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Asus Xonar Essence ST: I need some help with the bass settings please

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 
I just received my Asus Xonar Essence ST today and while I notice an upgrade in clarity over my old Creative X-fi xtreme music card, I can't help but feel like bass took a noticable hit. I'm just an audio noob at this point and I'm not familiar with the terminology but I do know what I like and I miss the level of bass I was getting before. I also feel like the highs are bit harsh but I can live with that.

Just to give more background information, I have the sound card set to headphone, using the headphone out, 44.1 sample rate, and I also increased the decibels on the two lowest frequencies, probably to about 8 dbs on the 30 frequency and 4 on the 60 frequency. I tried to keep the equalizer flat and just use the hi-fi processing but then the bass is pretty weak, even with using the equalizer on the external music software I'm using.

I'm using ATH-A900's which aren't bass heavy headphones to begin with but after messing with the equalizer on my old Creative X-fi xtreme music card it actually put out some pretty decent bass imo. I feel like the bass is lower and more satisfying on the xtreme music card.

Anyway, I'm wondering if I missed some settings on the Asus ST card to bring out the bass or if it generally has reduced bass compared to other sources. I'm considering returning the card to go back to my old set up or there is also the more expensive option of buying a different higher impedence headphone around $200 that would synergize well with the Asus ST, bringing out solid bass coupled with decent mids/highs. I'd appreciate any guidance you can give me, thanks.
post #2 of 19
Well the ST is much clearer compared to a Creative X-fi which is more boomy and washed out. New sources take awhile to get used to, you have to give yourself a chance to learn the new signature and how to tune it to what you like.
If you are using the Can amplifer make sure you set it to the proper impedance or you will have too much gain in the signal.
post #3 of 19
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the reply Rob, I'll give it some more time to allow my ears to get accustomed to the change in sound. I may end up keeping it and try some AH-D2000's down the road.

I'm just using the lowest gain setting. I know ATH-A900's are low impedence headphones but I tried the mid level gain at low volume (curiousity got the best of me) for a short time but it didn't sound any better.

I don't want to open a can of worms in regard to burn-in but is there such a thing as burn-in for sound cards?
post #4 of 19
Usually when you get ANY new source it sounds off because you are using your last source for reference.
As for burn-in: Sure, some people suggest soudncards and other audio circuits burn-in after awhile as certain components are known to change over time and usage.
Burn in may also be all in your head as they say and it is just your ear/brain getting used to the new sonic signature.
post #5 of 19
That's funny. I initially had the same problem. It felt like the bass output is compromised and felt that the mid-range was too hot. I don't know what happened but after a few days that changed, it may have been burn in, but I fooled around with some settings so that may be it. Now, the thing sounds great. I don't know what happened. Also, the headphone out sounded better than the RCA out if you are not using a headphone amplifier.
I also noticed that at the start I was blasting the audio and I had listening fatigue. Then when I listened to my audigy 2zs, I found that the darn thing had been severely muting/not putting out the mid's and hi's like they were recorded at. This gave me the impression of a smooth sound and that the bass was much more emphasized. The xonar does not mess around, it puts it out like it puts it out. I have some decent floor standing towers and I hooked them up and the bass is powerful and very deep.
I now listen to my headphones at slightly around quarter way. (When I started it use to be at least halfway or more) and the bass is very nice.

Make sure you enable WASAPI (if you're using win7 or vista) or ASIO for your soundcard and foobar or whatever you use to play music with. I found this makes a difference. And (providing you've got it bit-perfect) set your sampling rate to 44.1 khz for music/mp3 files in the xonar control panel.
post #6 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chuckiefresh View Post
I just received my Asus Xonar Essence ST today and while I notice an upgrade in clarity over my old Creative X-fi xtreme music card, I can't help but feel like bass took a noticable hit. I'm just an audio noob at this point and I'm not familiar with the terminology but I do know what I like and I miss the level of bass I was getting before. I also feel like the highs are bit harsh but I can live with that.

Just to give more background information, I have the sound card set to headphone, using the headphone out, 44.1 sample rate, and I also increased the decibels on the two lowest frequencies, probably to about 8 dbs on the 30 frequency and 4 on the 60 frequency. I tried to keep the equalizer flat and just use the hi-fi processing but then the bass is pretty weak, even with using the equalizer on the external music software I'm using.

I'm using ATH-A900's which aren't bass heavy headphones to begin with but after messing with the equalizer on my old Creative X-fi xtreme music card it actually put out some pretty decent bass imo. I feel like the bass is lower and more satisfying on the xtreme music card.

Anyway, I'm wondering if I missed some settings on the Asus ST card to bring out the bass or if it generally has reduced bass compared to other sources. I'm considering returning the card to go back to my old set up or there is also the more expensive option of buying a different higher impedence headphone around $200 that would synergize well with the Asus ST, bringing out solid bass coupled with decent mids/highs. I'd appreciate any guidance you can give me, thanks.
See my post here: http://www.head-fi.org/forums/f46/xo...ml#post6341134

Return the card and wait of for the new Creative X-Fi Titanium HD. The Xonar ST/STX have alot design flaws that makes them sound bad in alot aspects. Creative cards sounds more balanced, laidback and smooth. The technical audio aspects (soundstage, postional audio, instrument seperation, frequency response) are just a tad better with the X-Fi chipset. I value these aspects above the clearness of the Xonar STX/ST. I think the new Titanium HD come close or will match the clearness of the Xonar STX/ST.
post #7 of 19
Alot of design flaws such as what? Also didn't you say you owned a STX?
You are aware we are speaking about the ST, which most say sounds different then the STX?
post #8 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chuckiefresh View Post
Thanks for the reply Rob, I'll give it some more time to allow my ears to get accustomed to the change in sound. I may end up keeping it and try some AH-D2000's down the road.

