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Cheapest X-Fi with integrated headphone amp?

Discussion in 'Sound City' started by Faffer, 11 Oct 2009.

  1. Faffer

    Gangster

    Joined: 18 Oct 2002

    Posts: 385

    Location: London

    I have just ordered a Goldring NS1000 headphone and looking for a soundcard with an integrated headphone amp.

    I am currently just using onboard sound and will be using it mainly for gaming, and occasionally movies, so ideally looking for an X-Fi card of some sort. I know the Auzentech X-Fi Forte fits the bill, but are there any cheaper alternatives?

    Also, if I had a sound card, would I still be able to have it outputting the sound via HDMI to the TV, or would it only be able to use the ATI HDMI sound?

    Thanks.
     
  2. theforce

    Wise Guy

    Joined: 5 Jan 2005

    Posts: 2,139

    Location: Larnaca, Cyprus

    Yes, you can output sound via HDMI when you have a dedicated sound card.

    I don't know any cheap cards out there with a headphone amp. Only one l know is the Asus Xonar Essence.
     
  3. Uriel

    Sgarrista

    Joined: 15 Jan 2006

    Posts: 7,641

    Nope the Forte is pretty much the only X-Fi worth having with a headphone amp.

    I wouldn't worry about it to be honest. In active noise cancelling mode the NS1000s (which I have) have a build in amp and sound pretty good straight out of a soundcard. They do benefit from an amp in passive mode though.

    The NS1000s sound particularly good with Dolby Headphone (rather than CMSS-3D headphone on X-Fi)so that might be something you could consider. One option would be a Xonar (not DS but any of the other models). The other option would be to get an X-Fi with Dolby Digital Live (maybe Titanium) and output over optical to a Dolby Headphone receiver. The SU-DH1 (JVC or Victor - the latter is more versatile as it isn't restricted to batteries) is a good example.
     
  4. Faffer

    Gangster

    Joined: 18 Oct 2002

    Posts: 385

    Location: London

    Thanks for the replies.

    I will try them with the onboard sound first and see how it goes from there. SU-DH1 looks a bit costly too! Would I get similar results from an X-Fi Titanium and a cheap headphone amp, eg. FiiO E5?
     
  5. Uriel

    Sgarrista

    Joined: 15 Jan 2006

    Posts: 7,641

    Not really. The SU-DH1 is a receiver / processor more than an amp.

    You could look at a Xonar D1 or DX (or move up to ST / STX if you want a headphone amp built in) and forget the SU-DH1 though. EAX compatibility in games isn't quite as comprehensive as X-Fi though.

    Any games in particular that you want to hear at their best?
     
  6. Faffer

    Gangster

    Joined: 18 Oct 2002

    Posts: 385

    Location: London

    Not really any games in particular. I just want to make the most of the NS1000s and I read that they need amplification to get the best out of them.
     
  7. Uriel

    Sgarrista

    Joined: 15 Jan 2006

    Posts: 7,641

    I would try the headphones out first. If there's a big discrepancy in sound between active and passive modes, it indicates that the passive mode is inadequately amped.

    The advantage of passive mode is you don't get the slight hiss that's a 'feature' of the Active Noise Reduction.