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Audiophilia: Headphones, Amps, DAPs, and Empty Wallets

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  • PirusuPirusu Pierce Registered User regular
    I have some Definitive Tech towers that my wife and I picked up. The Bi-Polar Super Towers are great for movie watching, especially if your budget is a bit limited, since each of the towers (and the center, if you go that route) has a powered sub built into it. They sound excellent, but are definitely priced above what you can get most Polk towers for.

  • PolloDiabloPolloDiablo Registered User regular
    Does anyone else with an A40 have any problems with voice quality? People say it's really choppy and worse than when I had it in the mic slot without the mixamp. What can I do to make it sound better?

  • PirusuPirusu Pierce Registered User regular
    I haven't had any problems with mine. Sounds crystal.

  • Storm ShadowStorm Shadow Registered User regular
    Try turning off your 'Mic Boost' if you have it checked in the Audio Properties. The MixAmp puts out a 'line level' signal and doesn't need to be boosted. Hopefully that solves your issue.

  • Custom SpecialCustom Special Registered User regular
    So with my Mixamp, is it worth going through it if I'm just using a headphone jack on my phone (either with MP3 or FLAC)? Or should I only bother busting it out if I'm running off optical?

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  • AntihippyAntihippy Registered User regular
    Can you even connect the mixamp to your phone?

    Or am I just reading that question completely wrong.

    10454_nujabes2.pngPSN: Antiwhippy
  • PolloDiabloPolloDiablo Registered User regular
    Try turning off your 'Mic Boost' if you have it checked in the Audio Properties. The MixAmp puts out a 'line level' signal and doesn't need to be boosted. Hopefully that solves your issue.

    As far as I can tell there is no mic boost option in its properties.

  • Custom SpecialCustom Special Registered User regular
    Antihippy wrote:
    Can you even connect the mixamp to your phone?

    Or am I just reading that question completely wrong.

    Yeah, basically just going straight out of the headphone jack to the MP3 jack on the back end right next to the optical in. You can even plug in your MP3 player that way while playing a game and have game and music at the same time.

    Oh yeah, and I just remembered my other question (which may not be for this thread?).
    I picked up a Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.1 a couple weeks ago, and it has a 30-pin type connector for the charger, is there a cable I can buy to get better audio out of it through there (like iThings do)? Or am I stuck with my 3.5mm jack?

    XBL: F4ll0ut9114 | STEAM | PSN : CustomSpecial | Bnet: F4ll0ut#1636
  • AntihippyAntihippy Registered User regular
    Hmm, are you asking if you should amp your MP3 player with it? Really depends if your headphone actually needs to be amped that way.

    Just listen and compare. If it sounds better do it.

    10454_nujabes2.pngPSN: Antiwhippy
  • Joe KJoe K Registered User regular
    edited September 2011
    I've noticed a definite lack of Sony's in this discussion:

    to wit:

    Sony MDR-V600's and the more expensive (and louder) 700's are a really great set of cans, and quite durable to boot.

    Joe K on
  • AiouaAioua Ora Occidens Ora OptimaRegistered User regular
    So, I managed to sell my old zune on ebay, thinking of using the sale to (partially) fund the purchase of the Turtle Beach DDS and some AD700s. I'll be going from some HD280 pros just plugged into my computer. Oh yes, I think the improvement will be substantial.

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  • Helpless RockHelpless Rock Registered User regular
    edited September 2011
    I figure I can just ask this here since it's a problem I'm having with my audio receiver and seems like a better idea than starting a new thread.

    Anyway, I'm having a weird problem with the speaker settings and sound quality. I feel like I have all the speakers connected correctly (I have an Onkyo HTiB, so everything was color-coded after all) but no matter what I do with the settings I can't hear voices. Specifically when I have it set to Speaker A (Which is where my Left and Right speakers are connected). Like, that part of the movie track is missing. When I click it onto AB I get voices, but I lose features like Audyssey and I'm pretty sure I lose 5.1 as well, but I'm unsure of that. The only options I get are Mono or Stereo. I get these option when I have it set to just A, but they don't do me a lot of good if I can't hear anyone talking. I've dug through the onscreen settings and switched and flipped all the options that I thought could possibly be causing such a thing to no improvement.
    This is the case for gaming, movies and music (all with slightly different poor effects, the no voice in movies is just the major one), through both the 360 and PS3, streaming or direct from a blu ray/DVD. Connected with HDMI.

