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Looking for a sound card for Grado 60i's

Discussion in 'Computer Audio' started by steven4755, Dec 15, 2012.
  1. Steven4755
    Hello, I am looking for a sound card do drive my Grado sr60i's. It will be used for listening to music (rock) and gaming. I play some FPSes but positioning isn't as important to me as better sounding music is. I am looking at the Asus Xonar D1 and have read that it can drive headphones no problem.
     
    My questions are:
    Will the card alone drive my headphones well?
    Will I notice an improvement over my on board audio? (Realtek 889)
    Is there a better card to get for the same price or a lower price?
     
    Thanks in advance,
    Steven
     
  2. PurpleAngel Contributor
    Quote:
    The Xonar DX is a good sound card and can drive the SR60i, but the line-out/Headphone jack (green) on the DX has a high impedance, so adding an external headphone amplifier (with low impedance) to the DX would be preferred.
     
  3. Roller
    Look into the Auzentech X-Fi Forte, a custom card with high quality components, an integrated headphone amp (which the Xonar D1/DX lacks) and powered by a Creative X-Fi chip, which provides full gaming audio support. Overall, it's a quite good quality soundcard for music, games and movies.
     
    Either card is a noticeable improvement over onboard audio chips.
     
  4. Steven4755
    Thanks for the suggestions, I have a few more questions.
     
    Purple, is there a reason to go for the DX over the D1? It looks to me like the only difference is the D1 is PCI while the DX is PCI-E. Also, will the card be alright driving them without an external amp? It would better if the card I end up with is ok driving the phones with no amp.
     
    Roller, it seems the Auzentech is no longer available from Newegg, Amazon, or Microcenter. Is there an equivalent Creative card that is still made?
     
  5. PurpleAngel Contributor
    Quote:
    The Xonar DX and D1 are really the same, except the D1 is PCI and the DX is PCI-E
    and yes the DX/D1 can drive the 32-Ohm SR60i headphones.
     
    The Xonar DG ($25, PCI) & DGX ($40, PCI-E) sound cards might(?) come with a lower impedance then the DX/D1
     
    Just about any modern sound card is going to come with a better DAC (Digital to Analog Converter) then whatever is built into the motherboard.
     
  6. Roller
    Hum, it might be problematic then. The X-Fi Forte would fit your bit quite nicely. On the Creative's side, you can get the flagship X-Fi Titanium HD, with a headphone out for headphones up to 330 Ohm, or look into a Sound Blaster Zx, although it doesn't have full gaming audio support. I do recommend the X-Fi Titanium HD over all the cards mentioned so far.
     
  7. Steven4755
    The idea behind going to a lower impedance card is that it will be closer to the impedance of my phones and they will be able to play louder, correct?
     
  8. Roller
    Usually, high sensitivity headphones tend to go louder more easily.
     
    Also, I would recommend getting a headphone amp as to make your system modular in order to handle a wider range of gear better.
     
    How far can you stretch your budget?
     
  9. Steven4755
    I could probably go an extra $50 or so for the amp. Would a lower end amp like that make much of a difference? I know this is getting into google it territory, but do you have any forum guides/threads on choosing an amp?
     
  10. PurpleAngel Contributor
    Quote:
    Technically the lowest impedance for any sound card is 10-Ohms.
    and the preferred amplifier impedance to use with your headphones is 4-Ohms or less.
    With an impedance spread of less then 8 to 1, bass will sound bloated and less sharp.
     
  11. Roller
    Quote:
     
    You can get a PA2V2 portable amp, a quite capable amp for its price, the battery charges last for around 100 hours, can be used while charging, and is currently going for ~$60. That's the entry-level amp you should be aiming for, as cheaper amps like Fiio E5/E6 add little in terms of amplification, but add a lot of background noise.
     
  12. Steven4755
    Quote:
     
    Is there a problem with more than 8 to 1 impedance, or is higher always better? Does the card have it's own impedance the headphones are affected by in the same way amps do? I can't seem to find it if it does.
     
    Quote:
     
    Any other suggestions? I'm not too bad at soldering if there is a do it yourself option.
     
  13. Roller
    Quote:
     
    Soundcards and amps alike do have output impedances, and lower output impedance allows for better overall sound on easier to drive headphones, such as your SR60i that despite not having that high sensitivity, it does have low impedance (32 Ohm).
     
    The PA2V2 has an output impedance of ~3 Ohm, which would work nicely with your headphones. About alternatives, you also have the Fiio E11 (slimmer form factor, lower driving power, battery lasts ~10h, can't be used while charging), cMoyBB and SoundMagic A10.
     
    You can get just PCBs or complete kits and assemble them yourself, but you won't get better output quality from such kit unless you upgrade some of the components that come with it, and that will raise the price beyond the suggested amps.
     
  14. PurpleAngel Contributor
    Quote:
    no problem with a more then 8 to 1 spread.
    My 600-Ohm headphones work fine with .5-Ohm impedance headphone amplifier, which is a 1200 to 1 spread.
     
    Also a 5 to 1 spread is not really that bad, my 50-Ohm headphones sound fine with my 10-Ohm impedance sound card head amp.
     
  15. Steven4755
    Thanks for all of the help today guys. I think I'll just stick to the D1 for now. I can always add an amp later if I feel I need to.
     

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