enthusiastic newbee with a lot of questions...
Dec 14, 2007 at 12:37 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 25

bigb_

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Hi everyone!

I just got myself my first nicer pair of headphones - the Sennheiser 595. I am not really an audiophile (even though I own a pretty extensive 10 000+ songs collection), but I am seriously considering investing some time and money into good sound and who knows... :wink: So far I'd been listening to JBL Creature IIs connected to my Dell Laptop - not an amazing set-up as you can imagine (even though these little JBLs sound amazing for what they are). I am not completely new to high-end sound as I used to work in a radio station quite a long time ago and I had a chance to listen so some high-end equipment. I loved it, but I haven't had the time and the money to invest in this hobby... Until recently when I learned about the wonderful world of high-end headphones!

Anyway! You guys have a great forum and I am glad to be here! Now on to the questions:

1. I am using a Dell Latitude D520 as a source mostly under Linux. I have a Vista installation, but I only use it for Photoshop (I am an amateur photographer - that's where all my money goes to :-D) and I usually listen to music in Linux. I am overall OK with the sound quality (I probably don't know what I am missing as I've never listened to a good rig). The only comparison I have (since it's the only alternative equipment I have access to) is my new Meizu M6 SL. The Meizu has a somehow fuller sound and better bass, which however might have to do with the bass and treble boost which I keep at their stock settings - 6 and 4 respectively. I haven't been able to get comparative bass from the laptop through software...

So here's the question: Is it possible that the Meizu really sounds better than my laptop or could it be drivers/setting problem? And also would I hear a real difference if I get a nice external sound card like the emu 0404 usb for example? Keep in mind that I am a real newbee and I am also not sure how good my hearing is :-D I listen to pretty much everything, but mostly Rock, Jazz and some opera/classics. I like soft textured bass in most of my music.

2. What's the relative value of investing into a good external sound card and eventually a headphone amp? I am ogling an emu 0404 usb + little dot mk III combination. Here's what I mean by relative value: the upgrade from no headphones / JBL multimedia speakers to Sennheisers 595 for around 130 euro has definitely a very high relative value :) I am not sure how that would look for the 200 + 300 euro combination above. Will I REALLY hear 500 euro of a difference? :)

3. With the above mentioned combination + the necessary software would I be able to listen to high res audio, like 24/96 for example?


The 595s sound great even straight from the Meizu M6 SL! Great headphones!


Any answers would be highly appreciated! Thanks!
 
Dec 14, 2007 at 1:58 AM Post #2 of 25

jh4db536

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Are you using Amarok with FLAC or lossless WAV?

Does your dell laptop have an optical out (toslink/mini)?

you could aim higher than the 0404 and get a DAC1USB
 
Dec 14, 2007 at 10:51 AM Post #3 of 25

bigb_

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Quote:

Originally Posted by jh4db536 /img/forum/go_quote.gif
Are you using Amarok with FLAC or lossless WAV?

Does your dell laptop have an optical out (toslink/mini)?

you could aim higher than the 0404 and get a DAC1USB



My collection has been ripped over several years so due to space considerations/ignorance/unavailability of lossless codecs until recently I don't have all of it in FLAC. I did rerip some of it, but I am hardpressed to hear any difference between higher bitrates (192 onwards) and FLAC on my current setup.

My laptop's onboard audio does have optical out, but you need a docking station to access it, which I think is really stupid. Anyway - I can't use it at the moment.

I don't know whether you read my post carefully (I wouldn't blame you if you didn't :-D), but the DAC1USB would not be an option for me. I am a bit sceptical as it is, whether I would really hear the difference between my onboard audio and a better sound card. So if I am to upgrade it would be well under the 500 euro line for the time being.

Thanks for the reply!
 
Dec 14, 2007 at 11:22 AM Post #4 of 25

trose49

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Quote:

Originally Posted by bigb_ /img/forum/go_quote.gif
My collection has been ripped over several years so due to space considerations/ignorance/unavailability of lossless codecs until recently I don't have all of it in FLAC. I did rerip some of it, but I am hardpressed to hear any difference between higher bitrates (192 onwards) and FLAC on my current setup.

My laptop's onboard audio does have optical out, but you need a docking station to access it, which I think is really stupid. Anyway - I can't use it at the moment.

I don't know whether you read my post carefully (I wouldn't blame you if you didn't :-D), but the DAC1USB would not be an option for me. I am a bit sceptical as it is, whether I would really hear the difference between my onboard audio and a better sound card. So if I am to upgrade it would be well under the 500 euro line for the time being.

Thanks for the reply!



If you hang around, a skeptic you will not be for long! You thought Camera equipment was expensive!!!? LOL! Sorry about your wallet & welcome to head-fi.

