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Headphone amps, Monitors, and connections... I need some help please

post #1 of 27
Thread Starter 

Hey everyone! I have used head-fi for awhile and I fully put a lot of trust in you guys, so here comes a few questions

 

 

1.) I have a pair of audio technica ath-m50s...... They sound fantastic on my computer because it can drive a ton of power to them; however, on my little ipod or phone, they sound good, but not great. How can I make them sound better? Is this what I would use portable headphone amplifier for? Can I have suggestions/solutions. Price range: Under 100

 

 

2.) I Am going to be buying some new studio monitors for my computer. I do some non-professional mixing, but I take my work seriously, regardless. I also am a die-hard music junky/enthusiast. I really am passionate about everything sounding very good, with a good source and a good output for the source. More likely than not, I will buy the JBL LSR305s. I only have optical/digital audio (toslink), and the standard headphone/mic jacks on my motherboard (green, pink, black, grey, blue, orange).

My question is - how can I hook up my JBLs up to my computer without losing audio quality. Sound card? DAC? what am I looking at in terms of price range/quality/ease of use/audio degradation?

 

3.) Would a sound card be optimal to have for my audio technica ath-m50s?

 

That should cover it! Thanks in advance!

post #2 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kalixin View Post
 

Hey everyone! I have used head-fi for awhile and I fully put a lot of trust in you guys, so here comes a few questions

 

 

1.) I have a pair of audio technica ath-m50s...... They sound fantastic on my computer because it can drive a ton of power to them; however, on my little ipod or phone, they sound good, but not great. How can I make them sound better? Is this what I would use portable headphone amplifier for? Can I have suggestions/solutions. Price range: Under 100

 

3.) Would a sound card be optimal to have for my audio technica ath-m50s?

 

M50 is easy to drive

1. Fiio E11 can improve the sound quality of M50.

 

3. If you are using a laptop, E17 can be a better option for using in laptop and also with the ipod or phone. If you are using a desktop, Asus Xonar DG can be a good option http://www.amazon.com/ASUS-XONAR-Headphone-Audio-Card/dp/B0045JHJSS/

post #3 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kalixin View Post
 

Hey everyone! I have used head-fi for awhile and I fully put a lot of trust in you guys, so here comes a few questions

 

1.) I have a pair of audio technica ath-m50s...... They sound fantastic on my computer because it can drive a ton of power to them; however, on my little iPod or phone, they sound good, but not great. How can I make them sound better? Is this what I would use portable headphone amplifier for? Can I have suggestions/solutions. Price range: Under 100

 

2.) I Am going to be buying some new studio monitors for my computer. I do some non-professional mixing, but I take my work seriously, regardless. I also am a die-hard music junky/enthusiast. I really am passionate about everything sounding very good, with a good source and a good output for the source. More likely than not, I will buy the JBL LSR305s. I only have optical/digital audio (toslink), and the standard headphone/mic jacks on my motherboard (green, pink, black, grey, blue, orange).

My question is - how can I hook up my JBLs up to my computer without losing audio quality. Sound card? DAC? what am I looking at in terms of price range/quality/ease of use/audio degradation?

3.) Would a sound card be optimal to have for my audio technica ath-m50s?

I'm only semi-trustable.

 

For portable, you could try the FiiO E11 head amp.

 

Monoprice 5" studio monitors ($167 a pair), they seem to be rebranded M-audio BX5s.

http://www.monoprice.com/Product?c_id=115&cp_id=11504&cs_id=1150401&p_id=605500&seq=1&format=2

 

Creative Labs Sound Blaster Z ($60-$90).

Comes with separate headphone and speaker line-out jacks.

post #4 of 27
Thread Starter 

I am mostly using my desktop, ipod, and iphone for listening to music. I rarely ever use my laptop.

