First post, brief introduction to my PC: i7-10700k with a Corsair 360mm water, 1TB Samsung 960 Evo NVMe, 32gb 3200 mhz of ram and an old 1070 FTW soon to be replaced by a 3000 series.
I want to know what you think of my setup, really the one I just bought and I’m waiting for it to arrive, I am from Argentina and I will have between 15 to 20 days for everything to arrive. I bought a Sennheiser HD 660s and a Sound Blaster X3 on the recommendation of a friend, looking at the reviews a bit and learning about this new world I saw that for the same money many recommend an iFi Zen DAC, I don’t know what difference there may be but the X3 I think which is more intended for gaming and via software has everything to do. As for the microphone I still did not buy anything but I was thinking of a HyperX Quadcast, the only thing that still has me in doubt is that they are USB and I could not connect them to the X3 which would be a waste but the microphone issue really is what I least want everything is of interest, I suppose it is nothing serious that they connect via USB. As speakers I have what I think are excellent Edifier C3 that I bought as a teenager about 15 years ago and they sound spectacular, they are 2.1 and have their own amplifier, I don’t know if I can make them “sound better” being able to connect them to the X3 but I really don’t know if It is necessary, as I use them now connected with the 3.5mm jack to the motherboard, I am happy.
nothing to do with audio, bit of useless information imo in this regard. While a nice rig, water cooling is only needed if you plan to overclock or just needed case space/aesthetic.
I personally hate soundblaster’s amps and dacs… while I will recommend them as a gamer budget option they do not provide good quality sound if anything I would rate them as one of the lowest qualities right beside motherboard quality. X3 is only good if you feel you need their “SXFI” mode which is just an overhyped up 7.1 virtual surround… the g6 from their lineup has the better dac and is just generally better sounding… but either way both are pretty bad in my opinion. They just work well for strictly gamers who aren’t really audiophiles… the inline mic port sounds pretty bad if you ask me and can add forms of distortion and compression it doesn’t add clarity if anything it just gives you access to neat features such as voice morph.
IFI Zen Dac is a very good unit for it’s price however, it can be a bit misleading… this is a warm amp/dac combo unit with some treble roll off and a bass button that does quite well on certain headphones that have their bass around neutral, in sennheisers case it responds incredibly well. At the same time it has a balanced port which is where most of it’s power is at… it is due to this that you can use special cabling to get the most out of this unit however, because of that the price in total goes up by a good margin. You also can get a power supply for the ifi zen dac, another additional cost, that can help improve it’s sound and performance further. The IFI Zen Dac is part of a stack unit, it is not the primary amp of the stack… the primary amp is called the IFI Zen Can which was initially introduced as the 6xx amplifier with an actual 6xx mode on it from massdrop followed by the official release of zen can from ifi themselves that brought in the xspace button. I would recommend taking the zen dac over the x3 or g6 any day of the week for sound quality, it’s only if one is trying to push 600 ohm beyers that I say not to use the zen dac at that price point as zen dac can only push 600 ohms using it’s balanced port not it’s single ended. Ifi Zen Can is much stronger than zen dac and has the better sound qualities… you would connect these two either through RCA cabling or best results would be a 4.4mm balanced pentaconn cable between the two
as for the 660s it has some of the best imaging of the 600 series sennheisers if not -the- best of them however, in competitive gaming it will depend on which fps your playing… Sennheisers 600 series is a bit iffy on larger fps or even medium size playing field maps as the soundstage is very narrow and intimate while it is good for music it is not so great for competitive gaming outside of games such as smaller maps of call of duty or some portions of games such as counter strike. If you wanted a Sennheiser that has the better soundstage and still good imaging you would be looking at the 58x jubilee from the 500 series… granted you lose some sound quality as the 600 series sounds better imo and it has better scaling and synergy to higher grade setups and tube amps.
As stated earlier, the mic port on them is pretty bad… I am being quite light on this if I am quite honest on it… they are absolute trash and not worth using in my opinion. As for the quadcast, it’s good but it is a condensor mic which can pose some potential issues.
