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post #111 of 157
Quote:
Originally Posted by SmokinWaffle View Post

Looks tacky.

Agreed.
post #112 of 157
Can anyone here who has HONESTLY compared a Xonar STX to something like an X-Fi chime in on whether there is a noticeable difference?
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post #113 of 157
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stealth Pyros View Post

Can anyone here who has HONESTLY compared a Xonar STX to something like an X-Fi chime in on whether there is a noticeable difference?

If you use it, Dolby Headphone on the STX and others is different than anything the X-Fi offer. (I won't say better, and personally I don't like it or CMSS-3D anyway.)

STX has a more powerful headphone amplifier (capable of higher power delivery) than any X-Fi-based soundcard I think, including those from Creative and Auzentech. "Powerful" doesn't necessarily mean better, and many options are already much too loud with most headphones. Realistically to need the extra power the STX offers, you need to be listening to classical music on 600 ohm Beyerdynamics or maybe some planar magnetic sets, or something like that.

STX is limited to about 7V output; the Auzentech are around 3V output, and I'm fairly sure the Creative stuff doesn't reach 7V (most are about 1V). Some HT Omega sound cards have similar outputs to STX and use the same headphone amplifier chip, the TPA6120, which is also used by the standalone FiiO E9 headphone amp. I'm pretty sure that unless they screw it up, anything using a TPA6120 output likely has higher fidelity driving most headphones (not all; these TPA6120 designs are not good for certain IEMs) than most sound cards, which don't bother with much there.

In my books, extra volume (if you need it) counts as a noticeable difference. As for most of the rest, it's a wash and I wouldn't say. People are prone to imagining things.
Edited by mikeaj - 5/8/12 at 11:43am
post #114 of 157
So would good headphones, a DAC, and a headphone amp would be better than good headphones, a soundcard and a headphone amp? Already got a Xonar Xense and PC 350 headset, so I wonder if I'll notice any improvement from listening to music?
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post #115 of 157
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stealth Pyros View Post

Can anyone here who has HONESTLY compared a Xonar STX to something like an X-Fi chime in on whether there is a noticeable difference?

@Pryos
The main thing is it depends on what gear you are using. If you use a cheap speakers or headphones, then you might not notice it. Where you would if you using a good headphone or a good pair of speakers. A lot of people just can't hear the differences, While others who tried usually have cheap speakers or headphones and couldn't tell because of that. People are not imaging like mikej just mention.

@MikeAJ The STX and E9 might have the same amp IC, that do not mean they are even in power in terms on how they can drive headphones. It depends on how that chip is used in the design of the sound card. Or the External amp.

The Fiio E9 does output more voltage then the Xonar STX because of the way it was designed and all the components it used to do its purpose. The major flaw with the fiio E9 is the op-amp they decided to use. The First shipment of Fiio E9's used to have op-amp sockets so you can switch the OPA2134 out. Now they changed it so you couldn't.

Also making headphone louder is not the main reason for a amp, the main reason is to supply enough power to a headphone that isn't getting enough. So it can output the sound it was meant to output. A under power headphone can sound totally difference if it isn't getting the power it need. It just most people think a hp amp main purpose is to make things louder and think your nuts for using one. Then Some headphones match better with different headphone Amps.


Also to say that people can image the different between the cards and go there isn't is false. Its there but like I mention to pryos it depends on your gear that your using. If I was to take some cheap generic headphones and plug into the two. Then I wouldn't notice a different, But If I take a good audiophile gear headphone and then compare.

Then I certainly can,I have at one point used a Ultrasone HFI-780 I used have years ago. Back then I had a Xonar HDAV1.3. With my dad X-Fi Xtreme gamer. The differences between the two was clearly there..But to be fair The Xonar HDAV1.3 Normal had similar components of the STX and the op-amp layout.

I have a feeling you said what you said because you couldn't notice the difference but then maybe you don't have any audiophile gear headphones or you simply one of the people who cant tell.

Most importantly Every one ears is different , what one person may not notice, another person may notice. Since you don't have their ears slapped on the side of your years. You don't know what every one can and cant hear.
Edited by admflameberg - 5/8/12 at 12:50pm
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post #116 of 157
Quote:
Originally Posted by admflameberg View Post

@MikeAJ The STX and E9 might have the same amp IC, that do not mean they are even in power in terms on how they can drive headphones. It depends on how that chip is used in the design of the sound card. Or the External amp.
The Fiio E9 does output more voltage then the Xonar STX because of the way it was designed and all the components it used to do its purpose. The major flaw with the fiio E9 is the op-amp they decided to use. The First shipment of Fiio E9's used to have op-amp sockets so you can switch the OPA2134 out. Now they changed it so you couldn't.
Also making headphone louder is not the main reason for a amp, the main reason is to supply enough power to a headphone that isn't getting enough. So it can output the sound it was meant to output. A under power headphone can sound totally difference if it isn't getting the power it need. It just most people think a hp amp main purpose is to make things louder and think your nuts for using one. Then Some headphones match better with different headphone Amps.

edit: response wasn't really relevant to the main topic here, so on second thought I'll spoiler it to save space response (Click to show)
I wasn't just making some casual assumptions. Yes the power depends on the configuration, mostly relating to the power supply rails. And yes, the E9 is slightly more powerful, but not by any kind of significant amount. Something like 0.1V difference at around 7V is around 0.12 dB difference in loudness you will get, which is pretty insignificant.

