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Want higher quality sound... but don't need bells and whistles

post #1 of 24
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I'm finally getting into some higher quality audio stuff. The other day I finally got sick of my Corsair HS1 USB headset (upper mids are way too harsh for listening to music... not horrible for gaming) Bought some Audio Technica ATH-AD700 headphones and a Zalman clip on mic so I can talk on Vent. I've been looking at getting a sound card to go with this setup... but I'm lost in the sea of available options.

My main concern is music, followed by gaming (I'd say a 65/35% split) I listen to mainly rock/metal, with some electronic stuff thrown in. For games, I play WoW, Civ 5 (normally with music playing in the background), Dirt 2(3 on preorder), Crysis 2, BFBC2, etc. I've tried virtual surround with my HS1 and I wasn't impressed by it, just sounded gimmicky and regular stereo sounded better IMO. My new headphones appear to be low impedance, which based on what I've read means I don't necessarily need a headphone amp in whatever sound card I get. All I need as far as features go is a stereo headphone jack, and a microphone input.

Which brings me to... Sound Card vs external DAC. It seems most of the sound cards that I would be interested in buying have a bunch of extra features that I don't need (virtual/hardware surround, EAX/emulations, etc) But for DAC's, from reviews it seems like you have to spend a lot of money to get a good one... but those could have been from a hardcore audiophile point of view. Also, I've read several places people don't think they're good for gaming, this because of no surround sound?

Few items I've been considering:
ASUS Xonar DX (would the extra cost of the Essence STX be worth it?)
Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi Titanium HD (have to stretch my budget to get this, seems a lot of people don't like Creative though)
NuForce Icon uDAC-2
FiiO E7 USB DAC

Anyways, budget's around $150, preferably cheaper. I'd prefer something I can buy from a major online retailer, like Amazon or Newegg, not a special order from some website. Any suggestions?
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post #2 of 24
I honestly would just go with the Xonar DX. Unless you are planning on getting some high end audio equipment the STX seams a bit too pricey for me. As it is I feel like you may be better off getting an external DAC at that price point.
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post #3 of 24
If you're a true Audiophile, check out M-audio's Audiophile 192.

But even then... a poor set of speakers can make even the best sound card sound like trash. I'd worry about your speakers and get a cheaper Audigy card. Just my 2 cents. I'm an audiophile myself but maybe not an extreme one. With my Audigy 2 I seem to get amazing quality sound out of my speakers. *shrug*
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post #4 of 24
Xonar DX for budget or if you focus on headphones, then the ST is the way to go (very good quality and excellent focus on headphone audio).

X-fi titanium is crap for sound. ALL and any Audigy sound cards are crap as well.

I'm an audiophile and have noticed differences between my Audigy SBC, X-fi titanium and my Xonar dx (current one).
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post #5 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick911 View Post
Xonar DX for budget or if you focus on headphones, then the ST is the way to go (very good quality and excellent focus on headphone audio).

X-fi titanium is crap for sound. ALL and any Audigy sound cards are crap as well.

I'm an audiophile and have noticed differences between my Audigy SBC, X-fi titanium and my Xonar dx (current one).
Have you tried all and any Audigy cards?

Don't write em all off till you try them all. Just Sayin'
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post #6 of 24
I have a Xfi Extreme music im not using if you have a open PCI slot. The sound quality for the money is wounderful.
post #7 of 24
the xonar DS search ocn for "xonar dx vs ds"
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post #8 of 24
Like I've already stated. A Xonar DX will suit your needs well. I'm in the price bracket below you with my ATH-M40fs and I went with the Xonar DG for only $30 and the difference is incredible.
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post #9 of 24
Thread Starter 
Alrighty then, I'll look more seriously into the DX (ultimately, the STX is out of my budget range) thanks everyone

Oh, another question: any differences between the D1 and the DX other than PCI-e vs PCI legacy? I have both slots available.
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post #10 of 24
What is your budget range? Those are stereo cans so you need a amp with dolby to simulate 5.1 specially needed for positional audio. Get something like the astro mix amp.
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