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Hearing at risk now - seeking advice for a sound card

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 
Hi,

First of all I don't know much about sound cards, Hi-Fi, etc. I currently have the ASUS Xonar Essence STX, Sennheiser HD 555 headphones and of course integrated audio as well.

My hearing is not very good, but not too bad either, due to some issues as a child, and standing too close to a speaker in a rock concert as an adult...which resulted in a tinnitus that took something like a year to recover. I probably hve lost some of my hearing, I don't want to take a hearing test as I'd probably only get depressed frown.gif.

What now really concerns me, is that I've had two accidents with my headphones. After the first accident, I tried to be very careful, but now it happened again. And what happened is, that when I sometimes need to switch between my crappy speakers and headphones, the volume in Windows has to be 100 % for the speakers and like 10 % for the Xonar with headphones. And you can probably guess that I've had two accidents when the audio has blasted into my ears at full volume from the headphones and I quickly grabbed them off from my head. I went to a doctor and he said that it is probably OK as it is just a short accident but he said that I might have temporarily lost some of my hearing. And I believe I gained a very slight tinnitus AGAIN, and I am very depressed with this. I tried to research what might have been the DB level when this happened but I guess it depends on many factors?

Let me just say that the Xonar 100 % output into headphones is VERY VERY LOUD and makes me afraid to use it any more. Should I just ditch any sound card now with headphone amp integrated? What I know is that the Xonar has a suberb sound when compared to any integrated audio, at least I feel so when listening to music. If it's best to ditch this card, what would be an alternative card? I've also been thinking about an external audio level tuner, but what kind of not to lose any audio quality? For example the Xonar Phoebus has an external control box to alter the volume level. That would probably be an option. It would be cool if there was a dB meter for the output to be seen.

I would game & listen to with the speakers only, but since I can mostly game after the wife has went to bed, that's not really an option.

By the way, I am not the only one having this accident: http://techgage.com/article/using_the_asus_xonar_essence_stx_under_linux/

"I will give just one word of warning, though. I’m not sure if this goes for Windows’ users as well, but the STX can go loud, and I mean loud in the truest sense of the word. At max volume, the D2X would of course be far too loud for regular listening, but I swear that the STX is twice that. Whereas before with the D2X, 40% in my media player would be acceptable for listening, ~15% is what I use most of the time now. I made a major mistake a few weeks ago of accidentally having the volume at full blast and then putting on a song, and let me tell you… I won’t make the same mistake twice. It’s so loud, that I have little doubt that such small mistakes have the potential of damaging your hearing to a small degree permanently."
post #2 of 6
I know this may seem like a silly idea and it is quite expensive, But invest in an external receiver as the volume output is directly controlled by that, And plug your headphones into that, The receiver has it's own amp so that's not an issue and windows cannot control it's volume output, Not will it get distorted by anything windows is set to due to it being entirely digital.


Keep in mind however, You will need to use HDMI output on atleast one of your computer's gpu's, And switching audio between speakers and headphones will require you to rightclick the icon on your startmenu and select the receiver as default output device (you ccan do that as many times as you want on the fly)
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post #3 of 6
Thread Starter 
What about this one? Seems to cost a bit though, but at this point, I appreciate my hearing more..wink.gif

http://www.asus.com/Sound_Cards_and_DigitaltoAnalog_Converters/Xonar_Essence_One/

Separate volume controls for speakers and headphones. Also I could hook up both my PCs into this one? One via USB and another via optical? Or could I?

Other thoughts?
post #4 of 6
You could get an inline headphone volume control for the headphones, and adjust it out to level between the speakers and headphones.

This is probably your best bet, because you can use it as a safety valve for pretty much any audio source you may want to use one day.

You could also get a compressor or stereo limiter tongue.gif
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post #5 of 6
I'd just buy an external amplifier and control the volume from there while keeping the volume in your OS at 100 percent. I don't know what your budget is, but something like the O2 amp can be found for 150 or so and would be an upgrade in quality over the amp in the STX.
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post #6 of 6
Thread Starter 
Thanks.

Well I went for the Essence One, but damn, this thing is flawed. If Windows is at 100 percent, the thing is too way loud with the minimum setting for headphones. If I change USB port, Windows volume always goes to 100 %... nice!

There is also an issue that the two-three lowest volume settings in the Xonar don't work properly, and the left channel is louder than the right channel. Or the right channel is completely silent. Well, at least I can use both of my computers at the same time, one via USB and another via SPDIF.

Anyone can still suggest a quality inline volume control for the headphones? thumb.gif
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