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AKG Q701 headphones & Headphone Amp?

Discussion in 'PC Audio' started by Chardiieee, Feb 27, 2012.

  1. Chardiieee

    Chardiieee Member

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    Hey all

    Just bought a pair of AKG Q701 Quincy Jones Series cans which will sound epic over the AKG K77's I have currently.
    My question is more to do with headphone amps, because Ive seen a few around at varying prices and with all kinds of interface options, and would invest in one if I found the right one at the right price.

    Initially I considered an AudioEngine N22 from PCCG because it was a good price, and people say it performs well.
    Then again I came across the Schiit Asgard which is a true Class-A amp with NO IC's and despite its lolzy name, its ironcally a magical amplifier for only $250 (310 with shipping.)

    The reason I linked that particular picture of the Asgard was that I had a slight issue with its interfacing - since it ONLY has 2 RCA's for input, how exactly do I go about giving it a clean balanced line level signal from my PC? I have two balanced TRS analog outs on my current interface and could get a patch cable to make the connection, but it has its own volume and I think the Asgard is meant to recieve line level only. Not only that, my current interface has some issues with the output and its no where near as good as the Asgard for sound, plus its mainly for my guitar/mic inputs.

    If anyone can help me with the interfacing issue, it would be much appreciated as I would ideally LOVE a Class-A amp and would buy the Asgard in an instant.
     
  2. THE D

    THE D Member

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    I will just leave this here http://nwavguy.blogspot.com.au/2011/07/banned-at-head-fi.html
     
  3. mehkat

    mehkat (Banned or Deleted)

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    great link :) didn't occur to me when reading Chardiieee's post but a funny comment in the article... yes it's really called that, ie Shit Audio Arseguard. :)

    I'll say this I have the n22 and it's great for my set up, which is to drive the Audio Engine P4. My cans are also AKG - k242's and I love them. They don't need really much extra driving though and it's as much about the convenience for me of having vol/head input on my desk.

    It's a good little amp but I think you would be selling those 701's short if you bought it for them. This is purely based on what I read while researching before I bought the amp and speakers, I'm no expert, but there are definitely much better headphone amps out there
     
  4. OP
    OP
    Chardiieee

    Chardiieee Member

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    Nice article. Apart form the entire lack of decent interfacing, I guess that narrows it down. Wont get the Asgard just from that. Ugh but it wouldve been so good to have a nice Class-A amp which didnt fry headphoens :upset:

    The only reason Im going for the N22 is because I just spent $400 on these headphones, and dont have much more to spare (as Im getting a new PC). I would pay up to $300 for an amp just for the headphones, but I would need it to work on a PC via a USB connection or something friendly like that. A lot of the amps apparently have all this iPod crap which I wont really use, and have no idea what its really for. I just want a headphone amp with an on/off switch and a good potentiometer, filled with high quality components and brings the most out of my headphones, for a reasonable price.
     
  5. Drubbing

    Drubbing Member

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    You don't want a cheap amp with lots of fruit to try and get your moneys worth from the AKG. More fruit = less power and refinement. There's precious little in that range that will have the grunt for 701s

    Matrix M-stage will power the 701 with headroom. Don't get hung up on Class A, it's not a magic pill.

    http://headphones.com.au/psingle?productID=527 Not any cheaper direct from Matrix on ebay.

    You're not going to find many balanced amps for the $300 mark that are as good as the Matrix, which IHMO, plays well out of its league in the first place. IMO balanced is a load of cods unless you're cabling through 30m of studio with power and transformers and EMI going off everywhere. It's just not needed in home settings and the 'benefits' are what gives audiophiles something to argue about.

    The next thing, which doesn't much sound better, but offers balanced is http://headphones.com.au/psingle?productID=479
     
  6. OP
    OP
    Chardiieee

    Chardiieee Member

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    Damn that Matrix M-Stage looks alright.
    I would consider buying it if I didnt have the same problem with the Asgard... RCA inputs. How exactly do I get my PC sound into that thing? Dont know why a USB interface is hard to add onto those things, they would be perfect then.
     
  7. Omnomnom

    Omnomnom Member

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    If it had a USB interface then it would need to be a DAC as well.

    Analogue output from PC > RCA input on the amp
     
  8. Nerdbox87

    Nerdbox87 Member

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    I've got k702 through an m-stage. Love it.

    Just buy a Fiio d3 for about 40$ and connect from your pc with optical.

    Budget friendly goodness
     
  9. Drubbing

    Drubbing Member

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    Mate, you can't plug a PC directly into an amp, it needs to receive a signal from a DAC/Soundcard. You can run RCA from your PC that has a 3.5mm jack on one end.

    I wouldn't run an 701 off stock onboard sound and then amp it, sort of defeats the purpose of having quality headphones.
     
  10. OP
    OP
    Chardiieee

    Chardiieee Member

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    Thanks! Looks mega handy and great that its so cheap. I might do just the same as you! :D

    I was thinking, Im not getting rid of my current interface (Line 6 POD STudio UX2) because it handles my guitar and things... it features a SPDIF OUT - could I use that and daisy chain it around to the Fiio D3 and then to the Matrix M-Stage? Or is there just too many components in the way there?

    PC --> Line6 UX2 --> Fiio D3 --> Matirx M-Stage --> AKG headphones

    I could take the interface out of the loop I guess if the PC sound can be routed thru the Fiio via USB, but Ill still be using the Line6 UX2 as my input box for guitars and mics and things.
     
