Recommend a $500 computer setup!
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Zephix

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Hi All,

I currently have a regular SB Audigy and the SR-60s. While this sounds pretty good, I've been considering an upgrade for some time. What would you guys recommend for around $500 (sound card, cans, amp, etc.)? Would there be a huge difference from my current setup? I would hope for a night and day difference for ~$500.


Thanks!
 
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Abula

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Zephix,

Welcome to Headfi.

There are a lot of good sound cards/headphones/amps you could fit in your budget, but what will be primary use for your setup MUSIC/MOVIES/GAMES?

For music, I would go with,
1) RME + Audiotechnia A900
2) Chaintech AV710 + Pimeta + Senn580

For Games I would go with,
1) Audigy 2ZS + Auditechnia A900
2) Audigy 2ZS + Pimeta + Beyer DT770
3) Audigy 2ZS + Pimeta + Ultrasone HFI-700 or 650
 
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Zephix

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Thanks Abula =)

It's mainly for music and music is certainly the #1 priority, but I suppose it would be nice if it weren't completely inept at games.

Both your music setups sound interesting. Where's the best place to buy those components?
 
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taylor

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saint.panda

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Maybe you could list your musical preferences and whether you rather like a more aggressive and upfront sound or a rather ladi-back and smooth sound. What else would be important to you: soundstage, detail, etc....?
That's especially important when choosing a headphone. Once you have the headphone settled you can start worrying about an amp which would match well with the headphone.
The synergy between source and headphone might also play a role, though not as big as amp and headphone. In my opinion you should spend most of the money on the headphones and the source. Maybe 200 on the source (EMU 1212 e.g.) or for 100$ -150$ for a Terratec EWX or a M-Audio Revolution or M-Audio Audiophile. Headphones with a more laid-back sound: Sennheiser HD 580 / 600, more aggressive sound: Grado Sr125 / 225, good allrounders: Beyerdynamic dt 880, Audio Technica A900, Akg 240, Akg 271, ...... For amp at 100-250 price range: Meta42 / Pimeta, Mint, Gilmore Lite,...
There are almost endless possibilities
 
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Jorg

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E-mu 1212m -> two 1/4" to RCA adaptors -> some cheap ICs -> a cheap amp (may be some meta42 around 50$) -> Grado SR-225 / Senns HD580 / Audio-technika A900. Depends on the music you listen to. If rock/pop/electronica - SR-225, if classical/jazz - HD580 (it's also good for electronica but rock sounds awful), if you need closed - A900 is recommended a lot, but I havn't heard it so can't comment.

EDIT: Depends on what you call huge difference. For me the most important are headphones. And for me the difference between SR-60 and SR-225 is huge.
EDIT2: You wouldn't be able to play games with a professional sound card, so don't sell your Audigy if you want some games.
 
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Zephix

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Thanks for all the great replies guys. =)

Saint.Panda: Well, it's hard to say what my preference is considering the SR-60 is the only decent pair of headphones I've ever owned. The SR-60s sound very good to my ears, not overly bright at all like some have mentioned, at least not from this Audigy playing high bitrate MP3s. In general, I think the single thing I notice the most is the low end bass (deepness and accuracy). As far as these Grados, the amount of bass is about right. Under no circumstance would I want less bass, but I suppose a bit more would be fine. The mids are usually good, but sometimes I've wished for a bit more detail and/or separation. The highs are definitely a strength of the Grados. I have no complaints there.

I mainly listen to New Age, Symphonic, Electronic music. I think I'd pick detail before soundstage, but it'd be nice to get both. As far as between "more aggressive and upfront" and "laid-back and smooth sound", I think more aggressive and upfront sounds better. I like my music musical and exciting.


So to sum up:

1. Deep, accurate bass (not overly boomy though) no less strong than the SR-60s.

2. Crisp mids. If there's one thing I've sometimes wished for, it's clearer mids.

3. Highly detailed, crystal clear highs. I think the highs are one of the biggest reasons I like the SR-60s. Now if everything else was that good....


I guess I want everything, dammit.


Jorg: I absolutely wouldn't be *able* to play games? It was my impression that I at least could, but the CPU utilization would be higher and the sound wouldn't be as good. Is it tough/possible to use two soundcards?
 
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Asmo

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I'd go for the emu 1212m also, its only $200 and will be a huge improvement over the audigy.

So, $200 on new soundcard, then spend the other $300 on IC and a decent headphone amp, if you want new headphones, i'd definetly also consider the sennheiser HD590/HD595s , I listen to a lot of the same types of music you listen too and I love my HD590s, but then again, the equinox cable upgrade is almost required for these cans, thats another $100 on top of that.

Start with a new soundcard, and amp, go from there.
 
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Andrew_WOT

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Check out new Aureon 7.1 Firewire. Based on review I've read it gives best from both world, great DAC for music and low CPU utilization for games.
This baby is preplacing my Audigy very soon, as soon as it hits US shores.

That's actually translation from Italian but you'll get the idea
http://translate.google.com/translat...8%26oe%3DUTF-8
 
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ch1nkster

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M-Audio Audiophile 2496 -> RCA-RCA IC's -> Art DI/O -> IC's -> Maxed out Pimeta -> ATH-A500
 
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MD1032

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M-audiophile USB -> Some maxed out Meta42 -> Grado SR-60's or SR-80's (I like my 80's very much. Nice punch and MAN...nice highs).
 
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Jorg

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Zephix
Jorg: I absolutely wouldn't be *able* to play games? It was my impression that I at least could, but the CPU utilization would be higher and the sound wouldn't be as good. Is it tough/possible to use two soundcards?


I don't know exactly about 1212m but I have a 24/96 card and it doesn't work in games at all. I've heard the same things about M-Audio cards.
 
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the 1212M is made by EM-U which is a division (or something similar) of Creative and I think uses the same or similar drivers as the Soundblaster series so it should perform fine with games unlike the pro-audio cards such as the RME.
 
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I believe that you can play games with the EMU, just there is no support for 3-D like EAX and whatnot.
 
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Given your music preferences:

Headphones: Audio-Technica A500/Sennheiser HD555 ($100), A900/HD595 ($200)
Amp: Pimeta ($175), Gilmore Lite ($250)
Source: Chaintec AV-710 ($25), E-mu 1212M ($200)

System Options:
1212M+Pimeta+A500/HD555
AV710+Gilmore Lite+A900/HD595

A used M-Audio AP 2496 card ($100) would give you the additional options of:
AP2496+Gilmore Lite+A500/HD555
AP2496+Pimeta+A900/HD595

I would personally go with either the 1212M+Pimeta+A500/HD555, or the AP2496+Pimeta+A900/HD595.
 
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