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OCN's Most Recommended Audio Products - Page 40

post #391 of 5029
Quote:
Originally Posted by nleksan View Post

Very nice choice in headphones! I think you will enjoy them very much! I personally am a huge fan of "open ear" designs, as I feel it allows for "quicker" and more "accurate" sound, as well as reducing listening fatigue.
The biggest difference that I can see between the XONAR cards and the FATAL1TY SB X-FI card is that the former is a 24bit 192khz card while the latter is 24bit 96khz. That means that the Xonar does have a wider range of sound that it can produce, but more than 70% of that range is outside of the range of human hearing. However, while I am not sure in these specific cases, those specifications MAY mean that the sound card can support input formats UP TO THAT LEVEL, meaning the Xonar will give you full DVD/Blu-Ray quality audio, while the card you have will give you "Super CD"/DVD quality audio. Will it be noticeable to you, through headphones, while playing CS:S? I would bet it is NOT noticeable, but ya never know.
My advice: those are nice headphones, and while I don't know their impedance level off the top of my head, I would still invest in a decent (>$150) headphone amplifier that can be used inline between your sound-card and your headphones, in order to be able to FULLY drive the 'cans and get the best sound out of them as you can. The sound card you have already has a low signal:noise, at about 122:1, so the sound quality will likely be very good. The headphone amplifier will make sure that you are not straining any part of your system in order to achieve the volume you want (if your computer is outputting at, say, 60%, and your headphone amp is at 25%, you could turn the amp up to 40% and get much better results than turning the computer up higher; it's the original source that will produce the most distortion, so I always keep my PC volume at 50-60%, while my amplifier is around 35%, and that is when I want it loud; normally, the PC is 50% and amplifier is maybe 20% max).
Hope that helps! Enjoy those headphones!

Thank you very much nleksan,

All of your help was extremely appreciated!!
post #392 of 5029
Quote:
Originally Posted by CHRiSTPH View Post

I appreciate the reply, I realized I really should have proof read my post before posting...
I meant to ask if I should upgrade my sound card, not my graphics card. My machine is pretty new, minus the sound card, i've had that for a few years.

For gaming id say your better off with the X-fi card since thats what those were made for, I have the Asus Xonar DG it sounds decent for both gaming and music definitely an upgrade over on-board sound, and with its built in headphone amp your really cant beat it for its price (30 bucks), i dont know how much better or worse it would sound for gaming compared to your x-fi card though.
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1TB WD Caviar Black Hyper 212+ push/pull 5 Case Fans Windows 7 Ultimate 64-Bit 
MonitorPowerCaseMouse
Dell 23" Widescreen LED OCZ 750 Fully Modular Cooler Master HAF 912 Logitech G500 
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Beyerdynamic DT770`s (80ohm) Asus Xonar DG Sound Card 
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post #393 of 5029
Quote:
Originally Posted by DriftinTofu View Post

For gaming id say your better off with the X-fi card since thats what those were made for, I have the Asus Xonar DG it sounds decent for both gaming and music definitely an upgrade over on-board sound, and with its built in headphone amp your really cant beat it for its price (30 bucks), i dont know how much better or worse it would sound for gaming compared to your x-fi card though.

Thanks Driftin,

I'm definitely going to order the headphones regardless, but i'm going to put some more thought into the sound card. Uhm when you guys say you have a headphone amp, is there a particular brand you recommend??
post #394 of 5029
I found a site that'll finally ship to Canada with a good price, but I am not sure if its a legit site or not.

http://www.gimmedigi.com/catalog/product_info.php?products_id=2367&currency=cad&gclid=CPnn-473q60CFQVwhwod2jNtnA

What do you guys think!??!?
post #395 of 5029
Quote:
Originally Posted by CHRiSTPH View Post

I found a site that'll finally ship to Canada with a good price, but I am not sure if its a legit site or not.
http://www.gimmedigi.com/catalog/product_info.php?products_id=2367&currency=cad&gclid=CPnn-473q60CFQVwhwod2jNtnA
What do you guys think!??!?

