Headphones & Audio Devices

Fadaar

That guy
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#1
Was looking around for ways to improve sound quality for my PC headsets and came across some posts elsewhere about headphone amps. Does anyone have a recommendation for one that'll work well for me? Headset has two normal 3.5mm plugs for both the mic and headphones. I do have a sound card that has an optical out, so I can use that for output and have the microphone plugged in directly to the sound card if that'll net me the best quality. Or can do everything through USB, not really sure what the best option is.

Thanks!
 
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#2
Without knowing the following, it's impossible to provide a decent recommendation:
1) What headphones are you using?
2) You said you have a sound card... which one is it?
3) What type of music do you listen to? (or is this for gaming?)
4) How much are you looking to spend?
 

The Dauntless One

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#3
I will go a bit further. If you have a crappy pair of headphones, don't bother buying a good source and/or amp. Nothing will make your headphones better.

Headphone amps generally don't offer "better" sound quality unless you have a good source. If your sound card is crap, no headphone amp will make the sound better. If you want to use optical out, you will need a digital to analog converter to plug into the amp. If you want to do that, you might as well get a DAC with USB.
 

Fadaar

That guy
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#4
Without knowing the following, it's impossible to provide a decent recommendation:
1) What headphones are you using?
2) You said you have a sound card... which one is it?
3) What type of music do you listen to? (or is this for gaming?)
4) How much are you looking to spend?
1)Amazon.com: Sennheiser G4ME ZERO PC Gaming Headset, White: Computers Accessories
2)http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16829271001
3) Mostly gaming, but music as well
4) $100 or less preferably
 

Creslin

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#5
I would say those sennheisers are pretty borderline whether you would really hear much difference with an amp. Its a great gaming headset and destroys the Logitech stuff I'm sure but its also not the $300+ headphones you usually see people start getting amps for.

Plus I think the amps you will find for 100 will be pretty shit so I would stick with what you have, that's a good card that should have no trouble powering that headset.
 

The Dauntless One

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#6
If you really want to buy an amp, get a Fiio amp/dac device and toss your sound card. PCI sound cards are noisy with all the circuitry in a running computer. The FiiO E07K Andes can be had for about $100. It's a 24 bit dac so it should be decent.

EDIT: NwAvGuy, an electrical engineer who decided to expose all the snake oils on head-fi, said that he was impressed with the Fiio E7. It is not as good as the O2 design, but a Fiio device is to give best bang for the buck. However, the biggest flaw is that it is only 16 bit. A reintroduction of the amp/dac at 24 bit is most definitely a bargain.
 

Janx

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#7
I use a FiiO E07K Andes as my sound card. Got tired of hearing feedback through the soundcard/onboard. Works really well.
 

Vinen

God is dead
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#8

Deathwing

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#9
I use a FiiO E07K Andes as my sound card. Got tired of hearing feedback through the soundcard/onboard. Works really well.
Is there not a non-portable version? I would worry about wearing out the battery in if you leave it plugged in all the time.
 

Hatorade

A nice asshole.
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#10
Seriously just get a pair of bose headphones. Sennheiser is owned by Nazis.
This shit again? What is it with people and Bose? That said I own a pair of Astro a40s and have a bose sound system for when I am not using them. Bought the Bose system before I learned what was up.
 

Deathwing

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#11
It's a Vinen post, I assumed he was trolling.
 

Noodleface

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#12
Bose sound alright, but mainly they're for rich people to feel smug about the headphones they use. There are a lot better headphones out there than Bose.

Where's Brahma? He's the certified audiophile of the board.
 

Deathwing

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#13
Vacuum tube headphone amps are overkill for OP. Overkill for almost anyone, actually.
 

skrala

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#14
For Senns like that you're not going to hear a difference with an amp, they're low impedance and made to be driven from a PC. An amp will make them go louder, that's about it. If your headphone out is super noisy (coil whine from fans, static, etc) you could get a small DAC/Amp combo to clean it up, but it's not going to change the way the headphones sound.
 

brekk

Dancing Dino Superstar
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#15
I useAmazon.com: Sennheiser HD 518 Headphones (Black): ElectronicswithASUS Xonar DG 5.1 Channels 24-bit 96KHz PCI Interface Sound Card

They do make a PCI-E version of the soundcard. It's an awesome soundcard for the price if you strictly want to use headphones (as I do, I don't even have speakers hooked up) It has a dedicated headphone amp which can be adjusted based on your impedence.
ASUS Xonar DGX 5.1 Channels 24-bit 96KHz PCI Express x1 Interface Gaming Audio Card

Also, headsets suck. They markup a ton for the minor addition of a microphone, and also use lower grade drivers for the headphones.


Dedicated headphones + shitty cheap PC microphone FTW. People are always astonished how good i sound on Vent/TS with such a "shitty" mic. They work great.

 

Brahma

Obi-Bro Kenobi-X
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#16
Everything below I own or owned at some point. Anything "popular" that is gaming related, I have pretty much tested/returned the crap and dismissed, minus a few exceptions. I am also assuming just gaming, and not music. You want a sound card if you game man. Especially FPS's. Relying on in game positioning and Dolby really is a disadvantage at times. If FPS's aren't your thing...There are great DAC/Amps/Headphone combos. Too many to list really. But if you want that route, just reply.



Start small and go for bang for the buck. For the love of god avoid Bose, Beats and Razer. Avoid USB headsets period. Avoid USB anything for sound and games unless you are going to go the full gambit and do it correctly.


