Need help with buying my first pair of decent headphones and amp/sound card.
Apr 26, 2015 at 10:40 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 66

Saftarz

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Hello! I'm a swedish guy who just joined the forum because i want som help with choosing my first pair of "real" headphones. 

I've been using my sennheiser pc350's for 5 years now, and recently the mic on it broke, so i bought myself a decent usb condenser mic. And now i wanna buy a nice pair of headphones and amplifier/sound card, or both if it's needed. My budget is about 200-250$, if it's even possible to get anything decent for that price. 

I'm gonna use the headphones for gaming (games like cs:go and a lot of singleplayer games), and for music. I listen to rap music most of the time, but sometimes some punk rock aswell. I don't know if i should get open or closed headphones, cause i'm afraid that if i get open headphones it will leak so the people im talking to on teamspeak will hear it since im using a condenser mic. I also sit by the computer like 8 hours a day so ofcourse i want some comfortable headphones. I've been searching around about different headphones, sound cards and amps but haven't found any thread of people listening to rap music so i figured i'd make my own one :)


Thanks in advance!
 
Apr 26, 2015 at 10:59 AM Post #2 of 66

tolis626

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As another new member, hello there. :)
 
Before anything else, could you tell us what your setup is now? I suppose you're using your motherboard's onboard sound, right?
 
With that said, let's see... You want comfort for long sessions, so closed headphones are probably out of the question, unless you don't mind airing your head every hour or two for a couple of minutes. For open headphones within your budget, you can't go wrong with the Sennheiser HD558, but there are other solid options as well, which I'm sure someone will suggest. And unless you turn the volume way up, like instant hearing loss high, I don't think your mic will pick the noise up. And if it does, just put a little more distance between you and the mic, or lower the gain a bit. That's not gonna be a problem, methinks.
 
Again, within your price range, I could suggest the Fiio Olympus E10 (or E10k, don't know if there's a difference between the two) or similar amp, that you would be able to also use on the go. Or you could just grab a Xonar DX or something and call it a day, and maybe buy an external DAC/Amp later down the road.
 
Apr 26, 2015 at 11:51 AM Post #4 of 66

PurpleAngel

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Sennheiser HD558 headphones
Creative Labs Sound Blaster Z sound card.
 
Apr 26, 2015 at 2:26 PM Post #5 of 66

Saftarz

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Thanks for the suggestions PurpleAngel! I'm gonna look into some of the asus soundcards, and then maybe buy an amplifier later on if i feel the need to do so. But feel free to give me more tips, since i'm very new to this with quality audio :)

And also, is there going to be a big difference between the hd558 and the pc350's? 
 
Apr 26, 2015 at 3:36 PM Post #6 of 66

PurpleAngel

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  Thanks for the suggestions PurpleAngel! I'm gonna look into some of the Asus sound cards, and then maybe buy an amplifier later on if i feel the need to do so. But feel free to give me more tips, since I'm very new to this with quality audio :)

And also, is there going to be a big difference between the HD558 and the PC350's? 

 
I'm thinking if the PC350 is still functional (beside the mic), then just get the Sound Blaster Z sound card and plug the PC350 into the SB-Z.
If I was into FPS gaming, I think I would prefer an open headphone, like the HD558, just not sure if it makes a noticeable improvement over the PC350.
You might consider getting a sound card first, then maybe later on selling off the PC350 and seem how much you would have towards new headphones?
 
You can just plug the USB mic into the computer's USB port, which I'm assuming is what you do now.
 
I prefer Asus cards over Creative Labs, but the only lowest costing Asus cards with a built in headphone amplifier is the DG and DGX (and the amp is not that powerful).
The Asus Xonar DS, DSX, DX & D1 do not have a dedicated headphone amplifier, more like a line-output that also pretends to be a headphone jack.
Where as the SB-Z comes with a separate dedicated headphone jack, with a somewhat decent headphone amplifier.
If you did get something like the Asus Xonar DX sound card, it would be good to also get a dedicated headphone amplifier to use with it, like the FiiO E11K headphone amplifier.
There is also the Asus Xonar Essence STX sound card, which comes with a better built in headphone amplifier, the the SB-Z.
 
Apr 26, 2015 at 5:05 PM Post #7 of 66

Saftarz

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PurpleAngel: I think im gonna sell my pc350's to a friend for cheap, cause i've been using them for just over 5 years now and i wanna try something new. Then get an asus xonar internal sound card and try it with the hd 558's. And then later on get an amplifier if i feel that it's needed, cause i read that the hd 558's should do fine without an amp since they're 50 ohms. Or should i get an amp first, and then sound card if that's needed? I'm not really sure which combo will bring the most out of the headphones.