Personally, I have never heard of the site. Does Amazon/Newegg not ship to Canada?? I would be wary of a site that no one knows of, but perhaps others will chime in who have used the site and are confident in doing so.
   
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Heatkiller GTX680 "Hole Edition" Block + Backplate XSPC Single-Bay Res (Single 5.25 bay) EK Multioption Res X2 - Advanced 150 DD "Fill-Port Res" + Fill-Port Fitting (Red) 
CoolingCoolingCoolingCooling
2x MCP35X + Heatsinks/80x15mm Fan XSPC EX420 Alphacool NeXXos UT60 240 6x Bgears Blasters 140mm 1800rpm Fans 
CoolingCoolingCoolingOS
4x Koolance 120x25mm 2600rpm Fans Comp/Rotary Fittings (BP/XSPC/Monsoon) Primoflex Pro LRT - White (1/2x3/4) Windows 7 Professional 64bit  
MonitorMonitorMonitorMonitor
Dell P2210Hb 21.5" 1920x1080p Viewsonic VA2012WB 20.1" LCD 1680x1050 Dell U3014 Eizo 27" 1440p 10bit RGB-LED Backlit AH-IPS Panel 
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55" LG HDTV (their top 2014 model) Ducky Mechanical (Browns) NZXT HALE90 850W + 8 blown-up AX1200/i's NZXT Switch 810 (White) 
MouseMouse PadAudioAudio
R.A.T.3 + MX510 My Desk GRADO RS1i Headphones Grado PS1000 Headphones 
OtherOtherOtherOther
Bitfenix Hydra Pro Fan Controller 5ch 30W/ch Bitfenix Alchemy Individually-Sleeved Extension... NZXT Individually-Sleeved Front Panel Wires (Bl... Phobya Sleeved 1x3pin-to-4x3pin Fan Splitter 
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Z77 Bench-a-lot
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WD10EALX 1TB HDD Seagate Barracuda 7200.14 1TB WD3200AAKS 320GB HDD WD5000HHTZ 10krpm 500GB VelociRaptor 
Optical DriveCoolingCoolingCooling
LG/Hitachi Slim DVD-R/W Custom MB-Backside VRM-sinks (Copper) 3x NZXT RF-FX140LB 1-2krpm 98.3CFM Case Fans 2x Corsair SP120-PE Case Fans 
CoolingCoolingCoolingCooling
Heatkiller GTX680 "Hole Edition" Block + Backplate XSPC Single-Bay Res (Single 5.25 bay) EK Multioption Res X2 - Advanced 150 DD "Fill-Port Res" + Fill-Port Fitting (Red) 
CoolingCoolingCoolingCooling
2x MCP35X + Heatsinks/80x15mm Fan XSPC EX420 Alphacool NeXXos UT60 240 6x Bgears Blasters 140mm 1800rpm Fans 
CoolingCoolingCoolingOS
4x Koolance 120x25mm 2600rpm Fans Comp/Rotary Fittings (BP/XSPC/Monsoon) Primoflex Pro LRT - White (1/2x3/4) Windows 7 Professional 64bit  
MonitorMonitorMonitorMonitor
Dell P2210Hb 21.5" 1920x1080p Viewsonic VA2012WB 20.1" LCD 1680x1050 Dell U3014 Eizo 27" 1440p 10bit RGB-LED Backlit AH-IPS Panel 
MonitorKeyboardPowerCase
55" LG HDTV (their top 2014 model) Ducky Mechanical (Browns) NZXT HALE90 850W + 8 blown-up AX1200/i's NZXT Switch 810 (White) 
MouseMouse PadAudioAudio
R.A.T.3 + MX510 My Desk GRADO RS1i Headphones Grado PS1000 Headphones 
OtherOtherOtherOther
Bitfenix Hydra Pro Fan Controller 5ch 30W/ch Bitfenix Alchemy Individually-Sleeved Extension... NZXT Individually-Sleeved Front Panel Wires (Bl... Phobya Sleeved 1x3pin-to-4x3pin Fan Splitter 
OtherOtherOther
Sleeved Wires w Paracord myself (no Heatshrink) Custom Front and Top Panels w HexxMesh *In Prog... Working on Custom Pedestal Prototype 
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post #396 of 5029
Quote:
Originally Posted by CHRiSTPH View Post

Thanks Driftin,
I'm definitely going to order the headphones regardless, but i'm going to put some more thought into the sound card. Uhm when you guys say you have a headphone amp, is there a particular brand you recommend??

