Final Pandora Hope IV - onboard, DAC or soundcard ?

TheArtista

Commendable
Mar 24, 2016
5
0
1,510
0
Hello!,

I have a pair of "Final Pandora Hope IV" headphones, and i'm currently in the process of updating my PC, and since i don't understand much about audio i'm wondering if i should get a dedicated sound card like the Creative Omni or the Z versions (or other brand/model), or a DAC, or just stick with onboard?

It's something i never actually bought, but I've thought about doing so for many years across different builds, but i never had an expensive pair of headphones until now.

I've been reading about impedance and other terms, but i don't understand what i should buy (if anything at all). If i'm not mistaken, my headphones have an impedance of 8 ohms but it doesn't help me in deciding what i should do.

I use my headphones for listening music (varied styles) and gaming on my PC. Sometimes i also listen to music without headphones on an old JVC sound system (nothing fancy).

I started wondering about this after watching this video comparing different soundcards:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d1_20T8x_OI

The sound in the video feels "full" compared to onboard (specially the first Creative ones) so i'm not sure what to do. I'd hate to be wasting my headphone's potential.

Cheers and thank you!
 
i'm not familiar with the headphones you listed so i cant really tell you how hard they will be to drive in terms of their sensitivity and impedance.

onboard dac on most motherboards certainly is fairly decent in most cases and as stated the amplififer circuit is generally the limiter however if you have high end headphones (i'm not sure how much they cost you but the prices seem high) you may certainly benefit from having a better dac. ultimately its your call and if you go the separate external amp method you can always add a dac later if you feel it will help. i would concentrate on an amplifier for now.

as for decent amps in the $100-200 range... the schiit magni2, schiit vali, schiit asgard2 (if you can get it on sale), jds labs objective2, or you could go with one of the other various tube amps i'm not familiar with brand-wise. it seems like a few people were saying that tube amps pair well with the headphone you have.

would a soundcard work? i'm hesitant to say yes positively without seeing specs but something like the soundblaster z should work.

benefits of a soundcard? virtual surround sound built in. if you care about such things. benefits of external? less noise and dedicated products meant for one thing: quality 2.0 audio. you can of course pair a good headphone amp with a soundcard (say the xonar dx) and make a good pairing for both worlds or if your onboard supports virtual you can use onboard for the dac and virtual portion. of course you can use the free razer software and not go with a soundcard but it is inferior to both dolby headphone and cmss3d/sbx. some prefer to just play in stereo anyways and ignore virtual surround sound (which distorts sound anyways to get the effect) so its all in the opinion of buyer.
 

anonymousdude

Distinguished
Jun 20, 2009
152
0
18,660
13
Onboard sound as in DAC is pretty good nowadays. The real problem tends to be the amplifier circuit. So get a decent dac/amp combo. A sound card would work suffice. The soundblast Z is decent as well as anything from asus that says it has a headphone amp. If you have a budget in mind I can give you some more recommendations.

BTW DAC stands for Digital to analog converter as in it converts your digital files into an analog wave. The amplier well amplifies that wave so it's loud enough to hear. Each part is important in quality, but my philosophy is to work outside in as in have good headphones and source files, then deal with the DAC and Amp.
 

TheArtista

Commendable
Mar 24, 2016
5
0
1,510
0
Thanks for the answer anonymousdude!

I don't have a particular budget in mind, but i guess i could spend 200 USD max (obviously, if less, better).

I agree with the importance of quality in every part, that's why i went to an audio store and listened to different headphones and ended up buying the Final's.
But TBH i don't really know if what i bought is really good or average... i just went with it because of how it sounded.

For these specific headphones, do i need and AMP, DAC, soundcard, nothing, or what?
What would be best for gaming and listening to music? (games like BF, or FPS, TPS, racing).
 
i'm not familiar with the headphones you listed so i cant really tell you how hard they will be to drive in terms of their sensitivity and impedance.

onboard dac on most motherboards certainly is fairly decent in most cases and as stated the amplififer circuit is generally the limiter however if you have high end headphones (i'm not sure how much they cost you but the prices seem high) you may certainly benefit from having a better dac. ultimately its your call and if you go the separate external amp method you can always add a dac later if you feel it will help. i would concentrate on an amplifier for now.

as for decent amps in the $100-200 range... the schiit magni2, schiit vali, schiit asgard2 (if you can get it on sale), jds labs objective2, or you could go with one of the other various tube amps i'm not familiar with brand-wise. it seems like a few people were saying that tube amps pair well with the headphone you have.

would a soundcard work? i'm hesitant to say yes positively without seeing specs but something like the soundblaster z should work.

benefits of a soundcard? virtual surround sound built in. if you care about such things. benefits of external? less noise and dedicated products meant for one thing: quality 2.0 audio. you can of course pair a good headphone amp with a soundcard (say the xonar dx) and make a good pairing for both worlds or if your onboard supports virtual you can use onboard for the dac and virtual portion. of course you can use the free razer software and not go with a soundcard but it is inferior to both dolby headphone and cmss3d/sbx. some prefer to just play in stereo anyways and ignore virtual surround sound (which distorts sound anyways to get the effect) so its all in the opinion of buyer.
 
based on the specs i would say that ruggo is correct that it shouldnt take much to power them. thanks for the information ruggo.

i do agree, if he likes what his onboard sounds like there is no reason to upgrade however there may certainly be a difference heard if he does. its all in the ear of the listener - to some people it can be night and day while to others they do not notice a big difference.
 

TheArtista

Commendable
Mar 24, 2016
5
0
1,510
0
Thank you both very much for your answers!

