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  1. #1
    Forum Regular
    Join Date
    Apr 2006

    Do I need a headphone amp? I have a sound card

    I am considering buying some headphones - probably Sennheiser 595's or 555's, and I plan to listen to uncompressed music files through my computer (.OGG). I have a laptop with a PCMCIA Creative Audigy 2 ZS card
    Will this work well for driving my headphones, or do i need a separate amp? If I did get an amp, I would pay no more than 150 (not incl. shipping, will buy used) and so how would a 150 dollar amp perform compared to the sound card? Thanks

    P.S. I also asked this question in HeadWize, but I need all the opinions I can get! $150 is a lot!

  2. #2
    Forum Regular
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Hi, I am no audiophile - but I do love music! I use a boosteroo headphone amplifier on my computer. I am extremely pleased with the sound. I know it is not anywhere near the amp you're talking about but it is an inexpensive upgrade that offers people good sound for very little money. Again, I am sure you are probably looking for something a bit more upscale, but heck this is a forum and you did say any and all are welcome to reply to your post. Give the boosteroo a try - it's about $25.00. If you don't like it, you can always use it with your MP3 player (I do). All the best and good luck with your search.

  3. #3
    Forum Regular
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    I'm not 100% sure on this, so do some research. I believe OGG is a high level media container format and that when most people say OGG, they mean OGG Vorbis. OGG Vorbis is a lossy compression format like mp3, except better.

    OGG is an open standard and the sound quality is generally considered to be better than MP3. If you are looking for free, lossless compression, check out flac at

  4. #4
    AR Newbie Registered Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    i'm used to be a headphone enthuasist, owned about 35 different headphones form $50-$200 in a period of a two years. but i'm now i'm only interested in speakers.

    first off, ogg is compressed. uncompressed mean music that is not changed at all from the original recording, ie) flac, wav. but ogg is a good format. my belief though is that ogg only is beneficial over mp3 in the low bitrates range. when it get to 320kbs, not much but also most people and even audio profession people cant tell the diff between 320kbs and original cd. although ogg have 500kbs compression, so that might be some ease of mind, unless you want to go Flac. i would have consider it that 500kbs myself, if ogg was a more compatible format.

    but first off, i recemmend new sound card. the audigy just arent good sound card, they are good for games and compatible, but they have a bad process of converting all samples to 48khz in a poor process, giving you a sound that isnt original of the recording. cheapest soundcard that have high quality sound is a chaintech av710, about $25, which use envy24 drivers, you have to use the high sample jack of it, not the normal green jack, which utilize the wolfson dac, which is pretty high quality. although the setup is a bit difficult for some, since the wolfson dac use 24bit/96khz audio stream. so yuo have to set your audio player to produce those streams too to be compatible. and its pure stereo, and doesnt have all that EAX and 3d stuff. also the even the headphone jack is umamped. the audigy jack on the other hand is somewhat amped. or you can buy the m-audio soundcardthat is a bit moer compatible. the cheapst maudio is $60, and it use the same wolfson dac. i've used to use emu0404 and emu1212m, $100 adn $200 sound card thats really hifi sounding, but now i'm reverted back to my modded av710.

    although if you're not willing, an amp by itself is some improvement. for headphone an amp is more important in way, becuase alot of high quality headphones have very high impedances, hard to drive, thats probably why they recommend $150 am. as for amp. but the hd555 and hd595 i think have relatively low impedance and dont need much power to sound loud, but loud is not = quality. headphone amps is built to get the best out of your headphones, and usuaully receivers and speaker amp's headphone out isnt made to sound good for headphones. so i would say atleast get a cmoy, that is like the starter amp for headphone enthuasis. $40 is a good price for a well made one. sadly cmoy is suppose to be a DIY project for the community that no one should ge use to make profit from, but there are people who use the cmoy design and expand on it and sell them on ebay. or you can go to or post in the sale section and ask to buy a Go-vibe, a bit more advance than a cmoy, but it can be use with different opamps that is removable, and each opamps give different sound signatures. There's a nice guy who built these go-vibe amp called Norm, but i dont know if he build them anymore or know if he still have website. i had a Govibe, its really portable and good quality, i regretted selling it when i got off headphones. you can probably get a used one for $65. and yes btw the cmoy and govibe are a community thing, they arent manufacturers products, with that said, you're not going to get value compare to it from manufacturer products that cost much more. also you have another complication. these amps use 9v batteries, they were design to eb portable. and batteries quality is cruicible when it come to good sound comnig from my first hand experience, generally you want 9.6v batteries, the 8.4v are just horrid. i know the more advance cmoy some sell on ebay have a AC jack though, or you can use a 9v adaptar that connect to and ac adaptor, radioshack. this is also a good investment if you are plannign to try out other headphones in the future, but if not, dont spend too much, it'll be a waste.

    you might or might not experience a big improvement, base on the amp you choose. but generally the sound should atleast be fuller. good things those sennheisers dont need too much power.

    you can also do the DAC way, where you use digital connection instead and use the DAC amp to convert the digital signal into analog, but thats pretty expensive. i prefer analog myself.

    but i highly recommend going to and read there, its the biggest headphone community in the internet. just careful and not fall for what is just hype though, and there are a lot of it now. most people who go there tend to beleive in all the hype adn get caught in the hobby and spend much more money than needed.
    Last edited by terrymx; 04-24-2006 at 01:38 AM.

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