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Quasee

Will a DAC/AMP help with on-board audio issues?

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Posted · Original PosterOP

Hello,

 

My new Sennheiser HD599's arrived today and they sound great, my only issue is that my front audio jack on my PC causes static noises and hissing (common issue with my motherboard), I tried to use the speaker jack at the back of the PC however the audio quality and volume seems significantly lower, but without the hissing.

My question is would a DAC/AMP like the FiiO K3 help with this issue? I have a designated yellow DAC USB port in the back of my computer that I can plug into. 

 

 

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1 minute ago, Quasee said:

Hello,

 

My new Sennheiser HD599's arrived today and they sound great, my only issue is that my front audio jack on my PC causes static noises and hissing (common issue with my motherboard), I tried to use the speaker jack at the back of the PC however the audio quality and volume seems significantly lower, but without the hissing.

My question is would a DAC/AMP like the FiiO K3 help with this issue? I have a designated yellow DAC USB port in the back of my computer that I can plug into. 

 

That would be a good solution


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Some older pc cases or cheap dont have good shielding


PM or DM me if you have any questions about audio or about your PC.

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Yes a USB dac would fix that.


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5 minutes ago, Quasee said:

I have a designated yellow DAC USB port in the back of my computer that I can plug into. 

Yeah, nah, you don't need a dedicated USB port for a DAC, you can use any.

And yes, an external audio solution (whether dacamp, interface or otherwise) may help get rid of that EMI. I don't know much about standalone dacs but my usual recommendation for cheap interface with good headphone amp is the UMC202HD.


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Yes, the K3 imo would not only help but very slightly improve the sound quality and detail.
However i can guarantee that K3 gonna be uncomfortable to use because it's super tiny and when you will try to change the volume whe whole K3 gonna move/rotate, i didn't had the K3 but i had the FiiO E10K which K3 was based on.

My tip is to get double sided tape and glue the K3 under the desk for example where you can easily reach it and at the same time remember where it is ( e.g. desks side can work as a guide ).

There's also more powerful alternative which is the DAC-X6 ( non-portable ) that goes for $60~ it has powerful AMP ( ~900mW @ 32ohm where the K3 i believe is 250mW @ 32ohm ), it's also bigger and the volume pot should be overall superior it will also be somewhat "future proof" in case you will get more power hungry headphones in future such as DT 770 250ohm etc.
If budget isn't an issue i would recommend FiiO K5 Pro ( it's beautiful DAC+AMP with very smooth digital volume pot and overall is high quality and compares to JDS Labs and Schiit dacs/amps, non-portable ) basically the K5 Pro is best dac/amp combo under $200 in EU and maybe under $300 too.

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49 minutes ago, The Flying Sloth said:

recommendation for cheap interface with good headphone amp is the UMC202HD.

Interfaces are for totally different purpose which is usually connecting your Mic and Speakers, Headphones and maybe some Guitar together without any latency/delay for music production or recording + volume controller for all the stuff you've connected and they usually don't have amplifiers built-in including the model of yours but what they have is DAC, not sure how these DAC's compare to headphone DAC's but i bet it would be pretty hard to hear the difference anyway for average listener.


Edit: tried to merge it into single comment but i've realized there's no delete comment option so whatever.

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1 minute ago, Exaco said:

 they usually don't have amplifiers built-in including the model of yours but what they have is DAC, not sure how these DAC's compare to headphone DAC's but i bet it would be pretty hard to hear the difference anyway for average listener.

Yeah, no, interfaces always have a headphone amplifier (and mic preamps) built in as well a DAC and ADC circuitry, the 202HD is, however, the cheapest interface with a dedicated headphone amp that controllable separately from the main monitor outputs. You're correct in saying the DAC isn't too different between consumer standalones and interfaces which is why I tend to recommend interfaces over overpriced standalone consumer gear.

If you'd like to learn a little bit more about interfaces or studio gear as a whole the guide linked in my signature is a really good starting point.


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A DAC/amp can fix that yes but that could just be the fact that you are using your case. The audio Potts in your case is typically badly shielded. If you have a somewhat recent motherboard I would just go off the back panel on your motherboard as that should be cleaner if not then you can start looking into a DAC amp solution. The he 599 is fairly efficient so we do t need anything too powerful.


