Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Computer Audio › The Xonar Essence STX Q/A, tweaking, impressions thread
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

The Xonar Essence STX Q/A, tweaking, impressions thread - Page 270

post #4036 of 4868
Quote:
Originally Posted by PurpleAngel View Post

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


Or Two pairs LME49990 on a dual  to single op-amp adapter, Also only the Two I/V op-amp sockets are used when the headphone output is used.

post #4037 of 4868

Quote:

Originally Posted by No Idea View Post

Hello, having a little problem with my STX and I was wondering of anyone could help me out :)

 

I was told on a number of occasions that the Xonar STX would be more than enough to drive a pair of Q701's despite people buying E9's and what not. However I'm struggling to get them to any decent volume even at full volume! Not that I ever have them at full because there is this popping sound that occurs when ever i go over 30% volume... :(

 

I have the most up-to-date drivers from ASUS and have turned on the HP "Extra High Gain" setting, that has got me where I am now. Does anyone have any ideas? Do I need an external amp? (Bearing in mind I spent all my money on a GTX 670... :/ lol)

 

Thank anyway,

 

-Tom

 

That's really weird. I happen to own an older AKG model that's supposed to be even harder to drive (K400 EP) and don't have any problems with volume at all. I usually listen at around 20-40 at high gain depending on the recording, sometimes even lower. You definitely shouldn't bet hearing any popping either. You made sure that your power supply is connected properly right? And are you using it with windows 8?

post #4038 of 4868
Quote:
Originally Posted by derbigpr View Post

 

 

 

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.

So if I were to say get this and run analog RCA to a Schiit Magni, would I have a decent >$300 set-up?

post #4039 of 4868
Quote:
Originally Posted by derbigpr View Post

 

 

 

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.

 

What's so bad about the amp?

 

SNR so high that it's overkill, THD well beyond overkill as well, flat frequency response... Can't really get better than that IMO unless you just want more power. Or distortion.

post #4040 of 4868

Nothing really, I guess some expect it to compete with high end/high dollar external headamps.  They forget the price and performance available for the overall package.


Edited by ROBSCIX - 12/23/12 at 11:57am
post #4041 of 4868
Quote:
Originally Posted by chewy4 View Post

What's so bad about the amp?

 

It is not bad, in fact it is quite good with high impedance headphones, but not so much when using low impedance and/or very sensitive ones:

- the 117 dB SNR is meant for full scale (7 Vrms) output, and 48/96/192 kHz sample rate. Since the card has fully digital gain and volume control (= constant absolute noise floor), and the DAC becomes noisier at 44.1/88.2/176.4 kHz sample rates, it can actually have audible hiss listening CD audio with the most sensitive headphones or IEMs

- there is a slightly higher than 10 Ω output impedance; that can audibly affect some low impedance headphones, and especially balanced armature IEMs

- the 0.001% distortion is measured with a high impedance load. When loaded with a few tens of Ω instead (see here, for example), the distortion is not quite as good. Of course, some distortion will also result from the output impedance. Overall, it is still acceptable, though

- there is a relatively high 28-29 mV DC offset

None of the above really explains the claim by derbigpr that the amplifier performs poorly with 300+ Ω Sennheiser headphones, though.


Edited by stv014 - 12/23/12 at 12:15pm
post #4042 of 4868
Quote:
Originally Posted by stv014 View Post

 

It is not bad, in fact it is quite good with high impedance headphones, but not so much when using low impedance and/or very sensitive ones:

- the 117 dB SNR is meant for full scale (7 Vrms) output, and 48/96/192 kHz sample rate. Since the card has fully digital gain and volume control (= constant absolute noise floor), and the DAC becomes noisier at 44.1/88.2/176.4 kHz sample rates, it can actually have audible hiss listening CD audio with the most sensitive headphones or IEMs

- there is a slightly higher than 10 Ω output impedance; that can audibly affect some low impedance headphones, and especially balanced armature IEMs

- the 0.001% distortion is measured with a high impedance load. When loaded with a few tens of Ω instead, the distortion is not quite as good, although still not poor

- there is a relatively high 28-29 mV DC offset

None of the above really explains the claim by derbigpr that the amplifier performs poorly with 300+ Ω Sennheiser headphones, though.

