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ALC889 vs ASUS Xonar Essence STX ( is it worth it to upgrade?)

post #1 of 38
Thread Starter 

Hi

 

I've just started getting in to music/headphones so I'm not too sure if i want to upgrade my sound card on my PC.

I have ALC889 on-board sound card, it sounds OK but i think i could get something better that gives more to my headphones and my 5.1 setup. The only thing is i don't know how much of a difference if i upgrade to ASUS Xonar Essence STX. so what i am really asking is will there be a huge difference that anyone could tell?

post #2 of 38

I made the exact same upgrade you want to make.

 

There was no difference. On top of that, the Xonar STX is broken at 44.1KHz for certain headphones... In fact it's not even 5.1 so you shouldn't consider it.

post #3 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by cuad View Post

I made the exact same upgrade you want to make.

 

There was no difference. On top of that, the Xonar STX is broken at 44.1KHz for certain headphones... In fact it's not even 5.1 so you shouldn't consider it.



Props to you for being honest. Not many people will pay good money for stuff and later admit that they gained absolutely nothing from the upgrade in terms of sound quality.

 

I wanted to buy a soundcard, but I've given up on that path. My PC has a lot of electrical noise that bleeds through the onboard audio which is why I am going to upgrade to an outboard DAC with a separate wall power supply. There's an upgrade you could actually hear because there will be no hard drive / graphics card / CD-rom spinning noises in your audio.

 

I'm a firm believer in the statement that if you want to be upgrading your sound quality by a noticeable level you should look at the physical domain for the biggest changes. Different headphones, speakers (and room treatment - definitely), reduce the noise of your PC and surroundings, things like that. If you use FLAC and are outputting bit-perfect audio to a decent outboard DAC with its own PS then you're pretty much covered in the digital domain, not much more to be improved upon here.

post #4 of 38

^lol, I get in big fights on OCN when I tell them that there is no difference between the latest onboards and sound cards like the STX. I'm about to pack my Titanium HD up and sell it.

 

I was able to return both of my STXs, that's why I ain't mad. I have a low end USB DAC (Fiio E7) and I don't think there's much of a difference either. It doesn't meet your separate power source though... Maybe the battery counts?


Edited by cuad - 6/6/11 at 8:08pm
post #5 of 38

Here is an interesting article about comparison between different on-board sound cards with a lot of measurements. The Realtek 889 is the best and its measurements are not bad at all.

 

http://www.insidehw.com/Reviews/Multimedia/Integrated-Sound-Cards-Roundup.html

 

I am not surprised that some think the STX does not sound better.

 

There is a lot of dacs that are not as flat in the treble beyond 15 Khz as the 889 is.

With the STX, the roll-off begins before 10 Khz. The FR is flatter for the 889, so it is more neutral.

 

STX measurements :

http://www.stereophile.com/content/asus-xonar-essence-ststx-soundcards-measurements


Edited by pasgod - 6/6/11 at 11:47pm
post #6 of 38



 

Quote:
Originally Posted by WrxSTI View Post

 

I'm a firm believer in the statement that if you want to be upgrading your sound quality by a noticeable level you should look at the physical domain for the biggest changes. Different headphones, speakers (and room treatment - definitely), reduce the noise of your PC and surroundings, things like that. If you use FLAC and are outputting bit-perfect audio to a decent outboard DAC with its own PS then you're pretty much covered in the digital domain, not much more to be improved upon here.



 My personal experience,  though I´ve never had a top sound-card,  fully confirm this.  So,  I think a laptop (battery feed) with an external DAC,  even a cheap T. Beach,  must show some audio improvement.  Does someone have experienced it ? 

post #7 of 38

The difference between onboard audio and a dedicated soundcard, is the same as onboard graphics and a video card, but in the first case is much harder to prove them..

post #8 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by sonci View Post

The difference between onboard audio and a dedicated soundcard, is the same as onboard graphics and a video card, but in the first case is much harder to prove them..



Is that like a zen koan?

post #9 of 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by pasgod View Post

Here is an interesting article about comparison between different on-board sound cards with a lot of measurements. The Realtek 889 is the best and its measurements are not bad at all.

 

http://www.insidehw.com/Reviews/Multimedia/Integrated-Sound-Cards-Roundup.html

 

I am not surprised that some think the STX does not sound better.

 

There is a lot of dacs that are not as flat in the treble beyond 15 Khz as the 889 is.

