Need for amp even if sound card (AE-5) can power 600ohm?
May 12, 2020 at 3:03 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 8

Dancing Babamef

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I am starting to appreciate audio more and started recently listening to soundtracks of movies.

My listening gear currently consists of a Sound BlasterX AE-5 and a GSP-600 (32Ω). I am thinking of buying the Beyer DT 990, the 600Ω one.

Even though my sound card can drive 600Ω should I still get an amplifier?
 
May 14, 2020 at 10:57 AM Post #4 of 8

ProtegeManiac

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I am starting to appreciate audio more and started recently listening to soundtracks of movies.

My listening gear currently consists of a Sound BlasterX AE-5 and a GSP-600 (32Ω). I am thinking of buying the Beyer DT 990, the 600Ω one.

Even though my sound card can drive 600Ω should I still get an amplifier?

Think of the soundcard as a 530i with a straight six engine and a good sport suspension but the amp is still like having an M5 with a V10.

Now ask yourself if you drive hard enough that you need a V10 to get past a slow lorry before slamming into oncoming traffic in some rural backroad and drive hard enough into the corners to need the gigantic brakes that have to fit inside gigantic wheels that means you need to use low profile tyres that cost more to replace and can crack your wheels if you hit a pothole since there's less of that made of grippier compound that combined with the V10's torque wears out faster.

If you're for the most part doing the equivalent of getting from Point A to B in a comfortable environment you mostly don't have to worry about and just have a bit of fun taking the twisties home, then no, you don't need the M5.
 
May 14, 2020 at 11:58 AM Post #5 of 8

Dancing Babamef

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Think of the soundcard as a 530i with a straight six engine and a good sport suspension but the amp is still like having an M5 with a V10.

Now ask yourself if you drive hard enough that you need a V10 to get past a slow lorry before slamming into oncoming traffic in some rural backroad and drive hard enough into the corners to need the gigantic brakes that have to fit inside gigantic wheels that means you need to use low profile tyres that cost more to replace and can crack your wheels if you hit a pothole since there's less of that made of grippier compound that combined with the V10's torque wears out faster.

If you're for the most part doing the equivalent of getting from Point A to B in a comfortable environment you mostly don't have to worry about and just have a bit of fun taking the twisties home, then no, you don't need the M5.

Well, even though the soundcard may be able to drive the headphones to volume, (from my experience) the amp will improve the overall sound (tighter detail, instrument separation). Look up Schiit stack (amp + DAC) or JDS atom.

You lost me at "530i"

After looking at the Schiit products it looks like "Valhalla" seems to be a good choice, would you agree?

Also my sound card has a DAC so I don't then need a separate one?
 
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May 14, 2020 at 1:29 PM Post #6 of 8

buke9

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Well the Valhalla for a tube amp is very bright sounding to me and going with the 990’s as they are bright as well it might be a bit too much well for me it would be. A better choice in my opinion would be a Jontunheim it has a bit of a warmer sound to it that I think would pair more favorably with the 990’s and it has all the power you would need. They also have a Jot on b-stock with a balanced dac module 115v for $449.
 
May 14, 2020 at 8:40 PM Post #7 of 8

PurpleAngel

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I am starting to appreciate audio more and started recently listening to soundtracks of movies.
My listening gear currently consists of a Sound BlasterX AE-5 and a GSP-600 (32Ω). I am thinking of buying the Beyer DT 990, the 600Ω one.
Even though my sound card can drive 600Ω should I still get an amplifier?
Can't see a good reason for getting a 600-Ohm headphone.
Check out the 32-Ohm Soundmagic HP200 headphones.
 
May 15, 2020 at 10:21 AM Post #8 of 8

ProtegeManiac

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You lost me at "530i"

Alright, other examples, though with differences that make them a lot less fitting for what you're doing.

You could have a gaming laptop with a hexacore CPU and a GTX 1650 and you can still play DOTA at over 120fps at 1080p. That's your soundcard.

Or you can have a an octacore desktop rig with an RTX 2070. This is the amp, and you can play ray tracing games at 60fps at 1080p.

----

The problem with using a computer with an example is that you can easily measure fps and refresh rates, and there are even ways to measure how these actually help improve how well you do in a game, like using synced high speed cameras to see if high fps and refresh rates help improve reaction times (it does). With an amp, it's not only tough to measure ie you need specialized equipment to measure amp power vs distortion and noise, but ultimately how do you measure what one hears if they can hear it or filter out placebo? You can't just high speed cam out of that - what I can hear as drums being imaged farther back can sound like it's weaker to you; what sounds like really crisp percussion can be out of position relative to the other instruments to me. What I can hear as tighter percussion can be inaudible to you, but what I can hear as too loose-sounding bass guitar can be what you're looking for.


After looking at the Schiit products it looks like "Valhalla" seems to be a good choice, would you agree?

If you're only going to use high impedance headphones or high sensitivity lower impedance headphones, then sure, it's an option.


Also my sound card has a DAC so I don't then need a separate one?

I'll just go back to the analogy about how much you need but the differences in results can be much harder to perceive.

Would I recommend a DAC on top of a soundcard? Not really.

Would I use a separate DAC (from the soundcard)? If it's built into the amp, maybe, but that's because I prefer keeping the analogue signal paths as short as possible, especially the low level signals (ie before the amp output stage; you can't sacrifice after that, ie, your head relative to the amp location determines headphone cable length, where the speakers are positioned impacts the sound, etc) to isolate from noise.
 

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