Question Will my Audio control receiver substitute a DAC?

May 26, 2021
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Hi,
I've recently made a choice to upgrade my headphones from Superlux HD681 to Sennheiser HD 58X. While I wait for them to ship here, I have time to think about a possible DAC.

Now, as far as I know, the opinion about whether a DAC is necessary with these is mixed, some say that a PC/phone will do just fine (I plan to use them mostly on PC), some say that, while the will run loud enough, you'll want a DAC to truly bring out the sound ol' Senny intended for it to have.

I was looking into some budget DAC's, like the FiiO K1, Xduoo LINK2, or perhaps the FiiO BTR5 (hey, wouldn't complain about having my cans wireless). But then I had a sort of revelation:
I've got a pair of old Magnat 150W speakers powered by Onkyo TX-DS474. That box has a 6.3mm hole in it. Why not use that?


I'm not very educated in this, so I really don't know if I'm not just comparing apples to oragnes here. Is it okay to use something designed to run those speakers a worthy substitute for a modern DAC designed for headphones? Is this even a DAC, or just an amplifier?

Thanks and have a nice day
 
Last edited:

filipplord

Well-known member
Mar 16, 2021
31
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Those phone amps can only provide you with more volume and not more clarity, yes some may distinguish bass more but then again thats changing the original sound, a modern DAC (like the ones used in hifi) are not really necessary (and are quite useless) when you use your phone or your computer, my humble opinion is to wait for the product to arrive and if you find they are not that loud then surely you can get a decent headphone amp, as far as the onkyo goes, if you route sound from your phone or your laptop to the amplifier then its completely useless to use the headphone port, might as well use your computers or your phones jack. That is because the sound coming out of your computer is passing through a mostly cheap audio card that works like a DAC so passing the sound through a supperior DAC acomplishes nothing, try to listen to them, if you find the volume levels low, then go for a simple DAC (but not anything overly flashy)
 

Friesiansam

Well-known member
Feb 3, 2015
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336
11,270
Those phone amps can only provide you with more volume and not more clarity, yes some may distinguish bass more but then again thats changing the original sound, a modern DAC (like the ones used in hifi) are not really necessary (and are quite useless) when you use your phone or your computer, my humble opinion is to wait for the product to arrive and if you find they are not that loud then surely you can get a decent headphone amp, as far as the onkyo goes, if you route sound from your phone or your laptop to the amplifier then its completely useless to use the headphone port, might as well use your computers or your phones jack. That is because the sound coming out of your computer is passing through a mostly cheap audio card that works like a DAC so passing the sound through a supperior DAC acomplishes nothing, try to listen to them, if you find the volume levels low, then go for a simple DAC (but not anything overly flashy)
If you use an external DAC/ headphone amp via USB, the soundcard or motherboard sound processor, is bypassed completely and has no influence on the output, all the DAC and amplifying duties are taken care of by the external device. Depending on budget, the potential for improvement is very considerable.
 

filipplord

Well-known member
Mar 16, 2021
31
4
45
If you use an external DAC/ headphone amp via USB, the soundcard or motherboard sound processor, is bypassed completely and has no influence on the output, all the DAC and amplifying duties are taken care of by the external device. Depending on budget, the potential for improvement is very considerable.
Yea sure, but can a CHEAP headphone usb amp give you more clarity? I mean it may be a little bit better than your built in card, but I have heard many of them and they all just seem to give extra volume :/
 
D

Deleted member 188533

Guest
I don't believe the 58X is a headphone that really scales. I'd probably avoid buying one of those really cheap amp/DACs until you've tried it with onboard from your PC. What motherboard do you have?
 
May 26, 2021
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Thanks for the replies. My budget is cca 150 bucks (also I live in Europe, so buying anything available in US only usually adds another 45 bucks). I can go higher, like, to 200, if tempted. Would you give me some recomendation please? I like the idea of a portable DAC, but it is not that necessary.

So, if I understand it right, that Onkyo is basically just an amp? And you're saying I would be probably better of with using something else?
 
D

Deleted member 188533

Guest
Your Onkyo will work fine. Most stereo amps with headphone outs usually don't focus on that headphone out. Not like a separate headphone amp can. However it's at least as good if not better than any of those entry level devices.
 
D

Deleted member 188533

Guest
It looks like it just has basic audio. No mention of an integrated headphone amp but you won't really need one with an HD58X. As I stated above I'd try it before buying anything. Especially anything super cheap.
 
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May 26, 2021
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To be honest, I'm just kinda nervous that I'd be missing out on the cans' full potential and would never know it. I don't really have experience with expensive headphones. But thanks, I'll wait till they arrive.

If I decide to buy a DAC, do you have any recomendations? Like, what is the price point where it actually starts improving the sound noticeably?
 
D

Deleted member 188533

Guest
With an HD58x I'd look at a good computer soundcard, a Schiit stack, Topping A30/D30 combo, an all in one like an Aune X1S etc. as endgame. The headphone just isn't resolving enough and doesn't scale well enough for anything more expensive. But the entry level stuff isn't generally any better than say what's integrated on your motherboard.
 
May 26, 2021
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Thank you. That is all way out of my current price range, also, Aune is the only one available in Europe.

In the end, I'll just wait and if thery are not loud enough, I'll use my Onkyo (The sound shouldn't be any worse if amplified this way, if I understand correctly).

Thanks, guys :)
 

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