The thing i don't like about the hd 558's is the 3,5mm adapter, it doesn't feel very good to plug that long adapter thing into the back of the computer cause it feels like it's gonna bend. But maybe that's not the case i don't know lol. Thoughts on this anyone? :>

With that being said, is there any good external sound cards i could get that's good enough for the hd 558's? I looked at the asus xonar u5, but i don't know if that one is good enough.
 
Apr 26, 2015 at 5:38 PM Post #8 of 66

PurpleAngel

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  PurpleAngel: I think I'm gonna sell my pc350's to a friend for cheap, cause I've been using them for just over 5 years now and i wanna try something new. Then get an Asus Xonar internal sound card and try it with the hd 558's. And then later on get an amplifier if i feel that it's needed, cause i read that the hd 558's should do fine without an amp since they're 50 ohms. Or should i get an amp first, and then sound card if that's needed? I'm not really sure which combo will bring the most out of the headphones.

The thing i don't like about the hd 558's is the 3,5mm adapter, it doesn't feel very good to plug that long adapter thing into the back of the computer cause it feels like it's gonna bend. But maybe that's not the case i don't know lol. Thoughts on this anyone? :>

 
Some sound cards have a (combo headphone/line-out) output jack with a high impedance (the Xonar DX & D1 is 100-Ohms).
Which can cause bloated (louder, less detailed) bass.
The lower end Xonar DG & DGX are thought to have a much lower output impedance of around 10-Ohms.
(The DG & DGX built in headphone amplifier can easily drive the 50-Ohm HD558s)
Technically with 50-Ohm headphones (HD558) an output impedance of 5-Ohms or less would be preferred (headphone Ohms is 10 times the source jack's Ohms).
It cheap and easy to for a sound card to drive headphones, it just cost more to send the power in the right way.
 
Here is a nice aftermarket cable ($18-$26) for use with the Senn HD518/HD558/HD598 headphones.
It comes with the 3.5mm plug and can be ordered in one of five lengths (1.2 meters to 3.0 meters)
http://www.ebay.com/itm/261255113290?_trksid=p2060353.m1438.l2649&var=560215640802&ssPageName=STRK%3AMEBIDX%3AIT
I doubt it improves audio quality, I did buy one for use with my HD558, but made the mistake of ordering the shortest one (1.2m), when I should have gotten a longer one (1.8m?).
 
The HD558 are the oldest headphones I have that I still like to use.
The Xonar DG & DGX & STX & ST sound card's headphone jack has a 10-Ohm output impedance, it's only a 5 times difference between the HD588's 50-Ohms, which is still fairly good.
 
Apr 26, 2015 at 5:48 PM Post #9 of 66

Saftarz

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Thanks for making things clearer for me PurpleAngel :) Now i understand that a sound card is enough for the hd 558's! But now for the final question. Is it worth buying the Xonar DX instead of the DGX? Or maybe the big difference between those are that the later is 7.1 and the first is 5.1?

Also, i see that there is no volume control on the cable, that's a huge downside for me =/
 
Apr 26, 2015 at 6:14 PM Post #10 of 66

PurpleAngel

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  Thanks for making things clearer for me PurpleAngel :) Now i understand that a sound card is enough for the hd 558's! But now for the final question. Is it worth buying the Xonar DX instead of the DGX? Or maybe the big difference between those are that the later is 7.1 and the first is 5.1?

Also, i see that there is no volume control on the cable, that's a huge downside for me =/

 
I'm not sure there is a practical difference between 5.1 or 7.1.
I think the Xonar DX/D1's better DAC chip (CS4398) is the most important difference, over the DG/DGX.
I'm thinking maybe try to find a good price on a used Xonar DG or DGX, use it for now.
 
Apr 26, 2015 at 6:20 PM Post #12 of 66

PurpleAngel

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  Alright thanks! But just to make sure, there isn't a volume control on the standard cable that comes with the headphones, right?

 
Nope, no volume control on the cable that comes with the HD558.
 
Apr 26, 2015 at 6:24 PM Post #14 of 66

tolis626

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  Alright thanks! But just to make sure, there isn't a volume control on the standard cable that comes with the headphones, right?

Right now, I can't think of many good headphones that have in-line volume control, as that is mostly a mobile-first feature. With that said, an external amp would probably solve that, as most, if not all, have a volume knob on them. It's all a matter of budget at this point, though. If it's only for the volume control stuff, it's not really worth spending more.
 
Apr 26, 2015 at 6:27 PM Post #15 of 66

Saftarz

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I just find it weird that they don't have it, cause nearly all headsets have one. i find it really annoying to change it in windows, but i guess i'll get used to it, or just buy an amplifier.

Or can i connect a receiver to my sound card, and then my headphones to the receiver? That way i get the volume control and a decent amp aswell, right?
 

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