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post #166 of 349
Quote:
Originally Posted by jdip View Post

 

Thanks, much appreciated.

 

I like the form factor of the D1 but the only thing holding me back is that unlike the STX, it doesn't have Dolby Headphone which is supposed to be very nice for games and movies.

Well, features might be the deciding factor. I use mine to listen to ripped CDs so Dolby is of no interest; furthermore, I use three different computers now, so it was a real plus being able to take the DAC with me to whichever computer I happen to be using. In terms of sound quality, they're both excellent; but I'll see if I can expand on that a bit later on, but at that price I'm sure you'd be delighted with the sound of either.

 

By the by, there're no shortage of grumbles about Asus's drivers out there; I haven't had any problems myself, but that might be because I don't use Dolby or effects or play computer games, so that might be something for you to investigate before deciding which to go for. 

 

Alex

post #167 of 349
Quote:
Originally Posted by Earwicker View Post

 

Yes, I'll do it later today if I can. The D1 won't have had its full 30 hrs of burn-in time, but I can't imagine it's going to change much. Early impressions are that it outperforms the Essence by a fair margin, although bear in mind that the Essence doesn't seem to like this particular PC much.

 

Now that the D1 has sorted itself out a bit, it is apparent that like all such devices these days - well, for the past 30 years really! - it applies far too much gain, but otherwise sounds fantastic.

 

Alex

have had mine 3 months now, and noticed no change at all in first 100 hours

post #168 of 349
Quote:
Originally Posted by Earwicker View Post

Well, features might be the deciding factor. I use mine to listen to ripped CDs so Dolby is of no interest; furthermore, I use three different computers now, so it was a real plus being able to take the DAC with me to whichever computer I happen to be using. In terms of sound quality, they're both excellent; but I'll see if I can expand on that a bit later on, but at that price I'm sure you'd be delighted with the sound of either.

 

By the by, there're no shortage of grumbles about Asus's drivers out there; I haven't had any problems myself, but that might be because I don't use Dolby or effects or play computer games, so that might be something for you to investigate before deciding which to go for. 

 

Alex

Yeah I think I'm leaning a bit towards the STX because of the additional features.  Do you feel that the D1 sounds better by a decent margin or are they similar sounding?

post #169 of 349
Quote:
Originally Posted by jdip View Post

Yeah I think I'm leaning a bit towards the STX because of the additional features.  Do you feel that the D1 sounds better by a decent margin or are they similar sounding?

I'd say they're both roughly in the same general ball park, with the D1 having the edge. I've just being doing a quick spot of A/Bing through the RCA outs of both through the hi-fi (not least because it'll be hard to match the gain using the STX's headphone out).

 

The D1 has it sonically by a reasonable margin, BUT - and it's probably quite a big but, like Jennifer Lopez's - I'm now running the D1 off the mains USB wall charger and feeding it signal optically. Digital nasties, whistling etc., are quite clearly audible through both the D1 and the STX if I run the D1 off the computer's USB. I think this PC's vilely noisy, and in a computer with a quieter internal electrical environment I think it'd be a closer contest. (The Essence sounded better in my old AMD 3200+ machine... less powerful processor, only one HDD etc.). 

 

Now, to all who're considering buying a D1, I can say this: this 'auto detection' of phones/RCA, and USB/optical signals, is dodgy as hell. Getting it to detect the optical in and make music requires about 10 minutes of plugging in and unplugging, and re-booting and all this crap until it finally decides to play. During this time, the on/off button on the front of the device sometimes stops working too. Once it's working, it sounds fabulous; but it's not very well sorted at all.

 

Alex

post #170 of 349
Quote:
Originally Posted by Earwicker View Post

I'd say they're both roughly in the same general ball park, with the D1 having the edge. I've just being doing a quick spot of A/Bing through the RCA outs of both through the hi-fi (not least because it'll be hard to match the gain using the STX's headphone out).

