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The Xonar Essence STX Q/A, tweaking, impressions thread - Page 279

post #4171 of 4875
Quote:
Originally Posted by Copyright View Post What advantages do they have over the Asus drivers?

 

Importantly, none in terms of sound.

post #4172 of 4875
Quote:
Originally Posted by gbickle View Post

Ok so I have an STX and some HD800 headphones I recently bought. Just didnt quite sound right. Female vocals had a bit of hissing etc. Seemed like others had similar experiences. So I ran a sine wave sweep and noticed around 5400hz and 6800hz had massive spikes for example.

 

I spent about an hour equalizing and now find music so much more natural. In fact after listening to my equalized profile for awhile on classical guitar then going back to the default setting it sounds so unnatural its amazing.

 

I have ordered a couple of different op amps to try as well so will be interesting to see if they are more natural than the default ones or whether they require equalizing as well. will report back asap.

 

Anyway I am now very happy with this combo and am not tempted to get a higher end headphone DAC and amp combination. I might also take some music im used to listening to a HI-FI store down the road that have a High end Amp with the HD800's and let you know how I think it compares to the equalized Xonar STX.

 

 

 

STX op-amps are very neutral, those spikes you hear are not caused by the STX. The frequency response of the card is ruler flat in the audible area of the frequency spectrum, and far beyond that. HD800's are the reason for those huge spikes at 5-7khz area. It's the "presence" area of frequency response that gives the HD800's their bright and aggressive character. You won't change that drastically with an amplifier or a DAC, or op-amps for that matter. That's just how the HD800's sound, and no matter what op-amps you put inside the STX, you will not get a drastic improvement, only slight barely audible changes. If you find you have to EQ the HD800's to get the sound you want now with the STX (which is at least 90% as good as any DAC on the market regardless of price), you will have to EQ it in every setup, no matter how high-end it is, unless you use them in some really colored dark setup.  That's why you see so many people hating the HD800's for their sharp and aggressive high end, and you have people modify them physically with various felts and sponge inserts in the ear cups to tame down the highs.

post #4173 of 4875
Quote:
Originally Posted by derbigpr View Post

 

 

 

STX op-amps are very neutral, those spikes you hear are not caused by the STX. The frequency response of the card is ruler flat in the audible area of the frequency spectrum, and far beyond that. HD800's are the reason for those huge spikes at 5-7khz area. It's the "presence" area of frequency response that gives the HD800's their bright and aggressive character. You won't change that drastically with an amplifier or a DAC, or op-amps for that matter. That's just how the HD800's sound, and no matter what op-amps you put inside the STX, you will not get a drastic improvement, only slight barely audible changes. If you find you have to EQ the HD800's to get the sound you want now with the STX (which is at least 90% as good as any DAC on the market regardless of price), you will have to EQ it in every setup, no matter how high-end it is, unless you use them in some really colored dark setup.  That's why you see so many people hating the HD800's for their sharp and aggressive high end, and you have people modify them physically with various felts and sponge inserts in the ear cups to tame down the highs.

 

Yes after plugging some $50 Sony's in the frequency response is relatively smooth. I cant help thinking that the massive spikes on the HD800 (im having to reduce one by 10db in the equalizer) are a lot to do with the resonance they produce in my ears. I just cant imagine anybody enjoying the unnatural treble I was getting before equalization. Im talking physically painful to listen to.

 

The HD800 must vary a lot with the characteristics of each persons ears. 

post #4174 of 4875
Quote:
Originally Posted by derbigpr View Post

 

Importantly, none in terms of sound.


So then why would anyone run them?

post #4175 of 4875
Quote:
Originally Posted by Copyright View Post


So then why would anyone run them?

its choice.

its like buying a coke or Pepsi there different in some ways but made with the same stuff so its just a matter of opinion.

post #4176 of 4875
Quote:
Originally Posted by gbickle View Post

 

Yes after plugging some $50 Sony's in the frequency response is relatively smooth. I cant help thinking that the massive spikes on the HD800 (im having to reduce one by 10db in the equalizer) are a lot to do with the resonance they produce in my ears. I just cant imagine anybody enjoying the unnatural treble I was getting before equalization. Im talking physically painful to listen to.

 

The HD800 must vary a lot with the characteristics of each persons ears. 

 

Its their characteristic sound.

Check out these graphs, you see how much the 5khz and above areas are lifted. There's some 8 db's of lift at 7khz in relation to 1khz.

http://en.goldenears.net/4326

post #4177 of 4875
Quote:
Originally Posted by Copyright View Post


So then why would anyone run them?

