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I recently ordered the HD 6XX, and I also just installed my new Sound BlasterX AE-5 (Hi-Resolution PCIe Gaming Sound Card and DAC). I have been browsing the discussion a bit, and lots of people have different opinions on DACs... I was wondering if my sound card would be a good fit for my new HD 6XX... when it comes in 4 months, obviously. Oh, also, if you have any experience with the HD 6XX/650, I would love your input on how well it does with gaming, besides just music/entertainment, etc. Thanks! :)
HD6XX is great with gaming, as with all audiophile headphones they are a surplus to gaming. Whether you run them in stereo or virtual surround (provided by your AE5), they are going to be better than any gaming headsets other there.
As for whether your AE5 is a good fit for HD6XX, no but you probably won't mind it either. You'll get sufficient volume out of them and they will still sound decent.
Thanks for replying to my post... and if you have the time, I have a few more questions for you :)
1. Do you know if the HD 6XX has built in surround sound? (5.1 and/or 7.1)
2. I've been reading some posts on the discussion, people have mentioned different cables for the HD 6XX (such as the XLR), so, do you think it's worth it to upgrade from the stock cable that comes with the HD 6XX... (obviously I'm going to test out the stock first when I get the HD 6XX)... ((oh, and keep in mind that my daily uses are just gaming, music and entertainment, meaning that I'm not much of an 'audiophile'))
1) There's no such thing as built-in surround for any headphone. What SoundBlaster does is called Virtual Surround, where it takes a multi-channel track and then mixes it into a stereo track. When outputted to a headphone with two drivers (left and right) - like a gaming headset, or in this case the HD6XX - it would sound like it's surround. I could go into detail of how they do this but I think it would be a bore :)
What this also tells you that a 2-channel audio (i.e. stereo) is fully capable of sounding 3-dimensional, regardless of whether it's actually mixed by software (SoundBlaster Virtual Surround, or ASUS Dolby Headphone) or native 2-channel that already have 3D information written into them, i.e. most music.
Hope this makes sense.
2) It depends. A lot of people are quite confused when it comes to balanced XLR vs unbalanced 1/4. Balanced XLR output on an amplifier is advantageous most due to lack of crosstalk between the left and right channels as they share separate ground circuits. However just because an amp have a XLR / balanced output, does not mean it is truly balanced. Fully balanced amps, and setups, are very expensive.
An advantage of XLR output - in an unbalanced amp - is the much higher voltage and power output (usually around twice the output of single ended), which would benefit the HD6XX just because they really need a lot of power to sound their best. That's not to say the HD6XX won't sound good on an AE5, they are not amp picky and will sound good with any amp.
Hope this makes sense too.
I appreciate your feedback a lot, thank you so much :)
A few companies have made analog surround sound headphones actually, they use many drivers in each cup, the sound is nice but the sound quality is awful in the few I've tried.
You're right, I've only heard of them many years ago. Never actually listened to one, was interested but couldn't find a stockist. Thanks for sharing your experience :)
sadly i dont think you will making the most of the potential 6xx has, look at something like schitt amp/dac, aune xs dac/amp combo
My Sound BlasterX AE-5 has something called 'Xamp', which is a 'discrete headphone amplifier', and it also has something called 'SABRE32 Ultra Class DAC', which is a 'PCIe DAC', and is supposed to be hi-resolution audio for games, music, and movies (which should meet all my needs, as I'm not much of an 'audiophile'), but I'm sure it makes sense that because I'm not using a super expensive external DAC (such as ones from schitt), I won't be getting nearly as much out of my headphones than I could be... Anyway, I appreciate your feedback, I'll look into DACs, but I don't think I'll be buying anything relating to audio after the purchases of my new sound card and my upcoming HD 6XX :)
He's right, you'll need an amp to get the most out of the HD6XX, but it's not mandatory. These headphones sound good on any amp, they are not amp picky. I'd say enjoy your shiny new Sound Blaster and don't be too concerned for now, you can always look into an upgrade in the future.
