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X-fi Elite Pro vs Asus Essence ST - Page 3

post #31 of 82
Went back & listened to my girlfriends computer with the Elite Pro & we both decided to put the Xonar D2/PM in it & try it out in hers. The sound was much much better with the D2/PM than the Elite Pro. Much more natural tone than the Elite Pro & better soundstage. The Elite Pro sounded thin & glaring compared to either Xonar card that I own.

Only mod applied to the Elite Pro was D.C. coupling the output at the time of listening. Xonar D2\PM already D.C. coupled from the factory. Headphone amp on the STX also D.C. coupled from the factory but not the line-out. My STX has been modded to d.c. coupling at the line out so the same mods apply to both the STX & the Elite pro & the STX still sounds much better than the Elite Pro. Much more rich tone yet detail not compromised at all.

The sound of the Xonar cards remind me of top grade vacumm tube amps with low to zero feedback. Excellent Tone & Detail that you can get from quality tube amps without the harmonic distortion of most tube amps
post #32 of 82
oops, duplicate post
post #33 of 82
On Sunday I put the ST into my HTPC along side my Creative X-Fi Elite (which has LM4562 opamps). I switched back and forth several times while listening for about an hour. Monday night I listened exclusively to the ST for two hours. Initially, the ST seemed harsh or bright. I ended up with an OPA2277 opamp in the buffer and two AD8620BR opamps in the I/V section. This really helped smooth things out and the card was very pleasant to listen to for two hours.

The Essence is better than the X-Fi Elite in almost every way. It has incredible clarity and detail with a better separation of instruments and voices. The soundstage opens up more with a greater sense of a live presentation in front of you. There is much more presence in the upper end and the bass sounds better. The only benefit of the X-Fi Elite regarding sound is that it is able to better smooth out poorly mixed albums.
post #34 of 82
Yes, I posted similar information regarding changing opamps. The I/V are responsible for most of the sound signature however, you can use the buffer opamps to bring out or push back certain aspects of the signature. If you understand what I mean, such as using a buffer to roll off the high end or bring out the bass a bit more.
The 3 opamps configuraiton allows many possibilities for tuning the sound to what you personally enjoy.
post #35 of 82
I think I'm goint to leave my opamps stock as the sound is very neutral. From the sounds of it the opamps of choice of many here seem to likeaccording to them to roll off the bass some but I'm thinking whats happening is the treble is getting accentuated.

Bass cannot be rolled off in a d.c. coupled arrangment so the only thing that can be happening is the higher frequencies are getting accentuated. This may explane why some who have went a rolling opamps have eventually ditched the card & complained of aggressiveness in the process. To me the stock opamps sound very neutral & unaggressive (no excessive & gritty high frquencies, Dynamics are anouthe matter & here the card has dynamics in spades). There is a tube like warmth to the sound that just sounds right with all my music yet there is no lack of high frequencies which are clean & extended to the limits of hearing.
post #36 of 82
One review site that tested the STX did some opamp rolling & came to the conclusion that even though the other opamps brought certain advantages to the sound that the overall picture was not as good as the stock opamps. They eventually went back to the stock opamps & said that they had the best overall sound. They were impressed with the very neutral sound of the stock opamps.

In my case using the stock opamps the sound perfectly matches the sound of the SACD player when I recorded the SACD player to the computer through the analog line in & then played it back comparing the two sound for sound. That to me is what truely neutral sound is about. If I'm already getting that with the stock opamps why sould I change them?

There are recordings that I have that don't sound all that smooth on but those are recording that I expect that kind of low quality production. The type recordings that I have that are truely high quality do not sound in any way compromised by the stock opamp arrangement.

