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Looking for some advice - Headphones/DAC/Amp

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 

So, I am very new to this arena of high end audio. As such, I would like to make some purchases, but I am a bit price sensitive as I have nothing to compare to, so the high end is going to have less impact on me. I do some gaming, but predominantly I will be listening to music. Most of my music collection is in FLAC. I've been researching on this site for a few days now and I am hoping some of you could weigh in and offer some additional advice. My computer is currently running an HT Omega Striker 7.1 sound card, which it seems according to this site is pretty bad. Therefore, it would appear an amp and DAC would be required on whichever headphones I choose. Most of the high rated amps and DACs are pretty costly, so I was thinking of going with a combo. So far the FiiO E07K appears to be best for the price. I was originally looking at the E17, as it was higher rated on this site, but there were quite a few recent Amazon reviews saying people received them DOA. In terms of headphones, my thoughts were that the Sennheiser HD-598 model was the best for the price as they are currently selling on Amazon for $180. Can anyone help to to confirm or revise my current thinking on this equipment? While I am not completely cost averse, I would like to know for sure that if I have to spend additional money, it will be worth it. Thank you in advance for your help!

post #2 of 19

What sort of music do you listen to?

 

Almost everything I know about the Fiio E series: A knowledgeable acquaintance of mine is satisfied (for now) with E17 and E09K. Another guy I respect but never met up with uses E12.

post #3 of 19
Thread Starter 

I listen mostly to progressive rock and progressive metal. Thanks!

post #4 of 19

HD598 should be fine. If you like the look of HD558 more, you can do an easy mod on the inside that will make it sound like HD598. There a how to on youtube.

 

You're looking at the right sort of model for those genres. The in house expert on everything prog, my special lady, usually goes for my K702. So an open model by one of the classic Austro-German firms is the right direction.

post #5 of 19
Thread Starter 

Thanks, Claritas. I am glad I am off to the right start with the headphones!! 

post #6 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by siryarngod View Post
 

So, I am very new to this arena of high end audio. As such, I would like to make some purchases, but I am a bit price sensitive as I have nothing to compare to, so the high end is going to have less impact on me. I do some gaming, but predominantly I will be listening to music. Most of my music collection is in FLAC. I've been researching on this site for a few days now and I am hoping some of you could weigh in and offer some additional advice. My computer is currently running an HT Omega Striker 7.1 sound card, which it seems according to this site is pretty bad. Therefore, it would appear an amp and DAC would be required on whichever headphones I choose. Most of the high rated amps and DACs are pretty costly, so I was thinking of going with a combo. So far the FiiO E07K appears to be best for the price. I was originally looking at the E17, as it was higher rated on this site, but there were quite a few recent Amazon reviews saying people received them DOA. In terms of headphones, my thoughts were that the Sennheiser HD-598 model was the best for the price as they are currently selling on Amazon for $180. Can anyone help to to confirm or revise my current thinking on this equipment? While I am not completely cost averse, I would like to know for sure that if I have to spend additional money, it will be worth it. Thank you in advance for your help!

I currently have the HD598 with the FIIO E09K/E17 combo. Works well for me. I am upgrading now to see if there is a big difference in sound. Going to the HD650 with a Bottlehead Crack amp. Looking forward to the journey.

post #7 of 19
Thread Starter 

Thanks, Chuck. Do you think I could get by with just the E17? The two combined is about $240. What is the advantage of combining it with the E09K?

post #8 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by siryarngod View Post
 

Thanks, Chuck. Do you think I could get by with just the E17? The two combined is about $240. What is the advantage of combining it with the E09K?

Just a little more power. The E17 by itself does fine for me. I just liked the combo. Fits on my desk well. I have a good sound card and use the E09K primarily as an amp at this point.


Edited by chuck8403 - 3/2/14 at 10:45am
post #9 of 19
Thread Starter 

What's more important? An amp or a DAC? Or is it best to go with the combo if I am going to get only one?

post #10 of 19
A DAC is needed only if you don't have a good soundcard. I don't know all the different soundcards.

An amp is to drive the headphones. From the spec sheet, it doesn't seem as if HD598 strictly needs an amp if your source is a laptop (but spec sheets can be unintentionally misleading) though it would sound better amped. I've heard it only amped, so I don't know how good it will sound without one.
Edited by Claritas - 3/3/14 at 4:11pm
post #11 of 19
Thread Starter 
I am running it off a desktop with an HT Omega Striker 7.1. It wasn't a cheap card when I got it about 4 years ago but it's more of a gaming card not an audiophile card. I am pretty set on the E17 but I am hesitant to shell out the extra $110 for the E09K.
post #12 of 19

E17 should be enough. Start with that; you can always add later.

post #13 of 19
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the advice, I'll do that!
post #14 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by siryarngod View Post

I am running it off a desktop with an HT Omega Striker 7.1. It wasn't a cheap card when I got it about 4 years ago but it's more of a gaming card not an audiophile card. I am pretty set on the E17 but I am hesitant to shell out the extra $110 for the E09K.

 

The only real difference is that in a similarly priced gaming or HT card you're paying more for the surround sound processing and packaging of the components, which if you actually need for gaming, isn't a waste of cash. A decent surround sound card would still have a good enough analog output section, and likely still uses the same or comparable DAC chip anyway. As for packaging, with all the other stuff crammed in there, it's likely the analog output will be on a 3.5mm stereo jack or a proprietary pigtail terminating into female RCA plugs. I think even some audiophile or professional (has an ADC on top of the DAC) cards sometimes uses these to make space for digital output and input ports that can't go on a pigtail.

 

If anything, one reason why I'd still prefer an external DAC compared to a soundcard would be so I can use other sources, provided the DAC has multiple digital inputs instead of a single USB port, because when I use my reference system I'd like to be doing nothing but listening otherwise it's like I spent a lot of that money on a BGM system, and I have my laptop and an IEM to work or browse on that together has decent music playback. Also, given I'll be doing nothing but listen, in my case using a 550w 80+ Gold PSU, i7-2600K overclocked with a water cooler, and HD7850 to run a media player for music is a bit of overkill. Even if they're running basically just off idle that's still a lot of electricity over, say, a smartphone or tablet with digital audio through USB (OTG or CCK), or a dedicated HDD-based music server which I'm still saving up for.

post #15 of 19
Thread Starter 

I do have a reasonably powerful surround sound system, so in that respect, I guess I am glad I have the card I have. I looked at the review of my card on this site and it appears I do not have "multiple discrete DACs". Not 100% sure how bad that is haha.

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