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post #21 of 37
I've found the onboard amp of the STX is lacking in bass. If there isn't a rolloff, then it's simply comes down to it just not being powerful enough.
 
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post #22 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by ramicio View Post

I've found the onboard amp of the STX is lacking in bass. If there isn't a rolloff, then it's simply comes down to it just not being powerful enough.

(Non-trivial) bass rolloff where? Fractions of a dB at 20 Hz don't count, unless you really want to argue that (?)—if you do, try setting a parametric EQ with a bass rolloff of a fraction of a dB at 20 Hz and report how that goes.

http://www.stereophile.com/content/asus-xonar-essence-ststx-soundcards-measurements
http://www.head-fi.org/t/622748/asus-xonar-essence-st-enough-to-drive-audeze-lcd-2#post_8615833

Into what load? Not enough electric power? Check above.

There is some better data on other TPA6120-based amplifiers like this and this, though that is no guarantee that another amp using that part wouldn't be limited by a smaller supply rail, power supply drooping out of regulation at a very high level into low-impedance headphones, or some other issue. But that doesn't seem to be the case from the first two links—I think you can mostly assume the Essence ST/STX output power should be similar to what you see for the E9, QRV09, and many others using that.

Explain the difference you will, but I contend that it's not likely a result of bass rolloff or lack of power.
post #23 of 37
Not really rolloff, just plain sucky, weak, ill-defined bass. The amp just isn't powerful enough. It wouldn't surprise me if the same thing applied to all of these other puny little pathetic tiny amps like the O2 and other battery or wall-wart-powered crap. Frequency response charts don't mean anything, especially when they're just measuring a simple tone played through the headphone.
 
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post #24 of 37
He's saying the STX's amp doesn't control the headphone's bass well enough. Roll off wasn't what he wanted to say.
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post #25 of 37
Yes. It takes power to move a mechanical device large distances and change direction in a clearly-defined manner. Why do you think subs in cars are rarely ever just a few watts?
 
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post #26 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by ramicio View Post

Yes. It takes power to move a mechanical device large distances and change direction in a clearly-defined manner. Why do you think subs in cars are rarely ever just a few watts?

Because more watts=more powas=spend more monies for more watts thingies.
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post #27 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by ramicio View Post

Not really rolloff, just plain sucky, weak, ill-defined bass. The amp just isn't powerful enough. It wouldn't surprise me if the same thing applied to all of these other puny little pathetic tiny amps like the O2 and other battery or wall-wart-powered crap. Frequency response charts don't mean anything, especially when they're just measuring a simple tone played through the headphone.
[emphasis added]

So what do you mean by "powerful enough" here? I'm not particularly sure if I see a relationship with amplifier size, but that depends on what you mean. Certainly for higher output power, you may need some larger components, heatsinks, but not as huge as some people make amps unless you insist on the more inefficient class A designs. There are a lot of factors involved with regards to size. This below:
Quote:
Originally Posted by ramicio View Post

Yes. It takes power to move a mechanical device large distances and change direction in a clearly-defined manner. Why do you think subs in cars are rarely ever just a few watts?
implies electric power to me though, watts. So are you talking watts or not?

For that matter, which headphones are we talking about? As we know, Essence ST / STX damping factor is not ideal for some low-impedance headphones; granted, plenty of people say they're just fine with ~22 ohms Denons and other more resistive models on those sound cards.

I wouldn't be so dismissive of frequency response information. These amplifiers are mostly linear in our operating range of interest (input signal bounded and not containing information above the audio band, output within a certain level, and the load being in a certain range of impedance). Hopefully it's all clear from linear systems theory how the frequency response (equivalently, impulse response) can describe the output behavior in such a system. Nonlinearities are small, as evidenced by the THD / IMD figures, so deviations from theory should likewise be small, as in any number of other systems out in the real world that are similarly modeled.

If you are going to make an argument based on controlling the driver in motion, back emf, etc., then sure. I wouldn't dismiss all of those out of hand either. That said, rather than accepting some hand waving, I would recommend this test, using music where you are hearing the "sucky, weak, ill-defined bass", if you want to investigate what's going on or are feeling generous and want to help us out:
test (Click to show)
  1. Play the music out of STX -> record with STX.
  2. Play the music out of STX -> y-splitter to headphones and recording with STX.
  3. Play the music out of STX -> amp that doesn't have "sucky, weak, ill-defined bass" -> record with STX.
  4. Play the music out of STX -> amp that doesn't have "sucky, weak, ill-defined bass" -> y-splitter from amp output to headphones and recording with STX.

Grounding issues, sound card measurement caveats, and D/A and A/D quality aside, that should expose any weakness of the sound card not being able to handle the signal while driving the headphones. If there is enough of a difference to make the bass sound off, it should show up in the recording, right? The recording is pretty much the voltage seen by the headphone drivers. There's not another input into the system that should cause differences in sound quality, except stupid negligible stuff like slight temperature variations, slight "burn-in" effects from one test run to the next. If the voltage is significantly different between test runs, then we can analyze what's different and maybe figure out why.

P.S. so I'm not ragging on anyone in particular. If you don't mean bass rolloff as in the frequency response magnitude is less at lower frequencies, calling it rolloff is pretty misleading too, IMHO... If I knew what you meant, then some of these posts could be avoided. People talk about bass rolloff of speakers or headphones and mean that the FR is sagging at the low end. Or a DC blocking capacitor at the output is causing bass rolloff in terms of FR. Again, I thought the meaning was clearly defined.
Edited by mikeaj - 11/13/12 at 4:11pm
post #28 of 37
Thread Starter 
It seems there is much mixed feelings over the on board amp on the Xonar ST/STX. I'll most likely get the HD650s. In the mean time il lurk around and try finding some used with a reasonable price tag.
Many thanks to everyone who pitched in on the matter.
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post #29 of 37
I got mine for around $350 brand new from Electronics Expo becuse they had some huge discount code going at the time.
 
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post #30 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by L36 View Post

It seems there is much mixed feelings over the on board amp on the Xonar ST/STX. I'll most likely get the HD650s. In the mean time il lurk around and try finding some used with a reasonable price tag.
Many thanks to everyone who pitched in on the matter.

The Fiio E11 is actually a better amp IMO than the ST's amp. When you do get the 650s, I highly suggest saving up for a tube amp that's at least $200 or a good SSD amp like the matrix m stage. Most people would tell you to get the O2 amp, which is great for some headphones, gaming, and the money but you should really get something with a little more life.
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