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On 6/3/2020 at 1:38 AM, The Flying Sloth said:

Yeah, no, interfaces always have a headphone amplifier (and mic preamps) built in as well a DAC and ADC circuitry, the 202HD is, however, the cheapest interface with a dedicated headphone amp that controllable separately from the main monitor outputs. You're correct in saying the DAC isn't too different between consumer standalones and interfaces which is why I tend to recommend interfaces over overpriced standalone consumer gear.

If you'd like to learn a little bit more about interfaces or studio gear as a whole the guide linked in my signature is a really good starting point.

Why then people use separate headphone amp connected to the interface with an fairly expensive Interfaces such as Focusrite Scarlett?
Also why most if not all interfaces has no signs of amp in their specs? 

Even some friends who uses interfaces said that there's some AMP, but how good and how powerful they are? I guess it's just basic effect of it having more power that's it just as if you connect your headphones to your PC's front panel it usually has bit more power than back I/O ( even if it doesn't have any amplifier or different chip, it just gives that boost from the circuitry alone i suppose ) or similar when you connect your headphones to your display monitor for example which usually has bit more power than your smartphone or bad onboard audio. I guess interfaces can power some headphones but their amplifiers are pure dogshit most likely, i mean they might have e.g. 1W @ 32ohm but the THD, noise levels probs gonna be no different from poor onboard audio and AMP is most important hardware in terms of getting the best audio quality in headphones and speakers, DAC's is just for main conversion, electric interference removal and audiophile stuff like resolution mostly.

 

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49 minutes ago, Exaco said:

Why then people use separate headphone amp connected to the interface with an fairly expensive Interfaces such as Focusrite Scarlett?
Also why most if not all interfaces has no signs of amp in their specs? 

Even some friends who uses interfaces said that there's some AMP, but how good and how powerful they are? I guess it's just basic effect of it having more power that's it just as if you connect your headphones to your PC's front panel it usually has bit more power than back I/O ( even if it doesn't have any amplifier or different chip, it just gives that boost from the circuitry alone i suppose ) or similar when you connect your headphones to your display monitor for example which usually has bit more power than your smartphone or bad onboard audio. I guess interfaces can power some headphones but their amplifiers are pure dogshit most likely, i mean they might have e.g. 1W @ 32ohm but the THD, noise levels probs gonna be no different from poor onboard audio and AMP is most important hardware in terms of getting the best audio quality in headphones and speakers, DAC's is just for main conversion, electric interference removal and audiophile stuff like resolution mostly.

 

First things first, Focusrite Scarlett interfaces are budget interfaces, Focusrite's Clarett line is their good stuff. The reason studios use headphone amps in conjunction with interfaces is that the artist(s) need to be able to hear themselves and the line outputs on interfaces do not have headphone amplifiers built in. If you're asking specifically why people use amps with Scarlett interfaces, it's that while they're designed to power 250ohm Beyer headphones some users like earsplitting volume and they will not provide earsplitting volume at 250ohms. All interfaces in the Behringer line above the UMC202HD and Focusrite Scarlett interfaces above the 2i2 are designed with dedicated headphone amplifiers to power 250ohm Beyerdynamic headphones.

As for your second paragraph I genuinely understood very little of it but what I did understand you were quite incorrect in. Interface amplifiers are designed for clean gain with no EQ or compression, they're designed just to amplify and this can make them sound somewhat surgical to those used to tube microphone preamps and other designs that 'colour' the audio they receive. The amplifiers must be designed this way for use in mixing and mastering of audio so that the engineer can hear exactly what they're working on, it is for this reason that the headphone amps in interfaces (as well as the DAC and ADC conversion circuits) produce much higher quality signal than most standalone/consumer solutions at double the price.


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On 6/4/2020 at 7:13 AM, The Flying Sloth said:

All interfaces in the Behringer line above the UMC202HD and Focusrite Scarlett interfaces above the 2i2 are designed with dedicated headphone amplifiers to power 250ohm Beyerdynamic headphones.
 

And that doesn't say anything, there's 35ohm headphones that is harder to power than some 250ohm ones.
Ohm alone means nothing just like some crappy $10-20 amplifiers has specifications like "For headphones up to 600ohm" and no other info.

Basically if specs doesn't mention the chip model name of the amp or the output power etc it's probably pretty crappy "amp".

