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I'm building a new PC and my current 5.1 home theatre speakers with receiver will remain my primary and likely only audio device to be used with it. My current PC has an Asus Xonar D1 and it works great over the optical out, but I have this strange itch to go up a step with the new PC even though I doubt it will result in any noticeable difference.

HT for the PC hasn't changed from what's in the sig rig. Best bang for my buck I could find for under 500 at the time and it's going strong despite less than ideal working conditions (cat has taken up permanent residence on top of the receiver and will not renege on this decision. I clean the hair out regularly but still....).

Given that the other hardware isn't exactly audiophile quality, and that I don't see myself investing in a set of quality headphones anytime soon, does it make any sense at all to jump from a Xonar DX/D1 to a STX II? Display models of these things... Don't exist on my side of the continent, and I don't know anyone within driving distance who has either an STX or STX II, so I can't test them personally without buying one.

Thoughts from someone who has owned a DX/D1 or comparable and upgraded to an STX or STX II for use with speakers?
 

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The STX was built with headphones in mind, I believe it can only do stereo and has no 5.1 support. So it will likely be a waste IMO.
 

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Originally Posted by LinkPro View Post

The STX was built with headphones in mind, I believe it can only do stereo and has no 5.1 support. So it will likely be a waste IMO.
Nope. This is why I asked for comments from people who've done a similar upgrade. You're not going to be able to compare them by reading the newegg listings and scratching your chin over hypothetical dollar to performance ratios. No offense meant but that isn't how it works.

The STX II has a TOSLINK adapter for using optical through it's dual link port. Where there is optical, there is 5.1 44khz sound. Beyond that setup that I am already using on my Xonar D1 there is a cable that can be used to direct the 7.1 audio out through GPU's (not sure which are compatible, I'd look into it but it's not something I'll ever have to use.) and the daughterboard that comes with the STX II has a full set of 7.1 RCAs with swappable op-amps (the main attraction for me, but I'm not sure just how much I'll get out of customizing the op-amps).

You could pump 5.1, 7.1, and Stereo sound to 5 or more different outputs at once with the STX II. That is the last concern.
 

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Guess I was wrong about that 5.1 thing. Asus website didn't mention any of that. I do know the daughterboard can do 7.1, I just wasn't sure if it is included or you have to get it separately. And apparently it is.

However my point still stands, the STX II, in fact the entire Essence line, is made with headphone users in mind. And seeing that you won't be investing in headphones anytime soon I don't see any reason to invest $400 into it. It'd be like using a pickup truck to transport a VIP, entirely doable but not sensible. Sure you will see improvements but I doubt it is worth the price jump. Try looking for something specially made for speakers instead.

Remember that an audio setup is only as good as the worst component in it. If you speakers aren't already audiophile level I'd suggest upgrading that first, just like how I would upgrade my headphones before investing in a DAC/AMP system, and then maybe cables. Just my .02.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
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Originally Posted by LinkPro View Post

However my point still stands, the STX II, in fact the entire Essence line, is made with headphone users in mind. .
The STX is intended for headphone users. The STX II is intended for everyone else specifically, and definitely not headphone users. The extra 70 bucks you pay for the daughterboard with the 7.1 RCA connections is the only difference between it and the STX, and I have yet to see a set of headphones that could utilize all of the jacks on the daughterboard.

The daughterboard can even be bought separately and added to your setup if you already own an STX. I DO know what I am thinking about buying, what I DON'T know is the actual real-world side-by-side results.

I know I can make my setup sound "Different" by swapping out op-amps, but I don't know if that will make it sound "better".

I know that the DAC's are significantly better on the STX II, but what I don't know since I am currently using a digital output to my receiver is if I do use the SPDIF out will there be an audible difference between the firmware processing of the audio between a Xonar D1 and an STX, and if I don't will my cheap receiver negate any benefit I might gain from the brown bur DAC's?

Does the SPDIF through work better on the STX than it does on the D1, which has a tendency to bug out due to the drivers?

Many more questions that can only be answered by hands on experience. There is no doubt that the card performs better, and having heard my speakers playing raw audio sources I know that they can translate the difference. The issue is what between the audio file and the speakers is going to mitigate the difference and by how much, of which the card and it's drivers are a large factor.

Oh, and it only costs $250, 230 if I felt like gambling on a Newegg open box and buying the daughter board separately.
 

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Asus wasn't very diligent with their drivers for the STX FWIR. One of the reasons I steered away from sound cards and moved to external DACs as most of those are just plug and play. Seemed to work out for them still. Not sure about the II though. However if you are planning to use S/PDIF output wouldn't that bypass the card's DAC? Still a noob here.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
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Originally Posted by LinkPro View Post

Asus wasn't very diligent with their drivers for the STX FWIR. One of the reasons I steered away from sound cards and moved to external DACs as most of those are just plug and play. Seemed to work out for them still. Not sure about the II though. However if you are planning to use S/PDIF output wouldn't that bypass the card's DAC? Still a noob here.
It bypasses the DAC but doesn't bypass the drivers or any controllers you may have enabled such as Dolby Digital, DTS, etc... SPDIF passthrough bypasses everything and is supposed to just put the pure digital source out, but I've had issues with other programs, including windows, trying to grab it, filtering it, or mixing up the channels. I found it was better to give the card control and just adjust it as accurately as possible.

Despite the complaints I hear from everyone else I've never had an issue with Asus' drivers themselves, just the fact that they were never designed to do what I want them to do.
 
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