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So much misinformation and differing opinions on sound cards & DACs!

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 

Hi folks,

 

I am looking to get the absolute best headphones and either dac or soundcard for my PC. I am finding so many varying opinions on wether sound cards and dacs are worth it or a complete scam. 

 

I do have a Yamaha HTR-5063 AVR. Would it be best to just run a toslink cable from my onboard audio to that and then plug headphones in the front 1/4" jack?

 

I haven't bought any headphones yet. I was looking at the Sennheiser PC350 but those are still a headset which some will probably scoff at here. I don't mind spending $300 or $400 dollars but I need some recommendations please. I want something that circumaural and isn't like a vice (I have a fairly large head). They can be open back because I live alone. They will be used mostly for gaming, some music too. I just bought an electric drum set, not sure if I will want to use these headphones when jamming on that or if I'll get something else for that purpose.

 

If you don't think I should use my receiver, what's a good DAC that has external power and an optical input? I believe bypassing the USB and analog outputs from my onboard sound would be the best idea right?

 

Thanks!

 

Riley

post #2 of 8

A lot of people will tell you to buy an expensive DAC/soundcard. In my experience, my realtek audio sounds as good as my DacMagic. Soundcards can do DSP stuff which you may or may not need. I'd just use the Yamaha's DAC as you described. Sound quality is mostly affected by the headphones, so that's where most of your money should go. I'd caution you not to spend a ton of money though, because you can always make up for deficiencies in sound quality by using an EQ, though that does get a little involved admittedly.

post #3 of 8

The yamaha should be fine for a dac, not sure about the headphone amp it would depend what the output impendance is and whether it has enough power to drive whatever headphones you decide to go with.

post #4 of 8

Many AV Receivers actually have great headphone outputs. I know my Denon does, it drives my AKGs fine and had no problems when I borrowed some HD650s.

post #5 of 8
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the replies.

 

I ended up getting the Sennheiser HD 380 Pro. I bought a Roland electric drum kit and was able to try on a pair of these. Love the circumaural design and they are lightweight and comfy. They sound awesome with the drum set and I am going to try using them for PC games. I'll use my Yamaha receiver (HTR-5063) as DAC & amplifier. I'll run a toslink cable from my PC to it.

post #6 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by rybone12 View Post

Hi folks,

I am looking to get the absolute best headphones and either dac or soundcard for my PC. I am finding so many varying opinions on wether sound cards and dacs are worth it or a complete scam. 

I do have a Yamaha HTR-5063 AVR. Would it be best to just run a toslink cable from my onboard audio to that and then plug headphones in the front 1/4" jack?

I haven't bought any headphones yet. I was looking at the Sennheiser PC350 but those are still a headset which some will probably scoff at here. I don't mind spending $300 or $400 dollars but I need some recommendations please. I want something that circumaural and isn't like a vice (I have a fairly large head). They can be open back because I live alone. They will be used mostly for gaming, some music too. I just bought an electric drum set, not sure if I will want to use these headphones when jamming on that or if I'll get something else for that purpose.

If you don't think I should use my receiver, what's a good DAC that has external power and an optical input? I believe bypassing the USB and analog outputs from my onboard sound would be the best idea right?

Thanks!

Riley

Ok...how did you end up with senn 380s? I mean they just don't match the description you provided really at all. Just return those as soon as you can and get something really good.

My first question would be: open or closed? Do you plan on being alone/want to still be able to hear environment around you? -- open. Do you plan on being around others when using them? - closed. So for a LAN party it's all about closed lol. From there it will be much easier to help, then we go can for major categories like imaging, bass, neutrality to give you a solid headphone recommendation. Personally I really liked my k702 Annie's (k712 pro same thing in stores now) + mod mic setup on my PC. The imaging is great with those cans and they are really comfortable which is definitely the kicker. But like I said give a few more cues on what you want out of your can's performance and the right pair will present themselves.

Ok, now that you have made that call, do you care about video game performance or movie performance? If so, you need a sound card. Now since you are already going to use Realtek then I guess SNR isn't a huge issue so get the Xonar DG, over the ST/X. This will give you gaming dsp and Dolby headphone out of the optical port for the cheapest price, although the SNR and jitter too is much better with an ST, but it's 100+ dollars for that upgrade so it's probably not needed.

Ok now, do you need a DAC? I would say the only real reason to move to a DAC is if you want to play high res tracks off your PC, if so get one with both optical in and USB such as a NFB 11.32. This way you can switch inputs to go between game/movie source and music source. Otherwise the AVR will be fine, but I'd still lean towards the XONAR DG in that setup.
post #7 of 8
Thread Starter 

I got the HD 380's from the music store where I bought the drum set. I know there are more expensive cans out there but these fit so well and dont seem to hurt my head after prolonged use. I figured I could just use these for playing drums and for gaming. I don't watch movies on my PC, I have a plasma + 7.1 surround for that. I also use my home theatre for listening to music most times. I'll strictly be gaming with these. I picked up a Blue brushed aluminum USB mic as well.

 

I'm not opposed to getting another set of phones, I haven't had a chance to try these out gaming yet. So far, only with my drumset for 5+ hours and listening to music off my HTC One. Since my home theatre receiver won't be in use if I'm gaming (I live alone), I figured I may as well run a couple 20" cords to it (toslink/optical to the receiver and 1/4" headphone extension back to my computer area), and make use of it instead of getting a DAC+Amp.

 

I do not have the option of an internal sound card (I have a mATX build with SLI), although if I'm just using stereo, what else would I need a sound card for? I'm assuming just the software? My motherboard has Dolby Home Theatre but I thought it was best to just play the audio the way the game developers intended (no extra software). The only thing I ever use is an equalizer because I like my treble higher. I heard the main purpose of soundcards was to provide a person with more outputs (or inputs too), as well as amplifying the volume and eliminating electric noise (which I'll be doing by running optical from the motherboard to my receiver).

 

Open back headphones would be fine, as long as they are circumaural. I love the way Sennheiser does their phones, how they encompass your whole ear and then some in an oval shape. I tried on a pair of ATH-M50's and hated that the leather sits on your ear and there wasn't any space between your ear and the speaker either. Leather against your ear is really uncomfortable/hot with any prolonged use.

 

Thanks for the reply Comrade!


Edited by rybone12 - 5/4/14 at 10:00am
post #8 of 8
I agree on the m50s, i thought they were a little hot on my ears too.

But the sound card nets you dsp basically. Basically the DG will get you Dolby Headphone through optical out. I doubt your realtek does dolby headphone but it could if its a really fancy mobo.
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