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[Bleh Issues] Xonar Essence STX Sound Card + Little Dot Mark III = Possible Solution?

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 

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had issues with my audio in Windows 7 (64-bit) but attributed them to the fact that I was using integrated sound with outdated, unsupported SigmaTel drivers that came with the computer.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.

post #2 of 6

Many mainboard audio outputs are crap; you've been lucky with your old board.


Even the cheapest Xonar (DG) will be an improvement over the SigmaTel chip.

post #3 of 6


I'm really new to the audiophile 'hobby', but I think I can give you some insight. I recently purchased a set of sen hd 598s with the xonar essence stx. I bought this setup for two purposes, music and gaming. So far I'm extremely happy, and can tell a HUGE difference from my previous setup of onboard audio and gaming headsets. It is somewhat embarrassing having purchased 3 gaming headsets before I realized that most headsets are poor quality compared to headphones. 


I can tell the most difference on some of the cds i recently rip'd into flac format. I dont know if you game, but with this setup its almost like cheating in FPS games. The pinpoint accuracy of footsteps gives you huge advantage.


My experience is limited, and I dont have a good benchmark to gauge my setup by, I just know it sounds damn good for the ~350 I have invested. 


post #4 of 6
Thread Starter 

I noticed that the Xonar Essence STX has an amp built into it (if I'm not mistaken). What exactly would result from plugging my tube amp into such a sound card? In the end, it's highly likely that I'll end up throwing down the extra money for a proper sound card. I just hope the investment isn't squandered and it actually clears my audio up. Hard to believe those SigmaTel drivers under XP were vastly superior to what's suppose to be a pretty decent sound chip. I can't shake the feeling that it's the operating system causing the problem though...

Edited by Lulian - 12/4/11 at 3:00pm
post #5 of 6

For one the Xonar STX's RCA outputs offer better quality audio then its headphone amp output.  Since you already have a tube amp already, you can connect the STX's RCA output to the Tube amp RCA inputs. Then make sure to max the volume on the STX and do your volume control Thu your Tube amp.


Also when the RCA output is used all 3 op-amps is used in that output while the hp amp out uses just the I/V op-amps.

post #6 of 6
Thread Starter 

Thank you for your descriptive reply Gen, I'm glad to hear that it wouldn't go to waste. I'm going to go through with ordering an STX. I'll be sure to update the thread with the results!

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