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Figuring out my Computer Audio???

post #1 of 30
Thread Starter 

Ok, so here is my situation, I have both computer speakers and some headphones. My speakers are the M-Audio Bx5a deluxe studio speakers. They each have their own amp each but are hooked into my onboard audio, I also used my AD700s. The onboard is not cutting it however, I hear hissing and crackling even with lossless sources. I have heard great things about the Xonar STX for its ability to push headphones that are much better than mine. But I have also heard that the E7/E9 combo is great.

 

PROS:

 

Xonar STX:

-dedicated headphone amp that can more than push my cans

-The DAC will help with my speakers and they already have an amp inside of them so that is not a major issue. 

-DAC will help my headphones as well.

 

 E7/E9 combo:

-seem to be that they will again, more than push my headphones

-better for music (not movies and games) than the xonar

-portability of the E7

 

CONS:

 

Xonar STX:

-no option for portability (however I am working on a CMOY)

-I have heard of software glitches and the like

 

E7/E9 combo:

-my speakers will still be through my onboard audio (or am i wrong, I'm no expert)

 

 

Extra info: I am new to hi-fi so I'm am not that well informed, I listen to all different kinds of music and will be using this for mostly music. I also plan on upgrading headphones in the future (maybe the Beyer Dynamic DT990 600 ohms)

 

So my question is what is the best option for my situation? Any enlightening info on these products? Or is there an even more ideal option?

 

Thanks for the help guys, I appreciate it.


Edited by CodyZ532 - 12/3/11 at 10:00pm
post #2 of 30

Computer > USB >  E7/9 > ( out of the back of the E9 ) male RCA to male XLR cable ( something like this ) > speakers. 

 

Computer > USB >  E7/9 > ( out the front of the E9 ) hearphones.


Edited by J.Pocalypse - 12/4/11 at 11:04am
post #3 of 30
Thread Starter 

Thanks a lot man, I was having trouble picturing how the E7/9 would connect to my speakers. But you cleared that up for me. I noticed that XLR male to RCA male cable is $54, I found one for $5 on amazon, is it worth it spend the extra cash on the Mogami for better quality or were you just giving an example of what to get?

Thanks again.

post #4 of 30

I was building a separate HTPC rig couple months ago (moved to a new condo lol) and I had the same dilemma as you, but in the end I went with the STX due to ASIO/WASAPI, very low SNR, pretty much the best sound card and I can use it for future computer rigs without a problem whereas Fiio makes new stuff all the time I may feel the upgraditis. I was also considering a Denon mini-component system as well lol.
 

Overall I'm very satisfied I think bang for buck I couldn't have done any better, sans an pricey HTPC case ... wink.gif

post #5 of 30
Thread Starter 

Can you explain what WASAPI does exactly, I have a vague idea but an explanation would be greatly appreciated. I'm sort of a newbie haha Anyway, I definitely agree with you on the upgraditis aspect of the Fiios. Also, if I upgrade to a high ohm headphone such as the dt990s with 600 ohms would the STX push that sufficiently? What about the Fiio combo?

Glad to hear you are pleased with the system by the way. And great 'gear' in your sig hahaha

post #6 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by CodyZ532 View Post

Thanks a lot man, I was having trouble picturing how the E7/9 would connect to my speakers. But you cleared that up for me. I noticed that XLR male to RCA male cable is $54, I found one for $5 on amazon, is it worth it spend the extra cash on the Mogami for better quality or were you just giving an example of what to get?

Thanks again.



I'd say get everything hooked up, buy both cables. Do an A/B test, and return which ever pair sound worse to your ears.

post #7 of 30

I'd just get a fiio E10, and you probably already have a way of connecting 3.5mm line out on it to your speakers. Note that you don't actually need an amp for AD700s. Don't bother with the cable juju (except length/awg considerations) unless you have a way to do double blind testing; grab cables from monoprice or something else with good reviews and don't worry about it.


Edited by Parak - 12/5/11 at 8:10am
post #8 of 30
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by J.Pocalypse View Post



I'd say get everything hooked up, buy both cables. Do an A/B test, and return which ever pair sound worse to your ears.


