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Zaneboy

Noob audiophile needs some help with soundcard choice

PC 350's are stereo, there's no reason for you to get a dedicated sound card.  External DAC/Amps are good, but onboard is already good enough for everything.  So in my mind, you need none of those, save your money.

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Posted · Original PosterOP

Hello there,

 

Long time youtube subber, first time posting here. Anyway, let's get to business.

 

 

At the moment I'm using the onboard sound of my Maximus VI Hero. I don't have any complaints since I've known nothing but the realm of onboard sound but I'm looking to expand my horizon in a search for a greater and better sound/audio experience since I acquired my Sennheiser PC 350's. I know the PC 350 is not the best headset out there but it is a very decent upgrade from my previous one. Aside from the 350 I'm using an ordinary logitech 2.1 speaker system. I'm using my headset more than my speaker system thus I'm searching for a card that compliments my 350. I mainly game and watch movies with my headset. I have no issue with paying a fair amount of money for it, I'm looking for high quality and durability in a sound card. I did a fair bit of research and this is what I found online on external forums not knowing if everything can be considered as objective or true;

 

1. Asus Xonar Rog Phoebus:

+ Amazing sound coming from customer reviews

- 7.1 systems

- potential driver issues?

= Kinda disregarded this one.

 

2. Asus Xonar Essence STX:

+ has an amp on it (pc 350 requires 150 ohm)

+ better in mid frequencies (rock, jazz, etc)

- but more music oriented than gaming

= In for consideration.

 

3. Creative X-Fi Titanium HD:

+ more gaming oriented

+ more bass music oriented (edm, house - these are my genres),

+ EAX 5.0 for gaming

- no amp

= In for consideration

 

4. Asus Xonar DGX (alternative)

+ massive lower price

? good enough quality?

 

 

Do my PC 350's really benefit that much more from the previous mentioned high end cards or do I need a way better headphone for those? If this is the case, will the DGX compliment my 350 enough or do you recommend a better card? As I stated before, I don't know if what I found online can be considered non-biased. In topic A they'll say that the Titianium is better than the STX, in topic B it's the other way around and in topic C they're advising a different soundcard. I'm hoping some of you could offer some clarification on this and/or some experience if you have/had more than one of the previous mentioned cards.

 

I thank you for your time.


CPU: Intel i5 4670K @ 4.4 Ghz. - CPU Cooling: Corsair H100i - Mobo: Asus Maximus VI Hero - GPU: Gigabyte Windforce GTX 770 2GB - RAM: 4x 4GB Corsair Vengeance 1866Mhz - SSD: Samsung 840 EVO 250GB - HDD: Seagate Barracuda 1TB & 3TB - PSU: Corsair CX750M - Case: CM Storm Scout 2 Advance

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On board audio uis fine but if you really want to upgrade soundcard not good choice look a dac amd combos and buy a senheisser hd 558 or greater


Please follow your topics guys, it's very important! CoC F.A.Q  Please use the corresponding PC part picker link for your country USA, UK, Canada, AustraliaSpain, Italy, New Zealand and Germany

also if you find anyone with this handle in games its most likely me so say hi

 

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Whats your motherboard?

You don't really need a sound card, if you really want an improvement in sound then get a Headphone amp/dac.


Computing enthusiast. 
I use to be able to input a cheat code now I've got to input a credit card - Total Biscuit
 

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If you frequent this sub you would know that an external dac/amp is the way to go. Obligatory mention on how the differences will be pretty minor. But I understand why some people want a good dac/amp for other reasons. My fav is the O2/Odac combo. It's not so much as "complimentary" with a given headphone, it's just transparent performance in that does its job nicely then gets out of the way. Any more and you're totally into placebo territory except for few specific headphones that require an ungodly amount of power which you will likely never touch. If you want the whole nine yards it will cost you $240.


In Placebo We Trust - Resident Obnoxious Objective Fanboy (R.O.O.F) - Your Eyes Cannot Hear
Haswell Overclocking Guide | Skylake Overclocking GuideCan my amp power my headphones?
Stop worrying about your audio gear and start jammin' to your favorite tunes already!

