Hello Head-Fi, apologies if I ask something blatantly obvious; still learning!
To make a long story (somewhat) short, in the past I've had issues with my audio in Windows 7 (64-bit) but attributed them to the fact that I was using integrated sound with outdated, unsupported SigmaTel drivers that came with the computer. So I switched back to Windows XP where they worked flawlessly. At some point in time, I ended up with a pair of Sennheiser HD650s and a Little Dot Mark III headphone amp/pre-amp. With the SigmaTel drivers in XP, they sounded absolutely fantastic. But as time goes by, computer technology evolves, and so I ended up building a computer from scratch.
Fast forward to now, back in Windows 7 with the integrated chip that's built into the ASUS P8Z68-V PRO (Realtek ALC892) only one problem...the audio is back to being horrendous! Extremely poor quality, even with the Little Dot. It's practically made my $500 of hardware turn to rubbish. Now I have absolutely no clue if this is normal for Windows 7 itself, or if it's because I'm lacking a sound card (or DAC if you will) but I was hoping that somebody far more knowledgeable would have some suggestions.
I -FIGURE- that getting a sound card would solve my problem, but is that really the case? If it really is that simple, I was looking at the Xonar Essence STX as the title suggests, but would an external DAC potentially work as a solution as well? To give you an idea of just how terrible the audio quality is compared to my former Windows XP setup, imagine your fantastic sounding song completely sodomized and muffled. It's NOWHERE NEAR the quality I had formerly. It'd be really, really, REALLY nice to know what exactly is causing it.
Thanks in advance Head-Fi, hope somebody can assist in troubleshooting.