Alright that makes sense if I go the E7/E9 combo route (which is still a strong possibility) I already have to return some cables anyway that I am using for my current setup. Would the Fiio combo be able to push something like a DT990 600 ohm headphone? I want to future proof my amp/dac for when I upgrade my cans. By the way I live like 30 minutes from you (Walnut Creek)

 

 

post #9 of 30
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Parak View Post

I'd just get a fiio E10, and you probably already have a way of connecting 3.5mm line out on it to your speakers. Note that you don't actually need an amp for AD700s. Don't bother with the cable juju (except length/awg considerations) unless you have a way to do double blind testing; grab cables from monoprice or something else with good reviews and don't worry about it.


The E10 looks pretty nice for the price and you are right, I already do have a way to plug my speakers into a 3.5 mm jack, so it would work. I am aware I don't need an amp for my headphones but I definitely need a DAC. The reason I want an amp is for when I upgrade later and do need an amp for my headphones I will have it. I was under the impression that when you buy a DAC it would be a good idea to know how you are going to amplify as well. But I could be totally off base here. Thanks for the suggestions. And in your personal experience have you noticed a huge discrepancy between cables (cheap and expensive)?? With gear that is like mine (not hi-end)

 

post #10 of 30

WASAPI is basically like ASIO. Normally Windows mixes all output and most of the time down-samples it. By using WASAPI you're bypassing the Windows mixer, used a lot for bit matched playback.

post #11 of 30
Thread Starter 

Alright so if I use the Xonar STX I will bypass the windows mixer which would be ideal. However, if I use the Fiio E7/E9 then it will not bypass the windows mixer? Thanks for clarifying all of this.

post #12 of 30

WASAPI can be used with any DAC. It's a plugin for your software player.

post #13 of 30
Thread Starter 

I use Winamp, do I automatically have that plug-in or do I need to download it? I was confused because a previous poster said that he chose the STX due to WASAPI/ASIO and the sound to noise ratio. So any DAC can use it so it doesn't make a difference between the Fiio E7/E9 and the STX in that regard?

post #14 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by CodyZ532 View Post


The E10 looks pretty nice for the price and you are right, I already do have a way to plug my speakers into a 3.5 mm jack, so it would work. I am aware I don't need an amp for my headphones but I definitely need a DAC. The reason I want an amp is for when I upgrade later and do need an amp for my headphones I will have it. I was under the impression that when you buy a DAC it would be a good idea to know how you are going to amplify as well. But I could be totally off base here. Thanks for the suggestions. And in your personal experience have you noticed a huge discrepancy between cables (cheap and expensive)?? With gear that is like mine (not hi-end)

 



The e10 is a great dac and amp for the money, though I don't know how it does past 300 ohms. I am of the firm opinion that expensive cables are all about psychoaucoustics (especially digital ones), but obviously opinions differ. There's only two factors that I consider important about cables, in the following order:

 

1. Distance vs gauge used (you need lower awg/thicker wire the longer the cable is). There are some charts on this if you're interested, but they are mostly of interest for analog speaker cables.

2. Flexibility, durability, and connector quality. This is a far lower priority compared to #1, especially when you're not spending $arm+$leg per cable. You can buy a ton of cheap cables for the price of one expensive cable, even if you somehow manage to break the cheap ones.

 

In short, it's far better to invest the money you'd essentially waste on cables firstly on better output devices (headphones, speakers), and then secondarily on better audio sources. Monoprice cables are excellent as far as the price/quality (#2) is concerned.

post #15 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by CodyZ532 View Post

I use Winamp, do I automatically have that plug-in or do I need to download it? I was confused because a previous poster said that he chose the STX due to WASAPI/ASIO and the sound to noise ratio. So any DAC can use it so it doesn't make a difference between the Fiio E7/E9 and the STX in that regard?


No, you'll need to find one. There appears to be several options, just type "winamp wasapi" into Google.

 

The STX will have a better signal-to-noise ratio regardless of output plugin. This won't necessarily matter when playing 16-bit files at regular listening volumes.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Parak View Post

The e10 is a great dac and amp for the money, though I don't know how it does past 300 ohms.


It has plenty of power for the headphones he currently has, and most headphones. Rated for 150 mW into 32 ohms which is 2.2 Vrms. With that voltage, the impedance isn't necessarily the limiting factor, but the sensitivity.

 

I wouldn't recommend it for the DT880-600 though. It's fairly inefficient as well as high impedance. One of the hardest headphones to drive. It'll still manage 105 dB which should work fine, but not as loud as it could be.

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