Is a DAC/amp worth it for me?

I was wondering if I could improve the audio quality on my pc with an external amp or something like this. I don't really know much about these devices.

I have a large portion of my music library on lossless codecs. I usually use a Sennheiser HD 280 Pro (64 Ohms) Headphone.

I'd like to know if I would notice a major difference in sound quality by using an ext. amp (or something else?).

If yes, what would you recommend?



With Sennheiser HD 280 Pro's you might see a modest improvement in overall clarity and bass response by using a quality amp (I would know, I own HD 280 Pro's) but overall, assuming your PC audio is halfway decent, there will probably only be a small improvement.  Some PC's have worse audio than others, I have noticed that some computers have electrical interference that is picked up by the internal sound card/ built-in sound card, and that's a really good reason to get something external.  At the same time, I have heard PC's where the audio is crisp and clear with no interference noise (like the Intel HD audio in my laptop) and that's less of a reason to get an amp/ DAC.

HD 280 Pro's have a 64 Ohm electrical impedance rating, which is relatively easy to drive.  It is higher than the standard 32-36 Ohm range for most consumer grade headphones however.  If you believe your PC has a weak output (every computer is different), getting an amp will increase volume levels substantially.

For quality amp's I would recommend the Objective 2 or ODAC (Objective 2/ DAC combo), the FiiO E10K amp/ DAC combo, and if you want to go the tube route (a highly subjective choice) the Bravo Audio Ocean.

I currently use a FiiO E7 portable Amp/ DAC, purely as a DAC when using it from USB on my computer, with it outputting to my two different amps simultaneously, a standard Objective 2 and a Bravo Audio Ocean tube.

There was a lot of static noise when I connected the headphones to the front IO of my PC so I connect it to the headphone jack on my monitor which receives audio via HDMI and the noise is gone but it sounds a little strange.

I'll look into your recommendations and see if I can test these amps before I buy anything.


I heard that USB headphones are the way to go if you're getting interference from plugging your headphones into a jack.  Something about USB headphones being a digital signal as opposed to analog.  Logan made a video on this stuff which may be a good place to start :)

I don't think USB headphones are very common, and I doubt you can find USB headphones that are up to the sound quality levels of the Sennheiser HD 280 Pro's.

Front IO pretty much always has noise.  It's because a cable has to run from your motherboard to the front panel of your case, and this cable is usually poorly shielded, and passes close to many electrical components.

64ohm headphones aren't going to gain anything from a dac/amp.  What could happen is you might "color" or distort the sound to something more pleasing.


Speaking from my personal experience with a set of beyerdynamics DT880 pro's that are 250 OHM i tried them in my galaxy s4 and on my asus z87 motherboard, and they both can drive the headphones to the point of hearing damage.


That's essentially just an inline DAC/AMP for your headphones.  Might as well get a standalone DAC/AMP at that point so you could use them for other cans if you wanted.

A friend of mine uses a pretty low quality gaming headset, and recently switched from onboard audio to a fiio e10k, and said the difference was absolutely amazing.  I would highly recommend an external dac and/or amp, both on principle and experience.

Could easily be expectation bias.

Could you also give us the name of the headset?

Thanks to all of you for your opinions. I think I wont't buy anything for now. I'm plugging my headphones to my monitor and the sound is much clearer. The quality with this setup is already very good so i think it's quite irresponsible to spend 80$ or more on something that just might make a tiny difference.

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The smart move! If you're happy, don't bother upgrading.

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My 64 Ohm headphones have gained overall quality from using an amp. The DAC is far less important, most devices (even smartphones) have good enough DAC's as it is. The Objective 2 has increased the bass response of my 7506's, HD 280 Pro's and M50X's. While it is a marginal improvement, it has helped. The Objective 2 is designed specifically to not color the sound.

Is this marginal improvement worth the cost of an O2? Probably not. However, I have other reasons for owning headphone amplifiers.

The only situation where I would consider an external amp/ DAC solution with the headphones like the HD 280 Pro's, is if there is considerable signal noise from the onboard audio on the desktop. Thats about it.

You could also try plugging your headphones in to the rear audio output to see if there is less signal noise that way. In my experience that usually works. And the HD 280 Pro's do have a tremendously long cable :)

And signal noise comes down to the silicon lottery and the manufacturing techniques. My workstation motherboard does not have isolated audio paths or anything like the new boards, but it can drive the living hell out of my 250 OHM beyerdynamics 880's and sounds perfectly clean, i know they aren't being driven "enough" but meh they sound great. The front panel audio is complete trash though, static and much lower output as well. What shaney said about his monitor was interesting though as i had a similar effect my headphones were suddenly even louder, like the monitors little amp had a noticeable boost, but I lost quality probably in the signal chain, or having more wire passing by hdmi and usb cables.