Unfortunately, unless you are willing to drop a couple "Benjamins" on a headphone amplifier, you aren't going to get anything that will improve the sound of your headphones and in many cases, especially with mid-to-high-end headphones, you will actually LOSE sound fidelity with a sub-par amplifier. It's similar to building a home theater system: would you go out and spend thousands of dollars on high-end Polk or Klipsch (or Definitive or etc) tower speakers, center-channel speaker, surround-tower speakers, and a couple pairs of bookshelf-style speakers (front-high/wide) along with up to three subwoofers (say, two 10" and one 12") for a fantastic 9.3/11.3-channel Surround Sound setup, only to then go and spend $300 on a low-end Receiver? Or would you balance the speaker quality with the abilities of the receiver, such as getting a very nice 9.3/11.3ch Denon receiver for ~2500bux, and then starting with a 5.1-7.2 speaker setup with quality speakers and then upgrading when you could afford to, so that everything is being used to its fullest capacity (as much as possible, at least)? I, for one, think the second approach is the only one that makes sense, and thus it is how I approach headphones and headphone amplifiers; other people have other opinions, and it would be wise for you to search them out and get as much unbiased information as possible. Then you can make a fully-informed decision.

As far as headphone amplifiers go when looking at the lower-end of the Great Price Spectrum, it is not quite as cut and dry. In fact, I have heard and used some headphone amplifiers that cost $100 that were not 1/10th the amplifier as some costing $1000, more like 2/3rds as good. The biggest difference you'll hear is simply whether or not your cans are amped or not. With price, as it increases you DO get more features and higher-quality components held to a much higher standard, but sound quality becomes a diminishing return above the ~$150-200 price point. That's not to say that a $3000 amplifier doesn't produce better sound (assuming very good headphones) than a $100 amplifier, it's just not 30x better... Maybe, MAYBE it will be 3x better, but many other things will influence this.
Some of these influences are the "features" that I mentioned, which can include things such as "crossfeed processors", a feature I find to be useful for re-introducing a (semi-)accurate sound stage with headphone listening. Since music is typically designed to be listened to via speakers (stereo or "surround"), speakers will give you a sense of sound "direction" (where the sound is coming from) and "distance", by varying the audio sent to one channel versus another or by introducing a very slight delay, which results in (if seated properly) a "sound stage". This is a very simplified explanation, and you can find out more about how this works than you'd probably ever care to know simply via Google, but just know that in general, speakers offer a "good Sound Stage" while headphones offer a "poor sound stage" (you know how when you listen to headphones, it sounds like the Music is right in the middle of your head? Yeah, that's not how it would sound in an ideal world).

I've taken the liberty of finding a couple of products that I have personal experience with, some of these I own and some I have simply used, but none are completely foreign to me. Also, where possible, I am giving you the links to a review of the product the link provided will also direct you to an independent review of the product, so that you can determine for yourself whether or not they sound like something you need or if something else would suit you better. The reviews all will have links to where you can buy the product (typically the manufacturer's website), but you can also find them on various other sites.


$200 and UNDER

HeadRoom "Total Airhead" Headphone Amplifier $99.99 - This is a good product for the price, better than the Fiio amplifiers all over Amazon.com, and would be a great choice for portable listening with anything from an iPod or Smartphone to a Laptop; they have an integrated Crossfeed Processor that will enhance the sound stage and result in a more pleasant listening experience. Generally positive reviews for this one. This is probably the best "entry level" headphone amplifier, but don't expect miracles out of it.
IDEAL FOR: Traveling or Mobility, Portable Music Players (or listening to music "one the go"), etc.
Order From This Link