With the STX, the roll-off begins before 10 Khz. The FR is flatter for the 889, so it is more neutral.

 

STX measurements :

http://www.stereophile.com/content/asus-xonar-essence-ststx-soundcards-measurements



Basically, their own conclusion is that dedicated soundcards beat all onboard audio chips, no surprise there.

 

Maybe in a couple of years, motherboard manufacturers will actually start giving some real thought on better parts and better design to reduce EMI and such. Still, at the present time, audio is still considered an afterthought for motherboard manufacturers frown.gif

post #10 of 38
Thread Starter 

thanks guys for your input/feed back!

 

I have looked through the graphs and talked to my friends about the difference in sound card, and i get similar answers compared to this one. i have come to a conclusion that although you have a slightly better improvement the human hear can't really hear all of the difference. so basically i would only need a dedicated sound card if i were doing some hard card audio mixing. but I am not.

 

also on a note yes you can see a difference between graphic cards from on-board to dedicated, because if you have a dedicated graphics card that you free up one of your CPU core and some of your RAM. this will give you smoother frames and better game play, but if your going in to how detailed/clear/less pixelated then it depends if hardware supports DX 10 or 11, and the hardware components itself.

 

thanks again, and if you have computer questions then send me a private message.

post #11 of 38
Quote:

Originally Posted by aznx2high View Post

 

...but if your going in to how detailed/clear/less pixelated then it depends if hardware supports DX 10 or 11, and the hardware components itself.

 

thanks again, and if you have computer questions then send me a private message.



LOL. With such an answer, I'm certainly not asking you anything computer related tongue.gif

post #12 of 38

This thread helped a lot. It sounds like If I want an upgrade, I should get an external DAC and leave my on-board Realtek alone

post #13 of 38

http://ixbtlabs.com/articles3/multimedia/creative-x-fi-pcie-p4.html

 

While this is about Creative Titanium Cards, they make comparison between onboard and soundcards, 

It all depends on the quality of other audio components like speakers or amplifier,

basically if you use cheap desktop monitors or headphones, than you won`t hear any differences  with onboard audio..

 

as for the external DAC, IME with the EMU1212M, theres a huge difference between soundcard and motherboard spidf out..
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by BLACKENEDPLAGUE View Post

This thread helped a lot. It sounds like If I want an upgrade, I should get an external DAC and leave my on-board Realtek alone



 


Edited by sonci - 6/17/11 at 12:46pm
post #14 of 38

I was just on a website talking with some people and they said upgrading soundcards for the sole purpose of listening to music is not worth the money, do you agree?

 

and just to help him/her out this person is selling an Essence for what I can only guess is a good price


Edited by BLACKENEDPLAGUE - 6/17/11 at 5:33pm
post #15 of 38
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Roller View Post





LOL. With such an answer, I'm certainly not asking you anything computer related tongue.gif

 


wait wait hold up what i meant what if it can support that DX 10 or 11 then you can run most games on high settings because since most PC games are still in DX 10 and 9, so if you have support for DX 11, which is tesstallation making a big improvement in game design, and 3D effects. so if it has support for DX 11 then you can exspect that you can run just about any game from any games in the past till about maybe 2016 or longer. but also in the consideration of your CPU and RAM since as time goes on you will need more RAM for your apps, and your CPU to run them. 

 

this is why i didnt why i wantto get into detail because i get worked up about this.

 

and yes there is a big difference from a dependent video card and independent video card, like i said if you free up what the dependent card is using then you have a better improvement in your gaming/preforming experience. why ? because DEPENDENT VIDEO CARDS uses one of your CPU and some amount of RAM, for example  if you have a dual core and like 4GB of drr2 ram then it would show like 4GB of ram but 3.5 of USABLE ram if you right click my computer and click properties. but for the cpu you can't tell but i know it uses the CPU because there's nothing else that can do the calculations. so as you can see if you have a dual core and you are running a game then it kind of becomes a single core. and also FOR INTEL USERS, if you do not already know intel uses hyper-threading which means each core has two threads where you and input and output data, so in a simple term if you have 1 PHYSICAL core, you get VIRTUALLY 2 cores. so do the math n*2=?. also its improves CPU perfomance from 20%-30%.

 

but nonetheless you COULD free up those if you add a dedicated video card.

 

sorry for the late reply, i have a lot of things going on this summer.

 

and to the rest of you guys thanks for the replies very helpful.

 

i learned a lot from you guys and saved me from making a mistake.

 

thanks to all of you.

 

 

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