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Soundcard or Amp/Dac for gaming?

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 

Newer to Higher-end audio. Reason i am asking this is some people are telling me to get an Soundcard but then i have people telling me to get an Amp/Dac.

post #2 of 15

Depends on whether you are interested in better gaming, or better sound.  You will need a soundcard, and non audiophile headphones, or a surround speaker system for positional sounds from FPS games.  If the quality of the sound is more important, and perhaps you don't play FPS games with the need for positional information, then a DAC/AMP with quality headphones will be preferable.

 

Of course there are "audiophile" soundcards that are pretty good too, and some people use these as source to their existing audio gear. Back in the day, setting up a sound card for audiophile use (bit perfect SPDIF output for a DAC) was pretty rigorous.  Anything but a very basic AMP/DAC will both cost more and very much outclass most of the available sound cards.

 

I don't need positional information in the bit of RPG gaming that I play, and use MAC computers, so USB devices have been a part of my world for a long time.

post #3 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bones13 View Post
 

Depends on whether you are interested in better gaming, or better sound.  You will need a soundcard, and non audiophile headphones, or a surround speaker system for positional sounds from FPS games.  If the quality of the sound is more important, and perhaps you don't play FPS games with the need for positional information, then a DAC/AMP with quality headphones will be preferable.

 

Of course there are "audiophile" soundcards that are pretty good too, and some people use these as source to their existing audio gear. Back in the day, setting up a sound card for audiophile use (bit perfect SPDIF output for a DAC) was pretty rigorous.  Anything but a very basic AMP/DAC will both cost more and very much outclass most of the available sound cards.

 

I don't need positional information in the bit of RPG gaming that I play, and use MAC computers, so USB devices have been a part of my world for a long time.

 

Going to be used for Competitive FPS gaming and a ton of music. Thinking of getting the AKG K701/2 with either Xonar Essence STX or

O2/ODAC.

post #4 of 15

Competitive FPS gaming? Get a sound card. USB DACs don't provide any DSP features, and as a result, you're effectively constrained to Razer Surround.

 

I favor X-Fi cards and CMSS-3D Headphone, but the SB Z-series with SBX Pro Surround and all sorts of C-Media chipset cards with Dolby Headphone have their devoted followings as well.

post #5 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by NamelessPFG View Post
 

Competitive FPS gaming? Get a sound card. USB DACs don't provide any DSP features, and as a result, you're effectively constrained to Razer Surround.

 

I favor X-Fi cards and CMSS-3D Headphone, but the SB Z-series with SBX Pro Surround and all sorts of C-Media chipset cards with Dolby Headphone have their devoted followings as well.

 

I've ordered the Sennheiser HD 598's, they come tomorrow but i still haven't choose a Soundcard or Amp/Dac due to the fact people are saying that i can get positional and directional audio using Stereo quality then you have people saying a Soundcard is a better choice. At this point i don't know and i am a bit confused.

post #6 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Vague View Post
 

 

I've ordered the Sennheiser HD 598's, they come tomorrow but i still haven't choose a Soundcard or Amp/Dac due to the fact people are saying that i can get positional and directional audio using Stereo quality then you have people saying a Soundcard is a better choice. At this point i don't know and i am a bit confused.

 

I have the same problem.

 
I'm going to buy an amp/dac and a cheap Xonar DG so I can try both.
 
 
Greetings,
post #7 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Flumphy View Post
 

 

I have the same problem.

 
I'm going to buy an amp/dac and a cheap Xonar DG so I can try both.
 
 
Greetings,

Hey bro.

 

I was reading this a couple of days ago 

https://linustechtips.com/main/topic/58448-microphone-for-audio-technica-ad700x-headphones/

 

and i have just read your thread and were on the same boat, i was looking at the fiio e10 too but i don't want to buy something that could be a massive mistake. 

post #8 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Vague View Post
 

Hey bro.

 

I was reading this a couple of days ago 

https://linustechtips.com/main/topic/58448-microphone-for-audio-technica-ad700x-headphones/

 

and i have just read your thread and were on the same boat, i was looking at the fiio e10 too but i don't want to buy something that could be a massive mistake. 

