TheRealBeandip

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Dec 30, 2014
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I recently picked up these AKG Q701s and love how they sound, the only problem is I think my PC has a little trouble driving them as theyre a little quiet even on max volume.

I hear the sound quality and volume increases with an amp

What would be a good amp to use with these?

Im not familiar with amps so I dont know what kind of budget I should have, but I want something that will be high quality and not break the bank. Sub 200 USD is preferred.

Ive Heard a DAC can also increase some sound quality, Is it worth getting one?
 

ssddx

Glorious
Moderator
if you have the money for it, the schiit magni (amp) and schiit modi (dac) are excellent and are likely the best quality in your budget range.

the schiit products are one whole grade or more above fiio in terms of quality. the fiio stuff is not bad for the price though. if you wanted to keep things cheap though i'd take a look at the fiio e17k or the slightly lower grade fiio e10k. the audioengine d1 is also worth noting. neither are as powerful as the schiit products but are also cheaper. if you require "portable" for use with mobile devices then some of the other fiio products like e11/e12/e17 may work but again are not going to have the power of the schiit products.

whether amp+dac or amp depends on the quality of your onboard. since it appears the amp is weak on your board my guess is that you have rather low end onboard so i'd say amp+dac is likely your best choice. your call though. you can always upgrade to a dac later if you bought just and amp now (such as the magni now, modi later if you needed it).

the uber version of the magni just has more power (useful for harder to drive headphones but not so much for yours) and outputs for use with studio monitor speakers and the like which you most likely will not need. unless they are the same price i'd say no you dont need it.

again, many of the products above would do a fine job of powering your equipment. the modi+magni, e17k or d1 all would work. one benefit of going magni/modi is that you can buy one now and check if you think you need the modi before you buy it while the others are one piece combined units. the problem with doing the same thing with fiio products are that all of their dac units are also amps so you will essentially double-amp which can sometimes mean a slight quality reduction (unless of course they have a line-out jack, you'd need to check on this as i'm not sure if they do or not)

your budget has alot to do with your choice as well. also if you plan on ever getting better headphones in the future. buying a decent setup now means you can power even harder to drive cans in the future. for instance the modi/magni (uber would be good in this case) is great for cans like the dt990 600ohm and other really hard to power cans while the d1 and fiio products are not all that great and cant drive some cans to their full potential without doubleamping
 

ssddx

Glorious
Moderator
here is the lowdown:

the akg q701 is 62ohm resistance. typically many boards would handle this though it appears your onboard amplifier on the onboard sound is rather weak so you do need an amp of some sort. this is not all that uncommon with lower end boards.

now, do you go with soundcard or external soundcard or amplifier or soundcard + amplifier or dac + amplifier? a brief overview:

soundcard: will give you the ability to run virtual surround on the headphones if you intend to use them for gaming. whether or not this is important depends on if you use virtual or not. something like the Z has enough power to drive these headphones and is a good choice without breaking the bank

external soundcard: if you are using a laptop which can not use internal cards and still want virtual surround as an option. the creative omni is a good choice here without breaking the bank.

soundcard + amplifier: the onboard amplifier on something like the Z is rather powerful but many times the amps you can buy external can do a much better job of driving headphones and really push them to the limit/give you the most you can out of them. i was reading a forum about the q701 and omni/z and amp and the user stated that the z/omni drove them fine but the external amp sounded a bit better to them. they ended up using the soundcard for processing and sending out the signal to the amp for boosting. this would also give you virtual surround as an option but is one of the somewhat more pricey options though still under budget.

amplifier: if you are happy with the quality of your onboard sound and if it offers the features you want (not sure if it supports virtual, many do not) then just adding an amplifier will boost the volume and make the headphones sound better. however, the quality of the stream will not increase and if your onboard sound has any hiss, pops, buzzing, distortion, etcetera you will hear it. good choice if you want to take things step by step to spend the least possible. an external amp is generally going to be much more powerful than internal ones and much better for headphones. something like the schiit magni is perfect. if you dont want to spend that much, some of the fiio amplifiers are not bad but are not as powerful. keep in mind that unless your onboard supports virtual surround you will not have this.

dac + amplifier: if you wanted to improve sound quality this is a good choice. keep in mind that sound will be stereo only as external dac's do not support virtual surround generally. due to being outside the case electrical noise is very low so offers great quality sound. a great pairup is the shiit magni + modi though fiio does offer some less peforming options like the e17k which may work for your needs.

note: razer does make a free virtual surround software which may work with usb dac's or may not. you may want to look into it if you wanted to go the external dac option. this is processed by your cpu i believe instead of via any soundcard in your pc.

