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Need help choosing headphones and dac/soundcard to improve my PC Audio

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 

Hello guys, I'm new to the forum and new to this whole audiophile stuff. Sorry if the thread is a bit long in advance, I'm just trying to be as specific as possible so I can get a better answer.

 

Anyways, I own a PC that I built last year but I'm using MOBO on-board audio, my goal is to improve the audio quality (for music, gaming doesn't really matter) on it since I'm not happy with how it is right now, too bassy and muddy.

I listen to mostly new prog like Porcupine Tree and Tool, also stuff like Mastodon, Dillinger Escape Plan and other genres like Nujabes and Toe. So I would like a signal that would allow me to appreciate all the details and layers in the music.

 

My current MOBO is an ASUS M5A99X EVO, I'm using Sennheiser HD 205 and Razer Kraken Pro Headdphones (last ones are for gaming, not music), so far no speakers or anything.

 

I was checking out Sennheiser's HD 598 headphones as a new purchase, but I'm convinced that on-board audio will simply not provide enough quality to enjoy it. The reason for choosing the HD's is because I think they look really good and have so cool reviews around, but I'm open for recommendations.

 

I remember that when I first plugged my 205's to an ipod I felt like I wasn't really hearing the music before, because I discovered so many details and that's exactly what I want to achieve again.

 

Another thing, I live in Mexico, so a lot of the equipment might be hard to get around here. My budget is around $600 USD (soundcard and headphones)

 

What do you think I should get? All the audio will be either CD's on my PC, FLAC and MP3 320 files.

 

Also, sorround sound is not an issue, I don't really care about that, I've found that stereo is perfectly good for my gaming endeavors, I just want to really listen to music in the highest quality possible. 

 

PS. Don't care about recording audio either.

 

Hopefully I've provided enough info, thanks a lot for all your help.

 

 

 

post #2 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zanantorcho View Post
 

Hello guys, I'm new to the forum and new to this whole audiophile stuff. Sorry if the thread is a bit long in advance, I'm just trying to be as specific as possible so I can get a better answer.

Anyways, I own a PC that I built last year but I'm using MOBO on-board audio, my goal is to improve the audio quality (for music, gaming doesn't really matter) on it since I'm not happy with how it is right now, too bassy and muddy.

I listen to mostly new prog like Porcupine Tree and Tool, also stuff like Mastodon, Dillinger Escape Plan and other genres like Nujabes and Toe. So I would like a signal that would allow me to appreciate all the details and layers in the music.

My current MOBO is an ASUS M5A99X EVO, I'm using Sennheiser HD 205 and Razer Kraken Pro Headdphones (last ones are for gaming, not music), so far no speakers or anything.

I was checking out Sennheiser's HD 598 headphones as a new purchase, but I'm convinced that on-board audio will simply not provide enough quality to enjoy it. The reason for choosing the HD's is because I think they look really good and have so cool reviews around, but I'm open for recommendations.

I remember that when I first plugged my 205's to an ipod I felt like I wasn't really hearing the music before, because I discovered so many details and that's exactly what I want to achieve again.

Another thing, I live in Mexico, so a lot of the equipment might be hard to get around here. My budget is around $600 USD (soundcard and headphones)

What do you think I should get? All the audio will be either CD's on my PC, FLAC and MP3 320 files.

Also, surround sound is not an issue, I don't really care about that, I've found that stereo is perfectly good for my gaming endeavors, I just want to really listen to music in the highest quality possible. 

PS. Don't care about recording audio either.

Sennheiser HD558s (same driver as the HD598s).

Creative Labs Sound Blaster Z sound card.

post #3 of 11
Thread Starter 

Well damn, that was very specific and actually pretty convincing. So you think my experience will be greatly improved with that gear?

 

Thanks

post #4 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zanantorcho View Post
 

Well damn, that was very specific and actually pretty convincing. So you think my experience will be greatly improved with that gear?

 

Thanks

To me that combo is about the best audio quality improvement for the price.

Here in the USA you can get a used HD558 for $110 and the SB-Z (Sound Blaster Z) for $70 (new).

 

For the next step above the SB-Z in sound quality, would be the Schiit Magni amp ($99) with the Schiit Modi DAC ($99).

