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The Xonar Essence STX Q/A, tweaking, impressions thread - Page 269

post #4021 of 4958
Quote:
Originally Posted by PurpleAngel View Post

The STX's and E9 are about equal and use the same Amplifier chip (6120A2).

Did you disable the motherboard's built in audio (disabled in bios)?

What happens when the amplifier is on the Normal Gain setting?

 

Disabled MoBo's audio as suggested, no noticeable difference (thanks for reminding me though, needed to alter graphics settings). I put it on the normal gain and the distortion seems to have gone but so has the volume :/

post #4022 of 4958
Quote:
Originally Posted by No Idea View Post

 

Disabled MoBo's audio as suggested, no noticeable difference (thanks for reminding me though, needed to alter graphics settings). I put it on the normal gain and the distortion seems to have gone but so has the volume :/

Do you have anything else to test the Q701s with, like a receiver?

Is the STX's internal power connector connected?

Do you have other headphone you can test with the STX?

post #4023 of 4958
Quote:
Originally Posted by PurpleAngel View Post

Do you have anything else to test the Q701s with, like a receiver?

Is the STX's internal power connector connected?

Do you have other headphone you can test with the STX?

 

Nope :( this is my first proper setup :P And as for the power yes, I think so atleast; I pushed the connector in as hard as I dared!

post #4024 of 4958
Quote:
Originally Posted by No Idea View Post

 

Nope :( this is my first proper setup :P And as for the power yes, I think so at least; I pushed the connector in as hard as I dared!

Any friends with receivers?

 

Long shot.

Try the 3rd party "Unified Xonar Drivers" from Brainbit.

post #4025 of 4958

Interested in this card, can this card output audio through the coxial spdif port and the speak line outs at the same time?

post #4026 of 4958
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dat bass View Post

Interested in this card, can this card output audio through the coxial spdif port and the speak line outs at the same time?


In fact it does; the XONAR® Essence™ ST and STX can drive the Digital Out (RCA coaxial or 3.5mm optical) and one of the three analog outputs simultaneously.  The single analog-stereo output is switchable to dual RCA jacks through a dual-op-amp buffer ("2 Speakers," equipped with a National Semiconductor®/Texas Instruments® LM4562N from the factory); a 1/4" TRS jack ("Headphone," equipped with a Texas Instruments® TPA6120A2 dual audio amplifier, 10.7Ω source impedance for each output channel); and the internal AC97-compatible header ("Front 2 Speakers," "Front Headphone").  Running under Microsoft® Windows® XP or 6-up, the Digital Out can run either as a PCM source or as a Dolby® Digital 5.1 feed to an external surround processor(/amplifier).

post #4027 of 4958

Hi everyone.  I've done my best to search the forums regarding my query, but to no avail.

 

I'm wondering if there's a meaningful difference between the 'ratios' or 'balance' of the various volume and gain settings on an Essence STX in the Xonar Audio Center, and generally in audio.  i.e. Does using a high gain and low volume result in the same audio output as low gain and high volume?

 

The three settings I'm referring to in particular are the Gain, the Mixer (Left & Right) and the Volume Knob.  At the moment I have the gain off (+0db) and the mixer at 32 of 100.  Having the mixer at this level means that my volume knob has lots of listenable volume levels, where as if I had it at 15 it would always be too soft and at 45 the difference between too loud and too soft would be one notch.

 

Also is there any harm having my sample rate set to 96KHz, even though all my music is 44.1KHz.  I have it set to this because it's the default level, and also some PC games utilise this sample rate effectively too (so I'm told).

 

I should probably mention my cans :P.   Beyerdynamic DT-250s 80ohm.

 

So yeah, to sum up my rambling: Does high gain/low volume sound the same as low gain/high volume?  Also does having the sample rate set at 96KHz negatively affect my listening to of 44.1KHz audio.  Thanks in advance!!

post #4028 of 4958
Quote:
Originally Posted by sancco View Post

Hi everyone.  I've done my best to search the forums regarding my query, but to no avail.

 

I'm wondering if there's a meaningful difference between the 'ratios' or 'balance' of the various volume and gain settings on an Essence STX in the Xonar Audio Center, and generally in audio.  i.e. Does using a high gain and low volume result in the same audio output as low gain and high volume?

