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What are some ways to connect triple 3.5 mm output to RCA input?

e22big
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Like the topic, I am looking for a way to connect triple 3.5 mm speakers output to an RCA input on other audio device, how do most people get into that? I was thinking using a tripe 3.5 mm to single 3.5 mm dongle then from single 3.5 mm to RCA but I hope there's a more elegant solution than that.

 

Actually do I even need the third 3.5 mm output? The label said it for L + R + subwoofer, if I just connect L+R to RCA would that be a problem? (or maybe one double 3.5 mm to single RCA and one single 3.5 mm to single RCA)

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Posted (edited)

Are the jacks TS (tip and sleeve) or TRS (tip, ring, sleeve, these are the ones you'll see on headphones)? If they're TS there are these things you could use to get them into RCA individually, but there is no way to bring the sub back in. The low end is probably cut out of the L and R jacks, and the sub jack is just going to have to go straight to a sub if you want to keep that part of the audio.

 

Edit: Another thing to add, make sure that those outputs are line level. If they're amplified outputs directly that directly run the speaker drivers you could do serious damage trying to connect things to it. Speaker outputs are meant to go to speakers, not to other equipment.

Edited by BobVonBob

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The easiest way would probably to simply set the source to stereo and just use the 3.5 mm for the front speakers. There are even cables that have 3.5 mm on one and and a pair of RCA plugs on the other. I'm actually running my computer on my hifi stereo setup that way.

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3 hours ago, BobVonBob said:

Are the jacks TS (tip and sleeve) or TRS (tip, ring, sleeve, these are the ones you'll see on headphones)? If they're TS there are these things you could use to get them into RCA individually, but there is no way to bring the sub back in. The low end is probably cut out of the L and R jacks, and the sub jack is just going to have to go straight to a sub if you want to keep that part of the audio.

 

Edit: Another thing to add, make sure that those outputs are line level. If they're amplified outputs directly that directly run the speaker drivers you could do serious damage trying to connect things to it. Speaker outputs are meant to go to speakers, not to other equipment.

Seems to be a TS, a friend told me that I can just use one 3.5 mm and split to to RCA is that true? (Apparently it's LR + LR + sub)

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2 hours ago, lordmogul said:

The easiest way would probably to simply set the source to stereo and just use the 3.5 mm for the front speakers. There are even cables that have 3.5 mm on one and and a pair of RCA plugs on the other. I'm actually running my computer on my hifi stereo setup that way.

Yeah my friend mentioned that too, so I actually don't need the sub output if I don't run in balanced?

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9 hours ago, e22big said:

Seems to be a TS, a friend told me that I can just use one 3.5 mm and split to to RCA is that true? (Apparently it's LR + LR + sub)

If it's TS, no. Each of the L and R jacks will only carry one side worth of audio. You need 3 wires to carry 2 channels of audio, and TS only has 2.

 

What exactly are you trying to connect to what? These jacks sound like they're direct speaker outputs, and I'd recommend not using them to try to feed anything else. If the volume ever gets bumped too high you can say goodbye to at least the RCA input circuitry of the device you're feeding, if not the whole device. If you have literally any other way to get audio out of this source I'd really suggest using that.

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I'm trying to get a feel for what your goal is and what your gear is. It's not as easy to follow as it could be so I'm just going to touch on general themes.


As an FYI Aux caries two channels of data. Subwoofers can either be their own channel OR sometimes they just end up getting the low frequency part of stereo data.


If you have two speakers and a subwoofer you'd use an Aux to RCA connector. If you're trying to split that out to a subwoofer you'd get a Y cable of some sort (and then an RCA cable from that).
 

 


If your set up is a super budgety 5.1 set of speakers that takes in an aux connector for L+R, another one for SL + SR (side) and another one for sub/center and your computer only has one aux out, you might want to get something like an HDMI to 5.1 splitter and to use a spare HDMI port.

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41 minutes ago, cmndr said:

I'm trying to get a feel for what your goal is and what your gear is. It's not as easy to follow as it could be so I'm just going to touch on general themes.