  11. Drubbing

    Drubbing Member

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    Too much crap in there. Decent phones need simple connections and good components in the chain. DAC-Amp-Phones. Putting a recording interface in there is not a good idea.

    The Fiio is a cheap piece of crap - Anything calling itself an external DAC for $25 will be next to useless. I fail to understand why people get costly, demanding headphones and cheap out on other components in the chain - the SQ obtained will only be as good as your worst link. The amp and phones will be let down badly by such a dirt cheap DAC.

    Get a decent soundcard if using your PC. The Fiio might be useful as a optical to RCA interface, but as a DAC it will blow, if you can bypass the DAC function, it may be useful. A good soundcard will be infinitely better.
     
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2012
  12. Nerdbox87

    Nerdbox87 Member

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    The Fiio is fine - changed from an essence stx to this when i downsized to a laptop, no noticable change in quality at all.

    So the above is crap.

    Agree on not including the recording though
     
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2012
  13. THE D

    THE D Member

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    The funny thing is the headphones are just about always the worst link and BTW you can get a goodish DAC for cheap, like the Behringer UCA202 http://nwavguy.blogspot.com.au/2011/10/uca202-dac-take-2.html
     
  14. Drubbing

    Drubbing Member

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    Just cos you can't tell the diff between one of the best souncards available and a cheapy bodge like the Fiio, it doesn't mean others cannot.

    Basic economics dictate cheap external stuff has for more costs associated with build that leaves less for decent components. I've heard $100 external DACs that were no better than clean onboard.

    That's pretty much as wide a generalisation about phones as you can get. If anything, too often when people buy good phones they expect they'll plug n play from basic sources and that the phones will do it all.

    Just getting a clean signal is only part of it and any cheapie can do that. A good DAC will do far more for clarity, seperation and dynamics. All tests like that are concerned with is SNR and distortion numbers, and making fancy claims about how they do it as well as more expensive kit. That only proves it's easy to do, should be a given, and has nothing to do with the real differences between cheap and quality products.
     
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2012
  15. OP
    OP
    Chardiieee

    Chardiieee Member

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    @Drubbing

    I still have a PCI soundcard (Creatve x-fi extreme) which I used to use before I had this interface, and it does provide an optical in/out as well as unbalanced analog TRS 3.5mm jacks (front, rear, centre/sub). Would it make a difference if I bought an optical cable and went:

    PC soundcard --> Fiio D3 optical --> Matrix --> headphones

    or, would it be better to just get a 3.5mm to dual RCA and have that straight from the soundcard into the Matrix?

    The problem I had with the soundcard was that it was using unbalanced analog which sucked compared to optical, using the Logitech Z5500's. Plus I didnt know if I could trust it for good clean flat sound, as Creative provides all this software with tweaks and things including the 'crystallizer' which brings out more dynamics in the sound - dont know if its a total farse or not, and I would expect to just have the entire dynamic range unleashed without a need to adjust that.

    What are some decent-but-not-crazy-expensive DAC/&mp all-in-one which could run off USB?
     
  16. Drubbing

    Drubbing Member

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    The matrix off a good card will do beter.
     
  17. OP
    OP
    Chardiieee

    Chardiieee Member

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    At this rate I would use the Creative sound card with a 3.5mm TRS to L/R RCA to insert the signal to a Matrix, but Im not sure how much the soundcard will be 'bottlenecking' it?? I could use the optical connection but I would need yet another interface between the soundcard and the Matrix just to use it. Im too worried that the soundcard is going to limit how good the quality is right off the bat, even if I had a Matrix and AKG's.

    Im also building a new PC when the new Z77 motherboards are out, where the onboard sound has been upgraded a lot compared to older boards, and could use its optical/3.5mm TRS for the Matrix. The only issue THERE is that I dont know how good the onboard sound is compared to a Creative soundcard. Even the onboard / soundcard quality could be challenged by a USB DAC.
    Im a bit of an audio enthusiast since I started studying Audio Enginnering, and just want to be able to have the best sound possible without blowing loads of money, as Ive already just done that ordering in a new PC and headphones and things.

    Is it worth using this Creative sound card with a Matrix now? - or is it "too Lo-Fi" for the amp/headphones?
    I am willing to buy a Matrix but I dont want to keep spending more and more and more money JUST to get sound to my headphones, let alone have some semblance of quality.

    I would ideally like a clean balanced signal with no unneccessary interference from software or things like that. Why is that a hard thing to do? Why dont manufacturers of this hardware make it easier for PC desktop users to connect it to the PC and enjoy the good cans they are using with it?
     
  18. ^catalyst

    ^catalyst Member

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    Have you thought about a halfway decent production interface instead?
     
  19. THE D

    THE D Member

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    Tests like that are clearly in depth and will tell you how something sounds.

    The "fancy claims" are words like "clarity, seperation and dynamics", they will not tell you who something will sound, only objective data will really do that.
     
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2012
  20. Snufkin

    Snufkin Member

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    You don't need an optical cable in there.

    Decent PC soundcard -> Matrix M-Stage -> Headphones is what you should be aiming for.

    You can use a 3.5mm to RCA cable or get a soundcard that supports RCA out and use stereo RCA cables.

    You don't need optical, or coaxial, or USB if you have a decent soundcard.

    If you were previously running crappy onboard sound via digital to external speakers, the external speakers just had a better quality DAC than onboard sound, it had nothing to do with which cable was being used.
     

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