Great Portable/Desktop Amp and DAC/SoundCard for Sennheiser HD 558s
Dec 28, 2013 at 11:09 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 5

NakulM

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Hey Guys,
 
This is my first forum post on head-fi so please excuse me if I've made a mistake! I just ordered some Sennheiser HD 558s, which I will be using for gaming as well as music and movies on my desktop PC. I've read several threads on the site, and have come to the conclusion that the headphones will be put to the best use if I have excellent data output from my PC, and a formidable amp to power them... Trouble is, I'm confused on what to buy. 
 
First off, I'm not sure if I should buy an internal sound card for my PC (I'm living with onboard RealTek at the minute -_-), or buy an external DAC. I will be playing a variety of games, from FPS to RPG, and directional sound is quite important. That being said, however, I also listen to lots of music, and I want the best quality I can have in that department. So, what do you all suggest? Should I buy an internal sound card, or external DAC, or both? And if so, which ones are reasonably priced (ideally $200 or under)?
 
The amp is the next thing that I need, and I am willing to spend up to $150 on this, but I'd also like it to be able to power higher impedance cans, in the event that I purchase some in the future. 
 
I'm not sure what the trade-off is between an internal sound card and an external DAC with sound quality in games or music, but I'd like an extremely well rounded setup... 
 
Anyways thanks for taking the time to help out! 
 
Regards,
 
NakulM
 
Dec 29, 2013 at 12:15 AM Post #2 of 5

rubinstein

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something like this could be a solution for gaming, http://www.amazon.com/ASUS-XONAR-Headphone-Audio-Card/dp/B0045JHJSS/
 
Dec 29, 2013 at 12:28 AM Post #3 of 5

PurpleAngel

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  This is my first forum post on head-fi so please excuse me if I've made a mistake! I just ordered some Sennheiser HD 558s, which I will be using for gaming as well as music and movies on my desktop PC. I've read several threads on the site, and have come to the conclusion that the headphones will be put to the best use if I have excellent data output from my PC, and a formidable amp to power them... Trouble is, I'm confused on what to buy. 
First off, I'm not sure if I should buy an internal sound card for my PC (I'm living with on-board RealTek at the minute -_-), or buy an external DAC. I will be playing a variety of games, from FPS to RPG, and directional sound is quite important. That being said, however, I also listen to lots of music, and I want the best quality I can have in that department. So, what do you all suggest? Should I buy an internal sound card, or external DAC, or both? And if so, which ones are reasonably priced (ideally $200 or under)?
The amp is the next thing that I need, and I am willing to spend up to $150 on this, but I'd also like it to be able to power higher impedance cans, in the event that I purchase some in the future. 
I'm not sure what the trade-off is between an internal sound card and an external DAC with sound quality in games or music, but I'd like an extremely well rounded setup... 

Asus Xonar DG sound card, new $27 and there is a $10 mail in rebate this month.
Creative Labs Sound Blaster Z sound card, new $60-$90.
Asus Xonar Essence STX, Used $130.
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/801018523-USE/asus_xonaressencestx_xonar_essence_stx_pci.html
 
It's usually consider "wiser" to spend more of your audio budget for headphones, over a DAC/amp.
 
Dec 29, 2013 at 3:12 PM Post #4 of 5

NakulM

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Well thanks guys! So here's what I bought... 
 
  1. ASUS Xonar DSX Sound Card (which I've heard is better than the DG and still supports surround for gaming)
  2. Fiio E09K Headphone amp (I've heard that this should give me way more than enough power for my phones)
  3. Sennheiser HD 558s
  4. 3.5mm to RCA (Line Out from DSX -> E09K)
 
Hopefully this should do the trick! Would the sound quality coming from the DSX be comparable to pretty good DACs?
 
Dec 29, 2013 at 3:30 PM Post #5 of 5

PurpleAngel

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  Well thanks guys! So here's what I bought... 
 
  1. ASUS Xonar DSX Sound Card (which I've heard is better than the DG and still supports surround for gaming)
  2. Fiio E09K Headphone amp (I've heard that this should give me way more than enough power for my phones)
  3. Sennheiser HD 558s
  4. 3.5mm to RCA (Line Out from DSX -> E09K)
 
Hopefully this should do the trick! Would the sound quality coming from the DSX be comparable to pretty good DACs?

The DSX should come with a better DAC then the DG, but the DSX does not come with a headphone amplifier and chances are it's headphone output has a high impedance :frowning2:
The DSX comes with DTS audio software, were as the other Xonar cards are Dolby
But as your getting the E09K for a headphone amplifier, the impedance of the DSX does not matter.
 

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