Best source for CDs/MP3 for den listening?
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100+ Head-Fier
Aug 19, 2002
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Aug 19, 2002
Hi Head-FI

After stumbling upon your forum about a week ago I have become a regular reader. Based on the opinions in here have since purchased my first pair of headphones: KSC-35s. I love these “cans” and wanted to say thanks for the recommendations. My only worry is I have started down a path that may lead to crunch on my wallet. But anyway on with the question …

I do a majority of my listening in a den with my computer, so that is the system I’m considering upgrading first. I listen about 50% CD/ 50% MP3 (EAC rip, LAME encode at either –r3mix or –alt-preset standard). What would be the best source for headphones in this environment and would upgrading even make a noticeable difference?

Current System:
- DVD Drive (for CD playback – 6x, EIDE interface, 512k buffer)
- Hard Drive (for MP3)
- WinAmp
- Soundcard: CS4281 & CS4297A codec (20Hz-20kHz, DAC THD+N: -90dB FS, AC’97 card so I believe so it resamples to 48kHz)
- T20 laptop mic-output

1) External USB soundcard (StereoLink SL1200 - $149)
Specs: 5Hz – 21Hz Freq. Range, 75mw Amp: 32 Ohm, THD+N: <0.01%, 20-bit DAC, no resampling
I can not check “Enable digitial CD audio for this CD-ROM device” in Win98 with my CD player. I'm not sure what that means or if that will effect the use of the SL1200

2) Portable MP3/CD Player (iRiver SlimX -$142)
Specs: 20Hz – 20kHz Freq. Range, 12 mw Amp: 16 Ohm, SNR: 90dB

I am trying to focus on quality of sound in this decision. I understand going the soundcard route may be more flexible (i.e. I can support any digital file type and I don’t have to put all my music on CDRs when I want to listen to MP3s, plus later I can then run to receiver in living room). But what do you think would sound better? Are there some other options I’m missing (same relative price level and that don't take up too much space)? I assume MP3 will sound better w/#1; but will CD sound better w/#2 and if so a lot better?

I also have some side questions if anyone has a minute or can provide a link or 2 (note I have no technical background, so don't say Ohm is standard unit of electrical resistance):
- Can anyone simply explain what a watt and ohm is, and their relationship, why is amplification stated like Watts, Ohm and for some amps two different sets of numbers are given at different Ohm levels
- I saw the KSC-35s have an impedance of 60 Ohms, what does that mean in terms of best amplification level for this headphone?

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