HeadRoom "Total BitHead" Headphone Amplifier $149.99 (Review) - Similar to the above, except the extra money gets you "higher quality transistors and capacitors, which result in better sound from the same amount of amplification" as well as better amplification and more features. They are just like the above in most of these features, as well, but would be worthwhile if you are looking for the best fidelity you can get, and to get it while "on the go". I myself hear a difference between these and their "little brother", via my Grado SR225's and RS2i's, but it's not an earth-shattering difference. Very good for the price, IMO, and a definitive step up from the "Total Airhead" amplifier in every way.
Order From This Link


$201 to $500

HeadRoom "Micro Amp" Desktop Headphone Amplifier $349.99 - This is a very good unit for the price, and unless you have Grado headphones, I would recommend it above the Grado RA-1 amplifier as, in my experience, the latter works best with headphones from its own family. This unit gives good amplification, as well as: "two analog inputs; our famous HeadRoom crossfeed for improved headphone imaging; 3-position gain control to precisely match headphone impedance; and rear panel volume-controlled output for powered desktop or computer speakers". In other words, you get more features and don't rely on batteries, so you will see, or rather hear, much bigger improvements in both amplification AND in sound fidelity with this amp over the "BitHead" or the "AirHead" units from the same company. I would recommend this, especially as you describe yourself as NOT an "audiophile". I can't see what more you would need than what you get out of this unit, and they do have a good record for reliability. Also, this unit was designed specifically for use with a desktop PC, so expect good results.
IDEAL FOR: Desktop Use such as with a PC or small Stereo, Video Games, Movies, etc.
Order From This Link

GRADO LABS RA-1 Desktop Headphone Amplifier $449.99 - As I said earlier, unless you have Grado 'cans, I'd skip it, as it is designed specifically to work with the 32Ohm headphones that Grado makes and I cannot speak to its quality when used with anything else. That said, if you DO have Grado headphones, it is one of the better (if not best) choices for an amplifier without getting into the 4-digit price range.
*NOTE: Also available are two other models - the RA-1HG ("High Gain") and the RA-1AC (AC-powered unit)*
Order From This Link


$501 and BEYOND

I won't give you specific links, because I am guessing you're not looking to drop a grand on a headphone amplifier. However, there are a few units worth mentioning, and you can find where-to-buy-them by simply plugging their names into Google.
Below is a list of the products' names and prices, and only listed are products that I have personally owned and/or used and that I thought were GOOD quality.

HeadRoom "Desktop Amp" Headphone Amplifier (+DAC and Pre-Amp all-in-one) - $850
Beyerdynamic A1 Headphone Amplifier - $825
SPL Phonitor Headphone Amplifier - $2100
Grace Design m903 Headphone Amplifier - $1475
HeadRoom "Ultra Desktop Amplifier (Balanced)" - $1650
SPL Auditor Headphone Amplifier - $875


I hope that helps to narrow your search! There are many more good amplifiers out there, but for every good one there are ten JUNK ones. Just be patient and do your research and you'll hopefully end up a very happy newly-minted audiophile! biggrin.gif

Sincerely,
nleksan


PS: If you like to "DIY", then check this out... It's a home-made headphone amplifier that fits in an Altoids tin, and it's easy enough for the average lay-person to make in 4-5hrs! It's called the "CMoy Amp", after it's inventor. It should cost between $15-25 total to make, and it will do a fantastic job of amplifying your headphones!
Here are some links to get you started:
"How To Build The CMoy Pocket Amplifier"
"HeadWize - Project: A Pure Class A Dynamic Headphone Amplifier by Kevin Gilmore"
"JDS Labs - Do it Yourself Bass Boost cMoy Guide"
There are hundreds more like these out there, so good luck!
   
