ARaudio
34
Aug 26, 2020
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Are the new age Desktop Motherboards good enough for the sound experience? Objective: To test and compare the sound quality of various equipment and their configurations to find an optimum configuration for sound experience. Disclaimer: This is a pseudo-scientific experiment based on my personal perception rather than scientific measurements. Equipment used: 1.    Desktop with ASUS Z370-A Prime Mother board which featured Realtek® S1220A, 120 dB SNR stereo, 32-Bit/192kHz playback, Japanese-made audio capacitors, EMI protection, with an Intel i7-8700k processor 2.      DAC/Amp Combo #1: Schiit Modi 3 and Magni 3 3.      DAC/Amp Combo #2: Micca Origen+ 4.      Headphones #1: Sennheiser HD 6XX (300 Ohm) 5.      Headphones #2: AudioTechnica ATH-M50 (38 Ohm) 6.      Cable #1: USB to Micro USB 7.      Cable #2: TosLink Optical 8.      Audio files: Lossless Wav extracted from CDs 9.      Sample Tracks: Amy Winehouse’s Rehab, A.R.Rahman’s Maa tujhe salaam, Dido’s White Flag I tested the following configurations. I played each configuration multiple times to arrive at an opinion. I do not have any sophisticated audio equipment to make a fair scientific comparison, but I have relied solely on my personal perception which is very subjective and debatable. Table 1: Configurations tested See the picture
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Notes 1: Since the impedance of two headphones are different, I have manually adjusted the volume knobs on the Amplifiers and in the PC to maintain a similar level of volume across all the test configurations. I acknowledge that there are still some minute differences in volumes as I cannot manually adjust the dB precisely across all the Configs. Note 2: There are natural differences in sound signatures between the 2 headphones, I have considered those differences in the analysis. Note 3: I was not able to test USB Cable to Micca Origen+ as the Windows 10 drivers for Micca were broken which is a well-documented issue. Note 4: I was not able to test with any other Laptop as I do not have access to old Laptops. Perceived result: Most of the combinations resulted in a similar experience. It was surprising to me but they all sounded remarkably close to each other. I have tried multiple times, sometimes the combination that involved Micca sounded a tad bit better than the others, but the difference is negligible and not noticeable when I do not play the different configurations immediately back to back. One popular sentiment everyone shared, including me, is that a DAC/Amp will greatly help 6XX because of their higher impedance. I assumed that the Cong #7 Motherboard-6XX will sound bad, but interestingly it sounded equally well just by raising the volume in the PC. I assumed that the motherboard alone cannot pump-in enough power to drive the 6XXs, but my assumption turned out to be false; though I had to turn up to 80% of PC volume, it was loud and clear enough. Tentative Conclusion: The only conclusion I can arrive is that the new age Motherboards have excellent DAC modules which are able to produce the sound equivalent to popular standalone DACs. The Motherboards can pump-in enough power to keep the high impedance headphones perform to their potential eliminating the need for a dedicated Amp. I believe that the standalone external DAC/Amp still hold the value when combined with other systems like Old laptops and old desktops with weak sound modules. Further Discussion: My tentative conclusion was counter intuitive to most of the audiophiles including myself. I am curious to know where I went wrong if I did. It seems that the difference that DAC/Amp making to the setup is so minute that it almost raises a question about the extra money spent on them considering one already spent good money on a state of the art Motherboard in the first place. Wondering if anyone else has tested any configurations with whatever equipment they have with new age Motherboards. If not yet, then wondering if they can spend few hours and do a quick check and express their findings. Please make a constructive criticism and inform if I missed to consider something significant. I did not do a blind study, wish someone else can fill that gap. Your opinions are appreciated. Thank You.
(Edited)
Aug 26, 2020
ARaudio
34
Aug 28, 2020
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Dawid does tech stuff on YT did a study.. MB and DAC were soo close as per his tests... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nfX6bjuobxs
Aug 28, 2020
stantse69
0
Jan 9, 2021
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If you're going to buy a decent headphone like this, you should show it some respect and get a decent amp/dac. I haven't tried Schitt yet, but those seem pretty good and topping is quite good. As these are balanced, you should pair it up with balanced. No point in getting a BMW M3 only to install a Civic engine into it. If possible, you should go with a a more expensive amp/dac especially if you're planning on upgrading headphones as this would give you more options. Your mileage may also vary depending on how sensitive your hearing is.
(Edited)
Jan 9, 2021
Neowise__33
16
May 16, 2021
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You have no idea about headphones beyond more expensive is better and it shows.
May 16, 2021
celloh
11
Sep 1, 2021
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These are budget-ish priced headphones. I am not buying these for luxury why the heck would I spend money on more expensive gear if they do not make a difference in sound quality? It's pointless...
Sep 1, 2021
jkaufman
0
Sep 2, 2021
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You're about as clueless as Neowise and the only thing pointless here are your comments that offer no argument.
Sep 2, 2021
madrev
8
Nov 8, 2021
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your findings are correct just be careful in your motherboard selection, mid-range to high-end motherboards have made great improvements in audio but not all (so read the box) some go as far as providing separation on the mb to fight against feedback and other electronic oddities that may bleed through into your headphones. the quality of dacs used is no longer second thought...
Nov 8, 2021
moonshire
3
Nov 24, 2021
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thank you for this! fantastic review, saved me some dosh too
Nov 24, 2021
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