Headphone Amp or New Sound Card?
Oct 19, 2008 at 8:58 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 9

GooWiz

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So I bought a new headphone not too long ago. Got the Audio Technica ATH-A700 as I needed a closed headphone in the low to mid hundreds for the dorms. They truly do sound nice. Now I was wondering about using them to full potential and thought about my soundcard or an amp. Currently I'm just using my integrated soundcard on a vaio laptop, and I know how bad laptop integrated sound cards are, so.. Would I benefit more from buying a usb sound card or an amp? I'd like to stay under $100 so if anyone has any thoughts and any recommendations that'd be great. Thanks
 
Oct 20, 2008 at 12:16 AM Post #2 of 9

Pricklely Peete

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The LD I+ combined with the MS cash back discount (on eBay) is a cheap amp that kicks some serious booty. If you live in the US you can qualify for that deal on eBay (don't ask me how, I don't live in the US so I don't qualify).

You'd be hard pressed to do better than that hybrid amp for 100 US. You may have to buy an Alien DAC to go with it...the SC option is a dead end for the most part....so as long as the comp can output a pure digital signal the DAC and amp combo will be the best SQ path for you and your new cans.

IMHO at least.

Peete.
 
Oct 20, 2008 at 12:34 AM Post #3 of 9

Tridacnid

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Prickley Peete is on the money. If you want another amp, look at the LD 1+. If you're happy with the amp you have, go for a dedicated, not-in-the-computer DAC.
Maybe you could find a used Zero DAC in the FS section?
 
Oct 20, 2008 at 6:47 AM Post #4 of 9

GooWiz

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hmm so a usb DAC + an amp would be the best solution.. I see thank you!
 
Oct 20, 2008 at 6:57 AM Post #5 of 9

BigTony

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Avoiding your PC soundcard is the best thing you can do, honestly.

My favourite way was to invest in a SqueezeBox3 (a wireless music server, you plug it into your HiFi and its streams all your music from your PC) because with a large collection the software become more important that the hardware.

The second approach and one I've only recently tried is a USB DAC/Amp combination, and that has worked a treat, really really good results : music actually sounds like music, rather than the PC SC excuse for music. It seems that in modern PCs the SC is optimised for game effects and DVD playback, and the music playback has gotten worse (IMO).
 
Oct 20, 2008 at 7:15 AM Post #6 of 9

GooWiz

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Thanks tony. Well I don't think the squeezebox would be a solution for me, I'm in a dorm with a laptop. But the usb dac/amp combo sounds really interesting. yea, i've looked at a couple SC and they mostly seemed to be based on software enhancements... but do you have any recommendations for USB DAC/Amp combos? Like i said, i'd really like to stay under $100 but if its really worth it maybe a little over. thanks again
 
Oct 20, 2008 at 7:21 AM Post #7 of 9

GooWiz

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Oh, and also, how much of a difference would this actually make? I know this is a very subjective question, but will my A700's benefit much? thanks
 
Oct 20, 2008 at 8:42 AM Post #8 of 9

insyte

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Quote:

Originally Posted by GooWiz /img/forum/go_quote.gif
Oh, and also, how much of a difference would this actually make? I know this is a very subjective question, but will my A700's benefit much? thanks


Most of the headphones Ive tried, including the low end ones, do benefit sonically with the use of USB DAC/Amp. So I do suggest you get one.
smily_headphones1.gif
 
Oct 20, 2008 at 5:07 PM Post #9 of 9

Tridacnid

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Yep. My original setup consisted of a pair of Grado SR80s and a Little Dot MKIII fed from a basic, off-the-shelf DVD player. When I finally get around to putting a dedicated DAC in the line (the DIYEDEN in my sig), I was absolutely stunned at how much better my music sounded.
 

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