 

Better headphones then the HD558, the Audio Technica ATH-AD900X ($220).

post #5 of 11
Thread Starter 

Yeah, I've read a lot about Schiit products, they have really strong opinions though, either they suck or they're amazing, sadly nearly impossible to get in Mexico, you'd have to find a special audio dealership and they charge insane amounts of money for equipment.

 

Another thing I forgot to mention is that I actually wish something that'll also support speakers in the long run, I mean, when I'm really listening carefully I use headphones, but I also want to blast some music when I'm with friends and such, but speakers would be a purchase way down the line anyways. 

 

I really enjoy music and I want to get the most of it but to be honest I don't think my ears are THAT trained to really cater to really high end equipment.

 

Would any of those things change your recommendations?

post #6 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zanantorcho View Post
 

Yeah, I've read a lot about Schiit products, they have really strong opinions though, either they suck or they're amazing, sadly nearly impossible to get in Mexico, you'd have to find a special audio dealership and they charge insane amounts of money for equipment.

Another thing I forgot to mention is that I actually wish something that'll also support speakers in the long run, I mean, when I'm really listening carefully I use headphones, but I also want to blast some music when I'm with friends and such, but speakers would be a purchase way down the line anyways. 

I really enjoy music and I want to get the most of it but to be honest I don't think my ears are THAT trained to really cater to really high end equipment.

Would any of those things change your recommendations?

Asus Xonar Essence STX sound card, comes with 2-channel line-output along with a separate headphone jack that can drive headphones up to 600-Ohms.

Can you order stuff off eBay and Amazon?

post #7 of 11
Thread Starter 

I'm looking into that (ordering from amazon), I had a guy in the border that went and bought things on the US, and eventually shipped them to me from inside mexican territory, that way everything is cheaper that ordering with international shipping.

 

And yeah, the xonar stx was my first choice, but after reading so much I started doubting myself a little, glad to see it's actually a good option.

 

If I can actually order stuff from amazon my options will be increased by insane amounts, so I'm really looking forward to buying the best stuff I can to avoid feeling like my gear isn't good enough in a matter of 3 months haha

post #8 of 11

I've been told the Xonar STX is the route to take if you require a headphone amp -- desktop PC.

The Beyer DT770s might be a good choice for closed cans -- I own the 555s and they don't require much to drive. I'd say the 598s are probably pretty similar, just better sound.

 

post #9 of 11
Thread Starter 

What do you think of the AKG 702's? I was checking them out and reviews treat them really well, praising clear response, which I think will be great for guitar driven music with lots of layers like Progressive Metal is (Tool has great bass lines tho).

 

Here at work I use Sennheiser's HD 280 PRO connected to an iMac with really bad quality Mp3's and Youtube, but I still think these manage to sound better than my HD 205's with FLAC because onboard audio is better on the iMac and because I feel the HD 280's have sharper response.

 

My only concern is if the Xonar STX will actually be enough to power the 702's, because I've read they're really hard to amp. Any suggestions?

 

BTW, I think the 702's look SEXY in black, lady killers right there. And I don't really care about them being open.

 

 

Thanks for all your help


Edited by Zanantorcho - 1/24/14 at 3:50pm
post #10 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zanantorcho View Post
 

What do you think of the AKG 702's? I was checking them out and reviews treat them really well, praising clear response, which I think will be great for guitar driven music with lots of layers like Progressive Metal is (Tool has great bass lines tho).

Here at work I use Sennheiser's HD 280 PRO connected to an iMac with really bad quality Mp3's and Youtube, but I still think these manage to sound better than my HD 205's with FLAC because onboard audio is better on the iMac and because I feel the HD 280's have sharper response.

My only concern is if the Xonar STX will actually be enough to power the 702's, because I've read they're really hard to amp. Any suggestions?

BTW, I think the 702's look SEXY in black, lady killers right there. And I don't really care about them being open.

Thanks for all your help

Should have no problem with 62-Ohm AKG K702 being driven by the STX.

post #11 of 11
Thread Starter 

Well, I've decided on the STX, now I just need to make up my mind about headphones, I'm torn between AKG K702 and Beyerdynamic DT 880 (250ohms). Has anyone tried them?

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