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Amplifier or USB Sound for Audio Technica ATHM50

Discussion in 'Computer Audio' started by chorinator, Oct 31, 2012.
  1. chorinator
    Hi everyone, this is my dilemma.
    I've just bought a new pair of headphones: Audio Technica ATHM50, which by the way I bought because I saw them reviewed and recommended here. I thank this community for that.
    I'm no audiophile by any means but I've noticed that my desktop PC sounds better and louder than my laptop and I'm almost sure that the reason is because the desktop PC is equipped with an ASUS Xonar DX PCI-E card.
    I'm always jumping between my desktop PC (gaming) and my laptop (work) so I would love my laptop to sound as good as the desktop PC without breaking the bank (~$50 usd) if that's possible. I live in Mexico so shipping & handling and import fees almost always double the price at least (~$100 usd).
    I've found 2 products that seem can get the job done.
    ASUS Xonar U3: 
    FiiO E6: 
    I would love your advice, because, well you recommended me the Audio Technica ATHM50 headphones.
    Thanks in advance, any help would be appreciated.
  2. PurpleAngel Contributor
    I'm guessing the reason the PC with the Xonar DX sounds better is because the Xonar DX comes with the CS4398 DAC chip.
    DAC- Digital to Analog Converter
    And the laptop comes with a very low cost DAC chip.
    The Fiio E6 does not come with a DAC chip, so the digital to analog conversion will not improve with it plugged into the laptop.
    But the E6 should provide a better headphone amplifier then both the Xonar DX and laptop.
    So the E6 plugged between the Xonar DX and the ATM-M50s, should (hopefully) improve (how much?) the headphone sound while using the PC.
    Same should apply with the E6 used with the laptop.
    If all your doing is 2-channel audio, like music, then maybe invest in a Fiio E10 USB-DAC-Headphone amplifier.
    The Fiio E10's DAC should be way better then what is in the laptop.
    and the E10 can be plugged into the PC's USB port too (sell off the Xonar DX?)
    The Asus Xonar U3 should also improve audio quality for the laptop, but not as good as the Fiio E10.
  3. mojorific
    Honestly, either option will not improve the sound quality significantly.  You would do much better to save some more cash and get a dedicated DAC/Amp (either a combination of 2 devices, or a DAC that does Amplification as well.
    If you want to keep things small and portable, then perhaps the Fiio E17 would be a better option.
    chorinator likes this.
  4. chorinator
    Thanks a lot.
    I will save a little more for the Fiio E17 then.
    There is no point in spending for something that won't fix my problem.

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