 

The D1 has it sonically by a reasonable margin, BUT - and it's probably quite a big but, like Jennifer Lopez's - I'm now running the D1 off the mains USB wall charger and feeding it signal optically. Digital nasties, whistling etc., are quite clearly audible through both the D1 and the STX if I run the D1 off the computer's USB. I think this PC's vilely noisy, and in a computer with a quieter internal electrical environment I think it'd be a closer contest. (The Essence sounded better in my old AMD 3200+ machine... less powerful processor, only one HDD etc.). 

 

Now, to all who're considering buying a D1, I can say this: this 'auto detection' of phones/RCA, and USB/optical signals, is dodgy as hell. Getting it to detect the optical in and make music requires about 10 minutes of plugging in and unplugging, and re-booting and all this crap until it finally decides to play. During this time, the on/off button on the front of the device sometimes stops working too. Once it's working, it sounds fabulous; but it's not very well sorted at all.

 

Alex

Many thanks for coming back to give your input.  LOL at J. Lo's butt. biggrin.gif

 

The problems you are having with the D1 sound very frustrating.  Perhaps you have a bad unit?  Have you tried it on another PC to see if it exhibits the same behavior?

 

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.

post #171 of 349
Quote:
Originally Posted by jdip View Post

Many thanks for coming back to give your input.  LOL at J. Lo's butt. biggrin.gif

 

The problems you are having with the D1 sound very frustrating.  Perhaps you have a bad unit?  Have you tried it on another PC to see if it exhibits the same behavior?

 

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.

Just A/Bing the headphone outs, back shortly. The D1's up first and sounding, frankly, sublime...

post #172 of 349
Quote:
Originally Posted by jdip View Post

 

 

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.

 

Alex

post #173 of 349
Quote:
Originally Posted by Earwicker View Post

 

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.

 

Alex

Thanks for that, I appreciate it a lot!

 

I don't know if I'll be able to pick up the subtle differences like you, I'm only starting to get into nice audio quality (compared to iPods and onboard soundcards).  I wish there was a USB DAC/Amp solution that also offered Dolby stuff in this price range so that would make my choice a lot easier.  I think I'm still leaning a bit more towards the STX because of it's Dolby technologies for movies and gaming.

 

Good to know that you got your issue resolved.

post #174 of 349
Quote:
Originally Posted by jdip View Post

Thanks for that, I appreciate it a lot!

 

I don't know if I'll be able to pick up the subtle differences like you, I'm only starting to get into nice audio quality (compared to iPods and onboard soundcards).  I wish there was a USB DAC/Amp solution that also offered Dolby stuff in this price range so that would make my choice a lot easier.  I think I'm still leaning a bit more towards the STX because of it's Dolby technologies for movies and gaming.

 

Good to know that you got your issue resolved.

You're welcome! :-)

 

I think you're right to lean towards the Essence. Let's be clear, that and the D1 are fantastic DAC/headphone amps. 10 years ago, the very idea that one could enjoy such sound at home for £150 would have had jaws dropping. I've had the likes of Naim's CDX2 in my hi-fi in recent years and the Essence comfortably out-performs it, so make no mistake, it's a superb sounding product.

 

By the by, I haven't got the adaptor to hand to try this again, but if I remember rightly, if your headphones are a reasonably easy load, and work best at the Essence's 'normal' gain setting, then it actually sounds better through the RCA outs (you need an RCA-to-female jack to hook your cans up to it that way... in fact, I think it comes with such an adaptor). The 'hardness' I picked up in the headphone listening is probably due to the Essence's headphone amp, but like I say, unless your cans need the extra thwack, it sounds better through the RCAs (bypassing the headphone chip).

 

Alex

post #175 of 349
Quote:
Originally Posted by Earwicker View Post

You're welcome! :-)

 

I think you're right to lean towards the Essence. Let's be clear, that and the D1 are fantastic DAC/headphone amps. 10 years ago, the very idea that one could enjoy such sound at home for £150 would have had jaws dropping. I've had the likes of Naim's CDX2 in my hi-fi in recent years and the Essence comfortably out-performs it, so make no mistake, it's a superb sounding product.

