USB soundcard with headphone amp?

Feb 18, 2012

  1. Upper_CutZ

    54 posts
    Since May 27, 2005
    whats good people,
    recently bought headphones and now I seem to be a little lost in my researches after coming across a post somewhere that good headphones require a decent amp...and I would like people who worked with them to recommend me a good sound card (if exists) with a built-in amp. the headphones are shure srh-940, i assume they would need an amp
    actually based on what parameters or specs do you decide to go for an amp for your headphones? or just use the standard headphones output on the card itself?
    cheerz in advance
  2. ransom x + x +

    777 posts
    Since May 7, 2001
    We were talking about the Focusrite Saffire 6 USB in this thread. Didn't get in to the headphone out, but it does have one, and I use it occasionally. Focusrite also makes the VRM Box Headphone Monitoring System, which lets you model different types of monitors, I think. If you're in the states, Turntable Lab sells it:

    And if that's not for you, it might give you some ideas on what kind of features you'd want, and go from there.
  3. roringtonsmithe Hey, you're alright.

    570 posts
    Since Feb 1, 2010
    That VRM box is propper handy for laptop use :twothumbs:
  4. env

    191 posts
    Since Feb 14, 2010
    Things that would help you decide are sensitivity(dB SPL per mV), efficiency (dB SPL per mW) and impedance (high impedance will cause more voltage to be dropped over the headphones rather than the output of your headphone amp/audio interface).
  5. Upper_CutZ

    54 posts
    Since May 27, 2005
    here are the specs of the two

    shure srh-940

    Transducer Type: Dynamic, Neodym-Magnet
    Driver size: 40 mm
    Sensitivity : 100 dB SPL/mW
    Impedance: 42 Ω
    Max. input power: 1000 mW
    Frequency range: 5 Hz - 30 kHz
    Net weight (without cable): 322 g
    Cable length: 3 m & 2,5 m
    Type of cable: Detachable, coiled
    Plug: Gold-plated 3.5 mm stereo mini plug
    Efficiency: 42 ohm/100dB

    the soundcard i am thinking of purchasing

    m-audio fast track ultra
    * 4 XLR microphone inputs?including 2 XLR/TRS combo jacks for mic or instrument level inputs
    * 20dB pad on each preamp
    * signal/peak LED indicator lights
    * phantom power
    * 6 balanced line inputs
    * 6 balanced analog outputs
    * 2 analog inserts
    * S/PDIF digital I/O
    * built-in 1 x 1 MIDI interface
    * 2 independent headphone outputs with individual volume controls
    * full ASIO 2.0, WDM, MME, and Core Audio support
    * USB bus powered (USB bus power enables analog channels 1 and 2, S/PDIF I/O, and headphone output 1; included power supply required for full 8 x 8 operation.)
    * Compatible with all ASIO- and Core Audio-based applications.
    * Dimensions - 10" x 5.5" x 1.6" (25.5cm x 14cm x 4cm)
    * Weight - 1.9 lbs. (.86 kg)
    * Drivers - WDM, Core Audio, ASIO 2.0, MME RECOMMENDED COMPUTER SPECIFICATIONS - //PC// Windows XP (32-bit) with SP2 or higher, DirectX 9.0c or higher (included in XP), USB 2.0 port, Windows Vista (32-bit versions), 1.6 GHz processor (CPU may be higher for laptops) 512 MB RAM (Windows Vista Home Premium, Business and Ultimate require 1 GB RAM) //MAC// Mac OS X 10.3.9 or higher, USB 2.0 port, 512 MB RAM, 1 GHz CPU

    could anybody help me figure it out if i would need an amp for it?
    cheerz in advance,
  6. env

    191 posts
    Since Feb 14, 2010
    before we try and decide, are you experiencing problems using them with your set up now? and if so what are you using at the moment?
  7. Upper_CutZ

    54 posts
    Since May 27, 2005
    no, i dont experience any problems at the moment, simply because i have only just started building my set up, so i am in the process of choosing the right sound card and I would really appreciate some guidance in terms of the need for an amp)))) thanks very much in advance to everyone participating
  8. env

    191 posts
    Since Feb 14, 2010
    I think you should be fine with that interface, if you have the headphones now try plugging them into a computer with 3.5mm see what sort of level you are getting out of them, the m-audio should surpass that easily.
  9. Pyro

    8,975 posts
    Since Feb 25, 2001

    dont get m-audio :smashed: upgraded my customers half dead (after 2 years! horrible quality) m-audio mobile pre with a saffire 6 and sound was mountains better.
  10. al_diablo

    925 posts
    Since Oct 19, 2006
    I have never had a problem with M-audio equipment in terms of reliability but I definitely think there are much better options for sound quality of the converters / preamps

    My next purchase will be a Duet 2 I think. They are meant to sound stellar
  11. joemaki

    1,234 posts
    Since May 15, 2010
    im useing fast track pro and im loving it
  12. Cee-Jay

    2,993 posts
    Since Feb 23, 2003
    Seems an area that companies will cut a corner on, in my experience.
    I've had about 4 interfaces in the last few years with the headphone output varying massively.
    These are my view, all using beyerdynamic dt990pro

    Echo audiofire: Nice and warm, not tiring on the ears, maybe coloured the bass a bit but I was happy to use for hours. Sorry that's FireWire btw.
    Focusrite vrm box : Sounds ok but not enough bass, not very loud and didn't sound so good when turned up, vrm function is pretty useless.
    Focusrite Saffire pro 14 : Louder but I found harsh and tiring, lacked bass. FireWire again but I imagine has the same amp as the USB.
    Apogee Duet 2 : Without a doubt the winner, nice and warm + there Is definitely more detail, go a lot louder than all the above without distorting. Mac only but the point is its a more expensive card.

    I think if you intend on using headphones a lot it's worth looking at high end cards or getting a good quality headphone amp.