Showing 1 of 318 conversations about:
Ghost_Pack
71
Feb 7, 2017
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A few notes for people looking to use this as an audiophile DAC/Amp
1. The amplifier stage is crap for the price. It’s noisy enough to be noticeable with moderate to high sensitivity headphones and it produces varying amounts of distortion depending on the settings, but distortion is definitely high enough to be noticeable.
2. DAC section is actually very good but do note that the line out is not fixed and can output more than the 1-2V rms that most consumer and audiophile devices expect as a line input (i.e. be careful of clipping).
3. The DSP and crap ton of inputs are super useful for people who often work with multiple inputs and outputs. I actually work as a sound engineer and use this guy as a pocket mixer and test bench. However, it takes quite a while to get used to all the idiosyncrasies and nuances of this device.
4. The Software. Holy crap the software… It’s terrible. Highly confusing, prone to screwing up inputs and outputs and distorting signals without you noticing. Very difficult to save and recall settings, and it can change settings depending on what you’re plugged in to (or if you’re using it stand alone) which gets quite confusing. I find myself reseting to factory default quite often, usually to fix distortion coming from some random setting I forgot. However, the settings are SUPER comprehensive and allow you to manipulate the I/O in almost any way you can imagine, once you get used to using them.
5. THD+noise measurements of this device can change dramatically based on the settings of the software, strength of the I/O, battery charge, whether it’s plugged in or not, temperature, weather, orientation, alignments of the stars, how many human sacrifices you preformed earlier that day, and any other form of voodoo magic. Factory default settings get you fairly close to optimal measurements however. just be careful when managing the mixer settings.
6. Effects are meh. EQ is half decent, but is far from linear (I can do much better with a decent software plugin). Surround sound is good, but adds distortion. Any other sound output effects are garbage.
7. Bluetooth connectivity is a great feature, and is very reliable even at longer distances. I often find myself using this to watch videos on my tablet in the kitchen. It basically allows me to Bluetooth enable any pair of headphones, and is great for general semi-portable home use.
8. As a music professional, this device is a godsend. I can setup simple PA performances entirely using a device I can fit in my pocket and take anywhere. The inbuilt mixer can take inputs from the analog/mic/optical input and mix them with both the USB and Bluetooth inputs without any external software (all firmware). The USB input can not only function as a way to record or play music but also as a digital interface, allowing me to use additional software effects on my computer. Possibly the best feature is the ability to change any firmware settings over bluetooth, allowing me to mix inputs on the fly from anywhere on the stage, even while the E5 is buried in a rats nest of stage cables and equipment.
9. Mic input is where this guy really shines. The 3 internal miss sound crystal clear. The noise and echo rejection are wonderful. Built in mic effects work well. External mic and inputs work well (assuming you have a mic preamp) and are easily integrated.
TL;DR
-If you’re a gamer who does streaming and is looking for an all in one solution, this is an AMAZING value for your money.
-If you’re a musician or audio professional who’s willing to learn a somewhat confusing interface, this will surprise and reward you with a great multi-purpose tool.
-If you’re an audiophile looking for a portable DAC/Amp, this is ok, but not the best value.
-If you’re an audiophile looking for an all in one desktop setup, look elsewhere.
Feb 7, 2017
DigitalRonyn
554
Creative Labs
Feb 8, 2017
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Your note on the amplifier stage is quite interesting...we have several folks who've reviewed from HeadFi with high sensitivity headphones and IEMs that have not heard what you are reporting here (or noted it in their reviews). What models of headphones are you specifically using with the E5? I'd love to get more feedback from you at socialmedia@creativelabs.com so I can compile for the engineering team as this is one of the first times I've heard the amp stage be criticized at this level.
Feb 8, 2017
Ghost_Pack
71
Feb 8, 2017
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Sure! For most of my desktop analysis of the amp section I used the Sennheiser HD800 and Sony MDR-7506 headphones. I tested it in portable environments with the Mee a151p, Oppo PM-3, and (forgive me for I have sinned) Apple earpods. I tested the line out directly into JBL lsr305s (paired with a SVS SB-1000), Eve sc207s, and Yamaha NS10s. I also tested the line out into a Schiit Asgard, Schiit Valhalla, and an Allen & Heath QU-16 Mixer.
