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Old 2008-05-15, 06:10   Link #22
= Porsche 997 Twin Turbo
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: NZ
I never believe that source is important, until I decided to spend some big money on upgrading my source.

I have spent quite a bit of money on my headphone setup and have gone through many upgrades. There was an obvious improvement in sound quality as I upgrade each component, but the biggest improvement by far was when I upgraded from a soundcard (E-MU 1212m) to an external DAC (CIAudio VDA2 + VAC1 power supply). Prior to this upgrade, I have tried changing headphones, amps, cables, but I was never too happy even when I end up with the US$700 Grado RS1 and a Singlepower tube amp. So I decided to trust "team source first" for once, and spend the most money on the source (was thinking of getting either the Benchmark DAC1, Lavry DA10 or CIAudio...since the CIAudio was the cheapest so I went with that)...and for the first time, I was actually happy with my setup and told myself that I should have changed the source first before wasting my time and money on other parts.

So since that time, I have become a believer that source is very important. My E-MU soundcard, which is considered to be one of the best cards for music, already gives a big improvement over the onboard sound, and this improvement can be heard even with my cheap 2.1 PC speakers (one must be deaf to not hear any difference). But if you have decent headphones, then even the best sound cards aren't going to cut it.

To answer the original question "Spend more on a sound card than headphones?", if I change sound card to source, then my answer to the question would be yes. You will get better sounds by upgrading headphones, but to get the most out of the headphones you will need a source (and an amp) that can bring out their true potential, and this source can often cost more than the headphones themselves.
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