I made this account just to ask this, so I'm hoping for an informed reply. =[
I don't have any experience with surround sound systems, receivers, or high end audio equipment. My goal is to be able to play my PC games, such as Crysis, Mass Effect, and Skyrim, and Blu-Rays with good audio quality to get the most immersive experience possible, using headphones
There are some things that I'm still confused about concerning the video though.
At around two minutes, he says that a sound card turns the digital signal into analog. Later he says that we need a "DAC" to do this to get a larger frequency of the sound, but why if the sound card can already do this? Am I confused? Also, he says that onboard ALC on most mothboards (and mine, which is Realtek ALC889) have around 2 ohms of impedance, which is good enough, so why would we need a DAC?
More importantly, what about people who want to get the HD audio features out of their Bluray movies on the PC, such as DTS-HD and Dolby TrueHD? Should we still use something external? Would a DAC be needed in this case? Do we then need something besides stereo headphones? Would stereo headphones even be adequate? This is a pivotal aspect for me.
There is another thing I'd like to clear up. Somebody tell me if this is correct. When a sound signal is pure digital, there is no sound loss (impedance) until it is converted into an analog signal, at which time ambient noise can begin effecting the quality of the signal. My question is, is this why it should be done externally? If this is the case, would this mean that I should use an external device that can interpret DTS-HD and Dolby True-HD sound formats? Would headphones be good enough to work with this kind of device? In other words, would I get the true surround sound experience with just stereo head phones? Should I stick with a sound card? If so why?
I would appreciate any feedback
He says that because the general impedance that internal solutions generally put on the audio system decreases the audio throughput and hence a limited variance/range in sound.
External DACs almost always, if you pick right, have little to no impedance on the audio line and have much better audio processing power without any noise interference that on-board and internal solutions pick up and cause interference. They give you much clearer audio, rather than the audio getting muddy from internal solutions from interference or high impedance.
For your DTS and Dolby stuff, that's just software and codecs that are designed for anything to play them and get "better" audio. It's "better" because it's simulated, not true audio. the Dolby is a surround enhancer not what makes surround happen, if you have a quality speaker array, then Dolby hurts you because the surround processing on your receiver would give you better staging than what Dolby would and it would alter the audio to sound better on "cheaper" systems.
DTS is simply a lossless codec and it's mostly just another lossless codec, which are effectively not useful 99% of the time. You don't need anything to gain advantage of this, nothing an MP3 at a reasonable data rate can do (320Mbps)
Stereo headphones are all you need to take advantage of this, when it comes to speakers it gets more complex because you have to decide between active or passive and do you want to run a receiver in the system, do you need a pre-amp, ect, ect. Headphones are: are they of good audio quality, do they require more power for the drivers (is an amp needed). You won't really gain any improvement worth while in your audio with a DAC if you're not using quality headphones, but if you are, you want to get yourself a nice DAC to hear the fullness of the sound that your headphones can output.
Basically what @hikage said, but I'll fill in some parts he missed.
There is another thing I'd like to clear up. Somebody tell me if this is correct. When a sound signal is pure digital, there is no sound loss (impedance) until it is converted into an analog signal, at which time ambient noise can begin effecting the quality of the signal. My question is, is this why it should be done externally?
For the most part, computers are electrically noisy devices, and audio signals tend to pick up these noises and that's when you get pops/hums/noise, ect ect. Also, for the most part, there are few if not any GOOD internal sound cards, so you have no real choice in the matter.
If this is the case, would this mean that I should use an external device that can interpret DTS-HD and Dolby True-HD sound formats?
Again this is just software, and has nothing to do with hardware. Programs like Razor surround do this for free, but frankly make things sound worse IMO.
Would headphones be good enough to work with this kind of device? In other words, would I get the true surround sound experience with just stereo head phones?
You can get really nice headphones starting at around $100. $2-300 is the sweet spot for most headphones.
Should I stick with a sound card? If so why?I would appreciate any feedback
That's up to your headphones.
I want to follow up on my post and update where I'm at.
I was having trouble before understanding what I'm actually looking for, so I didn't know how to go about looking for it.
First tho, I just want to mention that in the video he talks about how virtual 3d is basically a gimmick and that any headphone can do 3d, which is true, but he uses a very bad example of using the virtual barbarshop to point out this fact. The problem is that the virtual barber shop is pre-recorded audio, but what most people are looking for (including me) is real time 3d tech that does some kind of post processing on the audio, so we get virtual surround with headphones. If this type of algorithm/hardware affects the sound quality a little bit is a reasonable trade off to get the effect.
With all of that being said, what I'm really looking for is a high quality stereo headphone and a sound card (external with a headphone amp if possible) that can run one of the virtual sound technologies: Dolby Headphone, SRS/DTS CS Headphone, DTS Headphone:X, Yamaha Silent Cinema ect. I think these technologies are compatible with games and Blu-Ray sound formats (DTS-HD master audio and Dolby TrueHD).
There are two things about this though,
- I don't know which virtual surround technology works the best.
- I don't know which headphones I should get without them actually being overkill, as I'm not an audiophile guy and I don't need these headphones primarily for high bit rate music files, but it's a plus.
Btw, I've actually use a Corsair Vengeance 1500 and they didn't sound that good and the surround sound only sounded OK, but not amazing with blu-rays.
That is basically where I'm at at this point tho. Thanks for the replies.
Why the hell does this thing mess up my paragraphs? I'm sick of wrestling with it.