Condensor microphones are those that are meant for sound proofed rooms they love to pick up every sound but they also have the most clarity and clear vocals. The alternative are dynamic mics but these are mostly XLR which requires an audio interface purchase but these types of mics are used for live concerts which focus’s primarily on the singers voice over the instruments and crowds. you can of course just get a modmic if the streamer mics do not work for you
quadcast, yeti, at2020 usb, seiren mini, rode, elgato, among others work just fine.
I love your answer, thanks a lot. I already bought the X3 so even though you don’t recommend it I am going to try it and later buy another type of apm / dac and learn to find the differences. As I mentioned before, I’m from Argentina, my English is not the best and I can’t quite understand the difference between the Zen Dac and Can, are you recommending the Can over the Dac? because the Can is an amp? Anyway, the iFi Zen I don’t know if it is really what I need, I am not an audiophiles guy, I could be one in the future understanding more the logic of audio but for now I want a product that makes daily use practical on my PC, for example I also looked at the GSX 1000 and I love the ease of switching between recorded profiles, as well as switching from the speakers to the headphones and not having to do it anymore from the sound manager in Windows, which can balance different volume between the Discord and the game, I know that the equalization profiles that it brings are not much use but that 7.1 can make a difference, I also understand that they have no problems handling the 660s, the problem is that it goes out of budget with everything that I am buying.
That is fine, you can just use the x3 as your dedicated dac later if you wish.
no, I am not recommending the can over the dac… they go together as a stack unit. Zen Can is -only- an amplifier while Zen Dac is both an amp and a Dac together but it’s dac is better than the amp inside of the unit. You would use the zen dac as the dac and zen can as the amp. Simply using just an amplifier is not a very good idea as you run the risks of other issues such as pc feedback, hum, distortion, etc and the dac really cleans up the signal.
X3 is another combo unit, amp and dac in one box.
If you do not care about sound qualities, I would still recommend the G6 over the X3 due to the initial bonus in performance at the same price tag and Recon Mode from the G6 does technically help on some headphones for footsteps. Other than that, doesn’t matter which of the two you go with.
The GSX1000 is a garbage piece of equipment that is niche at best. It can barely drive any headphone at all and it’s dac sounds worse to me than the soundblasters which is just straight up terrible. The only good qualities from that unit are the 7.1 and as you mention the ease of switching things around. Outside of that, it’s pricetag is insane for just how bad it is.
7.1 only makes a difference on terrible gaming headsets or very intimate headphones lacking in soundstage. Other than that it’s practically worthless. As for the GSX handling the 660s? The gsx is barily enough to even push the HD 599 let alone a 660s and I highly recommend against this combination… it will not properly drive the 660s. GSX1000 is only good for headphones from their 500 series and their gaming series that are very low ohms it struggles with anything at 150 ohms and over and is about the equivalent to a very weak motherboard in terms of power. For the price? it’s a total joke
Not sure where you heard it has no problems driving the 660s, while the 660s may be a bit easier to drive than some of the others of the 600 series the gsx1000 cannot properly drive the 660s, at all. It’s just not suited to this
Ok now I understand the difference between the Zen Dac and Can, possibly I will soon consider buying them to get the desire out and start collecting that type of piece that if I get something more specific for the PC I can put them anywhere else in the house where there is player!
Returning to the subject of headphones, I currently have Artic 7s and they are a nightmare, they have 0 image and soundstage and I don’t know what to do with the software configuration to improve it, I am playing Escape from Tarkov and the sound is 95% of the gameplay, I can never know where the footsteps are coming from or in which direction the shots are heard.
With the iFi Zen stack, can I switch between the headphone and speakers with a switch on the device?
yeah, once you get those you shouldn’t really need to be concerned with power demands… and if there is a power issue you will need to consider using balanced cabling, separate purchase depending on the plugs of the headphone. Most headphones later on in the price brackets use duel sided cables so they are capable of using the balanced port. Zen can and Zen Dac both have a bass button, zen dac is a heavier gain in the bass than the zen can but with zen can you gain xspace with adds air and treble to the sound in other words a bit more on the soundstage width. This combination is not good with bassy headphones if you plan to use the extra bass button as it will cause them to bloat or bleed into the mids… anything of neutral bass or slightly above/recessed works just fine though.