 

I am definitely going with the JBL LSR305s. I don't think they have a way of hooking up to my computer easily, though. They have the larger prongs, and I have only toslink and basic axillary on the back of my computer

 

The E11 looks promising. That will clear up the sound quality issues I get from my iPod, right? (I do not need a usb DAC for computer for my headphones)

 

As far as the sound cards go - thank you for the advice.

post #5 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kalixin View Post
The E11 looks promising. That will clear up the sound quality issues I get from my iPod, right?

yes, go for L9 cable http://www.amazon.com/FiiO-L-Shaped-Line-Cable-iPhone/dp/B005N6ZAT2/

post #6 of 27
Thread Starter 

Man it sure takes a lot of accessories to get a nice sound eh?

post #7 of 27

just remember traditional welcome saying, Sorry about your wallet. Hence, invest your money very carefully after doing homework (much research) and after trying audition (you are lucky since you live in the USA).

post #8 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kalixin View Post
 

I am mostly using my desktop, iPod, and iPhone for listening to music. I rarely ever use my laptop.

 

I am definitely going with the JBL LSR305s. I don't think they have a way of hooking up to my computer easily, though. They have the larger prongs, and I have only Toslink and basic axillary on the back of my computer

 

The E11 looks promising. That will clear up the sound quality issues I get from my iPod, right? (I do not need a usb DAC for computer for my headphones)

 

As far as the sound cards go - thank you for the advice.

The Hosa CMP-159, 3.5mm to dual TS 1/4' plug cable will connect from most sound cards (and motherboards) to the TS mono channel jacks on the back of the JBL LSR305

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Hosa-Tech-Stereo-Breakout-Audio-Cable-iPod-Audio-Dev-Headphone-10ft-Phone-Male-/350915873767?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item51b4374be7

 

The Creative Labs Sound Blaster Z's CAS4398 DAC chip should improve that audio quality of anything (speakers or headphones) hooked up to your Win PC.

post #9 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kalixin View Post
 

1.) I have a pair of audio technica ath-m50s...... They sound fantastic on my computer because it can drive a ton of power to them; however, on my little ipod or phone, they sound good, but not great. How can I make them sound better? Is this what I would use portable headphone amplifier for? Can I have suggestions/solutions. Price range: Under 100

 

 

JDS Labs O2. Fiio E11 is cheaper but from what I've read it sounds "dark" - not that it lacks treble as "dark" usually means, but it's just too warm, with an elevated plateau somewhere in the bass to low midrange, I've tried my friend's E11 hooked up to an iPod Touch and I didn't feel it was that much of a problem, however, if you're really serious about mixing, then your other gear should also be as close as possible to neutral given the price bracket.

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by Kalixin View Post

 

2.) I Am going to be buying some new studio monitors for my computer. I do some non-professional mixing, but I take my work seriously, regardless. I also am a die-hard music junky/enthusiast. I really am passionate about everything sounding very good, with a good source and a good output for the source. More likely than not, I will buy the JBL LSR305s. I only have optical/digital audio (toslink), and the standard headphone/mic jacks on my motherboard (green, pink, black, grey, blue, orange).

My question is - how can I hook up my JBLs up to my computer without losing audio quality. Sound card? DAC? what am I looking at in terms of price range/quality/ease of use/audio degradation?

 

3.) Would a sound card be optimal to have for my audio technica ath-m50s?

 

If you're doing recording and mixing I suggest investing in a proper interface device. It's basically a DAC and an ADC in the same box, so sound goes both ways. Its preamp should control the volume on the monitors. You can hook up the computer through SPDIF toslink, hook up the monitors to the proper RCA, TRS or XLR outputs on the back, and then there's also a headphone output. I think there are some that go for about $100 but may be limited in some connections, like the Focusrite Scarlet 2i2 and Lexicon Alpha, which have only USB (no SPDIF). The Tascam US-366 seems to be the lowest priced one with SPDIF.

post #10 of 27
Thread Starter 

Honestly, more than anything - I just want my music to sound better. The recording/mixing is secondary, and my headphones handle it relatively well already.

