Please help me with my setup!!! Need pro advice.
Oct 20, 2015 at 2:42 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 3


New Head-Fier
Mar 16, 2015
Okay guys.. to start, I'm a year old audiophile who listens to CDs, FLACs and 320kbps MP3s of almost all genres. I have an interest in DJing and production software, but lack of money and patience prevent my dive into either.

So for now I'm quite satisfied with my gear. I'll list down what I have:

A decent i5 8GB Acer. Onboard soundcard is a "Realtek High Definition Audio" card that has playback up to 24bit/192kHz.

two JBL LSR305 Studio Monitors

Stagg 1/4" to 3.5mm Y-cable

Fiio e10k Olympus 2

SPDIF Headphone Amp:

Fiio e12 Mont Blanc

Beyerdynamic Custom Studio (80 ohms)

ADL (Furutech) iHP-35 II male-male 3.5mm

Pretty decent gear. The Beyers are some of the best headphones I can get for $300. The JBL monitors read super flat and are extremely "live" sounding. They perform as good as speakers double the price.

To get to the point of my topic, my setup issue is speakers + soundcard or interface. Goal: maximize sound quality.

Personally, I think my laptop has a "decent" soundcard. I say decent because Realtek High Definition Audio sounds really good if I use Sennheiser CX 2.00 earbuds or Sennheiser Momentums over-ear, yet sound rather off and metallic if I plug my speakers via Y-cable into my laptop's SPDIF.

I have a few setup options available

- just plug my speakers into my laptop which sounds a little hectic, even harsh. Bad idea.

- connect my Fiio E10k via USB to my laptop, then my JBL monitors via Stagg y-cable to my E10k. REALLY cleans up the signal. Audio no longer a mess. Soundstage becomes obvious.

- take my Fiio E12, plug it into my laptop's SPDIF using my ADL cable, then hook my JBL monitors to the E12 using the Stagg y-cable. REALLY cleans up the sound A LOT as well. Very defined soundstage. A little brighter than the E10k method above, as the highs are significantly more forward. I'd say more analytical sounding.

Then I have other setup options:

Laptop > USB E10k > ADL cable > E12 > Stagg y-cable > JBL Monitors
^The E12 seems to "mellow out" the E10k a bit.

I know the E12 is a more high-end'ish device compared to the E10k. So is it wise to use that as my sort of interface or bridge between my laptop and my speakers? Or is the E12 simply cleaning up the Realtek HD card signal rather than applying its very own sound signature and therefore I'm wiser to use the E10k as the point of origin for the audio?

Or.... I better buying an affordabe professional interface such as the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 or M-Audio M-track for sound quality?

You guys are the real experts here, so I'm anticipating your advice. I'm all ears for wisdom!

- redeyeguy
Oct 22, 2015 at 5:19 PM Post #3 of 3
Get yourself a proper audio interface. You know it makes sense.

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