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Please help me choose Headphone, Soundcard & AMP - Page 2

post #16 of 64
Thread Starter 

thanks for reply guys, just wondering if the Essence STX is the best i can get in terms of game and music listening quality for the price? i dont want to spend more than £200 or £250... the STX is £145.. i want it paired with my A900 for now, with a view to probably AD900 or HD 650 in the future

post #17 of 64

Probably the best for music when factoring in that built-in dedicated headphone amp, though for games, the edge still goes to the X-Fi-based cards because of the DSP, particularly if you value older titles when hardware-accelerated audio was the norm (and also where CMSS-3D Headphone has a significant positioning advantage over Dolby Headphone).

 

But if the only games you play all have software audio engines pre-mixing everything to 5.1/7.1, the advantage diminishes significantly, making the Essence STX likely the most bang-for-your-buck card at your budget given how people rate it well against the typical FiiO E7/E9 combo.

post #18 of 64
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by NamelessPFG View Post

Probably the best for music when factoring in that built-in dedicated headphone amp, though for games, the edge still goes to the X-Fi-based cards because of the DSP, particularly if you value older titles when hardware-accelerated audio was the norm (and also where CMSS-3D Headphone has a significant positioning advantage over Dolby Headphone).

 

But if the only games you play all have software audio engines pre-mixing everything to 5.1/7.1, the advantage diminishes significantly, making the Essence STX likely the most bang-for-your-buck card at your budget given how people rate it well against the typical FiiO E7/E9 combo.



i mainly play counter strike (the original) !

 

so youd say the STX is best for music at the sub-£250 budget?

 

better than e.g. Nuforce uDAC2 ? or other DAC/AMP combo ?


Edited by XenatR - 12/22/11 at 5:24am
post #19 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by XenatR View Post
i mainly play counter strike (the original) !

so you'd say the STX is best for music at the sub-£250 budget?

better than e.g. Nuforce uDAC2 ? or other DAC/AMP combo ?

Counter Strike (original) is one old game (MS-DOS), Games written for Windows XP or earlier would have the audio that was written for EAX (Versions 1,2,3,4,5)

The Essence STX would work well with any later game audio written for Windows Vista & 7.

 

The Titanium HD or newer Recon3D (SB1350) would have the best support for games that use EAX 3/4/5

Asus Xonar's come with GX 2.5, which emulates EAX 5.0, but it's less then perfect emulation.

 

Go to a Counter Strike forum, ask which sound cards work best with Counter Strike.


 

 

 

post #20 of 64

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by PurpleAngel View Post

Counter Strike (original) is one old game (MS-DOS), Games written for Windows XP or earlier would have the audio that was written for EAX (Versions 1,2,3,4,5)

The Essence STX would work well with any later game audio written for Windows Vista & 7.

 

The Titanium HD or newer Recon3D (SB1350) would have the best support for games that use EAX 3/4/5

Asus Xonar's come with GX 2.5, which emulates EAX 5.0, but it's less then perfect emulation.

 

Go to a Counter Strike forum, ask which sound cards work best with Counter Strike.


I'd have to largely agree with these sentiments, though in the case of Counter-Strike 1.6 and earlier, there's a hardcore contingent of people who will do anything to get Aureal A3D working instead of the Creative EAX mode, apparently something about A3D letting you hear more distant sounds than the others in GoldSRC-based games (though it could also be that Aureal was the first one to include a binaural implementation for 3D sound in games, well before the current X-Fi CMSS-3D Headphone or Dolby Headphone implementations showed up).

 

Problem is, A3D 2.0 and 3.0 aren't really supported by anything other than old Aureal Vortex2-based sound cards, which in turn aren't really supported well on anything beyond Windows 98 SE. They work to a limited extent in XP, but only with A3D, not EAX. Vista/Win7? Forget it. (The irony of this is that even though Creative bought out Aureal, they refuse to support anything above A3D 1.0 on their later cards, and CMSS-3D Headphone's underlying tech may borrow more from Sensaura than Aureal. What a shame to buy out a rival with great, possibly even superior technology, just to bury it all.)

 

For the sake of practicality, I think it's best to just use the X-Fi Titanium HD and EAX in CS 1.6 on a modern computer.

post #21 of 64

A buddy of mine has a titanium HD with A900s, and it sounds nice.  But doesn't have quite the same kick as my STX.  And I just want to point out to everyone about Counter Strike....CSGO is will be launching soon....so the whole EAX debate with older games will be voided soon lol.  Can't wait for it to come out.

post #22 of 64

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by waldoh74 View Post
And I just want to point out to everyone about Counter Strike....CSGO is will be launching soon....so the whole EAX debate with older games will be voided soon lol.  Can't wait for it to come out.