True that it is not the best match for low impedance headphones.

 

I did not know that about the SNR and distortion measurements though, thanks for the info. Noise floor has never been a problem with me due to using not very sensitive planars.

 

But I'm unfamiliar with DC offset... If I'm understanding it correctly is this not really a problem with normal listening, but more-so with mixing or if you don't have enough power headroom?

post #4043 of 4868
Quote:
Originally Posted by chewy4 View Post
But I'm unfamiliar with DC offset... If I'm understanding it correctly is this not really a problem with normal listening, but more-so with mixing or if you don't have enough power headroom?

 

I do not think it makes much difference, but I included it for completeness. Maybe for some very sensitive headphones that cannot handle much power. By the way, the FiiO E10 has similar or slightly higher DC offset on high gain.

post #4044 of 4868
Quote:
Originally Posted by stv014 View Post

 

It is not bad, in fact it is quite good with high impedance headphones, but not so much when using low impedance and/or very sensitive ones:

- the 117 dB SNR is meant for full scale (7 Vrms) output, and 48/96/192 kHz sample rate. Since the card has fully digital gain and volume control (= constant absolute noise floor), and the DAC becomes noisier at 44.1/88.2/176.4 kHz sample rates, it can actually have audible hiss listening CD audio with the most sensitive headphones or IEMs

- there is a slightly higher than 10 Ω output impedance; that can audibly affect some low impedance headphones, and especially balanced armature IEMs

- the 0.001% distortion is measured with a high impedance load. When loaded with a few tens of Ω instead (see here, for example), the distortion is not quite as good. Of course, some distortion will also result from the output impedance. Overall, it is still acceptable, though

- there is a relatively high 28-29 mV DC offset

None of the above really explains the claim by derbigpr that the amplifier performs poorly with 300+ Ω Sennheiser headphones, though.

My measurements on my modded STX were half of the D.C. offset you quote out the headphone jack (about 10mVin one channel & 15mV in the other). Other people have measured the same on thiers. Note that nothing was changed from stock as far as the headphone output was concerned, only the line out was changed on mine (Caps remove from output). Other mods were strictly powersupply.

post #4045 of 4868
Quote:
Originally Posted by stv014 View Post

 

I do not think it makes much difference, but I included it for completeness. Maybe for some very sensitive headphones that cannot handle much power. By the way, the FiiO E10 has similar or slightly higher DC offset on high gain.

At the levels experienced with these cards the D.C. offset is fine for direct driving headphones but not for driving a moderately high gain D.C. coupled amp as they will amplify the D.C. by whatever the gain factor of the amp is. A gain of 20db will boost D.C. offset  voltage by 10X on such amps. Note that all amps in my system are D.C. coupled so care must be taken in my case. Most amps however are not D.C. coupled. Even a relative small D.C. offset at the input of some D.C. coupled amp can cause over heating of the amp & if gain is high enough damage the speakers.

 

I D.C. coupled all my amps in order to virtually eliminate all amp coloration & believe me it does the trick. I drive my amps from the direct coupled Line-out of the card which has much lower D.C. offset & by direct copling the output I can also reduce most any D.C. offset coming out the input of some amps as well which cannot be done with the stock caps in place. Yes some amps can have substantial D.C. offset coming out the input jack. My old Adcom GFA 545 had 35mV coming out its input with nothing connected & the midwoofer power amp in my M-Adio BX5,s have over one volt coming out it's input when not connected to its EQ board. The EQ board is D.C.coupled & sinks this voltateg so the excess D.C. offset does not make to the driver. With 1 volt at the input without the EQ board connected the output from the midwoofer amp (not connected to speaker as that would blow the speaker in short order) is almost 25 volts out but with the EQ board connected the D.C. offset sinks to less than 30mV which is plenty safe.

