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First good headphones? - Page 2

post #16 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cluelessness View Post


I never really doubted the quality of the DAC on the STX. The problem is you can use the STX only on a desktop computer. Currently that's all I need, but if I end up getting an external DAC in the future, wouldn't it make the STX kind of useless? However, if the STX really is the best option in the < 300 EUR price range, I'm ok with getting one. I'm just not fully convinced yet. I've never used DS and I doubt that I would need it.



Yes, it's stationary and an external dac and amp would basically render it useless except for the Dolby Surround part, but then we're talking about better equipment and totally other sums of money and therefore it's irrelevant. I would say it's hard to beat for its money. I also find it to be more bang for the buck then its little brother since the STX's better amp is nice to have if you happen to buy higher impendance cans.

post #17 of 23
I'd suggest always going for an external DAC if possible.
The inside of a computer isn't exactly the best place to put analog circuitry.

On top of that, there are DAC/amp combos for a similar price with at the very least comparable sound quality.
FiiO and Audio-GD, I'm looking at you.
post #18 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tilpo View Post

I'd suggest always going for an external DAC if possible.
The inside of a computer isn't exactly the best place to put analog circuitry.

 

I am not sure how much of an issue that is in practice with well designed sound cards. I just tried a simple test using a loopback cable and viewed the noise floor in 24-bit/96 kHz mode in real time with a spectrum analyzer program, and it changed little and stayed low with or without either hard disk or CPU activity when using the line in/out jacks. The front panel jacks were quite a bit noisier in general, though (still not really audible with less sensitive headphones). And this card is a cheap Xonar D1, while the Essence STX has shielding around the parts of the card that would be sensitive to interference. Also, for the price these are fairly good, from the limited specs that are made available the various FiiO USB DACs look worse (higher noise and distortion).

 


Edited by stv014 - 12/12/11 at 4:02pm
post #19 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by stv014 View Post

 

I am not sure how much of an issue that is in practice with well designed sound cards. I just tried a simple test using a loopback cable and viewed the noise floor in 24-bit/96 kHz mode in real time with a spectrum analyzer program, and it changed little and stayed low with or without either hard disk or CPU activity when using the line in/out jacks. It did get quite a bit noisier with the front panel jacks, though (still not really audible with less sensitive headphones). And this card is a cheap Xonar D1, while the Essence STX has shielding around the parts of the card that would be sensitive to interference. Also, for the price these are fairly good, from the limited specs that are made available the various FiiO USB DACs look worse (higher noise and distortion).

 

Hmm, I guess you're right.
However the cheap external DAC's tend to be more popular than the soundcards in my experience. I haven't done any comparisons myself, so I report whatever I perceive as general consensus.

It would be interesting to compare an Essence STX to an USB DAC of the same price.
post #20 of 23
Thread Starter 

This might be a stupid question, but are the sound cards like Xonar DG or STX powerful enough to push headphones like HD598 to volume levels that can instantly damage your hearing? If yes, is there any fail safe way to prevent that from happening (without extra devices)? I'm concerned because you can easily forget to adjust volume when switching from speakers to headphones, or accidentally move the volume slider too much when adjusting volume. Also some software errors can cause the audio to freak out. I don't want to blow my ears out. rolleyes.gif

post #21 of 23

^ Just assume "yes" and don't put your headphones on your head prior to plugging them in.  That's the easiest safeguard.

post #22 of 23

Xonars are solid, but sometimes there are problems with installation, noise, compatibility, and software.  Get it to work properly and they are great.  DG is quite a good bang for your buck sound card.  If I were you, I would just go all the way and get the STX, one of the best out there, if not the best for music.  I was tempted to buy a soundcard for my 598s, but I just got a fiio E10 instead.  Was pretty much plug and play.  Great starter amp/dac, way better than realtek, and I don't regret it.


Edited by ztreb185 - 12/15/11 at 11:11am
post #23 of 23

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by tonemgub View Post

I'm not sure on a sound card. In my opinion, external dacs and amps are better!


Not if you're gaming (they lack the DSP features like EAX and CMSS-3D Headphone/Dolby Headphone/etc.), and not if you're spending less than $300-500 minimum. External cheap DACs in the price range of an X-Fi Titanium HD or Xonar Essence STX apparently can't touch those cards.

 

That said, the ideal setup is a cheap sound card for DSP, if needed -> S/PDIF -> audiophile DAC -> amp.

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