 

The three settings I'm referring to in particular are the Gain, the Mixer (Left & Right) and the Volume Knob.  At the moment I have the gain off (+0db) and the mixer at 32 of 100.  Having the mixer at this level means that my volume knob has lots of listenable volume levels, where as if I had it at 15 it would always be too soft and at 45 the difference between too loud and too soft would be one notch.

 

Also is there any harm having my sample rate set to 96KHz, even though all my music is 44.1KHz.  I have it set to this because it's the default level, and also some PC games utilise this sample rate effectively too (so I'm told).

 

I should probably mention my cans :P.   Beyerdynamic DT-250s 80ohm.

 

So yeah, to sum up my rambling: Does high gain/low volume sound the same as low gain/high volume?  Also does having the sample rate set at 96KHz negatively affect my listening to of 44.1KHz audio.  Thanks in advance!!

According to what has been said in this thread about the gain settings on the Essence ST/STX it merely changes the output volume. So yet, theoretically high gain/low volume and low gain/high volume should sound the same. I have DT 880 250 ohm headphones and run them on extra high gain at about 25-30 volume. It just sounds better to me than when I ran the headphones on high gain at about 40-50 volume. With my Fidelio X1's (30 ohm) I actually prefer running them on high gain with 25-30 volume rather than normal gain at 50 volume. I think it is just preference really at the end of the day.

post #4029 of 4958
Quote:

Originally Posted by sancco View Post

 

The three settings I'm referring to in particular are the Gain, the Mixer (Left & Right) and the Volume Knob.  At the moment I have the gain off (+0db) and the mixer at 32 of 100.  Having the mixer at this level means that my volume knob has lots of listenable volume levels, where as if I had it at 15 it would always be too soft and at 45 the difference between too loud and too soft would be one notch.

 

Also is there any harm having my sample rate set to 96KHz, even though all my music is 44.1KHz.  I have it set to this because it's the default level, and also some PC games utilise this sample rate effectively too (so I'm told).


So yeah, to sum up my rambling: Does high gain/low volume sound the same as low gain/high volume?  Also does having the sample rate set at 96KHz negatively affect my listening to of 44.1KHz audio.  Thanks in advance!!

 

The gain selection itself only affects volume (note that some people will subjectively find high gain to sound better simply because it is louder). However, the other volume, EQ, and DSP settings can potentially affect the sound quality because if the digital signal level before the master volume control and gain would exceed 0 dBFS, the drivers will apply dynamic compression to avoid clipping. In particular, setting the Left and Right controls in the mixer to a level higher than the default 76, or boosting frequencies in the EQ can result in unwanted dynamic compression.

 

If you set the sample rate of the card to 96 kHz, and play 44.1 kHz music, it may be resampled by the drivers (depending also on what audio API the player software uses). On the other hand, the card is more noisy at sample rates that are multiples of 44.1 kHz. If you are using foobar2000, you can use the SoX resampler plugin for high quality conversion to 96 kHz; set the volume in foobar2000 to -2 dB to avoid clipping, and set the resolution to 24-bit in both the player and Windows to minimize noise.

 

As long as there is no clipping, dynamic range compression, or quantization to 16 bits, high gain/low volume and low gain/high volume sound the same, assuming that the resulting output level is exactly the same in both cases.

post #4030 of 4958
Quote:
Originally Posted by stv014 View Post

 

The gain selection itself only affects volume (note that some people will subjectively find high gain to sound better simply because it is louder). However, the other volume, EQ, and DSP settings can potentially affect the sound quality because if the digital signal level before the master volume control and gain would exceed 0 dBFS, the drivers will apply dynamic compression to avoid clipping. In particular, setting the Left and Right controls in the mixer to a level higher than the default 76, or boosting frequencies in the EQ can result in unwanted dynamic compression.

 

If you set the sample rate of the card to 96 kHz, and play 44.1 kHz music, it may be resampled by the drivers (depending also on what audio API the player software uses). On the other hand, the card is more noisy at sample rates that are multiples of 44.1 kHz. If you are using foobar2000, you can use the SoX resampler plugin for high quality conversion to 96 kHz; set the volume in foobar2000 to -2 dB to avoid clipping, and set the resolution to 24-bit in both the player and Windows to minimize noise.

