I just purchased the Phillips Fidelio X1 after reading Madlust Envy's gaming headphones thread on this sight and deciding that they were the best to suit my needs. I bought them for use at home on my desktop computer. For what it's worth, I have replaced the stock cable with a Vmoda cable due to what I read about the cable having too high a resistance and dousing some distortion such as crosstalk and muddy bass. I use my pc for gaming, listen to music, watch movies/TV/YouTube, and do other general computer related stuff.
So, here's the problem, when using the headphones with my current onboard sound solution they just don't get very loud. If anyone wants to know, my motherboard is a gigabyte 890gpa ud3h rev 2.0. It uses the Realtek ALC892 codec (not exactly sure what chipset or anything, this is the best info I could dig up on the website). I have tried everything I can think of to get the output of the headphones just a little higher but I can't seem to find a solution. I have used the jacks in both the front and back of the PC, and the one on the front of my 5.1 speaker controller. I have looked for a software solution and haven't really been able to find anything that increases the gain without some distorted sounds, although I'm open to suggestions on a software option (preferably free 😉). When using the headphones on my laptop they are at a very comfortable noise level, (albeit maxed out in windows sound) only the desktop gives me issues with volume.
So here's where you guys come in. I'm not sure what to get, a new sound card, or a dedicated headphone amp? The jacks in the back of the onboard option currently supports both analog out (up to 7.1 with dedicated line out) and optical out which is S/PDIF. I do currently use the analog jacks in the back of the PC for connection to my Logitech 5.1 speakers, which are relatively rudimentary and don't have a dedicated headphone amp. I watch movies, play games, and listen to music on my PC.
If I get a soundcard l would like my current speakers, that use 5.1 analog jacks, to be supported, so no xonar essence st/x. I was looking at the Phoebus, but it would seem that there are a few issues with its drivers; if anyone has any input on this I would appreciate it (FYI: Running Windows 7). EMI from the GPU does cause some issues with the front jacks due to the cables passing so close and being unshielded so any internal soundcard would probably need shielding due to the close proximity of the PCIe slots.
If I get an amp I would like something with a DAC included so I can get some better quality than what the onboard solution outputs. It is my understanding that if I output through optical than I bypass the onboard DAC (not 100% sure on that). I am open to USB options also but am a little weary as my past experiences with USB soundcards have not been the greatest.
So now I leave it to you here at the head-fi community. Please let me know what I should do. I would like to keep the cost around $100 US, but am willing to go up to $200 if necessary; I'd rather get something quality that I can keep around for a while and will be happy with than end up with something I hate just because I tried to save a buck. If you have a preference one way or the other please, explain why. I'm really new and have very little experience or knowledge about this stuff, so pretend you're explaining it to a child that won't stop asking "why?" Please, post links of products if you want to endorse them; being so new I often don't know where to find stuff. If I need to daisy chain a list of components please, tell me how to do it; chances are I've never done what you're describing. Lastly, if you've gotten this far, thank you for reading my very long post and helping me. I really appreciate any input you can give on this topic because I'm basically lost at this point.
Thanks in advance for the help and guidance,