 

 Apparently some people have stability issues with the regular drivers.

post #4178 of 4875
Quote:
Originally Posted by gbickle View Post

Ok so I have an STX and some HD800 headphones I recently bought. Just didnt quite sound right. Female vocals had a bit of hissing etc. Seemed like others had similar experiences. So I ran a sine wave sweep and noticed around 5400hz and 6800hz had massive spikes for example.

 

I spent about an hour equalizing and now find music so much more natural. In fact after listening to my equalized profile for awhile on classical guitar then going back to the default setting it sounds so unnatural its amazing.

 

I have ordered a couple of different op amps to try as well so will be interesting to see if they are more natural than the default ones or whether they require equalizing as well. will report back asap.

 

Anyway I am now very happy with this combo and am not tempted to get a higher end headphone DAC and amp combination. I might also take some music im used to listening to a HI-FI store down the road that have a High end Amp with the HD800's and let you know how I think it compares to the equalized Xonar STX.

Ok heres the big issue, the HD800 cost $1000, they need a $1500 headphone amp, and a $1000+ DAC to shine. anyone with 2 braincells or that knows anything about them will tell you that (Go check in the Summit-fi section)

 

Also, they do have boosted treble peaks. And they knows to be analytical, so any remote flaw they will show. you need pristine quality gear and source files for them. They are definitely not for everyone. 

 

I'm sure you will notice a difference if you change the opamps to THS4032, they are much smoother then the stock crappy JRC's, trust me on that, I recommend them for analytical headphones like AKG's.

 

if the treble quantity still bothers you. equalizer. Only solution.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Copyright View Post

Just read about these Unified drivers.. are they really better than the asus drivers?  I am runnign windows 8 64bit at the moment.  Thx for any info.. What advantages do they have over the Asus drivers?

Yes, better stability, stuff works like its supposed to (depending on build) and better asio consistency.

Quote:
Originally Posted by derbigpr View Post

Importantly, none in terms of sound.

Don't believe that. it was giving me some wierdness using the official drivers.

Quote:
Originally Posted by derbigpr View Post

 

STX op-amps are very neutral, those spikes you hear are not caused by the STX. The frequency response of the card is ruler flat in the audible area of the frequency spectrum, and far beyond that. HD800's are the reason for those huge spikes at 5-7khz area. It's the "presence" area of frequency response that gives the HD800's their bright and aggressive character. You won't change that drastically with an amplifier or a DAC, or op-amps for that matter. That's just how the HD800's sound, and no matter what op-amps you put inside the STX, you will not get a drastic improvement, only slight barely audible changes. If you find you have to EQ the HD800's to get the sound you want now with the STX (which is at least 90% as good as any DAC on the market regardless of price), you will have to EQ it in every setup, no matter how high-end it is, unless you use them in some really colored dark setup.  That's why you see so many people hating the HD800's for their sharp and aggressive high end, and you have people modify them physically with various felts and sponge inserts in the ear cups to tame down the highs.

neutral..... according to FR, but plug in some headphones and you can instantly tell the treble is harsh and the bass is boosted and sloppy. No debate there. THS4032 all the way. But you are right about the rest.

post #4179 of 4875
Quote:
Originally Posted by WiR3D View Post

Ok heres the big issue, the HD800 cost $1000, they need a $1500 headphone amp, and a $1000+ DAC to shine. anyone with 2 braincells or that knows anything about them will tell you that (Go check in the Summit-fi section)

 

That is flawed logic. Why not also a $1500 headphone cable, $1500 power cord, $1500 op amps, $1500 player software, and so on ? The assumption that components should be "price matched" for optimal performance ignores the fact that not all components need to be equally expensive for the same level of performance, both for technical and economical reasons. Even with a <$200 sound card and $1500 headphone, the weak link can easily be the latter, because it is much harder to make a high quality transducer, and the headphone is also made in much smaller quantities, which means the R&D costs are divided between fewer units sold, making them more expensive. The same applies to "high end" boutique audiophile amplifiers and DACs, which have greatly inflated prices due to the use of exotic and often obsolete technologies (tubes etc.), and very small scale production, rather than because of sounding 100 times (or even at all) better.

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by WiR3D View Post

 

Also, they do have boosted treble peaks. And they knows to be analytical, so any remote flaw they will show. you need pristine quality gear and source files for them. They are definitely not for everyone. 

 

If they sound flawed because of boosted treble peaks, then that shows flaws in the HD800 (and quite possibly the poorly mastered music which also has boosted treble to sound better on lo-fi equipment like ear buds or Beats Solos, and a lot of clipping), rather than the gear which is unlikely to have treble peaks, or properly correct them for that matter, other than by deliberate equalization.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by WiR3D View Post
neutral..... according to FR, but plug in some headphones and you can instantly tell the treble is harsh and the bass is boosted and sloppy. No debate there. THS4032 all the way. But you are right about the rest.

