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Anyone use Xonar Essence STX WITH a Fiio E9 amp ? (dt880's)

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 

I currently run a Xonar Essence STX ---> Beyerdynamic dt880/600s

 

I am thinking about putting an amp between the two, particularly the Fiio e9.

 

Does anyone use this setup?

 

 

I am trying to guage whether or not the E9 would be a worthwhile upgrade to my system.

 

Any comments, suggestions?  Most of all - Does anyone have real experience with this?

post #2 of 17

The Essence STX is supposed to have a pretty good amp from what I've read.  I don't think the E9 will be much of an improvement, if it isn't a downgrade.  I'd recommend an M-Stage, but that is double the price of the E9.

 

The search function also goes through people's profiles, so you may find a couple of users with Essence + E9 rig and ask for their input.  I think there are a few with Essence + M-Stage, so you can ask them as well.  Or other Essence + desktop amp users.

post #3 of 17
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the input, Mad max.

 

I have searched, but to no avail.  I'd like to purchase an amp from somewhere other than ebay (then from china), in case I elect to return it.  Is there anywhere else to purchase the M-stage?

 

Also, does anyone else have experiences when using an STX with an external amp?  I am looking for an amp that will result in a noticeable upgrade.

 

 

post #4 of 17

I actually just got a Fiio E9 to run with my Xonar STX...  running it with the HD-650's.... there is a significant improvement and is definitly worth the $129.

post #5 of 17

BigDog ~ I have the Xonar ST and the HD-650 ~ what kind of improvements would I be looking at by adding the E9 (trying to quantify what "significant improvement" is)? Thanks!

post #6 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by BigDog008 View Post

I actually just got a Fiio E9 to run with my Xonar STX...  running it with the HD-650's.... there is a significant improvement and is definitly worth the $129.



How is there an improvement if the Fiio is still piggybacked through the STX's amp?

I'm not contesting you, I just want to understand, because it could be useful to me (e.g.: if I plug a Fiio E5 on my onboard's output would it improve the sound?)

post #7 of 17

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Vitor Machado View Post



How is there an improvement if the Fiio is still piggybacked through the STX's amp?

I'm not contesting you, I just want to understand, because it could be useful to me (e.g.: if I plug a Fiio E5 on my onboard's output would it improve the sound?)


E5 may provide marginal improvement if the headphones you are using are mildly harder to drive.

 

The E9 would be much better.  There may or may not be degradation of the sound with feeding the E9 through the STX's headamp out, but the STX does indeed have a line-out (RCA) which is what you should use with an external amp.

 

In the case of onboard sound or a typical soundcard, they provide line-out and the volume is digitally adjustable through the software.  An amp would bring some improvement, especially with less sensitive headphones.

post #8 of 17

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mad Max View Post


In the case of onboard sound or a typical soundcard, they provide line-out and the volume is digitally adjustable through the software.  An amp would bring some improvement, especially with less sensitive headphones.



Nova13, sorry I'm hijacking your thread a little bit. tongue.gif

 

So in my case, what would probably be better?

Onboard audio -> Fiio E9?

or just a Fiio E7? (or uDAC-2 perhaps)

 

My onboard does NOT cause any apparent degradation to the audio (like background hissing), even when using my Philips SHS8000 in-ears (old AC'97 onboard made these unusable: hissing, pops, crackles...).

 

Btw I think I will get the Senn HD 555, which are supposed to be easy to drive. Either way, I will probably wait and try them straight from my onboard before doing anything.

 

Thanks smile.gif

post #9 of 17

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mad Max View Post

The E9 would be much better.  There may or may not be degradation of the sound with feeding the E9 through the STX's headamp out, but the STX does indeed have a line-out (RCA) which is what you should use with an external amp.


Hi there,

 

I am very interested in this thread as I am currently considering buying a brand new audio setup for my computer. I am mostly gaming, and I come from onboard audio + sennhs PC151 (woot!).

After much reading, I am leaning towards dedicated soundcard + DT990 HP. From what I've been understanding, the Essence ST(X) should be able to feed headphones with up to 600 ohms impedance.

Why would one need to buy an external, additional amp in such a case ? Wouldn't it go against the very reason for which one would want to buy an Essence STX soundcard ? Otherwise, is it not best to buy a cheaper card (Xonar DX?) if planning on using an external amp ?