Just get this sound card. It's the best bang for the buck right now:Creative Sound Blaster Zx PCIe Gaming Sound Card with High Performance Headphone Amp and Desktop Audio Control Module at Amazon.com

Your headphones for gaming should always be open unless there is a reason for you to have closed headphones (Better sound-stages generally). It's tough to beat the HD558's cost/quality ratio. They are light on bass, but it's there:Amazon.com: Sennheiser HD 558 Headphones: Electronics

If you MUST have closed back get the A700X's:Amazon.com: Audio Technica ATH-A700X Headphones: Electronics

Your mic will be an Antlion:AntLion Audio AntLion Audio


These three items will give you better sound quality for gaming than any gaming headset out there under 300 bucks. Much better.



As far as headsets go... For quality, you will want to spend around 400 bucks. Anything less I have found is pretty much cheaply made, bad sound quality junk.


The Sennheiser Game One. Lacks thumping bass, but it's there. The sound quality is the HD558's:Amazon.com: Sennheiser G4ME ONE PC Gaming Headset, White: Electronics

If you want a closed back headset go with the MMX 300:Amazon.com: Beyerdynamic MMX300 PC Gaming Premium Digital Headset with Microphone: Electronics

General rule of thumb and there is no science here, just experience . You do NOT need an amp until you start hitting headphones that cost about 350 bucks.

Hope this helps.
 

Lanx

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#17
If you really want to buy an amp, get a Fiio amp/dac device and toss your sound card. PCI sound cards are noisy with all the circuitry in a running computer. The FiiO E07K Andes can be had for about $100. It's a 24 bit dac so it should be decent.

EDIT: NwAvGuy, an electrical engineer who decided to expose all the snake oils on head-fi, said that he was impressed with the Fiio E7. It is not as good as the O2 design, but a Fiio device is to give best bang for the buck. However, the biggest flaw is that it is only 16 bit. A reintroduction of the amp/dac at 24 bit is most definitely a bargain.
amazon says this e11 is the newer/cheaper replacement
Amazon.com: FiiO E11 Portable Headphone Amplifier - E11: Electronics

any difference?
 

Creslin

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#18
Beyerdynamic dt990 + a sennheiser single ear headset strapped to the side for the mic is what I use personally. Can't beat the quality for the 200 I paid for it imo. It isn't pretty but it beats spending 200 more for a good headset and has no impact on comfort. No idea why they charge out the ads for a cheap mic on a set of headphones that is otherwise half the price
 

The Dauntless One

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#19

The Dauntless One

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#20
Everything below I own or owned at some point. Anything "popular" that is gaming related, I have pretty much tested/returned the crap and dismissed, minus a few exceptions. I am also assuming just gaming, and not music. You want a sound card if you game man. Especially FPS's. Relying on in game positioning and Dolby really is a disadvantage at times. If FPS's aren't your thing...There are great DAC/Amps/Headphone combos. Too many to list really. But if you want that route, just reply.



Start small and go for bang for the buck. For the love of god avoid Bose, Beats and Razer. Avoid USB headsets period. Avoid USB anything for sound and games unless you are going to go the full gambit and do it correctly.


Just get this sound card. It's the best bang for the buck right now:Creative Sound Blaster Zx PCIe Gaming Sound Card with High Performance Headphone Amp and Desktop Audio Control Module at Amazon.com

Your headphones for gaming should always be open unless there is a reason for you to have closed headphones (Better sound-stages generally). It's tough to beat the HD558's cost/quality ratio. They are light on bass, but it's there:Amazon.com: Sennheiser HD 558 Headphones: Electronics

If you MUST have closed back get the A700X's:Amazon.com: Audio Technica ATH-A700X Headphones: Electronics

Your mic will be an Antlion:AntLion Audio AntLion Audio


These three items will give you better sound quality for gaming than any gaming headset out there under 300 bucks. Much better.



As far as headsets go... For quality, you will want to spend around 400 bucks. Anything less I have found is pretty much cheaply made, bad sound quality junk.


The Sennheiser Game One. Lacks thumping bass, but it's there. The sound quality is the HD558's:Amazon.com: Sennheiser G4ME ONE PC Gaming Headset, White: Electronics

If you want a closed back headset go with the MMX 300:Amazon.com: Beyerdynamic MMX300 PC Gaming Premium Digital Headset with Microphone: Electronics

General rule of thumb and there is no science here, just experience . You do NOT need an amp until you start hitting headphones that cost about 350 bucks.

Hope this helps.
Haha, the ONE headphone I completely despised is the ATH A700. I hated it so much.

The MMX300 is okay for music. Some people on headfi say they sound like DT880; I disagree with that statement. I felt the sound signature is a bit too fatiguing, and I have only used it a few times since I bought it.

If I were to buy another headset for gaming with closed back I would get this
Amazon.com: Sennheiser HMD26-II-600-X3K1 Broadcast Headset, 600 Ohm Impedance, ActiveGard, Dynamic Microphone: Electronics

Based on the Sennheiser HD25 ii which has really good sound quality and pretty much indestructible.

Ipersonallyavoid PCI based sound cards. The ones I have owned in the past have some sort of ground loop/jitter/noise/feedback/etc. They may have improved them, but I wouldn't know because I have been using USB DACs for years now.

Btw thanks for the antlion mic. I wished i knew about that way before