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sound cards are actually no better than on board sound cards mostly nowadays- there is along winded explanation but just believe me. The only reason that people swear by sound cards is because it helps to eliminate the interference caused by the rest of your pc, random crackling in playback of music. As a result, the best option to go for is an external DAC amp combo, or even just an external DAC because it offers truly better performance for the same price as the most expensive sound cards. But all of this is trivial if you don't have worthy enough headphones

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if you mostly game, then get any sound card you can buy. though watch out those drivers, all sound card drivers are a mess.


When 2 things meet each other, Quantum stuff happens.

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Posted · Best Answer

PC 350's are stereo, there's no reason for you to get a dedicated sound card.  External DAC/Amps are good, but onboard is already good enough for everything.  So in my mind, you need none of those, save your money.


AD2000x Review  Fitear To Go! 334 Review

Speakers - KEF LSX

Headphones - Sennheiser HD650, Kumitate Labs KL-Lakh

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Although, normally when I think of the word 'audiophile' I think of somebody who's top concern is about music listening, not gaming or movies per se.


In Placebo We Trust - Resident Obnoxious Objective Fanboy (R.O.O.F) - Your Eyes Cannot Hear
Haswell Overclocking Guide | Skylake Overclocking GuideCan my amp power my headphones?
Stop worrying about your audio gear and start jammin' to your favorite tunes already!

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Posted · Original PosterOP

PC 350's are stereo, there's no reason for you to get a dedicated sound card.  External DAC/Amps are good, but onboard is already good enough for everything.  So in my mind, you need none of those, save your money.

So basically as long as you're running stereo pheripherals there's no need for it? Why does surround benefit more than stereo from a dedicated card?

 

Although, normally when I think of the word 'audiophile' I think of somebody who's top concern is about music listening, not gaming or movies per se.

Well, I meant it more in a manner of wanting to have high audio quality. Thing is though, I combine music listening with gaming at the same time. That's why I also put in the 'Noob' in front. :P

 

sound cards are actually no better than on board sound cards mostly nowadays- there is along winded explanation but just believe me. The only reason that people swear by sound cards is because it helps to eliminate the interference caused by the rest of your pc, random crackling in playback of music. As a result, the best option to go for is an external DAC amp combo, or even just an external DAC because it offers truly better performance for the same price as the most expensive sound cards. But all of this is trivial if you don't have worthy enough headphones

Thing is, if I read customer reviews of certain cards people say they're experiencing a huge difference and that it's so much clearer etc.

 

Are there any recommendations for DAC or DAC Amp combo's?


CPU: Intel i5 4670K @ 4.4 Ghz. - CPU Cooling: Corsair H100i - Mobo: Asus Maximus VI Hero - GPU: Gigabyte Windforce GTX 770 2GB - RAM: 4x 4GB Corsair Vengeance 1866Mhz - SSD: Samsung 840 EVO 250GB - HDD: Seagate Barracuda 1TB & 3TB - PSU: Corsair CX750M - Case: CM Storm Scout 2 Advance

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So basically as long as you're running stereo pheripherals there's no need for it? Why does surround benefit more than stereo from a dedicated card?

Well, I meant it more in a manner of wanting to have high audio quality. Thing is though, I combine music listening with gaming at the same time. That's why I also put in the 'Noob' in front.  :P

That's not really true. For example, a person's onboard can have problems that force them to get a cheap replacement. However, that still doesn't call for a $200 sound card. The best reason for a $100+ sound card is you want the virtual surround the card supports. In my experience Dolby Headphone sucks ass and SBX is actually semi-legit. Although, Razer Surround is free... And that's strictly for in-game audio, music's not gonna sound better because you popped some virtual surround. While it's probably true that a "high end soundcard" will have better noise floor for example (don't hear hissing with volume cranked up), it's a tough sell when external amp/dac solutions do what a sound card does but better at the same price. Pomfinator said you don't really need an upgrade and that echos what I said earlier.

 

Thing is, if I read customer reviews of certain cards people say they're experiencing a huge difference and that it's so much clearer etc.

