Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Computer Audio › Onboard audio good enough?
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Onboard audio good enough?

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 

I'm newbie in the world of audio so I need some help. I just got a pair of Superlux HD 668B's which I think are great but I want to maximize their potential. I have a MSI Z87-G45 Gaming Motherboard that is supposed to have good onboard audio. This is from the MSI website:

 

 "The built-in headphone amplifier allows you to use studio-grade headgear and get the most amazing sound quality out of your gaming PC.

• Studio level Integrated 600Ω Headphone amplifier
• Golden audio jacks for pure audio signals
• EMI shielded audio codec
• High quality audio capacitors"
 
Currently I just have my headphones plugged into the back of my computer where it says "L-out". Also with this onboard audio integration comes this software called "Sound Blaster Cinema" made by creative. I don't know what it really does, but I power it on and the audio is vastly improved, I guess this is activating the onboard amp? And I can change the settings from stereo to headphones, which both sound quite different and I can't really decide which one sounds better to be honest but I've been keeping it on headphones because it sounds cleaner. Now my question is, is this an alright set-up? Or could I improve? I'm not really sure where to go from here, I've looked at amps/dac's and the fiio e17 seems to be a good buy, or should I just buy a sound card? I don't want to spend a lot of money, less than $100 if possible. Thank you for your help, and sorry for the wall of text!
post #2 of 5

The Asus Xonar DG sound card, $30 with a $10 rebate this month.


Edited by PurpleAngel - 7/22/13 at 7:37am
post #3 of 5

That motherboard has a Realtek ALC1150 HD for the audio which seems to be a pretty good chipset. On paper it has a high SNR and low THD, pretty much on par with a low/medium range dedicated soundcard like the Xonar DG. The headphone amp they talk about is the Texas Instruments NE5532 opamp. Not much information about it but it's probably on the level of something like a CMOY. Of course I haven't heard it so there's no way of knowing for sure, I'm just going on the information I can find on the internet.  Basically it's incredibly good for onboard and up to you whether it's good enough. I probably wouldn't bother upgrading to something under $100 and maybe save up until you can afford the $200 range. Or not upgrade at all if you're happy with it.

 
Sound Blaster Cinema is a piece of software which apparently processes your audio to make it sound more realistic and immersive. Your headphone amp is not switchable, if your headphones are plugged into the headphone port it will be going through the headphone amp. I would set it to stereo as the headphone setting probably activates some more software audio enhancements to try make things sound better. I can't think of any other reason why there would be a headphone option. It's up to you whether the software enhancements make things sound better or worse though. Usually I find they initially sound better but after longer listening it begins to sound fake and muddy. 
 
Don't obsess over it, just try to enjoy the music and reflect over how much better it is than your previous setup. It definitely could be better but does it really need to be?
post #4 of 5
Thread Starter 

Thank you so much, this sheds a lot of light for me. I'll stick with what I have now, which is very good for me, and upgrade in the future with a more sizable amount of money when I'm ready to. 

post #5 of 5
Quote:
Originally Posted by Aotz View Post

Thank you so much, this sheds a lot of light for me. I'll stick with what I have now, which is very good for me, and upgrade in the future with a more sizable amount of money when I'm ready to. 

I would think it would be wiser to spend future cash towards better headphones, before any DAC, amp, or sound card upgrade.

New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Computer Audio
Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Computer Audio › Onboard audio good enough?