Just bought HE-400's is a soundblaster Z enough to power it?

song414

Limp Gawd
Joined
Jan 7, 2006
Messages
324
As the title says. I want to keep my soundblaster Z, but I want to know if anyone has an input on if it can drive the HE-400's? It seems to power my ATH-700x's and my recently bought Q701's (which I am returning cause they arent for me).

I dont want to ideally buy another soundcard and deticated amp as there is no way to turn off the soundblaster amp in the headphone plug and theirs destortions for workarounds.

I would be willing to upgrade to the ZxR if it supports analog 5.1 (with my z5500's) and has a much better built in amp that can drive these better.

I will mostly be gaming with these cans.
 

spaceman

[H]F Junkie
Joined
Jan 7, 2005
Messages
14,872
Well it will make sound with them. Same as it did for the 701s. You really need an external amp to make them to sound their best. It makes a noticeable difference. The 701s in paticular REALLY need an amp to sound good imo. The Zxr would be an improvement but I really don't have any issues with my Zx headphone out going into my receiver.
 

song414

Limp Gawd
Joined
Jan 7, 2006
Messages
324
Well it will make sound with them. Same as it did for the 701s. You really need an external amp to make them to sound their best. It makes a noticeable difference. The 701s in paticular REALLY need an amp to sound good imo. The Zxr would be an improvement but I really don't have any issues with my Zx headphone out going into my receiver.

Wouldnt the Zx headphone out with amplification cause issues when hooking it up to another amplifier? I thought it would distort the sound somehow since its essentially going through 2 amps.
 

song414

Limp Gawd
Joined
Jan 7, 2006
Messages
324
No, just get an external amp. It will sound much better.

so you're saying get something like the schiit Asgard 2, plug it into my headphone connection to my soundcard (Z) and then plug my headphones into my amp? This would be much better audio improvement than upgrading to a ZxR for my HE-400's?

Keep in mind I also use my Z5500's for speakers.

My HE-400's are strictly used for gaming and my Z5500's are used for movies/netflix, music, and gaming.

I am looking to improve overall soundquality.

I am just wondering if the ZxR would be sufficient to properly power HE-400's. I bought a pair of HD 650's that will be arriving on tuesday but I plan on getting rid of them and using the HE-400's I just bought instead as I heard they were easier to drive.

I really don't want to spend ~$500 to power my speakers and headphones properly if I can avoid it then I am looking for the best value for the money.

I understand current games do not have real high quality audio compared to music or even movies. If an amp makes music and movies sound awesome, but games don't sound much better than it isn't worth it for me as I'll use them primarily for gaming.
 

Draklawl

n00b
Joined
Oct 27, 2013
Messages
3
My personal experience with a similarly power hungry headphone (Senn HD600) is the soundblaster Z series (even the ZxR) just did not do an adequate enough job for my tastes. It just didn't sound very good. The headphones sounded equally as good on my asus xonar essence stx sound card amp and my magni/modi amp/dac stack
 

ThinJ

Gawd
Joined
Jan 20, 2007
Messages
733
Yes they will work well enough. Just not to the extent of their capabilities. Simple answer, try the ZxR and if happy, carry on. If not, external amp.

This is always the best process. Get the headphones you want to try. Try them with what you have. If you're happy... roll with it. Ignore everybody else.

If you aren't happy, then it's time to look into some different gear.
 

Rational

Limp Gawd
Joined
Jan 31, 2013
Messages
199
My personal experience with a similarly power hungry headphone (Senn HD600) is the soundblaster Z series (even the ZxR) just did not do an adequate enough job for my tastes. It just didn't sound very good. The headphones sounded equally as good on my asus xonar essence stx sound card amp and my magni/modi amp/dac stack

The Senn's are not power hungry they just have a znom of 300Ω, far above what most soundcards will like. The RE-400's are 35 Ω and will likely do just find off a soundcard that puts out any kind of power. I ran my 400's just fine off DAP for over a year. That said I still prefer to amp all my headphones. OP if you decide on an amp check out the JDS Labs O2 great bang for the buck and will put out more than enough power for the 400's, loved mine on it.
 