    Anyone have any idea what setting is causing this?

    EDIT: I am a dumb. Figured it out to be my center speaker, though looking like it was connected correctly, in fact was not. Wire was connected in to far or something weird like that.

    Helpless Rock on
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  • Blood DriveBlood Drive Registered User regular
    edited November 2011
    So I have recently discovered just how much better music can be with a half decent sound system. Case in point, My new Civic's stock sound system is better than any piece of hardware I own in my house. Even on the road with the terrible terrible road noise the car makes.
    Seeing as I spend most of my "listening" time on my PC I was wondering if you fellows had any advice on sound cards in particular, along with a "starter" headset. Im looking at a roof of $100 on the headphones as I am a bit gun shy about the cost. Although the sound card can be anything around or under $200 at this point.

    I was thinking about starting with the Koss PortaPro Headphones as suggested way earlier in the thread. I just havn't seen any suggestions about sound cards. I currently own 2 various SB Audigy 2 cards and have a cheapo on board solution.

    Oh most of time is general gaming. But its my music that I really want to listen to.
    Ideas?

    Blood Drive on
  • CormacCormac Registered User regular
    edited November 2011
    The Asus Xonar cards are an excellent, and if you have an open PCI-E slot the Xonar DX is the one to get. It's currently out of stock at Newegg, but it's $78.99 with a $20 mail in rebate. If you only have a PCI slot then DS or D1 are both great with the D1 being the higher end card.

    I have but no longer use, a pair of PortaPros, and they were my first pair of good headphones from over 10 years ago. They sound too bass heavy and a bit muffled to my ears now, but they are some of the best under $50 headphones you can buy. Some other headphones to consider for under $100 are the Audio Technica ATH-AD700, Grado SR-60's or SR-80's, Sennheiser HD-280's, Sennheiser PX 200-II, Sennheiser HD 448, and Sony MDR-V6.

    Cormac on
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  • minor incidentminor incident Quincentuple Your Money! Registered User regular
    I don't care too much for the Portapros. I'd take the Grados, or a pair of AKG 240s, or some lower-end Sennheisers (like the 280s) over the Portapros in the sub-$100 price range. The Portapros are nice sounding and all, but the build quality is shit (both pairs I've owned have straight-up broken within 3 months), and I don't like the fit at all. Plus, everyone within 100 feet will be listening to your music with you.

    Steam: minor incident || PSN: inter-punct
    You may not find all that you're after. In the end I hope it doesn't matter.
  • Blood DriveBlood Drive Registered User regular
    Those AKG 240's replaceable cable just became a must have. Those are the things I end up breaking the most. Thanks for the suggestions. Im still going to get the Porta's too, just for my work headphones, i need to be able to hear the phone ring.

  • Shazkar ShadowstormShazkar Shadowstorm Registered User regular
    i want new headphones for my room

    to listen to music and play videogames on my computer

    i guess open air would be ideal?

    poo
  • TefTef Registered User regular
    edited November 2011
    Hey guys, so a friend of mine was mortified that I was using my monitor's onboard speakers for sound (or if I really wants to get wild I'd plug my iPhone earphones into the tower!). He's since sold me his Razer charcharidons for $40. All I can say is I'm never going back to my old ways now.

    From my research, it seems that there's much better options out there than these 'gamer' headsets. I've got a couple of questions to throw your way:

    Would something like the astro mixamp boost quality for my current 'phones? I assume as my phones aren't super high quality that there's minimal improvements in sound quality to be had

    I play a lot of games online an I really like the integrated mic on these razer phones. What are some options for an upgrade in sound quality that will also include a mic? I'm not against buying a separate mic, as long as it's convenient.

