Headphone-amp problem/question (Auzentech X-Fi Forte 7.1 vs. Creative AE-9)
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irre

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Hi!

I've been searching the whole web, including this forum. My question(s) is kinda complex, sorry if the title is not meaningful enough.

I was using an Auzentech X-Fi Forte 7.1 with built-in headphone-amp as daily driver, most of the time with my headset Audio Technica ATH-AG1X. After Windows 10 v1903 the driver was practically not working anymore, so i bought a Creative Soundblaster AE-9 (also with built-in headphone-amp). Reviews were affirming the excellent sound-quality of the AE-9 (for a gamer-soundcard).

Now to my problem: with the Auzentech my headphones were packing a real punch, they had a warm sound and it was practically not possible to overdrive them. The bass was unbelievably rich and heavy for a 400€-headset with just a soundcard-amp.
I was kind of shocked after installing the AE-9. It's the typical creative-sound (very bright) with which i could live, but the bass is practically not there anymore. When i'm trying to use the equalizer or the extra bass regulator in another menu it doesn't help at all. The headphones rather overdrive and rattle before coming even a tiny bit close to the Auzentechs capabilities.
It's a very big difference. I've tried the different impedance-settings and every kind of equalizer or direct-sound settings, nothing works.

I don't know which values of the soundcards are important for the amplification and bass-capabilities. You can change the op-amps in both of them, but i guess that wouldn't help me either?! Should i consider buying an extra headphone-amp for my PC-Audio (only for music, gaming with the AE-9)?

I'm a little bit lost on this topic, as i just can't accept/comprehend this big of a difference between the two.

Thank you for reading this long of a post, i would appreciate any help/advice!
 
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PurpleAngel

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I would have expected the AGX1 to be fairly bass light in the first place.
With the Forte, did the headphones have a bloated (loud, but less detailed) bass?
If you plug the 50-Ohm Audio Technica ATH-AGX1 into something like a phone, does it sound more like the old Forte or the new AE-9?
Did you totally delete the Forte drivers/software, before installing the AE-9 software?
Do you disable the motherboard's onboard audio, in the BIOS?
 
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NA Blur

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I think you could try something like the Schiit Heresy as they have a return policy if you don't like / need it in the end. If you get that bass you crave back then you know the headphone out of the AE-9 is the problem. If it doesn't deliver you what you expect then there is something more to the problem.

My guess the old soundcard has some processing turned on that made things sound more bassy. Perhaps somewhere in your AE-9 software there are settings that you can use to tailor the sound? What else changed between the two setups? Settings in game etc.

I doubt it is a problem with the AE-9. It's more likely that the headphones actually sound pretty meh and the old card was tailoring the sound by some sort of preset EQ. Did you use the EXACT same headphone on each soundcard? Did you uninstall the old soundcard driver before installing the AE-9's?
 
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irre

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I would have expected the AGX1 to be fairly bass light in the first place.
Funny story: letting a friend of mine listen in on them with a very bass-heavy track nearly made him black-out. He was already cross-eyed :sweat_smile:
With the Forte, did the headphones have a bloated (loud, but less detailed) bass?
Not sure i remember it totally correct, but the sound in general was very nice and detailed on the Forte. I remember the bass to be detailed, but also very powerful.
If you plug the 50-Ohm Audio Technica ATH-AGX1 into something like a phone, does it sound more like the old Forte or the new AE-9?
I will drive home in the next few minutes and try it out.
Did you totally delete the Forte drivers/software, before installing the AE-9 software?
Do you disable the motherboard's onboard audio, in the BIOS?
Yes, drivers are clean.
Disabled the onboard audio even before installing Windows in the first place and has been since then.


I think you could try something like the Schiit Heresy as they have a return policy if you don't like / need it in the end. If you get that bass you crave back then you know the headphone out of the AE-9 is the problem. If it doesn't deliver you what you expect then there is something more to the problem.

My guess the old soundcard has some processing turned on that made things sound more bassy. Perhaps somewhere in your AE-9 software there are settings that you can use to tailor the sound? What else changed between the two setups? Settings in game etc.

I doubt it is a problem with the AE-9. It's more likely that the headphones actually sound pretty meh and the old card was tailoring the sound by some sort of preset EQ. Did you use the EXACT same headphone on each soundcard? Did you uninstall the old soundcard driver before installing the AE-9's?
I was running the Forte 7.1 without the "Crystallizer" (some kind of loudness) and without EQ. Just sometimes with bass added over the THX menu. Nothing changed with my setup. I'm mainly talking about listening to music with WinAmp (audio-CDs, flaccs, 320kbit mp3s).

As posted above, all drivers are clean.

In my introduction post i listed my small collection of headphones (AKG Q701, 2 cheap Grados, etc..). I listened to many headphones in my life - so i can say that this headset is really not as bad as some make it out to be (it was the most expensive PC-headset you could buy 2 or 3 years ago).
 
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irre

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OK, i've tried the headphones on my S10 and on my old HTC10 (built-in amp). Ofc the HTC10 sounds better than the S10, but the AE-9 still sounds better than both.
What i'm really getting at is that the Forte was just that much more powerful. My whole head was vibrating if i turned it all the way up, so much more powerful.
What's weird is that with the AE-9 it just starts to overdrive when i turn it up. With the Forte i could ramp up the bass eq to 90% + enhance it by 10db and turn the volume up to 90% without overdriving. I wouldn't have thought the amp is that much better in the Forte?!
 
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