With the Mee a151p and the Apple Earpods, I heard a noticeable noise floor from the E5s, which did not occur on my iPhone 4s headphone output. When paired with the HD800's, it drove them with plenty of power, but even in factory default settings with all SFX turned off, there was still a noticeable amount of distortion. Applying the inbuilt EQ drastically increased the distortion levels (I made sure it was not clipping). 3rd party EQ software did not have this problem.
My time with the Oppo PM-3 was brief, but in my honest opinion they sounded better out of my iPhone. I don't remember enough of those listening sessions to point out specifics. I don't think they had any real issue with noise.
It seems like distortion was a constant battle for the E5, especially since any little provocation in the settings would drastically increase THD measurements (I believe at one point I even read a full 10%). Even just changing volume settings in the internal mixer caused the distortion to spike, and it seemed that sometimes (even after manually resetting each individual slider and effect to what I thought would produce the best result) I could not reduce the THD to match the listed specifications without resetting the device.
Line out was a bit of a mixed bag. When connecting the line out to either of my active studio monitors or an external mixer/amplifier rack, the noise floor was VERY noticeable, and it was sometimes hard to get the signal to noise ratio low enough so I could enjoy a quiet movie, much less listen critically to a mix. When connected to the Schiit amplifiers and listening through the HD800, the noise floor was present, but quiet. However, the distortion was beyond unbearable until I thought to measure the output levels and discovered the line out of the E5 was quite a significant amount higher than the 1.2V rms standard. A reduction to 75% volume output solved this issue, and the E5 became rather pleasant as a DAC/preamp.
I don't mean to sound rude (I really don't, sorry if it comes across that way), but I'm honestly quite surprised that these complaints about the amp stage were new to you. I've seen many people on Head-Fi complain about the amp stage, and ZeosPantera (famous Reddit and Youtube reviewer) did a comparison with similarly priced DAC/Amps where he thought the amplifier on the E5 was so bad that he flat out refused to even acknowledge the E5 as a contender.
This is my second E5, as the first one experienced battery failure and had to be sent back for RMA. I remember the first one having similar problems with distortion, though I don't remember one way or the other with regards to noise floor. At home, my current E5 is leading a somewhat comfortable life as a microphone for my gaming sessions and as a Bluetooth headphone amplifier for when I'm out an about the house. When I'm out traveling I'll bring it with me as an airplane buddy, and when I'm out doing a show it'll stay in my back pocket as a "just in case" interface that I can set up with my phone.
I honestly LOVE the E5 for what it does, and it's an indispensable tool for daily use whose portability I wouldn't trade for anything.
HOWEVER, I honestly don't think it's an amazing performer for audiophiles. I really don't. This is a "jack of all trades ace of none" kind of device, and in the audiophile world people expect devices not just to meet sound quality standards but to blow them away. Marketing the E5 as a "Portable Audiophile DAC/Amp and putting it up against the like of the Teac HA-P50 and the XDuoo XD05 is kinda odd. It feels like a 200 input, 15 codec, wifi enabled, surround home theater console with a headphone jack trying to compete with a room full of hardcore, class A, 200 lb, monster dedicated headphones amps to see who can drive the HE-6's the best. It's the wrong competition.
Feb 8, 2017
fexofen
21
Feb 8, 2017
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Hi @Ghost_Pack what do you recommend for an all in one desktop setup?
Feb 8, 2017
Ghost_Pack
71
Feb 8, 2017
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I don't know what your budget is and what you're looking for. I'm not a professional review so I don't think my opinion would be of any more value than any other random commenter.
If you want to know what I use personally, it's either an Allen & Heath QU-16 in my home studio, or an Oppo HA-1 as my computer and home theater device (this is probably more of a "traditional" desktop unit). Neither one I can really recommend to a first time buyer for obvious reasons... ^.^;
Feb 8, 2017
MiraMinx
8
Feb 8, 2017
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Your review has been crazy helpful for understanding things better Ghost_Pack. I'm a new entry into the world of audio having just recently picked up the K7XX (which I need to RMA (and they don't pay for shipping) because one of the sides doesn't slide without forcing it). Aside from the Objective 2, what would you suggest as a DAC and Amp for it? (and possible a HD 6XX if they ever end up on Massdrop again) I mostly use my headphones while computer gaming and streaming, as well as some music and movie listening. Or if you haven't used the K7XX before or have any you can think of for someone just getting in. Do you have any advice of what I should be looking for when doing my own research because to be frank reading the descriptions on these DACs and amps and their numbers I can't make heads or tails of what's actually useful information.
