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Suggestions for upgrading my sound experience

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
Hi all, I'm preparing to take the first steps in enhancing my PC audio. I'd like to upgrade my headset, and jump from on-board sound to an actual sound card. I mostly listen to classical music, and anything from games like Starcraft 2 or WoW, nothing heavy on bass but focusing more on music than games. I'm on a budget for around $160 for both, so I want to make sure I play my cards right.

For the sound card, I've been looking at the Asus Xonar DX, or the equivalent from Creative. If possible I want to be able to hook up both a speaker system and my headphones/headset, so I can switch easily. I also want easy bass/treble management, but I think every card comes with those programs.

As for the headphones, I've been grappling with the idea on using headphones and a separate mic, rather than a headset. If the sound card is good enough, maybe I can relax a bit on the quality for these.
For a headset, my choices are a Plantronics audio .655 DSP so far. If it were a headset, it needs to have a really good mic, and my options are kind of slim.
For headphones, I've been looking at Sennheiser, but I've had no experience with their stuff. I'd also need a mic, but have never bought one separate before.

Any insight would be appreciated.
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post #2 of 8
Your budget is $160 for headphones, a mic, speakers, and a sound card?

That's kinda tough.

I own an Asus Xonar DX with a pair of Sennheiser HD280's. I love the sound card and the headphones are really nice as well, though there are better ones. The HD280 is regarded as an excellent field monitoring set, while more popular ones from Sennheiser like the HD555 are more oriented towards music/gaming.

Anyways, you can get a Xonar DX ($70) and [ame="http://www.amazon.com/Sennheiser-HD-280-Pro-Headphones/dp/B000065BPB/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1304463758&sr=8-1"]HD280's[/ame] ($87) for less than $160

Your best upgrade path would be to buy the sound card first, then get a nice pair of headphones. I would suggest getting headphones and a separate mic but that's really up to you.

For the speakers, the Swans sets are pretty popular. But I'm going to let someone else answer that.
Edited by kiwiasian - 5/3/11 at 4:05pm
post #3 of 8
ASUS Xonar D1 or DX with Sennheiser HD 555 probably going to cost around that. Or you could get AD700s for similar price. Or the ASUS Xonar DG which is a ~$30 soundcard with headphone amp and spend around $130 for a decent set of cans. Check this guide for headphone buying. I personally love my HD 595s which you can modify the HD 555 to get them to sound similar. If you like bass though, it is not as in your face. It is there and sounds great, just not thumping.
Edited by Wildcard36qs - 5/3/11 at 4:06pm
   
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post #4 of 8
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by kiwiasian;13370526 
Your budget is $160 for headphones, a mic, speakers, and a sound card?

O no just headphones and sound card. I found out you can get mics for around $10 that are very good.

I'll start by keeping an eye out for sales on Xonar DX's, it can give me a little more room to work with for headphones. The HD555's are pretty up there in price, but I'll see if they go on sale anytime soon. Also, is there a big quality difference between the Xonar DS and DX? I can possible save around $20 there.
Edited by Bernttson - 5/3/11 at 5:00pm
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post #5 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bernttson;13371150 
O no just headphones and sound card. I found out you can get mics for around $10 that are very good.

I'll start by keeping an eye out for sales on Xonar DX's, it can give me a little more room to work with for headphones. The HD555's are pretty up there in price, but I'll see if they go on sale anytime soon. Also, is there a big quality difference between the Xonar DS and DX? I can possible save around $20 there.

I got my Xonar DX for $60 AR. See if you can spot that deal anywhere over the next few weeks or so.

Between the DS and DX there isn't a very significant difference. The DX has a slightly higher SNR ratio (which as far as I can tell is the only important difference, specifications-wise). One thing to note is that the interface for the DS is PCI and it is PCIe x1 for the DX.
post #6 of 8
If your using a headset why not just get a Astro amp with a pair of cans like the Razor Orca. They have awesome sound for listening to music and they're bang for buck. The amp will give you simulated 5.1 if you need it with gaming.
post #7 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bernttson;13371150 
O no just headphones and sound card. I found out you can get mics for around $10 that are very good.

I'll start by keeping an eye out for sales on Xonar DX's, it can give me a little more room to work with for headphones. The HD555's are pretty up there in price, but I'll see if they go on sale anytime soon. Also, is there a big quality difference between the Xonar DS and DX? I can possible save around $20 there.

What is your budget for the headphone because amazon has the HD555 for $85, I personally think that it's abargain for that price..[ame="http://www.amazon.com/Sennheiser-HD555-Professional-Headphones-Channeling/dp/B0001FTVDQ"]http://www.amazon.com/Sennheiser-HD555-Professional-Headphones-Channeling/dp/B0001FTVDQ[/ame]
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post #8 of 8
Thread Starter 
That sale is insane, but I'm in Canada and their Amazon sale price is only 15% off. I'll keep checking back though.

My speakers are the Logitech x540, and the little volume remote as a headphone jack. Would it be all the same if I plugged my headphones into that? The other alternative is to use the front panel connectors, but I'm not sure if they benefit from the sound card. I just want to see if there's an easy way to have both speakers and headphones going simultaneously.
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