I am looking to upgrade my current headphone setup to a Sennheiser HD650 and a DAC.
Currently, I am using Sennheiser HD 558 Open Headphones with my Alienware-18 on-board Realtek Chipset Realtek ALC3661. It is one the highest performing on-board sound card with a 600ohm headphones amp. The SNR of 90dB is also pretty darn good for an on-board solution.
My headphone will most probably be a Sennheiser HD650. It took me over a month to decide so please don't suggest anything else as it will make things more complex for me. For the soundcard, I need a AIO solution for Movies, Music and Gaming. My current on-board solution uses Dolby Home Theatre v4, something I love, and specially, the virtual surround mode which makes my stereo Senns sound better surround than any other gaming headsets (I own many of them and they all suck!).
I can either get the well rated Asus Essence One DAC and Headphone Amp but it’s only a stereo solution with no virtual surround software. Many people suggest that a high-end DAC like this with SNR of 120dB coupled with big soundstage of HD650 gives better surround effect that Dolby!? Another solution would be the Asus Xonar U7 which is a gaming oriented card but has a really high-end Cirrus Logic CS4398 DAC and Dolby Home Theatre V4 just like my current card except better in every way! The only trouble is that its Headphone amp is only 150ohms which is inadequate to drive the HD650. Of course I can add an amp like Objective2 to drive the HD650 and would still cost far less than the ASUS Xonar Essence One DAC.
So to sum up, would you recommend the Asus Essence One DAC and Headphone Amp at £349.97 or ASUS Xonar U7 + Objective 2 Amp with a total cost of £166.99 any why?
I don't mind paying the extra but given its worth it.