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Audiophile newbie.....need advice

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 

Hello Everyone,


Be patient with me as I am new to the world of audio equipment and headphones.......at least in the decent grade category.


I have always been a music lover and recently with the purchase of a different home I now have a 24 X 12 room in the basement. I admit it is a bit dated with square tile floors and paneled walls. The ceiling is rather low at 7 feet.


My question:


My equipment I realize is crap. It is a Sony Surround DDW660 that was purchased about 10 years ago before I was into audio equipment but I am rather pleased with it. However I would love to upgrade eventually to some great gear. I have a laptop computer with over 12,000 songs on Windows Media Player that I feed to my receiver using a Sound blaster wireless card that plugs into the port on the computer. I then get my laptop library to play through my Sony surround via the Sound blaster.


I also have recently purchased a set of Sennheiser HD 439 headphones and I still use the Sound Blaster Wireless card that plugs into the port (similar to a thumb drive) and I feed the music through to my Sony receiver. I then plug my headphones into the headphone jack on the receiver rather than plug directly into my laptop.


Questions: Am I better off plugging into the receiver to receive the music to my headphones? By doing so do I eliminate my need to purchase a headphone amp? 


Am I better off plugging headphones directly into computer instead of the receiver in terms of getting better quality sound?


Feel free to comment on my equipment (bottom line is I know it is crap except for maybe the headphones).


Is the Sound Blaster USB port Wireless that I use to throw to receiver a good option? It is only option I have right now though.


I realize that my equipment and gear does not begin to hold a candle to most on this forum but I still consider myself an audiophile and I realize I need upgrades galore, but I want to maximize what I have to still enjoy my love of music.


PS am still researching headphones vs speakers and enjoy the debates. I love both at this point equally.











post #2 of 7
IMHO, the weak link is the wireless connection. You would be much better off plugging the laptop directly into the receiver using a cable from the headphone jack on the laptop to aux inputs on the receiver. Or, even better, get a USB DAC that has a lineout to go into your receiver. An inexpensive way to do this is with a Behringer UCA-202 ($30), or you could just get a DAC/amp like the Fiio E10 or Fiio E17, or one of the many other USB DAC/amps and just leave the receiver completely out of the headphone equation.

There is no reason there needs to be a debate about headphones vs speakers. They are just different tools. The right answer is headphones AND speakers... wink.gif
post #3 of 7
Thread Starter 

What headphone amplifier would you recommend? I would be more interested in a desktop model.



post #4 of 7
What is your price range? All of the products I listed above can be powered from the USB port of your laptop. The Sennheiser HD439 is efficient and does not really require an amp. Tell me this: Do you hear a difference, when the volume you hear is matched as closely as possible, between plugging the headphones directly into your laptop and plugging them into your receiver? Put on a song you know very well, close your eyes and listen carefully - are they different? How? Remember - only do this after you have matched the volume as closely as possible.
post #5 of 7
Thread Starter 

Yes the sound out of the receiver sounds a bit more rich and full......not as thin........if that makes sense...........


I could pay up to $100 for an amp if needed.


Thanks again for your great help......much appreciated.



post #6 of 7
I'll stick to my above recommendations. The Fiio E10 can be bought for well under $100 and could be used to either feed your receiver or to directly drive the headphones.

Or, something like this might be an interesting option:

With that, if your receiver has an optical input, you could go from the USB on your laptop to the X-Fi, then use TOSLINK optical from the X-Fi to the receiver. Or, you could use the RCA out on the X-Fi to your receiver, OR you could just drive the headphones directly off the X-Fi.
post #7 of 7
Just a quick recommendation, as Fiio amps have been recommended to you. I recently got a Fiio x3 - which is a portable music player with a good quality DAC and amp built into it. It will hold less than your computer, but it is all those devices in one -- player, dac, amp. Then you don't need to worry about how good your sound card is etc.
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