Feb 8, 2017
DigitalRonyn
554
Creative Labs
Feb 8, 2017
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Thanks Ghost_Pack for the added info, very much appreciated. To clarify when talking about the amp stage, I've seen analysis from others, but not with the intensity that you provided.
It's very clear you're using some excellent high-end gear.
Our position with the marketing of the E5 is that there simply is nothing else on the market that matches its output quality and feature set that is portable in the price range.
Feb 8, 2017
Ghost_Pack
71
Feb 8, 2017
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Like I said I'm not a professional reviewer. However, I have used the K7 series before. The quick answer is that you can drive the K7 series with pretty much anything, and the go to recommendation for entry desktop audio is either the Schiit Fulla 2 or O2/Odac. Personally, while the O2/Odac is an EXCELENT amplifier, as a product it's fairly terrible due to its lack of features and very cumbersome and odd design.
Here's the long answer:
Honestly, MOST amplifiers can drive MOST headphones perfectly fine. Audiophile equipment tends to be overbuilt anyway. The only times you need to consider a specific amplifier's performance are as follow:
1) Portable Use: Headphones need significant amounts of power to handle transients (quick impacts) correctly and you have to be careful that portable amplifiers have enough of a capacitor bank to handle these load spikes.
2) High Impedance (150 Ohm+) headphones: Two words, Tube Amps. High impedance headphones LOVE tube amplifiers, because tube amplifiers tend to perform their best driving high impedance loads, where as solid state amplifiers tend to degrade in performance when approaching higher impedance. Just look at max power output of the Schiit Valhalla 2 vs Asgard 2 for example. While the Asgard is a beast of an amplifier in the double digit impedance range, its power output falls off above 50 ohms. In contrast, the Valhalla provides the MOST power at 300 ohms, dropping off as impedance gets lower.
3) Low Impedance, Low Sensitivity: And I mean LOW sensitivity. We're talking HE-6 range here. These guys are usually planar headphones, and they require a TON of power to drive effectively. Make sure to get an amplifier that can throw at least a full watt or two for low sensitivity stuff. Probably 4+ watts if you're talking the HE-6 (big daddy of power hungry headphones). Some people even like tapping speaker outputs.
4) You Have Kilobuck Headphones and a Hole in Your Wallet: If you're in this esoteric range of audiophile nirvana, you probably want only the best of the best to drive your late night music and drinking sessions (mostly drinking for me please). In this case you probably already have enough experience to pick out an amplifier for yourself, or if not, then you're gullible enough to buy expensive headphones without researching them and you'll probably see an add in a magazine for a cool looking amp and buy that without thinking too.
If you don't fall into the above three categories, then you can pretty much get anything as long as it's well built and gets positive reviews. At that point it's mostly personal preference in regards to what features you want, form factor, usability, price, etc. Looking at video reviews helps with stuff like that.
Feb 8, 2017
Ghost_Pack
71
Feb 8, 2017
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EDIT: Almost forgot the best consideration, #4!
Feb 8, 2017
blahhh
131
Feb 8, 2017
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If looking for something in the same form factor (and also portable), for about the same price, the Xduoo XD-05 is probably the better option IF you don't need the line/mic in and mixing functionality. For your listed usages, that's what I went with (and it pairs HD-650/6XX nicely in my opinion)
Feb 8, 2017
Ghost_Pack
71
Feb 8, 2017
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+1 to this. The Xduoo can throw around almost a full watt into 16 ohm headphones and has good transient performance thanks to it's 3300 uF supply capacitor. Plenty of power for portable stuff.
One thing to note though, is that you don't really need all this juice for the K7 series, and you can also get more bang for your buck if you don't need a portable device. If you're looking to future-proof a portable setup though, the XDuoo is a good choice.
Feb 8, 2017
greatex
66
Feb 9, 2017
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I didn't notice much diffrence between my iPhone 7 plus, just change in loudness of the volume. since it was my first amp, I thought other amps would do the same. Feels like I was kind of decieved
Feb 9, 2017
MiraMinx
8
Feb 9, 2017
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Hah, you might not be a reviewer but there is a good reason I asked you for opinion. You explain things so very clearly and in ways that I fully understand. I have to say your explanation just now was far far easier to follow and make sense of then any of the other sources I've read to date. Would you also be able to help me understand the DAC end of things? For me my main usage is computer so desktop form factor is really my target area. The reason I was over here look at the E5 in the first place was because when I think of the name Creative Sound Blaster I always think computers. (I didn't even know it had a battery until I read the discussions here.)
