Headphone amplification and better sound sans sound card.

Discussion in 'Windows 7 Hardware' started by trog69, Oct 21, 2012.

  1. trog69

    trog69 Honorable Member

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    Good morning, all. Okay, so now that I've solved my gaming graphics issues, namely by choosing the parts I wanted rather than buying yet another "Media-Center"-style all-in-one unit that did everything, but not very well, I'm now in need of a solution to my present awful headphone sound quality.

    I have a generic Creative Labs Sound Blaster X-Fi Xtreme Audio card that is not very good, sound-wise, and, because it doesn't even include an optical out plug, goes unused. I purchased a refurbished Turtle Beach headset w/DSS decoder, and, while it works as advertised, the headphones are terrible for music. I've replaced the TB Headset with a much better-sounding Pyle set, and will buy some "real" headphones as soon as I've determined that the source itself is sending out a good-sounding signal.

    I've seen pro and con arguments about sound cards, like the Xonar series that have headphone amplification included. My issue with that is I am more concerned with the graphics for games, and I've built this system with SLI (another gtx580) in mind, and I do not see enough room under or in between the dual GPUs for proper installation of such huge sound cards, though I'm glad to have my ignorance in this area demonstrated. The anti-Sound card group seems to be gravitating towards a separate headphone amplifier, and I"ve seen them from the $20 dollar model included free with another headset I purchased, to the $1800 tube amps. I think I would like to either go this route, or purchase a home stereo receiver that can output the PC sound, thus having both satisfactory amplification for low-volume music listening( or ear-bleeding levels, if desired) and the ability to power speakers elsewhere.

    I guess what I'm asking is for some entry-level priced PC headphone amplifiers to start off with. I see countless rating comments for the FiiO series, and while the prices are certainly attractive, the fact that they're so low-priced also makes me leery of their actual amplification abilities while staying neutral in tone. Any suggestions in this regard are appreciated. And, to a receiver, entry-level again, with Windows-capable connections are also desired. Thanks for your time.

     
  2. kemical

    kemical Windows Forum Admin
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    Hi,

    do you have any spare slots at all on the moBo? Depending on which motherboard you have there is sometimes a PCIEx1 slot just above the PCIEx16 graphics slot. If thats the case then you should still be able to go down the sound card route.
     
  3. trog69

    trog69 Honorable Member

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    It looks like a slot is above the the GPU, but it's a very small-perhaps a bit over an inch in length. The Gigabyte manual is a terrible source for info, with pictures of the entire board shrunk to fit the page, and thus no possible way of determining where and what the slots indicate.
     
  4. kemical

    kemical Windows Forum Admin
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    1 person likes this.
  5. trog69

    trog69 Honorable Member

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    Thanks for the followup, kemical. I'd already determined that indeed, I will be able to install a Xonar or similar SC w/HP amp. That will be next month. I tied my sound card money into replacing the Logitech 5.1 system that I've had great luck with, and went with the Klipsch 2.1 PC speaker system. Once I get a better sound card to push them, I think I'll be much happier with the quality over-all.

    Forgot to mention, the Logitech system was the low-powered version; I thought about going whole-hog with their z-906 model, But I'm leery of single-speaker surrounds, no matter how much power they push them with, and I already have 7.1 sound through the DSS, so that's where I am now.
     
    #5 trog69, Oct 24, 2012
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2012
  6. kemical

    kemical Windows Forum Admin
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    I had a gander at the 2:1 system and it does look the business.. Glad to hear your all set to go.. :)
     
  7. trog69

    trog69 Honorable Member

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    The nice part is that my Granddaughters will now have a speaker system w/subwoofer and surrounds, rather than the very tinny 2 speakers they've been using. The rig they have is the one I had before this one, a not-too shabby i7-920/HD 5770 set up that played games much better than it should. So, happy-happy all around.

    Now, I have to find out how to upload a few save game files to a flash drive, so that I can re-install Windows7 onto the Samsung 256gb SSD that arrived a week ago. hehe. My ignorance leaps across the software/hardware boundaries in places that are puzzling, I admit. EDIT: probably because my PC education has been piece-meal and with huge gaps just now starting to get filled in. Still a lot more rewarding than my earlier instruction policy, which consisted mainly of "hmm, I sure shouldn't have done that."
     
    #7 trog69, Oct 25, 2012
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2012

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