--

what is the cheapest option? the creative Z is a good choice.

what gives you the most options? either the creative Z or xonar dx paired with the magni amp.

what has the best sound? modi and magni

other things worth noting on the budget? audioengine d1 amp+dac isnt bad. not as powerful as magni/modi combo but offers a few more options. fiio e10k/e17k are worth looking at if modi/magni combo (which is great for the price) seems a bit too costly.

 

TheRealBeandip

Estimable
Dec 30, 2014
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Ive already done some gaming with them (insurengy, WoW, Arena Commander) and they already pinpoint where things are without virtual surround so im not too worried about that.

my box is out of space for internal components (thanks nonmodular psu) so an internal soundcard isnt too viable

Would you reccomend a single external amp or an external amp+dac?

Ive heard a lot of good things about Fiios E09K. Is that a good option for an amp compared to the magni? And what DAC should i use with it if any?

If I wanted to start with just an amp and move from there what would you reccomend? The schiit magni or the fiio e09k. Also is it worth getting the uber version of the magni?
 

ssddx

Glorious
Moderator
if you have the money for it, the schiit magni (amp) and schiit modi (dac) are excellent and are likely the best quality in your budget range.

the schiit products are one whole grade or more above fiio in terms of quality. the fiio stuff is not bad for the price though. if you wanted to keep things cheap though i'd take a look at the fiio e17k or the slightly lower grade fiio e10k. the audioengine d1 is also worth noting. neither are as powerful as the schiit products but are also cheaper. if you require "portable" for use with mobile devices then some of the other fiio products like e11/e12/e17 may work but again are not going to have the power of the schiit products.

whether amp+dac or amp depends on the quality of your onboard. since it appears the amp is weak on your board my guess is that you have rather low end onboard so i'd say amp+dac is likely your best choice. your call though. you can always upgrade to a dac later if you bought just and amp now (such as the magni now, modi later if you needed it).

the uber version of the magni just has more power (useful for harder to drive headphones but not so much for yours) and outputs for use with studio monitor speakers and the like which you most likely will not need. unless they are the same price i'd say no you dont need it.

again, many of the products above would do a fine job of powering your equipment. the modi+magni, e17k or d1 all would work. one benefit of going magni/modi is that you can buy one now and check if you think you need the modi before you buy it while the others are one piece combined units. the problem with doing the same thing with fiio products are that all of their dac units are also amps so you will essentially double-amp which can sometimes mean a slight quality reduction (unless of course they have a line-out jack, you'd need to check on this as i'm not sure if they do or not)

your budget has alot to do with your choice as well. also if you plan on ever getting better headphones in the future. buying a decent setup now means you can power even harder to drive cans in the future. for instance the modi/magni (uber would be good in this case) is great for cans like the dt990 600ohm and other really hard to power cans while the d1 and fiio products are not all that great and cant drive some cans to their full potential without doubleamping
 

theLeggo

Estimable
Dec 26, 2014
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The Fiio e09k is powerful enough to amp for the q701. The big reason the fiio e09k isn't recommended is it doesn't have good synergy with lower ohm headphones due to it's output impedance of 10ohms. If you can I would recommend the Schiit Vali over magni. I prefer tubes with the AKGs to give them a bit more body to the mids, and smooth out the treble.

Remember there is more to powering a headphone than just looking at ohms, you have to look at sensitivity to determine the amount of current and voltage the headphone needs. The q701 at 62ohms is harder to drive then the HD600 at 300ohms because of how sensitive the sennheiser hd600 is.
 

ssddx

Glorious
Moderator
a note about the vali if memory serves me right i read a bit about it on head-fi.... it has all the weaknesses of tube amps but not the pleasing "tubey" sound you get from them at least according to people who are far more audiophile than myself. generally it seems the magni is far more recommended over the vali. though of course, what you end up buying is your own decision and as always it is their opinion on the matter and your own may of course differ. i'd do research either way.

there are other tube amps out there such as the aune t1 or hifiman which might give you more of the tubey sound though i have to admit i personally have not used tube amps just normal amps. another cheapie you often see recomended in the bravo v2. cant tell you much more than a few things to look up on your own though.
 

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