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Please help me choose Headphone, Soundcard & AMP - Page 3

post #31 of 64
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by NamelessPFG View Post

 


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.)

thanks for all your info!

 

so you think a Titanium HD with an external DAC/AMP would be a better option?

 

if so can you recommend any add-ons?

 

the STX is said to be great for music... would i notice a difference between that and the HD?
 

 

post #32 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??


The X-Meridian and Essence STX use the same audio processor, the C-Media Oxygen HD CMI8788, Asus just relabels them AV100 & AV200.

I've never had a driver issue with my Xonar's (DG, DS, DX, STX) cards.

 

There is a third party that makes modified Xonar drivers, the "Unified Xonar Drivers", easy to find on the Internet.

 

 

post #33 of 64

I own an STX ($149 frys price match) and a Hometheater HD ($100 craigslist). Both sound great. The HD has a warmer sound than the STX, but the STX is considerably more suited to music playback with its gain settings and clarity it seems. I have yet to do any real 3d positioning testing with my STX because I have been listening to music the last few weeks every night instead of gaming. I bought the STX out of curiosity because my HD wasn't getting as loud as I had hoped.

 

I do not regret my purchase.

post #34 of 64

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by XenatR View Post

thanks for all your info!

 

so you think a Titanium HD with an external DAC/AMP would be a better option?

 

if so can you recommend any add-ons?

 

the STX is said to be great for music... would i notice a difference between that and the HD?


For gaming, yes, solely because of the X-Fi DSP's capabilities and your willingness to play older games with hardware-accelerated audio. CMSS-3D Headphone is like an aural wallhack in those titles, moreso than my experiences with Dolby Headphone (via an SU-DH1 connected to the Titanium HD and fed a Dolby Digital Live stream). Also, external amps mean more options...especially electrostatics, which require specialized amps.

 

For music...hard to say. I haven't actually heard a Xonar Essence STX in action and don't plan on buying one just to find out. Maybe it is capable of slightly higher fidelity and clearer sound for music reproduction (which may be assisted with the headphone amp on more demanding headphones), but is it noticeable enough, and is it worth the deficiency in positioning for PC games with hardware-accelerated audio like CS 1.6? That's a tradeoff only you can decide.


Edited by NamelessPFG - 12/23/11 at 1:17am
post #35 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by XenatR View Post
thanks for all your info!

so you think a Titanium HD with an external DAC/AMP would be a better option?

if so can you recommend any add-ons?

the STX is said to be great for music... would i notice a difference between that and the HD?
 

 


The Titanium HD does not come with a dedicated headphone amplifier, the Essence STX does.

Can you add an external headphone amplifier to the Titanium HD to make the headphone sound better then the Essence STX, yes.

I've heard that the Schiit Asguard ($250, hooked up to a good DAC) will sound better then the Essence STX.

 

 

post #36 of 64
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by PurpleAngel View Post


The Titanium HD does not come with a dedicated headphone amplifier, the Essence STX does.

Can you add an external headphone amplifier to the Titanium HD to make the headphone sound better then the Essence STX, yes.

I've heard that the Schiit Asguard ($250, hooked up to a good DAC) will sound better then the Essence STX.

 

 


So i would be better with the Schiit Asgard and the Titanium HD?

 

i live in uk, and cannot find a place which stocks in (in uk)... any help? or can you suggest equivalent AMPs which i can easily obtain?

 

also, i cant spend more than £200 for the amp, as i also need the T HD and headphones, so gona be quite costly!

 

thank you!!

 


Edited by XenatR - 12/23/11 at 3:16pm
post #37 of 64

Anything from the Asus Xonar line should sound good. I have a Xonar DG, its pure bliss with my D2000.

post #38 of 64
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Omark12 View Post

Anything from the Asus Xonar line should sound good. I have a Xonar DG, its pure bliss with my D2000.



lol i thought i was set on the X-Fi now you saying Asus :<

 

lol

 

anyway, what about the Titanium HD + this AMP http://www.iheadphones.co.uk/pro-ject-head-box-se-ii-black.html & Audio Technica AD700

 

would that work well? for games and music

post #39 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by XenatR View Post
lol i thought i was set on the X-Fi now you saying Asus :<

lol

anyway, what about the Titanium HD + this AMP http://www.iheadphones.co.uk/pro-ject-head-box-se-ii-black.html & Audio Technica AD700

would that work well? for games and music

 

The Titanium HD powers headphones decently, the headphone jack is rated up to 330-Ohms by Creative Labs.

