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New audio setup - HD650~ + SB ZxR or else?

Discussion in 'Sound City' started by Redrum333, Jul 29, 2018.

  1. Redrum333

    Associate

    Joined: Mar 10, 2017

    Posts: 12

    Location: London

    Hi folks,

    I'm trying to complete my rig with a better sound system, which I now consider to be Sound Blaster ZxR soundcard + HD600/HD650/HD660S/HD700/AKG 1207PRO headphones or alike.

    My current setup consists of Sennheiser PC 363D headphones powered by Z270E motherboard soundcard. It's nice and comfy, but I'd like a step-up to match the rest of my rig. Vast majority of my activity on the PC is gaming (mostly Overwatch + grand variety of other types of games) - so a proper/precise scene of sound is mandatory for the headphones I want to buy - but I also like to listen to music.

    My questions would be - would the difference in sound be clearly discernible by just buying the ZxR soundcard and leaving the old headphones? Secondly, would this new card be able to drive the aforementioned list of headphones, or at least use up most of their potential? If not, what exactly would I need to make these headphones reach their full potential? (and to do that, would ZxR be needed at all?)

    Cheers!

    EDIT: I'm planning to use Modmic 4.0 as a replacement for the old mic.
     
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2018
  2. AMDPower

    Wise Guy

    Joined: Feb 24, 2004

    Posts: 1,891

    honestly it depends on what kind of gaming you do, if its professional online gaming then getting something that has less emphasise on base would be best. I have listen to a fair few pairs as my brother loves collecting them. Generally the seinheiser HD series i would stay away from, very detailed sound but no BOOM makes games flat. I also listen to a pair of Ultrason 900, the older ones, and wow great BOOM games sounded fantastic and boomy but detail was missing and voices sounded terrible and music was weirdly distorted.

    The HIFIman 400i were a good in between and are excellent with a great AMP. I would also seriously look into a good AMP regardless of what headphones you get

    now having said all that

    what would i recommend, well I am personally waiting for the Audze Mobius, early revies by those who know sound have been nothing short of amazing for these and they are also great for music. If the hype is true then these will set the standard for gaming headphones.

    https://www.audeze.com/products/mobius-series/mobius-headphone

    this headphone will take away the need for expensive Amplifier.

    Also I should of said first, what is your budget because good sound does not always come very cheap. A good AMP, DAC and headphones could set you back £500-£700 for a good sounding build but in no way the BEST.
     
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2018
  3. Marsman

    Capodecina

    Joined: Oct 18, 2009

    Posts: 10,119

    I wouldn't get a sound card to go with the Sennheiser headset. There wouldn't be enough gain over the included USB dongle to warrant spending £100+.

    Really only worth getting a sound card if you are going for headphones as well. I wouldn't go for the ZxR though. Creative's newest card the AE-5 is better buy.
     
  4. Redrum333

    Associate

    Joined: Mar 10, 2017

    Posts: 12

    Location: London

    I'm not using PC363D's USB card.

    I'm playing ranked matches in Overwatch - not on a professional level, just competitive though. In terms of music, my music taste is too varied to be specific, mostly rock/metal is played.

    That's also a question. For example - if I got JDS Labs OBJECTIVE + OAMP with a pair of headphones - say HD660S - would an addition of ZxR/AE-5 as a source of sounds/music matter at all for cleanliness/scene precision, compared to the mobo soundcard?
    I could start with just buying the AE-5/ZxR for now, and I'd go for a proper combo and a pair of headphones later when I'm ready money-wise and I'm sure I picked the right headphones.
     
  5. EsaT

    Mobster

    Joined: Jun 6, 2008

    Posts: 3,980

    Location: Finland

    Overwatch is one of those one in a million games itself capable to producing binaural sound signal for headphones. (CS:GO another)
    Human hears in 3D with two input channels, because head and outer ears cause changes to signal received by ears from sound source.
    Those can be also simulated mathematically.
    Most separate sound cards have included that for decade.
    If your head shape is close enough to average, with good headphones binaural sound gives good 360 directionality...
    And also feel of distances instead of some sounds just being more muffled than others.
    PC 363 is based on some HD500-serie model, so should be quite decent.

    You familiar with that, or gone just with "sound inside left/right ear or in center of head" immersion stereo speaker mix?
    (without binaural cues brain simply can't position sounds anywhere else)

    In certain sense binaural gaming can be considered as ultimate headphone test.
    Stereo music really doesn't care much about accuracy for sounding good.
    And then some people prefer inaccurate sound as better, like heavy bass emphasis, or smoothed treble/"warm sound" etc.
    But binaural cues really don't tolerate deficiencies, or any special tunings with something smoothed away, before starting to have decreased immersion.
    HD650's "music enjoyment" tuning would make it worser than some lot cheaper headphones for binaural sound gaming.
     
  6. Marsman

    Capodecina

    Joined: Oct 18, 2009

    Posts: 10,119

    Not sure why you'd use the onboard audio over the USB dongle that comes with the PC363D's, unless the motherboard you have has Creative audio onboard and therefore something like SBX prodtudio already; otherwise if the game being played doesn't have positional sound algorithms, you'd just get plain stereo.

    Does make some sense to buy a sound card first, as you've already got a very good headset.

    For the headphones: Personally, I don't think the HD6**/700 range is a good choice if the first priority is gaming. As esat has said, they are tuned for music enjoyment. They are a great choice if music is the main concern, but don't perform as well when it comes to gaming compared to some other headphones; such as AKG K712; which is what you might have meant.
     
