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Suitable solution for PC38X (and the rest of my setup)?

tomini

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Hello,
I recently ordered the Sennheiser PC38X headset from DROP and I'd like an AMP/DAC combo to accompany it. This whole setup is 70% for gaming on Windows 10 and 30% for everything else on the same OS, so please keep that in mind.
Quick backstory:
Although the headset is only 28 Ω, I still don't trust the sound card in my laptop as even my IEMs and other earphones and headphones were really noisy and quite annoying when nothing was playing.
Also I'd like to merge co-existing issue regarding my speakers with this - after sleep/hibernation I have to unplug and replug my speakers from jack port to make Windows play sound through them. I really don't know why it is like this. Not a driver issue or anything - tried everything with software. So I could plug them to the sound card and bypass this horrible jack. The speakers are powered/active ones, so I only need the passthrough of audio signal.
What I need on the AMP/DAC:
  • Mic input
    • PC38X is a headset, so I need either 2 jacks (headphone and microphone respectively) or one combo 4-pole TRRS jack
    • hardware knob/buttons to change mic volume would be appreciated, but not necessary
  • Speaker output
    • so I could make this setup simpler and have everything regarding audio going to the external sound card
    • it has to be capable of having the other end (the one plugged to the speaker) a jack or optical (TOSLINK)
    • (speakers are active 2.1 - RCA (L/R) going to towers and subwoofer has the guts and i presume it takes bass frequency as it is driverless)
  • Function to mix game and voicechat
    • AMP/DAC combo reports to OS as two audio outputs, you set game to one and Discord or TS to the other, it mixes it to your headset and you can change the ratio of them which should be higher volume over the other
    • not nescessary, but would be really welcome as gaming AMP/DAC combos enticed me on this idea
Budget and availability:
I'd like to fit in 100$ as my original idea was to buy Sound Blaster X3 for 94$, but it states in specs 32 Ω and up for supported headphones and 10 Ω output impedance (once again, headset is 28 Ω), so it wouldn't sound and be good for the headset. Otherwise there was GSX 1000 or 1200 PRO for 114$. I can go to 150$, but it has to be really special:confused::D
I live in Central Europe, so ordering from like UK, USA and China would cost me quite a lot in fees. So if it is awesome deal, I'm willing to go through the customs hell and fees, otherwise I will have to reject some tips. But please suggest...they might be available in my country.

Thanks a lot <3
 
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Helicopter

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I would get a Schiit Fulla. It has a scratchy volume pot some people don't like that, and I don't know if they ship there.

I think the Creative x3 rated 32 ohm will be fine with 28 ohm rated headphones like this. These ratings are an approximation of a curve, and the amp rating isn't comsidering the sensitivity of the headphones, only nominal impedance. PC38x should be easy to drive with any proper analog device. That x3 is way more expensive than Fulla here.
 
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tomini

tomini

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I would get a Schiit Fulla.
Fulla was recommended to me few times in YT videos, but I can't get it here. Official site has it for 109$ (which is over my budget, but fine...even with customs I could get into the 150$ realm). They ship it from US I assume, however there is notice "SHIPS IN 12-16 WEEKS".
So other solution would be welcome.
It has a scratchy volume pot some people don't like that, and I don't know if they ship there.
Scratchy volume pot? Like the knob scratches?
I think the Creative x3 rated 32 ohm will be fine with 28 ohm rated headphones like this. These ratings are an approximation of a curve, and the amp rating isn't comsidering the sensitivity of the headphones, only nominal impedance.
That's the thing...
Sorry, but this purchase is quite expensive for what I'm going to do. So I wouldn't like to kill them or throttle my experience as I don't have a way to compare headphones. It is literally my first open-back "good" headphone. If there isn't a huge telltale sign of scratching and humming...I might not tell that I'm slowly killing them using the amp. Tried some calculators and they said it need very little power (mV or mW) and the X3 has the said 10 Ω output impedance (rule of thumb on the internet was saying 1/8th of the headphone, this is more that 1/3rd of it). But I might mess up the values and mainly - you are certainly more experienced.
PC38x should be easy to drive with any proper analog device. That x3 is way more expensive than Fulla here.
Like I said. I have a deal for 94$ on the X3. Fulla is 109$+shipping+custom fees+12$ fixed handling fee. I would otherwise get that rightaway. People say it's great and it looks sleek and not shouting "I'M GAMER!" on you :D
 

Helicopter

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The Schiit gaming amp volume pots make a little noise, like static on a radio, when you adjust the volume up and down. No noise when not adjusting, and no harm from the noise, but it puts some people off.
 
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tomini

tomini

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I would get a Schiit Fulla.
OMG, I am so dumb. I found Schiit Europe site.
They ship from Netherlands (EU), thus I won't pay extra fees.
Sadly they are out-of-stock. But I will ask for estimated restock date.
Just few questions (URL links within):
  • Will it work fine? It says "up to", but even that...better safe than sorry
  • The PC38X headset has frequency response of 10Hz - 30kHz, but Schiit Fulla 4 has 20Hz-20Khz, won't it change the sound quite a bit? Especially when it is open-back the frequency is quite important...at least this is how I understand it from videos.
  • Which port should I use to output to my speakers?
    • I see optical port, but is it optical IN :(
    • The Line-out says 75 Ohms - which is not good...? As my speakers are active/powered and I need only the signal/passthrough via jack. Well, here is the english manual, but I dont understand if it is amplifying or not in this setup...
Thank you.
 
