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Audiophile-Grade Sound Cards

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 
Hey guys, first post. I'm building my own PC that's going to be structured around:

1.) Music - Playback/Recording (Primarily playback)
2.) Gaming

The primary use of this sound card will be with music, and I'm looking for top quality. From my own research, it would seem that the Creative Sound Blaster ZXR would be perfect for achieving this, considering its daughter board for recording and it being the top of the line card Creative has to offer. However, I've heard this card is only outstanding when gaming, not while listening to/recording music. I figured I'd be smart to post here and get opinions first.

If any audiophiles here could help me out, that'd be awesome. Thanks.
post #2 of 6

The ZxR is a fantastic card for music playback, with a very high quality DAC.

 

You might also keep an eye out for the X-Fi Titanium HD.  It's the immediate predecessor to the ZxR but uses essentially an identical DAC.

post #3 of 6

Are you planning to use headphones with this rig, and if so which ones? 

 

The ZxR claims to have a 600ohm headphone amp which is a very strange spec to give but suggested it might have a high output impedance, and a quick search suggests it does at 40ohms. 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by stv014 View Post
 

 

The measurements at the Russian site consistently show ~40 Ω output impedance for the ZxR. But someone who has the card and a simple splitter could measure it to be sure.

 

Exceeding 1/8th of the headphone impedance does not necessarily have a major effect on the sound with many of the commonly used full size headphones. It usually adds some bass boost/resonance (which some people actually prefer), and slightly increases the distortion of the drivers. Also, not all headphones are equally affected. So, 0 Ω output impedance is ideal in theory, but in practice often even the headphone jack of a receiver with 680 Ω output impedance might sound good to many.

 

Unless your headphones are 320 ohm plus (which is unlikely) this may be something you want to look into, unless you're planning to use the add on board and an external amp for your music listening which would bypass the potential problem and make it a great choice :) 


Edited by suicidal_orange - 12/19/13 at 9:32am
post #4 of 6
Thread Starter 
My headphones I will be using are Sennheiser HD 650s, I believe they are 300 ohm so I don't think the imprudence will be an issue. I guess my main issue was just that I had been questioned by a few people in regards to it being a card supposedly dedicated to gaming rather than music. So, with the trusted advice given so far from head-fi, this is a good choice for best quality? Or would a DAC or some other alternative, not necessarily a sound card, provide even better quality in regards to the musical portion?
post #5 of 6

Asus Xonar STX

post #6 of 6
Quote:
Originally Posted by magnum703 View Post
 

Asus Xonar STX

You waited three years to post what is essentially a one word answer?!  Helpful... :blink:

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cj Gochanour View Post

My headphones I will be using are Sennheiser HD 650s, I believe they are 300 ohm so I don't think the imprudence will be an issue. I guess my main issue was just that I had been questioned by a few people in regards to it being a card supposedly dedicated to gaming rather than music. So, with the trusted advice given so far from head-fi, this is a good choice for best quality? Or would a DAC or some other alternative, not necessarily a sound card, provide even better quality in regards to the musical portion?


Do you really think a card that's dedicated to gaming would be supplied with a separate board to do recording?  I don't see the difference anyway, if you want precision placement of the enemy sneaking up on you just round the corner you need good separation and soundstage which are the same things you want for music.  I guess there will be special effects options useful for gaming (bass boost?) but these can be turned off...

 

There will always be people who will say there's a better option though and in this case it's true - if you spent lots on a dedicated DAC and amp you could certainly "do better" than just using a consumer grade sound card.  The question is how much do you want to spend?

 

I think if you're serious about gaming and recording you need a good soundcard anyway so you'd may as well give it a go, you can swap the op-amps to tweak the sound to your preferences and if you're still not satisfied it has RCA outputs which you can connect to an external amp at a later date, which will be a nice upgrade (with an amp that matches whatever sound preferences you have)

 

What are you listening to the HD650s out of at the moment?

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