    I can budget probably $200 at the moment for the upgrade. Cheers guys

    Tef on
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  • minor incidentminor incident Quincentuple Your Money! Registered User regular
    @Tef I had no idea you lived in such squalor, or I'd have helped you out earlier! =]

    Actually, believe it or not, the Carcharias are seriously good, rock-solid headphones for their price range. And they're an absolute steal at $40, despite being made by a "gaming" company. They're one of the few pairs of gaming headsets that I can recommend with a straight face. The microphone is top-notch, they look good, the materials and build quality are nice, and they sound as good as any $100-$150 set of open-backed headphones, for gaming at least.

    The best thing you could do for them is add in an Astro Mixamp, or a cheaper alternative like the Turtle Beach Ear Force DSS ( http://www.turtlebeach.com/products/audio-processors/ear-force-dss.aspx ). They do the same things, but the Mixamp has a better build quality, and includes the cool voice chat mixer feature. Personally, if you have $200 to spend, I'd go with the Mixamp. The Carcharias are nice open-backed headphones that'll give you an excellent soundstage when combined with a surround sound processor like the Mixamp. You really won't do much better with headphones for surround sound gaming until you get into the $200+ price range, like the Sennheiser PC360s—which are, in fact, amazing (seriously, they're as perfect as gaming headsets get), but out of your current price range, and not quite necessary, since the Razers will get the job done admirably for you. You lucked into a great set of headphones for gaming, and they'll be near perfect when you get the Mixamp!

    Steam: minor incident || PSN: inter-punct
    You may not find all that you're after. In the end I hope it doesn't matter.
  • minor incidentminor incident Quincentuple Your Money! Registered User regular
    i want new headphones for my room

    to listen to music and play videogames on my computer

    i guess open air would be ideal?

    It's largely personal preference, and there are benefits and drawbacks to both.

    Open headphones give a larger soundstage (the impression you get that you're in the middle of a large room full of the sounds, rather than just the feeling of having two speakers up against your ears) than closed phones, but they leak a lot of noise and can easily disturb those around you. Closed phones often have better bass, and they usually leak little to no sound, making them ideal when you need to use them near co-workers or sleeping spouses.

    Open 'phones have a definite advantage for gaming because you get a much better immersion factor in the audio, but again, they can be a deal-breaker if you need to not leak sound all around you.

    Tell me what sounds more appealing to you, and what your price range is like and I'd be happy to offer some suggestions for you to look into.

    Steam: minor incident || PSN: inter-punct
    You may not find all that you're after. In the end I hope it doesn't matter.
  • minor incidentminor incident Quincentuple Your Money! Registered User regular
    Those AKG 240's replaceable cable just became a must have. Those are the things I end up breaking the most. Thanks for the suggestions. Im still going to get the Porta's too, just for my work headphones, i need to be able to hear the phone ring.

    Yeah, it's a great feature, and not many sub-$100 sets of headphones offer it. Also, just so you know, the AKGs are open-backed, so you can hear your surroundings very clearly, but they don't leak quite as much sound as the Portapros.

    Steam: minor incident || PSN: inter-punct
    You may not find all that you're after. In the end I hope it doesn't matter.
  • TefTef Registered User regular
    Well that's great news! Thanks MI

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  • elevatureelevature Registered User regular
    Anyone have a Jawbone Jambox? My girlfriend brought one home from work the other day and I liked it quite a bit. The sound is not fantastic, but it's decent for such a small package, and the size is a big selling point. Super easy to carry around a house, and great for traveling. It's pretty expensive at $200, though. If it were half that I'd buy one in a second.

  • minor incidentminor incident Quincentuple Your Money! Registered User regular
    It's a neat device (the Jambox) and sounds better than it has any right to considering its diminutive size and the fact that the audio comes from Bluetooth, but it is far, far too expensive. Really cool device, though. Especially handy if you need portability.

    Personally, I have an old airport express hooked up to a nice set of speakers that I use for wireless music purposes. It's not portable, but it cost about the same $200, and it sounds great.

    Steam: minor incident || PSN: inter-punct
    You may not find all that you're after. In the end I hope it doesn't matter.
  • elevatureelevature Registered User regular
    Yeah, I'm using an Airport Express now too hooked up to an old bookshelf stereo, and it sounds good, and Airplay is awesome. I just love how small the Jambox is.