 

Op amps do not care about headphones, except when actually driving them (which is not the case here). You hear harsh treble and boosted and sloppy bass because your Denon headphones have, well, harsh treble and boosted sloppy bass, which shows up on their frequency response measurements. The "cheap JRC op amps" are convenient scape goats. It is also easy to hear an improvement that does not actually exist when you know what you are listening to (and therefore expect a different sound), and swapping the chips takes long enough that you do not even fully remember what the old ones exactly sounded like by the time you listen to the new and allegedly better ones; the lost information is then filled by imagination and bias.

 

However, when used properly and for their intended purpose, op amps - even fairly cheap ones - are indeed neutral. You can find samples recorded from gear that includes (often several) op amps in the signal path here, and try if you can tell them apart in an ABX comparator. The headphone output of the Xonar STX, using the stock JRC op amps, can be compared, too.


Edited by stv014 - 3/5/13 at 4:23am
post #4180 of 4875

anyone try the LT1028 ACN8 on the i/v op amps? i'm curious to give it a go. there are the ones i have. there shouldn't be any problems if i put them in, right?

http://www.ebay.com/itm/IC-2x-LT1028ACN8-DIP-single-Op-amp-Ultralow-Noise-/350529800392?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item519d3448c8


Edited by doco - 3/5/13 at 4:22am
post #4181 of 4875

Got the STX running right now. Will be comparing it to a couple of USB converters.  Question.  Has anyone been using these drivers here:

 

  http://brainbit.wordpress.com/2010/07/19/asus-xonar-unified-drivers/

 

Any thoughts/impressions on the sound?


Edited by Audioexcels - 3/5/13 at 8:49pm
post #4182 of 4875
Quote:
Originally Posted by Audioexcels View Post

Got the STX running right now. Will be comparing it to a couple of USB converters.  Question.  Has anyone been using these drivers here:


  
http://brainbit.wordpress.com/2010/07/19/asus-xonar-unified-drivers/


Any thoughts/impressions on the sound?
Jepp, I'm using them. They offer no disadvantages over the asus offical drivers, advantages would be that they're being actively improved and updated, which the asus ones really isn't... For me they doesn't offer any noticeable advantages, but I think there was some hassle with the official ones that made me change... but was a while ago so I really can't remember. Anyway, using the unified unoffical drivers should be a sure bet.


http://www.head-fi.org/products/asus-xonar-essence-stx-virtual-7-1-channels-pci-express-interface-124-db-snr-headphone-amp-card#wiki
post #4183 of 4875
Quote:
Originally Posted by Simcon View Post


Jepp, I'm using them. They offer no disadvantages over the asus offical drivers, advantages would be that they're being actively improved and updated, which the asus ones really isn't... For me they doesn't offer any noticeable advantages, but I think there was some hassle with the official ones that made me change... but was a while ago so I really can't remember. Anyway, using the unified unoffical drivers should be a sure bet.


http://www.head-fi.org/products/asus-xonar-essence-stx-virtual-7-1-channels-pci-express-interface-124-db-snr-headphone-amp-card#wiki

 

Excellent stuff and thanks for the link.  I'm going to try the other setup just to see if I can hear the difference if any.  Never hurts and one should always at least try whatever methods are available for best sound. No point in simply making something work and not trying all the various options to see what works/sounds best.  I'll give this a go tomorrow and report what I hear.

post #4184 of 4875

hey guys, what exactly is the 24/44.1khz bug for the STX?

 

most of my music is 44.1khz and im not sure what upsampling to 48 will do

 

 

one more thing i wanted to ask was the volume you have set in windows audio, on lowest gain for my headphones i can only push it to 4-5% before it gets really loud, 100% volume would destroy my ears for sure. is it supposed to be this loud?


Edited by azxb2b - 3/8/13 at 2:30pm
post #4185 of 4875
Quote:
Originally Posted by azxb2b View Post

hey guys, what exactly is the 24/44.1khz bug for the STX?

 

It is not really a "bug" (at least not a software problem), but the DAC has a higher noise level when running at 44.1, 88.2, or 176.4 kHz, because of the re-clocking at these sample rates by the C-Media chip. This also applies to other Xonar cards. If you do not actually hear any hiss, then you need not really worry about it, and it might not be worth the trouble of software sample rate conversion to reduce already inaudible noise.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by azxb2b View Post
one more thing i wanted to ask was the volume you have set in windows audio, on lowest gain for my headphones i can only push it to 4-5% before it gets really loud, 100% volume would destroy my ears for sure. is it supposed to be this loud?

 

That depends on what your headphones are. Do you have some very sensitive model ? Also, check the mixer settings, and make sure that the volume is not boosted by anything (particularly the "left" and "right" controls, which should be left at the default 76% level).


Edited by stv014 - 3/8/13 at 3:04pm
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