@ssddx: just by watching that video i posted i can hear a clear difference between soundcards vs onboard, so i suppose i'd notice.

I didn't like the Razer software for what i heard in that video. I couldn't honestly say if i'd prefer stereo or virtual surround, all i have as test subjects are YT videos.

Right now i'm still using an old computer (since 2009/2010), but i'll be upgrading soon to a Skylake build, although i haven't decided yet on which mobo. But for what i've been reading the onboard sound now has gotten better (supposedly), but even if that were true i suspect getting something extra for audio will be quite noticeable.

What about an external soundcard? Are they any good or is it better to have an internal one + AMP?, or have an external soundcard + AMP? Which would be better? (excuse my english, i'm foreign).

Ty!

EDIT: like Ruggo said, i don't want to be missing out by not using another source!
 

Ruggo181

Commendable
Apr 17, 2016
107
0
1,710
42
If you are looking at using another source, then an external DAC/Amp would be your best bet as it can be used with multiple sources, not just the computer that has the internal sound card. The vast majority of external DAC/amp's for use with computers will be usb. Here is a thought, why not kill 2 birds with the one stone and have a look at something like the Fiio X3, that is not only a portable music player , but can double as a usb DAC.
http://fiio.net/en/products/39
There are other products that do the same thing. This way you can use your wonderful headphones with the music player as well as through your computer.
 
onboard audio is better but its really only about as good as low end soundcards like the xonar dg. middle and high end soundcards (dx/z/stx) will blow it away. in many cases it is sufficient for normal users but there are still many cases where people want something better (which is the reason why other options exist).

given you want something better than onboard dac, you have 3 options.

soundcard + external amp (xonar dx + an external amp would be great here as the dx lacks a very strong amp on its own)
external dac + external amp (things like the schiit magni + modi combo are good)
external dac+amp combination boxes (things like audioengine d1, o2+odac are good)

benefits of using a soundcard? virtual surround sound built in. generally as i said before the options for virtual that are included on cards are better than razer. videos like https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2BxO9cd-sYA and other comparisions (i would watch many of them) absolutely watch the ones linked on http://www.head-fi.org/t/534479/mad-lust-envys-headphone-gaming-guide-3-18-2016-mrspeakers-ether-c-1-1-added at the top as they are good as well decide if you think its worthwhile (if you like what you hear) if not, skip out on a soundcard and go with a stereo dac unless you have need of A) quality microphone input for a 3.5mm mic (you could always use a usb mic instead or other setup) or support for 5.1 analog speakers (you could always just use studio monitors or get something better anyways so its not needed absolutely).

benefits of an external dac? isolation so generally less noise. in some cases where your motherboard has high usb noise there can still be issues (use a powered usb hub with ground to help or ground loop isolator) but that is a problem with the rest of your system not the dac. also, quality tends to be better. do not expect many extra features though as they are meant for 2.0 audio only and do it well.

benefits of a combo box? one box to do everything. good for people who do not want things taking up space on the desk but your options can sometimes be limited.

as i said before, things like the schiit magni+modi stack are quite common and good (schiit vali, and other products are also good). o2+odac is more expensive but also a good setup. some of the fiio products are not terrible but beware that some of them have hum while charging (on portable styles) which you may definitely not want. i would suggest a desktop solution for you unless of course you need it to be portable for on the go use. there are other devices in the dac and amp category which will work but sadly i do not know all of them so normally only list options for fiio, schiit and jds. head-fi has some good amp recommendations although take what you hear there with a grain of salt as they tend to be very serious about audio (its a place for audiophiles after all). great place to get ideas from though.

as far as external soundcards... they are not bad however your choices are limited. you could certainly pick one if you had need and we can help you decide on one however i'd suggest either an internal card or an external dac/amp solution unless you can explain why you want an external soundcard.

your english is better than some of our native english speakers so i would not worry.
 

TheArtista

Commendable
Mar 24, 2016
5
0
1,510
0


Thanks a lot for the suggestion! I didn't clarify that i don't use this headphones for anything portable, they are exclusively for use at home :)
 

TheArtista

Commendable
Mar 24, 2016
5
0
1,510
0
Wow, thank you so much for a very detailed answer!



I'll look for those and start reading reviews on them, and i'll watch the YT videos too.



I don't really need a mic for now TBH, although i have a cheap mic with stand (kinda like this one http://tesco.scene7.com/is/image/tesco/705-3217_PI_1000013MN?wid=493&ht=538). So i guess i'd have to look for a DAC + AMP then.



I'm fine with 2.0 audio as long as it sounds good. I only have these headphones and my old JVC has 2 speakers only.
Also, space on my desk wouldn't be really an issue, since i see that the DAC's + AMP's tend to be pretty small.



I won't be moving around or commuting or anything like that with these headphones, so they're strictly for home/desktop use :)



I don't really need an external soundcard, it's just another option i read about. Some people were saying that because it's external it would have less interference compared to an internal one, but i don't have a preference over internal ones or other options. I just want to get the best possible thing for my headphones and speakers, without spending too much (who doesn't).



Lol, thanks :D
 
Thread starter Similar threads Forum Replies Date
G Audio 1
J Audio 2
G Audio 0
C Audio 9
G Audio 0
Marshall Honorof Audio 2
G Audio 0
G Audio 0
M Audio 1
J Audio 2
M Audio 1
Eden Tosh Audio 3
V Audio 2
G Audio 2
R Audio 1
N Audio 1
B Audio 5
V Audio 4
G Audio 0
G Audio 1

ASK THE COMMUNITY