As an FYI Aux caries two channels of data. Subwoofers can either be their own channel OR sometimes they just end up getting the low frequency part of stereo data.


If you have two speakers and a subwoofer you'd use an Aux to RCA connector. If you're trying to split that out to a subwoofer you'd get a Y cable of some sort (and then an RCA cable from that).
 

 


If your set up is a super budgety 5.1 set of speakers that takes in an aux connector for L+R, another one for SL + SR (side) and another one for sub/center and your computer only has one aux out, you might want to get something like an HDMI to 5.1 splitter and to use a spare HDMI port.

@BobVonBob

 

 Well, I am deciding whether I should get Creative AE 5 to replace my Xonar STX. I want an audio upgrade to my system and after some research I've decided that if I like a sound card I probably should just get a sound card and AE 5 seems to wipe the floor in measurement when it comes to sound quality and latency performance (better than AE 9 in SNR and Nu Audio in both SNR and latency)

 

The only problem with this is its lack of RCA output and having a triple 3.5 mm for speaker instead. I am trying to determine if that will be a problem if I want to use this card as a brain of my system, connecting to various external speakers and headphone amp, which often only have RCA input. 

 

I've talked to my friend who at least knows audio gear better than me and he said I can just use either of the 3.5 mm output and use a spliter to seperate it for RCA (I guess I could just also ignore the base and plug both stereo into RCA), I understood that it could still be a problem for balanced amp is it? 

 

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so touching on that...

Aux caries TWO channels per cable It's two wires in one.
RCA caries one channel per wire. Many cables have two wires integrated into them that are then split off.

https://www.amazon.com/AmazonBasics-3-5mm-2-Male-Adapter-Stereo/dp/B01D5H8JW0

Aux to RCA cables basically just swap an aux connector for two RCA connectors. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phone_connector_(audio)


----

 

Assuming the sound card is outputting 5 channels (ensure this is set up in windows) then you'd get 2 (possibly 3) aux to RCA cables and plug them in accordingly. As a rule of thumb, red goes in red, black goes in black.
 

As far as that sound card is concerned, it uses AUX to save space.

The subwoofer itself will vary by how it's set up. It could have an associated internal crossover which means that the signal to it is carried on the same cable as the L+R (and possibly the SR+SL). In other cases there's no crossover and another cable is required. Hence why center/sub is sometimes its own connector.


It's relatively hard to speak to specifics without knowing ALL of the gear involved. Specific model names since most "surround systems" from players like logitech are non-standardized and are usually "well this was what cost the least in 2004"
If it's similar to this - https://www.logitech.com/assets/65760/z906-web-qsg.pdf
then the suggestions are a bit different vs THIS - https://secure.logitech.com/assets/33015/4/z506620-002649005326gsamr.pdf

 

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10 hours ago, cmndr said:

so touching on that...

Aux caries TWO channels per cable It's two wires in one.
RCA caries one channel per wire. Many cables have two wires integrated into them that are then split off.

https://www.amazon.com/AmazonBasics-3-5mm-2-Male-Adapter-Stereo/dp/B01D5H8JW0

Aux to RCA cables basically just swap an aux connector for two RCA connectors. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phone_connector_(audio)


----

 

Assuming the sound card is outputting 5 channels (ensure this is set up in windows) then you'd get 2 (possibly 3) aux to RCA cables and plug them in accordingly. As a rule of thumb, red goes in red, black goes in black.
 

As far as that sound card is concerned, it uses AUX to save space.

The subwoofer itself will vary by how it's set up. It could have an associated internal crossover which means that the signal to it is carried on the same cable as the L+R (and possibly the SR+SL). In other cases there's no crossover and another cable is required. Hence why center/sub is sometimes its own connector.


It's relatively hard to speak to specifics without knowing ALL of the gear involved. Specific model names since most "surround systems" from players like logitech are non-standardized and are usually "well this was what cost the least in 2004"
If it's similar to this - https://www.logitech.com/assets/65760/z906-web-qsg.pdf
then the suggestions are a bit different vs THIS - https://secure.logitech.com/assets/33015/4/z506620-002649005326gsamr.pdf

 

I am not looking to use it with a speaker, just a desktop amp. And it's typically only have RCA (left and right) and nothing else I believe.

