Will an amp be worth it with my Fidelio X2?
Jun 18, 2015 at 7:28 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 11

Margou

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Hey everyone
 
After reading Mad Lusty's guide and doing quite a bit of research, I recently bought the Fidelio X2 and I've been using them on my PC for gaming, videos, music etc. Depending on the source they do sound really good.
I know that most high quality headphones need an amp to sound good but this one apparently doesn't (one of the reasons I bought them in the first place). But still, I was wondering if an amp would increase my sound quality with these headphones or if the difference would be so small that it won't be worth it? And which one would be a good choice?
 
I'm currently using the Fidelio X2 with my old X-Fi Gamer card. Keep in mind I'll probably upgrade to a new one (maybe Soundblaster Z, not sure yet though) in the near future.
 
Jun 19, 2015 at 12:20 PM Post #3 of 11

cel4145

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Your X-Fi gamer card may not have a headphone amp, or if it does, probably does not have optimal low output impedance for best SQ. So yes. You could improve SQ.

If you are happy with the virtual surround capabilities of your X-Fi gamer card, the way to go might be to get an external DAC/amp with optical. Not cheap, though.
 
Jun 19, 2015 at 3:17 PM Post #4 of 11

PurpleAngel

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  Hey everyone
 
After reading Mad Lusty's guide and doing quite a bit of research, I recently bought the Fidelio X2 and I've been using them on my PC for gaming, videos, music etc. Depending on the source they do sound really good.
I know that most high quality headphones need an amp to sound good but this one apparently doesn't (one of the reasons I bought them in the first place). But still, I was wondering if an amp would increase my sound quality with these headphones or if the difference would be so small that it won't be worth it? And which one would be a good choice?
 
I'm currently using the Fidelio X2 with my old X-Fi Gamer card. Keep in mind I'll probably upgrade to a new one (maybe Sound Blaster Z, not sure yet though) in the near future.

 
Hopefully you disabled the motherboard's on-board audio, in the BIO, when you installed the XtremeGamer.
 
The X-Fi XtremeGamer is a decent card, but it's combo Front Speaker/headphone jack is more like a line-output jack, then a "quality" headphone jack.
The X2 does need very little amp power, but the XtremeGamer's headphone jack does not deliver power in the right way, for a headphone (damping issue)
You could get a FiiO E11K headphone amplifier ($60) it has a very low output impedance (>1-Ohm) which would be better for controlling damping, with 30-Ohm headphones (X2).
So plug the XtremeGamer in the E11K's line-input jack and the headphones into the E11K's headphone output jack.
 
If you like the CMSS-3D Headphone surround sound, that comes with the older (no longer made) Creative card and you want the best sound quality.
You could swap out the XtremeGamer for the Ti-HD (Titanium-HD) and connect the E11K to the Ti-HD.
The Ti-HD comes with a better DAC chip and better op-amps, then the XtremeGamer (so better audio quality).
You can find a used Ti-HD on eBay.
http://www.ebay.com/itm/Sound-Blaster-X-Fi-Titanium-HD-/301663468063
 
You could also just get an external DAC (optical) and headphone amplifier and connect it to the optical output port (white jack) on the XtremeGamer.
The (optical) DAC can be connected to just about any motherboard or sound card, you might buy in the future.
 
Jun 19, 2015 at 8:03 PM Post #5 of 11

Margou

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Hopefully you disabled the motherboard's on-board audio, in the BIO, when you installed the XtremeGamer.
 
The X-Fi XtremeGamer is a decent card, but it's combo Front Speaker/headphone jack is more like a line-output jack, then a "quality" headphone jack.
The X2 does need very little amp power, but the XtremeGamer's headphone jack does not deliver power in the right way, for a headphone (damping issue)
You could get a FiiO E11K headphone amplifier ($60) it has a very low output impedance (>1-Ohm) which would be better for controlling damping, with 30-Ohm headphones (X2).
So plug the XtremeGamer in the E11K's line-input jack and the headphones into the E11K's headphone output jack.
 
If you like the CMSS-3D Headphone surround sound, that comes with the older (no longer made) Creative card and you want the best sound quality.
You could swap out the XtremeGamer for the Ti-HD (Titanium-HD) and connect the E11K to the Ti-HD.
The Ti-HD comes with a better DAC chip and better op-amps, then the XtremeGamer (so better audio quality).
You can find a used Ti-HD on eBay.
http://www.ebay.com/itm/Sound-Blaster-X-Fi-Titanium-HD-/301663468063
 
You could also just get an external DAC (optical) and headphone amplifier and connect it to the optical output port (white jack) on the XtremeGamer.
The (optical) DAC can be connected to just about any motherboard or sound card, you might buy in the future.

 
Thanks for all the answers so far!
 
Yes I disabled the motherboard's on-board audio in the BIOS. So does this make a difference then? I actually didn't know that.
 
Hm, what's the damping issue supposed to be? Everything sounds a little bit as if you're underwater? I kind of noticed such an effect with some sources, Team Fortress 2 being one of them. But then with other sources I did not hear anything alike, so I thought the problem was the source.
 
I do like CMSS-3D although it does sound a little weird from time to time. But I recently watched this video with comparisons of virtual 3D sound methods and to me, SBX Pro Studio did sound the best. Hence why I was planning to get a card that supports this. But I haven't made up my mind on a new sound card yet, not at all. Are you saying the Ti-HD is better then?
Also, if I buy a Ti-HD or some other sound card that supports SBX Pro Studio would a DAC and/or AMP still make a noticeable difference? Because if not, I could just skip it and go straight for a new sound card.
 
