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Choosing an amp that will get the most out of gaming/movie sound effec
post Jan 8 2013, 11:14
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Current Set Up:Beyerdynamic DT 990T Premium 250ohm headset, Creative X-Fi Titanumium Sound Card for my DAC
Price Range: Up to 300USD

What I Want: I do not use this set up for music. I only use this set up for PC gaming and watching movies. I am looking for an amplifier that will work with my headphones to make gaming/movie sound effects sound the best they possible can. I'm looking for the the most detail, oomph punch, etc... I plan to only use my sound card as the DAC, because I use the CMSS-3D for positional audio when gaming.

Amps I'm considering:
1. Objective2
2. Schiit Magni or Asgard
3. Schitt Vallhalla (Can get it off amazon with a 75$ dollar gift certificate putting it in my price range)
4. C421
5. M-stage.

I've heard that the O2/Magni are both great amps, and quite similar, but that they are both lacking in the bass department, which might be detrimental in terms of making sound effects sound good. I've also head they are very neutral to the point that compressed poor sources end up sounding horrible. Video game sound isn't known for being the best....

I'm leaning toward either the c42111 or M-stage right now, because I've read they are warmer, and have more bass.

I would much appreciate any insight or opinions. Thanks

This post has been edited by Nkcell: Jan 8 2013, 11:48
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post Jan 9 2013, 19:45
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It's a slightly tricky issue...

I'm looking for the the most detail, oomph punch, etc...
A good amplifier should do one thing... Amplify! Is that what yo mean by "oomph"? wink.gif It should have flat frequency response across the audio band, low distortion, and low noise. Audiophiles and audio reviewers LOVE to use useless terms like "detail", "imaging", "punch", etc... These words can mean anything you think they mean, but they have no real scientific meaning and no known relationship to the actual specifications or audio performance.

So, if you are getting enough volume (without distortion) directly from your soundcard, there's no need for a headphone amp.

It's really not hard or expensive* to build a headphone amp with good specs. I wouldn't spend $300. (For $300, I can get a 300 watt power amp!!!!) I don't own an separate headphone amp so I can't make a personal recomendation, but the FiiO products seem to have a good reputation and are not overpriced.

I've also head they are very neutral to the point that compressed poor sources end up sounding horrible.
A headphone amp that's not "neutral" isn't going to fix file-compression artifiacts, and it's not going to un-do dynamic compression either.

If you want more bass, you can look for an amp with tone controls or use an equalizer. The EQ can be either hardware or software, and your soundcard driver/utilities might already have one included. You have to be a bit careful with software equalizers, because they can boost the digital signal into clipping (distortion), depending on the EQ settings and the software volume control settings.

Or, you can look for a headphone with more bass. All good headphone amps should sound alike. But, good speakers & headphones are not so easy to build (or test/measure) and all headphones/speakers will sound different. Beyer has a great reputation, and I'm sure your headphones are excellent! Its just not so easy to say one headphone is better than another, or which one is "best". To some extent it's a matter of taste. I know you don't want to "downgrade", but just for fun you might want to get the Superlux HD668B ($40 USD).

250ohm headset
There a couple of issues related to impedance. Low impedance headphones can "react" with poor-quality soundcards & headphone amps in a way that change the frequency response curve. If somebody says a headphone amp "lacks bass", it's probably an impedance-related issue, and it might even be the amp with more bass that's got impedance issues causing uneven frequency response! Your 250 Ohm headphone will be immume to that.

However, higher impedance requires more voltage for the same power (milliwatts - related to loudness). So, a low voltage headphone that runs of 5V USB power, or a single 9V battery, or a soundcard with low-voltage output may distort at high volumes. If you don't see an output-voltage spec, but try to get an amp that's supposed to work with both high and low impedance headphones.

* It is very expensive to manufacture and distribute stuff in low volumes, and nice looking cabinets are expensive (especially in small quantities), and audiophiles tend to favor expensive things!

This post has been edited by DVDdoug: Jan 9 2013, 20:12
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