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New soundcard? DAC/Headphone amp?

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 

Hello good people!

I got a huge wish to improve my music listening from my desktop pc but I am pretty much clueless in this world of high fidelity..
I own a pair of Beyerdynamic dt 770 pro 80 ohm which is currently plugged into the soundcard which is integrated in the motherboard.

I asked around a on another head-fi forum and didn't get much response, but the response I got was more or less to; "save the money" "it's placebo effect"  "If taping $100 bills to my headset will make it sound better, I will keep doing it" and was referred to this link: http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/...udio,3733.html which was a good read but, I have heard the difference between the sound you get from your soundcard in your motherboard and Asus Xonar Stx and I thought the difference was huge.

What would you guys recommend? Buying a new soundcard or maybe a usb dac/headphoneamp? I am on deep water here and have little to no knowledge when it comes to headphone gear so all replies are much welcomed!

 

post #2 of 6
Quote:
Originally Posted by tjodalv View Post
 

I got a huge wish to improve my music listening from my desktop pc but I am pretty much clueless in this world of high fidelity..
I own a pair of Beyerdynamic DT 770 pro 80_Ohm which is currently plugged into the sound card which is integrated in the motherboard.
I asked around a on another head-fi forum and didn't get much response, but the response I got was more or less to; "save the money" "it's placebo effect"  "If taping $100 bills to my headset will make it sound better, I will keep doing it" and was referred to this link: http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/...udio,3733.html which was a good read but, I have heard the difference between the sound you get from your soundcard in your motherboard and Asus Xonar STX and I thought the difference was huge.
What would you guys recommend? Buying a new sound card or maybe a usb dac/headphoneamp? I am on deep water here and have little to no knowledge when it comes to headphone gear so all replies are much welcomed!

Motherboards are improving their audio quality every year, but if your willing to spend the cash you can get better audio quality.

 

What is the make and model of your motherboard?

 

External USB is fine for music or basic (stereo) audio for movies and gaming.

External also protects against electrical noise that "might" be inside the computer case.

Sound card have the added benefit of headphone surround sound (for movies and gaming) and I think are still good for music

 

Sound card upgrades.

Xonar DG or DGX, $20-$40.

Sound Blaster Z, $75-$95

Essence STX ($190) and Sound blaster ZxR ($230) have almost the same audio hardware so should offer around the same audio quality.

(Check eBay for used)

 

External DAC/amps

FiiO E10, $75

E07K, $90

E17, $130

 

DT770 Pro 80-Ohm are good (bassy) headphones for music, movies and gaming.

Personally I think there are better headphones offering a more balanced audio,

So maybe sell off the DT770s and spend a little more for better headphones and get a low cost sound card like the Xonar DG ($20-$30)

post #3 of 6

Are you just looking to improve your music sound or gaming/movies too?  I'm no expert but I've been researching this a lot.  I get the impression that spending the money on a USB DAC and Amp will get you better sound that the same amount spent on a new sound card.  But that limits you to stereo sound.

 

The advantage of the sound card is that it can do your virtual surround processing, which an external DAC/Amp can't do (barring a few notable exceptions).  If you're gaming or watching movies, you'll probably want a sound card.

 

Anyways, Purple Angel is a lot more knowledgeable than I; I'd take his suggestions to heart.  Personally, I'm going to be getting a Sound Blaster Z here in a few days (waiting to sell one of my extra sets of cans first).

post #4 of 6
Thread Starter 

My pc is quite old 4-5 years maybe. The motherboard is Asus P6T. And yes, I am willing to spend some cash! I have around 450 $ to spare.

I used to have "Avid Mbox Mini" usb soundcard for music production and I can't say I really notice any difference in the sound compared to the sound from my motherboard, but then again it was bought for solving a problem with latency in Cubase.

My priority is definitely music listening although I do some gaming, but I wont compromise the sound quality for music listening.

I agree with you that the Beyerdynamic dt 770 is a bass heavy headphone. I got a fairly good price on the AKG 702 headphone (around 250 $, these cost around 550$ in Norway) but I haven't figured out if they are for me just yet.

I listen to all kind of music, but when I really sit down and enjoy music I tend to listen to Sigur Ros, Dave matthews Band, Tool, Bon Iver and so forth.

One thing I know I need is a volume knob, it's such a hassle to adjust the volume in windows.

post #5 of 6
Quote:
Originally Posted by tjodalv View Post
 

My pc is quite old 4-5 years maybe. The motherboard is Asus P6T. And yes, I am willing to spend some cash! I have around 450 $ to spare.
I used to have "Avid Mbox Mini" usb soundcard for music production and I can't say I really notice any difference in the sound compared to the sound from my motherboard, but then again it was bought for solving a problem with latency in Cubase.
My priority is definitely music listening although I do some gaming, but I wont compromise the sound quality for music listening.
I agree with you that the Beyerdynamic dt 770 is a bass heavy headphone. I got a fairly good price on the AKG 702 headphone (around 250 $, these cost around 550$ in Norway) but I haven't figured out if they are for me just yet.
I listen to all kind of music, but when I really sit down and enjoy music I tend to listen to Sigur Ros, Dave matthews Band, Tool, Bon Iver and so forth.
One thing I know I need is a volume knob, it's such a hassle to adjust the volume in windows.

EHP-O2D Miniature Desktop Headphone Amplifier with USB DAC, 198 Euros, (166 GBP).
post #6 of 6
Might be more than you were planning on spending,but since you read the Toms Hardware piece, you can get the O2/ODAC in Europe from Epiphany Acoustics (only the model name is different).
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