I'm just using the lowest gain setting. I know ATH-A900's are low impedence headphones but I tried the mid level gain at low volume (curiousity got the best of me) for a short time but it didn't sound any better.

I don't want to open a can of worms in regard to burn-in but is there such a thing as burn-in for sound cards?
Make sure you have the proper gain set for your headphones. When in headphone mode did you check the bass redirection?
On these cards this setting is available and can remove some of your bass if set wrong. You can set it for large headphones or small headphones.
post #9 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by ROBSCIX View Post
Alot of design flaws such as what? Also didn't you say you owned a STX?
You are aware we are speaking about the ST, which most say sounds different then the STX?
I know, I only owned the STX, but the funny thing is he says exactly what I thought when listening to the STX. All the things he is saying and comparing with the X-Fi are completely the same as how I would the describe it with the STX.

The ST still have the same bad jittery clock as the STX. And while the ST has the jitter cleanup chip it seems it doesn't fix enough to get the emotional smooth and laidback sound without harshness but with good bass-texture like the X-Fi cards.

Look how much thoppa had to modify to fix all the flaws:
http://www.head-fi.org/forums/f46/as...dified-478473/
post #10 of 19
Same thing can happen with any source when you're not used to it.
Thoppa didn't fix flaws, he modifed the card to make it better. There is a difference.
Did you miss the mod you X-Fi thread where the guys are doing modification to change their cards also. Guess they are fixing the flaws!

I call the CL X'fi washed out and boomy. No mids.. I guess if you get used to such a signature and consider it "correct" there are many cards out there that you might not like.
post #11 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by ROBSCIX View Post
Same thing can happen with any source when
I call the CL X'fi washed out and boomy. No mids.. I guess if you get used to such a signature and consider it "correct" there are many cards out there that you might not like.
And that's exactly why I always used an Equalizer to tight up the mid-bass and boost the low bass + treble. I never owned any audio equipment that sounded good with alot PRAT out of the box. With the Equalizer I could get that PRAT. But if the card's bass is a little thin sounding I can't get the impactfull bass that I could get with a card with more textured bass. That's why I can get better bass out of the X-Fi. It's fuller and more textured by default then the Xonar bass (and ofcourse things also get boomier quicker if it's fuller sounding). Also the X-Fi treble is soft and smooth so I can boost it to hear the details and feel the energy in the music. I could do the same with Xonar for only a few minutes because it's treble signature is just too harsh and spikey for my ears. For Electronic music I need good mids but not pronounced mids! The X-Fi is pretty smooth in the mids while the Xonar has more pronounced mids that are just too loud for me.

I could fall asleep with the equalized X-Fi sound while the equalized Xonar STX sound keeps me awake. Both with stock sound (without EQing) are just boring to me. And yes the X-Fi sounds muddy and boomy then.
post #12 of 19
Well you're entitled to your opinion. I will suggest that when there was a posting regarding a person not enjoying the sound it always seemed to be related to an incorrect setting such as using too much gain on the can amplifier. Personally, I never used the EQ on the Essence as I didn't need it. I found the bass on the Essence more then enough stock, however I always mod mores sources to use other opamps.
Your gear would also play a large part in what you hear.
Enjoy.
post #13 of 19
Well, I had my audigy 2zs for a long time, and when running it under WASAPI, I loved the sound detail. The bass was very very nice. I must say that compared, the audigy 2 zs does have a "pleasing sound" and I honestly think it's that the mids and highs are so muddy or recessed that you turn up the volume and enjoy a rocking bassline. However, comparing it to the essence ST, there is unfortunately no comparision. The sound on the essence is stunning.

But for a person used to the recessed mids and highs of an audigy 2, the essence will sound harsh as when he turns the speakers up to get the bass he's used to at the volume he's used to, the mids and the highs can be overpowering because they increase at the same proportion as the bass.

I have the essence running a pair of axiom m80ti's and replacing this with the audigy 2 zs would just be an insult to these speakers.

The bass is very powerful, clear, and extended quite low. The audigy 2 would just sound muddy with boomy one tone bass and the instruments would sound "recorded" coming out of speakers compared to actually being there in your living room.
BTW, the sound is so full range that listening to it at louder than the actual volume they were recorded at can sometimes feel harsh. My actual listening volume level has reduced by a third of what I used for the audigy 2 because I get more detail even at this low volume level. I had to turn it up on the audigy 2 to enjoy acceptable detail.

The essence does have a much nicer equalizer than what the audigy 2 zs had but I still very much prefer the unequalized playback. Give the flat uneq'd essence a chance and a longer listen at lower volume. It may change your mind. Also if you can, connect it to a good set of headphones with an amp or a good set of speakers. What headphones did you listen to it on?

Though most people hate on it, the audigy 2zs wasn't a bad card. I loved it for it's ability to "turn that S**t up power" despite it not representing music accurately. The essence is just plain better.
post #14 of 19
Couldn't have said it better myself.
post #15 of 19
Thread Starter 
I appreciate all the feedback. Ultimately I decided to return the Asus Xonar Essence ST. The clarity was outstanding on the Asus card and imo it's not even debatable that it's head and shoulders above the Creative X-fi Xtreme music in that regard.

I just couldn't get over the harshness/reduced bass though using ATH-A900's with no gain so I returned it and I'll spend the $200 elsewhere. It's possible I would have a different opinion of the Asus ST card if I had more bass heavy headphones such as D2000's or the DT 770 Pro or if I wasn't on such a hip hop music kick here lately.
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