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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello,


I recently purchased a Schiit Asgard 2 headphone amp which I use with my PC. I have it hooked up to my PC using a 1/8" to Dual RCA cable, output from the headphone jack on my PC.


I’ve read before that the volume in the source (my PC in this case) should be turned up to 100% and then the volume from the headphone amp adjusted accordingly. However, when I do this I get distortion, even with the Asgard 2 at a relatively low volume level. I have found that it sounds best when both the PC and the Asgard volume controls are somewhere in the 50%-75% range at the same time.


Is there some sort of general rule of thumb that should be applied to setting the PC volume control? Perhaps either this 100% PC volume rule is incorrect, or this is a sign that my PC is a poor audio source?


Any general tips that anyone can provide would be greatly appreciated. I am a noob with this stuff.


FYI - I am using a pair of Grado SR225i headphones and my PC has Creative X-Fi soundcard with all DSP and extra sound ‘enhancements’ turned off.


Thanks.
 

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I'm not familiar with the Schiit Asgard 2 headphone amp, but it sounds like that's the problem. Have you called them for advice? I've never seen a Creative Labs sound card distort at 100 percent volume. Of course, the "rule" to avoid using a software volume control isn't absolute, and especially less so today. So if it sounds good at a lower level you can just go with that. Or you could buy an inline passive volume control with 1/8th inch stereo connectors at Radio Shack and put it between your sound card and the other splitter wire that feeds your headphone amp.


--Ethan
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks, Ethan. It does sound fine when I reduce the master volume on the PC. However, the question of whether or not the amp has added any additional sonic improvement is a more difficult one to answer...


I did contact the company and this was their reply:


"Your PC audio may be of very low quality. I’d consider adding a Modi DAC to improve the audio quality.


Asgard cannot improve a poor source. If it’s distorting at full output, then it is a poor source. Sorry to be blunt.


If you’d like to continue with that source, then you should reduce the volume until it stops distorting, and to reduce degradation in the digital domain, run it at 24 bit depth, which allows volume control without bit loss until very low levels."
 

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I agree with Schiit and I'd bet quite a bit of money that the problem is the headphone output of your pc. Get even a cheap usb dac or internal sound card and I bet the issue goes away. You're basically trying to run your new bmw on gas you syphoned out of a rusty abandoned tractor. I have a pc-based headphone setup at home and at my office and both sound better when the pc volume is turned all the way up. Check out the computer audio forum at head-fi    http://www.head-fi.org/f/46/computer-audio
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by buckchester  /t/1520285/pc-audio-set-up-with-a-headphone-amp#post_24421517


"Your PC audio may be of very low quality. I’d consider adding a Modi DAC to improve the audio quality.

Here's another thing you can try before spending any money: Plug headphones directly into the sound card and turn the volume all the way up. This is more demanding of an output than driving the line-level input of a headphone amp. If the sound is clean at full volume driving headphones, then it's definitely not your sound card. You could also try sending the sound card into any other device's input, such as a receiver, as an experiment.


--Ethan
 

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Have you set the rear switch on Asgard to low gain setting? The headphone output can have way more output than the input of these amps require and hence the overload/distortion. If you have it on the high-gain setting, then setting the switch to the lower level should work.


Also note that there are multiple volume controls in Windows. The one you want to max out is the software one, e.g. in your media player. The one that controls the sound card, *if implemented in analog domain*, is fine to lower. I did a quick search and it seems that X-Fi volume control is analog so it is fine to lower it anyway.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks for the suggestions. The Asgard was set to the low gain.


Good points about the multiple volume controls. The media player I'm using is Foobar2000. I do have the volume in that player set to 100%. In the soundcard's volume control, I have the 'Wave' set at 100% as well. It's the 'Master Volume', however, that gives me the distortion. It gives me distortion somewhere around 75% and up, again, even with the Asgard's volume at low levels. So this 'Master Volume' should not be set to 100% regardless?


Thanks.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by buckchester  /t/1520285/pc-audio-set-up-with-a-headphone-amp#post_24430938


Thanks for the suggestions. The Asgard was set to the low gain.


Good points about the multiple volume controls. The media player I'm using is Foobar2000. I do have the volume in that player set to 100%. In the soundcard's volume control, I have the 'Wave' set at 100% as well. It's the 'Master Volume', however, that gives me the distortion. It gives me distortion somewhere around 75% and up, again, even with the Asgard's volume at low levels. So this 'Master Volume' should not be set to 100% regardless?


Thanks.
That's right. The master volume is (usually) controlling the analog amplification of the output and it is perfectly OK to reduce its levels to guard against overdrive. You may also want to look at ASIO support for your sound card (or use ASIO4DLL). It would bypass the Windows stack so what volume control is set there no longer matters.


BTW my son just bought an Asgard (I think) for his gaming machine plus one of their DACs. When he gets it, I can test it and get more insight into what is going on with it. He came asking me what to buy and with your post fresh in my mind, I remembered these guys make pretty high value products at pretty reasonable prices and recommended it to him. He asked them some questions and they answered immediately (latency of their DACs) and he went ahead and ordered them. So my thanks reminding me of the company and its products
.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Great, thanks for the advice. I will check out ASIO.


Let me know if you experience the same thing with your Asgard. I'd also be curious to know if the DAC produces any additional notieable benefits as well.


By the way, I plugged my mp3 player to the Asgard and turned it's volume up to 100%. No distortion with that, unless of course i turn the Asgard itself up to unbearable listening levels...
 

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Will do. He has had a heck of a time getting clean audio out of his machine with low latency so that his gaming is not impacted. He either gets noisy audio or high latency depending on what he tries.
 
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