 

The JBLs only have a 6.3mm jack on them. My computer has a 3.5 and a toslink. Do those 3.5mm to 6.3mm adapters work? I would think they are pretty lossy. I saw a soundcard by asus that is almost 200 dollars that has a 6.3mm jack built into it, but that is a bit out of my price range. I just need a lossless (or least lossy) way of hooking a 6.3mm jack to a 3.5mm jack or toslink jack.

 

Would a PCI/PCIe soundcard be alright? Should I go with the audio interface box? What about a USB sound card? That idea has always scared me. I found this, though

http://www.amazon.com/Native-Instruments-Traktor-Audio-2/dp/B002MV4JUM

post #11 of 27
Quote:

Originally Posted by Kalixin View Post

 

The JBLs only have a 6.3mm jack on them. My computer has a 3.5 and a toslink. Do those 3.5mm to 6.3mm adapters work? I would think they are pretty lossy. I saw a soundcard by asus that is almost 200 dollars that has a 6.3mm jack built into it, but that is a bit out of my price range. I just need a lossless (or least lossy) way of hooking a 6.3mm jack to a 3.5mm jack or toslink jack.

 

What do you mean by adapter? How are you planning to hook these up? If what you're planning to do is hook these up to a soundcard on your computer, I don't see how a cable with 3.5mm on one end and two 6.3mm on the other end by itself would be "lossy."  Unless you're thinking of using a cable that has a 6.3mm on the computer end and just using an adapter, in which case you should worry more about putting stress on the jack than corrupting the signal just by using an extra piece of (good quality) metal on it. Besides, the 6.3mm output on that soundcard is for a headphone, not monitors, and you can run into impedance and level-matching issues there that can be avoided by just using a proper preamp or line output.

 

Your real problem here is that the inputs on the LSR305 is for a balanced signal and I'm not sure if an unbalanced signal would work properly on that. This is the reason why you'd need an audio interface (hooked up via USB - not toslink - since they need a way to return data up to the computer when you're recording) - they output a balanced signal for the monitors. Hi-Fi DACs generally use unbalanced (single-ended) connections, and when they do output balanced, these are the more expensive equipment. This is because, for the most part, an unbalanced connection is simple and isn't bad for a short connection such as a stack of hi-fi equipment, whereas for professional applications, they make room for the possibility that you would need very long cables for whatever set-up you have.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kalixin View Post
 

Would a PCI/PCIe soundcard be alright? Should I go with the audio interface box? What about a USB sound card? That idea has always scared me. I found this, though

http://www.amazon.com/Native-Instruments-Traktor-Audio-2/dp/B002MV4JUM


Specs don't mention that it has balanced output for those JBL monitors.

post #12 of 27
Thread Starter 

Ok scratch everything. I guess I know less than I thought. Basically my computer has no sound card. It only has a built in audio chipset, because of the motherboard. The only jack I have is toslink and 3.5 auxillary.  Simply put - what is the best way to hook them to my computer then, where I won't lose signal, or degrade the signal. What brands are good? Am I able to stay around the 50-125 dollar price range for it?

 

A balanced signal? So unbalanced is one the really high end items? The JBLs are just really good, but are still not considered hi-fi? And does my computer send an unbalanced signal? I am just pretty confused here.

post #13 of 27
Thread Starter 

and yeah - I forgot it was only for a headphone - the 6.3mm jack on the soundcard, I mean.


Edited by Kalixin - 1/20/14 at 2:47pm
post #14 of 27
Thread Starter 

Ah! I get it. Unbalanced is the singular auxillary jack, or the singular toslink. The two 6.3mm jacks coming off of the JBLs cause it to be balanced. two is balanced, one is unbalanced.  I think I got that. My computer has unbalanced audio.

 

So my JBLs are good and balanced. My computer is unbalanced. This is why I need an audio interface. So again - what is the best way to hook them to my computer then, where I won't lose signal, or degrade the signal. What brands are good? Am I able to stay around the 50-125 dollar price range for it? Also - would My headphones work with it (this is a curiosity, not a necessity.) My headphones have a 6.3 and 3.5mm jack

post #15 of 27
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