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New to premium audio gear (okay not really premium but better than average) - Looking for PC audio advice

post #1 of 33
Thread Starter 
Hi there,

I've just decided it is about time I got a decent audio setup for my computer (currently I just use tritton ax720's which have their own little dolby digital amp/box/something (inb4 "gaming headsets are so bad, you wasted your money") and my motherboard is the Z68XP-UD3, nothing special. So I'm on a tight budget and the headphones I was looking at getting were the audio technica ad700x's or possibly the ad900x's. This could change but I've read a lot of good reviews and I'm going to use my headphones for gaming as well as music so I like the idea of the open soundstage with open ear headphones as well as the lightweight construction.

I've been convinced that there's no point buying those headphones if I don't have an amp and dac outside of my PC to make sure I'm getting the best sound possible. Because I'm on a tight budget, looking at amps and dacs has put me off the whole audiophile market because I can't afford to drop $200 on making my sound a little better, especially after paying for the headphones as well.

So, my question to you guys and gals is...is there a way to get an okay amp/dac combo, even if I have to buy parts from china and solder myself (I'm a first year engineering student so I'm okaaay at reading circuit diagrams and I can solder, but not at a professional level). I know it seems like nothing but I would want to be spending less than $60 usd (i pray shipping isn't expensive cause I live in New Zealand). I DONT need a case or anything like that for it, it is FINE being just a circuit board as I have a very safe place for it to be in my desk.

I've tried looking at DIY projects for this stuff but they all end up costing $100usd or more just for either the amp or dac and I think I may as well buy the oDAC/O2 amp from NwAvGuy on massdrop https://www.massdrop.com/buy/massdrop-o2-odac?referer=XACZWC&mode=guest_open&utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Audiophile%20A%20Product%20Announcement%202015-10-24&utm_term=Community%20-%20Audiophile%20-%20MAU%20%28Active%29​

Any help would really be appreciated, oh and also I don't have a soundcard in my pc, just generic 3.5mm out as well as toslink out.
Thanks very much!
post #2 of 33
Have you considered a used DAC/Amp? eBay New Zealand

And when you post questions it would be nice if you linked to what you're asking about so we don't have to go through the "copy/open/paste" routine for all the info we need.

This:
Z68XP-UD3
tritton ax720
audio technica ad700x
audio technica ad900x
Edited by billbartuska - 10/26/15 at 2:38am
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post #3 of 33
Thread Starter 
Hey thanks! Sorry I never thought linking those things, will do it next time (it's been a while since i've been on overclock)
As for buying second hand, ebay is pretty much empty in NZ and our own ebay equivalent, TradeMe has no cheap amps or dacs for sale at the time of writing.
On that ebay link you sent i found a couple of these cheap amp/dac boards but i honestly have no clue what to look for in a good amp (and im guessing it's not that tonguesmiley.gif )
But I am completely fine going with something like that if someone can confirm it's actually going to give me benefit which is worth the effort.

oh and btw, you linked the trittons twice, these are the AD700X's: http://www.amazon.com/Audio-Technica-ATH-AD700X-Audiophile-Headphones/dp/B009S332TQ
post #4 of 33
If you're looking for really cheap stuff try Ali Express.

Note that I'm not making any specific recommendations on components.
My actual recommendation would be to save up some more money and then upgrade to something that will actually make a difference in sound quality.
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post #5 of 33
The lowest end DAC/AMP combo that is actually going to give you what I would consider good sound is the Schiit stack (Magni2/Modi2). If you can't drop $200 on that you're in the wrong hobby. Good sound is expensive. Great sound requires that you sell a kidney and most of your liver and possibly your left eye.

How's $350 sound? Schiit Magni/Schiit Modi/Sennheiser HD598

from Schiit.com, Amazon.com

You will need: RCA patch cables ($20, schiit.com) USB A/B cable ($20, schiit.com)

Enjoy!

If you want something really cheap, you can get a Schiit Fulla USB DAC/AMP for $75 or an Audioquest Dragonfly ($149). The Fulla is ok but the actual power output is a joke compared to the magni. It won't give you the same kicking punchy sound. Nor should it, for almost 1/3 the cost.
post #6 of 33
Creative-Z

Dac and Headphone amp in a single card. Sounds Damn good, and has plenty of Amp power.

