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In need (want) of veteran advice/wisdom/reccomendations

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 

HI, this is my first post, be gentle? I just have tons of questions regarding multiple questions, but I guess a little background info never hurt anybody. 
I was introduced to the world of audiopiliesm (sadly not a word..) about a year ago. However, my lack of income was the cause of my dormancy in terms of actively pursuing my love of high fidelity tunes. I'd go to stores with headphones on display every chance I was given. Skip forward a couple of months, i've got my first job, and after doing a little research I purchased the Sennheiser 598's with the Fiio e07k portable amp. Those things made me cry listening to songs I'd heard 100 times prior, but after about 6 months I was discontent and began looking into Schiit amps and the more high-end Sennheisers. Reading about high impedance this, audiophile lingo that, I swamped through thread after thread until I had a minimal understanding. Anyways, my questions:

post #2 of 18
Thread Starter 

I guess it's only fitting my first thread I accidentally submit without finishing :) Anyways, my questions: 
Can you replace the sound card in a laptop? I just have a cheap chromebook, but can you also hook up laptops to desktop amps? Can you combine a good soundcard with an amp to create a synergistic effect? Would the Sennheiser 600's be powered sufficiently by the Schiit Valhalla? Would an amp sound poor through a laptop with a sub par sound card? This chromebook doesn't exactly make songs come to life.. Further questions: Would I be better off getting a really high-end portable amp instead of struggling with my laptop and any amps? One last thing, I saw a video review of the Fiio e09k desktop amp, and the reviewer had his iPhone hooked up with an aux out I believe, is it possible to hook up that amp or any better ones to a mobile device? 
Don't be too blown away by my lack of audio-smarts, i'm new. Anyways, help me Obi-Wan, you're my only hope.

post #3 of 18

Let's take it from the beginning I suppose... 

 

  • You can't replace a sound card in a laptop. 
  • You can hook laptops up to a desktop amp, but the sound might not be good.
  • You can combine an amp and a sound card, sound cards can be quite good.
  • The hd600 would do fine off the valhalla, but be aware that the valhalla is only good with high impedance headphones.
  • Just don't hook a laptop up to high end amp and headphones.. Not too good.
  • You can easily hook a portable device up to an amp. Whether it will sound good is the question...

 

Question to you: How will you actually want to use the amp? Do you need portability?

post #4 of 18
Thread Starter 

Oh I never go anywhere, the amp could be made of cement as long as it sounds good :) I only purchased the portable amp because I thought it'd be enough.. Appreciate the response, I wasn't sure any one person could take on all my inquiries. The reason a nice amp/headphone combo wouldn't boost a crummy laptop's sound is because of the output, right? Like even with great equipment, if a source is just decent the audio won't shine? Hm.. Do you happen to know what variables influence whether a desktop amp will perform adequately with a mobile device or not?  
Thinking about my phone > valhalla > hd600, but there's probably many better options I don't know about.. 

post #5 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by NaiveAudioLover View Post
 

Oh I never go anywhere, the amp could be made of cement as long as it sounds good :) I only purchased the portable amp because I thought it'd be enough.. Appreciate the response, I wasn't sure any one person could take on all my inquiries. The reason a nice amp/headphone combo wouldn't boost a crummy laptop's sound is because of the output, right? Like even with great equipment, if a source is just decent the audio won't shine? Hm.. Do you happen to know what variables influence whether a desktop amp will perform adequately with a mobile device or not?  
Thinking about my phone > valhalla > hd600, but there's probably many better options I don't know about.. 

You should look into the possibility of external dac (digital to analog converter) drivers for chromebooks.  That amp while it is highquality will not sound nearly as good as it can because it will be amplifying the analog signal made by the cheap dac inside of your chrome book.  Buying an external dac (such as the schiit Bifrost) will take away the massive bottleneck that your chrome book's on board audio is causing.  

 

Also what format is your music in? If you have compressed lossy mp3 files less than 256kbps-320kbps (flac is even better :3) that will probably be hurting your sound too.  Can chrome books even store/playback stuff on it's hdd or do you only stream music?

post #6 of 18

Your Fiio E07k is a combo amp and DAC. Unless you want to spend extra money on a new DAC, you can connect a more powerful amp to the line out of the Fiio. Any of the Schiit amps would work fine with the upper level Sennheisers in terms of impedance. 

