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Notebook sound recommendation, Echo Indio + HD280 or VT1612A + HD497?
eshylay
post Sep 14 2003, 09:39
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Greetings,

For the past week or so I've been doing research into an audio purchase I wish to make. In the near future, I'll be trading my desktop PC in for a Fujitsu Siemens notebook.

Suffice it to say, I will be losing the external speakers that I'm currently using to provide myself with audio for games and (especially) music, etc. This led me to the idea of purchasing a set of good headphones... and here I am smile.gif


Having no prior knowledge/experience with these things (I am by no means an Audiophile!) - I've found it a bit of an uphill struggle working out exactly what I want/need given a moderate budget.

From all that I've read, I've narrowed my headphone choices down to the following: Sennheiser HD280 (64Ohms), Sennheiser HD280 (300Ohms), Sennheiser HD497 (32Ohms). The 280 is appealing to me given the closed design... I will be sharing a small apartment. The 497's should be acceptable... perhaps not ideal. I'm really not sure.


Anyway, my real question is now this: The notebook that I will be using has an onboard VT1612A audio chipset. As far as I know, this is an AC'97 compliant system. I'm not sure, but I do suspect that it has some form of headphone amplification [difficult to verify with my machine exactly... a Via spec page is available at http://www.via.com.tw/en/multimedia/vt1612a.jsp].


The impression I get [from this forum and elsewhere] is that a notebook headphone jack will be insufficient to power anything resembling good headphones. Is this true? Given that the HD497's have 32Ohms impedance... could they possibly be powered in an acceptable manner.

As much as I've read on this - I'm still not too clear. Higher impedence means harder to power, correct? I seem to get conflicting views on this everywhere I go.


If the VT1612A can power the HD497's decently... then this will be my primary choise... if only for financial considerations. If you doubt that this would work well... then my next choice seems to be a combination of Echo Indigo PCMCIA card and HD280 headphones.

This begs the next question: 64 or 300Ohm version? Which would produce better sound on the Indigo? Perhaps someone could give me a definitive guide to impedance here. What is the benefit of higher impedance? And of lower?


---

Thanks a bunch for all your time... I realise this message was rather long-winded smile.gif... wanted to be sure you got all the info you needed first time.


eshylay
eshylay@hotmail.com
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smok3
post Sep 14 2003, 11:51
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afaik it is not about ohms, but rather about sensitivity of the headphones, check
http://headwize2.powerpill.org/tech/dbohn1_tech.htm
and
http://headwize2.powerpill.org/tech/dbohn1_table.htm
where
start page is http://www.headwize.com/

This post has been edited by smok3: Sep 14 2003, 11:57


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Audible!
post Sep 14 2003, 22:38
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The Via VT1612a is not the highest quality solution on the planet, but it does (like nearly all AC 97 CODECs) feature an integrated amplifier for headphone use.

The HD497's can be driven with a relatively weak signal because they are quite high efficiency; the VT1612A should have no problem at all doing so.
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eshylay
post Sep 15 2003, 22:13
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What do you reckon you'd do in my situation given these choices:

1. Via VT1612a with HD 497s [about $62]
or
2. Echo Indigo and HD280s [about $270]

I did confirm... the Fujitsu Siemens uses the VIA.

Prices are based off of what I'd be paying in my country. Option 2 is more than 4 times the cost of the first. Do you think this should correlate to sound quality?


Your further help would be much appreciated,

eshylay
eshylay@hotmail.com
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Audible!
post Sep 15 2003, 22:25
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QUOTE
Option 2 is more than 4 times the cost of the first. Do you think this should correlate to sound quality?


It depends on how picky you are about your sound quality I suppose. Anyone should notice the difference between the two setups, but a large part of that is going to be because of the headphones. I don't know offhand how powerful the integrated headphone amp in the Indigo is, but the 280's are going to be a bit more difficult to drive than the 497's.

Taste in headphones varies dramatically, so try to audition a couple of brands before you buy. If you don't like Sennheiser, you may like Grado and vice versa. If you hate them both Beyer Dynamic might be more your speed.
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blessingx
post Sep 15 2003, 22:55
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If you can accept the leakage of the 497s, they sound substancially better than the 280's powered by anything (heard both through an ampless iPod and an Audiophile USB/Meta headphone amp setup). Closed just doesn't compete with open at this level. You may want to spend some time over at Head-Fi, a wealth of info on headphones. I personally prefer Grado's (SR60/SR80/Alessandro MS1) over the Senn's, but I hear the Grado prices are much higher in some countries and they leak more than the 497's. Also I like the Sony V6's and 7506's over the 280's. Both preferences are a desire for a more dynamic and less neutral sound. Your mileage may vary.

The Beyerdynamic DT 250-80 is probably something also to look into.

The Indigo should power the 497's or 280's fine. Can't say on the built-in card, but I haven't heard the 497's dramatically underpowered on anything yet. The quality of the source though, VT1612A versus Indigo or PowerWave or Sonica or Xitel or ... I don't know.

I know of no inherent advantage of higher impedance... or I should say when I asked a couple months ago no one gave me an advantage. biggrin.gif
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Audible!
post Sep 16 2003, 00:15
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There really isn't any question whether the integrated amp in the VIA CODEC will power the 497's to high volume levels. The real question is the output quality - this varies more than you might think because the implementation of the CODEC does vary from board to board, and is where the Indigo might come in handy.

The 497's are notoriously efficient - I've had my pair connected to an onboard Realtek ALC650 CODEC (similarly powerful integrated headphone amp compared to the VT CODECs) and they can be driven to painful volume levels before the halfway point in the software volume control.
I prefer the 497's to the SR60 & SR80s (which are also extremely efficient, maybe even more so), but again this varies from person to person. I prefer a more neutral 'monitor' sound myself.

Again I'd say that you should consider auditioning headphones yourself before you buy.


edit: I pulled the HD497s off my portable and the "perfect" software listening level with the ALC650 in my work box is with the middle of the bar slightly below the second tick (the first is the mute position).

This post has been edited by Audible!: Sep 16 2003, 00:25
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eshylay
post Sep 18 2003, 13:30
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Thanks for the help,

Am going to try demo the headphones somewhere.

Will think about the Indigo.

cheers,

eshylay
eshylay@hotmail.com
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