Ray Samuels Audio RAPTOR
ratpbluejq1.jpg
 
Dec 14, 2007 at 2:28 PM Post #5 of 25

ade1982

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Quote:

Originally Posted by bigb_ /img/forum/go_quote.gif

I don't know whether you read my post carefully (I wouldn't blame you if you didn't :-D), but the DAC1USB would not be an option for me. I am a bit sceptical as it is, whether I would really hear the difference between my onboard audio and a better sound card. So if I am to upgrade it would be well under the 500 euro line for the time being.

Thanks for the reply!



There is a massive difference between onboard and the USB 0404. I used to use onboard, then an X-Fi Platinum (massive difference), then a 0404 and there was a big difference between the X-Fi and the 0404. Streets ahead.

However, the 0404 control panel might not be great under linux, as it's shocking on the Mac. Won't sound any worse though, as it's through USB
 
Dec 14, 2007 at 8:46 PM Post #6 of 25

bigb_

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Quote:

Originally Posted by trose49 /img/forum/go_quote.gif
If you hang around, a skeptic you will not be for long! You thought Camera equipment was expensive!!!? LOL! Sorry about your wallet & welcome to head-fi.

Ray Samuels Audio RAPTOR
ratpbluejq1.jpg



Nice amp! :) Camera equipment IS expensive! I think any hobby can get horribly expensive if you have too much money on your hands and too little common sense :wink: However, I think there are differences in the costs of different levels of commitment. In photography for example you have pretty high entrance costs: even the cheaper decent DSLRs with usable lenses are around 1000 euro / dollars. In comparison I spent only 300 euro for the Meizu M6 + Sennheiser 595 and I am already pretty satisfied with my "entrance" :-D

For me the real question is how well money translates to quality / pleasure. In photography you almost always get what you pay for so to say. A $1500 lens will really be a big upgrade from that $150 kit lens that you got for free with your DSLR. I have yet to be convinced that the same jump in price produces the same quality difference in audio...

I am planning to order the 0404 usb on Amazon and give it a try. If I don't like it I can always send it back. From what I read in the community the Linux drivers are at a very early stage of development which could be a deal breaker... Since I realized that Photoshop works nicely in a virtual machine in Linux I am booting into Windows less and less often...

Anyway... let's see what happens!
 
Dec 15, 2007 at 1:47 AM Post #7 of 25

bhostinsky

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If you have an interest in giving DIY a shot, then the cost vs reward is pretty good. For about 125 usd, you can build a really nice headphone amp that will drive the Sennheiser's quite nicely.

The SOHA or the Millett would be the best options, and there is a ton of support for building them, and tube hybrids to boot.

At work I have a really cheap pair of AKG K55 headphones (which are real cheap), and standard headphone outputs on a dell. To quote a friend when he heard them connected to my basic SOHA, "I didn't know headphones could sound that good". And he's really into music and audio gear.

I imagine a SOHA or a Millett connected to a 0404 would be a wonderful combination.
 
Dec 15, 2007 at 2:17 AM Post #8 of 25

bigb_

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Quote:

Originally Posted by bhostinsky /img/forum/go_quote.gif
If you have an interest in giving DIY a shot, then the cost vs reward is pretty good. For about 125 usd, you can build a really nice headphone amp that will drive the Sennheiser's quite nicely.

The SOHA or the Millett would be the best options, and there is a ton of support for building them, and tube hybrids to boot.

At work I have a really cheap pair of AKG K55 headphones (which are real cheap), and standard headphone outputs on a dell. To quote a friend when he heard them connected to my basic SOHA, "I didn't know headphones could sound that good". And he's really into music and audio gear.

I imagine a SOHA or a Millett connected to a 0404 would be a wonderful combination.



I am interested in DIY. I have a friend who used to build all of his hi-fi equipment because he simply couldn't buy it back home in those times :) I used to admire him and I even bought a really nice soldering iron and tried my hands on some simple projects. Well... how should I put it... I guess I was born with two left hands and both of them stuck into my ass :-D

That beings said, crazy people are usually as stubborn as they are insane, so why not give it another shot?! Would I need any special tools other than the usual stuff like soldering iron, tweezers, cutters, multimeter etc.?! Also keep in mind that I currently live in Germany - would all the components be easily available here?
 
Dec 15, 2007 at 2:53 AM Post #9 of 25

bhostinsky

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The SOHA is pretty easy to build. Only takes a few hours max to assemble, and the results are incredible. There is lots of support for both amps on the DIY boards.

The tools you mentioned would be fine for either amp. The tools you listed are all I used to build the SOHA.

I believe that all the parts would be available in Germany, as they are fairly standard. There are also the kit options from Jeff at Glass Jar Audio. May want to check with him about shipping to Germany. The transformer he supplies with the SOHA kit have the options to be wired for either US or European voltages.

I believe he also carries the Millett kits as well.
 
Dec 15, 2007 at 5:02 AM Post #11 of 25

bhostinsky

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I just re-read one of your prior posts. Hearing the difference between a non-lossless format such as mp3 and lossless greatly depends upon your setup. On my gaming PC I have some nice altec lancing powered speakers, and cannot hear the difference between 128k mp3 and CD. However, on my real audio rig, the difference between mp3 320 and lossless can easily be noticed, so the better quality rig, the more one can hear.