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TLDR: 1 Aux cable is equivalent to a pair of RCA cables. They're often paired. If you plug it in it should just work.

 

20 minutes ago, e22big said:

I am not looking to use it with a speaker, just a desktop amp. And it's typically only have RCA (left and right) and nothing else I believe.

 

What specific device are you trying to plug in? The main reason you're not getting EXACT advice is that you haven't provided exact information. There's a lot of gaps.

 


As a rule of thumb an amplifier will most commonly take in 2 channels of signal. This can be via Aux, a pair of RCA connectors or sometimes XLR. Aux and a pair of RCA connectors are more or less the same and trivial to convert. XLR can also be converted and probably trivially but I haven't messed with it yet.

(there are fancier amps out there for multi-channel speaker systems that can handle a large number of channels, this is almost surely not something you have)

 

 

 

Just to illustrate - https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/aiyima-a07-tpa3255-review-amplifier.18984/

 

Let's say you have an Aiyima A07 you can plug in from a standard desktop sound card Aux to Aux OR get an Aux to RCA cable. The amp then powers two speakers.

If you have a headphone amp - e.g. a Schiit Magni - https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/schiit-magni-3-and-heresy-headphone-amp-reviews.10311/

 

Then you'd go aux - RCA.

----

 

A more complex config would be going from an AVR with pre-outs to something like an Emotiva BAS-X - a5_rear_web_1024x1024@2x.png?v=161703723

In this case you'd plug in 5 RCA cables (could be two pairs plus a single) to both the AVR and then the amp and then you're off to the races.

 

----

 

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34 minutes ago, cmndr said:

TLDR: 1 Aux cable is equivalent to a pair of RCA cables. They're often paired. If you plug it in it should just work.

 

 

What specific device are you trying to plug in? The main reason you're not getting EXACT advice is that you haven't provided exact information. There's a lot of gaps.

 


As a rule of thumb an amplifier will most commonly take in 2 channels of signal. This can be via Aux, a pair of RCA connectors or sometimes XLR. Aux and a pair of RCA connectors are more or less the same and trivial to convert. XLR can also be converted and probably trivially but I haven't messed with it yet.

(there are fancier amps out there for multi-channel speaker systems that can handle a large number of channels, this is almost surely not something you have)

 

 

 

Just to illustrate - https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/aiyima-a07-tpa3255-review-amplifier.18984/

 

Let's say you have an Aiyima A07 you can plug in from a standard desktop sound card Aux to Aux OR get an Aux to RCA cable. The amp then powers two speakers.

If you have a headphone amp - e.g. a Schiit Magni - https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/schiit-magni-3-and-heresy-headphone-amp-reviews.10311/

 

Then you'd go aux - RCA.

----

 

A more complex config would be going from an AVR with pre-outs to something like an Emotiva BAS-X - a5_rear_web_1024x1024@2x.png?v=161703723

In this case you'd plug in 5 RCA cables (could be two pairs plus a single) to both the AVR and then the amp and then you're off to the races.

 

----

 

Sorry, I am having a brian fart - I do want to use it with my speakers, it's just not important. My speaker only have a single 3.5 mm output and if it doesn't work I can always plugging it back in the monitor audio output.

 

Anyway, I actually haven't decided yet which amp I to get but ideally I want a solution that will always work with an amp with a pair of RCA input. The main contender at the moment are something Xduoo TA-26 and MT-604 (one have just an ordinary RCA, the other have balanced 4.4 only output - and XLR but I have no intention of using those)

 

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Some bits and pieces (just general amp suggestions) - spending several hundred dollars on a headphone amp only really makes sense when your headphones are $1000+ and you're just THROWING money around (the most expensive headphones are designed around the assumption that EVERYTHING is top tier - midrange gear assumes you're sane). Something like Sennheiser HD660s aren't that sensitive to amp choice. The HD800 (I have a pair) are more sensitive. I'm probably NOT getting the most out of them because I'm using an AVR and a budgety Schiit Magni. They sound fine.  - If you want some anecdata  - https://www.reddit.com/r/headphones/comments/awv74g/sennheiser_hd_660s_along_with_avr_denon_x3400h/ - https://www.reddit.com/r/headphones/comments/1wvm1z/my_endgame_headphone_setup_sennheiser_hd800_and/
 