  • elevatureelevature Registered User regular
    Sorry for two posts in a row, but -

    Is there a way to convert an optical audio signal to a standard RCA signal? I've got an Apple tv and I'd like to use it for audio without turning the tv on. It only has optical out, and I don't have a receiver. I want to plug it into my stereo, which has RCA in. Is there some sort of converter I can get?

  • FoomyFoomy Registered User regular
    elevature wrote:
    Sorry for two posts in a row, but -

    Is there a way to convert an optical audio signal to a standard RCA signal? I've got an Apple tv and I'd like to use it for audio without turning the tv on. It only has optical out, and I don't have a receiver. I want to plug it into my stereo, which has RCA in. Is there some sort of converter I can get?

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  • Lucky CynicLucky Cynic Registered User regular
    So guys, I was wondering if we could find a way to pimp my current audio set up. I have the HTC HD7 phone from Tmobile and a Zune HD 32gig. I've noticed that the Zune has far better audio quality for my music (which is ripped from CDs via the Zune software). I listen to my music with a pair of Skullcandy Aviator headphones.

    As much as I'd like, I want to stress quality with the fewest devices possible. That means leaving the Zune at home and making my phone do the heavy lifting. If it can't then maybe there is a better phone out there for audiophiles.

    Your thoughts. Go.

  • Donovan PuppyfuckerDonovan Puppyfucker A dagger in the dark is worth a thousand swords in the morningRegistered User regular
    Apparently the Samsung Galaxy S (the first one) has a pretty good audio chip in it for a phone. Or for much less than the outright price of that handset you can get a pretty nice pocket ampDAC.

  • minor incidentminor incident Quincentuple Your Money! Registered User regular
    It should also be noted that amps and quality audio processors aren't going to help a whole lot if you're using sub-192kbps MP3s.

    So first, upgrade your source audio, if you haven't yet.

    Second, get quality headphones. Those Skullcandies are better than most of the brand, but they're not going to bring out detail in your music the way a decent mid-range set from Shure, or AKG, or Sennheiser, or even a cheap pair of Grados.

    My suggestion is to use whichever audio player is most convenient, rip your music at 256 or higher, and buy a set of Grados. The 60 or 80 would do you fine, and will be fairly lightweight and portable like the Skullcandies you use now.

    If you want to spend a bit more, but retain portability, go for a set of in-ears from Shure like the SE400-series. You'll get even better sound and easier portability.

    Steam: minor incident || PSN: inter-punct
    You may not find all that you're after. In the end I hope it doesn't matter.
  • Lucky CynicLucky Cynic Registered User regular
    So first, upgrade your source audio, if you haven't yet.

    Most of my songs are 320kbs.
    Second, get quality headphones. Those Skullcandies are better than most of the brand, but they're not going to bring out detail in your music the way a decent mid-range set from Shure, or AKG, or Sennheiser, or even a cheap pair of Grados.

    I got my Skull Candies for around $80 which is a hard deal to pass up. What should I look for and what makes those other headphones so much more successful?

  • minor incidentminor incident Quincentuple Your Money! Registered User regular
    Basically, anything from an audio company, as opposed to a fashion brand like Skullcandy will be better at a lower price. Compared to the best Skullcandies, even low and mid-range headphones from the companies I mentioned will be clearer, with less "muddiness" to the sound, and a nice balanced range, as opposed to blowing out the low end like most urban fashion brands tend to do.

    Fashion brands just tend to have their sonic response tweaked in such a way to please crazy bass-heads, or in a way to mask the weaknesses of the shitty drivers try use that can't reproduce certain frequencies accurately.

    Basicall, with a solid audio brand, you'll get a cleaner, purer representation of your audio with all the original frequencies represented as they were intended, with enough clarity to actually pick out details that are just obliterated by the mixing or lousy drivers on the cheaper brands.

    The best thing to do is try some headphones out, if you can. I'd also recommend reading reviews from some serious headphone audio websites. That is, NOT Engadget and Gizmodo. Read the forums at Head-Fi for some good advice. There are plenty of user reviews there for all price ranges. They can be a little audio snobby, so take their advice with a grain of salt, but there's typically a lot of truth in their angry ranting.

