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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
What I have:
-Sennheiser HD555 Headphones
-Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi XtremeGamer
-Altec 2.1 Speakers w/ subwoofer

What I do (everything on PC):
-GAMES
-MUSIC
-SKYPE
-some movies

Looking to:
-Upgrade sound card (do I need an AMP?)

OS:
-WIN 7

Suggestions? GO!
 

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The HD555 has a nominal impedance of 50 Ohms, so in truth an amp would likely be a benefit to you.

I've heard that the Ti-HD card is good as well, but for the money you might as well get the Z, honestly.

For Xonar cards, the DG/DGX has a built in headphone amp, though you will have to plug/unplug every time you want to switch between your speakers and headphones (rear connections will likely give the least interference).

The Sound Blaster Z (from what I can see) has connections for both speakers and headphones, with a switch to, well, switch between the 2. It also has a headphone amp built in.

I'm sure there are other cards that have built in amps, those are 2 that I see recommended (I own the DG).
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
The Z looks interesting, not a big fan of the red LED though.

edit: maybe I can disable it?
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I did some googling and found that many enjoy the Z but some argue the Titanium HD is still superior. It's a mixed argument.

Any other thoughts?
 

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The Titanium HD is indeed still better if you count the fact that the Z does color the sound a little bit.
Only matters in music though and only really relevant if you're freaking picky in your music. The colorization is a bit on the treble side, on the upper mid-range.

Again, personally... I literally "hear" the issue to be quite honest.
Otherwise, the Z is as good as the THD for less money (unless you get 2nd hand) in games and movies. In fact, I actually like the Z for games better even if it doesn't has as good as a virtual surround DSP... in terms of positioning.

CMSS-3D, I've been on it for 8 years so I know how it sounds the moment I hear it. Positioning is indeed the best I've experienced with and I've tried Dolby Headphones and Recon3D (omygod.. don't get me started on this piece of trash). But the fact that it sounds really thin and like I have cardboard box on my head, it's deal breaker for movies and many SP games.

Great when I play MP FPS, but that's about the only damn thing it's good for unfortunately... at least for me.
Dolby Headphones sounds so much better for movies because it is based on 5.1 surround speaker in a room, it's more immersive. Everything is a lot more full and that's why I've always stuck with Dolby Headphones for movies and SP games. Problem with DH is, it lacks in positioning to CMSS-3D.. a lot. Can't use it for MP FPS at all, no way.

So what about the Z's SBX Surround then? I would say it's the middle ground between CMSS-3D and Dolby Headphones. It's immersive enough that there isn't the "cardboard box on my head" sounding issue, but not way too full that it hurts positioning by a lot. Although I still find myself going back to Dolby Headphones for movies, but for games... both on SP and MP type of games, I find SBX to be best fit for it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
If it's any help I mostly play games and listen to music. When I switch over to my speakers I'm usually doing so to watch a movie or streaming services such as twitch TV.

I guess I could say I'm looking for an upgrade that is in the middle of the road, an all around good sound card for games movies and music. But mostly gearing towards music and gaming.
 

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Like I said, the THD is undeniably better sounding than the Z. It's a higher quality built card, as simple as that.
But is it worth the extra $60 (going by Amazon's price)? No, not really. If you can get it for lesser than $120, go for the THD. If money isn't a problem, wait for the ZxR.

Otherwise, I would recommend the Z as a nice all-around sound card.
Alternatively, the Asus Xonar DX is also a very good all rounder. Uses Dolby Headphones however (again, DH is really really good for movies IMO), so if positioning is critical to you.. stick with the Z.
 

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One major advantage that the Ti-HD has over the Z series (unless the ZxR (which I don't see anywhere) has it) is the ability to switch the Op-Amps, thus being able to slightly tweak the sound signature to your liking.

If that's your thing, it might be worth going to the Ti-HD over the Z.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Does the THD have a built in headphone amp?

The Z supposively supports both headphone and speaker connection, and has the built in headphone amplifier.
 

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AFAIK, THD doesn't have a proper headphone amp. The output impedence on it is rather weird at 33ohms.
The Z does have a proper headphone amp, output impedence at 10ohms (I believe, not 100% sure). It's a little higher than what your HD555 needs and might cause a little bit of bass distortion at higher volumes.

Basically, your HD555 really doesn't need an amp. 50ohms is pretty easy to drive.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gheed View Post

Does the THD have a built in headphone amp?

The Z supposively supports both headphone and speaker connection, and has the built in headphone amplifier.

edit: after goolging for a bit, it looks like it doesn't....or does it?
A Titanium HD does not have a headphone amp. It is a nice sound card though, although I might be a bit bias since I have a THD, a headphone tube amp and a pair of 595's which are basically the same as 555's. I haven't heard the Z so I can't comment on that but like benbenkr stated above, 555's low 50olms are easy to drive and don't need an amp.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Okay, so I don't need an AMP for the 555's. THD would do just fine.

Then again, if I ever decide to upgrade my "phones"; the amp on the Z might be nice to have.

What do you guys think?

EDIT: I'm going to go ahead and order the X-FI THD for now....if I don't like it, I'll just return it.

Thanks for the help guys.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gheed View Post

Does the THD have a built in headphone amp?

The Z supposively supports both headphone and speaker connection, and has the built in headphone amplifier.
Technically the TiHD (Titanium HD) is a better sound card (audio quality wise) then the SB-Z (Sound blaster Z).....but.
The TiHD does not come with a headphone amplifier and it's headphone output has a high impedance
frown.gif

(for a card (TiHD) without a headphone amplifier, it can still drive 250-Ohm headphones)
Also when you plug headphones into the TiHD is automatically shuts off the RCA outputs (speakers).
So you have to unplug the headphones whenever you want to use the speakers.

So I would would say to get the SB-Z.
It come with a dedicated headphone amplifier and it's headphone output has a lower impedance
smile.gif

You can leave the headphones and speakers hooked up and just switch between them using the Creative audio panel.
The SB-Z is considered a good audio sound quality card.
 

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Back when i had my HD555s, i used them with a Xonar DX. DX does not have an amp, and it drove the 555s very well with plenty of loudness. Eventually i moved up to Xonar ST with 555s, it has a small quality increase, nothing major; the biggest increase in quality i got is the fact that i can change the OP amps on the ST, which change the sound signature in general.
Lastly. HD555s don't need an amp, pretty much any source can still drive them fine.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Good to know the senn's don't require an AMP.

My THD should be arriving tomorrow. I'll let you guys know how it goes.
 
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