Jun 20, 2015 at 12:14 AM Post #6 of 11

PurpleAngel

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  Thanks for all the answers so far!
Yes I disabled the motherboard's on-board audio in the BIOS. So does this make a difference then? I actually didn't know that.
Hm, what's the damping issue supposed to be? Everything sounds a little bit as if you're underwater? I kind of noticed such an effect with some sources, Team Fortress 2 being one of them. But then with other sources I did not hear anything alike, so I thought the problem was the source.
I do like CMSS-3D although it does sound a little weird from time to time. But I recently watched this video with comparisons of virtual 3D sound methods and to me, SBX Pro Studio did sound the best. Hence why I was planning to get a card that supports this. But I haven't made up my mind on a new sound card yet, not at all. Are you saying the Ti-HD is better then?
Also, if I buy a Ti-HD or some other sound card that supports SBX Pro Studio would a DAC and/or AMP still make a noticeable difference? Because if not, I could just skip it and go straight for a new sound card.

 
Sometimes active on-board audio has a negative effect with an add-on sound card, sometimes active on-board and the add-on sound card work well with each other, but I believe it's just safer to disable on-board.
Sometimes poor damping can cause thinks like a bloated (louder, less detailed) bass, so it recommended to have the headphone to have at least 8 times the impedance (Ohms) of the source.
But nothing is prefect, I've used 40-Ohm headphones with a 10-Ohm output impedance headphone amplifier, still sounded good.
 
Nice thing about the Titanium-HD, it's about the same audio quality hardware the Sound Blaster ZxR.
And the Ti-HD can send CMSS-3D headphone surround sound thru it's RCA jack (line-output) so the Ti-HD can send a really good signal to an external headphone amplifier
 
The Sound Blaster Z headphone amplifier has a 22-Ohm output impedance, which I'm guessing is still better then the output impedance of the XtremeGamer Front Speaker/headphone jack.
The SB-Z's CS4398 DAC chip is better then the XtremeGamer,s DAC chip
So if you replaced the XtremeGamer with the SB-Z, you should get better audio quality, with the Fidelio X2
 
CMSS-3D verses SBX, The newer cards with SBX, should get more driver updates, then the older and discontinued Titanium/Titanium-HD series.
 
I guess the ultimate audio setup is just use a cheaper sound card (SB-Z OEM), for it's headphone surround sound features and an external DAC/amp ($200-$1500), to provide the audio quality.
 
Jun 21, 2015 at 6:07 PM Post #7 of 11

Margou

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And the Ti-HD can send CMSS-3D headphone surround sound thru it's RCA jack (line-output) so the Ti-HD can send a really good signal to an external headphone amplifier

 
Ok. Very interesting. Other sound cards like the SB Z or ZxR can't do that? Because I think it's going to be a bit of a hassle to buy a Ti-HD since they are not produced anymore, as you wrote.
 
 
   
I guess the ultimate audio setup is just use a cheaper sound card (SB-Z OEM), for it's headphone surround sound features and an external DAC/amp ($200-$1500), to provide the audio quality.

 
Isn't such a sound card going to output bad sound quality, which the external DAC/AMP can't really improve much since it's coming from a "bad" source (the cheap sound card)?
I'm probably completely wrong here since I'm very nooby concerning audio quality and components, etc. but I need to ask so I don't buy the wrong stuff :)
 
Jun 21, 2015 at 7:33 PM Post #8 of 11

PurpleAngel

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  Ok. Very interesting. Other sound cards like the SB Z or ZxR can't do that? Because I think it's going to be a bit of a hassle to buy a Ti-HD since they are not produced anymore, as you wrote.
 
Isn't such a sound card going to output bad sound quality, which the external DAC/AMP can't really improve much since it's coming from a "bad" source (the cheap sound card)?
I'm probably completely wrong here since I'm very nooby concerning audio quality and components, etc. but I need to ask so I don't buy the wrong stuff :)

 
Here is a used Ti-HD, current bid is $60 and shipping is $14.
http://www.ebay.com/itm/301663468063?_trksid=p2060353.m1438.l2649&ssPageName=STRK%3AMEBIDX%3AIT
 
As long as the audio signal is digital, it really will not change (maybe 1 or 2 percent, depending on some settings),
it's once the audio signal hit the DAC chip, that and the headphone amplifier, are the major factors for audio quality.
 
So my $300 NFB-15.32 external DAC/amp, will sound the same, wither connected to a motherboard or a $20 sound card or a $200 sound card.
 
Jun 21, 2015 at 8:33 PM Post #9 of 11

Margou

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Here is a used Ti-HD, current bid is $60 and shipping is $14.
http://www.ebay.com/itm/301663468063?_trksid=p2060353.m1438.l2649&ssPageName=STRK%3AMEBIDX%3AIT
 
As long as the audio signal is digital, it really will not change (maybe 1 or 2 percent, depending on some settings),
it's once the audio signal hit the DAC chip, that and the headphone amplifier, are the major factors for audio quality.
 
So my $300 NFB-15.32 external DAC/amp, will sound the same, wither connected to a motherboard or a $20 sound card or a $200 sound card.

 
Ok that's good to know.
And thanks for the link but I'm not living in the US, and it says it only ships to the US. I guess even if it shipped to me I'd have to pay relatively high import taxes and high shipping costs so it wouldn't be such a good buy anymore :frowning2:
 
Jun 21, 2015 at 9:56 PM Post #10 of 11

PurpleAngel

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Ok that's good to know.
And thanks for the link but I'm not living in the US, and it says it only ships to the US. I guess even if it shipped to me I'd have to pay relatively high import taxes and high shipping costs so it wouldn't be such a good buy anymore :frowning2:

 
I'm think maybe just to get something like the FiiO E11K headphone amplifier, hook it up between the XtremeGamer and the X2.
 

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