Also huge thanks to you and blahhh for weighing in on this and helping me with figuring this stuff out.
Feb 9, 2017
Ghost_Pack
71
Feb 10, 2017
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I'd definitely agree that there really isn't any other product on the market with such a massive feature set as the E5!
Also (and I think I've mentioned this to other Creative Labs reps) you guys should really step over into the portable pro audio market! I'd think a portable device based off of the E5 that was built to handle line level pro inputs and outputs would be amazing! The ability to have a DSP and sound-card that fits into your back pocket would be really useful to many touring professionals and part time sound techs I know. In fact, during a recent gig, a pair of my colleges took interest in the E5 and after I explained the feature set to them they decided to place an order for three of them the next day!
If you want I can email you guys with a few ideas I've had about this, such as using the underrated mini xlr jacks and adapters for I/O.
Feb 10, 2017
Ghost_Pack
71
Feb 10, 2017
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Are you talking about the XDuoo or the E5? I found the XDuoo to be a significant improvement over the iPhone's output. You should check if the headphones you're using fall into any of the categories I discussed above for amplifier quality. Improvements between amps can be subtle to nonexistent if you're using an easy to drive headphone designed for portable use.
If you still think you should be hearing a difference, focus on the sub bass frequencies between amplifiers. Most headphones have an impedance hump around the bass/sub bass range that can make bass sound sloppy. Good amplifiers tend to tighten this up and make sub bass hit harder and quicker (provided the recording is good enough for this to be noticeable).
Even then, keep in mind that amplifier improvements are almost always minor, and upgrades to the amp stage past a basic audiophile grade setup yield incredibly subtle improvements that are quite hard to notice when you're looking for them.
Feb 10, 2017
Ghost_Pack
71
Feb 10, 2017
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Ahhh! Thank you so much for that! I'm glad to know my rambling are actually helpful! ^.^;
If you have any specific questions about DACs and the differences between them be sure to let me know in a reply and I'll try to get to them soon!
In general though, the DAC section is always kind of an odd area of study. My rule for DACs is that any properly functioning DAC will sound the same as any other properly functioning DAC. The thing is that many times people are so used to a problem that they don't even notice it's there until they've heard it go away and come back.
I always recommend that if people are investing in an external amplifier that they also invest in an external DAC unit. A computer is an incredibly noisy place, and inbuilt firmware and effects (especially in windows machines) can cause all sorts of odd problems. A properly functioning DAC should be able to output a fixed, industry standard line level (or have a preamp stage that clearly indicates where such a level is located). It should be able to handle 24/96 audio. It should have drivers that allow it to take control or replace a computer's native audio firmware (this is especially true on windows and linux machines). It shouldn't have a noticeable noise floor, and it shouldn't have any additional effects or processing added to the output that can't be disabled or bypassed (I'm looking at you NuForce!).
Some common things you should avoid in DACs are "codec of the month" buzzwords like DSD, 384kHz audio, MQA, etc. Companies that market this way tend to either not care about making products that sound good normally, or are just rushing through the development process to meet some arbitrary standard that the people in charge have deemed a must have feature. Also try and avoid companies promising magical and ridiculous claims about their products (this is true about pretty much everything, not just DACs). These tend to either do things to mess with the sound or are just overpriced, over-marketed, crap. Also, if you have a device that can output digital audio over something other than USB or Bluetooth (optical, for example) I'd recommend you use those. USB can be super finicky over Windows (they don't support native USB audio standards that have been in the industry for like 10 years now I mean come on) and can often be a pain to get working properly. This isn't to say that you should go out of your way to get a computer with different outputs (it's totally possible to get USB working fine!), but you should take advantage of them if you have them.
When I buy a DAC or a professional sound interface I always have a checklist of stuff that I know it needs:
1. Does it fulfill my feature requirement? Before buying, think about things you'd want to have. Do you need a preamp control? Would you like to have built in effects added? How much I/O do you need? What kind? Should it be portable or is wall powered fine? Would fancy features like a selection screen, remote control, or wifi/bluetooth be worth the extra cost to you?
2. Is there anything obviously wrong with it? Have people reported problem with it? Does it have I/O that isn't set up properly? DSP you can't turn off? Driver issues?
