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Sound Card Options to Accompany AKG K702 Annies

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 

So after reading a large majority of the reviews done by Mad Lust Envy on some headphones, I have narrowed my choice down to the K702 Annies or the Q701s. I mainly play games, watch movies, and listen to tons of music. However, I'm looking for an appropriate option for powering these headphones. My motherboard (ASUS Maximus VI Hero) has an upgrated integrated audio (Supreme FX), but I was thinking that I would need a dedicated sound card to really maximize the full potential of the AKG headphones. Does anyone have any suggestions? I have read that the Asus Xonar Essence STX and the Creative Labs Sound Blaster ZXR are both wonderful cards, but the majority of the reviews I have come across mention that they lack in gaming (EAX support). Is this true? What would be my best option for a high quality sound card? 

post #2 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by jtsanabria View Post
 

So after reading a large majority of the reviews done by Mad Lust Envy on some headphones, I have narrowed my choice down to the K702 Annies or the Q701s. I mainly play games, watch movies, and listen to tons of music. However, I'm looking for an appropriate option for powering these headphones. My motherboard (ASUS Maximus VI Hero) has an upgrated integrated audio (Supreme FX), but I was thinking that I would need a dedicated sound card to really maximize the full potential of the AKG headphones. Does anyone have any suggestions? I have read that the Asus Xonar Essence STX and the Creative Labs Sound Blaster ZXR are both wonderful cards, but the majority of the reviews I have come across mention that they lack in gaming (EAX support). Is this true? What would be my best option for a high quality sound card? 


I believe (Creative's) EAX (5.0) has been superseeded, I would guess newer games do not use any EAX.

The Sound Blaster ZxR with SBX Pro Studio Headphone Surround Sound should do.

post #3 of 10
Thread Starter 

If I were to get that card, would it be beneficial for me to also get a desktop amp - such as something small like the FiiO E09K? 

post #4 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by jtsanabria View Post
 

If I were to get that card, would it be beneficial for me to also get a desktop amp - such as something small like the FiiO E09K? 


Nope, the FiiO E09K and ZxR both use the same TI 6120A2 headphone amplifier chip.

The ZxR can drive headphones up to 600-Ohms, on it's own

 

The next step up would be to buy the cheapest Z card ($60-$80) and an external DAC/amp with an optical input.

The Audio-GD NFB-15.32 DAC/Amp, $255+ shipping ($43), comes with USB (32-bit/384Khz) and S/PDIF (optical & coaxial) inputs. (mine arrived two weeks ago, no regrets).

You would hook the 15.32 to the Z card using optical cable for gaming/movies, the Z handles headphone surround sound and the 15.32 handles audio quality

The USB (32-bit/384Khz) connection (to motherboard) would be used for music.

So that just under $400 for some nice gaming and music hardware.

 

I'm guess with Christmas coming up the ZxR might go on sale somewhere, maybe for under $200.

Which would be half the price compared to the 15.32/OEM Z combo.

post #5 of 10
Thread Starter 

Okay wonderful. I have heard some good stuff about that DAC/amp. What would be the advantages of getting a DAC/amp vs just a regular desktop amp (Asgard, etc)? I'm still in the learning stages about what pairs well with what. Would getting a better sound card within the Z series, say the ZxR, and pairing that with a good dac/amp (like the one you listed) be an even better option or is the bottleneck at the DAC/amp?

post #6 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by jtsanabria View Post
 

Okay wonderful. I have heard some good stuff about that DAC/amp. What would be the advantages of getting a DAC/amp vs just a regular desktop amp (Asgard, etc)? I'm still in the learning stages about what pairs well with what. Would getting a better sound card within the Z series, say the ZxR, and pairing that with a good dac/amp (like the one you listed) be an even better option or is the bottleneck at the DAC/amp?


The Sound Blaster Z (OEM), Z (retail),Zx ,ZxR all use the same audio processor (SoundCore3D), so they are equal when it comes to gaming, the ZxR's advantage is it's better DAC chips and headphone amplifier.

So if your using the 15.32's DAC/Amp, with any of these 4 sound cards, all 4 cards would appear to function equally. The ZxR would not really offer any advantages, over the Z (OEM version).

The Z (OEM) is the only card that does not come with a metal cover shield.

The Z (retail, SB1500) does come with a microphone, so maybe get the Z (SB1500) retail package, $100.

post #7 of 10
Thread Starter 

Alright, gotcha. Makes sense. How do you feel about the Xonar cards by the way? With that being said, which of the following options would you consider to be the best bang for buck while powering my 712s:

 


1. The SB1500 card with the Audio-GD NFB-15.32 DAC/Amp ($400)

2. ZxR by itself ($230)

3. The SB1500 card with something smaller, like the FiiO E09K ($200)

4. Other options?

 

post #8 of 10
Thread Starter 

Or, for another option, what about the SB1500 card with an even better amp (something better than the AGD DAC/amp?)?

post #9 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by jtsanabria View Post
 

Alright, gotcha. Makes sense. How do you feel about the Xonar cards by the way? With that being said, which of the following options would you consider to be the best bang for buck while powering my 712s:

 

1. The SB1500 card with the Audio-GD NFB-15.32 DAC/Amp ($400)

2. ZxR by itself ($230)

3. The SB1500 card with something smaller, like the FiiO E09K ($200)

4. Other options?

Hooking an headphone amplifier (analog) to the Z cards is possible, but not the best way to use the Z card

As you would hook up the external amplifier to the line-out connection on a sound card, which I believe might bypass the Headphone Surround feature, which is fine for music, not so great for surround sound gaming.

The AKG K712 Pro is only 62-Ohms (a slightly power demanding 62-Ohm) and the 15.32 can easily drive my 600-Ohm headphones, also fairly easy for any of the Z cards to drive the K712 Pro directly.

If you willing to spend the $400 for the 15.32 + sound card, go for it.

You can easy swap out to the latest sound card, like whatever sound card comes out after the Z series and still be able to use the 15.32 with it.

I like and use Xonar sound cards, currently using the Essence STX, which later on I might sell off and just use my older Xonar DX (same CMI8788 audio processor), but for you the Z might(?) be a better FPS gaming card.

The Audio-GD NFB-15.32 can be used with PCs or Mac (desktop & laptops).

post #10 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by PurpleAngel View Post
 


I believe (Creative's) EAX (5.0) has been superseeded, I would guess newer games do not use any EAX.

The Sound Blaster ZxR with SBX Pro Studio Headphone Surround Sound should do.


They use EFX instead of EAX and has been doing that for some years now. EFX does every thing EAX can do but is open source.

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