Question DAC/Amp for Sennheiser PC38x?

Stuffz121

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Hi

I just ordered the Sennheiser PC38x headset and a friend of mine mentioned I might want to look into a DAC/AMP device for it. I am honestly not sure how much my headset would benefit from a DAC/AMP and I wanted to hear other opinions on this. If t is indeed recommendable to have one, specifically for gaming, could anyone recommend me an affordable all in one DAC/AMP please?

My friend who also uses a Sennheiser headset for gaming, told me that the Sennheiser GSX1000 is very good according to his own experience.

https://www.amazon.com/Sennheiser-1000-Gaming-Audio-Amplifier/dp/B01LDTP484/ref=pd_di_sccai_1/134-2722973-4541000?_encoding=UTF8&pd_rd_i=B01LDTP484&pd_rd_r=465ed64d-da1f-40fd-88bc-40ee4cbf7112&pd_rd_w=CxC03&pd_rd_wg=99q2v&pf_rd_p=c9443270-b914-4430-a90b-72e3e7e784e0&pf_rd_r=GDVETSV7N7PWET63FJK4&psc=1&refRID=GDVETSV7N7PWET63FJK4


However, $180+ seems a little too steep for me. I am very new to these type of devices so I was hoping if anyone has any other good suggestions, assuming my headset could benefit greatly from one.

Any advice would be great.

Thank you!
 

hang-the-9

Titan
Moderator
Issue with using a DAC with a headset is that the ground for mic and headphones will be split, likely resulting in a hum or buzz in the audio, unless you get one with a mic input.

That headphone is easy to drive, I would not spend money on a DAC/AMP for it, almost all motherboard audio is good enough for a vast majority of people and headphones/speakers they use. What you need to do is actually listen to several setups and see if it's worth it. If your friend has an external DAC/AMP, try your headphones on his system on the motherboard and on the external DAC and see which one sounds better. Just make sure the settings are set to flat with no extra options when comparing them. I doubt you will be able to tell the difference in a blind test.
 

Stuffz121

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Issue with using a DAC with a headset is that the ground for mic and headphones will be split, likely resulting in a hum or buzz in the audio, unless you get one with a mic input.

That headphone is easy to drive, I would not spend money on a DAC/AMP for it, almost all motherboard audio is good enough for a vast majority of people and headphones/speakers they use. What you need to do is actually listen to several setups and see if it's worth it. If your friend has an external DAC/AMP, try your headphones on his system on the motherboard and on the external DAC and see which one sounds better. Just make sure the settings are set to flat with no extra options when comparing them. I doubt you will be able to tell the difference in a blind test.
Thanks for sharing. Regarding issues with a mic with a DAC, the sennheiser headset I got already has mic and headphones split with two different jacks. So would I have this issue if I were to plug it into my computer or is that only with a DAC/AMP? Sorry I am not sure I quite understand.

I was thinking the same thing about going to my friend's house and testing my headset with his DAC/AMP and motherboard, but with the pandemic going on I am not sure if that's possible.

His DAC/AMP also offers 7.1 surround sound, is that worth on a DAC/AMP? Thanks again
 

hang-the-9

Titan
Moderator
Thanks for sharing. Regarding issues with a mic with a DAC, the sennheiser headset I got already has mic and headphones split with two different jacks. So would I have this issue if I were to plug it into my computer or is that only with a DAC/AMP? Sorry I am not sure I quite understand.

I was thinking the same thing about going to my friend's house and testing my headset with his DAC/AMP and motherboard, but with the pandemic going on I am not sure if that's possible.

His DAC/AMP also offers 7.1 surround sound, is that worth on a DAC/AMP? Thanks again
The split is fine if you go into the same device, in your case the motherboard. When the ground noise issue comes into play is if you split them into two separate devices, like an external DAC and the motherboard.

Unfortunately without you trying things out it's very hard to decide to spend that much on a device that you may or may not like. The DAC/AMP from Sennheiser is a great unit, it has good interface, good quality and has some of the virtual surround which you may like, but you are paying as much for that as for a headphone, when you can also buy a very good $300-400 headphone that ends up costing the same amount.

I would not say getting a nice DAC/AMP is a waste of money, they are worth the quality, but the catch is that it may not be worth it to you vs onboard audio with that headset.

