Originally Posted by jdip
Why would it be hard to match the gain using the STX's headphone out? I plan to use headphones a lot with either one; probably moreso than with speakers.
OK, now back to the Essence. Pretty much confirms my earlier impressions. The difference isn't night and day, and I would hazard that both have roughly the same drive capability. The Essence sounds a bit less dynamic, a bit less subtle, and has a slightly harder tonal balance; the Essence tends to blur micro-dynamics compared with the D1, so there is a slight haze compared with the D1... just listening to the Vorspiel from Die Walkkure (Solti) ... OK and back to the D1...
Hmm, that's interesting, the D1's all over the Essence with this piece. The bass goes quite a bit deeper, and gives a better impression of there being a bass section composed of a number of players rather than one big loud mush. Musical dynamics are also handled more precisely by the D1, and there seems to be a wider dynamic window so that the music sounds more 'open'.
So yeah, the D1 wins, BUT - and like I say, it's a big but - I know the Essence isn't happy in this PC. The D1's getting its juice from the wall wart and signal via toslink, which gives it a chuffin big advantage. It's a clash of the titans, but from a purely sonic perspective, the D1 has it.
By the way, I just changed output devices and unplugged the headphones and the D1 worked as advertised.