Also be aware that $$$ audio gear is subject to A LOT of snake oil or overemphasis on things that don't matter that much (speakers/headphones are TOP priority, after that speaker placement and room treatment if using speakers, after that DSP, after that amplification after that... getting a therapist, cables don't matter that much unless they're defective). Amplification was mostly a solved problem 20ish years ago. Definitely was a lot more problematic in the 1970s. I STRONGLY suggest NOT trying to chase after the last 2%. That will make you more miserable than happy.

Headphone amps (usually 32-600 Ohms resistance) also do NOT generally work well for powering speakers (usually 4-8 Ohms resistance). You'd want a separate device (note: most Audio Video Receivers can power headphones as well, though these are kinda of "do everything" devices that do audio/input switching, digital signal processing and power/amplification - the headphone out is admittedly kind of a second thought on these but it's serviceable)

Balanced cables don't really matter unless you live next to a radio tower or are doing long runs (think 50 feet) and want a very clean signal for MAKING music. If your cable length is 5-10 feet, it doesn't really matter and there's an argument FOR standard RCA/AUX since there's less loss. Coat hangers are often "good enough".

Also keep in mind that most of the time when someone says "I hear new things after X" it's often psychological. It's impossible to focus on EVERYTHING all at once, our minds focus on specifics at certain moments and alternate (also for speakers, because of room reflections shifting your head a little bit can make a difference). We're also VERY susceptible to priming (this is why blind tests matter and anything that's NOT a blind test should be taken with a grain of salt). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BYTlN6wjcvQ
 

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42 minutes ago, cmndr said:

Some bits and pieces (just general amp suggestions) - spending several hundred dollars on a headphone amp only really makes sense when your headphones are $1000+ and you're just THROWING money around (the most expensive headphones are designed around the assumption that EVERYTHING is top tier - midrange gear assumes you're sane). Something like Sennheiser HD660s aren't that sensitive to amp choice. The HD800 (I have a pair) are more sensitive. I'm probably NOT getting the most out of them because I'm using an AVR and a budgety Schiit Magni. They sound fine.  - If you want some anecdata  - https://www.reddit.com/r/headphones/comments/awv74g/sennheiser_hd_660s_along_with_avr_denon_x3400h/ - https://www.reddit.com/r/headphones/comments/1wvm1z/my_endgame_headphone_setup_sennheiser_hd800_and/
 

Also be aware that $$$ audio gear is subject to A LOT of snake oil or overemphasis on things that don't matter that much (speakers/headphones are TOP priority, after that speaker placement and room treatment if using speakers, after that DSP, after that amplification after that... getting a therapist, cables don't matter that much unless they're defective). Amplification was mostly a solved problem 20ish years ago. Definitely was a lot more problematic in the 1970s. I STRONGLY suggest NOT trying to chase after the last 2%. That will make you more miserable than happy.

Headphone amps (usually 32-600 Ohms resistance) also do NOT generally work well for powering speakers (usually 4-8 Ohms resistance). You'd want a separate device (note: most Audio Video Receivers can power headphones as well, though these are kinda of "do everything" devices that do audio/input switching, digital signal processing and power/amplification - the headphone out is admittedly kind of a second thought on these but it's serviceable)

Balanced cables don't really matter unless you live next to a radio tower or are doing long runs (think 50 feet) and want a very clean signal for MAKING music. If your cable length is 5-10 feet, it doesn't really matter and there's an argument FOR standard RCA/AUX since there's less loss. Coat hangers are often "good enough".