Internally Shielded to keep the interference down.


http://www.amazon.com/Blaster-Performance-Headphone-Forming-Microphone/dp/B009ISU33E/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1445894815&sr=8-1&keywords=creative+z


IMO this is the way to go if you don't plan on spending around $300 on a DAC+AMP.


Plus you don't need a $300+ DAC and AMP for headphones that cost less than $200.
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post #7 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by DzillaXx View Post

Creative-Z

Dac and Headphone amp in a single card. Sounds Damn good, and has plenty of Amp power.

Internally Shielded to keep the interference down.


http://www.amazon.com/Blaster-Performance-Headphone-Forming-Microphone/dp/B009ISU33E/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1445894815&sr=8-1&keywords=creative+z


IMO this is the way to go if you don't plan on spending around $300 on a DAC+AMP.


Plus you don't need a $300+ DAC and AMP for headphones that cost less than $200.

No but a $200 DAC+amp would be just about right. It also gives you room to upgrade in the future.

The HD598 are regular $300 and they are $150 on Amazon.com. It's a good buy. The DT990 Pro are $198 if he wants to step up a notch.
post #8 of 33
Thread Starter 
My hobby isn't good sound, it's games like cs go mostly and I do listen to a lot of music but I'm not into spending more on my audio equipment than my PC. Just want to know what kind of amp/dac combo would suit something like the ad700x's. I don't think the impedance is very high so does this mean an amp doesn't have much use?
post #9 of 33
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by billbartuska View Post

If you're looking for really cheap stuff try Ali Express.

Note that I'm not making any specific recommendations on components.
My actual recommendation would be to save up some more money and then upgrade to something that will actually make a difference in sound quality.

I'm trying to get a desk built with all my pc parts inside of it so saving up will probably be more hassle than benefit i would personally get from it (maybe not, I've never heard any expensive audio set ups before) as I would have to open it up and modify it after completing it which isn't ideal but idk, maybe I'll do that, I'll have to go test out my friends $1000 audio setup and see what it's like. As for the aliexpress stuff, I would go for it if I just knew of someone who could confirm that it is at least better than my 3.5mm out from my motherboard.
Quote:
Originally Posted by DzillaXx View Post

Creative-Z

Dac and Headphone amp in a single card. Sounds Damn good, and has plenty of Amp power.

Internally Shielded to keep the interference down.


http://www.amazon.com/Blaster-Performance-Headphone-Forming-Microphone/dp/B009ISU33E/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1445894815&sr=8-1&keywords=creative+z


IMO this is the way to go if you don't plan on spending around $300 on a DAC+AMP.


Plus you don't need a $300+ DAC and AMP for headphones that cost less than $200.

Thanks, I've seen this mentioned before and it doesn't look too bad, I'm just not sure if it's within my price range at the moment, especially considering it's a pci space taker which will actually add to my build costs of the desk as I have to buy pci extensions and mount it and stuff, will keep it in mind though.


Does anyone here think that toslink will be significantly better than usb out? Would it have less interference? Or should I just not bother with low level audio gear that I'm wanting
post #10 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jacksonator36 View Post

I'm trying to get a desk built with all my pc parts inside of it so saving up will probably be more hassle than benefit i would personally get from it (maybe not, I've never heard any expensive audio set ups before) as I would have to open it up and modify it after completing it which isn't ideal but idk, maybe I'll do that, I'll have to go test out my friends $1000 audio setup and see what it's like. As for the aliexpress stuff, I would go for it if I just knew of someone who could confirm that it is at least better than my 3.5mm out from my motherboard.
Thanks, I've seen this mentioned before and it doesn't look too bad, I'm just not sure if it's within my price range at the moment, especially considering it's a pci space taker which will actually add to my build costs of the desk as I have to buy pci extensions and mount it and stuff, will keep it in mind though.


Does anyone here think that toslink will be significantly better than usb out? Would it have less interference? Or should I just not bother with low level audio gear that I'm wanting

You summed it up. You're not willing to spend the money on real improvements. Toslink has much more jitter than USB. USB is the best digital transport for audio over a cable that exists right now.
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