 

post #10 of 17
Thread Starter 

You will be very much happy with a Xonar Essence STX and a DT990, even the 600 ohm.  I was there for quite some time, and yes, the STX will drive even 600 ohm headphones, but the problem is, how well.  Since a year ago I was in your exact place (I used grado sr-60's through onboard sound, then went to the STX with DT880/600's), I can tell you first hand you will think they are the best damn thing you've ever heard in your entire life, and you will be really happy.  Then after time passes and perhaps you have a little extra money, you will accidently hear something better, and want to upgrade.

 

My best advice is to upgrade slowly and enjoy where you are at with each step, and be fine with being a little naive.  It gets unhealthy for one's wallet and mind reading this forum too much, especially at first :)

 

My advice for you - buy the STX and those cans, get the 600 ohm, you will love it.

 

 

Now I see you are also curious as to why someone would want or need another amp, even though the stx has one built in?  Yes, the stx will drive the dt990/600's, but there is a great sound improvement when going to a dedicated amp.  To be more precise, there is a great improvement when you switch to a QUALITY amp.  You can read countless threads here like I did, and from what I took from them, the amp in the Xonar Essence STX is unmatched for its price point.  Some even go further to say you'd need to spend at least a couple hundred on a headphone amp alone just to outdo the STX.  The STX is a great buy at 200 bucks, you get a solid DAC and a solid Amp - its the perfect solution in my opinion for someone new to this whole thing.

 

However, consider that the amp in the stx is a simple (albeit high quality) chip the size of your fingernail, and you can see how that may struggle to perform as well as say, a 500 dollar, hand made woo audio 3 tube amplifier.  There are many threads as to why this is true, speaking in terms of voltage delivered, etc.  I'll let you search those on your own if you wish.

 

 

 

 

 

post #11 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nova13 View Post

You will be very much happy with a Xonar Essence STX and a DT990, even the 600 ohm.  I was there for quite some time, and yes, the STX will drive even 600 ohm headphones, but the problem is, how well.  Since a year ago I was in your exact place (I used grado sr-60's through onboard sound, then went to the STX with DT880/600's), I can tell you first hand you will think they are the best damn thing you've ever heard in your entire life, and you will be really happy.  Then after time passes and perhaps you have a little extra money, you will accidently hear something better, and want to upgrade.

 

My best advice is to upgrade slowly and enjoy where you are at with each step, and be fine with being a little naive.  It gets unhealthy for one's wallet and mind reading this forum too much, especially at first :)

 

My advice for you - buy the STX and those cans, get the 600 ohm, you will love it.

 

 

Now I see you are also curious as to why someone would want or need another amp, even though the stx has one built in?  Yes, the stx will drive the dt990/600's, but there is a great sound improvement when going to a dedicated amp.  To be more precise, there is a great improvement when you switch to a QUALITY amp.  You can read countless threads here like I did, and from what I took from them, the amp in the Xonar Essence STX is unmatched for its price point.  Some even go further to say you'd need to spend at least a couple hundred on a headphone amp alone just to outdo the STX.  The STX is a great buy at 200 bucks, you get a solid DAC and a solid Amp - its the perfect solution in my opinion for someone new to this whole thing.

 

However, consider that the amp in the stx is a simple (albeit high quality) chip the size of your fingernail, and you can see how that may struggle to perform as well as say, a 500 dollar, hand made woo audio 3 tube amplifier.  There are many threads as to why this is true, speaking in terms of voltage delivered, etc.  I'll let you search those on your own if you wish.


LOL

x2

 

Both amp and DAC matter a lot in getting good sound, not just headphones, with the DAC making a bigger difference than the amp.

How an amp's design can be improved upon in order to get even better sound is complicated.

post #12 of 17

Thanks for your extensive answers ! I really appreciate your feedback.

Reading these forums is for sure absolutely unhealthy for my wallet, especially as I am an "always-wanting-the-best-even-if-it's-overkill-for-my-use" kind of guy. Veeeeery dangerous in here as it seems one could easily spend a few thousand dollars on a quality audio setup tongue.gif

 

I totally understand that a good DAC + good AMP makes a big difference in the quality of the ultimate output, at least as much as the headphone quality (even though I discovered what those were only a few days ago :-p). I think that for my use though (90% gaming) the onboard DAC of an Essence ST(X) or a Titanium HD will be more than enough. Correct me if I am wrong.

The question I had reading this post was whether one would be better off buying

1) Essence ST(X)

2) Titanium HD / lower end Xonar soundcard without built-in hp amplifier + external amp like Fiio E9.

