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AKG 612/712 PRO, but what else?


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My trip through headphones and speakers was very diverse, but I finally reached the top floors and found out I am completely lost.

As the title suggests, I am about to buy one of the AKGs (most likely 712) and it would seem they lie in a territory that cannot be run from basic on-board sound card. Currently there is an MSI B150 GAMING M3 motherboard with an on-board Realtek ALC1150 sitting in my case.

According to many articles and forums, on-board sound cards are better and better. ALC1150 seems to be satisfying for normal use. However, it would seem it is not powerful enough to run the 712 PRO. Not enough anything.

Under perfect circumstances:


40 Hz – 15 kHz,dB +0.02, -0.07

THD 0.0043


I might be new to the higher part of audio technology, but I can tell that the picked headphones would be pointless to connect to such card.


  • Frequency 10Hz - 39.8kHz,
  • max input 200mW,
  • impedance 62 ohmu,
  • sensitivity 105dB SPL/V,
  • jack 3.5mm, cable lenght 3 m

Do I go for an external sound card like Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi Surround HD, something internal? Do I need additional amp, or will the card manage to run the 712s on its own?

Asking like this always annoys the hell out of me, makes me feel like my brain failed. However, here ti comes:

I would really appreciate help from the skilled and more knowledgeable. Could some good soul offer advice?

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I have that same Realtek processor on my MSI motherboard. I thought it was good too, until I heard an external DAC/Amp.


What to get depends on your budget and use case. I did a lot of research and ended up with the Schiit Jotunheim and it's DAC module, but my goal was to have natural sounding high quality stereo playback of music.


Based on the motherboard you have, and your comments about the SB X-Fi I am going to assume that you want something that will give you the ability to play games in simulated surround sound. If that's correct, the Sennheiser GSX 1000 might be more your style. While I haven't heard it, I have heard great things about it, and they are releasing the 1200 very soon. Might be worth checking it out, or waiting for reviews of the new 1200.

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Isn't that sound card an amp as well? Bit confused here. Because if I have only an amp, where does the sound come from? My on-board sound card, or the main processor?

Ramii: I don't play that much anymore, I want it for music. Sure, nice sound in games would be nice, but music is the top. And specifically for headphones. Not a fan of speakers.

The GSX 1000 looks epic, though.

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I don't know of any pure USB amps. The ones that I have seen usually come with a DAC built in and they look like an external sound card on your computer.


You could get a dedicated headphone amp (not USB powered), and connect the speaker output from your motherboard to the amp. You could always add an external DAC to feed the same amp at a later date (which would look like an external sound card to your computer).


Lots of them are available from many different manufacturers and I don't have enough experience to make any suggestions other than what I've heard from Schiit Audio. The Magni 2 is their entry level headphone amp. To which you could add a flavor of their entry level DAC, the Modi 2 (or anything other DAC) at a later date.


I ended up with the Schiit Jotunheim for $500, which is a hardphone amp, with an optional DAC built in, and it is the best thing I have ever heard; but with my limited experience and budget, "take that with a grain of salt".

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