Speaker Control Center vs Sound Card vs Amp/DAC
Jun 28, 2015 at 11:09 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 5

Harodes

New Head-Fier
Joined
Jun 28, 2015
Posts
2
Likes
0
Hey folks. My phones are: Grado SR225e, or Sennheiser HD598.
 
I've done much reading of existing threads with regard to increasing my headphone performance, but there is one issue that I cannot seem to find any information on. What do speaker control centers typically consist of? I use:

Logitech Z-5450 Digital 5.1 Speaker System ( 970181-0403 )

I assume that my speaker control center provides a better headphone output than my iMac (2007) which I have heard barely even has a sound card.
 
A decision on a new sound card or an amp + DAC is yet to come, but how can I make that decision until I know what my speaker control center brings to the table?
 
Any information on this matter would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance.
 
Mike
 
 
 
   
 




 
Jun 29, 2015 at 11:45 AM Post #2 of 5

PurpleAngel

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Sep 1, 2011
Posts
29,066
Likes
1,837
Location
California
  Hey folks. My phones are: Grado SR225e, or Sennheiser HD598.
I've done much reading of existing threads with regard to increasing my headphone performance, but there is one issue that I cannot seem to find any information on. What do speaker control centers typically consist of? I use:

Logitech Z-5450 Digital 5.1 Speaker System ( 970181-0403 )

I assume that my speaker control center provides a better headphone output than my iMac (2007) which I have heard barely even has a sound card.

A decision on a new sound card or an amp + DAC is yet to come, but how can I make that decision until I know what my speaker control center brings to the table?

 
It might not be easy to judge how good the Z-5450 is at driving headphones, compared to a dedicated headphone DAC/amp.
 
Get a FiiO E10K ($76) or Schiit Fulla ($79), both are USB DAC/Head amps.
Both have a very low (>1-Ohm) output impedance, which is good for controlling the damping, which help bring out audio detail, in headphones.
(Chances are the Z-5450 headphone jack has a much higher output impedance, then the E10K or Fulla).
 
With the Z-5450, I'm assuming you connect it to the Mac using an optical cable?
Does the iMac come with DDL (Dolby Digital Live) or DTS-Connect?
Which is what is need to send a 6-channel digital audio signal, thru optical.
 
Jun 29, 2015 at 11:51 AM Post #3 of 5

cel4145

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Dec 16, 2011
Posts
19,502
Likes
2,316
Location
grand rapids, mi
It might not be easy to judge how good the Z-5450 is at driving headphones, compared to a dedicated headphone DAC/amp.


Agreed. Even some expensive audio/video receivers, the headphone output is sort of an afterthought than a great implementation.

However, since it sounds like you already have the speakers and the iMac, why not judge for yourself? What is theoretically better doesn't beat what you prefer :)
 
Jun 30, 2015 at 12:04 AM Post #4 of 5

Harodes

New Head-Fier
Joined
Jun 28, 2015
Posts
2
Likes
0
First, thank you for your thoughtful reply. I am indeed using an optical cable to connect my control center to the computer, however, I do not see any fancy Dolby Digital Live or DTS-Connect (my rear speakers are trashed anyway). There is just optical in, optical out, and two seperate, uncolored ports, one with the typical symbol for sound, and another symmetric circle with two shaded triangles left and right. System profile reads:
 
Intel High Definition Audio:
  Audio ID:    12
Line Output:
  Connection:    1/8-Inch Jack
Headphone:
  Connection:    1/8-Inch Jack
Line Input:
  Connection:    1/8-Inch Jack
Speaker:
  Connection:    Internal
S/PDIF Optical Digital Audio Output:
  Connection:    Optical
S/PDIF Optical Digital Audio Input:
  Connection:    Optical
 
 
Would you recommend a new sound card in addition to one of the two DAC/amp combo's for my GradoSR225e, Sennheiser HD598? If so, can you suggest a couple? You appear to magically know my price range. Thanks again. Any other info you can provide is well appreciated.
 
Jun 30, 2015 at 1:27 AM Post #5 of 5

PurpleAngel

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Sep 1, 2011
Posts
29,066
Likes
1,837
Location
California
  First, thank you for your thoughtful reply. I am indeed using an optical cable to connect my control center to the computer, however, I do not see any fancy Dolby Digital Live or DTS-Connect (my rear speakers are trashed anyway). There is just optical in, optical out, and two seperate, uncolored ports, one with the typical symbol for sound, and another symmetric circle with two shaded triangles left and right. System profile reads:
S/PDIF Optical Digital Audio Output:
Connection:    Optical
Would you recommend a new sound card in addition to one of the two DAC/amp combo's for my GradoSR225e, Sennheiser HD598? If so, can you suggest a couple? You appear to magically know my price range. Thanks again. Any other info you can provide is well appreciated.

 
Normally S/PDIF (optical or coaxial) passes 2-channels of PCM (uncompressed) digital audio.
DDL or DTS-Connect can compress up to 6-channels of digital audio and send them thru S/PDIF and I believe your Z-5450 can un-compress that back to 6-channels of PCM audio.
I'm guessing your currently feeding two audio channels to the Logitech Z5450, but to take advantage of the 5.1 (6 speakers) you need to feed the Z-5450 6-channels of audio.
I'm assuming the Z-5450 comes with an Expanded Stereo option, takes the 2-channels and fakes a 5.1 or your just mostly listening thru the Front Right and Front Left speakers.
 
I'm guessing some external USB sound cards will work with the Mac OS (Creative Omni 5.1?) and they seem to provide DDL support.
And you can plug your headphones into the USB sound card.
The free program VLC (video player) for Mac, might also provide DDL support.
 

Users who are viewing this thread

Top