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i would appreciate some advice. i'm not an audiophile but i appreciate quality sound and i'd like to improve my gaming experience. i'm looking for an audio setup that will allow me to control volume through a physical knob. my focus is gaming. i play FPS games with the occasional Mafia II style game thrown in. budget is low, $100 - $150.

current setup:

  • on-board Realtek ALC892 8-channel
  • HD280 PRO headphones
  • generic low-end PC 2.1 speakers (creative i trigue 3400)

looking to upgrade to:
  • an improved source (X-fi, Xonar, DAC, etc. ?)
  • keeping my HD280 PRO's, i'm happy with them
  • keeping the PC 2.1 speakers (i use headphones while gaming, speakers are used only for youtube vids etc.)

here's my current setup. soundcard -> low-end 2.1 speakers -> HD280 connected through the volume control pod of the i trigue speakers.



i'm concerned that i'm losing audio quality by connecting my headphones through the speaker control pod. i want a solution that allows me to control volume with a physical knob. so, what i'm looking for is something that sits on my desk (with a physical volume control knob) that i can plug my headphones into and that would minimize loss in audio quality. i want to be able to plug my speakers into this device as well.



my criteria:
  • physical volume control
  • good quality audio pass through
  • connect headphones and speakers at the same time (ideally speakers would auto-mute when headphones are plugged in)
  • do not care about audio quality passed through to the speakers
  • must allow EQ adjustment (physical or software based)

since my primary purpose is gaming i figure i should stick to a sound card (X-fi, ASUS) instead of a DAC. input is welcome here. the caught my eye but i've read there is no EQ adjustment even though damn near every other Creative product allows for it through software. i've also considered the , but i have no experience with using a DAC and i'm not even sure it will allow me to connect speakers as well. also it will lack the 'features' of gaming-based sound cards like EAX etc. I wouldn't mind getting the with some sort of volume control device like i described above, or maybe the if i decide to stretch my budget. it's just a matter of finding a volume control device. i've thought of purchasing a stereo receiver off of CL, but i don't want the bulk of having to place that on my desk. maybe a simple headphone amp will work for this?

so i'm looking for an improved audio source and volume control. thanks in advance for any and all advice.
Peaty
(10 items)
 
  
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
i7-6700K @ 4.4 GHz ASUS ROG Maximus VIII Hero GTX 1070 SLI @ 1924/8000 MHz 16GB DDR4 3200 MHz 
Hard DriveMonitorPowerAudio
2x 850 EVO 500GB ASUS ROG Swift PG278Q AX850 Titanium HD | JDS Labs O2 | HD650 
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Peaty
(10 items)
 
  
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
i7-6700K @ 4.4 GHz ASUS ROG Maximus VIII Hero GTX 1070 SLI @ 1924/8000 MHz 16GB DDR4 3200 MHz 
Hard DriveMonitorPowerAudio
2x 850 EVO 500GB ASUS ROG Swift PG278Q AX850 Titanium HD | JDS Labs O2 | HD650 
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Reply