Z77 Bench-a-lot
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i7 3930K @ 4.92Ghz Asus Rampage 4 Extreme EVGA GTX670 FTW 2GB  EVGA GTX780Ti Classified K|ngp|n Edition @ 1483... 
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EVGA GTX780Ti Classified K|ngp|n Edition @ 1483... 16GB G.Skill Ripjaws-Z @ DDR3-2248 9-10-9-26 1T Samsung 830 256GB SSD WD10EZEX 1TB HDD 
Hard DriveHard DriveHard DriveHard Drive
WD10EALX 1TB HDD Seagate Barracuda 7200.14 1TB WD3200AAKS 320GB HDD WD5000HHTZ 10krpm 500GB VelociRaptor 
Optical DriveCoolingCoolingCooling
LG/Hitachi Slim DVD-R/W Custom MB-Backside VRM-sinks (Copper) 3x NZXT RF-FX140LB 1-2krpm 98.3CFM Case Fans 2x Corsair SP120-PE Case Fans 
CoolingCoolingCoolingCooling
Heatkiller GTX680 "Hole Edition" Block + Backplate XSPC Single-Bay Res (Single 5.25 bay) EK Multioption Res X2 - Advanced 150 DD "Fill-Port Res" + Fill-Port Fitting (Red) 
CoolingCoolingCoolingCooling
2x MCP35X + Heatsinks/80x15mm Fan XSPC EX420 Alphacool NeXXos UT60 240 6x Bgears Blasters 140mm 1800rpm Fans 
CoolingCoolingCoolingOS
4x Koolance 120x25mm 2600rpm Fans Comp/Rotary Fittings (BP/XSPC/Monsoon) Primoflex Pro LRT - White (1/2x3/4) Windows 7 Professional 64bit  
MonitorMonitorMonitorMonitor
Dell P2210Hb 21.5" 1920x1080p Viewsonic VA2012WB 20.1" LCD 1680x1050 Dell U3014 Eizo 27" 1440p 10bit RGB-LED Backlit AH-IPS Panel 
MonitorKeyboardPowerCase
55" LG HDTV (their top 2014 model) Ducky Mechanical (Browns) NZXT HALE90 850W + 8 blown-up AX1200/i's NZXT Switch 810 (White) 
MouseMouse PadAudioAudio
R.A.T.3 + MX510 My Desk GRADO RS1i Headphones Grado PS1000 Headphones 
OtherOtherOtherOther
Bitfenix Hydra Pro Fan Controller 5ch 30W/ch Bitfenix Alchemy Individually-Sleeved Extension... NZXT Individually-Sleeved Front Panel Wires (Bl... Phobya Sleeved 1x3pin-to-4x3pin Fan Splitter 
OtherOtherOther
Sleeved Wires w Paracord myself (no Heatshrink) Custom Front and Top Panels w HexxMesh *In Prog... Working on Custom Pedestal Prototype 
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Z77 Bench-a-lot
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CPUMotherboardGraphicsGraphics
i7 3930K @ 4.92Ghz Asus Rampage 4 Extreme EVGA GTX670 FTW 2GB  EVGA GTX780Ti Classified K|ngp|n Edition @ 1483... 
GraphicsRAMHard DriveHard Drive
EVGA GTX780Ti Classified K|ngp|n Edition @ 1483... 16GB G.Skill Ripjaws-Z @ DDR3-2248 9-10-9-26 1T Samsung 830 256GB SSD WD10EZEX 1TB HDD 
Hard DriveHard DriveHard DriveHard Drive
WD10EALX 1TB HDD Seagate Barracuda 7200.14 1TB WD3200AAKS 320GB HDD WD5000HHTZ 10krpm 500GB VelociRaptor 