 

I no longer have this card but I remember it very very fondly. I am now using the X-Fi titanium HD card which uses similar hardware for the line-out. Same type mods applied here with similar results though not perfectly the same it is very close in performance.


Edited by germanium - 12/23/12 at 10:42pm
post #4046 of 4868
Quote:
Originally Posted by germanium View Post

My measurements on my modded STX were half of the D.C. offset you quote out the headphone jack (about 10mVin one channel & 15mV in the other). Other people have measured the same on thiers. Note that nothing was changed from stock as far as the headphone output was concerned, only the line out was changed on mine (Caps remove from output). Other mods were strictly powersupply.

 

The DC offset is probably subject to some random variation, especially since the path to the headphone output is fully DC coupled, so the DC offset from the stages before the TPA6120A2 is also amplified. Even in your measurement one channel has 1.5 times higher DC offset than the other.

post #4047 of 4868
Quote:
Originally Posted by ROBSCIX View Post

Nothing really, I guess some expect it to compete with high end/high dollar external headamps.  They forget the price and performance available for the overall package.

 

And some keep reading posts without actually paying attention to what they say.

post #4048 of 4868
Quote:
Originally Posted by stv014 View Post


None of the above really explains the claim by derbigpr that the amplifier performs poorly with 300+ Ω Sennheiser headphones, though.

 

Sorry, but I never ever said it performs poorly with 300+ ohm headphones, don't put words in mouth please, I even used it with such headphones. It just doesn't perform (with none of the headphones) as good as a decent external amp, or with something like a integrated speaker amp headphone output. And yes, a headphone output on my speaker amp is superior in every regard, regardless of specs. It sounds bigger, punchier, more detailed, more airy, more musical, everything sounds more separated, etc. Thats the biggest problem with STX amp, everything sounds congested, soundstage is small and the music just doesn't sound coherent as it does on regular amps.  STX headphone out is good, for the price, but not nearly as good in practice as the specs say or as good as the DAC section. That's clear when you compare it to a cheap separate head amp with inferior specs, but it actually sound better.

post #4049 of 4868
Quote:
Originally Posted by derbigpr View Post

 

Sorry, but I never ever said it performs poorly with 300+ ohm headphones, don't put words in mouth please, I even used it with such headphones. It just doesn't perform (with none of the headphones) as good as a decent external amp, or with something like a integrated speaker amp headphone output. And yes, a headphone output on my speaker amp is superior in every regard, regardless of specs. It sounds bigger, punchier, more detailed, more airy, more musical, everything sounds more separated, etc. Thats the biggest problem with STX amp, everything sounds congested, soundstage is small and the music just doesn't sound coherent as it does on regular amps.  STX headphone out is good, for the price, but not nearly as good in practice as the specs say or as good as the DAC section. That's clear when you compare it to a cheap separate head amp with inferior specs, but it actually sound better.

Must be because they don't make the STX with as much love. That's the secret ingredient to a good amp, and no specs can measure that.

post #4050 of 4868

I have used the Essence STX with Sennheiser hd 380 pro's  and now have the Sennheiser HD 650's and am having a ball.  This card drives these headphones with no problem at all.  The external amp I am using is an Harmon-Kardon AVR 510 into Electro-Voice Sentry 5's and the sound is as good as my main system with an Harmon-Kardon AVR 2100 and PSB speakers.  I don't know why the problems with the sound you are having but perhaps it is your computer is not up to snuff.  Poor power supply regulation, type of music player, I am using JRiver now and it is far superior in every way to Media player.  Just my one cent worth ( devalued because of the poor economy)

New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Computer Audio
Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Computer Audio › The Xonar Essence STX Q/A, tweaking, impressions thread