It's been tested that the STX output goes to 7.03V (presumably into a high impedance load):
http://www.stereophile.com/content/asus-xonar-essence-ststx-soundcards-measurements

And the E9 power output can be seen here:
http://nwavguy.blogspot.com/2011/05/fiio-e9-headphone-amp.html
386
note: values here on x-axis are root mean square (rms), using sine waves

The TPA6120 data sheet lists this (there won't be a huge difference between +-12V rails and +-15V rails in optimal circumstances...and most likely, any sound card is going to be running off of +12V for the positive rail at least):
323
note: values here on x-axis of Fig. 5 are peak-to-peak, so divide by (2 * sqrt(2)) to compare to the previous graph

More power to the headphones means more volume. If a headphone is getting less power, that means it will be quieter, that's all...It doesn't matter if an amp can output 1V or 20V if you're using at 1V or less (quite a common scenario for most headphones that aren't high impedance and very insensitive), so all the audiophile BS about "power" needs to stop. What you should be interested in are the performance characteristics with the kinds of loads and output power levels you'll be using.

If a different amp has different output impedance, different amounts of distortion, maybe even a different frequency or phase response, etc. it can definitely sound different or better. That's a different matter other than power.



It's very well established that people are inclined to imagine differences, even when none exist (some do exist here, but that's the only cause for people hearing differences):
http://www.aes.org/e-lib/browse.cfm?elib=5539

Also see here:
http://seanolive.blogspot.com/2009/04/dishonesty-of-sighted-audio-product.html
http://www.matrixhifi.com/ENG_contenedor_ppec.htm

Edited by mikeaj - 5/8/12 at 2:28pm
post #117 of 157
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stealth Pyros View Post

Can anyone here who has HONESTLY compared a Xonar STX to something like an X-Fi chime in on whether there is a noticeable difference?

I have both an STX and X-Fi plugged in atm. Not gonna bore you to death with charts and convoluted technical details but suffice it to say the STX has a clear advantage in raw sound quality with the built-in amp and high SNR. SNR is represented by an efficiency equation, so basically a higher SNR is an indicator that the manufacturer is using a superior DAC (digital-analogue converter). The STX also has socketed op-amps which makes it easy to switch them to influence the nature of the sound. Basically, it's a card made for audiophiles.

For gamers, on the other hand, the STX is a terrible card. It has no EAX hardware support so the drivers emulate and the end result is that it, in no uncertain terms, absolutely SUCKS compared to the environmental effects the X-Fi is capable of. Whereas with the X-Fi I can, with headphones, pinpoint which direction a sound is coming from anywhere in 3D, the STX is a murky mess that throws sounds so off that you could be perceiving a sound in front of you that is actually originating from behind you. It's like a freaking ventriloquism plugin for all your games, and it's downright painful when you depend highly on acoustic location to find your frags.

It doesn't seem that this new card has improved anything on the EAX front so if you tend to use your PC more to game than to listen to music, stick with Creative.
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post #118 of 157
How's phoebus compares to asus xense? Thanks in advance.
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post #119 of 157
I'm in the market for a sound card and I don't have audiophile quality headphones(sadly own some cheap sony's). I normally run my system through a Onkyo 7.1 HD sound system so I guess any card will work for me as long as it has optical out on it. Also I can blast whatever I'm playing/listening to since my game room is in the dungeon....errr basement I mean. Research time! woooo whooooo!
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post #120 of 157
Quote:
Originally Posted by mikeaj View Post

If you use it, Dolby Headphone on the STX and others is different than anything the X-Fi offer. (I won't say better, and personally I don't like it or CMSS-3D anyway.)
STX has a more powerful headphone amplifier (capable of higher power delivery) than any X-Fi-based soundcard I think, including those from Creative and Auzentech. "Powerful" doesn't necessarily mean better, and many options are already much too loud with most headphones. Realistically to need the extra power the STX offers, you need to be listening to classical music on 600 ohm Beyerdynamics or maybe some planar magnetic sets, or something like that.
STX is limited to about 7V output; the Auzentech are around 3V output, and I'm fairly sure the Creative stuff doesn't reach 7V (most are about 1V). Some HT Omega sound cards have similar outputs to STX and use the same headphone amplifier chip, the TPA6120, which is also used by the standalone FiiO E9 headphone amp. I'm pretty sure that unless they screw it up, anything using a TPA6120 output likely has higher fidelity driving most headphones (not all; these TPA6120 designs are not good for certain IEMs) than most sound cards, which don't bother with much there.
In my books, extra volume (if you need it) counts as a noticeable difference. As for most of the rest, it's a wash and I wouldn't say. People are prone to imagining things.

+ the fact that Creative's master volume introduces software created distortion past 55%, while it's 76% on Asus Xonars.
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