Also keep in mind that most of the time when someone says "I hear new things after X" it's often psychological. It's impossible to focus on EVERYTHING all at once, our minds focus on specifics at certain moments and alternate (also for speakers, because of room reflections shifting your head a little bit can make a difference). We're also VERY susceptible to priming (this is why blind tests matter and anything that's NOT a blind test should be taken with a grain of salt). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BYTlN6wjcvQ
 

I mean those two are pretty cheap (especially MT-604, just a bit less than a couple of hundread buck, couldn't get any cheaper than that) to me and I do want to upgrade to HD 800s at some point (maybe even later this year, if I don't have something else that I want to buy), just thought it was a good chance to test if I like or needed a powerful amplifier or not. 

 

And if they've made a different, having something to switch to from time to time readily available would be quite nice (even if all it does is changing the frequency response.) I have no intention of using those amp with my speakers, just for the headphone. The speaker will be either powered from my sound card or the monitor. 

 

If it's either of the two, these will be well available within my budget. But I do want to run everything off my PC, and having to touch any switches or remote ever, which is the point of the question (whether AE5 triple 3.5 mm will be a problem if I want to connect it to various dac and amp for various headphone in the future)

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16 minutes ago, e22big said:

I mean those two are pretty cheap (especially MT-604, just a bit less than a couple of hundread buck, couldn't get any cheaper than that) to me and I do want to upgrade to HD 800s at some point (maybe even later this year, if I don't have something else that I want to buy), just thought it was a good chance to test if I like or needed a powerful amplifier or not. 

 

And if they've made a different, having something to switch to from time to time readily available would be quite nice (even if all it does is changing the frequency response time.) I have no intention of using those amp with my speakers, just for the headphone. The speaker will be either powered from my sound card or the monitor. 

 

If it's either of the two, these will be well available within my budget

It won't kill you, just be aware that you can get "good enough" amplification for around $100ish with something like a schiit magni. There's also debates about tubes vs solid state and whatnot... if you have a good, flat frequency response you can add in color via software.

As far as speakers are concerned (I think we had this chat already), your soundcard won't be powering speakers. If you have powered speakers (it sounded like you did) then they don't need external amplification. If I recall the chat correctly you had some very budgety speakers that were ancient. I'd actually recommend taking overkill amp budget and funneling it here.


At least for myself I ended up going with an AVR. If I plug in my headphones to it they just work and the speakers stop playing. I have a volume knob on the AVR as well as a phone app for it. I can also use a remote control.

 

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39 minutes ago, cmndr said:

It won't kill you, just be aware that you can get "good enough" amplification for around $100ish with something like a schiit magni. There's also debates about tubes vs solid state and whatnot... if you have a good, flat frequency response you can add in color via software.

As far as speakers are concerned (I think we had this chat already), your soundcard won't be powering speakers. If you have powered speakers (it sounded like you did) then they don't need external amplification. If I recall the chat correctly you had some very budgety speakers that were ancient. I'd actually recommend taking overkill amp budget and funneling it here.


At least for myself I ended up going with an AVR. If I plug in my headphones to it they just work and the speakers stop playing. I have a volume knob on the AVR as well as a phone app for it. I can also use a remote control.

 

Yeah that's true. And yeah, I won't be using any of the amplifer with the speaker, at most it will be plugging into my AE5 for ease of control. My current plan is to get one solid state amp and one tube, preferably one that's powerful enough to can drive at least the HD 800 (because I'll probably need it at some point) then figure out which one that I like. 

 

At the very least the placebo effect of having to switching one source to another would quite nice lol. But I want to control everything with PC, no phone, no remote which is why I am a bit particular about the setup with AE5. For the most part I think the AE5 alone would be more than enough for my current setup, it's already getting way too lound with just the 30 mw at 300 ohmn from my STX. But some people said it need some 200-250 mw to performa optimully so I thought it could be a good time to try that assumption out

 

I was planning to buy a TV to be used as monitor this year and it turn out horrible, and just don't have a better way to spend the money honestly. If it can provide some entertainment for me with the experiment and be ready to drive HD800s without breaking the bank sometime in the future, that would be good enough. 

 

*Also not a lot of your budget option is available from where I live, I can get Shiit but all of them cost at least twice as much of what you can get from the US. The only MSRP options are the Chinese brands like Topping or Xduoo

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53 minutes ago, cmndr said:

It won't kill you, just be aware that you can get "good enough" amplification for around $100ish with something like a schiit magni. There's also debates about tubes vs solid state and whatnot... if you have a good, flat frequency response you can add in color via software.