3. Is the company reputable? I like to buy from companies I've used and that I trust. If I can't, I see which brands have the biggest names and the best following. These tend to be the most reliable. This isn't to say that a new company can't have a breakthrough, just that you should wait to see what others think of the product if it's new on the market (or have enough extra finances to be willing to take the plunge).
4. Is it durable and easy to use? If, in a year or two, my DAC/interface breaks, is this an issue? Is it in a critical environment where anything that goes wrong can be a disaster? Is it convenient enough to use and setup that I'd be happy using it on a daily basis?
5. Does it fit in my price range, or, am I willing to wait and save? Sometimes I come across a product I know I have to have, but can't afford. In this case, I need to ask myself if I'm willing to sacrifice one of the above categories to get something more quickly, and if I really REALLY need this right now.
6. Don't worry about it too hard. Be spontaneous! If multiple products fit the above categories, don't worry about every little detail. just pick one at random. Sometimes you'll find a diamond in the rough that you can't live without, and if there's a problem, you can always send it back or sell it used. I found the E5 through a random purchase when I was looking for a portable amplifier, but I've kept it and now can't live without it for totally different reasons. I never would have found it had I spent months trying to find the "perfect portable amplifier."
Overall, 90-95% of the sound quality of a system comes from the acoustic drivers. Having good headphones or good speakers and room treatment make up almost all of the sound differences. Make sure that your Amps and DACs meet the required specs of your drivers, and even exceed them if you'd like and have the funds. Make sure they're no obvious problems with the way you've setup your system (getting a 3rd party opinion or listening to someone elses setup can help you locate issues). After that, everything comes down to personal preferences. Make sure you know what you want, and make good use of reviews and in store demos to get a feel of how it's like to own and use a product before you purchase it, but don't fret about finding the perfect match.
Feb 10, 2017
Ghost_Pack
71
Feb 10, 2017
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One thing I forgot to mention here is if it's expensive, buy used! Used products are a very good way to get uber expensive gear much cheaper, and you can find some amazing deals. I obtained my HD800's at half price nearly brand new, my HA-1 at 40% off, and my QU-16 mixer at only about a third the price because my university's drama program no longer wanted it when I graduated.
You can definitely get some lemons buying used, but I've found that 9/10 times used gear is just as good as brand new products!
Feb 10, 2017
greatex
66
Feb 10, 2017
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I was using the sound blaster G5 which has the same hardware specs
Feb 10, 2017
MiraMinx
8
Feb 10, 2017
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You really should be a publisher or writer on a web journal Ghost. As always well written and very informative.
I'd say one thing that has been of concern for me and on my mind a lot when I look at DACs are the sample rates (is that the right term?). Looking at them I worry about how often those standards change or how likely they are to change and if the DAC I buy will be behind the times in a year or two. Amps seem to be, well in a bit of an exaggeration, pretty much the same as time goes on allowing you to buy one without any worry that in five years the product you bought will be incredibly outdated. But DACs are digital and use computer coding, how much of a concern should I have that the product I'm buying maybe hasn't had it's design updated in some time and already behind it's contemporaries in the market?
Aside from that. I think (stress on the keyword think here since I'm more guessing then anything else) I've made a bit of narrowing down for my K7XXs (and eventually HD 650/6XX) on what to get for them at three different price points. Schiit's Fulla 2 on the low end, O2 +ODAC (donno which one between the different companies and versions) and Schiit's Magni 2 Modi 2 stack in the middle, and Grace Design m9XX on the high spot.
My PC is a brand new build I've spent some time on with a ASUS Maximus IX Formula board in it that has a Optical S/PDIF out port it (is that a good thing?). What I hope to do is enable my head phones to have a clean sound and a very clear and impactful bass, I love playing games with explosions and I want them to feel meaningful and spot on when I hear them. I'll be letting the onboard equipment handle the recording of my mic for streams at the moment.
And with all that said I am entirely open to suggestions even if (especially if?) they are outside of what I've said what I'm looking at and what I'm looking to get out of them. Your experience in this field is proving invaluable to helping me out of the mental hole I've dug myself into.
Feb 10, 2017
Ghost_Pack
71
Feb 10, 2017
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Ahh ok. I mentioned earlier that I though the E5's amp section was kinda subar. Wasn't really better than the iPhone's output. I'd imagine the G5 had similar problems.