250ohm beyer requirements for 110dB: 25mW, 2.5V & 10 milliamps

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14 minutes ago, Exaco said:

And that doesn't say anything, there's 35ohm headphones that is harder to power than some 250ohm ones.

Read my quote again,

On 6/4/2020 at 2:13 PM, The Flying Sloth said:

All interfaces in the Behringer line above the UMC202HD and Focusrite Scarlett interfaces above the 2i2 are designed with dedicated headphone amplifiers to power 250ohm Beyerdynamic headphones.

Of course sensitivity matters but that's why I specified the headphones and didn't simply say "250 ohm headphones"

Interesting that you choose to try (and fail to) correct me on a single line while ignoring all the others directly answering your prior misunderstandings.

[EDIT] : Don't think I didn't notice your sneaky edit, Interfaces serve many other purposes than headphone amplification and manufacturers choose instead to let the products speak for themselves rather than list every single component within them, that would not only take forever but be near meaningless to the vast majority of purchasers. As I already said

On 6/4/2020 at 2:13 PM, The Flying Sloth said:

Interface amplifiers are designed for clean gain with no EQ or compression, they're designed just to amplify and this can make them sound somewhat surgical to those used to tube microphone preamps and other designs that 'colour' the audio they receive. The amplifiers must be designed this way for use in mixing and mastering of audio so that the engineer can hear exactly what they're working on, it is for this reason that the headphone amps in interfaces (as well as the DAC and ADC conversion circuits) produce much higher quality signal than most standalone/consumer solutions at double the price.

You can't mix or master on a

17 minutes ago, Exaco said:

pretty crappy "amp".

You mix and master on amplifiers

On 6/4/2020 at 2:13 PM, The Flying Sloth said:

designed for clean gain with no EQ or compression, they're designed just to amplify

No frills, just clean, pristine amplification.


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16 minutes ago, The Flying Sloth said:

Interesting that you choose to try (and fail to) correct me on a single line while ignoring all the others directly answering your prior misunderstandings.

Simply because you were +- right about the rest but still most interfaces has dogshit amps.
Pretty sure every interface MUST HAVE decent DAC so all the connections has not a hint of any interference, noise or cracking meanwhile amp isn't even required thing for Interface.

 

Quote

manufacturers choose instead to let the products speak for themselves rather than list every single component within them, that would not only take forever but be near meaningless to the vast majority of purchasers

Do you "hear" yourself? This is just ridiculous, it's like AMD releasing a new CPU and saying "you will figure out how many cores it has after you purchase".


 

Quote

Interface amplifiers are designed for clean gain with no EQ or compression, they're designed just to amplify and this can make them sound somewhat surgical to those used to tube microphone preamps and other designs that 'colour' the audio they receive. The amplifiers must be designed this way for use in mixing and mastering of audio so that the engineer can hear exactly what they're working on, it is for this reason that the headphone amps in interfaces (as well as the DAC and ADC conversion circuits) produce much higher quality signal than most standalone/consumer solutions at double the price.

Can't recall what audiophiles prefer, but pretty sure it's exactly that - no coloring & super low THD/Noise.

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8 minutes ago, Exaco said:

 amp isn't even required thing for Interface.

How is a producer supposed to mix and master without headphones for reference? No, even better, how is a producer supposed to record without headphones? You can't record while using speakers... Of course a headphone amp is a "required thing for Interface." Even extremely high end interfaces that expect you to use external mic preamps and headphone amplifiers often have at least one headphone amp built in (Antelope Goliath HD, SSL Nucleus 2 or Prism Sound Atlas for instance).

If I might amend your previous statement "Pretty sure every interface MUST HAVE decent Headphone Amp so all the connections has not a hint of any interference, noise or cracking and they can effectively mix and master their music"

As we've been through many times already, "The amplifiers must be designed this way [extremely precise and clean gain] for use in mixing and mastering of audio so that the engineer can hear exactly what they're working on, it is for this reason that the headphone amps in interfaces (as well as the DAC and ADC conversion circuits) produce much higher quality signal than most standalone/consumer solutions at double
 the price."


Sloth's the name, audio gear is the game
My Microphone and Interface tips and recommendations

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18 minutes ago, The Flying Sloth said:

How is a producer supposed to mix and master without headphones for reference? No, even better, how is a producer supposed to record without headphones? You can't record while using speakers... Of course a headphone amp is a "required thing for Interface." Even extremely high end interfaces that expect you to use external mic preamps and headphone amplifiers often have at least one headphone amp built in (RME Digiface for instance).