 

Buy one of these; 

http://www.modmic.com/

post #9 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Flumphy View Post
 

 

Buy one of these; 

http://www.modmic.com/

 

Not my thread just someone's i read. I have the Blue Snowball microphone.

post #10 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Vague View Post
I've ordered the Sennheiser HD 598's, they come tomorrow but i still haven't choose a Soundcard or Amp/Dac due to the fact people are saying that i can get positional and directional audio using Stereo quality then you have people saying a Soundcard is a better choice. At this point i don't know and i am a bit confused.

 

Some people can game fine in stereo, but to me, I often find it implemented as very one-dimensional left/right hard panning, with zero sense of front and rear. I'm not alone, either; Mad Lust Envy's entire guide of headphone reviews is based on their performance with virtual surround, Dolby Headphone in particular.

 

On top of that, you have games from the DirectSound3D/OpenAL era which were designed with sound card hardware DSP acceleration in mind. These simply will not sound right without that hardware acceleration. (In fact, my retrogaming system has THREE sound cards; a Sound Blaster AWE64 Gold for DOS-era games, a Turtle Beach Montego II for Aureal A3D games, and an Auzentech X-Fi Prelude for DirectSound3D and OpenAL games. I'd throw a Roland MT-32 or deriative thereof into the mix if I could just get my hands on one...)

 

Look at it this way: a sound card usually has a decent DAC built-in, and you're not forced to use virtual surround. You can toggle that on or off to taste. In addition, if you believe there is a benefit to premium audiophile DACs, you can get a DAC with S/PDIF input and connect it to a really cheap sound card with the desired gaming DSP support.

 

Also, I don't like integrated DAC/amp designs that much. Better to have separate components so that you don't have to replace more than you want or need to, and especially since the amp can determine what headphones you can or cannot use. (Want to try Stax or other electrostatic systems? You need very specific amps for those.)

post #11 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by NamelessPFG View Post
 

 

Some people can game fine in stereo, but to me, I often find it implemented as very one-dimensional left/right hard panning, with zero sense of front and rear. I'm not alone, either; Mad Lust Envy's entire guide of headphone reviews is based on their performance with virtual surround, Dolby Headphone in particular.

 

On top of that, you have games from the DirectSound3D/OpenAL era which were designed with sound card hardware DSP acceleration in mind. These simply will not sound right without that hardware acceleration. (In fact, my retrogaming system has THREE sound cards; a Sound Blaster AWE64 Gold for DOS-era games, a Turtle Beach Montego II for Aureal A3D games, and an Auzentech X-Fi Prelude for DirectSound3D and OpenAL games. I'd throw a Roland MT-32 or deriative thereof into the mix if I could just get my hands on one...)

 

Look at it this way: a sound card usually has a decent DAC built-in, and you're not forced to use virtual surround. You can toggle that on or off to taste. In addition, if you believe there is a benefit to premium audiophile DACs, you can get a DAC with S/PDIF input and connect it to a really cheap sound card with the desired gaming DSP support.

 

Also, I don't like integrated DAC/amp designs that much. Better to have separate components so that you don't have to replace more than you want or need to, and especially since the amp can determine what headphones you can or cannot use. (Want to try Stax or other electrostatic systems? You need very specific amps for those.)

 

Well could you recommend me a high-end sound card good for competitive gaming and music for my Sennheiser HD 598's? Would be appreciated. Also thank you for the very detailed reply. 

post #12 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Vague View Post

Well could you recommend me a high-end sound card good for competitive gaming and music for my Sennheiser HD 598's? Would be appreciated. Also thank you for the very detailed reply. 

 

My usual recommendation is the X-Fi Titanium HD. Yes, even over the current Z-series lineup.

 

The X-Fi Forte would also be worth considering, if you can find one used.

post #13 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by NamelessPFG View Post
 

 

My usual recommendation is the X-Fi Titanium HD. Yes, even over the current Z-series lineup.

 

The X-Fi Forte would also be worth considering, if you can find one used.

 

Older can be better. It looks rather good, how does it compare to the Xonar STX music wise?


Edited by Vague - 9/24/13 at 6:34pm
post #14 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Vague View Post

Older can be better. It looks rather good, how does it compare to the Xonar STX music wise?

 

Never heard the Essence STX in action, but by most accounts, they're pretty competitive, with the Titanium HD reportedly having a very slight amount of bass emphasis in contrast to the Essence STX's supposed treble emphasis. Nothing that an EQ couldn't account for...

post #15 of 15
Thread Starter 

Thanks for your help.

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