 

As long as there is no clipping, dynamic range compression, or quantization to 16 bits, high gain/low volume and low gain/high volume sound the same, assuming that the resulting output level is exactly the same in both cases.

 

Wow man you really know your stuff.  Thanks for this insight!

post #4031 of 4958
Quote:
Originally Posted by PurpleAngel View Post

Any friends with receivers?

 

Long shot.

Try the 3rd party "Unified Xonar Drivers" from Brainbit.

Unfortunatly no, maybe one or two but they live far away and we're not that close :/

 

Tried the 3rd party driver and they do sound marginally better but there is still a significant problem. The soundcard was an ex-display model so I picked it up about £30 cheaper than usual and the headphones where second hand from this forum; they didn't however, sound this bad even when plugged into my motherboard's 3.5mm port (using a 120ohm adapter). Don't get me wrong, they weren't great and rather flat but no where near this level!

 

Thanks for the help so far btw :) I really appreciate it.

post #4032 of 4958

Hey guys, I just bought an Essence STX yesterday and want to share some impressions. Unfortunately, I am not very impressed so far with the sound of the headphone out on this card. I was hoping that it would be a significant improvement over my HM-601, but it is not. STX headphone out sounds neutral to bright, quite dry and sterile with all my headphones. On the very high gain setting, the sound also becomes noticeably more bright and aggressive - too much so with some music, even using HD555. Detail is great - better than on the HM-601, but the sound is just too clinical and hard to enjoy for me. Even my HD555 which sounds very warm and mid centric out of the HM-601 or Audigy 2 ZS, sounds dry, quite thin and analytical out of STX. I also find the soundstage of the STX pretty mediocre - instrument separation and imaging are solid, but soundstage is narrow and doesn't have much height either, making headphones sound thin. HM601 produces a fuller, bigger sound which is much more to my liking. To be fair, STX does sound quite good with some recordings due to all the resolution and clarity, but most of the time it just isn't fun to listen to as the music lacks the presence I can hear on HM-601, Audigy 2 ZS or even cheaper portables like my Sony NWZ-A816 or Samsung U2. I tried the RCA out to my Fiio E11 and that didn't help either - still the same dry, analytical sound, but even worse, with less resolution and more grain, which is probably because E11 is of lower quality than the STX built in amp. So I am pretty sure the STX will be going back to the store. I don't feel like messing with the opamps. Maybe I should try getting a better external amp to use with the card, but I am not sure if its worth it.

post #4033 of 4958
Quote:
Originally Posted by No Idea View Post

Unfortunatly no, maybe one or two but they live far away and we're not that close :/

 

Tried the 3rd party driver and they do sound marginally better but there is still a significant problem. The sound card was an ex-display model so I picked it up about £30 cheaper than usual and the headphones where second hand from this forum; they didn't however, sound this bad even when plugged into my motherboard's 3.5mm port (using a 120ohm adapter). Don't get me wrong, they weren't great and rather flat but no where near this level!

 

Thanks for the help so far btw :) I really appreciate it.

Delete any software/drivers for the on-board audio.

Then turn off computer and remove the Essence STX, then turn computer back on.

After the computer has fully booted up, turn the computer back off,

(you have the option of removing the STX's cover shield and making sure all three op-amps are well seated)

Reinstall the Essence STX (and reconnect the internal power connector and front panel headphone jack) and turn computer back on and test.

Test the Q701s with both the back panel 1/4 headphone jack and front panel (1/8) headphone jack.


