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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So I have a set of HD555 that I love, but reading around it seems that I could be getting more out of them with a dedicated sound card instead of the onboard audio with my computer.

My main interest is gaming and music. I want to get more out of my opera, big band, and jazz, as well as better sound staging for my FPS games. Can anyone suggest a sound card for this purpose? I don't know that I need a $200 Zonar, but if that is going to be worth it, I'll happily lay down the money. I have both PCI and PCIe slots available in my computer, so no worries there. Also, I hate the 6.3-3.5mm converter; do any cards have a 6.3mm so that I don't have to use the converter?
 

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tbh I don't really have much experience with other sound cards but the Essence STX sounds great with my HD555's much better than my old X-Fi and the difference is night and day over onboard.

I thought about selling it recently and switched back to onboard for a day but it sucked for gaming :l I could barely hear footsteps and other details no matter how much I tweaked settings.

Oh and there is no need for a 3.5mm adapter with the Essence.
 

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I am getting pretty enjoyable sound on HD555s straight out of my laptops Realtek HD269. Frankly, if you like what you hear and you can't hear discernible distortions, there is no point to upgrade. This of course depends on your rig. I have seen systems with absolutely disgusting onboard audio, where moving a mouse would introduce a buzz into the headphones and playing music at high volume still was not load enough, and others were just fine. In the end you have to decide if your current sound is good enough.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
What has inspired me to upgrade is that the sound is flat, and I know my 555s are better than this. There is minimal sound staging, and everything is sort of fuzzy on the edges. Nothing is sharp and crisp, there and then gone. I know the 555s are capable of more because loss-less music on my ipod sounds better than it does on my computer.

In games it's really noticeable because the sound effects are meant to be behind me, or above me, and instead they sound like they right in front of me. All effects happen in that same plane a couple inches in front of my face.

I don't really care about making the 555s louder; I just want more clarity and better staging.
 

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all depends on budget..yes, a sound card would help immensely.
 

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Hey, it looks like you have come to a stage where you are beginning to see why the Sennheisers are really used for professional use!

The flat sound you are getting is the staple Sennheiser reference sound, however you are correct in assuming that a sound card will enhance your experience.
If you are planning to buy one, i would recommend one that has a respectable impedance and a variable efficiency modulator.

If you were to look up the specs of your HD555s(i have the 595s so i can look up the box hehe) you will see 50Ω of impedance as a rating. This means that the headphones require a far greater amount of power to sound better. This is a good thing! Sennheiser presumes that you are using these headphones on an amp and designed them to sound better when using it with a higher power output.

Therefore, investing in a good high impedance sound card would do you good. Since, even though 50 is relatively high for headphones, it is still low for the high end ones you find(sometimes 600Ω). If you did not however, the highs and the mids would get wonky and you would find yourself irritating by sibilance(the odd buzzing).

The Xonar Essence STX is a sound card i currently have, its around 190 but if you can go for the revised ST which is around 200. If you are uncomfortable going with ASUS you may have to shell out more, as you will get into the non-main stream amp area.
Hope this helps. GL
 

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Well, if you care about the games that use OpenAL API, then it's a good idea to get a good sound card from ASUS or Creative. The reason is that software OpenAL implementation does not implement that HTRFs that let you discern between the sounds that come from front or back. It's kind of stupid. If there was just one skilled programmer who'd implement the HRTFs in the open source version of OpenAL, 90% of people who buy them right now would not have no reason buy a sound card. And apparently, it's not that hard. There is an OSS HRTF support for UrbanTerror 4.1 for example.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by esp42089;11973186
What has inspired me to upgrade is that the sound is flat, and I know my 555s are better than this. There is minimal sound staging, and everything is sort of fuzzy on the edges. Nothing is sharp and crisp, there and then gone. I know the 555s are capable of more because loss-less music on my ipod sounds better than it does on my computer.
This is an indication of a poor on-board sound.
Quote:
In games it's really noticeable because the sound effects are meant to be behind me, or above me, and instead they sound like they right in front of me. All effects happen in that same plane a couple inches in front of my face.

I don't really care about making the 555s louder; I just want more clarity and better staging.
Those effects sound better with a sound card, because as I mentioned above, the software implementations of OpenAL do not even try to implement that kind of functionality.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thank you guys.

So the ST is better? If I go ST, I will need to buy a PCIe-1x wifi card, but that isn't really that expensive.

I have no preference for ASUS or any other company, so whatever you think will be best for my uses. I also am only limited within reason on budget(for me, less than $500), so that's not really a concern I think.

I'm liking the Essense a lot right now. Getting rid of the stupid 6.3-3.5 adapter will be a huge bonus, and the built in amp holds a lot of appeal to me as well.

I have heard replacing the cables on the HD555 really help the sound, but this obviously would be a step after the sound card. Do you have any input on this? Would I maybe want to add some impedence as well? Maybe up to 150ohms or so?
 

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Quote:


Originally Posted by esp42089
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Thank you guys.

So the ST is better? If I go ST, I will need to buy a PCIe-1x wifi card, but that isn't really that expensive.

I have no preference for ASUS or any other company, so whatever you think will be best for my uses. I also am only limited within reason on budget(for me, less than $500), so that's not really a concern I think.

I'm liking the Essense a lot right now. Getting rid of the stupid 6.3-3.5 adapter will be a huge bonus, and the built in amp holds a lot of appeal to me as well.

I have heard replacing the cables on the HD555 really help the sound, but this obviously would be a step after the sound card. Do you have any input on this? Would I maybe want to add some impedence as well? Maybe up to 150ohms or so?

Yes you could try that, this is achieved by buying cables with higher coiling around the wire to increase the resistance offered. However the 50 Ω you find on the Sen HD 555s are quite well placed in the middle.

The question you need to answer is whether or not you will be using this with any small mp3 players. If so, do not increase the impedance, however if your only sound source is the sound card or higher impedance professional equipment, then you yes, you could look into that if you want the most from your headphones.

Good luck!
 

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Good advice so far. See how you like the improved sound coming from the Essence before you do too much modding.
 

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First upgrade your source, then amplification, then cables/tweaks.

I would say get a USB DAC, but since gaming is one of your requirement you may want to seriously consider a sound card. You don't need to drop $200 on a sound cars though. I went from a couple modded and tweaked $200+ sound cards to a $75 USB DAC. Sound is better, but you do lose a bit of positional audio for gaming.

Spend what is left on an amp. You don't have to go all out, but a mini3, little dot or used mullet will be fine and not break the bank. The mini3 and mullet are better amps.

When you've done that then consider upgrading the cable on the headphones. It'll give you a noticeable increase in clarity, instrument separation and extension in both highs and lows. The cable is important, but you'll be hard pressed to hear the difference if you haven't a good source and amp.
 
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