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Upgrade path for Desktop Head-phone setup (Titanium HD + Fiio e17 + Sennheiser HD 518)

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 

Hi, first time posting, but long time stalker.

 

Newbie here, I need advice for an upgrade path for my current headphone setup. I am using Creative Titianium HD soundcard ------> Fiio e17 (via TOSLINK SPDIF)----------->Sennheiser HD 518. My budget is around 500$. 

 

First of all, I am totally new at this and have bought the previous components over a long period of time. I just recently became interested in high quality sounds for listening to music. So my question is this:

 

1. Is my current setup considered ok? if not what I am doing wrong?

2. What's the best component upgrade I can get for around 500$?

 

Thank you so much in advance.

 

-Santi

post #2 of 16

Spend $100 for a Schiit Magni headphone amplifier and plug it into the Titanium HD's RCA jacks.

Maybe get the Philips X1/28 Fidelio headphones, they seem to be getting good reviews.

Maybe sell off the Fiio E17 and HD518.

post #3 of 16
Thread Starter 

schiit magni is not really available in my area (Bangkok), plenty of Fiio's and Ibasso's component though. Let me do some research on the Philips X1/28 Fidelio, seems good for my budget. How does it compare to Sennheiser's headphones in the same price range ( HD 600?)?

 

thanks for your advice.

post #4 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by santi28 View Post
 

Schiit Magni is not really available in my area (Bangkok), plenty of Fiio's and Ibasso's component though. Let me do some research on the Philips X1/28 Fidelio, seems good for my budget. How does it compare to Sennheiser's headphones in the same price range ( HD 600?)?

I believe the Titanium HD's DAC and op-amps would be a little better the the E17s.

 

Not really sure on the audio quality differences between the Philips Fidelio and HD600.

The Fidelio is only 30-Ohm, so very easy to drive.

Were as the HD600 might improve a little with an amplifier more powerful then the E17s.

post #5 of 16
Thread Starter 

So ah, basically what you are implying is plugging a E17 to Titanium HD is useless? right? Maybe I misunderstood how things work. I thought that plugging TOSLINK from the sound card to the E17 would increase the sound quality because it's outside the desktop's case therefore eliminating interferences...

 

So I should just get a better headphone (HD 600 or Fidelio) and plug it right in the sound card? no need for amps or anything right?

post #6 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by santi28 View Post
 

So ah, basically what you are implying is plugging a E17 to Titanium HD is useless? right? Maybe I misunderstood how things work. I thought that plugging TOSLINK from the sound card to the E17 would increase the sound quality because it's outside the desktop's case therefore eliminating interferences...

 

So I should just get a better headphone (HD 600 or Fidelio) and plug it right in the sound card? no need for amps or anything right?

You said you wanted to upgrade and the Magni amplifer should be a more powerful then the Fiio E17s amp.

I would guess the Titanium HD's PCM1794 DAC chip is better then the E17's WM8740 DAC chip.

Your are correct that using an external DAC, connected with USB or optical or coaxial, keeps electrical noise from inside the computer case affecting the DAC.

Usually people buy an external DAC because it's usually better then what is inside the computer.

But I believe the PCM1794 is about the best DAC chip you can stick inside a computer case.

I would assume you bought the E17 because you also had a use for a DAC/Amp you can travel with.

 

The Titanium HD's headphone jack is fairly decent at driving headphones, even if it may not be considered a true headphone amplifier.

The Magni amplifier is better at driving headphones then the Titanium HD's headphone output.

Also plugging a external headphone amplifier into the Titanium HD' RCA jacks allows the Titanium HD to use all three of it's op-amps (operational amplifiers) and the Titanium HD can send CMSS-3D headphone surround sound thru it's RCA outputs.

I guess I would try the Philips X1/28 Fidelio, it's is only 30-Ohms, so the E17 or Magni can easily drive it.

post #7 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by santi28 View Post
 

Schiit Magni is not really available in my area (Bangkok), plenty of Fiio's and Ibasso's component though. Let me do some research on the Philips X1/28 Fidelio, seems good for my budget. How does it compare to Sennheiser's headphones in the same price range (HD600?)?

An O2 (Objective 2) headphone amplifier is about the same headphone amplifier as the Magni, not sure if they are sold in Bangkok.

The Philips Fidelio and the HD600 might have sound differences from each other, I've never listed to either headphone, so it hard for me to offer any real advice.

But I do like the idea of using an easy to drive 30-Ohm headphone (Fidelio) over a 300-Ohm (HD600).

30-Ohm headphones can work from just about any headphone jack.

 

I have two 600-Ohm headphones (DT880 & DT990) which are great for matching with A/V receivers,

But that is because receiver headphone jacks usually have a high impedance, so are not the best for driving low Ohm headphones.

post #8 of 16
If you'd like to try tube sound for your headphone amp, Little Dot headphone amps are very popular here on Head-Fi, and they are based out of China. So I would imagine they would ship to Bangkok.
post #9 of 16
Thread Starter 

@PurpleAngel

Thanks a bunch for your in-depth advice, I'll definitely do more research on your suggestions. I'll try to look for those headphone amps & headphones you suggested the next time I'm at the mall and see if if I could try them. 