 

By the by, I haven't got the adaptor to hand to try this again, but if I remember rightly, if your headphones are a reasonably easy load, and work best at the Essence's 'normal' gain setting, then it actually sounds better through the RCA outs (you need an RCA-to-female jack to hook your cans up to it that way... in fact, I think it comes with such an adaptor). The 'hardness' I picked up in the headphone listening is probably due to the Essence's headphone amp, but like I say, unless your cans need the extra thwack, it sounds better through the RCAs (bypassing the headphone chip).

 

Alex

If I end up with the Xonar I will definitely try that since I am currently using ATH-M50s (38 ohms).  I would like to get some nicer cans in the future.  Out of curiosity, what headphone did you do your A/B comparison with?

post #176 of 349
Quote:
Originally Posted by jdip View Post

If I end up with the Xonar I will definitely try that since I am currently using ATH-M50s (38 ohms).  I would like to get some nicer cans in the future.  Out of curiosity, what headphone did you do your A/B comparison with?

 

Sennheiser HD380 Pros. I think they're some of the most underrated cans out there. I've had HD595s and AKG701s recently. As for the Essence's RCA out, do give it a try if you buy one. The output from those line level op amps is pretty massive, so unless your cans are real pigs to drive there's no need to pass the signal through yet another amplifier...

 

Alex

post #177 of 349
Quote:
Originally Posted by Earwicker View Post

 

Sennheiser HD380 Pros. I think they're some of the most underrated cans out there. I've had HD595s and AKG701s recently. As for the Essence's RCA out, do give it a try if you buy one. The output from those line level op amps is pretty massive, so unless your cans are real pigs to drive there's no need to pass the signal through yet another amplifier...

 

Alex

Why'd you decide to get rid of the HD595s and the AKG701s?

post #178 of 349
Quote:
Originally Posted by jdip View Post

Why'd you decide to get rid of the HD595s and the AKG701s?

 

I could buy the 701s at the right price and wanted an upgrade, so the 595s went. They weren't a success though, I really paid the price for buying without trying that time. They were shrill and thin and had no bass. After a while I realised I was going to be happier with something fuller-sounding, easier to drive, and closed. Even fairly quiet PCs make mechanical noises of various kinds, and in my house even the central heating puts out a fair but of background noise, all of which just goes straight through open cans. The 380s have been a roaring success, got them for about £80 when they were on offer from Amazon... love the balance, the detail, and the isolation. And you can drive them with anything.

 

If you want a taste of what the high end Sens can do but don't like the price the 595s are a good choice. There're a few fairly noticeable midrange colourations but the ear soon filters them out.

 

Alex


Edited by Earwicker - 5/4/12 at 6:24am
post #179 of 349
Quote:
Originally Posted by Earwicker View Post

I'd say they're both roughly in the same general ball park, with the D1 having the edge. I've just being doing a quick spot of A/Bing through the RCA outs of both through the hi-fi (not least because it'll be hard to match the gain using the STX's headphone out).

 

The D1 has it sonically by a reasonable margin, BUT - and it's probably quite a big but, like Jennifer Lopez's - I'm now running the D1 off the mains USB wall charger and feeding it signal optically. Digital nasties, whistling etc., are quite clearly audible through both the D1 and the STX if I run the D1 off the computer's USB. I think this PC's vilely noisy, and in a computer with a quieter internal electrical environment I think it'd be a closer contest. (The Essence sounded better in my old AMD 3200+ machine... less powerful processor, only one HDD etc.). 

 

Now, to all who're considering buying a D1, I can say this: this 'auto detection' of phones/RCA, and USB/optical signals, is dodgy as hell. Getting it to detect the optical in and make music requires about 10 minutes of plugging in and unplugging, and re-booting and all this crap until it finally decides to play. During this time, the on/off button on the front of the device sometimes stops working too. Once it's working, it sounds fabulous; but it's not very well sorted at all.

 

Alex

sounds like you have a dodgy one, I haven't had one problem with my D1

post #180 of 349
Quote:
Originally Posted by KT66 View Post

sounds like you have a dodgy one, I haven't had one problem with my D1

Possibly, although it's working fine at the moment... I think you just have to plug it in and leave well alone!

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