As far as speakers are concerned (I think we had this chat already), your soundcard won't be powering speakers. If you have powered speakers (it sounded like you did) then they don't need external amplification. If I recall the chat correctly you had some very budgety speakers that were ancient. I'd actually recommend taking overkill amp budget and funneling it here.


At least for myself I ended up going with an AVR. If I plug in my headphones to it they just work and the speakers stop playing. I have a volume knob on the AVR as well as a phone app for it. I can also use a remote control.

 

But back to that so will I eventually run into issue converting these triple auxes to RCA eventually? Assuming that I want to use the AE5 as the main DAC for any amp I might needed in the future? Or do I really need something with a true RCA output for a hussle free experience?

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21 hours ago, e22big said:

Yeah that's true. And yeah, I won't be using any of the amplifer with the speaker, at most it will be plugging into my AE5 for ease of control. My current plan is to get one solid state amp and one tube, preferably one that's powerful enough to can drive at least the HD 800 (because I'll probably need it at some point) then figure out which one that I like. At the very least the placebo effect of having to switching one source to another would quite nice lol. But I want to control everything with PC, no phone, no remote which is why I am a bit particular about the setup with AE5. For the most part I think the AE5 alone would be more than enough for my current setup, it's already getting way too lound with just the 30 mw at 300 ohmn from my STX. But some people said it need some 200-250 mw to performa optimully so I thought it could be a good time to try that assumption out.

My suspicion is that for most headphones the amp included with your AE5 is either adequate or overkill. Some 300 and 600Ohm headphones will probably be a bit much for it but even then it'd be serviceable. There is real value in being able to "swap" between two sound signatures for fun and variety. You'd likely benefit more from more headphones vs getting 3 different amps (one included in the AE5 and 2 others). The differences between amps is TINY outside of edge cases (a small number of demanding headphones). The difference between amps is still 10-1000x bigger than the gap between an OK $15 cable and a $10,000 cable.


I personally wouldn't buy an amp until you actually have a headphone that benefits from it in your hands. When you do have that headphone you could probably buy 2 amps, check which works best and return the other. Bonus points for getting a cheap aux switcher and having a friend randomly switch without telling you what is what.
 

Audiophiles are an interesting bunch of people... if you show them and they can see with their eyes which part is "better" and more expensive they'll pick out extraordinary details and describe with great acuity how amazing it is. The moment you take away their vision of what product is being tested, they lose this ability.
Measurements aren't everything but IF something is measuring good and it's 10x cheaper, the self-ascribed audiophile crowd is probably just wasting cash and looking for reasons to justify it.

 

Headphones REALLY don't need much power. There are benefits to an amp being able to provide more power for transient peaks (2x the perceived volume requires ~10x the power) but in general it's better to have GOOD stuff that you don't play TOO loud - there does come a point where all you do from playing loud is damage your hearing in the long run.
 

21 hours ago, e22big said:

and just don't have a better way to spend the money honestly.

My usual rule of thumb is passive ETFs. I'd rather have $500,000 invested in stocks than "invested" in electronics (so worth 10-100x less in a decade) that are going to NOT matter in 10 or 20 years. If you check my sig I have "a lot of expensive stuff" - much of it I got for free, or was bought used or on sale (I can sell my HD800s for more than I paid for them) and I have over 100x as much saved/invested.

 

21 hours ago, e22big said:

*Also not a lot of your budget option is available from where I live, I can get Shiit but all of them cost at least twice as much of what you can get from the US. The only MSRP options are the Chinese brands like Topping or Xduoo

That's good to be aware of. A lot of my advice is kind of based on "average" US consumer advice - so assumption of disposable income that's about 2x as high as in most of the EU and more product availability.

 

For what it's worth Topping tops a lot of the charts for signal quality
https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/topping-a90-discrete-review-headphone-amp-preamp.35114/

 

Tube amps tend to be "worse" since they're literally screwing up the signal with distortion (some people like the sound signature - I suspect that you can just apply a sound filter digitally to emulate the effect).