As has been said many times. Audio is an addictive hobby. Just ask any of us audiophools
smily_headphones1.gif
 
Dec 15, 2007 at 12:18 PM Post #12 of 25

bigb_

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Quote:

Originally Posted by bhostinsky /img/forum/go_quote.gif
I just re-read one of your prior posts. Hearing the difference between a non-lossless format such as mp3 and lossless greatly depends upon your setup. On my gaming PC I have some nice altec lancing powered speakers, and cannot hear the difference between 128k mp3 and CD. However, on my real audio rig, the difference between mp3 320 and lossless can easily be noticed, so the better quality rig, the more one can hear.


As has been said many times. Audio is an addictive hobby. Just ask any of us audiophools
smily_headphones1.gif



Hahaha :) Yeah, I am sure!

My problem though is that it all seems to be very dependent on good ears... The more I am listening to my Senns, the more I am starting to realize it's also dependent on "training". After some hours of listening and once I started actively, critically, I started hearing some small differences between compressed and lossless, using the Senns. I noticed some pops on my VBR Barry White MP3s which were not there in the FLAC version I ripped now. But then again, since I am using the Meizu, I am not sure whether it's the actual audio data or the way the player renders it.

Quite apart from that, on a more philosophical level so to say, it is funny how we get ourselves in expensive situations :) If I hadn't consciously gotten myself into this headphone hi-fi business, I would've probably never noticed any differences between any of my audio files :-D With photography, at least it's creative and you can even make some money with it - this is a pure "self-improvement" (as my audiophile friend used to call it) way of throwing money down the drain.

Oh well, on to the 0404 usb :-D
 
Dec 15, 2007 at 3:43 PM Post #13 of 25

bigb_

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Quote:

Originally Posted by bhostinsky /img/forum/go_quote.gif
The SOHA is pretty easy to build. Only takes a few hours max to assemble, and the results are incredible. There is lots of support for both amps on the DIY boards.

The tools you mentioned would be fine for either amp. The tools you listed are all I used to build the SOHA.

I believe that all the parts would be available in Germany, as they are fairly standard. There are also the kit options from Jeff at Glass Jar Audio. May want to check with him about shipping to Germany. The transformer he supplies with the SOHA kit have the options to be wired for either US or European voltages.

I believe he also carries the Millett kits as well.



I must've somehow missed this post :) This sounds nice. I will check it out and maybe I'll give it a try. Is it comparable to commercial amps? Would it sound better than the built-in amp of the emu?

I'll probably give it a go regardless - the feeling of building something with your two hands and you head is priceless :wink:
 
Dec 15, 2007 at 8:36 PM Post #15 of 25

OverlordXenu

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Quote:

Originally Posted by bhostinsky /img/forum/go_quote.gif
I just re-read one of your prior posts. Hearing the difference between a non-lossless format such as mp3 and lossless greatly depends upon your setup. On my gaming PC I have some nice altec lancing powered speakers, and cannot hear the difference between 128k mp3 and CD. However, on my real audio rig, the difference between mp3 320 and lossless can easily be noticed, so the better quality rig, the more one can hear.


As has been said many times. Audio is an addictive hobby. Just ask any of us audiophools
smily_headphones1.gif



Care to use Foobar's ABX plugin (I forget what it is called, right now) to prove that you can? I'm sorry, but I have a hard time believing that you can actually tell the difference between a well-encoded lossy file and a lossless file.

Quote:

Originally Posted by bigb_ /img/forum/go_quote.gif
Hahaha :) Yeah, I am sure!

My problem though is that it all seems to be very dependent on good ears... The more I am listening to my Senns, the more I am starting to realize it's also dependent on "training". After some hours of listening and once I started actively, critically, I started hearing some small differences between compressed and lossless, using the Senns. I noticed some pops on my VBR Barry White MP3s which were not there in the FLAC version I ripped now. But then again, since I am using the Meizu, I am not sure whether it's the actual audio data or the way the player renders it.



Did you rip with EAC? That is the only way to go. Also, there is no way to train our ears to hear more music, and everyone's ears (outside of some kind of damage or defect, ie. genetic, time, hearing damage, etc.) are pretty much the same.

Quote:

Quite apart from that, on a more philosophical level so to say, it is funny how we get ourselves in expensive situations :) If I hadn't consciously gotten myself into this headphone hi-fi business, I would've probably never noticed any differences between any of my audio files :-D With photography, at least it's creative and you can even make some money with it - this is a pure "self-improvement" (as my audiophile friend used to call it) way of throwing money down the drain.

Oh well, on to the 0404 usb :-D


Yep, you're probably just listening more closely, or you just subconsciously think this may sound better than that. It's probably the former, though. Before I stumbled upon head-fi, I was happy with almost anything. Not so much, anymore.

Edit: The best guide for EAC. Use this, rip to FLAC to archive your music. Then you'll never need to rip your CD's again!
 

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