Using an AMP/DAC with Sound Card

Toby Anderson

Aug 2, 2014
I just recently bought the Senheiser HD 598. I am really pleased with these headphones, but I would like to upgrade to using an external AMP/DAC. I don't want to spend much though. I already have a few ideas, like the FiiO e10K and SMSL SD 79311. Although I have a two questions:
Will these AMPS increase volume over my motherboard sound?
Also what port should I use to connect the AMP/DAC to my computer? I know most people seem to use the LnOut, which is what I currently use, but is it worth buying a cheap soundcard with a Optical Digital port so that I can use an Optical Digital cable? Also, if I were to do this, I take it I wouldn't be able to bypass the soundcard like I would the motherboard sound if were to use a LnOut cable. Would that mean that the signal would have been converted to a digital signal already making the DAC useless?
I could be, and probably am talking a load of sh*t, but I am just speaking from my little knowledge that I have. So any help would be appreciated. Also if you have any other suggestions or tips please let me know.
My motherboard:


the fiio e10k [which is a dac+amp] will not work with the smsl [which is a dac] and both will not work alongside any soundcard you have now [which is a dac+amp].

the first thing for you to know is what DAC stands for - digital analog converter. it converts from a digital source [from your pc] and translates that into an analog format that amplifiers and headphones can use. you can not stack DAC units generally.

if you have a really nice soundcard in your pc, you would want to just just an amplifier.
an example would be a xonar dx which you could then buy a fiio e09k, a3 or schiit magni to act as an amplifier for.

if you do not have a good soundcard in your pc and want to bypass it completely then you could either look for an external dac+amp combo, or use a separate external dac and separate amp.
an example would be using just a fiio e10k or if you prefer separate units the schiit magni paired up with a schiit modi.

something like the fiio e10k will hook up to your pc via usb and give you 2.0 sound. if you want virtual surround [fake 5.1/7.1] then you might want to run a soundcard [like the dx] and pair it up with an external amplifier [such as the a3, e09k or magni].

will a stronger amp increase volume over onboard? sure, onboard tends to be fairly weak. if volume is all you care about [and quality increase is not also important] then just adding an amp would work as well.
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