can do it close enough anyway (virtual surround sound i think it's called?).

 

I found 3 headphones that I found could suit what I'm looking for:

DT990/880

AD700

 

The 990 and 880 both look to be something I'd really enjoy based on the general feedback everywhere.  The AD700 also seems like a good starting place too (though I would like something with better bass).  I saw with the 990 and 880 there are different ohm ranges.  I take it 32 ohm will work in anything but doesn't have as crisp sound compared to the 250 ohm but the 250 will normally need an amp to function better (and 600 always needing one?).

 

In terms of sound cards, I found these 2 cards which had built in headphone amps after a bit of searching:

Asus Xonar DGX

Asus Xonar DG

 

Both these cards look to be focused on headphone users but with the price point sitting at $30-40, I worry that I could be doing better.  They say they both have headphones amps in them but is it what I need?

 

I have come to ask the following questions:

  • Have I found good headphones to start off on?
  • Are these sound cards good for what I'm looking for (should I be aiming for a better/different sound card)?
  • Do I need a particular type of Amp? Internal/External/Portable/Already with the sound card?
  • Is there a ohm range I should be going for when picking a sound card/amp/headphone combo? (99% of time I use these headphones with the PC)
  • Will this have a major difference compared to what I currently have?

 

I was first looking to spend around $200 on sound but after seeing it's more than just plugging in better headphones, I can stretch it to around $350-450 total.

 

 

Thanks for taking the time to help me out,

 

Firzen777


Edited by firzen777 - 7/7/13 at 10:46pm
post #2 of 26

Audio Technica ATH-AD900X headphones

$200 at Digbuy

 

Sound Blaster Z sound card $80.

post #3 of 26
Thread Starter 

Hey thanks for the reply PurpleAngel, definitely will check those out.

 

Thank you for the help.

post #4 of 26

Hi firzen and welcome to Headfi.

 

A few recommendations:

 

+1 for ATH-AD900X, especially if you can get it for $200

 

Beyerdynamic DT250 - Great closed cans that you can pick up second hand for less than $150.00, either here or on eBay

 

Soundcard - Asus Xonar Essence STX (if you have a spare PCIe slot or Asus Xonar Essence ST if you have only PCI slot to spare).  Either can be had new for less than $200.00.  Check out newegg.  From memory this card can drive headphones up to 600 ohm impedence and pairs very well with both the ATH-AD900X and Beyerdynamic DT250. 

 

The pairing with the ATH-AD900 was actually my introduction into the world of "good" headphones.  It has great clarity for the price and for that reason is excellent for gaming and certain genres of music, including electronica.  Some may find it a little bass shy.  I would recommend the DT250s 250 ohm version if you want a little more bass presence.  These cans have very little leakage, meaning that you won't be disturbing others around you while using them. 

 

Cheers!  beerchug.gif

post #5 of 26

K701 should ofc also be mentioned! I guess you have stumpled upon MLE's gaming thread? For the best and most realistic gaming surround sound, you should get a card with cmss-3d.

post #6 of 26
Thread Starter 

Thanks Wolfdog and Davidsh. 

 

Yeah I did see MLE's thread yesterday and ever since I've been checking out everything. I've also read up on Nameless' Guide and... slowly started understanding what it all means. (oh god what am I getting in to).

 

I am favoring towards closed headphones as I prefer the isolation (both stopping leaks and stopping sound coming in).  My current ones I are closed and I might stick with that type (also better for bass).

 

I've done a bit of searching and found it is normally picking between CMSS-3D or DH.  They both seem to be doing well and you can't pick both so I have to go with one or the other.  Might go with DH as I found the positioning better when listening to sound examples. I'm also running an Asus motherboard as I trust their hardware the most and DH seems to be running off their stuff too.

 

 

Also just noticed no one has mentioned any amps yet.  Are they not needed if I'm going through a PC or do the cards themselves act as one? The reason why I ask is if I get headphones with 250 ohm (eg. DT250 250ohm or DT880 250ohm), will they run fine through sound cards (or 600 for that matter)? Do amps have a place somewhere but not for PC?

 

I appreciate you guys bearing with me, learning all this new info about audio is interesting.  I never knew there were different ways to virtualise surround sound before today.

post #7 of 26
The thing with DH is that it sounds like you are in a room. Cmss-3d doesn't. Decide what phones you want and we will tell you what am ping requirements they have. What music do you listen to?
post #8 of 26
The Asus Xonar Essence STX has quite a good headphone amp built in. It is also possible to upgrade the op amp to flavour it to your liking. For the headphones recommended there is no need for a separate external amp, although you can add one in the future by running it out of the STX. Lots of scope for experimentation and upgrading, although it works very well for the price as it is.
post #9 of 26
Thread Starter 

Headphones I might end up getting are the DT250 (@ 250ohm?).