Kueller

Supreme [H]ardness
Joined
Jun 19, 2001
Messages
5,982
so you're saying get something like the schiit Asgard 2, plug it into my headphone connection to my soundcard (Z) and then plug my headphones into my amp? This would be much better audio improvement than upgrading to a ZxR for my HE-400's?

Keep in mind I also use my Z5500's for speakers.

My HE-400's are strictly used for gaming and my Z5500's are used for movies/netflix, music, and gaming.

I am looking to improve overall sound quality.

I am just wondering if the ZxR would be sufficient to properly power HE-400's. I bought a pair of HD 650's that will be arriving on tuesday but I plan on getting rid of them and using the HE-400's I just bought instead as I heard they were easier to drive.

I really don't want to spend ~$500 to power my speakers and headphones properly if I can avoid it then I am looking for the best value for the money.

I understand current games do not have real high quality audio compared to music or even movies. If an amp makes music and movies sound awesome, but games don't sound much better than it isn't worth it for me as I'll use them primarily for gaming.
If strictly using headphones for gaming, there are plenty of $100 headphones with great spatial positioning and quite decent sound quality, plus moderate to low resistance (easy to drive). No need for $400-$500 'cans (yes, I know you paid less) just for gaming, you're honestly throwing your money away if you're not going to listen to some (high bitrate) music. Maybe pick up a set of HD558's, great sound stage, uber-comfortable and only 50Ω iirc.
 

Agent Orange 615

[H]ard|Gawd
Joined
Apr 8, 2001
Messages
1,505
If you need to go more budget the Fiio E17 is a dac/amp that seems to have some real good synergy with the 400's. I just got one, and the quality is noticeable. Beyond that though I did a lot of research, and while it has solid reviews, it seems to push the He-400 very well. it costs around 140$. I'm pretty pleased at the moment with mine. Also is very portable, so if you ever sit around coffee shops pretending to work like I do you can bring it along for better sound.
 

Agent Orange 615

[H]ard|Gawd
Joined
Apr 8, 2001
Messages
1,505
i also need to add I am not using that sound card, so the difference may be negligible. but I did a lot of research and it seems like the consensus is an Amp then a Dac is the way to go to drive those cans.
 

Godmachine

[H]F Junkie
Joined
Apr 7, 2003
Messages
10,472
Just because something can be "driven" does not equal "well". I can drive my HE-400's with my Fiio portable amp and it'll "do" but it sounds like complete shit next to my Schiit Magni.

A Schiit Magni is more than enough to drive the HE-400. Costs $99 and is totally worth it.
 

sok0

Gawd
Joined
Jul 25, 2009
Messages
689
He said he is using them for gaming, why is everyone recommending some external amp bs. Plz. That soundblaster z is pretty much one of the best cards for gaming right now. Enough said.
 

Gmok Bonecrusha

[H]ard|Gawd
Joined
Jun 16, 2004
Messages
1,090
He said he is using them for gaming, why is everyone recommending some external amp bs. Plz. That soundblaster z is pretty much one of the best cards for gaming right now. Enough said.

Because the headphones he listed will require an amp if he goes with a Z. If he goes with a ZXr he is fine IMO.
 

bexamous

[H]ard|Gawd
Joined
Dec 12, 2005
Messages
1,670
They're 32ohm and have a sensitivity of 92db. HiFiMan even states: "it is 92.5DB efficient so it can be driven by virtually anything including an iPod." They're not the HE-4 or something that 'requires' something special.

I'd question using the HE-400 for mostly gaming in the first place, but I'm sure they'll be fine without an amp. Later on when you have some extra money you can get an amp for a small upgrade.

The Z isn't that bad, and the HE-400 don't need that much power. FWIW head-fi had huge thread on soundblaster z including lots of discussion how well it powers headphones:

http://www.head-fi.org/t/623079/creative-sound-blaster-new-s-rie-z
 
Last edited:

bexamous

[H]ard|Gawd
Joined
Dec 12, 2005
Messages
1,670
So 125mW would be 113dB, how much power would be enough? Not saying its ideal, distortion most likely gets pretty high at that level. If you plan on using this some number of hours a day you don't want to go much over 80dB anyways, which takes a trivial amount of power. You don't need multiple watt headphone amp just to output <1mW.
 
