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Need advice on sound card and dac ATH AD900x

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 

My current set up is onboard sound and a turtle beach dss. I got about $150 to spend on a sound card and a dac. I use my headphones for mostly music (i listen to a wide variety of music, but i do like to feel a bit of bass). I'm open to any help or advice. Thank You in advance.

post #2 of 13

Asus Xonar DG sound card, $30 and there is a $10 mail in rebate this month.

CS4245 DAC chip and a very basic headphone amplifier.

 

Sound Blaster Z sound card ($80), better DAC (CS4398) and headphone amplifier, then the DG.

 

Audioengine D1 (used, $150), external DAC with USB/optical input and headphone amplifier.

I believe the D1's DAC chip, AK4396, might be (guessing?) considered a little better then the CS4398.

post #3 of 13
Thread Starter 
I borrowed the sound blaster z from my friend and the difference in sound quality is immense. I was wondering if the xonar essence was worth buying instead of the z series
post #4 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tranman13195 View Post

I borrowed the Sound Blaster Z from my friend and the difference in sound quality is immense. I was wondering if the Xonar Essence was worth buying instead of the Z series

As the Z's amplifier is more then enough to drive the 40-Ohm ATH-AD900X, the Xonar Essence amplifier would not make a difference (amp wise).

 

I doubt you could really tell that much of a difference (if any) between the Z's CS4398 DAC chip and the Xonar Essence's PCM1792A DAC chip.

 

Technically, the Schiit Magni ($99) headphone amplifier's, which has really low impedance (< 1-Ohm) output would be better for driving the 40-Ohm headphones, then the Essence & Z's 10-Ohm head amps (output).

 

So getting a Schiit Magni ($99) and something like the Xonar DX or D1 (CS4398 DAC chip) would be a better combo for the AD900X.

You can find a used Xonar DX or D1 for $50-$60.

 

Plus you can use the Schiit Magni with a lot more audio equipment (TVs, mp3 players, smart phones, etc)


Edited by PurpleAngel - 7/19/13 at 2:47pm
post #5 of 13

Personally I would go with a Schiit magni or JDS lab ODAC.  External DACs will usually sound better than sound cards.  (I say usually because there are exceptions but for the most part this is true) .  Also both of these are plug and play through usb so just plug it in and enjoy your music.  If you don't have an amp yet though I would spend your money buying an amp/dac combo.  Like a small Fiio one.  

post #6 of 13
Thread Starter 
Thank you, your advice is always sound.
post #7 of 13
Thread Starter 
I'll proably go with the schitt magni with a xonar dx combo
Edited by Tranman13195 - 7/19/13 at 4:59pm
post #8 of 13
Thread Starter 
I just noticed I could bump my budget up to about $230 since I just sold my steel series. Would the magni/Modi stack be worth it with my current headphones? Or should I just stick with the dx and magni?
post #9 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tranman13195 View Post

I just noticed I could bump my budget up to about $230 since I just sold my steel series. Would the Magni/Modi stack be worth it with my current headphones? Or should I just stick with the DX and Magni?

I guess it's safe to assume the Modi would be considered a better DAC, then the CS4398 DAC chip on the DX.

But the Modi USB DAC provides zero headphone surround sound features, if your fine with 2-channel stereo audio (which is just fine for music audio), then spending extra for the Modi might be worth it to you.

post #10 of 13

For music the M/M combo is excellent.  consider the O2/ODAC combo by JDS labs as well.  But if you aren't going for surround sound I would definately recommend going for an external dac over a sound card.

post #11 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tranman13195 View Post

My current set up is onboard sound and a turtle beach dss. I got about $150 to spend on a sound card and a dac. I use my headphones for mostly music (i listen to a wide variety of music, but i do like to feel a bit of bass). I'm open to any help or advice. Thank You in advance.


The Hifimediy Sabre DAC has ES9023 inside, and will power AD900X directly very well. It sounds 97% as  good as ODAC, but doesn't need an amplifier.

Just 49$ shipped:

http://hifimediy.com/index.php?route=product/product&product_id=83

post #12 of 13
Thread Starter 
I'm in need of a mic now that I think about so the Z series is looking appealing with that desktop mic but I was wondering how the headphone amp compares to the magni
post #13 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tranman13195 View Post

I'm in need of a mic now that I think about so the Z series is looking appealing with that desktop mic but I was wondering how the headphone amp compares to the Magni

I would think the Magni is a better headphone amplifier, over the Z & Zx.

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