Where to start?

Discussion in 'PC Audio' started by Chif, Feb 16, 2017.

  1. Chif

    Chif Member

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    Hey guys,

    Sorry in advance if my question is repetitive, searching google and the forums has just given me a lot of overwhelming information.

    I've just added a sound card to my PC (Audigy Rx), and the increase in quality has been amazing. I'm using razer tiamat 7.1's and from what I've read, the drivers are actually quite crappy.
    So I'd like to make some changes to my overall setup and begin diving into some higher quality gear (I want an emphasis on music, but will be gaming as well).

    I'm just wondering what components people use. From what I've gathered so far, I would have a decent set of headphones, which would plug into an amp, which would then plug into my sound card.
    It's my understanding that the sound car itself is an amp, but to go from a 3.5mm jack to the split up 2.5mm connections to the sound card, I'm guessing an external amp is the way to go.

    Am I correct?
    Also, can someone point me in the direction of a reliable place to research parts/ combinations of equipment? Or if anyone knows off the bat what will pair well with the sound card I've got, that'd be great.

    Cheers,
    Andy
     
  2. power

    power Member

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    If you are using an amp pass a digital source to it and let it do all the work.

    Your Audigy is wasted if you aren't plugging straight into it for the most part.

    The missing link in your understanding is what DAC's do and where they fit in your setup.

    https://www.headphone.com/pages/what-is-a-dac
     
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2017
  3. Chif

    Chif Member

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    Ahh I'd seen DAC mentioned somewhere. So does my current sound car still output in digital? And if that's the case, I'd want a DAC to fit between my headphones and sound card?

    Thanks for your reply
     
  4. power

    power Member

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    it should, however you probably aren't at the moment - I'd put money on it you aren't.

    You're using the analogue out into the amp.

    If this is your card, the "optical out" is the digital - and optical is limited as a digital medium.

    http://au.creative.com/p/sound-cards/sound-blaster-audigy-rx

    read more about the limitations of optical here

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TOSLINK

     
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2017
  5. Chif

    Chif Member

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    Ok, yes I'm currently using the analogue outputs on it. So my current setup, card straight to headphones is ideal?

    But if I were to upgrade to a set of headphones that only have a 3.5mm jack, what would I then use to get them connected to the sound card?
     
  6. museumman

    museumman Member

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  7. power

    power Member

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    it does depend on the headphones, some headphones cannot be driven directly off the soundcard and require amplification.

    Trying an adapter as above is a good start to see where you are at for the moment.
     
  8. Chif

    Chif Member

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    Awesome. Thanks guys, I've got a bit of a starting point now
     
  9. SuzyCreamcheese

    SuzyCreamcheese Member

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    I've had a decent collection of headphones for a few years, and a couple of different DAC's/sound cards over the years too. Like buying anything, research is definitely the key, and there's no ocean of bullshit larger than audiophiles and the pseudoscience of getting the right sound.

    Now the obvious questions regarding what to buy are, whats your price, and what do you like.

    For most part, at an entry level (sub $200 headphones), you can get away with just headphones and a source, and get 80% of the enjoyment that you would out of $1000+ setups. Don't be fooled by money = quality/enjoyment either. I prefer headphones like MS-1 to DT880, despite the fact its almost 1/3 the price. Thats my preference, it doesn't mean the DT880 isn't worth the money.

    For music, 2 channel headphones are the best. I prefer open ear, cause i listen to my headphones in my house, where only the air con makes any background noise.

    Finally, ergonomics. This is a big one, cause i hate large headphones, and after long listening sessions, i find circumaural headphones quite discomforting on the bone behind my ear.

    A lot of determining what you like will require a trip to the store, and some tentative listening to music you like, and music you feel personifies you.

    TL:DR, Get some easy to drive headphones that are recommended, comfortable and at a price you like. And you're set.
     
  10. karn1911

    karn1911 Member

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    Your sound card already has a DAC and an amplifier built into it.
    I'm not sure what this 2.5mm connection is about as headphones either come with a 3.5mm or 1/4 inch jack (unless you're talking about having a balanced 2.5mm cable... which is incredibly rare.)

    If you'd like to utilise your sound card, would say to get a pair of decent headphones as your starting point.
    What is decent would really be up to your budget.
    From then on, if you're thinking about upgrading further, would consider getting a DAC with better chipset/analogue stage plus an external headphone amplifier - after this point your sound card is actually bypassed.
    However, it's all diminishing returns after the headphone upgrade.
     
  11. Kookooburra

    Kookooburra Member

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    Many moons ago I was reading a "What HiFi" mag, and they were testing a Panasonic VCR, a Sony, a Mitsubishi and an expensive Bang and Olufsen unit.

    No surprise that the BO won the tests{technical analysis} however, it was often by the tiniest margin, so BO would have the right to say they made the best VCR, but to gain a 1.5% advantage over the others you had to pay 2.25times the price....anyway, I bought the panasonic, lol.
     
  12. ^catalyst

    ^catalyst Member

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    Get a set of headphones you like, avoid more than 1 driver per ear.

    Get a soundcard that does what you want, if you want fancy positional sound in games that means from Creative (last I checked, where is 3d audio on pc at anyway??).

    You'll want the positional shit done in the soundcard, which may not be possible if you use the digital out.

    To be super honest, if you've got a decent soundcard and don't have any interference or noise problems from it being inside your pc you probably won't notice going down the DAC > AMP route.

    If you want to eek the best out of an expensive/high quality set of headphones you may need a better DAC than the soundcard has.

    If the headphones you like the most are high impedance you will need an amplifier if your soundcard cannot drive them. Most headphones are not high impedance. The impedance doesn't directly relate to the quality.

    It is unfortunately not really possible to objectively quantify 'quality' in audio as it is highly subjective. Therefore, the amount of complete and utter bullshit people talk related to it has more mass than a thousand suns.

    If it sounds good, it is good.
     
  13. lithos

    lithos Member

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    Pretty much dead :(.

    "NAH, BRO, DOLBY IS ALL U NEED."
     
  14. Chif

    Chif Member

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    Thanks to all above

    That may be why I'm not liking my current headset. It's got 5 drivers per ear and I assume they are 5 low quality drivers in order to keep the price down.

    So if you do only have one driver per ear, software can manage any surround sound requirements?

    Thanks all for the info, I've got a decent grasp now and am therefore finding my research a little easier. Thanks for bearing with me.
     
  15. tree86ers

    tree86ers Member

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  16. ^catalyst

    ^catalyst Member

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    Pretty much. At the end of the day you only have 2 ears, which is like having two microphones on the side of your head. Your ability to understand where things are in a space is based of the timing difference of the sound hitting each ear and some other things, but mainly the timing difference; thus you only really need 1 speaker (driver) per microphone (ear).

    There aren't any 'serious' 3d sound systems that use multiple drivers per ear. BAE Systems Striker II Helmet
     
  17. Lenqt

    Lenqt Member

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    Following
     

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