Edited by PurpleAngel - 12/21/12 at 1:28pm
post #4034 of 4958
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pianist View Post

Hey guys, I just bought an Essence STX yesterday and want to share some impressions. Unfortunately, I am not very impressed so far with the sound of the headphone out on this card. I was hoping that it would be a significant improvement over my HM-601, but it is not. STX headphone out sounds neutral to bright, quite dry and sterile with all my headphones. On the very high gain setting, the sound also becomes noticeably more bright and aggressive - too much so with some music, even using HD555. Detail is great - better than on the HM-601, but the sound is just too clinical and hard to enjoy for me. Even my HD555 which sounds very warm and mid centric out of the HM-601 or Audigy 2 ZS, sounds dry, quite thin and analytical out of STX. I also find the soundstage of the STX pretty mediocre - instrument separation and imaging are solid, but soundstage is narrow and doesn't have much height either, making headphones sound thin. HM601 produces a fuller, bigger sound which is much more to my liking. To be fair, STX does sound quite good with some recordings due to all the resolution and clarity, but most of the time it just isn't fun to listen to as the music lacks the presence I can hear on HM-601, Audigy 2 ZS or even cheaper portables like my Sony NWZ-A816 or Samsung U2. I tried the RCA out to my Fiio E11 and that didn't help either - still the same dry, analytical sound, but even worse, with less resolution and more grain, which is probably because E11 is of lower quality than the STX built in amp. So I am pretty sure the STX will be going back to the store. I don't feel like messing with the opamps. Maybe I should try getting a better external amp to use with the card, but I am not sure if its worth it.

 

 

 

Well, STX is primarily a DAC, not an headphone amp. Although its marketed as an audiophile card to headphones, to be quite perfectly honest, the amp is holding the rest of the card back, I mean really holding it back. Think of it this way....a DAC with measured performance comparable to 1000$ standalone DAC's connected to an afterthought 50$ head amp. That's the story of STX.  People love it for its sound quality, as a DAC, not as an head amp. While the headamp section has power to run headphones, and will sound better than any other soundcard and virtually any external DAC+amp combo for the price, its amp is far behind the DAC section in terms of sound quality.  I absolutely HATE how it sounds with my Q701 for example, its almost not listenable with most music. But use the stereo out into an external amp, and you'll see it in full glory. Try getting a hold of some external head amp and try it that way before selling it.

 

But anyway, not to bust your balls, but if you're not impressed with STX, you wont be with anything else as far as DAC's go. You've climbed to the 8500 meter mark on your way to the top of Mt. Everest. Those extra 350 meters to reach the absolute best will cost you a little fortune. I went on, spend 2000$ on DAC's that are suppose to be much better, even won awards for best DAC for 1000$, but hell, they werent any better than STX. I mean, just saying, if you're gonna return the STX, know in advance you're not getting anything nearly as good for the same price, and nothing better unless you wanna spend about 10 times more money.  Better spend 200-300$ on an amp, get something like a Matrix M-stage, and you'll be as happy as a pig in mud.

post #4035 of 4958
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pianist View Post

Hey guys, I just bought an Essence STX yesterday and want to share some impressions. Unfortunately, I am not very impressed so far with the sound of the headphone out on this card. I was hoping that it would be a significant improvement over my HM-601, but it is not. STX headphone out sounds neutral to bright, quite dry and sterile with all my headphones. On the very high gain setting, the sound also becomes noticeably more bright and aggressive - too much so with some music, even using HD555. Detail is great - better than on the HM-601, but the sound is just too clinical and hard to enjoy for me. Even my HD555 which sounds very warm and mid centric out of the HM-601 or Audigy 2 ZS, sounds dry, quite thin and analytical out of STX. I also find the soundstage of the STX pretty mediocre - instrument separation and imaging are solid, but soundstage is narrow and doesn't have much height either, making headphones sound thin. HM601 produces a fuller, bigger sound which is much more to my liking. To be fair, STX does sound quite good with some recordings due to all the resolution and clarity, but most of the time it just isn't fun to listen to as the music lacks the presence I can hear on HM-601, Audigy 2 ZS or even cheaper portables like my Sony NWZ-A816 or Samsung U2. I tried the RCA out to my Fiio E11 and that didn't help either - still the same dry, analytical sound, but even worse, with less resolution and more grain, which is probably because E11 is of lower quality than the STX built in amp. So I am pretty sure the STX will be going back to the store. I don't feel like messing with the opamps. Maybe I should try getting a better external amp to use with the card, but I am not sure if its worth it.

For $50 up can replace the three stock op-amps on the STX (AD797BR).

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