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Seeking suggestions for an audio solution

post #1 of 2
Thread Starter 
Hello all, and thanks in advance for the help. Here is my dilemma: I own a PC Creative ZxR sound card, PS3, Xbox 360, Wii U, and have a pair of Hifiman HE-500 headphones on order. I want to be able to run the headphones from all of these things. Currently I will have the headphones running directly into the PC via the soundcard's headphone amp, no problem. After that things get iffy. The way I see it I have a few options:

1) Run the Xbox and PS3 into the sound card's optical in, let the sound card process the signal and send it out to the headphones the same way it is already doing for the PC. The problems here are that my Wii is left out of the loop (it only has HDMI, not optical) and that I then have to have the PC on any time that I want to play a console (inconvenient and a waste of electricity). In addition, the optical-in on the sound card can not process encoded signals, so any signal from the consoles has to be downgraded to 2-channel PCM or it simply will not work. While this is the cheapest solution, it doesn't seem to be the best.

2) Buy a receiver for the consoles and let the sound card continue to work for the PC. I've found a few decent-looking receivers, including this one (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16882115373) The issue here is that, from everything I've read, one should NEVER use the headphone jack on an AVR for high-end headphones; that they are better serviced by a dedicated headphone amp. I could buy the Schiit Magni and then connect it to the RCA outs on the receiver (would that even work?) but then I'm guessing that I would still be receiving a degradation in sound quality, not to mention coughing up $100 for an amp on TOP of the new receiver, which just seems contradictory. Unless I can find a receiver with a good headphone amp, if anyone knows of one?

3) Get a dedicated external DAC/headphone amp with at least an optical in. Even though it doesn't have HDMI inputs for the Wii, I would be willing to negotiate on that and just let the Wii be the one component that hooks directly up to the monitor and uses cheap-o sound through the monitor's built-in headphone jack. I nearly fell in love with a great used deal on the Peachtree musicBox (http://www.peachtreeaudio.com/musicbox-amplifier-with-dac.html) for $400, but the amp and headphone amp on that thing are laughable, not nearly enough to drive the HE-500's or even decent bookshelf speakers like the Ascend Sierra-1's which I would like to get sometime in the future. I question why Peachtree would make a good unit like that and then give it such weak amps. Anyway, the other option in this range seems to be to buy a different Peachtree device, but all of the ones I can find are $700-5000. I already spent almost a grand on the sound card and headphones, I only have about another $300-400 to spend.

4) Say "screw it" and just let the HE-500's stay connected to the PC and buy a different pair of gaming headphones that connect directly to the optical out on the consoles. Is this a good idea? I can't help but feel that the DAC in these headphones, even the high-end ones the like Turtle Beach XPSeven, would be awful; and that, again, I'm defeating the purpose for buying the HE-500's in the first place.

I don't know what else to do at this point. Each of my solutions seem to have a tragic flaw (sacrificing power and the integrity of the source output, sacrificing the integrity of the headphones, or exorbitant cost). I know that there MUST be a different solution floating around out there, whether it be a different approach to the problem or a different piece of equipment that I just haven't seen yet. If I could find a Peachtree musicBox equivalent with stronger amps and an HDMI in/out I would be ecstatic! Any and all suggestions and tips would be helpful and IMMENSELY appreciated. I've been researching this with literally all of my free time for the past 4-5 days and I seem to be no closer to finding a solution. Thanks again!
post #2 of 2
Do you want to be able to hear everything at once, do you want low latency, and do you want perfect quality?

^ Pick 2 of these 3. You can only have 2.



1 >> Digital Inputs involve:

- latency
+ quality sound
+ will allow you to hear all devices at the same time.

You could get a lynx studio card with multiple digital and analog inputs - however, still, latency. Use VAC 4.10 and audiorepeater for routing.

LYNX Card:

- An amp like the magni would be required.

2 >> Receiver/DAC:

+ no latency
+ quality sound
- one device at a time.

Receiver:

All amps sound the same. Power is the only concern. HE-500's need power. You don't need a receiver unless you need speakers.

- Preamplifier/input selector + headphone amp.
- DAC + input selector + headphone amp

3 >> Mixer:

+ no latency
- okay sound
+ will allow you to hear all devices at the same time.

- Mixer + headphone amp





What you need is a mixer, these have no latency, all analog, and will allow you to hear everything you own, at the same time.

Mixer + Magni

Get a VGA cable for the WII U.
Edited by FEAST - 3/27/13 at 3:50am
Nightfire
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Nightfire
(17 items)
 
  
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
Intel i7 3770k @ 4.6ghz @ 1.31v - LOAD: 57deg C ASUS Maximus V Z77 4 x 7750 Passive (up to 12 monitors) 32gb G-Skill Ripjaws X 
Hard DriveHard DriveHard DriveCooling
2 x OCZ Revodrive Raid1 2 x Samsung 840 Evo Raid1 4 x 3TB Seagate Raid1 Gel Mount D5 w/ Koolance Top on controller, Pas... 
OSMonitorKeyboardPower
Windows 8 & (OSX VMware) 2 x Yamakasi Catleap + 2 x Dell U2312 Razer Blackwidow Ultimate Corsair AX850 (Wish it was a Seasonic) 
CaseAudio
Silvestone RV-02 Cambridge Audio DAC 
  hide details  
Reply
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