The ATH-AD700 is very easy to drive, it's only 32-Ohm.

The ATH-AD700 does not really benefit that much from headphone amplifier.

it's really not worth spending 180 GBP for the headphone amplifier just for the ATH-AD700

Why not just get the Titanium HD and ATH-AD700, or spend the cash for a ATH-AD900.

 

 

 

post #40 of 64

I have heard both CMSS-3D and Dolby Headphone. I like Dolby Headphone better, it sounds more directional and the surround sound sounds natural in comparison to CMSS-3D. I use DH in movies, its gold, it really is. It also works really well in games, it sounds like speaker surround sound. But at the end of the day CMSS-3D is aural wallhack. I doubt you'd have any problems with DH though.

post #41 of 64
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Omark12 View Post

I have heard both CMSS-3D and Dolby Headphone. I like Dolby Headphone better, it sounds more directional and the surround sound sounds natural in comparison to CMSS-3D. I use DH in movies, its gold, it really is. It also works really well in games, it sounds like speaker surround sound. But at the end of the day CMSS-3D is aural wallhack. I doubt you'd have any problems with DH though.



thanks for your input. what do you mean more natural?

post #42 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by XenatR View Post
Thanks for your input. what do you mean more natural?

My best "guess"
I've never gamed with my Essence STX (Dolly Headphone)  and have not used a Creative sound card (CMSS-3D) in over 3 years.

But i think I can answer the question.

With Dolby Headphone you can identify better what ever the sound is.

With CMSS-3D you might know better were ever the sound is coming, from better then the Dolby Headphone, but harder to indentify what the sound is.

 

 

 

post #43 of 64
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by PurpleAngel View Post

My best "guess"
I've never gamed with my Essence STX (Dolly Headphone)  and have not used a Creative sound card (CMSS-3D) in over 3 years.

But i think I can answer the question.

With Dolby Headphone you can identify better what ever the sound is.

With CMSS-3D you might know better were ever the sound is coming, from better then the Dolby Headphone, but harder to indentify what the sound is.

 

 

 

yea, but he said 'it sounds more directional' possibly implying it gives better positioning (knowing where ever the sound is coming from)
 

 

post #44 of 64

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Omark12 View Post

I have heard both CMSS-3D and Dolby Headphone. I like Dolby Headphone better, it sounds more directional and the surround sound sounds natural in comparison to CMSS-3D. I use DH in movies, its gold, it really is. It also works really well in games, it sounds like speaker surround sound. But at the end of the day CMSS-3D is aural wallhack. I doubt you'd have any problems with DH though.


When it comes to DirectSound3D and OpenAL titles, I strongly disagree. CMSS-3D Headphone has far more directionality in such games, especially height, which Dolby Headphone lacks (which isn't surprising since it's emulating 5.1 instead of a 3D binaural sound field). I usually test that with Unreal Tournament 1999 (with the Old Unreal OpenAL patch), and it wasn't even close.

 

For XAudio2 and FMOD titles, they're about even, since it's already been downmixed to 5.1/7.1 to begin with.

post #45 of 64

Correct. What I'm saying is when I got DH it sounds like i'm listening to 7.1/5.1 speakers. I like it better, I watch a lot of movies that have DD and DTS soundtracks that are emulated with DH, The directionality of the sounds still exist. 
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by NamelessPFG View Post

 


When it comes to DirectSound3D and OpenAL titles, I strongly disagree. CMSS-3D Headphone has far more directionality in such games, especially height, which Dolby Headphone lacks (which isn't surprising since it's emulating 5.1 instead of a 3D binaural sound field). I usually test that with Unreal Tournament 1999 (with the Old Unreal OpenAL patch), and it wasn't even close.

 

For XAudio2 and FMOD titles, they're about even, since it's already been downmixed to 5.1/7.1 to begin with.



 

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