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Headphone and Amp recommendations

post #1 of 3
Thread Starter 

Hi y'all.  I'm really not a audiophile, but I do like good quality sound.  I've always bought Bose for the simplicity of their setup, but I've never really felt like I was getting the best quality sound.  I mean, they're an upgrade from stock laptop speakers or the free headphones that come with your phone or MP3 player, but that's it.  

 

I'm currently rocking a pair of Bose QC15 headphones and I'm looking to upgrade to something better.  I originally got the Bose because of the excellent noise cancellation because I'm on the road a lot.  I'm still going to use them for on the road, but I don't really like the sound for home listening.  Headphones are supposed to sound better when you turn them up, not worse.  

 

I'm currently looking at the Sennheiser HD600 headphones.  I've never head open backed headphones before, but I'm considering them because my ears get uncomfortably hot while wearing the Bose.  And when I'm listening at home, I'm always alone in a quiet room so I don't have to worry about bothering anyone else with sound leakage.  

 

Now as I understand it, these headphones really need an amp in order to use them to their full potential.  I listen to EVERYTHING through my PC which is connected to a 55" TV.  I was thinking about getting the Sound Blaster Zx series dedicated sound card.  It supposedly supports 600 ohm's which as I understand it should be enough for these headphones.  I'll be honest.  I have no idea what an ohm is, but I find it hard to believe that this card, which connects through a PCI-e x1 connection on the motherboard and requires no additional power from the power supply would be as good as a dedicated amp, but correct me if I'm wrong.  I think the maximum power output of a PCI-e slot is 75 watts.  

 

Now I'm trying to buy everything locally just in case I need to return it.  I have VERY BAD luck when it comes to buying stuff as most of the stuff I get is defective from the factory and I need to exchange it.  I'm talking even my office chair I had to exchange because the lift mechanism was seized right out of the box.  It could just be a sign of the times as I never had this problem 5+ years ago.

 

The only external amp I can find locally is the Sound Blaster E1 HD.  Is that better than what's built into this card?  It also says it supports 600 ohm's.  

 

My last question is, is the Sennheiser HD600 a good enough upgrade from my current Bose headphones?  Maybe it's my crappy integrated sound card that's really the problem and not my headphones (though these Bose headphones don't really sound very good to me even on my laptop).  I have one of the last motherboards made by Intel and it's a rock solid board, but it doesn't really have any state of the art stuff.  

 

Thoughts?

post #2 of 3
Quote:
Originally Posted by DarkRyu View Post

 

Now as I understand it, these headphones really need an amp in order to use them to their full potential.  I listen to EVERYTHING through my PC which is connected to a 55" TV.  I was thinking about getting the Sound Blaster Zx series dedicated sound card.  It supposedly supports 600 ohm's which as I understand it should be enough for these headphones.  I'll be honest.  I have no idea what an ohm is, but I find it hard to believe that this card, which connects through a PCI-e x1 connection on the motherboard and requires no additional power from the power supply would be as good as a dedicated amp, but correct me if I'm wrong.  I think the maximum power output of a PCI-e slot is 75 watts.  

 

First off, a 75watt power draw is a lot, if the headphone amp or single box DAC-HPamp driving the headphone is drawing that much and it's only used for the DAC and headphone amp circuits. As it is, I won't be surprised if the soundcard draws no more than 15watts, and even then, it has to power the DSP chip. That's basically a GPU chip but for audio, and obviously that chip and the others around it aren't going to get anywhere near the power draw of even a 1050Ti.

 

Second, soundcards saying "supports 600ohms" is like trying to use an i3-6200 on a stock cooler and RX 460 in a crap case to run Total War: Shogun II/Rome II/Attila/Warhammer. Not that it can't get loud enough on the HD600, but while it can, it will likely have some distortion (might be sharp or have wobbly bass), lack dynamics (ie loud but boring), or even get a lot of electronic noise as it very likely relies on gain rather than gain backed up by clean power. In the same manner the i3-6200U and RX460 can still get 60fps average/30fps minimum, but you're probably doing it at 720P instead of 1440P, and you turn down grass, sky, water, unit details, can't run texture mods, CPU and GPU fans will run full tilt and barring very cold ambient air temps might still thermal throttle anyway in the middle of a massive siege battle, etc.

 

You can hook up a soundcard's optical output to a DAC like the Schiit Modi2 Uber and then connect that to something like the Schiit Vali2. Barring microphonics on the vacuum tube this should drive the HD600 without any problems.

