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New to computer audio. Need some advice on chosing a soundcard/DAC.

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 

Hey there,

 

I spend quite some time on the PC (working, gaming, music ...) and I always cared about good design/graphics, but never put lot of thought into audio. However, a couple of days ago, I had the chance to try out a pair of beyerdynamics DT880 headphones and I was amazed by the clear and overall good sound quality these headphones provided. Long story short, I tasted blood and I want more of that.

 

So, I've read through a couple of threads on head-fi and other forums regarding good setups for gaming and music. Since both have very different requirements, I plan on getting two setups. One "competitive setup" for gaming (mainly focusing on good positioning in FPS, like Battlefield 4) and one "quality setup" for music (rock, blues, metal) and movies. As for the later one, I will choose a pair of high quality headphones once I am done with the first setup. So this thread is mainly about the gaming setup.

 

Gaming Headphones
Thanks to Mad Lust Envy's amazing thread I already got some good insight on gaming headphones. As of right now, I have the K701, HD 598 and ATH-AD700(X) in mind. Probably going to compare them anytime soon, so I don't have any questions here. But if you have any additional suggestions, feel free to add them ;)

 

Soundcard/DAC/Amp
Now, here is the major issue: Deciding on a good soundcard/DAC/amp. I am kinda lost and that's why I decided to open this thread! Overall, a soundcard seems to be the best bet, because of the inability of standalone DACs to simulate suroundsound (-> positioning)?! A lot of people recommend the Creative X-Fi Titanium HD. Is this mainly because of CMSS-3D support or does this card also do any good in sound quality (-> music)? In addition, unlike other soundcards (like the STX) this one has no integrated amplifier (does it?). Do I have to buy a seperate amp? (Are there good alternatives/"better" cards?)

 

Thanks for your help! ;)

 

 

Btw: I am pretty new to quality audio, don't hate on me if I get things wrong :smile_phones: 


Edited by gods - 12/10/13 at 11:47am
post #2 of 6
Quote:
Originally Posted by gods View Post
 

 

Gaming Headphones
Thanks to Mad Lust Envy's amazing thread I already got some good insight on gaming headphones. As of right now, I have the K701, HD 598 and ATH-AD700(X) in mind. Probably going to compare them anytime soon, so I don't have any questions here. But if you have any additional suggestions, feel free to add them ;)

 

Soundcard/DAC/Amp

 

Btw: I am pretty new to quality audio, don't hate on me if I get things wrong :smile_phones: 

Did you have a budget for the whole audio setup?

 

For a given budget, around $300

AKG K612 Pro headphones ($160-$200).

Sound Blaster Z (SB1500), $90.

post #3 of 6
Thread Starter 

Headphone 150-200€ and soundcard 100-150€. Not sure how much that would be in USD, since the market prices are not 1:1. K701: 190€/280$, HD 598: 150€/180$ (from amazon).

post #4 of 6
Quote:
Originally Posted by gods View Post
 

Headphone 150-200€ and sound card 100-150€. Not sure how much that would be in USD, since the market prices are not 1:1. K701: 190€/280$, HD 598: 150€/180$ (from Amazon).


So your total audio budget is about to $345 to $480 (US), $1 is currently (this second) equal to .73 Euros.

 

A Xonar DX or D1 sound card ($?), with a O2 headphone amplifier (99 GBP), would give you something that could drive just about any headphone you pick.

post #5 of 6
Thread Starter 

That's not what I meant by "not 1:1". For example, the ATH-AD700x costs 230€ in EU which would be 310$. However, in the US these headphones cost only 130$.

 

Anyway, thanks for your suggestion. Is there any particular reason to recommend the O2 over Magni? I read the whole damn "*Comparison and Review* Magni/Modi vs O2/ODAC" thread :smile_phones: But it seems that the audio differences (thinner/brighter) between those are somewhat subjective and most likely not noticable in the real world.

 

Since the Xonar DX is able to run Dolby Headphone, does it also support Dolby Home Theatre - which apparently is the "better-sounding-still-same-positioning" successor of DH? Though I should mention that I still have to decide between Dolby, CMSS, SBX and Razer (which is a promising alternative, since you not only have to depend on the VSS tech of the soundcard).

 

Thanks!

post #6 of 6
Quote:
Originally Posted by gods View Post
 

That's not what I meant by "not 1:1". For example, the ATH-AD700x costs 230€ in EU which would be 310$. However, in the US these headphones cost only 130$.

 

Anyway, thanks for your suggestion. Is there any particular reason to recommend the O2 over Magni? I read the whole damn "*Comparison and Review* Magni/Modi vs O2/ODAC" thread :smile_phones: But it seems that the audio differences (thinner/brighter) between those are somewhat subjective and most likely not noticable in the real world.

 

Since the Xonar DX is able to run Dolby Headphone, does it also support Dolby Home Theatre - which apparently is the "better-sounding-still-same-positioning" successor of DH? Though I should mention that I still have to decide between Dolby, CMSS, SBX and Razer (which is a promising alternative, since you not only have to depend on the VSS tech of the sound card).

I know in the the UK the O2 (EPH-02) sells for 99 GBP, not sure if the Magni is sold in Europe.

Otherwise I would think the O2 or Magni would serve you equally well.

(The O2 does come with batteries, so it can be used as an AC or battery powered amp).

Going with an external amp also gives you a volume knob right at your finger tips.

 

It's preferable to plug the external amp (O2 or Magni or other) into an unamplified source, the output jack on the Xonar DX is unamplified, so it should feed an external amp with a nice line-output signal.

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