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Computer audio setup - sound card, speakers, headphones.

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 

I'm in the process of building a new computer, and for the first time I thought I would spend some "real money" on the sound part of the system. However, I'm not really up on technology terms and what all I will need.

 

I've read through many of the threads on the forums here, and so far this is what I'm tentatively purchasing.

 

Sound Card: http://www.amazon.com/PCI-Express-XONAR-ESSENCE-STX-90-YAA0C0-0UAN00Z/dp/B001OV789U - ASUS Xonar Essence STX PCI Express Sound card

Speakers: http://www.amazon.com/HIVI-ACOUSTICS-D1080-IV-Speaker-System/dp/B00G2DLOT0/ref=sr_1_2?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1385605885&sr=1-2&keywords=swans+d1080 Swans HiVi D1080-IV 2.0 Reference Monitors

Headphones: http://www.amazon.com/Sony-MDRMA900-Over-Style-Headphones/dp/B007DCCK60/ref=sr_1_1?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1385606148&sr=1-1&keywords=sony+mdr+ma900 Sony MDRMA900 Over the Head Style Headphones

 

As you can see it will all run about $570+ so I was prepared to spend quite a bit on it.

 

Basically my question is will all of this fit together and sound great? Or will there be some kind of component conflict or do I need to buy some additional equipment, or do the speakers/headphones work well with the soundcard? Etc. etc...

 

Basically just trying to make sure that I've made good choices before buying anything.


Edited by Leviathan25 - 11/27/13 at 6:40pm
post #2 of 7

Heya,

 

Are you building this machine for gaming?

 

Overall your audio selections are fine. If you need to game, maybe consider a different sound card. Frankly you don't need the STX for what you've selected (the MA900 doesn't need an amplifier at all, and those 1080IV2's are active monitors, they are just going to receive line out from something else, like your soundcard--so a lot of the STX isn't going to be used, since you're paying for it's onboard opamps).

 

What is your intended listening? Those swans are ok, but they're only 5.25" woofers, so that directly limits low frequency output. I would try for an 8" driver if possible.

 

If you don't need a soundcard at all (for gaming puposes) then I wouldn't even get a soundcard frankly. I'd get an optical or USB DAC/AMP. But depends on your needs. If gaming specifically then yes keep a sound card (I would get the Sound Blaster Zx instead of the STX). The headphones you selected are great for gaming. For speakers, well, that's a whole other topic. I'd get bigger drivers myself. But depends on what you're listening to.

 

Very best,

post #3 of 7
Thread Starter 

Hm... yes, the goal is for gaming. During the day/weekend it could be used as a music player for the living room, but most of the time I will be sitting a few feet from them.

 

I thought the soundcard was supposed to be designed for stereo speakers and headphones in mind, so I don't understand what you mean by saying that a lot of it won't be used. I had thought that the 5.1/7.1 sound cards would be less used since I will never plug that many speakers into them. I actually had thought that of all the sound cards, I'd get the most use out of the essence than any other. I guess there is something I do not understand here.

 

(The essence (I think) has only 5 outputs - headphone (amped), mic, left speaker, right speaker, s/pdif out. The speakers would be hooked up via a y-join back into a stereo cable to go into the swans d1080s.)

 

I thought that the STX was so good because of its 124dB SNR. The soundblast has 116db. I was told by someone that the more SNR you have the better it will sound.

 

I don't really know a lot about this stuff. I'm just trying to understand what you are saying, and typing out some of the reasons for why I initially chose this setup.

 

What do you mean by saying the headhpones won't benefit from the buit-in amp in the sound card? Which headphones do I have to get to use it? The soundblaster soundcard listed also has a headphone amp as well?


Edited by Leviathan25 - 11/27/13 at 8:08pm
post #4 of 7
Quote:
Originally Posted by Leviathan25 View Post
 

Hm... yes, the goal is for gaming. During the day/weekend it could be used as a music player for the living room, but most of the time I will be sitting a few feet from them.

 

I thought the sound card was supposed to be designed for stereo speakers and headphones in mind, so I don't understand what you mean by saying that a lot of it won't be used. I had thought that the 5.1/7.1 sound cards would be less used since I will never plug that many speakers into them. I actually had thought that of all the sound cards, I'd get the most use out of the essence than any other. I guess there is something I do not understand here.

 

(The essence (I think) has only 5 outputs - headphone (amped), mic, left speaker, right speaker, s/pdif out. The speakers would be hooked up via a y-join back into a stereo cable to go into the swans d1080s.)

 

I thought that the STX was so good because of its 124dB SNR. The sound blaster has 116db. I was told by someone that the more SNR you have the better it will sound.

 

I don't really know a lot about this stuff. I'm just trying to understand what you are saying, and typing out some of the reasons for why I initially chose this setup.

 

What do you mean by saying the headphones won't benefit from the built-in amp in the sound card? Which headphones do I have to get to use it? The sound blaster sound card listed also has a headphone amp as well?

Just because a sound card has a 5.1 or 7.1 speaker output does not mean it can not do a good job with just 2 speakers. I would think the Sound Blaster Zx would be a good choice if you wanted to save a few dollars, over getting the Essence STX, but the Essence STX has a better DAC chip and headphone amplifier, over the Sound Blaster Zx.

post #5 of 7
Thread Starter 

Yeah that is why I picked it. I mean, I read that it was better - I don't know "know" it is better.

 

Money really isn't an issue for me - nearly 40 years old with a steady job. I was kind of looking to treat myself. Don't get me wrong. I don't want to buy way more than I need, and this is still just for computer games. I still want the speakers to fit on my desk, and something bigger than (say) the 27" monitor would just be overkill I would think.

post #6 of 7

Heya,

 

Thing is, if this is for games, the STX is not as good as the Sound Blaster Zx for gaming. Gaming is about positional audio. All these cards will deliver very high quality sound to begin with, their DAC chipsets and implementation are far from being poor. The DAC shouldn't even be a question frankly. The onboard amplifier of the soundcard barely, barely matters here too. We're talking about the MA900, which is extremely efficient and doesn't even need an amplifier. So you do not need the kind of output that any of these soundcards have at all. And the speakers are active, they have their own built in amplifier. So again, you're not using the amplifier of the soundcard at all here. The Sound Blaster Zx costs less, has better positional audio (again, this is for gaming, not pure hifi), and has plenty of onboard amplification should one need it for a different headphone in the future (he's not going to strap on an HE-6... come on), and it has line out just like the other soundcards to send a line level signal to the speakers (they're active, self-amped) all the same.

 

To the OP: don't focus on the SNR numbers or hardly any of the numbers. Do you trust what they say they are? Do you even know the difference anyways? If not, then don't sweat it. You won't hear the difference at all. We're talking about things that require precise instrument measurement. Your ears are the opposite of that, like all our ears, rather dull.

 

Very best,

post #7 of 7
Thread Starter 

Okay thank you very much. I think I understand now. :)

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