This is a huge problem with some Tarkov players as they don’t seem to understand and I have a lot of questions get asked involving this game… Your headphone isn’t the issue primarily here it’s Tarkov. Tarkov is the only FPS right now that can fully utilize a headphones soundstage and imaging… it makes headphones like the arctis 7 feel like absolute trash meanwhile if you were to use that in say Call of Duty you would notice suddenly your doing okay and you can hear your target pretty well. It’s a difference in sound engines and how things are implemented… you can blame game devs for getting stupid about sound engines and positional accuracy.
Tarkov is currently the most demanding soundstage and imaging FPS on the market, capable of even using all of my own headphone staging. You need a headphone that is capable of full 3d positional audio and a large soundstage on-top of that which can be fairly hard to achieve in the lower price brackets. Sennheisers are not capable of achieving this outside of HD800S which is a headphone over $1k, while the 58x jubilee does stand a fair chance in tarkov if it goes up against something such as my own headphone, T1.2, I would be able to hear you about 2x further than you would be able to hear me not to mention I could place exactly where your moving and fireing from
Sennheiser 660S is the absolute -last- thing you want in Tarkov for FPS games, as the soundstage is very intimate and narrow. The sound quality of a 660S and imaging capability is great but the problem is in that soundstage… your not going to be able to fix that with 7.1 or any form of adjustment, you’d need a completely different headphone.
If I recall correctly, it has the fixed and variable setting on the back which switches between headphone and speaker. Been a while since I had those in house
My favorite streamer of the game is LVNDMARK he is an absolute beast playing Tarkov and he has the 660s, that’s where my choice comes, he listens to everyone from great distances and always knows perfectly where everything comes from, right now he is streaming if you want to see him, use the 660s connected to a GO XLR Mini.
Absolutely beautiful the Beyerdynamic T1.2, and well expensive!
I absolutely agree with Falenkor on the Zen CAN. It’s a phenomenal amp for the money and using it in balanced mode is the way to go.
I have the HD6XX which are 300 Ohm, and I might be using 1/3 the power the CAN is capable of for normal listening levels, meaning there’s plenty left in the tank for dynamic content.
Another bonus is a 4.4. balanced output that I’m using to send signal to my powered monitors.
I have issues with the Zen DAC though.
Yes, it is the most convenient option. A short 4.4mm to 4.4mm balanced cable and you’re done. My objection to it is that you are paying for a second amplifier you are not going to use.
I opted for the Soncoz LA-QXD1 for a DAC.
It’s one of the few under ~$250 balanced DACs available at the moment.
Other balanced options;
SMSL SU-8 v2
Drop Zen DAC Signature - completely different than the regular Zen Dac.
The downside with any of those is going to cables. There are few 4.4mm to XLR options out there so it means custom by someone like Hart Audio or home built.
this isn’t so much the headphone as much as him… he has grown accustomed to the limitations. The headphone isn’t going to make you amazing but it will help. 660s has fantastic imaging… and looking him up his main traits is that he hears them when hes in buildings… which narrow soundstage is fine for since sounds in tarkov can echo. Out and about though, not so much or in much larger buildings.
quite so, love it to death…
yep yep, not needed on balanced really less you can… then of course why not use it.
it really is a very good amp… the regular zen dac can drive even argons from it’s balanced port… so it’s well worth.
well, you gotta think it’s what… $120? slightly over the price of a regular entry level dac which is about where it performs… so it’s not too bad least not imo
myself personally, I prefer something a bit more advanced… but I have a much higher budget lol. I use bifrost 2 as my dac with a liquid platinum or asgard 3 attached to a loki equalizer or peace apo depending on what im doing. Loki makes it pretty easy to on the fly adjust the sound so it’s nice if I am just gaming and don’t feel like alt-tabbing
My setup when I play Tarkov:
Beyerdynamic T1 2nd generation(balanced)
Monoprice Liquid Platinum
Schiit Bifrost 2(balanced to LP)
Samsung Odyssey G9 monitor
Ducky Mecha Mini red silent switches
Glorious Model D mouse
and if I need a controller Astro C40 in Xbox controller configurations. My Scuf broke on me a ways back so I have just been using the C40 for now.