If you want a new DAC as well, just make sure that the USB will work on the Chrome OS. I'm not really sure what does and what doesn't, but if the Fiio works on the Chromebook, I'd suggest just sticking with that as a DAC for now. Like I said, you can connect a better amp to the Fiio. 

post #7 of 18
Thread Starter 

Oh, this Chrome OS is a pain already. Tried using an external disc drive, not on Chromebook's watch! That'd be great if the Fiio could be enough for a high end amp, barely gave that a thought before because I assumed it wouldn't be powerful enough or something. Btw, do most DACs (like the Bifrost) function properly only by USB, or is there a way a 3.5mm jack would work..? Either way, thanks for the thought! You guys on Head-Fi are awesome, before this I had no idea at all, maybe by the end of this i'll have a worthy setup :)

post #8 of 18
Thread Starter 

So far i've just been streaming, I just got this Chromebook the other day and haven't figured out how to transfer my music collection from my phone, itunes account, etc.. Not to get off topic but this machine really isn't for this kind of stuff, I just wanted to test it out to make sure before I bought something way more expensive that would do the same thing (pretty much just got it because I thought this combined with a nice amp would be stellar). It has a little memory on the HDD, but it's mainly an "upload everything to the cloud" sort of device. I tried starting a flac collection a couple of months ago, but at the time none of the flac albums available were of my taste. Or can anything be converted into flac? Oh, there's so much to this whole business. I remember the days when I was satisfied with an iPod shuffle and the default earbuds :) 
If the Bifrost won't work with the Chromebook i'll probably just return it (the chromebook) and get a more convenient laptop, it'd be cliche to say music is my life but i'm not doing much else with my income and my adventure for perfect audio is like my pursuit of (extra) happiness. Appreciate the suggestion, if i'm getting hd600's and a valhalla, 350$ isn't that much more.. manbear suggested just using my Fiio, but with this i'm sure you get what you pay for. 

post #9 of 18

Inputs: Coaxial SPDIF, Optical SPDIF, USB (optional)


 

Taken from schiits website. You can't use 3.5mm. You'd probably want to use usb...

 

I'm just saying, that valhalla would probably be good, but only for high impedance headphones.

post #10 of 18
My advice is similar to manbear - don't go crazy on the cost of the amp until you find some headphones that really impress you and also need a high-dollar amp.

I will also add that headphones provide the majority of the sound signature you hear. Sure, the amp, media player and lossless media will have some effect - but if you really want to affect how something sounds, the easiest way is to use a different brand and/or model of headphones. There is a steep slope for the performance difference between lo-fi and mid-fi, and a shallower slope between mid-fi and hi-fi, and an even shallower slope between hi-fi and summit-fi. This is (of course) exactly the opposite shape of the cost curve. You clearly pay more for less change the farther up the performance slope you go. There is a HUGE difference between $5 head-fi and $100 head-fi, but there is much less difference between $2500 head-fi and $5000 head-fi.

I guess what I'm saying is that I'm worried you are going to put big money and time into items that give you a lower return on your investment before you may be ready to accept the lower price/performance region of the curve. I think this is part of what disappoints a lot of new audiophiles. Expectations are high - sometimes too high.

Good luck!
post #11 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by NaiveAudioLover View Post
 

I tried starting a flac collection a couple of months ago, but at the time none of the flac albums available were of my taste. Or can anything be converted into flac?

 

Yes anything can be converted to flac (as long as it's lossless to begin with). You can rip a CD to flac the same way that you could rip it to wav or mp3. flac would just take less space than it's wav equivalent.

post #12 of 18

Don't convert mp3 to flac, it won't give better quality.

post #13 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by davidsh View Post
 

Don't convert mp3 to flac, it won't give better quality.


+1

post #14 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by NaiveAudioLover View Post
 

I tried starting a flac collection a couple of months ago, but at the time none of the flac albums available were of my taste. Or can anything be converted into flac?

 

Hi,

 

You may find this two articles pretty interesting (both are really short, but useful)

 

http://www.whatinterviewprep.com/prepare-for-the-interview/audio-formats/

 

http://www.whatinterviewprep.com/prepare-for-the-interview/transcodes/

 

Best Luck!

post #15 of 18
Thread Starter 

Hello my wonderful audio gurus! It's been a while, mainly due to my 2 month absence. Anyways, I picked the perfect username because i'm back with a question or two. Would it be redundant to hook up a schiit magni to my current entry-level amp/dac, the Fiio e07k? And from there, to my phone? Still don't have a legitimate FLAC collection, but hey, I have the rest of my life to figure that stuff out. I'm still a minor, and don't feel like devoting too much of my meager paycheck to the audio world. Thanks in advance! 
P.S- Should I have started a new thread? Not exactly familiar with the thread-starting procedures around here. 
P.S P.S- If I sound like I don't know what i'm talking about, it might be because I really don't. :) 

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