Last edited:

Godmachine

[H]F Junkie
Joined
Apr 7, 2003
Messages
10,472
The distortion is actually quite poor at that level so a more powerful amp actually helps achieve a better lower level ceiling without the distortion.

Planar Magnetic headphones respond well to increased power output , they differ from traditional headphones in that matter. Efficiency ratings are also based on best case scenario as well. The best way to find out the difference is to simply audition a basic amp with a regular distortion envelope versus a higher powered amp.

The difference is readily apparent in that comparison.
 

song414

Limp Gawd
Joined
Jan 7, 2006
Messages
324
Well I bit on the ZXR. I am upgrading from the Z. How much more powerful is the ZXR headphone amp over the Z?

I only paid about $110 more for it and if I did the amp combo it would either not allow me to switch from speakers to headphone via the creative software and I'd lose some of the surround features from creative.
 

sok0

Gawd
Joined
Jul 25, 2009
Messages
689
Well I bit on the ZXR. I am upgrading from the Z. How much more powerful is the ZXR headphone amp over the Z?

I only paid about $110 more for it and if I did the amp combo it would either not allow me to switch from speakers to headphone via the creative software and I'd lose some of the surround features from creative.


ZxR - TPA6120 - The TPA6120A2 is a high fidelity audio amplifier built on a current-feedback architecture. This high bandwidth, extremely low noise device is ideal for high performance equipment. The better than 120 dB of dynamic range exceeds the capabilities of the human ear, ensuring that nothing audible is lost due to the amplifier. The solid design and performance of the TPA6120A2 ensures that music, not the amplifier, is heard. 80 mW into 600&#937; From a ±12-V Supply at 0.00014% THD + N

Z/Zx - MAX97220A - The MAX97220 is a differential input DirectDrive® line driver/headphone amplifier. This device is capable of driving line level loads with 3VRMS into 1k&#937; with a 5V supply and 2VRMS into 600&#937; loads from a 3.3V supply. A headphone load is capable of being driven with 125mW into 32&#937; with a 5V supply. The IC is offered with an internally fixed 6dB gain or an externally set gain through external resistors. The external gain setting nodes can also be used to configure filters for set-top box applications. The IC has exceptional THD+N over the full audio bandwidth.


And no, I can't tell you what any of that means. =)
 

ThinJ

Gawd
Joined
Jan 20, 2007
Messages
733
The distortion is actually quite poor at that level so a more powerful amp actually helps achieve a better lower level ceiling without the distortion.

Planar Magnetic headphones respond well to increased power output , they differ from traditional headphones in that matter. Efficiency ratings are also based on best case scenario as well. The best way to find out the difference is to simply audition a basic amp with a regular distortion envelope versus a higher powered amp.

The difference is readily apparent in that comparison.

What he said. I have HE-400's. If you're plugging them into a soundcard you aren't getting what you could out of them.

As an owner of two sets of Planar Magnetics... they like power. Those numbers say the HE-400's are easy to drive, and relative to most other Planars they definitely are, but that simply does not tell the whole story. Both my HE-400's and my MrSpeakers Mad Dogs sound much cleaner on my Schiit Asgard 2 than they do out of the soundcard on my HT-PC (An Asus Xonar Essence) or out of any mobile device. Even my FiiO E12, which does a pretty good job with them, loses some clarity over a solid desktop setup.

With all that said, if you like the way they sound plugged into the soundcard and are happy with it... well, then rock on I guess. Not much reason to spend more money if you're happy.
 

TypeO

[H]F Junkie
Joined
Nov 1, 2000
Messages
8,686
I bought the HE-400 and they sounded fine on the Z, or at least to me. I have yet to hook them up to my AuneT1 so I can't say. I did plug them into my tablet and sounded like complete garbage. I have a pair of Grados I use for the tablet anyway.
 
Top