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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I decided I am tired of my very lacklaster or "flat" or whatever you want to call it audio quality and that I'm ready for an upgrade. I also decided I'd like to have everything kind of portable so I can move it to a laptop, next PC, whatever: so why not a USB solution...?

I should mention I really only use headphones for my audio experience.

I know little to nothing about audio quality but I came up with this idea:
I was going to buy the


Turtle Beach Audio Advantage Micro II USB Analog & Digital Audio Adapter Turtle Beach Audio Advantage Micro II USB Analog & Digital Audio Adapter
to replace my onboard sound card, then run it through the "TOS Link" to the

Ear Force DSS 7.1 Channel Dolby Surround Sound Processor Ear Force DSS 7.1 Channel Dolby Surround Sound Processor
.

I'm also thinking about a new pair of headphones, I haven't decided which ones. I'm currently thinking about the beyerdynamic DT 440s and the beyerdynamic DT 770s. Or perhaps I'll give my current pair a chance to show me what they can do (a turtle beach "cupped" headphones/headset with separate 3.5mm connectors for bass/rear/front/mic...possibly something else... I bought for around $100 several years ago. I don't have them in front of me or I would list the model).

I'm mostly interested in general purpose "good sound" in games and perhaps TV shows. I mean being to tell a player is to the left or behind me in an FPS or being impressed by the sound in ME2 or the which ever elder scrolls. Very ambiguous requirements I guess but I have to believe pretty much anything would be better than what I have now.

So my question is: would these two items in tandem like this produce some kind of impressive sound, or at least the illusion or impressive sound, effectively? Or would this some how ruin an audio experience?
 

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If you're wondering if there's going to be some sort of audio degradation, then no...at least not exactly. Since you are using an USB sound card, instead of 3.5mm jack from the laptop, your sound degradation will be hardly noticeable (if at all).

You might not get 5.1 surround sound home theater audio experience, but it will be more noticeable. The trick will be getting a pair of headphones that can accurately reproduce the highs, and bass in your music.

TL : DR - unless you're musically trained to notice any sort of minute degradation of audio, for what you're attempting, you won't notice the differences. I used to use USB sound cards, and now I use 3.5mm audio connections, since I don't notice the difference anyways.
 

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Well you will be transferring the sound out of the USB and into the DAC, then out of the DAC optical cable to the 7.1 surround box. All that is digital, so I don't believe you will be dealing with any sound degradation from adding components like you would with an analog chain of connectors. Though you do need to connect an adapter to the analog out to convert it to the digital optical TOSlink. Still, I highly doubt you will notice any "degradation".

I do not know anything about surround sound processing, but I'm pretty sure Turtle Beach has received favorable reviews on their products. I looked into them when I bought my MIAmidi card for music production many years ago.

The DAC in that turtle beach is probably better than the one in your motherboard, but remember that the headphones are also the weakest link. If you have bad headphones, even a clean signal will sound... bad.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Quote:
Originally Posted by _02;15213504
Well you will be transferring the sound out of the USB and into the DAC, then out of the DAC optical cable to the 7.1 surround box. All that is digital, so I don't believe you will be dealing with any sound degradation from adding components like you would with an analog chain of connectors. Though you do need to connect an adapter to the analog out to convert it to the digital optical TOSlink. Still, I highly doubt you will notice any "degradation".

I do not know anything about surround sound processing, but I'm pretty sure Turtle Beach has received favorable reviews on their products. I looked into them when I bought my MIAmidi card for music production many years ago.

The DAC in that turtle beach is probably better than the one in your motherboard, but remember that the headphones are also the weakest link. If you have bad headphones, even a clean signal will sound... bad.
Thank you for replying.

There's a chance I'm in way over my head here knowledge-wise. Or I'm getting my products mixed up.

I actually thought the http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0036VO4X4/]Turtle Beach Audio Advantage Micro II USB Analog & Digital Audio Adapter [/URL], the little USB dongle thing, was a USB sound card with it's own pure S/PDIF output port. I'm glad you pointed that out, I apparently missed that detail.