My feeling is if you have mostly junk recordings find a more forgiving card, if you have mostly well produced recording (unfortunately most pop & rock do not qualify here) then you will be happy with the Xonar Essence STX or ST cards as that is what they were designed for. They are not designed to smooth out poor production & I think that is what some of the people here expect. These cards are designed to bring out the very best of truely exceptional recordings & that is what they do. Don't blame the card for sounding bad on poorly produced recordings.
post #37 of 82
+1 about bad recordings.

however i always though that stock op-amps were on the warmer side. at least i perceive them that way.
post #38 of 82
It depends on what your using for gear also.
post #39 of 82
^absolutely, i think K701 are not quite but close to neutral. when i was comparing LME49720NA and stock op-amps i though the former was closer to neutral.
post #40 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by germanium View Post
My feeling is if you have mostly junk recordings find a more forgiving card, if you have mostly well produced recording (unfortunately most pop & rock do not qualify here) then you will be happy with the Xonar Essence STX or ST cards as that is what they were designed for. They are not designed to smooth out poor production & I think that is what some of the people here expect. These cards are designed to bring out the very best of truely exceptional recordings & that is what they do. Don't blame the card for sounding bad on poorly produced recordings.
Your exactly right.
Truly good sources, no matter from who or if they are internal or external will show you what you have no matter the quality.
If you have a detailed interface and you have poor quality files such as low res MP3 or poorly encoded files and it will make the music sound even worse. Mainly because the units is not masking the source material in anyway. This may be one of the reasons that some prefer units that others find are poor quality. High levels of detail and clarity are just too much for some people. They prefer the warmer, less detailed sound provided by other units. To each their own, just aslong as it sounds good to you!
post #41 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by germanium View Post

The sound of the Xonar cards remind me of top grade vacumm tube amps with low to zero feedback. Excellent Tone & Detail that you can get from quality tube amps without the harmonic distortion of most tube amps
That doesn't make the Essence a better card,
Elite was made for consumer and semi professional use, so probably needs a different match with amplifier, speakers etc, it doesn't do much to the sound,
which is what a soundcard should do,
It's like matching an Arcam amplifier with some PC onboard audio, you would hear cracks and noise, but that doesn't mean Arcam is bad,
Probably Essence is a better PC soundcard than Elite, for common pc audio use,
or your pre-amplifier is on the cold side so Essence sounds better anyway,
post #42 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by sonci View Post
That doesn't make the Essence a better card,
Elite was made for consumer and semi professional use, so probably needs a different match with amplifier, speakers etc, it doesn't do much to the sound,
which is what a soundcard should do,
It's like matching an Arcam amplifier with some PC onboard audio, you would hear cracks and noise, but that doesn't mean Arcam is bad,
Probably Essence is a better PC soundcard than Elite, for common pc audio use,
or your pre-amplifier is on the cold side so Essence sounds better anyway,
I take it you haven't heard what a real professional grade tube amp sounds like. (yes there is such a thing) Other wise you wouldn't be saying these things. There are professionals that won't produce a recording without a quality professional tube setup. One of my friends was one such person & to here the amps he designed compared to the run of the mill consumer tube setup or transistor setup for that matter is a near life changing experience.

The sound on it was tonally correct & massively detailed with an openness that defies comprehension. It was feedback free so the gain wasn't being yanked around by negative feedback unlike most transistor amps. If you were to take a frequency response without feedback on most transistor amps you would be appalled. The natural frequency response of most tranny amps is horrible & thats if you can get them to work at all without feedback as many of them are unstable. Most tubes can be run with no feedback though with good to excelent results. The better the no feedback response the better your results would be with feedback as the gain would not be yanked around as much in order to flatten the response as it would already be quite flat to start with.

Most recording have tube amps somewhere in thier makeup even if its just the mic preamp (Many pro mics have tube amps in them).

Am I saying all tranny amps are bad ? NO. If done right they can have very Tube like sound. Not quite to the level of top tube amps but very very good nonetheless. The Essense STX comes very close to emulating the best of tube sound without the drawbacks. It Has the warmth ,body & detail I would expect from such without sounding muffled which I think many interpret as being warm as is can sound that way due to loss of overtones, a common issue with tranny amps. True Warmth & body is not that way as it retains the warmth & body of the instrument or voice without losing the overtones or background & aids in the retrieval of depth cues in the music that gives you the I'm there feeling.
post #43 of 82
With 320kbps MP3 the STX also sounds loud and agressive.
post #44 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by Alexander01 View Post
With 320kbps MP3 the STX also sounds loud and agressive.
So what gear are you using?

To me it doesnt sound agressive at all but im not using the integrated headphone amp, and i'm not a fan of harsh fatiguing sounds.
post #45 of 82
Neither card sounded that way to me either although I tested both can out and line out, but I used the line out.
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