Submitted by LandscapeChemical622 t3_10pmtph in headphones

P.S. Im new to this whole audiophile/headphone deal, so please excuse any ignorance in my post lmao

I recently purchased a pair of BeyerDynamic DT 900 Pro X's. They are out a few weeks yet on backorder, but decided to go ahead and get my DAC/Amp ordered ahead of time. Wanted to stay a little "budget" with the headphones and DAC together, so ended up picking up a Fosi Audio DAC-Q4. Well it showed up today (before the DT 900's), and decided the hell with it, might as well get the thing running and try it out with my HyperX Cloud Alphas.

I listened to one song (Cant Help Falling in Love cover by Violet Orlandi on YouTube) with the Alphas plugged into the 3.5mm jack on my pc first. Then immediately switched the headset to the Q4 and replayed the same exact song. And I get it now. I had a little chip on my shoulder saying it would be better than no DAC, but I was ill prepared for it. Even with a $100 "gaming" headset, I am utterly blown away.

I've been on a 5 hour music bender.

And now I understand.

I have no words for the sounds coming into my ears.

I am now going to be watching my email like a hawk waiting for the shipping notification for my DT 900's. My patience has been utterly depleted.

I also now have a fear for my wallet. I feel like this is going to snowball into the rabbit whole I see everyone talking about.

Thanks for reading. I just needed to vent to people with an understanding I guess haha



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UberHaxorMarty t1_j6ldsul wrote

RemindMe! One Year "Does u/LandscapeChemical622 have a Susvara yet?"


dongas420 t1_j6ln55h wrote

Integrated audio quality can be a crapshoot, but being blown away by a gaming headset just because you switched to a transparent DAC does make me think placebo might be involved.

Phantom improvements in audio quality resulting from expectation/confirmation bias are embarrassingly rampant in audiophile land, and no one is fully immune. Unless you put in the time to do your critical listening reps, you will struggle to distinguish between real and imagined differences in sound quality, and you will still have to actively concentrate to discover them if you do. When I started out, it took me 15 minutes of A/B testing just to realize that S and T vocal consonants were completely inaudible on a pair of $5 chi-fi shitbuds.

My advice for people new to this stuff would be not to buy anything more expensive than the basics (e.g. the Apple dongle) if you don't understand the underlying principles behind how they work. (Reading Head-Fi reviews and manufacturer marketing copy doesn't count)

The old blog of NwAvGuy, the designer of the classic O2 amp, has a lot of info about the DAC/amp side:

Crinacle, the final boss of IEM reviewers, has written his own set of articles on the transducer side on the "Important Articles" section of his website:

Precogvision, the midgame boss, also made an intro video with accompanying article:

Oratory1990 is this sub's resident person who gets paid to do this stuff, and you can find info and ask questions on his own sub, /r/oratory1990.

If you want to go full nerd, you can pick up Floyd Toole's Audio Reproduction, but the content there mostly relates to loudspeaker acoustics.


LandscapeChemical622 OP t1_j6mn6nt wrote

This is some incredible information here. Thank you for this. Definitely going to be doing some reading later today.


1trickana t1_j6ldrbj wrote

I'll be honest in saying that you should hear no difference between onboard audio and a cheap amp/DAC, if you have modern (2018+) motherboard.

The change in sound is your motherboard output probably has audio enhancement turned on which does alter sound usually for the worst


LandscapeChemical622 OP t1_j6lemy5 wrote

See that's what I was thinking. It's a brand new pc (built it mid December 2022), with an Asrock z790 Motherboard. I'm not for sure on exactly how this whole dac/amp deal works but from I read I didn't think id notice much of a difference. But I was proven wrong. Why? I dont know. But i also dont care because its beautiful and im excited as hell for the Beyer's to show up haha


Toronto-Will t1_j6lfmre wrote

Are you listening louder? Louder sounds better. Not great for your hearing though, you have to be careful with it.


LandscapeChemical622 OP t1_j6lhno5 wrote

I'd say a slight bit louder than just out of the pc. Which I'd listen to music on full volume before, both windows and whichever midea I was listening too. On the DAC I'm at 50-55%. I did however test how loud they would get, and I'm glad I took the headset off for that test.


Zooka92 t1_j6m3aln wrote

In theory there shouldnt be that great of a difference, the thing that sucks most with onboard audio is the high output impedance, which could cause some bass bloat with low impedance headphones.

However, I would be carefull with that Fosi DAC tho, it might actually change the sound. I had the fosi k5 pro, which is related to the Q4. The K5 pro noticeably changed the frequency response, reason for that are the bass/treble knob. even when the bass and treble knob are in neutral position, the frequency response isnt flat, it still had less bass and treble than it should have.

That may make a bass/treble heavy headphone like the cloud2 more neutral, which could be interpreted as better sound, but can make properly tuned headphones like the dt900 pro x sound worse.

Honestly, i would just avoid all dacs with treble/bass knobs and would probably not get anything that hasnt been properly tested by a 3rd party.


Framed-Photo t1_j6m38my wrote

I'm not the person you were replying to, but I wanna re-iterate the audio enhancement stuff built into windows.