My original idea was to use that USB sound card to optical out to the "earforce DSS" thing, thus hopefully getting superior sound that the USB dongle+head phones alone.

The http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B003O0KICS/]Earforce DSS[/URL] I believe only outputs to more than stereo given an S/PDIF input source, thus I have have that optical out from somewhere.

As for the headphones I think I've about convinced myself I want to buy a new pair but have no idea which ones to buy. I'm not really an audiophile (only barely aware what a "DAC" is). I'm starting to gather KOSS is a good brand generally speaking. The http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00001P4ZH/]Koss PortaPro Headphones[/URL] seem to have positive reviews and are only $35. The http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0006NL5SM/]Beyerdynamic DT 770-PRO Headphones[/URL] seem universally praised but are $120 more. So I'm in over my head on deciding what I want to buy for headphones. And it's heard to narrow it down when you don't know what you want. I think where I would notice the quality of the sound or "virtual surround" or whatever would mostly be in games. Possible TV shows and the least amount music. Positional audio is FPS's and quality sound in RPGs would be especially great.

So would the Beyerdynamic DT 770-PRO Headphones with a fancy sound card like http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0044DEDCA/]Creative Soundblaster X-Fi Surround 5.1 Pro USB Audio System[/URL] be an effective upgrade? Or would piping a relatively cheap USB sound card into the Earforce DSS (via S/PDIF) be some "good enough" (also with the 770-Pros)? I mean if you wanted a good sound quality-to-money ratio?
 

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No, I think you have it right, I must've been confusing on something. When I said DAC, I meant the DAC on the dongle device.

The Turtle Beach device will take your USB output and convert it to an amplified analog signal, or digital signal if you use the TOSlink cable. You could run headphones directly from the dongle, or send the optical signal to your DSS hardware for surround. Again, I have no familiarity with the surround sound part.

Someone may be able to chime in on headphones, I've been rocking Sony MDR-V7000 for a long time (like, 10 years), and haven't needed anything else. Most of my listening is on my monitors.
 

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That dongle is no different than onboard sound, possibly even worse. If you've got an S/PDIF or TOSLINK output on your motherboard you should just use that and save the money. Or just use a USB DAC/Amp.

I don't know much about that ear force thing either, but I'd stay away from it.

In your price range, I recommend a
. It's probably the best DAC/Amp combo at this price, and can run on batteries for use with an MP3 player. Then if you want to upgrade the amp part of it down the line you can get a Fiio E9 and dock it.

Good headphones are even more important than the DAC and Amp. In your price range the most popular ones are the Sennheiser HD555 and Audio Technica ATH-A700. While I personally think the DT-770 Pro's you picked have better sound quality than either of these, they have a high 250-Ohm impedance so they won't work well on today's computers, mp3 players, or even on that E7 DAC. You'll have to spend a little more to get a more powerful amp like that E9 if you want to use them. Out of the other choices I say get the A700 if you want more "impact" from special effects and the HD555 if you want a wider soundstage (that "positioning" effect that you're talking about).
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I don't know if saw these recommended some place int his audio forum or if I'm getting model numbers mixed up but I saw a reference to the


Audio Technica ATH-AD700 Open-air Audio Technica ATH-AD700 Open-air
head phones which are $30 cheaper

then the A700s then the A700s
that I found... on the other hand that "sound stage" of which you speak is perhaps what I want anyway so I will most likely get the HD555s. And that E7 DAC/AMP you mentioned. As a side note I am also buying the Zalman Microphone Zm-Mic1 so I have a nice mic to go with my new headphones.

So out of curiosity, any opinion of the

Koss Pro-4AA Studio Quality Headphones Koss Pro-4AA Studio Quality Headphones
? For a computer/via said DAC/amp? Seems to be many nostalgic reviews of this model and brand on amazon so I was just curious. Or maybe I should start a separate thread for that question.

I would like to thank you all for oh-so-patiently answering all my questions and helping me to decide what I am going to buy. I will write a follow up after I have used these items for a while and let you know how it is going/went... I'll be sure to give out some rep to you all
[edit: at least I would if you could still get rep...]
 
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