How to upgrade source without buying an amp?
Mar 11, 2006 at 11:44 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 14

wixy

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I currently run audio technica ad900 headphones out of an x-fi sound card on my pc. I am looking to improve the source quality significantly without having to buy an amp as the ad900's are already very efficient. I have a rough budget of around a few hundred bucks.

Can anyone offer any suggestions?

Cheers.
 
Mar 12, 2006 at 12:18 AM Post #3 of 14

jbloudg20

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Quote:

Originally Posted by BubbleChamber
Get an outboard DAC and bypass the DAC of your sound card.


x2

But why do you not want an external amp?
 
Mar 12, 2006 at 12:52 AM Post #4 of 14

Ferbose

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Once you get an external DAC, you still need something to drive your cans.
If you want cheap, M-audio Transit (DAC/amp) is around $70.
It has plenty of juice for ordinary headphones.
If you want to spend a bit more, try Headroom bithead.
If you can spend $400, PreSonus Central Station is an amazing value:
http://www6.head-fi.org/forums/showthread.php?t=165700
 
Mar 12, 2006 at 1:15 AM Post #7 of 14

uzziah

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Quote:

Originally Posted by wixy
cause it adds more expense, and i figure the source offers a greater improvement over an amp for these headphones


it's the whole package home fly. you still need a good amp. whether the amp is AS important as the source or phones is debatable
 
Mar 12, 2006 at 1:24 AM Post #8 of 14

wixy

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Quote:

Originally Posted by uzziah
get a version 2 zhaolu when it comes out wiht upgraded headamp, problem solved



so this has amp and dac together? do you have any more information on this and the cost? thanks
 
Mar 12, 2006 at 4:41 AM Post #10 of 14

RockinOut

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Quote:

Originally Posted by uzziah
it's the whole package home fly. you still need a good amp. whether the amp is AS important as the source or phones is debatable


I agree.

Concerning debatable issue, to me, for a computer rig, DAC and amp combo are even more important than the headphones.

Hate to constantly repeat myself, but to my ears, my laptop dac/amp rig with $10 Sony earbuds sounds awesome when I was waiting for my Shure E5c to come back under warranty replacement.

Everyone is different. Just look at the numbers. The computer as source forum has the least threads and posts.

Most everyone believes all the magic is in headphone selection. To me, that's just one part of the equation..

There is also an increasing number of posters here at HeadFi and elsewhere that seem to think headphones don't need an amp. Many people have 3-5 headphones and don't even have an amp.

I agree with Xin. To my tastes, all headphones sound better with a dedicated headphone amp.

A good DAC with the amp will make all headphones sound even better. It's not just about volume. It's about quality: clarity, depth, texture, power, response, and sound staging.

There's many options with DAC's and amps for all budgets. Unfortunately, many people just don't understand all this DAC stuff. I sure wish HeadFi would post more stickies and Full-Featured reviews in all the forums. I think it would help everyone.

Regarding original poster: With your current setup, I'd say go with a good amp within your budget. Within your budget of $200, I don't know what else to recommend for the "bang for the buck" improvement. You could get a DAC later and still be able to use the amp. Also the DAC/amp combo can be used with other sources: laptop, cd transport, etc.


Good luck.
 
Mar 12, 2006 at 4:52 AM Post #11 of 14

RockinOut

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Sorry about post above. I didn't realize I was in Dedicated Source Forum.

For $200? I still say get an amp, and then run it out a DVD or CD player that you currently have if you have one.

Before I got my DAC, I used my amp with my home DVD player as source. It sounded great and DVD player was only $100, but really cost nothing since it was bought for movies.

Maybe someone else will recommend other dedicated sources within your budget.

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Mar 12, 2006 at 5:45 AM Post #12 of 14

fewtch

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Quote:

Originally Posted by RockinOut
Before I got my DAC, I used my amp with my home DVD player as source. It sounded great and DVD player was only $100, but really cost nothing since it was bought for movies.

Maybe someone else will recommend other dedicated sources within your budget.

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Not completely clear, is the OP looking to switch from PC-based listening to redbook CD? Quite a drop in convenience for many...

When it comes to standalone sources, for those who want to save money I'd personally recommend going vintage, as long as one chooses make/model carefully and from a buyer who's honest and willing to pack things well for shipment. In fact, that's the most likely option to have enough $$ left over for an amp, if limited to a few hundred clams.
 
Mar 12, 2006 at 8:41 AM Post #13 of 14

BubbleChamber

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If you are looking for something to drive your headphone, an amp/DAC combo might not necessarily work unless the amp is either a headphone amp or an amp with headphone out. Regardless, you still need a DAC to decode your source since you aren't satisfy with your sound card's DAC. I would recommend starting with a decent DAC with headphone out(there are a few good ones in Head-Fi for sale forum), some comes with USB input which you don't need to spend money on a converter. Getting a DAC not only improves the quality of the source but it also gives you expandability to add a CD transport in the future. If that's still unsatisfactory, then get a small tube amp, such as the Consonance Cyber, the Musical Fidelity X-CANv3 or Antique Sound Lab etc. You can easily find some good used ones for around $400-$500.

If you are looking for amp/dac to drive speakers, for a cheap(real cheap) solution, go get a Sonic Impact T-Amp. But the T-Amp by itself is not that great without a few tweaks. Spend a few bucks on a good power supply(>3 amps), a mini - RCA converter(for the DAC) and it will become unbelievably good. I just got curious when I heard about the T-Amp and I went to get one myself at Target. Bought a 5amp power supply and it drives my Merlins in my 25 x 18 room without a problem. Now I hooked it up with a pair of Cantons in my bedroom. I was thinking about setting up a home theater with 4 T-Amps!!
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Mar 12, 2006 at 9:57 AM Post #14 of 14

ODG

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Are looking to upgrade your computer's sound? If yes, then get another sound card. from cheap (chaintech av710) to upscale emu 0404 and 1212m.
There also many soundcards that have better headphone out than the x-fi.
Even bigger upgrade is adding DAC+AMP to soundcard's digital out.

Quote:

Originally Posted by wixy
I currently run audio technica ad900 headphones out of an x-fi sound card on my pc. I am looking to improve the source quality significantly without having to buy an amp as the ad900's are already very efficient. I have a rough budget of around a few hundred bucks.

Can anyone offer any suggestions?

Cheers.



 

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