What I would do is get a $250-300 headphone, a cheaper under $100 DAC/AMP and a $50 USB Blue Snowball mic. Or just a higher end headphone and a USB Mic, this will run off the motherboard jack fine https://drop.com/buy/massdrop-x-beyerdynamic-dt177x-go-headphones Or just keep what you got and run it off the motherboard, the main quality difference is in the headphones not in the DAC/AMP. If you want to play around with audio more later then can look into getting a DAC/AMP but I would not worry about it with those headphones, they will run fine off the motherboard.
 
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Stuffz121

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The split is fine if you go into the same device, in your case the motherboard. When the ground noise issue comes into play is if you split them into two separate devices, like an external DAC and the motherboard.

Unfortunately without you trying things out it's very hard to decide to spend that much on a device that you may or may not like. The DAC/AMP from Sennheiser is a great unit, it has good interface, good quality and has some of the virtual surround which you may like, but you are paying as much for that as for a headphone, when you can also buy a very good $300-400 headphone that ends up costing the same amount.

I would not say getting a nice DAC/AMP is a waste of money, they are worth the quality, but the catch is that it may not be worth it to you vs onboard audio with that headset.

What I would do is get a $250-300 headphone, a cheaper under $100 DAC/AMP and a $50 USB Blue Snowball mic. Or just a higher end headphone and a USB Mic, this will run off the motherboard jack fine https://drop.com/buy/massdrop-x-beyerdynamic-dt177x-go-headphones Or just keep what you got and run it off the motherboard, the main quality difference is in the headphones not in the DAC/AMP. If you want to play around with audio more later then can look into getting a DAC/AMP but I would not worry about it with those headphones, they will run fine off the motherboard.
I see, thanks again for clarifying for me. I think I will hold off on actually buying a DAC/AMP since I could probably buy something else with that money. My headset has not arrived yet so I still need to check if I am perfectly cool with how it will sound on its own.

The headset I got says it has an impedance of 28ohms. Is that on the low side of things? And is that how you determined that a DAC/AMP is more than likely not needed?

If in the future I would like to get an affordable DAC/AMP combo with surround sound, any chance do you have one that you would recommend?
 

anort3

Titan
Moderator
You want a computer soundcard. Even a cheap Asus Xonar DG will have a decent DAC and a headphone amp, which you don't really need and won't benefit from unless your motherboard can't get the PC38X loud which is unlikely. 28 ohms is extremely easy to drive. The soundcard will also have virtual surround modes for gaming. Most discreet components are aimed at audiophiles who want the exact opposite of fake surround modes and software enhancement.
 

Stuffz121

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You want a computer soundcard. Even a cheap Asus Xonar DG will have a decent DAC and a headphone amp, which you don't really need and won't benefit from unless your motherboard can't get the PC38X loud which is unlikely. 28 ohms is extremely easy to drive. The soundcard will also have virtual surround modes for gaming. Most discreet components are aimed at audiophiles who want the exact opposite of fake surround modes and software enhancement.
I see. I never really considered sound cards. So are sound cards and dedicated DAC/AMP devices the same thing? I'm sure that's probably an incorrect simplification but I'd like to clarify the differences if possible. By discreet components are you talking about DAC/AMPs?

I would only want to use surround sound during gaming since I feel it might give me more immersion but not sure yet. Any other sound cards you may recommend? I will hold of on buying anything until I can test my new headset first. Thanks again for the suggestion.
 

anort3

Titan
Moderator
A soundcard will have a DAC and most of them have headphone amps. Just like with discreet components the quality of both scale with price. Soundcards will have the advantage of software so they can be better for gaming and entertainment. A soundcard will also have a mic input and possibly software for the mic as well.
 

Stuffz121

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A soundcard will have a DAC and most of them have headphone amps. Just like with discreet components the quality of both scale with price. Soundcards will have the advantage of software so they can be better for gaming and entertainment. A soundcard will also have a mic input and possibly software for the mic as well.
Thanks again. I just tried out my new headset and I wasn't sure where to plug in the split jack as my motherboard doesn't quite make it clear to me which jacks are headphone and mic but I got it to work in the end.

Btw is it normal that the computer recognizes the headset as "Speakers"?

I have been doing back and forth comparisons with my cheap old $25 USB headset and my new sennheiser headset. Is it normal that I need to set the volume to around 50% for my new headset for it to match the same level as that of my USB headset which is set at 20%?

Overall I feel happy with my purchase, but I want to make sure I am getting the most of it and so I am gonna try and borrow a DAC/AMP from a friend as no one I know has a spare sound card.
 

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