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What Amp Needed To Power HD650 Through Desktop PC??

Discussion in 'Computer Audio' started by gtiboy, Jan 5, 2009.
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  1. gtiboy
    Hi all, Im a newbie to this forum and need some advice on what amplifier I should buy for a newly purchased Sennheisers HD650 headphones.

    My source is a desktop PC with an onboard soundcard.

    I heard the HD650 sounds ok through a soundcard but obviously if you want the full potential you need a amp.

    What would you lot recommend to buy to power these to there full potential running through a PC?

    Budget is around 200-300.

    Also why do some people have a DAC and amp running these HD650's?
     
  2. Deiz
    What amplifier you choose is entirely subjective. Personally, I am partial to the transparent sound of Kevin Gilmore's designs.

    Your sound card inherently has a digital-to-analog converter built-in, but it is less than ideal. Firstly, it's made with lower quality parts than you'll find with standalone DACs, secondly it's given dirty power by your computer's power supply, and it's subject to all the internal electromagnetic interference produced by your computer.

    Standalone DACs tend to sound better because their power supplies feed them much cleaner power, 100% of their parts cost is dedicated to one task, and they're in their own chassis, separate from the interference of the computer.

    Thusly, it comes down to garbage-in, garbage-out. While a good headphone amplifier can drive headphones very well, it will also point out the flaws of the source. Doubly so with sensitive, low-impedance headphones. One benefit to high-impedance headphones like the HD650s is that they attenuate much of the crackle onboard sound tends to make.

    I would be inclined to suggest an upgraded Zero DAC/Amp from eBay, which can be had for around $130 plus $50 shipping. Its headphone amp is not high-end, but the unit will net you a substantial improvement in both amplification and source quality.
     
  3. gtiboy
    Would that combined with an upgraded aftermarket soundcard improve that source?

    Like a Creative soundcard costing over a 100?
     
  4. Deiz
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by gtiboy /img/forum/go_quote.gif
    Would that combined with an upgraded aftermarket soundcard improve that source?

    Like a Creative soundcard costing over a 100?




    When going digital with a separate DAC, what feeds the DAC the digital signal is irrelevant. There's no difference between onboard sound feeding a Zero versus a mid-range Creative.

    Basically, the signal is not able to be compromised by the computer if it's kept digital. When it reaches the Zero, it's converted to analog and can be played through your headphones.

    Your computer should have either a Toslink, coaxial over RCA or 1/8" jack marked "Digital" which is Mini-Toslink.

    Take a look at the rear panel of your computer.

    If you buy a Zero off of eBay, the seller also includes a USB to S/PDIF adapter, so even if your computer lacks normal digital outputs, you can use the adapter with a free USB port.
     
  5. gtiboy
    Is this Zero DAC / Amp the most popular? Are there better makes that improve the sound quality more?
     
  6. xxbaker
    The Zero is quite popular. Whether there is something better for the price is totally in the eye of the beholder. There might be something that you prefer more, but you'll never know unless you listen to them both side by side. The Zero would be a solid buy because many people seem to enjoy it thus it would be a safe bet for you if you can't audition any equipment.
     
  7. dwong
    There is a new Dac/Amp combo coming out this month that seems to function as an "upgraded" Zero in many aspects if you can wait out a month or two for some reviews to come out for it. Search in the full-sized amplifier section for the "Compass". I think the release price is estimated around $250 with free shipping as an initial sales promotion, which should fit within your budget range.
     
  8. FallenAngel Contributor
    You're just now discovering that between onboard computer sound and your brand new HD650, there is an entire audio chain.

    Just fill in the blanks for Transport, DAC, Amp and of course cables.

    $200-$300 for an entire system doesn't leave you much room to work with. The HD650 are very demanding headphones that want an amp with high voltage swing and preferably a clean sound (in this budget, don't expect tubes to fall under my interpretation of "clean").

    The source is most important followed by the amp, then transport, then cables. Unfortunately, you don't have the budget to get all, but you can start with something reasonably nice.

    There's an EMU0404 PCI on the forum now for $70, grab that, use it until you upgrade to a standalone DAC, it offers really nice coax S/PDIF output.

    For amp, there's a CKK-III up for interest check, $175 should secure it.

    The other $55, you'll need 1/4" TRS to RCA cables, this should be in right in budget for moderate quality cables.
     
  9. ooeric
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Deiz /img/forum/go_quote.gif
    Your sound card inherently has a digital-to-analog converter built-in, but it is less than ideal. Firstly, it's made with lower quality parts than you'll find with standalone DACs, secondly it's given dirty power by your computer's power supply, and it's subject to all the internal electromagnetic interference produced by your computer.




    you cant really say that.. i spent 300$ on my psu. like many people with high end systems do.
    high end psu probably push out cleaner power then your audio powers IMO. even up to 1000w+ 80amps and 12v
     
  10. audionewbieyao
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by gtiboy /img/forum/go_quote.gif
    Budget is around 200-300.

    Also why do some people have a DAC and amp running these HD650's?




    You really need to try out Xonar Essence STX.

    I just got it today and is still doing the burn in now. First impression is this thing is phenomenal. I've never enjoyed my headphone as good as today before. [​IMG]

    DAC usually determins the clarity of the sound being transfromed from digital to analog wave, that's why it's so critial for good audio enjoyments.

    If you want to drive your HD650, a amp is a must, so you'll need things like Xonar Essence which comes with headphone amp to have proper driving power.
     
  11. olblueyez
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by ooeric /img/forum/go_quote.gif
    you cant really say that.. i spent 300$ on my psu. like many people with high end systems do.
    high end psu probably push out cleaner power then your audio powers IMO. even up to 1000w+ 80amps and 12v




    Huh?
     
  12. gtiboy
    Does this Xonar Essence STX soundcard act as a dac / amp? PLus what headphones you using?
     
  13. grawk
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by ooeric /img/forum/go_quote.gif
    you cant really say that.. i spent 300$ on my psu. like many people with high end systems do.
    high end psu probably push out cleaner power then your audio powers IMO. even up to 1000w+ 80amps and 12v




    It's still going to be a switching power supply, which is better for feeding your coputer than it is for producing audio. Computers are inherently noisy environments, and it's not an easy task to make an internal sound card immune from noise because of that.
     
  14. gtiboy
    According to Asus, this sound card is the answer for anyone wanting a quality sound through their high end headphones without the need to buy external dac / amps.

    Check the specs of this Xonar Essence STX in the link below

    ASUSTeK Computer Inc.
     
  15. grawk
    That's certainly going to be their perspective on it. You're on a site for audio enthusiasts, however.
     
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