By that logic, it was voided as soon as Counter-Strike: Source released...and it still don't make the EAX debate irrelevant for every other game that uses it.

 

Strangely enough, Valve isn't making that much of a deal out of it. Can't even dig up a Steam game page on it. For that matter, what will it offer over 1.6 and Source?

post #23 of 64

I think if you realy want good head fone, then purchase the hytech 500

 

Because it had a great sound system and voice control.

May be they work for so many years.smily_headphones1.gif


Edited by bilybare62 - 12/29/11 at 12:17pm
post #24 of 64

Another option that may be worth considering, if it was not mentioned yet, is the Auzentech X-Fi Forte 7.1. It uses the same DSP chip as the Creative cards, and supports EAX as well. It has a powerful headphone amplifier with an output buffered with discrete transistors. Compared to the STX, this is mainly an advantage when using low impedance headphones. It may also be cheaper, depending on where you buy it. But the STX does have a better DAC/ADC.

 

post #25 of 64

I had a Forte and it served me well, though I should point out that it was a newer revision that had a heatsink on the EMU20k2 X-Fi DSP, which seems less prone to hardware faults.

 

However, someone else needed the extra analog channels more than I did, so I traded it for his X-Fi Titanium HD. That's the only reason I don't have it any more.

post #26 of 64
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by NamelessPFG View Post

 


I'd have to largely agree with these sentiments, though in the case of Counter-Strike 1.6 and earlier, there's a hardcore contingent of people who will do anything to get Aureal A3D working instead of the Creative EAX mode, apparently something about A3D letting you hear more distant sounds than the others in GoldSRC-based games (though it could also be that Aureal was the first one to include a binaural implementation for 3D sound in games, well before the current X-Fi CMSS-3D Headphone or Dolby Headphone implementations showed up).

 

Problem is, A3D 2.0 and 3.0 aren't really supported by anything other than old Aureal Vortex2-based sound cards, which in turn aren't really supported well on anything beyond Windows 98 SE. They work to a limited extent in XP, but only with A3D, not EAX. Vista/Win7? Forget it. (The irony of this is that even though Creative bought out Aureal, they refuse to support anything above A3D 1.0 on their later cards, and CMSS-3D Headphone's underlying tech may borrow more from Sensaura than Aureal. What a shame to buy out a rival with great, possibly even superior technology, just to bury it all.)

 

For the sake of practicality, I think it's best to just use the X-Fi Titanium HD and EAX in CS 1.6 on a modern computer.

 

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/AUREAL-BA88DL30A-01-VORTEX-2-PCI-SOUND-CARD-/300636731267?pt=UK_Computing_ComputerComponents_SoundCards&hash=item45ff587783#ht_562wt_1187

 

something like this?

 

i guess it is impossible to have dual sound cards on one computer right? any ways around this? i have windows 7 64bit at the mo.. i guess there are no drivers for the Aureal... also, would i be right in suggesting on anything other than counter strike/half life, it would sound vastly inferiour to my X-Meridian, and even more so on the STX (for example music) ?

 

this, including another ebay item i saw

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/TechWorks-Power-Vortex-2-SuperQuad-Sound-Card-/370538780503?pt=UK_Computing_ComputerComponents_SoundCards&hash=item5645d51757#ht_715wt_1187

have toslink s/pdif optical out, which i guess could be paired with a decent amp?

 

id like to explore this avenue if it would bring any benefit?

 

 


thanking everyone for their input!!

 

post #27 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by XenatR View Post
http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/AUREAL-BA88DL30A-01-VORTEX-2-PCI-SOUND-CARD-/300636731267?pt=UK_Computing_ComputerComponents_SoundCards&hash=item45ff587783#ht_562wt_1187

something like this?

i guess it is impossible to have dual sound cards on one computer right? any ways around this? i have windows 7 64bit at the mo.. i guess there are no drivers for the Aureal... also, would i be right in suggesting on anything other than counter strike/half life, it would sound vastly inferiour to my X-Meridian, and even more so on the STX (for example music) ?

this, including another ebay item i saw

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/TechWorks-Power-Vortex-2-SuperQuad-Sound-Card-/370538780503?pt=UK_Computing_ComputerComponents_SoundCards&hash=item5645d51757#ht_715wt_1187

have toslink s/pdif optical out, which i guess could be paired with a decent amp?

id like to explore this avenue if it would bring any benefit?

thanking everyone for their input!!


I would recommend to stay away from anything that is not fully supported by Windows 7-64bit.

There is a reason those cards only cost five dollars.

 

 

post #28 of 64

Yep, those are Aureal Vortex2 cards, all right.