Feb 10, 2017
Ghost_Pack
71
Feb 10, 2017
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Don't worry about sample rates. 24bit/48kHz or 24bit/44.1kHz is the highest you need to go in order to get everything out of a mix. "High quality" 96kHz or 192kHz music is pretty much a scam. Every music professional I know records and mixes at 48kHz or 44.1kHz. In fact, my Qu-16 board (Allen and Heath flagship mixer) only does 24bit/48kHz.
DAC technology has pretty much been the same since forever. As long as you have optical, coax, and USB, you're pretty much future proofed. I don't think I've ever owned a flagship desktop DAC that was younger than 5-7 years old. People that tell you you need to upgrade your DAC all the time to keep up with the "flavor de jour" are full of crap. No one mixes in DSD or 384kHz, and MQA is a ridiculously over-complicated solution to a simple problem. None of these esoteric formats ever get enough ground to last more than a few years, and only a few albums ever get released in them.
I think amplifiers have been steadily getting better (especially speaker amplifiers) but I think the performance of headphone amplifiers is starting to reach equilibrium around now. Most improvements seem to be in price/performance, not raw specs.
From the amplifiers you mentioned, I would put the Modi/Magni 2 stack on top. The Magni 2 has double the power output of the m9xx and the Modi 2 uber has better input selection. Additionally, the Schiit stack uses linear power supplies for both while the m9xx has a crappy usb switching supply (hello low level noise). For $500 you can get much better than what the m9xx has to offer.
I have yet to watch the Zeos review of the m9xx, but I'll bet you anything didn't really care for it. Here's the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=87p7NaNg9vY

Btw, shameless plug. If you're looking for good no bs reviews Zeos is the best I've found. I've agreed with pretty much every opinion he's had on stuff I've bought, although he does like bass a lot more than I do :)
Optical S/PDIF is great! It sends a direct PCM signal to the DAC as opposed to the constantly negotiating, non time-invariant garbage you get from usb (this can cause lots of problems if both devices dont communicate properly). It's also fully electrically isolated, so you eliminate any chance of grounding problems occurring between devices. Multi-channel optical is frequently used as a way to patch together multiple digital interfaces in professional audio.
If you're looking for deep bass, that's almost always going to be limited by the driver your using (headphones, speakers, whatever). If you have a bass king like the Philips X2 or pretty much anything from Fostex (Zeos probably can recommend other bassy headphones) you can definitely tighten up the bass with a good amplifier. That's one of the few things that are obvious between differently performing amps.
Additionally, if you have low distortion headphones you can try using AU or VST EQ plugins. You can use these natively on OSX or with a bit of fanagling on Linux. They're a bit harder to get to workproperly on windows, and I think the best way to use them is through an audio player like Foobar (which I believe supports them, but don't quote me on that). With EQ you can tune the bass response as much as you want!
I'll also occasionally leave my sub-woofer on without my speakers when I'm listening to open headphones. If you get the balance right you can blend in that additional deep bass with what your headphones output, and get a more visceral feeling of that room shaking bass for all those Call of Battlefield war games or those crazy Doom fight sequences. This requires you have a speaker/sub setup already though, and if you don't EQ is cheaper/free.
Feb 10, 2017
Ghost_Pack
71
Feb 10, 2017
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I forgot to mention the reason you want AU/VST plugins is that they allow you to use something called "Linear Phase" effects. These compensate for phasing issues due to equalization, which you REALLY don't want if you can help it. Most built in or non professional plugins/effects on your computer don't use phase compensation and can make stuff sound worse.
Feb 10, 2017
Ghost_Pack
71
Feb 10, 2017
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I'm gonna add a little tidbit about bass.
There's two things to considers with bass, quality, and quantity. Here's a few different cases and what you need to consider with each.
1. Quantity Only This is common with popular consumer headphones. The headphone drivers are typically tuned to excite more at lower frequencies, or the enclosure is tuned to allow bass resonance. This method tends to add bass distortion and results in mushy bass. Headphone bass that does this WILL NOT IMPROVE with a better amplifier.
2. Quality Only This is common with audiophile headphones. Typically open headphones. By letting the drivers excite naturally and uniformly, they make it possible for bass to sound tight and punchy. However, dynamic drivers have a natural bass roll off due to their size. Larger drivers can push more air, allowing for more quantity of bass (that's why sub-woofers are so large) but in headphones you can only do so much. Headphone bass that does this WILL IMPROVE in quality with a better amplifier. However, they WILL NOT IMPROVE in quantity of bass if there was not enough there to begin with.
