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Xonar Essence STX and Sennheiser HD650 - gain setting

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
This duo sounds incredibly good, much better, than with headphone output of my AV receiver Pioneer SC-LX81. One question remains for me though... which gain level in Xonar driver should I choose for my HD650 cans?

As you know, there are 3 options:
Normal Gain (0dB for <64 ohms)
High Gain (+12dB for 64~300 ohms)
Extra High Gain (+18dB for 300~600 ohms)

Sennheiser's HD650 nominal impedance is 300 ohm. So the question is High or Extra High?

Of course I already tried out all of them, but I'm still unsure.

Using normal gain I'd have to listen at 60-80% of volume level in Windows, but the sound is very muddy and slow, especially bass. But that was to be expected, right? It's too low, even if volume is high enough.

Using high gain I have to reduce volume to 20-30% and everything sounds fantastic. I never expected such snappy percussion (decay of sound) is possible at home. I've heard this only on live concerts before.

Using extra high gain I have to reduce volume to 10-15%, which is a little bit uncomfortable, since the steps become too big. I cannot hear any difference between high and ultra high setting when it comes to quality. But maybe my ears are not golden enough?

So what setting do you, guys with Sennheiser HD650 and Xonar Essence card use? Please share...

EDIT: typos
post #2 of 12
I think the answer is in your experience. I'd go for the High setting.
post #3 of 12
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by penguindude View Post
I think the answer is in your experience. I'd go for the High setting.
Yes, I do for now. Nevertheless I'd like to hear what setting are used by others with this combo (Essence + HD650). Just curious...

And besides... it's this uneasy feeling "maybe I miss something using just High? Something, that can be heard only in particular tracks and the difference cannot be distinguished at first glance?" You know what I mean...

Hence this little poll.
post #4 of 12
tried the line out? the HP out is a lot more agressive, especially w/ the highest gain..
post #5 of 12
High Gain (+12dB for 64~300 ohms),

normal sounds a little weak, and extra high sounds a bit thick and heavy for me.
post #6 of 12
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by leeperry View Post
tried the line out? the HP out is a lot more agressive, especially w/ the highest gain..
Line out to drive headphones directly? You say it sounds better?
post #7 of 12
yep, use the adapter provided by Asus...the HP out on the Essence cards is completely worthless! and many other ppl have confirmed it(including friends of mine IRL).

luckily it's got a high gain, so it's fully able to drive HP...try it, the increased SNR and lower harmonic distortion will sell you on it
post #8 of 12
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by leeperry View Post
yep, use the adapter provided by Asus...the HP out on the Essence cards is completely worthless! and many other ppl have confirmed it(including friends of mine IRL).

luckily it's got a high gain, so it's fully able to drive HP...try it, the increased SNR and lower harmonic distortion will sell you on it
Well... I don't know. I compared both sounds (headphone out with high gain versus line out) and am really not sure which one I like more. Line out is indeed more laid back, with more pleasant highs, not so hissing. But bass impact and quickness I like more in the headphone out variant. And by no means I'd say it's night&day difference or that HP out of Essence is worthless. The difference is rather subtle, to my ears at last.

Line out seems to sound somewhat between Normal and High gain. And SNR and dynamic-wise I doubt if I can hear difference between 124 and 117 dB. I think the background noise of HP out is much lower, than noise of my PSU and CPU fans anyway, especially that HD650 are open cans, so environmental noises are not blocked very well...

Anyway thanks for advice. I'll compare listening to more genres. What music do you listen to by the way? My main interest is rock, hence maybe my need of fast and well defined bass
post #9 of 12
The line out is not suitable for driving such high need phones. That is why the can amplifier is on this card.
There are many around here that are using the 650's with the STX can amp.

You might want to look at changing the opamps for the I/V section as it may give you a more preferable sound signature.
post #10 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by habrys View Post
Line out seems to sound somewhat between Normal and High gain. And SNR and dynamic-wise I doubt if I can hear difference between 124 and 117 dB. I think the background noise of HP out is much lower, than noise of my PSU and CPU fans anyway, especially that HD650 are open cans, so environmental noises are not blocked very well...

Anyway thanks for advice. I'll compare listening to more genres. What music do you listen to by the way? My main interest is rock, hence maybe my need of fast and well defined bass
ah good point, I only use closed cans...can't stand hearing PC fans

well, the HP out is agressive...if you listen to agressive music, it might be a good choice indeed.

if you go line-out, you might wanna ditch the stock LM4562NA for something beefier(the low end bass is anemic on this chip)...like say an OPA2132P/OPA2111KP/OPA2107AP...these 3 chips have a fantastic bass response, and not agressive like the HP out

I mostly listen to laid back music...and mostly from the 70's: jazz, deep funk, reggae, this sort of things.
post #11 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by ROBSCIX View Post
The line out is not suitable for driving such high need phones. That is why the can amplifier is on this card.
There are many around here that are using the 650's with the STX can amp.

You might want to look at changing the opamps for the I/V section as it may give you a more preferable sound signature.
x2

The 650s are one of the headphones with which using the headphone amp does make a difference. I used the middle gain setting and it sounded pretty good.
post #12 of 12

hi.

 

im using this settings(STX+HD650)

 

 

http://s30.postimg.org/64qorlvht/screenshot_20.png

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