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post #11 of 15
I noticed a few comments from the OP that gave me pause for concern. Make sure you realize that audio is a chain where the lowest quality component in that chain determines the highest quality you can get out of it. For example, you mentioned iPod earbuds; the Apple iPod has always had notoriously poor quality sound output and the earbuds it comes with are even worse than that. What's more, the majority of music that people pull down from iTunes is lower bit-rate mp3/aac, which would negate the whole purpose of higher quality components.

To hear a significant improvement in sound quality hardware, you would need to have your source files be a minimum of 192kbps bit-rate, preferably 256kbps or flac (uncompressed). If the sound you start with is poor, having higher quality components will in fact make it sound even worse because you will actually hear the parts of the music that were lost. You might not think it would make much difference, but it is _very_ difficult to listen to low bitrate audio on a high quality setup for more than a couple minutes: it's like nails on a chalkboard.
post #12 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Electrocutor View Post

I noticed a few comments from the OP that gave me pause for concern. Make sure you realize that audio is a chain where the lowest quality component in that chain determines the highest quality you can get out of it. For example, you mentioned iPod earbuds; the Apple iPod has always had notoriously poor quality sound output and the earbuds it comes with are even worse than that. What's more, the majority of music that people pull down from iTunes is lower bit-rate mp3/aac, which would negate the whole purpose of higher quality components.

To hear a significant improvement in sound quality hardware, you would need to have your source files be a minimum of 192kbps bit-rate, preferably 256kbps or flac (uncompressed). If the sound you start with is poor, having higher quality components will in fact make it sound even worse because you will actually hear the parts of the music that were lost. You might not think it would make much difference, but it is _very_ difficult to listen to low bitrate audio on a high quality setup for more than a couple minutes: it's like nails on a chalkboard.

With this being perfectly true, I'd like to offer the caveat that the transducer (aka the headphones or speakers) are the most cost-effective way to gain improvements in sound quality. If you have, say, $200 to spend I'd look at spending about 3/4 of that on headphones - gains from DACs, amplification, etc are typically less significant and I'd suggest treating them as less important when determining how to spend your budget on audio gear when you're getting started and don't have any great-quality gear yet.
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post #13 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Electrocutor View Post

I noticed a few comments from the OP that gave me pause for concern. Make sure you realize that audio is a chain where the lowest quality component in that chain determines the highest quality you can get out of it. For example, you mentioned iPod earbuds; the Apple iPod has always had notoriously poor quality sound output and the earbuds it comes with are even worse than that. What's more, the majority of music that people pull down from iTunes is lower bit-rate mp3/aac, which would negate the whole purpose of higher quality components.

To hear a significant improvement in sound quality hardware, you would need to have your source files be a minimum of 192kbps bit-rate, preferably 256kbps or flac (uncompressed). If the sound you start with is poor, having higher quality components will in fact make it sound even worse because you will actually hear the parts of the music that were lost. You might not think it would make much difference, but it is _very_ difficult to listen to low bitrate audio on a high quality setup for more than a couple minutes: it's like nails on a chalkboard.

Hah. Yes I'm aware of all of this. Thanks for the post though. It's a good reminder : ]
Quote:
Originally Posted by DrGroove View Post

If your usage is a good chunk of fps gaming, I would suggest just getting a nice souncard like the Asus Essence STX. If you mostly listen to music, just get a standalone DAC and amp that will have higher quality.

What would each situation cost typically? Soundcard vs Dac + Amp
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post #14 of 15
It really depends on your total budget. Like Chipp said, I would also suggest anyone spend the majority of their budget on the headphones. Whether or not you need a soundcard depends on if you want the simu-3D effect for fps games, or other features like hardware equalizer, bass control, etc.

I have a Titanium HD right now, and besides my personal issues with its higher output impedance and my low impedance IEM, it sounds pretty darn good as a DAC. That being said, I don't use any of the hardware effects. To me, CMSS-3D and dolby headphone just make everything sound airy and worse and I do very well in fps games with regular stereo sound.

Here's stuff I usually recommend

Soundcards
Asus Xonar Essence STX $180
Creative Z, Zx $110, 140
Asus Xonar DGX $40

DAC + Amp Not necessarily in order of quality
Leckerton UHA-6S.MKII $280
ODAC $150 + O2 $160 These can be built yourself for cheaper if you are capable/willing
Schiit Modi DAC $100 + Magni amp $100 Probably the best combo for the money around this price point
iBasso D7 DAC+Amp $180
Audioengine D1 DAC+Amp $170
FiiO E10 DAC+Amp $70 I'm not a fan of FiiO, but it's still a good product at this low price point
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post #15 of 15
Thread Starter 
Ok, so the pricepoints of the two options are fairly comparable and for the most part they offer the same things, while of course each has its + and -
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