    Without knowing much more about your budget and the type of music you like, it's hard to make too many specific recommendations, but the Grados and Shures I suggested are great all-around headphones with a similar level of portability to your Skullcandies. But there are hundreds of other great headphones out there that might work for you, too.

    Steam: minor incident || PSN: inter-punct
    You may not find all that you're after. In the end I hope it doesn't matter.
  • proyebatproyebat Registered User regular
    Hey guys, I'm looking for a pair of headphones. Been using ipod-style earphones but they hurt to keep them in my ears for longer than an hour. In-ear style earphones are slightly more comfortable but love to pop out (having no smaller rubber plugs to replace the existing ones). This seems like the perfect opportunity to ditch earphones for headphones, and spend a little more for something that will last for a few years. That said the most I can spare for this change is around $70

    My goals are to find something that's comfortable to wear for extended periods of time, and don't leak sound.

  • acidlacedpenguinacidlacedpenguin Registered User regular
    So I got an Asus Xonar DX and have some minor complaints/questions that maybe you guys can answer. . .

    First off, why the hell did they share the jack between the optical cable and the mic/line-in? Having to choose is pretty silly for my application. I have to use the mixamp as a USB device to enable chat.

    Also, I can't run the optical AND the analog outs at the same time unless I select PCM for the digital output. Is it still possible to get 5.1/7.1 if I'm sending PCM out the optical to the mixamp?

    GT: Acidboogie PSNid: AcidLacedPenguiN
  • PolloDiabloPolloDiablo Registered User regular
    Apparently my problems with the mixamp are some kind of noise gate defect that's a known issue but they already got my money so I can go fuck myself. I hate astro so much right now. Caveat emptor I guess.

  • acidlacedpenguinacidlacedpenguin Registered User regular
    I think I might also have that problem with my mixamp 5.8. I've got it partially-mitigated by setting the mic level to 1/100. Strangely enough though, apparently my mic doesn't sound like static at all when I'm on skype with my friends, but if I try to play starcraft while on skype it goes to shit again. Pretty sure my wired mixamp doesn't have the problem, so I'm going to swap them as soon as I stop being lazy.

    GT: Acidboogie PSNid: AcidLacedPenguiN
  • NormanPrideNormanPride Registered User regular
    Any bluetooth headsets that aren't crap? I actually need one for work (we take calls through our laptops), so the mic can't suck as well...

    Or would this go in another thread?

  • Vi MonksVi Monks Registered User regular
    This seems like a good thread for this question. I'm looking for a reasonably-priced (i.e. $50-$150) surround sound headset, primarily for PC gaming. I'm currently looking at two different options, but I'll consider anything so long as it is close to my price range. I currently have a set of Sennheiser HD 555s that aren't quite as comfortable as I'd like, but they serve pretty well. I was considering getting a Turtle Beach DSS unit to use with these headphones. Good idea?

    The other option I'm considering is the Logitech G35 set. A bit more expensive, but they look more comfortable than my Sennheisers, plus they have a built in mic that's probably better quality than my current desk mic. Thoughts?

  • minor incidentminor incident Quincentuple Your Money! Registered User regular
    Vi Monks wrote:
    This seems like a good thread for this question. I'm looking for a reasonably-priced (i.e. $50-$150) surround sound headset, primarily for PC gaming. I'm currently looking at two different options, but I'll consider anything so long as it is close to my price range. I currently have a set of Sennheiser HD 555s that aren't quite as comfortable as I'd like, but they serve pretty well. I was considering getting a Turtle Beach DSS unit to use with these headphones. Good idea?

    The other option I'm considering is the Logitech G35 set. A bit more expensive, but they look more comfortable than my Sennheisers, plus they have a built in mic that's probably better quality than my current desk mic. Thoughts?

    Stay away from those Logitechs, or any other surround sound headphones. You'll get vastly better quality from your Sennheisers by adding a Turtle Beach DSS or Astro Mixamp.

    I'm surprised you don't find them comfortable. They're generally considered some of the more comfortable headphones on the market. What is it you don't like about them? Do they clamp too strongly?

    Steam: minor incident || PSN: inter-punct
    You may not find all that you're after. In the end I hope it doesn't matter.
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