 

Are there any recommendations for DAC or DAC Amp combo's?

I can go on and on about placebo and expectation bias. But I don't feel like it right now. There isn't a huge difference unless your onboard sound is defective or like 6 years old or older. My original Odac/O2 suggestion is an external amp/dac suggestion. Schiit Modi/Magni is a little cheaper.


In Placebo We Trust - Resident Obnoxious Objective Fanboy (R.O.O.F) - Your Eyes Cannot Hear
Haswell Overclocking Guide | Skylake Overclocking GuideCan my amp power my headphones?
Stop worrying about your audio gear and start jammin' to your favorite tunes already!

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So basically as long as you're running stereo pheripherals there's no need for it? Why does surround benefit more than stereo from a dedicated card?

It's not that surround benefits more, it's that games rarely actually have real 5.1/7.1/etc audio built in, so you need some dedicated DSPs in order to figure out where sound is coming from, reconvert that data back into a stereo sound and then transmit it to the drivers.  Most headphones with 5.1/7.1 come with their own USB soundcards anyway and frankly all of the cards above are the kind of cards that are marketed towards "gamers" which automatically means in my book "shitty".  If the developer intended you to have great situational awareness of sound, they would've put it into the game already.  Battlefield is a great example, through all it's flaw mechanics and netcode, the sound design in that game is fantastic.


AD2000x Review  Fitear To Go! 334 Review

Speakers - KEF LSX

Headphones - Sennheiser HD650, Kumitate Labs KL-Lakh

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It's not that surround benefits more, it's that games rarely actually have real 5.1/7.1/etc audio built in, so you need some dedicated DSPs in order to figure out where sound is coming from, reconvert that data back into a stereo sound and then transmit it to the drivers.  Most headphones with 5.1/7.1 come with their own USB soundcards anyway and frankly all of the cards above are the kind of cards that are marketed towards "gamers" which automatically means in my book "shitty".  If the developer intended you to have great situational awareness of sound, they would've put it into the game already.  Battlefield is a great example, through all it's flaw mechanics and netcode, the sound design in that game is fantastic.

I don't think BF4's sound is fantastic. Half the time I can't hear footsteps and it's just bland sounding. I heard BC2 from BF series was good and CS:Go and Insurgency all have great audio and BF4 pales in comparison.


In Placebo We Trust - Resident Obnoxious Objective Fanboy (R.O.O.F) - Your Eyes Cannot Hear
Haswell Overclocking Guide | Skylake Overclocking GuideCan my amp power my headphones?
Stop worrying about your audio gear and start jammin' to your favorite tunes already!

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Posted · Original PosterOP

I don't live in the USA. I live in Belgium where unfortunately I don't have much choice when I look online for DAC/Amp's. Fortunately my dad knows someone from his work who is into the whole audio business (he makes and repairs speakers and more) so I hope I can ask him some advice concerning the products available here and if it's worth investing in it for now with the headset that I have at the moment.

 

Thanks for the informational replies! :)


CPU: Intel i5 4670K @ 4.4 Ghz. - CPU Cooling: Corsair H100i - Mobo: Asus Maximus VI Hero - GPU: Gigabyte Windforce GTX 770 2GB - RAM: 4x 4GB Corsair Vengeance 1866Mhz - SSD: Samsung 840 EVO 250GB - HDD: Seagate Barracuda 1TB & 3TB - PSU: Corsair CX750M - Case: CM Storm Scout 2 Advance

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I don't live in the USA. I live in Belgium where unfortunately I don't have much choice when I look online for DAC/Amp's. Fortunately my dad knows someone from his work who is into the whole audio business (he makes and repairs speakers and more) so I hope I can ask him some advice concerning the products available here and if it's worth investing in it for now with the headset that I have at the moment.

 

Thanks for the informational replies! :)

headnhifi sells o2/odacs and they're based in Switzerland. Epiphany acoustics does too and they're based in the UK. I'm sure if you wanted one you could source one from either of those companies rather easily. The Monoprice dac/amp is also very good and it's $100 in the US. I think they have a pretty far reach so you might be able to find them in Europe but they might be rebrands. 

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