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Budget Audio... $150-$300

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
So I'm looking for something to make my music experience better...

So, my audio units aint something special now, but might become in near future.
Headset: Sennheiser PC G4ME 360
Speakers: Logitech Z-5500

I was thinking a DAC & AMP all-in-one, like a Fiio E10 or Hegel Super USB, but then i figured, what about my speakers? Want something for them too.

Why I figured I "need" a DAC/AMP? Well, I tried my brother's PC which has a Asus Xonar D2X with my headset... OH GOD, that quality, I actually FORGOT I had my headset on when I stood up and were about to leave his room... I were 100% sure it was the speakers or something, just WOW.

So I basicly felt in love when i tried it, and since then I'v wanted something for myself, BUT I cannot figure out what.
The Fiio is limited to one 3.5mm jack which is AMP'd and Coax and another 3.5mm jack which isn't AMP'd...

So my question is: Whats should I buy? Pros and cons?

Thanks everyone.
post #2 of 10
Hedge your bets, either look to get a kick ass pc speaker pair or a proper pair of cans.

I can confirm your suspicion, the e10 is the direction you want to go if you want a good dac amp combo. My general recommendation for headphone amps and dacs is fiio e10> asus xonar essence> schiit magni + modi. Anything($) below isn't worth buying, anything above you should feel compelled to research yourself since you are spending 200$+ before looking at an output device.

Headphone range:
ath-m50 - 150$
Sennheiser HD 598 - 180$
akg 701 - 220$
beyerdynamic 880's (250 ohm version) 300$

Looking at speakers, I heard they ran a pretty penny so I've never done much research. Bose companion is a good bet(hear that thrown around alot). Myself, i have a pair of decent bookshelf speakers and a cheap amp.

http://www.amazon.com/Dayton-Audio-B652-Bookshelf-Speaker/dp/B002RMPHMU/ref=sr_1_1?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1394583692&sr=1-1&keywords=dayton+audio+b652
http://www.amazon.com/LP-2020A-Lepai-Tripath-Class-T-Amplifier/dp/B0049P6OTI/ref=pd_bxgy_e_text_y
http://www.amazon.com/AH1650R-feet-16-Gauge-Speaker-Wire/dp/B000N7JWVI/ref=sr_1_3?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1394583760&sr=1-3&keywords=speaker+wire+16

Supposedly can rumble with the best of em(similar quality pc speakers come in at 125$ish)

All considered, id buy an e10 and the sennheiser HD 598's.
Edited by thehidecheck - 3/11/14 at 5:57pm
post #3 of 10
Thread Starter 
I forgot to count the possible difference in audio products in Norway versus US...
The Fiio E10 and Sennheiser HD 598 would cost ~$430 in Norway, versus the ~$250 in the US.

So for prices I believe we stand close to the UK prices. So if you know any(I dont) use a UK web shop for prices tongue.gif

I really cannot afford both a headset and a AMP, just one. And I dont think upgrading the headset would do me much good. I will save up for a headset later, but right now, I just dont have the money for it.

That said: I'v concidered new speakers and my Z5500's are for sale right now, so if they get sold, I will probably buy some table/compact stereo speakers to sit next to my screen smile.gif

Checked the prices of the headsets and AMPS you listed and wrote it down for ya as a guideline for the "amazing" prices we have here in Norway Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Audio Technica ATH-M50: ~$150
Sennheiser HD 598: ~$270
AKG 701: ~$335
Beyerdynamic DT880 (250 ohm version): ~$335

Fiio E10: ~$160
Asus Xonar Essence One: ~$500
Schiit Magni + Modi: Not sold in webshops in Norway, probably around $750-1000.
post #4 of 10
I have dt990 pro 250 ohm and I am loving them.
considering you are on overclock net and your build, i would assume you game... So I honesty would buy a opened air headphones...
Considering the Dac on your motherboard, it could be nice to have a better dac but not as important as an amp!!! (in my experience)
I have the lastest on-board sound chip (alc1150) and I can ensure you that the upgrade to my titanium HD is not a big one compared to be without amp and having one...(seriously i am disapointed with my titanium HD in term of music quality, [but let's say that the 3D positional is quite a big upgrade]
Currently I have a old school kenwood KA-6100 amp (that probably worth nothing in your classified add website in norway (or other well branded old school amp)) and this thing is epic considering the price that it worth. (my experience)
So buying a nice and clean open cans + a used amp could be very nice.
Seriously being with onboard amp versus having an amp is huge!!
Before buying my dt990, I had a cheap pair of jvc rx700 (30$) with an amp (cheap older school than the one i have right now) and I could compare it to my friends m50 without an amp (I would not say I was betting him, but the factor fun that was added from the amp with cheap headphone was just amazing).

