Questions about connectivity issues with Soundblaster Z + magni amp
May 6, 2015 at 7:55 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 8

illitirit

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Hello friends.  
 
 
I am having a hard time understanding how exactly to properly setup my sound blaster z with a magni amp.
 
I don't own the magni yet as I am still trying to understand all this new world of audio before purchasing anything.
 
 
Right now, I own the sound blaster Zx.  Not the ZxR.  
 
I want to buy hifiman he400, however I am told that they will sound not great through the sound blaster Zx amp.
 
So while I would love to buy a magni + modi combo stack,  I dont want to spend more money than I have to.
 
 
Therefore, I will purchase a magni or something similar to drive the he400.
 
 
 
My question is this :
 
 
How would I connect the magni to my sound blaster Zx card?
 
SBZ headphone jack > magni > he400 ?
 
or
 
SBZ Optical S/PDIF out > magni > he400
 
 
I have read that I SHOULD NOT, connect the magni to the headphone out jack due to double amping.  Is this correct?  If this is true, it creates a problem for me :
 
My main concern is me having to unplug stuff from the back of my computer when I switch from speakers to headphones.  I do not want to do anything.  
 
Right now, through sound blaster software I can switch from headphones to speakers easily with a click of my mouse.  However, with adding a magni to the SPDIF jack,  can I still switch easily from speakers to headphone?  ( Line out vs SPDIF out).  Will audio come through both sources unless I unplug one?  The back of my computer is not easily accessible and takes alot of moving things out of the way to reach the sound card area,  I would really like a hands free solution.
 
 
Thanks for any replies!
 
May 6, 2015 at 8:41 PM Post #2 of 8

MindsMirror

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I have a SoundBlaster Z, Magni, and set of speakers also. I connect the Magni and the speakers to the SBZ line output with a 3.5mm heapdhone splitter. The Magni's input is RCA, to it has a 3.5mm to RCA adapter as well. This works perfectly well. The speakers and headphones can output at the same time, so you just need to switch off one when you are using the other.
 
You could just as easily plug the speakers into the line out, and the Magni into the headphone out, to remove the need for the splitter. This would allow you to use the SBZ's headphone surround mixing/processing with the headphones, and the speaker mixing/processing with the speakers. You can't set it to headphone mode while using the line output. Double amping like this won't hurt anything, and while it technically will add some noise and distortion compared to the line output, both are still below any audible thresholds so it won't matter. In this configuration the speakers and headphones won't work at the same time, you need to switch modes in the software like you do currently.
 
You can't connect the Magni with S/PDIF. You would only use the S/PDIF output for an external DAC like the Modi. The Modi is probably an insignificant upgrade to your existing DAC so I think that would be a waste of money.
 
May 6, 2015 at 9:13 PM Post #3 of 8

illitirit

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  I have a SoundBlaster Z, Magni, and set of speakers also. I connect the Magni and the speakers to the SBZ line output with a 3.5mm heapdhone splitter. The Magni's input is RCA, to it has a 3.5mm to RCA adapter as well. This works perfectly well. The speakers and headphones can output at the same time, so you just need to switch off one when you are using the other.
 
You could just as easily plug the speakers into the line out, and the Magni into the headphone out, to remove the need for the splitter. This would allow you to use the SBZ's headphone surround mixing/processing with the headphones, and the speaker mixing/processing with the speakers. You can't set it to headphone mode while using the line output. Double amping like this won't hurt anything, and while it technically will add some noise and distortion compared to the line output, both are still below any audible thresholds so it won't matter. In this configuration the speakers and headphones won't work at the same time, you need to switch modes in the software like you do currently.
 
You can't connect the Magni with S/PDIF. You would only use the S/PDIF output for an external DAC like the Modi. The Modi is probably an insignificant upgrade to your existing DAC so I think that would be a waste of money.
 
 

Thanks alot for the response!
 
 
Say that I plug the magni into the headphone out and dont like it.  
 
I would need a splitter to plug into the line out for the magni and my speakers.  However, I have used splitters in the past, albeit really low end ones from radio shack and had horrid results.  Would this still be the case if I do this?  Could you link me what type of splitter you use?
 