Amps/dacs are not a new tech, and considering you have a recent motherboard there should NOT be this big of a difference between your new amp and the on-board audio, especially not with a gaming headset.

Go to the windows control panel, search sound, click the sound options, under the playback tab find your on-board audio, click it then hit properties, then check each tab to make sure your settings are correct. Specifically, go to the enhancements tab and disable ALL of them, and go to the spatial sound tab and make sure that's off too. Anything else that's not pure volume control that you might find, also turn it off. You can also go to the advanced tab and change the sample rate and bit depth to something higher but as long as it's not commicaly low it shouldn't be making a difference.

Do this for the on-board audio, AND the new dac/amp you have. My guess is that one of them has some enhancements on that's changing your sound. If it's not in this control panel setting, then there might be an audio suite of some sort for your motherboard.


LandscapeChemical622 OP t1_j6mn0er wrote

I never ended up checking the onboard audio settings when I was doing the back and forth. I did look at them when I was using the Q4 and spacial sound and all enhancements were off. And the sample rate was I think 24bit 48000hz. I could be mistaken on those numbers though. I'll have to took into that today after work. Seeing a few of you saying I should notice any difference has me thinking I had something wrong in the first place with the factory windows settings. Granted I never changed them. Or even looked at them for that matter. But definitely curious on if it's something I can show my friends to help them get better audio with their current headsets too. But that brings up another question, would this kind of thing make a difference for a usb headset?


Framed-Photo t1_j6mtyt5 wrote

If it's a USB headphone then that means the headphone has it's own DAC and amp built into it. That would also mean that you can't plug it into the amp you bought though so I'm assuming that's not what you have haha.

Regardless, for any of these devices you're gonna want to make sure any audio enhancements or spatial audio things are off. You can do that even on a USB headset.


LandscapeChemical622 OP t1_j6mu919 wrote

Thats good to know. I'll have to have my roommate look into it with his USB headset to see if he can get any sort of changes. But I would also assume that a USB headset still won't have the "power" of an external DAC right?


Framed-Photo t1_j6n2hc8 wrote

Any headphone that uses a headphone jack is analog in nature, and needs a separate digital to analog converter and an amp. That's what you bought as an external amp and DAC, and it's also what's built into your computer past the headphone jack. They're functionally both the same thing. If you were using just a vinyl player for example, you don't need a DAC at all as there's no digital signal to convert to analog. You'd just need the amplifier.

A headphone that uses USB as the interface has an internal amp and DAC. It's doing the work of your external amp and DAC, just inside the headphone, which allows you to plug it in with USB. It's still having to convert the digital signal to an analog one and amplify it, but it happens inside the headphone.


sverek t1_j6lfxo1 wrote

If all your impression by switching dac/amp is "utterly blown away" and "No words for the sound coming into my ears", I guess there more placebo rather than actual difference in sound.

Can you describe how sound actually changed?


LandscapeChemical622 OP t1_j6lhclu wrote

Its like the music has actual depth now. Like I can hear nuances that I couldn't before. I switched back and forth a few times for a few different songs and it's an audible difference for sure. I had the same thought as you at first, so had my roommate give it a try and he had the same general consensus. Idk, like I said I'm new to this whole deal. I have absolutely not a clue what I'm talking about haha


Neither-Welder5001 t1_j6m0s2x wrote

What you described is similar to what I hear with amp vs no amp. Can’t go back


Blizz_T t1_j6m5xd8 wrote

I know what you mean! Sounds like your headset was not properly driven without amp.

I just did similar experiments with my non-audiophile friend (because he was curious why I need an amp, haha). We compared the same song on the same headphone (AKG K712) with nfb11.38 dac/amp vs without amp. My non-audiophile friend described that without amp, it was like looking at a 2D photograph of a 3D object.

The separation becomes clear on a song with very low and very high frequencies --- try Billie Eilish - bad guy.


PhoenixRisingtw t1_j6mj5ey wrote

The one good thing about Windows PCs, you will be blown away by any external DAC 😁


TheOddestOfSocks t1_j6lre3f wrote

Biggest differences are typically found in hanging headphones themselves. Once you get past the bass addiction most people start with, you'll find a whole world of interesting sounds. Thats where problems can start hahaha


Carlisle774 t1_j6mhty5 wrote

Cloud Alphas are fairly well known for punching above their weight for audio quality in a gaming headset. The Beyers you have coming will probably be even better though, look forward to it!


Mr-Zero-Fucks t1_j6ob18r wrote

Integrated chips are garbage. Even the shittiest MDR-ZX310 get improved by a cheap amp.


beardedtomato971 t1_j6llyrb wrote

Welcome! As someone who is also new to the hobby, you can see my post history and I hope you do not fall into the same rabbit hole that I have fallen into haha. Upgradeitis is very real, and I pray you do not fall for it.


anaf28 t1_j6o4hp8 wrote

Not only do you have a new mobo and a cheap dac/amp so there shouldn’t be a difference, but you’re also using a gaming headset which in my personal experience doesn’t scale with anything. I’m more blown away by your experience than you are lol, but if it makes sense to you then that’s all that matters.


Corgerus t1_j6pjvj0 wrote

Just focus on enjoying the new hardware. Don't worry about anticipating another purchase for a while... You and I hope.