If I might amend your previous statement "Pretty sure every interface MUST HAVE decent Headphone Amp so all the connections has not a hint of any interference, noise or cracking and they can effectively mix and master their music"

As we've been through many times already, "The amplifiers must be designed this way [extremely precise and clean gain] for use in mixing and mastering of audio so that the engineer can hear exactly what they're working on, it is for this reason that the headphone amps in interfaces (as well as the DAC and ADC conversion circuits) produce much higher quality signal than most standalone/consumer solutions at double
 the price."

Producer gets decent separate headphone amp or gets an Interface that has both decent DAC and AMP ( which probs cost $400+ ).

Interface with "good enough" AMP and superior DAC and all the fancy extras just sounds too good to be true for under $200 or even under $100. I mean i might with some chances not be able to tell the difference between e.g. JDS Labs Atom and $40 interface AMP, but still the amp in the interface gonna be shit.

And producers with excellent critical listening probs will want separate amp anyway.

 

Quote

If I might amend your previous statement "Pretty sure every interface MUST HAVE decent Headphone Amp so all the connections has not a hint of any interference, noise or cracking and they can effectively mix and master their music"

bruh..
AMP = Power/volume, makes the driver inside move. Here's a bit of fun with my FiiO K5 connected to a subwoofer.
DAC = Audio resolution, eliminates interference, noise, cracking etc.

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2 minutes ago, Exaco said:

Producer gets decent separate headphone amp or gets an Interface that has both decent DAC and AMP ( which probs cost $400+ ).

Having spent time in my fair share of studios I can say that I've seen cheap Behringer rack gear such as the HA8000 more times than I'd care to admit (and used the headphone amps on an interface even more times than that), for the money it simply can't be beaten, besides, I just explained this point!

"Of course a headphone amp is a "required thing for Interface." Even extremely high end interfaces that expect you to use external mic preamps and headphone amplifiers often have at least one headphone amp built in (Antelope Goliath HD, SSL Nucleus 2 or Prism Sound Atlas for instance)."

These are $5000+ interfaces that STILL HAVE inbuilt headphone amps even though it's quite obvious they expect you to use an external solution. For a new producer or a producer on a budget an Interface can be a large investment and it would be foolish of manufacturers to expect these users to buy a standalone headphone amp right out of the box.

I have quite a lot of money tied up in audio gear and I don't wish to count it up (so I can continue to feign ignorance) and I still use the integrated headphone amplifiers on the interface because they're damn good, I have headphone amps laying around I use with artists simply because the line outputs on my interface require amplification before being used with headphones but even these amplifiers are much cheaper than you'd expect and produce fabulous results, it's one of the perks of studio grade gear over consumer gear, our stuff is designed for clean amplification and even cheap gear can provide that whereas consumer gear is often designed to colour the audio and has a healthy dolloping of snake oil and magic pixie dust that somehow makes it cost more than double what a studio grade equivalent does.
 

4 minutes ago, Exaco said:

Interface with "good enough" AMP and superior DAC and all the fancy extras just sounds too good to be true for under $200 or even under $100.

And that's exactly my point, Interfaces are often much better value for their relative quality than consumer standalone solutions. I'm glad we finally solved that one.


Sloth's the name, audio gear is the game
My Microphone and Interface tips and recommendations

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1 minute ago, The Flying Sloth said:

And that's exactly my point, Interfaces are often much better value for their relative quality than consumer standalone solutions. I'm glad we finally solved that one.

Since i have quite shitty hearing in terms of "audiophile ears" i might get Interface instead of amp in future i suppose, will see maybe it's really life changer.

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29 minutes ago, Exaco said:

Since i have quite shitty hearing in terms of "audiophile ears" i might get Interface instead of amp in future i suppose, will see maybe it's really life changer.

I'll be the first to admit that my ears have been trashed from years of playing in extremely loud venues and live bands. If you're just looking for headphone amplification there are certainly more effective options and I'd not outright tell you to buy an Interface if that's all you're looking for. Standalone consumer options are still a great choice but if someone is looking for a cheaper option or to upgrade their inputs at the same time an interface is likely a more effective option.


Sloth's the name, audio gear is the game
My Microphone and Interface tips and recommendations

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