 

Quote

But back to that so will I eventually run into issue converting these triple auxes to RCA eventually? Assuming that I want to use the AE5 as the main DAC for any amp I might needed in the future?

RCA and Aux are electrically equivalent. There's no conversion. It's just a form factor change so nearly any ADAPTER should be fine.

https://www.amazon.com/s?k=aux+to+RCA

 

Quote

But back to that so will I eventually run into issue converting these triple auxes to RCA eventually? Assuming that I want to use the AE5 as the main DAC for any amp I might needed in the future? Or do I really need something with a true RCA output for a hussle free experience?

There won't be any direct hassle from using RCA instead of aux or vice versa but there are downsides to using a computer as an audio platform. You're adding in fan noise, head dump, electrical noise, etc. These all probably don't matter a ton but there are advantages to cheap dedicated streamers. For what it's worth I can stream directly to my AVR via my phone or via voice commands to a smart speaker without having to get out of bed.

As a rule of thumb I'd generally recommend a separate DAC over a sound card (electrical noise isolation, easier to swap between systems) but it doesn't matter a ton. As long as a DAC is "not bad" it'll likely be fine. Compute is literally thousands of times cheaper than it was in the 1990s and DACs are basically a solved problem.
 

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6 hours ago, cmndr said:

My suspicion is that for most headphones the amp included with your AE5 is either adequate or overkill. Some 300 and 600Ohm headphones will probably be a bit much for it but even then it'd be serviceable. There is real value in being able to "swap" between two sound signatures for fun and variety. You'd likely benefit more from more headphones vs getting 3 different amps (one included in the AE5 and 2 others). The differences between amps is TINY outside of edge cases (a small number of demanding headphones). The difference between amps is still 10-1000x bigger than the gap between an OK $15 cable and a $10,000 cable.


I personally wouldn't buy an amp until you actually have a headphone that benefits from it in your heads. When you do have that headphone you could probably buy 2 amps, check which works best and return the other. Bonus points for getting a cheap aux switcher and having a friend randomly switch without telling you what is what.
 

Audiophiles are an interesting bunch of people... if you show them and they can see with their eyes which part is "better" and more expensive they'll pick out extraordinary details and describe with great acuity how amazing it is. The moment you take away their vision of what product is being tested, they lose this ability.
Measurements aren't everything but IF something is measuring good and it's 10x cheaper, the self-ascribed audiophile crowd is probably just wasting cash and looking for reasons to justify it.

 

Headphones REALLY don't need much power. There are benefits to an amp being able to provide more power for transient peaks (2x the perceived volume requires ~10x the power) but in general it's better to have GOOD stuff that you don't play TOO loud - there does come a point where all you do from playing loud is damage your hearing in the long run.
 

My usual rule of thumb is passive ETFs. I'd rather have $500,000 invested in stocks than "invested" in electronics (so worth 10-100x less in a decade) that are going to NOT matter in 10 or 20 years. If you check my sig I have "a lot of expensive stuff" - much of it I got for free, or was bought used or on sale (I can sell my HD800s for more than I paid for them) and I have over 100x as much saved/invested.

 

That's good to be aware of. A lot of my advice is kind of based on "average" US consumer advice - so assumption of disposable income that's about 2x as high as in most of the EU and more product availability.

 

For what it's worth Topping tops a lot of the charts for signal quality
https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/topping-a90-discrete-review-headphone-amp-preamp.35114/

 

Tube amps tend to be "worse" since they're literally screwing up the signal with distortion (some people like the sound signature - I suspect that you can just apply a sound filter digitally to emulate the effect).

 

RCA and Aux are electrically equivalent. There's no conversion. It's just a form factor change so nearly any ADAPTER should be fine.

https://www.amazon.com/s?k=aux+to+RCA

 

There won't be any direct hassle from using RCA instead of aux or vice versa but there are downsides to using a computer as an audio platform. You're adding in fan noise, head dump, electrical noise, etc. These all probably don't matter a ton but there are advantages to cheap dedicated streamers. For what it's worth I can stream directly to my AVR via my phone or via voice commands to a smart speaker without having to get out of bed.