 

As for music, mostly Electronic/Techno/Trace/Hard dance. (CD Rips)

 

Big fan of drum and bass (Pendulum, both old and new styles).

 

I also listen to a lot of OST of video games ranging from bit trip runner, frozen synapse to SBD.  I linked them because I'm not sure what genre you'd put them in. Video game music?

 

I do have flac/lossless OST of most the gaming music I listen to (<3 humble indie bundles).

 

---

 

As for DH or CMSS-3D, I'm still pretty neutral. That Asus Xonar Essence STX card looks nice and is around $177 in my area (brisbane). Is there a card that does CMSS-3D around that price? For some reason I can't find a card that says "I use cmss-3d" or something along those lines.

 

I'm off to bed so I won't be responding for a few hours.

post #10 of 26
Good time to think biggrin.gif Will make something up when I get home.
post #11 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by firzen777 View Post

Headphones I might end up getting are the DT250 (@ 250ohm?).

As for music, mostly Electronic/Techno/Trace/Hard dance. (CD Rips)

Big fan of drum and bass (Pendulum, both old and new styles).

I also listen to a lot of OST of video games ranging from bit trip runner, frozen synapse to SBD.  I linked them because I'm not sure what genre you'd put them in. Video game music?

I do have flac/lossless OST of most the gaming music I listen to (<3 humble indie bundles).

As for DH or CMSS-3D, I'm still pretty neutral. That Asus Xonar Essence STX card looks nice and is around $177 in my area (brisbane). Is there a card that does CMSS-3D around that price? For some reason I can't find a card that says "I use cmss-3d" or something along those lines.

The Titanium HD and slightly older Titanium (non-HD) both come with CMSS-3D.

Both cards do not come with a true headphone amplifier, but the Titanium HD seems to still do a decent job of driving higher Ohm headphones.

If you can find a used Titanium HD for a fair price, I'm guessing it will be able to drive the 250-Ohm DT250.

In the future you might consider getting an external headphone amplifier to use with the Titanium HD.

 

I'm guessing the Titanium (non-HD) will not be able to drive 250-Ohm headphones.

and would need to be used with an external headphone amplifier, to drive 250-Ohm headphones.

post #12 of 26

DT250 is not good for the music you listen to at all AFAIK. They should be excellent for classic, though. 

 

I second getting a titanium hd. I guess the general consensus is that it has a good DAC and an okay headphone amp. So, if you upgrade at some point in time, you could get a better amp and use the titanium hd as DAC. 

As headphone I suggest the dt770 250 ohm, since it is considerably more bass-light than the other versions of the dt770, but still has decent bass. But don't take me on my word, though. Also, consider the dt990. 

As a last recommendation I will still recommend the k701 for 2 reasons. 

 

  1. You can swap to the newer and more comfortable memory foam pads utilized with the k712 and k702 anniversary. They should pump up bass a lot
  2. The k701, unlike dt880, is said to sound good when you EQ for bass, and can get a nice bass boost without distortion. Not so with the dt880, it is said to become a mess when you EQ the bass.

 

The k701 will also benefit from an amp.

 

One thing... Know that bass mostly doesn't fare well with positional audio for fps games and such.

 

If you don't want to spend too much on soundcard, you could still get the DG and DGX


Edited by davidsh - 7/8/13 at 1:44pm
post #13 of 26
Thread Starter 

Alright, the Titanium HD is what I'm gonna get.  Found one that is selling for $225 and is in stock.  You guys have shown that it's what I need.

 

As for the headphones, I'll go for the dt770's.  Only problem is that I can't find any stores in brisbane that sell dt770-250ohm. I did find 1-2 stores that sell it but don't have any in stock.

 

I know there is always ebay for the headphones.  I just don't like dropping so much money on something that can take a month to arrive and could be broken/not the real thing when it comes.  Stupid bootleg anime I got once has put me in a bad state of mind.

 

I know I've gone a little over budget but this computer is already build to last years so the headphones and sound card should work well with it.

 

Thanks a ton for all the advice!

post #14 of 26

One thing I just realized is the Titanium HD only has a 2-channel speaker output and your Logitech is a 5.1 (6-channel).

post #15 of 26
Thread Starter 

Ah I'm not too worried about the speakers; in fact, I only have the left and right speaker plugged in now, the others were just taking up space.

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