Optical DriveCoolingCoolingCooling
LG/Hitachi Slim DVD-R/W Custom MB-Backside VRM-sinks (Copper) 3x NZXT RF-FX140LB 1-2krpm 98.3CFM Case Fans 2x Corsair SP120-PE Case Fans 
CoolingCoolingCoolingCooling
Heatkiller GTX680 "Hole Edition" Block + Backplate XSPC Single-Bay Res (Single 5.25 bay) EK Multioption Res X2 - Advanced 150 DD "Fill-Port Res" + Fill-Port Fitting (Red) 
CoolingCoolingCoolingCooling
2x MCP35X + Heatsinks/80x15mm Fan XSPC EX420 Alphacool NeXXos UT60 240 6x Bgears Blasters 140mm 1800rpm Fans 
CoolingCoolingCoolingOS
4x Koolance 120x25mm 2600rpm Fans Comp/Rotary Fittings (BP/XSPC/Monsoon) Primoflex Pro LRT - White (1/2x3/4) Windows 7 Professional 64bit  
MonitorMonitorMonitorMonitor
Dell P2210Hb 21.5" 1920x1080p Viewsonic VA2012WB 20.1" LCD 1680x1050 Dell U3014 Eizo 27" 1440p 10bit RGB-LED Backlit AH-IPS Panel 
MonitorKeyboardPowerCase
55" LG HDTV (their top 2014 model) Ducky Mechanical (Browns) NZXT HALE90 850W + 8 blown-up AX1200/i's NZXT Switch 810 (White) 
MouseMouse PadAudioAudio
R.A.T.3 + MX510 My Desk GRADO RS1i Headphones Grado PS1000 Headphones 
OtherOtherOtherOther
Bitfenix Hydra Pro Fan Controller 5ch 30W/ch Bitfenix Alchemy Individually-Sleeved Extension... NZXT Individually-Sleeved Front Panel Wires (Bl... Phobya Sleeved 1x3pin-to-4x3pin Fan Splitter 
OtherOtherOther
Sleeved Wires w Paracord myself (no Heatshrink) Custom Front and Top Panels w HexxMesh *In Prog... Working on Custom Pedestal Prototype 
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post #397 of 5029
Updated the Speaker section a bit.
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Logitech G15 OCZ GameXStream 700w HAF 932 Advanced Logitech G300 
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Denon AVR-1912 Harman Kardon Infinity Primus P153  HIFIMAN HE-400 Vsonic GR07 
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2nd Gig
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Sayonara
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OCZ Vertex 2 90GB & Samsung Spinpoint F3 1TB Scythe MUGEN-2 Microsoft Windows 8 Professional Dell UltraSharp u2410 & Samsung 2333SW 
KeyboardPowerCaseMouse
Logitech G15 OCZ GameXStream 700w HAF 932 Advanced Logitech G300 
AudioAudioAudioAudio
Denon AVR-1912 Harman Kardon Infinity Primus P153  HIFIMAN HE-400 Vsonic GR07 
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Shure SE-535 Limited Edition Beyerdynamic DT880 ODAC/Objective 2 Amplfiier Audio Technica AD700 
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post #398 of 5029
Quote:
Originally Posted by nleksan View Post