 

I'll post again if I run into something I can't figure out. Again, thank you for your help.

 

@ce4145

"Little Dot" you say? looks neat! let me look up some reviews, looks like it's gonna be hard to clean though... thanks.

post #10 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by santi28 View Post
 

schiit magni is not really available in my area (Bangkok), plenty of Fiio's and Ibasso's component though. Let me do some research on the Philips X1/28 Fidelio, seems good for my budget. How does it compare to Sennheiser's headphones in the same price range ( HD 600?)?

 

thanks for your advice.

 

Mungkong Audio in Amari Plaza 3rd floor has Schiit - I saw it there on Sat.   But it is very expensive compared to the US.     They have both X1 and HD 600s to try out, so best to go over there and try for yourself.   They have an outlet in Siam Paragon as well, but the Amari one is better for listening - more gear and quieter.   I just bought a HE-500 from there on Saturday/ :)

 

I've also seen Audinst and other good stuff at the headphone shop near Asok BTS as well (forget their name).

 

I am new to headphone fi, but having been an audioweenie for a very long time, I'll suggest you spend more of your money on headphones and less on amps.   Provided they have enough power to drive your headphones, you'll be hard-pressed to tell a significant difference in the sound of various solid state amps (IMO).

post #11 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by santi28 View Post
 

@PurpleAngel

Thanks a bunch for your in-depth advice, I'll definitely do more research on your suggestions. I'll try to look for those headphone amps & headphones you suggested the next time I'm at the mall and see if if I could try them. 

Now that I've though things over more, I would suggest you just get the Philips X1/28 Fidelio and plug it into the Fiio E17 (at least that is what i would do in your place).

Buying an add-on external headphone amplifier and connection to the Titanium HD might not make a noticeable difference, but you always have the option of buy a add-on head amp in the future.

 

On your computer is it just for music? or also for gaming? and movies?

post #12 of 16
Thread Starter 

@vkalia

I feel stupid now, Amari Plaza is just a few minutes walk from my office. I eat lunch there like every other day, just never actually looked around on the third floor usually just took the elevator up to the food court on 5th floor. Prolly gonna head their tomorrow to check it out during lunch break. looked at their website just now, the price mark-up from the US is pretty substantial. Been to the one is Siam Paragon around a month ago (didn't notice the shop's name at that time), that's where I bought my e17, was talked into buying by the sales. Thanks for the info!

 

@PurpleAngel

I use my computer mainly for gaming and movies, I always keep it up to date in-terms of current generation's technology but I don't always buy top tiers(currently i7 4770k, GTX 770 4GB, etc... 120hz screen, DIY). I am not a competitive FPS player, so gaming features on headphones or sound card doesn't really matter. It's all about quality while listening to lossless files for me. I want to make the most of my budget.

 

So basically I should just get the X1 and plug it in the e17 which is connected to the T-HD via optical TOSLINK, right? The add-on amp you are refering to is the E9, correct? the e9 is not that expensive so I might just grab that if it makes some difference in terms of quality. Or may I should grab the schitt magni(costs likes 120$ here...) and drop the E17 altogether? should still be within my budget.


Edited by santi28 - 9/25/13 at 4:45am
post #13 of 16

Santi28 - well, some stuff is quite reasonably priced (although I also get the 7% VAT refund when i leave, so that sweetens the deal a little for me).   The Schiit is a fair bit more expensive - I didnt check out the Magni but the Lyr was more than twice the US price.

 

Their shop in Paragon is called HEAR.   Decent selection of cans, but not as many amps and a little too busy/noisy for listening, IMO.

post #14 of 16
Thread Starter 
@vkalia

Not a foreignor, can't apply for VAT refunds... That's so unfair. Maybe I'll sell my receipt to some random foreignor walking around there for 3.5% of the price. Lol

Definitely I'll check it out though.
post #15 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by santi28 View Post

 

So basically I should just get the X1 and plug it in the e17 which is connected to the T-HD via optical TOSLINK, right? The add-on amp you are refering to is the E9, correct? the e9 is not that expensive so I might just grab that if it makes some difference in terms of quality. Or may I should grab the schitt magni(costs likes 120$ here...) and drop the E17 altogether? should still be within my budget.

The Fiio E9 has a 10-Ohm headphone output impedance and the Philips Fidelio are 30-Ohm,

So it would be preferred to have the amplifier have an output impedance of 3-Ohm or less, for use with the Philips.

The E17 has an output impedance of less the 1-Ohm, so it better suited for driving the Philips Fidelio.

 

Here in the USA, the Schiit Magni sells for $99, so a price of $120 is not much of a mark up.

But you might as well just keep using the E17, at least for now.

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