Macbook Pro->external soundcard/DAC?->"cans"?
Nov 26, 2008 at 11:45 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 4

oneway23

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Am I entitled, as a first-time poster, to use the term "cans"?
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Not only am I a first-time poster, but I'm a complete novice when it comes to "audiophile" quality headphones, having only read a few of the wonderfully informative FAQs on this site. I've never had anything better than the Plantronics I use for work.

Now then, I've got a MBP. Specifically looking for an external sound card/DAC/audio solution (preferably one that will allow for optional 96kHz/24 bit listening). I have no need for recording, this is strictly a listening pleasure. I would also be looking to use an optical out to my surround sound system on occasion. I don't have any game playing considerations. Probably maxing out at $150, unless some kind soul's pitch is convincing
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As for the "cans", I'll state from the top that I'm maxing at $250. I know the audience I'm requesting feedback from here, but I'll elect to play it safe, as this is my first pair, after all. After some cursory research, I've found myself seemingly focusing on either Grado SR80's or Sennheiser 595's. I'm an avid listener of every conceivable genre of music. This is the first board I've inquired on, I'm not sold on anything, nor am I necessarily absolute on the price limits. Just looking for feedback from those who would be more knowledgeable than I. Very appreciative for any constructive advice.
 
Nov 27, 2008 at 7:46 PM Post #2 of 4

robert_feldt

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I'm happy with the Sennheiser HD595's. Very "lively" sound. Mine improved quite a lot after 20-30 hours of listening; before that I felt they were "screaming" to much and didn't hold the complete "notes" in the higher frequencies. So don't judge them too soon. Some posters claim they need no "burn in" others claim they need a lot. YMMV.

I'm listening directly from audio out on my computer right now but I have ordered a RSA Predator as a combined dac/amp which is also very portable. I can give more info about this combo in a week or so (although the Predator is known to need a lot of "burn in" time).

Don't forget that the quality of your music files really matters with better "cans" and dacs/amp. I find mp3s below ~250kbps almost unbearable nowadays. Try to go for 320kbps mp3 or better yet flac.
 
Nov 28, 2008 at 1:10 AM Post #3 of 4

uraflit

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USB options work well, but you want an optical out to a surround system...

i actually use the EMU 0404USB thru optical toslink from my desktop tower. sounds great. works great. built-in headphone amp, even if not the most powerful. in your price range.

also, for the sr80 and hd595... both lack the oomph of bass ppl are usually accustomed to with speakers. if you like more beat and kick to your music (eg. pop/rap/house/dance), id suggest looking elsewhere
 
Nov 29, 2008 at 4:14 AM Post #4 of 4

oneway23

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I appreciate the constructive responses. I've noticed since my initial post that I've displayed some of the ignorance that's indicative of how new all of this is for me.

I realize that talking about a digital analog converter, only to ask about optical out is a bit, erm, uninformed, but I thank you guys for not making me feel incompetent.

I'm really excited about the EMU 0404USB, but I have a few questions. If I were to send an optical signal out from the MBP to the EMU, and then, in turn, out to a surround system, am I correct in assuming that the EMU is simply acting as a pass-through and would not color the digital signal in any way, since there is not any actual digital to analog conversion taking place?

Also, am I correct in stating that the EMU has a dedicated headphone amp? If so, this sounds like a great option to leave me with the flexibility I'm seeking.

Is there another option that would offer noticeably improved quality from the EMU 0404 that might be had for a slightly higher cost, yet still be in the same ballpark? If not, I may buy the EMU as soon as tomorrow.

Again, I appreciate everyone's patience as you assist an eager new audiophile in training navigate these somewhat murky waters. Thanks again.
 

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