  7. Redrum333

    Associate

    Joined: Mar 10, 2017

    Posts: 12

    Location: London

    I never got that issue. I could always hear the enemies around me in all games, and I've never used the dongle - but in my previous config I used Xonar DX after switching from mobo's soundcard.

    Yes, I think I'll start with AE-5 then. But one question - if I got the O2 combo I mentioned before - would that adversely affect the output to the heaphones if I just connected the output of the soundcard to the combo? (effectively amping the sound signal twice)

    Well, I've heard opinions of people enjoying gaming on some HD6** headphones - that's why I wanted to seek an opinion here. But yes, I know that AKGs are quite popular among gamers.
     
  8. Marsman

    Capodecina

    Joined: Oct 18, 2009

    Posts: 10,119

    If you're going to connect an amp such as the O2, then double amping may be an issue and the accuracy of SBX prostudio might be affected. This was an issue when someone connected an amp to Sennheiser's GSX1000 to use more demanding headphones with it, as the GSX headphone output is quite weak. Although the GSX's output power is not enough to effectively cause double amping, this guy found that connecting an amp did screw around with the clarity and how effective the positional sound was.

    You'd be better off buying a DAC as well as amp (unless it's a DAC/amp combination together in one unit) and connecting to the sound card. Would need to be optical input on the DAC though, which rules out the ODAD; but, if you're going to that at some point, then that does raise the question; why buy a sound card like the AE-5 costing £120?

    If you connect an external DAC and amp to a sound card, then all the sound card is doing is passing on DSP effects. A £50 Soundblaster Z OEM for example, will pass on SBX prostudio to an external DAC the same as a £120 AE-5. The difference in sound quality between the two sound cards is irrelevant, because that would be down to the external DAC and amp.
     
  9. Tephnos

    Mobster

    Joined: May 20, 2011

    Posts: 3,717

    Location: Aberdeen, Scotland

    Not much else to add but after reading the first post, just something to generalise:

    Lack of bass = midrange emphasis. Known as 'detail' and 'clarity', good for analytical listening/gaming
    Boomy bass = midrange and treble take a step back, can sound 'muddy' in comparison. Usually more enjoyable for a casual listener though.
     
  10. EsaT

    Mobster

    Joined: Jun 6, 2008

    Posts: 3,980

    Location: Finland

    AE-5 actually corrects one of the issues sound cards have had for needing separate headphone amplifier: Output impedance.
    Its ~1 ohm output impedance is good for also low ohm headphones.

    Ideally output impedance should be at most 1/8 of headphone impedance for accurate signal reproduction/frequency response.
    Usual 10, 20 or even up to 100 ohm (some Asus cards) output impedances have problems in that.
    For example ~60 ohm AKGs would start having decrease of damping factor at over 10 ohm output impedances.
    And similar impedance HD500-serie Senheisers have impedance spike to 200+ ohm level at driver's resonant frequency, whose interaction with higher output impedance boosts bass.
     
  11. Redrum333

    Associate

    Joined: Mar 10, 2017

    Posts: 12

    Location: London

    So for now it would be safer to either keep with my built-in soundcard or get a cheaper, custom soundcard without any amp so that we don't get any problems with double amping of the signal? Doesn't SB Z have a headphone amp though?
     
  12. rids57

    Soldato

    Joined: Jul 25, 2012

    Posts: 5,853

    Location: Ankh Morpork

    The idea is that you would use an optical cable from the Sounblaster Z to an external DAC and RCA cables from DAC to amp.

    This would give you the best sound for music with the added bonus of enabling virtual surround with it's positional cues for gaming = win/win
     
  13. Redrum333

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    Joined: Mar 10, 2017

    Posts: 12

    Location: London

    Thanks for making that clear. And so there is little to gain in future by picking SB ZxR or SB AE-5 over SB Z for the use of setup with amp+dac combo connecting through optical out you mentioned?
     
  14. rids57

    Soldato

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    not if you intend using an external DAC and amp, no.
     
  15. danoliver1

    Mobster

    Joined: Aug 24, 2005

    Posts: 2,663

    Location: manchester

    I use a dragonfly red with hd700s for gaming and its an excellent combo.
     
  16. Redrum333

    Associate

    Joined: Mar 10, 2017

    Posts: 12

    Location: London

    Ok, I got AE-5 for the moment - the difference in sound on the headphones was simply drastic.

    The issue is the computer suddenly stopped booting correctly with the PCI-E ports enabled (shifted power from front USB3.1 to the PCI-E) - I turn on the PC, it sits tight for 2-3 seconds and turns off - during next boot it changes the setting from PCI-E to fron USB3.1 panel and I can't use the card.

    Wonder if that has anything to do with power requirement, although that should not be the case as I'm not running SLI or something.
     
  17. rids57

    Soldato

    Joined: Jul 25, 2012

    Posts: 5,853

    Location: Ankh Morpork

    ^ Probably best to ask in the dedicated AE-5 thread
     
  18. Todd Greene

    Gangster

    Joined: Mar 17, 2018

    Posts: 105

    I have a HD650 that sound great, bass is nice but not over powering so games sound great and I dont have an amp (though looking to get one but honestly they sound great powered on anything even my iphone) the sound stage means great locational sound from my experience.