 

But honestly, unless you have a Win98SE-era box to dedicate to old games that use A3D 2.0/3.0 like CS 1.6, you're much better off just getting an X-Fi Prelude, Forte, or Titanium HD. Far more games use EAX 3/5 than A3D 2/3, and proper Win7 drivers actually exist.

post #29 of 64
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by NamelessPFG View Post

Yep, those are Aureal Vortex2 cards, all right.

 

But honestly, unless you have a Win98SE-era box to dedicate to old games that use A3D 2.0/3.0 like CS 1.6, you're much better off just getting an X-Fi Prelude, Forte, or Titanium HD. Far more games use EAX 3/5 than A3D 2/3, and proper Win7 drivers actually exist.



do any more modern cards support a3d? or did it die back in 1998 or whenever? i dont use any kind of EAX anyway though actually :X well.. i have an X-Meridian which doesnt have these features anyway. but i never actually change audio settings :/

 

i also have an old Sound Blaster Audigy Live! which was awesome when paired with Plantronics Audio 90 headset! pinpoint accuracy :) unfortunately the Audio 90s were SO FLIMSY and broke every time

 

hmm.. i could set up a dedicated windows 98 gaming rig for cs with a3d lol

 

 

apart from that, for sub £250 is my best bet the STX for music? although i actually play games most of the time, i am leaning towards more of a music sound quality edge, so i was thinking about also getting some HD 650, BeyerD DT 880 AD700 or AD900

 

http://www.auzentech.com/site/products/xfi_iodrive.php

 

what is that??? an external 'caddy' for an xfi card??

post #30 of 64

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by XenatR View Post

do any more modern cards support a3d? or did it die back in 1998 or whenever? i dont use any kind of EAX anyway though actually :X well.. i have an X-Meridian which doesnt have these features anyway. but i never actually change audio settings :/

 

i also have an old Sound Blaster Audigy Live! which was awesome when paired with Plantronics Audio 90 headset! pinpoint accuracy :) unfortunately the Audio 90s were SO FLIMSY and broke every time

 

hmm.. i could set up a dedicated windows 98 gaming rig for cs with a3d lol

 

 

apart from that, for sub £250 is my best bet the STX for music? although i actually play games most of the time, i am leaning towards more of a music sound quality edge, so i was thinking about also getting some HD 650, BeyerD DT 880 AD700 or AD900

 

http://www.auzentech.com/site/products/xfi_iodrive.php

 

what is that??? an external 'caddy' for an xfi card??


Long story short, Aureal and Creative got caught up in a legal battle, Aureal legally wins but is bankrupted from legal fees, Creative buys them up and buries their technology, freeing them of the biggest competitor in the sound card space they ever had. This also means that Aureal Vortex-based card owners got shafted hard in terms of driver support; there's some beta drivers for 2000/XP use, but nothing particularly refined. Better keep 'em to computers built to run Win98SE and games made for that OS.

 

From what I can tell, the Audigy and X-Fi cards support A3D 1.0 in the same sense that most non-Creative cards support EAX 1 and 2. A3D 2.0, when they introduced wavetracing (yes, they'd actually simulate how sounds reflect around a game environment, though it took a heavy toll on the CPUs of the era) and 3.0 apparently remain exclusive to the Vortex 2-based cards, though it's slightly more complicated in that Aureal also liked to refer to A3D as a sort of middleware. Damn confusing buzzwords...

 

Fortunately, most of the A3D-compliant games still seem to use other aspects of DirectSound hardware acceleration, so you're not completely hosed with non-Aureal cards. However, if they also offer standard DirectSound3D or EAX options, those are much easier to get full use out of (provided that you use a wrapper like ALchemy or GX2.5, of course).

 

The device you linked is basically a fancy front panel accessory for most X-Fi Titanium cards (but NOT the Titanium HD) and Auzentech's X-Fi Forte and HomeTheater HD. I think it's hideously expensive for what it offers and would suggest just using the rear outputs.

 

As for the Xonar Essence STX, I think its main benefit lies in that dedicated headphone amp. You could probably drive an HD 650 with it. (The Titanium HD allegedly lacks a discrete headphone amp built-in, but as a Stax user who's forced to use specialized external amps anyway, it's hardly a disadvantage.) For those that use Linux, I'm sure a C-Media-based card would also fare much, much better at just working than an X-Fi-based one. However, for playing games with hardware-accelerated audio support, the X-Fi Titanium HD and other higher-end models would fare better not just in terms of EAX 3/4/5 support, but for CMSS-3D Headphone outperforming Dolby Headphone in DirectSound3D and OpenAL titles, where it has more precise positioning information to work with and doesn't bother with emulating surround speakers in favor of emulating the game environment itself. (If they're newer games with XAudio2/FMOD/etc. software audio, then it's downmixed to 5.1/7.1 anyway and both work equally well.)

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