Is there also any type of A/B switch that also has a splitter function for cheap?
 
 
The magni would be my first headphone amp.  Is it considered good practice to always have it off when not in use?  Or should I just unplug the headphones?  Im the type of guy who never turns off my devices, so I would probably find it annoying having to always turn one thing off all the time when switching.
 
I also forgot to mention, right now I have a set of 5.1 speakers running through my sound blaster Z.
 
If I were to use a splitter on the line out, would my headphones sound wierd?  
 
I would have to be using 2.0 speakers right?
 
May 6, 2015 at 10:02 PM Post #4 of 8

MindsMirror

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My splitter looks something like this, I think I got it at Microcenter. You may have gotten bad results using a splitter to drive two headphones at once, but this situation is different because the amps are not low impedance reactive loads like headphones are. You can use a switch box like this instead of a splitter.
 
But since you are using surround speakers I think you should just plug the Magni into the headphone output instead. If you used a splitter or switch on the line output and listened to anything with surround audio, you would not hear anything from the surround or center channel. You would have to change the speaker settings in the SoundBlaster software to disable the other speakers and mix those channels into the front. I only use the splitter so that I don't have to change settings in the software every time I switch between speakers and headphones, so that kind of defeats the purpose.
 
When I switch the SoundBlaster software between speaker and headphone output, it messes with youtube videos and some other audio sources, causing them to stop playing, and I have to reload the page to start them again. That's why I use the splitter instead of plugging the Magni into the headphone output, so I don't have to switch modes.
 
You could turn the volume down to 0 instead of unplugging the headphones. The Magni gets warm around the power circuitry if you don't switch it off though.
 
May 6, 2015 at 10:35 PM Post #5 of 8

PurpleAngel

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  Say that I plug the Magni into the headphone out and don't like it.  
I would need a splitter to plug into the line out for the Magni and my speakers.  However, I have used splitters in the past, albeit really low end ones from radio shack and had horrid results.  Would this still be the case if I do this?  Could you link me what type of splitter you use?
Is there also any type of A/B switch that also has a splitter function for cheap?
The magni would be my first headphone amp.  Is it considered good practice to always have it off when not in use?  Or should I just unplug the headphones?  I'm the type of guy who never turns off my devices, so I would probably find it annoying having to always turn one thing off all the time when switching.
I also forgot to mention, right now I have a set of 5.1 speakers running through my sound blaster Z.

 
Get a Modi DAC (optical) to go along with the Schiit Magni.
Plug the Modi into the SB-Z's optical port and the Magni into the Modi.
Leave you 5.1 speakers plugged into the three 3.5mm jacks.
 
You will have no need for the ACM module.
 
May 8, 2015 at 6:00 AM Post #6 of 8

Fegefeuer

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Get a Modi DAC (optical) to go along with the Schiit Magni.
Plug the Modi into the SB-Z's optical port and the Magni into the Modi.
Leave you 5.1 speakers plugged into the three 3.5mm jacks.
 
You will have no need for the ACM module.

 
This.
 
Plus the proper SBX HRTF will not be sent to the LINE OUT anyway so with Optical to Modi you'll preserve that feature and be able to connect your speakers to the sound card as well. That's quite a win my friend, QUITE A WIN. 
 
May 8, 2015 at 6:50 AM Post #7 of 8

illitirit

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  I think I have decided I am going to go with the magni 2 uber.
 
Only because I plan on upgrading eventually to the audio engine a5+ in the near future.
 
The 5.1 set i have connected right now is an 9 year old logitech z5300 system that honestly needs to go soon.
 
 
So would I be set if I just buy the magni uber?
 
 
Connectivity wise, it would go like this? :
 
 
Sound blaster Z line out > magni uber >  HE400 / audui engine a5+
 
 
This would work right?  And work well?
 
May 8, 2015 at 12:25 PM Post #8 of 8

MindsMirror

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That would work. You won't get the SoundBlaster's headphone processing though. That may or may not be important to you. You will get the headphone processing if the Magni is plugged into the headphone output. You might get the headphone processing using the S/PDIF out to a second DAC as the others have said.
 

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