 

With my very limited knowledge, I don't see the point in buying the Essence ST(X) and plugging-in it into the Fiio E9 as it seems both have the same kind of power-output potential (80mV at 600 ohms).

Built-in hp amp : http://focus.ti.com/lit/ds/symlink/tpa6120a2.pdf

Fiio E9 : http://www.fiio.com.cn/product/index.aspx?MenuID=020301

I might be misconceiving amping devices by limiting their purpose to that power-output potential (as far as their capacity to drive headphones is concerned). Is there something I'm misunderstanding there ?

 

On a side note, and in the mindset of your very thoughtful quote 

 

 

Quote:
My best advice is to upgrade slowly and enjoy where you are at with each step, and be fine with being a little naive.  It gets unhealthy for one's wallet and mind reading this forum too much, especially at first :)

 

Do you think I should go step by step and rather begin with a less expensive step forward like the Asus Xense bundle ?

 

 


 

post #13 of 17
Thread Starter 

You are spot on with realizing that plugging a Fiio e9 into a Xonar Essence STX would essentially be not worth it.  The fiio e9 may be better than the stx by some amount, but not worth the upgrade, I don't think.  I don't speak from experience, but when looking for an upgrade from my current setup:  STX--->DT880/600's, I too realized that the onboard amp of the stx was similiar (especially with regard to the millivolt output) as the e9.  

 

However, from my research, the fiio e9 amp is an awesome purchase for its price point.  Its ideal for someone who has a decent source already and needs some amplification.  You, however, do not have a decent source.  You then also need to make sure you have adequate amplification - this is especially true if you are wanting the dt990/600 ohm version.

 

A source for you:

Essence STX - from my research, this is superior to the titanium hd for music, but inferior in some ways for gaming.  I love my STX for occasional gaming, but I am not really hardcore.  It gave me nice positioning for Modern Warfare 2, at least compared to my old onboard setup.

 

OR

 

Titanium HD - I dont know a whole lot about it, but I think this lacks a headphone amp.  I also understand that its superior for gaming compared to the STX.  It runs different software that some games rely on.  I'd probably roll this route if you are a serious gamer, say in a counterstrike clan on something like that.  When people say "better for gaming", the only thing they can really be referring to is in regards to positioning.  If you are mainly playing games like WoW or more casual games, the extra positioning software you pay for in the titanium is pretty much worthless.

 

Assuming the Titanium HD is your choice, and that it does not have an amp (I dont think it does), then you would need an amp, and the Fiio e9 is an excellent choice for its price range from my research.

 

As I said above, its my advice to not hook up a fiio e9 to an stx, I don't believe you'd see an appreciable improvement.  If you were NOT into gaming I'd suggest the e7/e9 combo instead of either of those cards, as that would give you a nice semi-portable DAC and amp.

 

With regards to my quote and where you should start, thats up to you.  I went from onboard to what I thought was the best sound card available (the STX).  I wanted gaming, I wanted music, I got it.  I would NOT suggest going with a lower end sound card that lacks an amp (unless its the titanium and you pair it with a Fiio, and only if you required the software the titanium provides), because assuming you want to use the dt990/600, you will NEED amplification, they crave the power.  Bottom line is make sure you have your amplification covered if you are running 600 ohm cans.  Do that, or find a different can. 

 

The main point of my quote was once you settle on something, stop browsing here so much and enjoy where you are it.  There is always something better, and you don't have it.  Your system could always sound better, you can always spend more money.  Chill out, enjoy the music (or the games!)  

 

 

 

 


Edited by Nova13 - 4/17/11 at 10:34am
post #14 of 17

Nova13, you just brought to me the kind of answer I was looking for. Thank you very much !!!

 

I am now settled on going for an ASUS soundcard, as I am not at all in hardcore, competitive gaming. And I wouldn't want to pay the premium for special positioning software that come with Creative's hardware. Going the Titanium route would make me need to buy an additional $100+ amp to make them able to sustain demanding headphones. It's definitely not worth it in my eyes as per Today.

 

I still need to decide whether I'll go the Xense bundle route or the ST + HP highroad. But this begins to be a little off-topic.

(I've opened another topic asking for help for the whole setup)

 

Thanks for your input gentlemen !

 

post #15 of 17
Thread Starter 

You are welcome, feel free to pm me if you have more questions, but I fear we are nearing the end of my knowledge of all this stuff :)

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