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Audio Technica AD700 with uDAC worth it?

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 
Hi, I've got a pair of AD700 headphone coming up next week and I'm kinda wondering if it needs anything to enhance its potential. I mainly play games so here's a list of my questions:

1. I'm currently using onboard Realtek chipset. Would it be enough for AD700? Would it worth to pair the AD700 with other uDAC solutions?

2. If yes then which uDAC would you recommend (my mobo has no space left so internal sound card wouldn't be considered)? I'm currently leaning on the NuForce Icon uDAC2 but feel free to suggest me other options.

3. What's the difference between NuForce Icon uDAC2 and NuForce Icon uDAC2-HP?
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post #2 of 21
Just get a sound card mate.
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post #3 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by goldbranch View Post
Hi, I've got a pair of AD700 headphone coming up next week and I'm kinda wondering if it needs anything to enhance its potential. I mainly play games so here's a list of my questions:

1. I'm currently using onboard Realtek chipset. Would it be enough for AD700? Would it worth to pair the AD700 with other uDAC solutions?

2. If yes then which uDAC would you recommend (my mobo has no space left so internal sound card wouldn't be considered)? I'm currently leaning on the NuForce Icon uDAC2 but feel free to suggest me other options.

3. What's the difference between NuForce Icon uDAC2 and NuForce Icon uDAC2-HP?
Heya,

I would not waste time on a portable dac/amp combo for an AD700. The onboard of your motherboard will be more than enough for that headphone. However to take full advantage of that headphone, in the computer sense, I would suggest to the Asus Xonar DG. It's an inexpensive $20~30 PCI soundcard with a built-in OPAMP that amplifies headphones (can handle up to 150ohm impedance headphones just fine), and also has dolby headphone which is great for gaming and other applications where you might want to play with surround sound. Couple that with the AD700's sound stage and you can really get into a new immersion of soundscape. Getting a big dac/amp for the AD700 won't help it any, it's not a headphone that needs amplification. And a higher quality DAC is pointless if your source audio is lower quality.

That said, I hope you know what you're getting with the AD700. It's a very bass light headphone, not a lot of body, thin sounding, otherwise known as anemic. Good for FPS gaming where you need to hear footsteps. Not great for other gaming where you want immersion (like Skyrim or something), because of it's lack of bass. I would have put you onto the Fischer Audio FA-011 for a similar price instead. But you've already got the AD700's, so too late.

Anyhow, get the Xonar DG. It's all you need for that level to get all you can out of your AD700's.

Very best,
post #4 of 21
I have a laptop, so I can't buy a sound card, but I can run a USB DAC. After doing research, it seems like Creative's X-FI HD USB DAC should be better than uDAC (e.g. higher sampling rate capability). I bought the X-FI HD and was not disappointed. While my Sennheiser HD555 cans sounded good straight out of on-board realtek 26X, with the X-FI HD, they sound even better. The first thing you notice is that there is plenty of amplifier headroom. Where I used to keep my on board volume level at 90 to 100%, now it's at the more comfortable 30-50% level. Amplifier headroom is great in ALL audio, not just for headphones. Right off bat I noticed that the highs have improved. Cymbals sound more realistic, more loud, and crisp. Bass has become more robust and slightly more powerful. There is no point to go on studying and comparing other aspects of music of on-board vs USB HD. USB DAC is clearly better. All in all, you need to have a somewhat discerning and trained ear to hear the difference at first, but it's there.
post #5 of 21
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by adridu59 View Post
Just get a sound card mate.
I would definitely if there's still space left on my mobo.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MalVeauX View Post
Heya,

I would not waste time on a portable dac/amp combo for an AD700. The onboard of your motherboard will be more than enough for that headphone. However to take full advantage of that headphone, in the computer sense, I would suggest to the Asus Xonar DG. It's an inexpensive $20~30 PCI soundcard with a built-in OPAMP that amplifies headphones (can handle up to 150ohm impedance headphones just fine), and also has dolby headphone which is great for gaming and other applications where you might want to play with surround sound. Couple that with the AD700's sound stage and you can really get into a new immersion of soundscape. Getting a big dac/amp for the AD700 won't help it any, it's not a headphone that needs amplification. And a higher quality DAC is pointless if your source audio is lower quality.

That said, I hope you know what you're getting with the AD700. It's a very bass light headphone, not a lot of body, thin sounding, otherwise known as anemic. Good for FPS gaming where you need to hear footsteps. Not great for other gaming where you want immersion (like Skyrim or something), because of it's lack of bass. I would have put you onto the Fischer Audio FA-011 for a similar price instead. But you've already got the AD700's, so too late.

Anyhow, get the Xonar DG. It's all you need for that level to get all you can out of your AD700's.

Very best,
As said above, I don't have space for an internal sound card right now, but I really appreciate your help. I understand that AD700 won't need an amplification but I still don't get what you mean by "a higher quality DAC is pointless if your source audio is lower quality". Is the source audio in this case the quality of music (like 128 vs 192khz), movies and games or anything else?

Quote:
Originally Posted by ZAKOH View Post
I have a laptop, so I can't buy a sound card, but I can run a USB DAC. After doing research, it seems like Creative's X-FI HD USB DAC should be better than uDAC (e.g. higher sampling rate capability). I bought the X-FI HD and was not disappointed. While my Sennheiser HD555 cans sounded good straight out of on-board realtek 26X, with the X-FI HD, they sound even better. The first thing you notice is that there is plenty of amplifier headroom. Where I used to keep my on board volume level at 90 to 100%, now it's at the more comfortable 30-50% level. Amplifier headroom is great in ALL audio, not just for headphones. Right off bat I noticed that the highs have improved. Cymbals sound more realistic, more loud, and crisp. Bass has become more robust and slightly more powerful. There is no point to go on studying and comparing other aspects of music of on-board vs USB HD. USB DAC is clearly better. All in all, you need to have a somewhat discerning and trained ear to hear the difference at first, but it's there.
The X-fi HD did catch my attention before but I got mixed reviews on that one (3.5-4 stars on amazon while the uDAC gets a solid 4.5 stars and above). And I do know the difference between onboard vs dedicated sound card (my brother got an asus xonar d2x and it sounds just awesome), but it's great to have a X-fi HD's owner here.

+1 to all, cheers.
Any more suggestions? I found somewhere in this forum that uDAC is actually recommended to pair with AD700 but I might be mistaken.
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post #6 of 21
A lot of those "bad" Amazon reviews is just complaining about how bad/hard to use Creative software and drivers are, and those reviewers may be right. However, I personally don't care about any advanced features. As a plain USB DAC it works out of box, plug and play.
post #7 of 21
*sigh*

It isn't opamps that power headphones, but y'know, a headphone amplifier with gain.

Also I wouldn't touch the Nuforce uDacs with a stick. Such a myriad of problems with them and bad measurements to boot. What's your budget?
post #8 of 21
Thread Starter 
My budget is around $100-$150. What's your suggestion?
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post #9 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by goldbranch View Post
+1 to all, cheers.
Any more suggestions? I found somewhere in this forum that uDAC is actually recommended to pair with AD700 but I might be mistaken.
I was under the impression that AD700s benefit more from a good soundcard than uDAC because of its impedance
    
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post #10 of 21
While I think the suggestions I'm going to give you are overkill for your AD700s, they're the best in your price range from my research.

Take a look at the Aune Mini MK2 (this being first pick) or the Musiland Monitor 02. Both have headphone amps built in, but you won't need them for the AD700s. They're very easy to drive.

If you wanted to spend even less, find a used Zero Dac with opamps. Can be found for 106 if you're lucky.
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