Final word, even if you have to skimp a bit on the headphone's budget, leave some space for an AMP!
My 2 cents and personnal experience

edit:
Quote:
Originally Posted by thehidecheck View Post


All considered, id buy an e10 and the sennheiser HD 598's.
Thats a good idea if it fits in budget, read good thing about the fio e10, but does the amp in a such small device can be beneficial. Also consider that with a usb dac, you lose that 3D positioning since it is only transferred into normal stereo, so if you game, that might not be the greatest option.
Edited by adgame - 3/12/14 at 10:40am
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post #5 of 10
Thread Starter 
I forgot to say that I do game, but music is my priority.

My current headphones are the PC360 as stated in the first post, and they are open. I do like open headphones, but closed ones that are comfy is a possibility. As I said earlier, I tried these headphones with a Asus Xonar D2X, and the difference is HUGE, so I know what a AMP/DAC can do with these. Not that's its remotely comparable with some headphones, but its over the top for me tongue.gif

I do not plan in getting a headset any time soon, this is why I want an "overkill" AMP/DAC unit to be able to upgrade my headset later when I have the monies for it, without having to buy a new AMP/DAC.

Would it be better to buy a "speaker amp" instead of a headphone and use it later for speakers when I get to that point?

Loving all the wall-o-text posts smile.gif
post #6 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by thehidecheck View Post

fiio e10> asus xonar essence> schiit magni + modi.

Reverse those arrows and you got it right.

HD558 and HD598 are too similar to be worth buying when you already have the PC360. I'd just get the DAC and amp now and save for better headphones later. Either the schiit combo, objective combo (check out headnhifi.com), or a cheaper sound card like the creative Z or asus DGX.

Speaker amps do work fine. Receivers can take HDMI for audio and it will act as your DAC, speaker amp, and headphone amp. You would still have to run a separate cable for the mic.
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post #7 of 10
Thread Starter 
Now I'm back to my first plan, headset only. Speakers later, not a priority.
I'v heard from one of the biggest audiophiles in Norway that the Hegel Super USB beats the Fiio E10 at every point... Couldn't try them against each other as the E10 is no longer sold in physical shops in Norway.

Going for the Hegel as it is super simple in use and is more future proof, acording to what I can find out. If no one has anything to add on that I will probably go for that as most other options are to expensive here in Norway. If I, some beautiful day, fly over the sea to the US, I will make sure I buy something nice for myself biggrin.gif

Dont really want a internal soundcard as its usually worse than any external at that price. What a lovely country, right? mad.gif
post #8 of 10
Well, if you want amp/dac, I have a great recommandation for you (almost bought it for myself, but decided to get a sound card since I already had an amp)
The maverick audio tubemagic D1 plus. it worth 210 usd plus shipping, so you have to pay shipping and converting rate.
It's an external dac with headphone tube amp.
Feature are pretty for the price, (kinda like the dac/amp's korean 1440p monitor as far as feature / price goes)
Could be nice to consider : http://www.head-fi.org/t/470639/maverick-audio-tubemagic-d1-dac-amp-condensed-faq-and-info-thread
Head-fi.org is also worth browsing for reviews wink.gif
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post #9 of 10
Thread Starter 
Getting that to Norway would be about $300 before shipping... So its not an option really frown.gif


Will drop a thread down there as well and see what they say smile.gif
post #10 of 10
I don't know how it would cost more than 300$ http://www.mav-audio.com/store/index.php/tube-magic-dac-d1-1.html
Just did a shipping quote to a olso pizza restaurante (easy to find address) and it could ship to norway for 30$, total would come to 1400 NOK plus exchange fees, paypal fees (you could pay directly with visa too) and duty charge if they charge for (I am sure Ryan [the seller] can undervalue the package for less duty)
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