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Looking for DAC/Amp as good or better than Asus -A series (S1220A etc)

dtgq
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Want to spend around $100. Headphone is HD598SE. I listen at 6% to 8% volume on my Z370-A Prime and I'm completely happy with this. I'd like to decouple my audio device so I don't have to pay an extra $100 each time I upgrade my motherboard for the -A series; it'd be great if Asus took the -A hardware and put it in an add-in card. But would prefer something that doesn't need software drivers to be installed. Any suggestions?

 

I've previously owned Asus Xonar DX, Xonar DG, Fiio K3, Fiio E17K. To me, the Xonars sound exactly the same as cheap motherboard onboard, and both the Fiio devices sound WORSE than onboard audio while feeling cheap and tacky. The only audio output device that has ever made a difference in sound quality is this Z370-A Prime, and at this point I really don't believe in anything else (since I can't trust the reviews after trying these devices myself), I just want to decouple this -A hardware from the motherboard.

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You could squeeze a bit more for iFi ZEN DAC. It's said to have warmer, less analytical and fun sound than the Fiio ones.

Try to get it from a reputable store in case you don't like it too so you can return it. But it also depends on why you want to change audio source too.

 

Most dac/amps requires to have drivers installed, even your -A onboard audio has its drivers. A quick google search tells me the S1220A is from Realtek.

DAC/AMPs:

Klipsch Heritage Headphone Amplifier

Lake People G103-S (Currently not in use)

Headphones: Klipsch Heritage HP-3 Walnut, Beyerdynamic Amiron Home, Amiron Wireless Copper, T5p.2, Tygr 300R, DT880 600ohm Manufaktur, Fidelio X2HR, Meze 99 Classics Walnut/Gold

Earphones: Airpods 2019, Sony WF1000XM3, Sony MDR-E818LP

CPU: Intel 4770, GPU: Gigabyte Aorus GTX1080Ti, Mobo: MSI Z87-G45, RAM: DDR3 16GB G.Skill, PC Case: Fractal Design R4 Black non-iglass, Monitor: BenQ GW2280.

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I'm so confused. Why would you have to pay an extra $100 every time you wanted to upgrade your motherboard?

PC Audio Setup = Beyerdynamic DT 770 pro 80 ohm and Sennheiser pc37x (also for xbox) hooked up to Schiit Fulla 3

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Audio is highly subjective and different combinations of hardware along with different ears makes it almost impossible to be objective about this hobby.  My k240 actually sound better with my onboard audio solution than they do with a $500 dac/amp and that's a first.

 

I would probably have to side with @CTR640and say you should go with something warmer.  Maybe even try for a hybrid tube amp then add a dac later if you want?

 

I have the Xduoo MT-602 in the mail so I can listen to my low impedance headphones on tubes.  Could even use a 3.5mm TRS male to dual RCA cable to connect to it since you like the sound signature of the onboard better.

Cans                                          Amps                                                               Speakers                                      Mic

Sennheiser 6xx                          Topping DX7 (dac/amp) (class D balanced)     Micca RB42                                  Antlion ModMic Uni

Beyerdynamic DT880-600         Emotiva A-100 (class A)                                                                                         Vmoda Boom Pro

Phillips Fidelio X3                      Nobsound Little Bear P7 (pure tube)                 Accessories                                Neego boom mic

Harmonicdyne Zeus                   Little dot MKII (pure tube)                                  Dekoni, Brainwavz and ZMF pads

Fostex T50RP                            Darkvoice 336SE (pure tube)                            Hart and Periapt cables

HiFi-man HE400i (2017)            Crown XLi1500 (power amp class A)                Yoga Blocks (headphone stands)

Blue Microphones Lola               Xduoo MT-602 (class A hybrid tube)

Koss KPH30iCL                          Schiit Fulla (class D dac/amp)                          Headset

AKG K-361-BT                                                                                                      Turtle Beach Stealth 700 v2 + adapter

Phillips shp9500

AKG K240 studio

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8 hours ago, weez said:

I'm so confused. Why would you have to pay an extra $100 every time you wanted to upgrade your motherboard?

Glad it's not only me who got confused lol

 

8 hours ago, Psittac said:

Audio is highly subjective and different combinations of hardware along with different ears makes it almost impossible to be objective about this hobby.  My k240 actually sound better with my onboard audio solution than they do with a $500 dac/amp and that's a first.

 

I would probably have to side with @CTR640and say you should go with something warmer.  Maybe even try for a hybrid tube amp then add a dac later if you want?

 

I have the Xduoo MT-602 in the mail so I can listen to my low impedance headphones on tubes.  Could even use a 3.5mm TRS male to dual RCA cable to connect to it since you like the sound signature of the onboard better.

Tube amps keeps intriguing me, expecially because of their sounds and the looks of the lamp bulbs. Not something you see every day.

But for my case, I don't have any use, especially if I want to keep my desk all clean. But, the Klipsch amp is said to have warmer sound, like tube warmth and indeed, T5p.2 actually does sound much better and DT880 600ohm too. The mentioned headphones will sound harsh on analytical dac/amps, sibilance will be less bearable too from the DT880. Simple put: warmer sounding dac/amps helps tame the treble/sibilance without altering the low regions.

DAC/AMPs:

Klipsch Heritage Headphone Amplifier

Lake People G103-S (Currently not in use)

Headphones: Klipsch Heritage HP-3 Walnut, Beyerdynamic Amiron Home, Amiron Wireless Copper, T5p.2, Tygr 300R, DT880 600ohm Manufaktur, Fidelio X2HR, Meze 99 Classics Walnut/Gold

Earphones: Airpods 2019, Sony WF1000XM3, Sony MDR-E818LP

CPU: Intel 4770, GPU: Gigabyte Aorus GTX1080Ti, Mobo: MSI Z87-G45, RAM: DDR3 16GB G.Skill, PC Case: Fractal Design R4 Black non-iglass, Monitor: BenQ GW2280.

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As I've mentioned many times, if you want tubes, shell out the money for a proper one. I have no current recommendations for tube headphone amps - I see no point in buying a commercial tube amp when 90% of the fun of tubes for me is designing and building equipment with them.

 

Otherwise, go for a good solid-state amp, and possibly apply some software EQ to tailor things to your needs. A lot of motherboards have a fairly high output impedance. IIRC, the HD598s are fairly low impedance dynamic headphones, so I expect you're getting a bump in the frequency response at the resonant frequency of the drivers. You probably won't get that with a better amplifier.

 

Also, because I've fallen victim to this myself, it's really, really easy to perceive "different" as "worse", when in fact it's the opposite. You get used to the nonidealities of a particular audio device, and suddenly any audio device that doesn't exhibit these characteristics sounds "bad" to you.

 

The Schiit solid-state amplifiers and DACs are generally well-behaved and are reasonably linear. They're a good place to start. 

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