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tomini

tomini

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The Schiit gaming amp volume pots make a little noise, like static on a radio, when you adjust the volume up and down. No noise when not adjusting, and no harm from the noise, but it puts some people off.
I think I heard Hardware Canucks or randomfrankp say that. Just while adjusting? Who cares for this semi-budget price? But I get why this could turn down some folks...
 

Helicopter

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Power will be fine. This just means it can power more current hungry headphones. The output will vary with impedance so they have to pick a point on a curve to give a number. They picked this point because it is conservative. Most headphomes, including yours, will have higher impedance and draw less current so the amp will be able to exceed the current in the spec with them.

That 10-30k and 20-20k+/- 0.5dB will match fine. This means the headphone can handle frequencies way beyond the audible band and that the amp has good linearity throughout the audible band. The amp will still be fine a little beyond the audible band, but won't be as precise and linear, which is fine, because this is just some felt vibration at the low end and beyond perception at the high end.

You will have to use the analog outs for your speakers. The 75 ohm output impedance is just for line out. That is on the lower and better end of normal and should work fine with your speakers. Headphone output impexance is .5 ohm and will work perfectly with 28 ohm headphones... it would be fine with 5 ohm headphones or 600 ohm headphones too... this just indicates it will work with anything conventional.
 
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tomini

tomini

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You will have to use the analog outs for your speakers. The 75 ohm output impedance is just for line out. That is on the lower and better end of normal and should work fine with your speakers.
Just to make sure. I use 2.1 setup (and I cant find impedance specs for it anywhere. All specs on internet are printed on the back as you can see in linked Imgur picture). Here is explanation. So I can't plug to analog outs of each towers as I wouldn't be able to use the subwoofer afterwards...or did I misunderstand you?
Power will be fine. This just means it can power more current hungry headphones. The output will vary with impedance so they have to pick a point on a curve to give a number. They picked this point because it is conservative. Most headphomes, including yours, will have higher impedance and draw less current so the amp will be able to exceed the current in the spec with them.
Oh good, thank you for assuring.
That 10-30k and 20-20k+/- 0.5dB will match fine. This means the headphone can handle frequencies way beyond the audible band and that the amp has good linearity throughout the audible band. The amp will still be fine a little beyond the audible band, but won't be as precise and linear, which is fine, because this is just some felt vibration at the low end and beyond perception at the high end.
Great. Only thing I heard that the 20kHz is like you said linear and good for gaming, but higher freq will have more into the sound and make it rich. Idk if I could tell apart :D
 
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Helicopter

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Just to make sure. I use 2.1 setup. Here is explanation. So I can't plug to analog outs of each towers as I couldn't use subwoofer afterwards...or did I misunderstand you?
Oh good, thank you for assuring.
Great. Only thing I heard that the 20kHz is like you said linear and good for gaming, but higher freq will have more into the sound and make it rich. Idk if I could tell apart :D
Hardly anyone will hear anything at 20k. A very few young people can hear 22k. I can hear maybe 15k. Try a hearing test YT video if you want to check your limit.

Yeah, no subwoofer out. Might work or not depending on connections. What speakers and sub are you using?
 
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tomini

tomini

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Hardly anyone will hear anything at 20k. A very few young people can hear 22k. I can hear maybe 15k. Try a hearing test YT video if you want to check your limit.

Yeah, no subwoofer out. Might work or not depending on connections. What speakers and sub are you using?
I can hear 18kHz. So yeah, you are right.
Depending on connections? Jack or optical input to subwoofer, that takes the bass frequencies (i assume) to itself and the rest goes to the towers via connected RCA cables.
It is a set that came together. Fenda F770X (sometimes F&D, instead of Fenda...watchout for 7700X with 4 towers it is different model) Really budget set, but it was a gift (sounds good enough to me) and nothing better until a pretty pricy range was available at the time and I would need AMP/DAC and back then I wasn't into this...yo u could say that those words were vulgar :D
 
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tomini

tomini

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@Helicopter I plugged my IEMs (KZ ZS10 Pro) in my laptop and now remember why I stopped using them there. The hiss is unbearable. I have to be on 2 or 4 volume out of 100, so it doesnt blow my eardrums, but the hiss is heard over the song. Depending on the song it can be subtle, but it is there always in the background. I belive they are 30 Ω. Is the jack/sound card busted or what?
 

Helicopter

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@Helicopter I plugged my IEMs (KZ ZS10 Pro) in my laptop and now remember why I stopped using them there. The hiss is unbearable. I have to be on 2 or 4 volume out of 100, so it doesnt blow my eardrums, but the hiss is heard over the song. Depending on the song it can be subtle, but it is there always in the background. I belive they are 30 Ω. Is the jack/sound card busted or what?
I am not sure. I don't like the feel of IEMs so my experience is really limited. I know they can be super sensitive and pick up a noise floor more audibly than other transducers, but I can't say if the noise you are hearing is normal for the headphone amp in your machine. If the noise disapears with the PC38x then it is probably just the high sensitivity; if you hear it with those, then it is probably the amp.
 
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