3. Quality and Quantity This is rare, and typically found in planar headphones or a few niche dynamic driver headphones (like the X2 and Fostex). Planar headphones, by their very nature, are almost an electrical short across an amplifier, and thus require a very good amplifier to drive them properly. However, planar headphones almost always have perfectly extended, natural bass. A downside to this is that it's very hard to tune a planar headphone, so if you want more bass then flat, you need to look to dynamic drivers. Dynamic drivers that have both quality and quantity are usually found in top flight headphones where the manufacturer can afford to spend a lot on research, tuning, and making a perfect enclosure for large drivers. These kind of headphones WILL IMPROVE in quality with a better amplifier, even if the extra power seems unnecessary.
TL;DR, by providing excess current to assist in starting and stopping drivers more quickly, good amplifiers can make good quality bass sound better, but since headphones only draw the current they need to operate properly, amplifiers cannot create bass where none already exists.
Feb 10, 2017
MiraMinx
8
Feb 10, 2017
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Gotcha, I'd say aside from the plugins part I'm fully understanding everything you are saying. Thanks Ghost. Really interesting idea by the way of keeping the sub on my speaker system on while I use the headphones.
Now on the list I gave you, you said you'd recommend Magni Modi stack, when also looking at other Amp DAC combinations in the same price area would you say there is any other you would recommend or stick with Magni Modi? (Also which Magni Modi? And do I use the optical out on my PC with the Modi?
Feb 10, 2017
Ghost_Pack
71
Feb 10, 2017
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You'd want to go Uber for the Modi just for the extra inputs, and to be able to use optical. If you're thinking of adding powered monitors at any point in time I'd go with the Magni Uber for the pre-outputs.
I don't know what else is really competitive in the $300 price area. I don't have a lot of experience with a large enough number of products to suggest stuff. At the same time, I don't think there's anything wrong with the Schiit Stack and it's a good deal at that price point so I'd say just go for it. If you find something you like later down the line you can easily sell Schiit stuff since it's always in demand.
Feb 10, 2017
Ghost_Pack
71
Feb 10, 2017
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Oh I totally forgot you'd mentioned the HD Series Headphones! If you're looking for a combo in the $500 range to replace the m9xx I have a suggestion.
You might want to consider a full tube amp for the HD600/650/6XX series since they're high impedance. You'd be looking for a tube amplifier with both preamp and power tubes (4 mono or 2 stereo tubes). You want to avoid hybrid amplifiers (tube preamps with a solid state power stage) as they don't work well with high impedance heaphones. You also want to avoid tube amps with output transformers, as they tend to add distortion since they're basicly just re-purposed speaker amplifier designs.
Since the K7XX is pretty easy to drive, going for a basic DAC and a good tube amplifier would power it perfectly! If you don't want to spend that much right now, doing a Modi 2 Uber and Magni 2 combo would allow you to upgrade in the future once you get your 600/650/6XX. I use a Valhalla 2 to power my 800's and it does a wonderful job tightening and filling in the bass (they don't have a lot of bass to begin with, but it's noticeable)! It should match with the 6XX/650 (the bassier HD series headphones) very well!
Feb 10, 2017
MiraMinx
8
Feb 10, 2017
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Nice, definitely good to hear you have experience with Schiit's products. If you say they are solid and fit the bill then that works for me. Looks like I'm going to be running with the Magni 2 (maybe Uber for the extra power) and Modi 2 Uber to start off my journey into audio fidelity. :D
Have I mentioned you should totally get into writing?
Feb 10, 2017
Ghost_Pack
71
Feb 10, 2017
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Only about three times :)
Glad I could be helpful!
Feb 10, 2017
Talan7
54
May 7, 2017
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I've had the e5 for a couple of years now and can acknowledge that while it has every feature I want, the sound quality is just meh to me as an audiophile piece of equipment. I keep thinking that if the sound quality was better and one of the earphones jacks was balanced, this would be perfect. It just doesn't sound audiophile. I do respect everything it brings to the table, but most features I don't use
May 7, 2017
Soko
212
May 7, 2017
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Hey I want to use an amp with my reloop sh-1 headphones and dj controller by reloop mixon 4. What should I do?
May 7, 2017
NiToNi
0
May 10, 2017
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+1 on that! I just hit the "Follow" button and looking forward to reading more of your most valuable and no-nonsense "non-reviewer" opinions ;)
May 10, 2017
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