Btw, if you were buying an external DAC, you'll also need an external amp, because the order of connection is PC > DAC > Amp > Headphone. Your Sound Blaster is an integrated DAC/Amp that's why you can plug your headphones directly into it.
You seem to know everything about audio related things, thanks for your input again :)
Thanks :) Been on the audiophile road for a long time, there's still a lot more to learn though!
The only way to get surround sound from headphones is using the Smyth Realiser, which tracks your head motion to recalculate the stereo downmix in real time. It is also horrendously expensive.
As for XLR balanced cables, the impact is minimal for short cable runs. I would be more concerned about interference from the electromagnetic fields in your PC case on your sound card.
So the whole 'surround sound 7.1' feature is pretty much just a gimmick for most gaming headsets, that's too bad :(
The whole XLR cable vs stock cable situation is kinda complicated in my mind, I probably won't upgrade from my stock cable, (once my HD 6XX comes in 4 months, obviously)... I still appreciate the facts though, thanks :)
You would have to buy a balanced amp to take advantage of a balanced cable for the 650s/6xx anyways since your AS-5s doesn't support the output. The cables and amps don't come cheap either (balanced cables alone go for around $70+).
A con with built in cards is that the pc case is a very noisy environment. Whilst an external card with separate power. Is much cleaner from the start. Some pc/laptops also have very strange power issues over USB and some DACs reclock the frequency and make your usb uite a reliable output, separate of your pc.
I have ordered the 6XX as well. Already have the 598 and use it for gaming. It's true that you can listen to games and music without an Amp. Heck, my iPhone can run music through them but You will get so much more depth to the soundstage when You give them the full power they will take. My Amp supports up to 600 ohms and the 598 really sound perfect when driven through the Amp compared to merely plugging them into the mini jack of my MoBo.
I really enjoy playing BF1.
Oh - there are 7:1 gaming headsets with 7 drivers in each cup but the drivers are of such poor quality and the price is high up.
You will not regret using these for gaming.
I know, I've entered a dangerously expensive audiophile industry that I can't seem to comprehend... haha :)
Interesting... well, I don't seem to be having any serious problems yet, but thank you for the warnings :)
I know I'll be fine without an external DAC/AMP, and maybe even without my Sound BlasterX AE-5, but I'm someone who always wants the most they can get out of things... however, I'm totally fine with stopping after my sound card and HD 6XX, as now I'm broke in the wallet, haha.
The past month I've come to dislike 'gaming headsets' a lot, mostly for the reasons you listed. I've been using my Razer Kraken Pro ($90 gaming headset) for 3 years now I think, and I've gotten totally used to them, and they're not terrible... but I can definitely tell that upgrading to the HD 6XX in 4 months will be a whole other experience for me, and I'll be very happy with what I already have (meaning I probably wont be buying any audio related things for a while). :)
I have a NAD D 3020 amp with headphone out. It has a Digital to analog converter (DAC) and a headphone out that is better then my computer or phone. So I will start using the HD6XX with that and then for Christmas get an Schiitstack or Modi and Asgard. Or of Zeos from Previews can convince me a Auhn or if I have some really good money saved a Jotunheim with a balanced cable just so that the HD6XX can live up to its full quality. Anyway we are all on a road with this headset that will take us along interesting times.
Sounds like you know what you're getting yourself into, haha :)
It's powering a nice set of Bowers and Wilkins CM5 or Sonab OA5.
For DAC and Headphone AMP only from NAD I would have gone for the 1050. Supposedly better for headphones and some people seem to appreciate the warm fun sound.
I have heard my amp on a really good set of Dali speakers and got to compare it to a 15x priced moon amp in quick succession. Yes it's not perfect but really good fun for the money.
The reason for going for headphones is that my current house doesn't let the speakers fit to their right. They are not huge but need some volume to fill. I hope that headphones will give me a consistent experience.
i dont want to sound allknowing here. But trust me that good stereo is better than 5+ speakers in 1 earcup. I play CSGO alot and playing stereo never failed me in knowing where they are.
