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Xonar STX Concerns + PC to Receiver questions

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
Is it worth it ? LOL What a question right. Having a hard time talking myself into it. I got a little upgrade happy and ran into a problem of 2 of my upgrades not working out so well with each other. On a much earlier recomendation I stuck a Xonar DG card in and loved it. Then I went and impulse bought another 460 for some SLI action. Love it but I no longer have use of my PCI slots. Looked at a PCI-E to PCI adapter but due to price and it looks like a PITA I highly doubt I'll go that way. Planning on just putting the DG into another computer and picking up a X1 sound card to replace it. The obvious choice seems to be the Xonar Essence STX since I liked the DG and it is the same brand and also has the headphone AMP (99% headphone only user). I'm a cheap bastage though and at $199 I'm having a hard time talking myself into pulling the trigger on it. So is it worth it over something like the Xonar DX or X-Fi Titanium ?

Also on reading another thread I ran into this quote.

Quote:
Originally Posted by hfcobra View Post
although, i would HIGHLY recommend saving an extra $80 to get the ASUS Xonar STX sound card, it is the top sound card in ASUS's lineup and you will love it! there are some compatibility issues with win 7 but i will help you out with that if you do decide to go all out on the sound card
What sorts of Windows 7 compatability issues does it have ? Don't like the sound of this. For the $$ I'd expect it to nearly jump out of the box and install itself. Maybe even dust my case out while it was at it.
Edited by ~sizzzle~ - 1/24/11 at 11:18am
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post #2 of 11
Which headphones will you be using it with?
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post #3 of 11
what headphones are you using with it and whats it primary purpose?
    
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post #4 of 11
STX is great, but alot of people have issues with the drivers causing BSODs on win 7 x64. Fortunately, this awesome guy has been writing and releasing his own drivers (google "Unified Xonar Drivers") which are hands down the best sound drivers i have ever used. They work perfect and no one has reported the same BSODs after using them. Asus takes forever to update the cmedia audio drivers for their packages anyways.

Creative is even worse.

I would say this though, unless you really need the additional amp power for some higher impedance headphones, it might be easier for you to just pick up a Xonar DX and call it a day. You will save yourself over $100 dollars.
    
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post #5 of 11
Thread Starter 
Ordering new cans this week and since I've decided to completely blow my budget for sound that I'm still undecided. Most likely Audio-Technica ATH-A700 or Sennheiser HD 518.

Quote:
Originally Posted by microman View Post
what headphones are you using with it and whats it primary purpose?
A little of everything, gaming, movies, music.
Edited by ~sizzzle~ - 1/24/11 at 8:16am
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post #6 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by ~sizzzle~ View Post
Ordering new cans this week and since I've decided to completely blow my budget for sound that I'm still undecided. Most likely Audio-Technica ATH-A700 or Sennheiser HD 518.
ath-a700s or ad700s run pretty well on stock card voltages...so you could get away with a DX...

the HD518s... well I would probably splurge for the 558's, but both sets look like they would enjoy a little extra power...

The ad700s/m50s that I have work fine on the normal gain settings in the STX control panel, my AKG 701s like the medium gain setting, but I mostly run my headphones out of my yamaha receiver, because it all has the TI dacs/adcs like the STX but allows me to also use the auto sample rate switching via Wasapi spdif passthrough.




If you view your next headphone purchase as a stepping stone into the audio world a bit, I think a STX would be a worthy investment for you. With those drivers I mentioned above, it should be pretty much painless. Just keep in mind you need a PCI-E slot and a 4Pin Molex power connector.

The internal amp is switchable in the Xonar control panel so you can choose to amp the headphone jack on the front port of your case if you have it connected to the card internally.

I would probably get the STX if I were you...
Edited by rmp459 - 1/24/11 at 8:22am
    
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post #7 of 11
Thread Starter 
Thank you for the input. Sort of sounds like the driver issue isn't a big deal as long as I use the custom drivers which are better anyway. Also sounds like with the ATH-A700s which I'm leaning towards getting the DX would be a good match but could limit my choices in future headphone upgrades as well as not being such a good match if I decided to go with the Sennheiser cans now.

Now a little off topic but you mentioned running your headphones out of your Yamaha receiver. How is that setup ? Are you running from sound card to the receiver ? I have an old Kenwood KR-V6060 sitting in my living that doesn't get much use. Not sure how well that dinosaur would work for this though.

edit:

A little searching it looks like I can just run from 3.5mm out of the onboard sound to the receiver using a 3.5mm to RCA adapter (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16812120702). Does this eliminate the need for a sound card. Or would it be better to run with the sound card to the receiver using the adapter or is there a better route ?