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by DarkRyu View Post

 

Now I'm trying to buy everything locally just in case I need to return it.  I have VERY BAD luck when it comes to buying stuff as most of the stuff I get is defective from the factory and I need to exchange it.  I'm talking even my office chair I had to exchange because the lift mechanism was seized right out of the box.  It could just be a sign of the times as I never had this problem 5+ years ago.

 

The only external amp I can find locally is the Sound Blaster E1 HD.  Is that better than what's built into this card?  It also says it supports 600 ohm's.  

 

Well what is "local" to you? If you're in the US you can buy from Amazon or direct from Schiit in California.

 

The E1 is probably slightly better than the soundcard but  I wouldn't really bother with it.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by DarkRyu View Post

 

My last question is, is the Sennheiser HD600 a good enough upgrade from my current Bose headphones?  Maybe it's my crappy integrated sound card that's really the problem and not my headphones (though these Bose headphones don't really sound very good to me even on my laptop).  I have one of the last motherboards made by Intel and it's a rock solid board, but it doesn't really have any state of the art stuff.  

 

Get the SB ZXR and use it on the HD600 for now. If you can't even detect any problems, ie you don't hear any obvious distortion nor know how much cleaner a better amp can be, then just use them that way. If you get to hear what a real amp does better, you can just hook up a DAC-HPamp to it.


Edited by ProtegeManiac - 3/20/17 at 9:43am
post #3 of 3
Quote:
Originally Posted by DarkRyu View Post
 

Hi y'all.  I'm really not a audiophile, but I do like good quality sound.  I've always bought Bose for the simplicity of their setup, but I've never really felt like I was getting the best quality sound.  I mean, they're an upgrade from stock laptop speakers or the free headphones that come with your phone or MP3 player, but that's it.  

 

I'm currently rocking a pair of Bose QC15 headphones and I'm looking to upgrade to something better.  I originally got the Bose because of the excellent noise cancellation because I'm on the road a lot.  I'm still going to use them for on the road, but I don't really like the sound for home listening.  Headphones are supposed to sound better when you turn them up, not worse.  

 

I'm currently looking at the Sennheiser HD600 headphones.  I've never head open backed headphones before, but I'm considering them because my ears get uncomfortably hot while wearing the Bose.  And when I'm listening at home, I'm always alone in a quiet room so I don't have to worry about bothering anyone else with sound leakage.  

 

Now as I understand it, these headphones really need an amp in order to use them to their full potential.  I listen to EVERYTHING through my PC which is connected to a 55" TV.  I was thinking about getting the Sound Blaster Zx series dedicated sound card.  It supposedly supports 600 ohm's which as I understand it should be enough for these headphones.  I'll be honest.  I have no idea what an ohm is, but I find it hard to believe that this card, which connects through a PCI-e x1 connection on the motherboard and requires no additional power from the power supply would be as good as a dedicated amp, but correct me if I'm wrong.  I think the maximum power output of a PCI-e slot is 75 watts.  

 

Now I'm trying to buy everything locally just in case I need to return it.  I have VERY BAD luck when it comes to buying stuff as most of the stuff I get is defective from the factory and I need to exchange it.  I'm talking even my office chair I had to exchange because the lift mechanism was seized right out of the box.  It could just be a sign of the times as I never had this problem 5+ years ago.

 

The only external amp I can find locally is the Sound Blaster E1 HD.  Is that better than what's built into this card?  It also says it supports 600 ohm's.  

 

My last question is, is the Sennheiser HD600 a good enough upgrade from my current Bose headphones?  Maybe it's my crappy integrated sound card that's really the problem and not my headphones (though these Bose headphones don't really sound very good to me even on my laptop).  I have one of the last motherboards made by Intel and it's a rock solid board, but it doesn't really have any state of the art stuff.  

 

Thoughts?

The question of whether the HD600 is a "good enough upgrade" from your current Bose headphones is, of course, entirely subjective. What is "good enough?" This is different for everyone. What is clear is that the HD600 is a very good headphone, noted for its neutrality and with an intimate soundstage. I enjoy mine very, very much. I can't imagine you not enjoying listening to a pair. Do you not have access to amazon? It is really the way to go, since returns are so easy. If you don't like it, just return it. If you cannot do that then I will just restate the previous. I would be surprised if you did not enjoy listening to the HD600. It's a good headphone.

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