CSGO sure is a classic... I'm starting to play a lot more PUBG though... But anyway, thanks for the reply, I'll still be using 5.1 or 7.1 with my HD 6XX, even though it's not a 'gaming headset' (my sound card supports it) :)
you just need to have enough power to drive it , i think it was 300 ohm ? i use my xonar essence stx :)
Essence STX is not enough to drive it. It's about 33% to optimal. Neither is an AE5. But both options are good enough for the HD6XX.
Cool ! Really ? Since i get the ohm in a dropdown list when using it , i can select 300 ohm and i tought nice, this is enough to drive it . How do you come at the 33% ? I will need a seperate dac then maybe ?
Using a seperate DAC seems to always be better... but it does say that my AE-5 is perfectly able to power headphones from 16-600 ohms :)
@DonTheKang When manufacturers state that, it only means they will be loud enough for 300 ohm headphones, this is done by raising the output voltage. With a raised voltage, it will be able to produce the volume, but not necessarily the current required to properly control the headphone, remember power output is a function of voltage and current.
Also keep in mind that even if an amplifier can supply enough power output at 300 ohms, does not mean it can supply enough power to the headphone. 300 ohms is the impedance of the headphone at 1khz, where voice usually happens. Measurements for the HD6XX shows it gets to almost 600 ohms in the bass region, and more ohms means less power being delivered.
Now the tech - considering the Essence STX, skipping all the calculations, it would give about 149mW to the HD6XX at 1khz. This headphone requires 126mW to get to 118dB which is the ideal headroom for many audiophiles. Factoring in amplifier distortion you would want about 250mW. However at 600 ohms it would only be delivering 82mW, rounded up this is 33% of ideal.
Before someone jumps in and say "but 118dB will blow my ear drums". That's true but we're not talking about sustained 118dB, we're talking about headroom. The brain interprets volume as the average intensity over a segment of time. Headroom will allow a split second change in volume that you won't even hear, but will lead to more realistic sounding transients. Without appropriate headroom, the waveform can clip which leads to distortion.
So now that calculations are done, we see that mids are probably going to pretty good on the STX, but the power going into bass will be a bit short. A fully powered bass would be more transparent, have more slam, it would help with soundstage and instrument separation. This is why the HD6XX is considered a power hungry monster.
Ah, that makes sense, which is probably why every audiophile ever will recommend a DAC powerful enough to get the best possible sound out of the HD 6XX... however, as much as I love audio, I'm perfectly fine with getting even just the bare minimum from my HD 6XX. Upgrading from my current 3 year old gaming headset to the HD 6XX, which are professional audiophile headphones (don't get triggered over my analysis), will be a noticably huge difference.
And I really do appreciate the extra information, I'm actually thinking about doing my school project on these kind of audio related things... (topics such as DACs, AMPs, ohm impedance, amounts of voltage and current required to drive a certain kind of headphone; like the HD 6XX, etc.)
So thanks for helping me out, again and again, have a good one :)
No worries, best of luck with your purchase :)
So cool to hear. I know already find the bass so powerfuill, so cool ( and sad ) that it can deliver even more without me knowing it, I must say i never understood the mechanics of the ohm. I know ohm is like resistance so the more ohm the more resistance i guess and the more power it needs...
What amplifier that i can use on my pc would be more sufficiant ? I have a Fiio e17 but i suspect this wont cut it either.
Your Essence would be much better than your FiiO e17.
I'm not sure a PC solution exist, to power the HD6XX optimally you really need an external amp. The cheapest I can think of is the Lake People G103-S ($315 but they are running 10% off right now), which you can hook up to your Xonar Essence STX via RCA. http://violectric-usa.com/headphone-amplifiers/g103-s
Once you've reached the power threshold of your headphones, circuit design and quality starts to make a bigger impact. Unfortunately it's a never ending road of upgrades.
315 dollah, no thx ... then i dont buy it imediatly :p ill look out when im in a specialiced shop and see if its worth the upgrade :) buit thanks for the advice !
The AE-5 is more than adequate for the 6XX and sounds legit amazing.
Finally, someone who gets it! haha :)