HeadRoom "Total Airhead" Headphone Amplifier $99.99
HeadRoom "Total BitHead" Headphone Amplifier $149.99
HeadRoom "Micro Amp" Desktop Headphone Amplifier $349.99
GRADO LABS RA-1 Desktop Headphone Amplifier $449.99
HeadRoom "Desktop Amp" Headphone Amplifier (+DAC and Pre-Amp all-in-one) - $850
Beyerdynamic A1 Headphone Amplifier - $825
SPL Phonitor Headphone Amplifier - $2100
Grace Design m903 Headphone Amplifier - $1475
HeadRoom "Ultra Desktop Amplifier (Balanced)" - $1650
SPL Auditor Headphone Amplifier - $875

These options are pretty much 400%+ their cost in parts.

The "best" headphone amplifier for most headphone users (especially for the money) is probably the O2. It'll run around $120-150 for a built amp though you could build one for cheaper with some DIY handiwork. For most loads it will sound as perfect as the human ear can discern.
Audio E-peen
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Core i7-5960X ASRock X99E-ITX/ac Unobtainium GPU 32GB Corsair Vengeance LPX DDR4-2666 
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Samsung 950 Pro M.2 512GB Corsair H100i Corsair SP120 High-Performance PWM x2 Noctua NF-F12 iPPC-2000 PWM x2 
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Noctua NF-A9x14 Windows 10 Pro x64 Dell U2715H Logitech G710+ 
PowerCaseMouseMouse Pad
Silverstone SX600-G NCASE M1 v4 Logitech G700s eVGA GTX 590 Mouse Mat 
AudioAudioAudioAudio
Schiit Yggdrasil Unobtainium Amplifier Unobtainium Headphones Cambridge Audio Azur 851A 
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Anthony Gallo Acoustics Reference Strada JH Audio JH13 Pro (Custom Silver Cables) Herman Miller Embody 
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CoolingOSMonitorKeyboard
Noctua NF-A9x14 Windows 10 Pro x64 Dell U2715H Logitech G710+ 
PowerCaseMouseMouse Pad
Silverstone SX600-G NCASE M1 v4 Logitech G700s eVGA GTX 590 Mouse Mat 
AudioAudioAudioAudio
Schiit Yggdrasil Unobtainium Amplifier Unobtainium Headphones Cambridge Audio Azur 851A 
AudioAudioOther
Anthony Gallo Acoustics Reference Strada JH Audio JH13 Pro (Custom Silver Cables) Herman Miller Embody 
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post #399 of 5029
Why are the Samson SR850 and the Superlux 668b mentioned under different sections? I've always heard that the SR850 was just a rebadged 668b with a different headband. I'm not sure how true that is though.
Edited by BababooeyHTJ - 1/3/12 at 5:44pm
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My System
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post #400 of 5029
Quote:
Originally Posted by friend'scatdied View Post

These options are pretty much 400%+ their cost in parts.
The "best" headphone amplifier for most headphone users (especially for the money) is probably the O2. It'll run around $120-150 for a built amp though you could build one for cheaper with some DIY handiwork. For most loads it will sound as perfect as the human ear can discern.

I disagree. Not about them being marked up, that's always true (that's how companies make a profit), but about a simple amplifier being as good as some of what I listed. Those DIY-able amps aren't able to create a soundstage via software, because they don't have any software. I was listing many of those not only because they amplify the sound, but because they have additional features that enhance the overall quality of the total listening experience...

Granted, everyone's ears are different, so I respect your opinion. However, do note that I posted multiple links for DIY amplifiers (i.e. cMoy) at the end of my post... I wanted to give a full-range of options, from a 20 dollar Altoids-can amp to a $2500 professional-level amplifier (but mostly the stuff in between;) )
   
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Z77 Bench-a-lot
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EVGA GTX780Ti Classified K|ngp|n Edition @ 1483... 16GB G.Skill Ripjaws-Z @ DDR3-2248 9-10-9-26 1T Samsung 830 256GB SSD WD10EZEX 1TB HDD 
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WD10EALX 1TB HDD Seagate Barracuda 7200.14 1TB WD3200AAKS 320GB HDD WD5000HHTZ 10krpm 500GB VelociRaptor 
Optical DriveCoolingCoolingCooling
LG/Hitachi Slim DVD-R/W Custom MB-Backside VRM-sinks (Copper) 3x NZXT RF-FX140LB 1-2krpm 98.3CFM Case Fans 2x Corsair SP120-PE Case Fans 
CoolingCoolingCoolingCooling
Heatkiller GTX680 "Hole Edition" Block + Backplate XSPC Single-Bay Res (Single 5.25 bay) EK Multioption Res X2 - Advanced 150 DD "Fill-Port Res" + Fill-Port Fitting (Red) 
CoolingCoolingCoolingCooling
2x MCP35X + Heatsinks/80x15mm Fan XSPC EX420 Alphacool NeXXos UT60 240 6x Bgears Blasters 140mm 1800rpm Fans 
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4x Koolance 120x25mm 2600rpm Fans Comp/Rotary Fittings (BP/XSPC/Monsoon) Primoflex Pro LRT - White (1/2x3/4) Windows 7 Professional 64bit  
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Dell P2210Hb 21.5" 1920x1080p Viewsonic VA2012WB 20.1" LCD 1680x1050 Dell U3014 Eizo 27" 1440p 10bit RGB-LED Backlit AH-IPS Panel 
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55" LG HDTV (their top 2014 model) Ducky Mechanical (Browns) NZXT HALE90 850W + 8 blown-up AX1200/i's NZXT Switch 810 (White) 
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R.A.T.3 + MX510 My Desk GRADO RS1i Headphones Grado PS1000 Headphones 
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