I have some PC166s that have served me well for about 6 years, but they've developed a short in the mic boom, and I haven't had any success fixing it. I figure it's a good time for an upgrade, maybe a bit more than just new headphones.
A fan of the Sennheiser brand, and after much debate, I decided to order some PC360s over the PC363D and HD598. I wanted the convenience of the built in mic, and the quality of the PC363D USB sound card seemed up for debate. It sounds like the HD598s quality is a bit better, but maybe not enough to bother me at the moment. If I made the wrong choice, I'd like to know, but please assume I've got some PC360s for the rest of this. I've been running my headphones through this sound bar, which I'm pretty sure doesn't count as an amp, but it's convenient if I want to unplug the headphones and let someone else hear something, even if it sounds terrible.
I've read quite a few of the gaming gear related posts here, and I've read a lot of answers, but my situation is slightly different than most posts because I'm planning to build a mini-itx gaming box soon, which provides no room for an internal off-board sound card. This leaves me with a few questions.
- Is on-board sound ("Realtek ALC898 with High Quality 110dB SNR HD audio") plus an amp even worth considering?
- Instead of on-board, USB?
- X-Fi HD
- Recon3D (This looks silly, but if it's a good option...)
- Xonar U7
- Anything else?
- What's the difference between a USB sound card and a DAC? Just drivers/software?
- I read something that made it sound like a DAC kills your options for virtual surround sound. I can't decide if I care about this or not, can anyone clarify?
- How does something like a Schiit Modi compare to the above USB cards (ignoring the lack of amp)?
- Would the USB cards benefit from an amp, or is it not worth it? I'm looking at something like:
- JDS O2
I was thinking of spending < $300, but I'm interested in how the above compare to others, like:
Any other suggestions are welcome, and I really appreciate any help.