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Sound Cards


shyguy

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  • 3 weeks later...

Most sound cards these days have performance which fits into a rather narrow band of variables. They're all functionally the same. I use the 7.1 which is built in to my motherboard and it works very well.

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I bought sennheiser pc350's somewhere around 2-3 years ago and they have been rock solid ever since but they have higher ohm drivers and need something with a bit more power then onbored audio to make them shine and my current build is not cutting it.

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you know, if those use a 3.5mm jack, you can get an in-line amplifier.

Getting a card which either matches the load (I'm guessing they're 8 ohm) or puts out higher power is likely going to be more expensive than a high end headset, though. You may want to look in to some of those.

In fact, I can even make a recommendation ;)

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150 ohm? That's what I get for thinking studio instead of headphone.

Yes, I have had them on the spectrograph and I'm pretty impressed.

I ran a 20-20 sweep in sine, triangle and sawtooth and saw the kind of results I would expect, on the graph, in regards to waveform. Then I ran them through FFT, using 2 separate analyzers at 1024 and 65536 FFT sizes to get good frequency and time resolutions from the same sweep run.

Again, I saw what I would expect. 20-20 @ 100% representation with a range of 0 to -3db, with the drop starting around 6.5k and taking a slow linear slope down through -3@ 20k.

That was with the presets set to flat. When I changed the presets to a mixed boost with a focus on the high end, the drop didn't start until about 13k and only dropped by about 2db.

Those are damned good numbers, in any book. I've designed a system that was near perfect flatline from 20-20, with some .5-1 db drops in the high mid range but that required 12 drivers, 5 discreet amplifiers with a 5 way active crossover unit and a 68 channel, 1/3 octave equalizer at a cost of thousands of dollars.

So, yeah...these are really good headphones.

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If you're looking for a card, I would highly recommend

http://us.store.creative.com/Creative-Sound-Blaster-Z-PCIe-Sound/M/B009ISU33E.htm

(The Fatal1ty stuff is crap, honestly. The sound is just...meh)

The Xonar is a good card as well, if you want to shell out the dough for one. There isn't much difference between the Xonar and the Z audio-wise. The Xonar gets nicer gold plating on the contacts and I think the Z uses better capacitors. Plus, the Z is only $120ish bucks.

I think the Turtle Beach Sierra headset I'm getting will probably outperform both cards for the most part. I'm still going to find out if the USB interface on the Sierra is capable of rendering high quality audio like I can get out of a TOSlink.

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On the cheap the Xonar DG has a built in amp that has great power, but that one died on me. I'm sure the higher priced Xonars are super. Right now my creative Xfi Titanium HD is pleasing me, but phones like that would need an amp.

Anyone know of a yummy BUT affordable amp? I agree using onboard sound and spending money on an amp instead would be a good way to go.

...and what the crap Rob? You sir, have all the telltale signs of audiophile sickness. We're here for you if you need help.

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I'm putting this spec out there in case nobody noticed:

Output Level (Full Scale)

Front Channel Out : 2Vrms

Headphone (33 ohms): 1.3Vrms

Headphone (600 ohms): 2Vrms

Maximum DAC Resolution

Front Channel Out : 24-bit, 192kHz

Headphone (33 ohms): 24-bit, 96kHz

Headphone (600 ohms): 24-bit, 96kHz

SNR (20kHz Low-pass filter, A-Wgt), @ 24-bit, 96kHz

Front Channel Out : 116dB

Headphone (33 ohms): >105dB

Headphone (600 ohms): >105dB

Headphone 1 x Amplified 1/8" mini jack

I think it might drive the high ohm headphones pretty well, no?

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...and what the crap Rob? You sir, have all the telltale signs of audiophile sickness. We're here for you if you need help.

In my former life, before FEZ, I was an engineer. A big part of my job was audio engineering, but on the recording end more than the playback end. All the same, though, I have a lot of training and experience in the audio world.

I'm also, very admittedly, an audiophile. I grew up surrounded by Harman Kardon tube amps and speakers, Altec Lansing gear, etc...It's a passion, of sorts.

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I think the Turtle Beach Sierra headset I'm getting will probably outperform both cards for the most part. I'm still going to find out if the USB interface on the Sierra is capable of rendering high quality audio like I can get out of a TOSlink.

I'm sure you know that the audio you'll get from any optical system is only as good as the source which drives it and the destination that plays it back, hence, the audio will only be as good as the sound card which creates the signal and the headphones you're using.

I have a set of optical headphones and while they sound good, they're no better than the Sierra unit is (and I know because I put those on the bench, too and the Sierra at least matches it when it boils down to numbers) and, in fact, I get better spatial imaging out of the single-driver-per-ear Sierra than from the 4-driver-per-ear optical set.

In short, the sound card which is built into the control unit of the Sierra is rather high quality (and the control unit is capacitive touch). I think you'll enjoy it quite a bit.

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