As a rule of thumb I'd generally recommend a separate DAC over a sound card (electrical noise isolation, easier to swap between systems) but it doesn't matter a ton. As long as a DAC is "not bad" it'll likely be fine. Compute is literally thousands of times cheaper than it was in the 1990s and DACs are basically a solved problem.
 

Thanks a buncn man that helps clear it up a lot, to be clear I am not looking to buy both Xduoo MT-604 and TA-26, just (maybe) either one of them or even the cheaper MT-602. Actually my first plan was to get Topping DX3 Pro+, the AE5, and some of Xduoo tubes to see if there's an actual benefit of either the external dac/amp and tube (might still go for it I really don't have anything else to spend money to.) But might also just down to AE5 if something else interesting show up (maybe getting a phone or something.)

 

*so I took it that I won't have to worry about that third bass aux?

 

There are reasons I prefer sound card over external DAC, it keep my desk clean, EQ is way easier to manage with software configuration, and there's low latency associated with USB DAC. And AE5 has some very impressive signal performance based from audio science review (which I crosscheck with referenece audio analyzer) so it should be fine for the most part.

 

And I guess, I just like it. There's some thing magical about just plugging your headphone to the crappiest-looking PC front panel, and having a top quality audio came out. I like that kind of 'sleeper' set up. 

 

*actuallyI also not sure how do people calculate headphone power, I've put in measurement for HD800s into a headphone power calculator and turn out it need a whopping single miliwatt at 300 ohmn to get 100 db. Even less for HD660s of course but I've heard people said it need something like 250 mw (and 500 mw) for HD800s, if it's 250mw then AE5 will probably not do quite enough as it just run at 90mw at 300ohm (but I dunno, like I've said, the STX with just 30mw already managed to drive it to an ear shattering level), I do want to try and see how this heaphone will perform at spec at least if possible. 

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You're welcome and I DO encourage you to "trust but verify" everything I say - it's mostly done on best-effort.
I also just checked the AE5 - looks better than I was imagining it to be.

 

One bit that I just read - apparently the HD800S is easier to drive than the traditional HD800. My best guess is that more and more headphone manufacturers are trying to assume that users won't have good amps (mostly a good guess - imagine trying to tell someone with a company provided macbook that they need a bulky amp while they're riding home on a Google shuttle to their $5000/month apartment in San Francisco).

 

 

I'd need to check how calculations are done. Usually the basics are

V = IR - voltage = Current (Amperage) * Resistance (Ohms)
W = IV - Wattage = Current * Voltage

 

 


If you use the figures from here - https://reference-audio-analyzer.pro/en/user-report.php?id=574#gsc.tab=0

Sensitivity by voltage: 103.76 dB/V SPL
Sensitivity by power: 100.09 dB/mW SPL
Average impedance : 429.38 ohm 


And use the calculator here - https://www.headphonesty.com/headphone-power-calculator/

 

100dB(loud enough for permanent hearing loss) - 100dB/mW - 430 Ohms -> 1mw, .66V, 1.5milliamps




 

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29 minutes ago, cmndr said:

You're welcome and I DO encourage you to "trust but verify" everything I say - it's mostly done on best-effort.
I also just checked the AE5 - looks better than I was imagining it to be.

 

One bit that I just read - apparently the HD800S is easier to drive than the traditional HD800. My best guess is that more and more headphone manufacturers are trying to assume that users won't have good amps (mostly a good guess - imagine trying to tell someone with a company provided macbook that they need a bulky amp while they're riding home on a Google shuttle to their $5000/month apartment in San Francisco).

Yeah, if the measurement is right, I think people would be struggling to find a better sound card than AE5 if signal is the main concern (if Amir didn't mess anything up - and he did at least one on the STX report)

 

And the data from RAA seems to also confirm it, I've checked it many times but AE5 signal and distortion seems better than a much more expensive Nu Audio and Even AE9. Distortion sits very well above noise floor (Nu Audio is a bit below, AE9 is above but not this visibly much as AE5)

Dell_AW3423DW-pixel-063327b5cb360e63.png

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