Quote:
I mostly run my headphones out of my yamaha receiver, because it all has the TI dacs/adcs like the STX but allows me to also use the auto sample rate switching via Wasapi spdif passthrough.
Of course seeing how the above mostly looks like a foreign language and my receiver is rather old and was definately not designed to be ran with a PC I might be just better off sticking with the sound card. Though $10 for a cable to try it might be worth a shot.
Edited by ~sizzzle~ - 1/24/11 at 11:16am
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post #8 of 11
LOL

well the Xonar STX (like my yamaha receiver) has TI Burr Brown DAC's (Digital Audio Converters. That is what converts the digital audio (data passed in 0's and 1's over a digital connection such as SPDIF (Toslink/Coax) or just decoding a mp3 file on your computer.

I use the receiver because I also have my HDTV powered by a video card in my rig and I use my PC to decode different audio formats from movie rips and pass them as multi channel PCM audio via HDMI to my receiver and 5.1 speakers. This allows me to pass all audio to one location and use the receiver to determine if I want it sent to the front headphone jack on my receiver or to the rear audio outs to my speakers. (This is mostly all handled by splitters and decoders that most people just refer to as "Codecs")

Sorta simple enough... Just keep in mind its sorta a gaming PC / HTPC hybrid which is why i run the receiver.



Now onto the headphones....

Differences in headphones come from dynamic range / Impedance (resistance a.k.a. Ohms) / etc...etc..etc...

I would go into the equations, but it is easier to just say that the higher the Ohms (impedance/resistance) on a pair of headphones, the more power is require to drive them to potential, which is where amp'ing comes in. The STX has 3 gain settings on the amp for different impedance headphones, which will allow you to drive more expensive headphones down the road.

Typically higher impedance headphones are much cleaner and when powered correctly REALLY shine. On the flip side, if you underpower them by using a stock sound card or a low end home theatre receiver, they are really going to underwhelm you and sound boring.

Low impedance headsets require far less power to drive them. And as a result, you get better volume and sounds, but at the cost of sound quality. (most common earbuds / gaming headsets fall into this category)

The auto sample rate non-sense is what you get when you pass digital (toslink/coax) through the sound card to a decent receiver. It will appear in the windows sound settings on most cards as something you can manually set. (44.1KHz, 48 KHz, 96 Khz, 192Khz) Most mp3 music and alot of FLAC is 44.1 KHz. Most agree that audio sound best when it is played back at the same sample rate it was recorded in. So when you use a output module that many audio/media players can use called WASAPI, it enables you to bypass the windows sound stack (where you would manually set it) and pass direct audio to your compatible receiver without resampling it. Most receivers with good components will grab whichever sample rate is being sent to it and just automatically adjust for the best quality sound.



If you need me to really clarify, I would say just PM me and I will try to send you some actually reading you can make sense of, but if I were to suggest anything, it would be...

Get the Essence STX. Set the sample rate to 44Khz in the Xonar Control Panel, Change the Amp to use the Front Panel of your tower and just plug your headphones in and go. If you ever buy higher quality headphones you can just increase the gain via the internal amp.

If you plan to get a home theatre or a 5.1 speaker set up in the future. I would instead use onboard audio, passed via a toslink cable to a decent yamaha receiver (such as an RX-V667) and run the headphones out of that... Keep in mind this solution really only makes sense if you want to integrate a TV/ 5.1/7.1 speakers / game consoles / cable boxes / etc...

Otherwise, most people buy specific 2ch headphone amplifiers and DACs and simple just use them for their headphones. This would be better researched on the HiFi boards here or over at head-fi.org

Be careful is all I can say... its easy to get sucked in
Edited by rmp459 - 1/24/11 at 1:36pm
    
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post #9 of 11
i have an old 80's like 100LB yamaha reciever...when i move im hooking my pc to my tv throught it, you cant kill thier recievers i even have the matching turntable
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post #10 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by rmp459 View Post
LOL

well the Xonar STX (like my yamaha receiver) has TI Burr Brown DAC's (Digital Audio Converters. That is what converts the digital audio (data passed in 0's and 1's over a digital connection such as SPDIF (Toslink/Coax) or just decoding a mp3 file on your computer.

I use the receiver because I also have my HDTV powered by a video card in my rig and I use my PC to decode different audio formats from movie rips and pass them as multi channel PCM audio via HDMI to my receiver and 5.1 speakers. This allows me to pass all audio to one location and use the receiver to determine if I want it sent to the front headphone jack on my receiver or to the rear audio outs to my speakers. (This is mostly all handled by splitters and decoders that most people just refer to as "Codecs")
I am considering getting an STX but now think I will use my Onkyo HTR667 instead. I want to be able to use my headphones, getting Senn hd555 next week, and still be able to use my 2.1 and 5.1 set up.

My sig mobo comes with this audio chipset:
VIA VT2020:
SupremeFX X-Fi HD audio CODEC
EAX Advanced HD 4.0
X-Fi CMSS 3D
X-Fi Crystalizer
Creative ALchemy


It has SPDIF out. Would my onkyo be okay with that or should I still get one of the cheaper sound cards for it?
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